The Republic of Bashkortostan is a region a bit larger than South Korea. It’s part of the Russian Federation, nestled near the Kazakhstan border.
And until recently, its residents had a hell of a time using smartphones.
The Bashkir language has around 1.5 million speakers. The language is distinct from Russian – it has Turkic roots – but its speaking population is small enough that it’s easily forgotten by keyboard programmers.
“In 2009 a Bashkir keyboard layout was included [in the] official package of Windows Vista. It was a great achievement,” says Rail Salimov, who may be one of the few people to look back fondly on Windows Vista. A chemist and language advocate, Rail works with a 40-person group of Bashkir speakers looking to bring their language into the digital age.