ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Using Dzongkha on the iPhone (K2 #60)

Question of the Week
Both me and my friend have iPhone 3GS. She has an option to add a Tibetan keyboard which allows her to type Dzongkha letters. I don’t have that option. Why? What’s wrong with my phone?
— Pushpa, P/Ling

Dear Pushpa,
iPod Touch 2nd generation (and later)
can also support Dzongkha
Nothing is wrong with your phone, so no need to worry. Your iPhone 3GS can also type those beautiful Dzongkha letters. When the iPhone 3GS was released, it ran the iOS 3.0 operating system, but iOS 3.0 does not support the typing of Dzongkha. Apple added support for entering Dzongkha letters only in the iOS 4.2 operating system, which was released in November 2010. Your phone is most likely still using the older operating system, and this is easy to find out. On your iPhone, tap Settings → General → About, and look for the Version information. Now do the same with your friend’s phone. Notice the difference?

Luckily, the iPhone 3GS can be upgraded to iOS 4.2. In fact, it can even be upgraded to the latest version, which is iOS 6.1.3. To upgrade, use iTunes and follow the instructions at If you find that a bit daunting or slow, you can always visit a good mobile service shop, which will usually be able to upgrade your phone for a small fee. Once your phone is upgraded, go to Settings → General and Keyboard → International Keyboards → Add New Keyboard, and select the Tibetan keyboard. That’s it. You can switch from English to the new keyboard and back by tapping the small globe (“earth”) button next to the space bar. The layout of the keys is different from the official Dzongkha Development Commission keyboard, and some stacking combinations are not supported, but it’s usually good enough for most purposes.

This solution works for the iPhone 3GS and even for its predecessor, the “antique” iPhone 3. Unfortunately, it does not work for the original iPhone.

Track your Trek
Tugging along your Android-based phone to a trek? Make sure to install Google’s free My Tracks app (available in the Google Play store) before leaving home. It records and saves your location, elevation, speed, distance and more. It even works in the sky: I recently used it to track a DrukAir flight from Delhi to Paro. Exhilarating!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

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