With iOS 18, Apple deepens its connection to India


Beyond Intelligence, India is another ‘I’ Apple is making big investments in, and the scale of its journey there becomes easier to see every single day. It’s a commitment that goes OS deep.

I say that because Apple has woven eight India-focused enhancements within iOS 18, which shows how the company is focused on building its reach into the nation’s smartphone market.

The market isn’t the only thing it wants to build in India. Manufacturing there is also on the rise — and Apple and its manufacturing partners are actually growing their business there even faster than they agreed with India’s government in the first place.

Designed in California, Made in India

Apple has three manufacturing partners in India: Foxconn, Pegatron, and Tata Electronics. All three are in receipt of various forms of support under India’s PLI scheme, which aims to bring more technology manufacturing to India. Under the scheme, manufacturers must agree to meet certain production targets to qualify for that help. 

Apple’s iPhone partners have massively exceeded those agreed targets, with production reaching levels 45% higher than was agreed. 

Apple’s iPhone sales are also increasing, reaching 10 million in 2023, up from six million the previous year. That gives the company 23% of India’s smartphone revenue share. 

In tandem with Apple’s other consumer-facing initiatives in India, including high street Apple retail stores and various developer education offerings, the company does seem to be successfully stimulating business there.

What else can it do?

India inside your iPhones

Localization isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s also the right thing to do. People recognize when a company has gone the extra mile to make products or services that are relevant to them. Believe it or not, the world is not one vast monoculture, but a medley of many, who at their best rub alongside each other. 

Recognizing this, it matters that Apple in iOS 18 will introduce numerous enhancements designed to reach India’s consumers. It’s a big message that tells India’s consumers the company remains seriously committed to doing business there, and will no doubt help it further improve those all important customer satisfaction levels upon which the company builds so much, from services to app and accessory sales.

That constant reaching out to the target market is typical of Apple. (Though not always consistent — for example, I do wish the company would introduce European Portuguese language support and do not understand why it has not.)

Ultimately, Apple knows that if you reach out effectively, you build business for tomorrow. That’s implicit across the company’s entire approach to its business, even to the extent of, for example, the high-quality design of the headbands on Vision Pro. That doesn’t necessarily mean its products are the most affordable but does mean it has a great reputation for being the best.

Bottom line? Additional iOS localization in India will help Apple spread its gospel in this strategically important market, creating stronger foundations for development there. It’s focus and investment that gave Apple its highest ever iPhone sales in India last year

iOS 18 gets ready for India

So, what has Apple added to its iPhone OS? A wave of improvements that represent the company’s growing understanding of the needs of that market:

  • You will be able to customize the Lock Screen’s time display using Indian numerals from 12 of the nation’s languages, including Arabic, Arabic Indic, Bangla, Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Meitei, Odia, Ol Chiki, and Telugu.
  • If your carrier supports it, Live Voicemail transcription will be available in Indian English.
  • The multilingual keyboard will support English and up to two additional Indian languages, including Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu. 
  • Different keyboard alphabetical layouts will be available in 11 Indian languages (Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu).
  • Language search will be improved with the addition of select Indian languages.
  • Siri will support nine Indian languages in addition to Indian English. That means you’ll be able to interact in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu.
  • The Translate app will support Hindi, and that support extends to translation in Safari, Notes, and elsewhere across the OS.

A thoughtful strategy

The journey from Apple’s entry to India to now has been a very long road. Along the way, the company has demonstrated a brilliant strategy that should be part of the playbook for any firm seeking to access new markets. It’s so simple to articulate, and so complex to do. It works like this:

  • Every market is different. Engage with new markets on their own terms.
  • Invest selflessly. That new factory you spend millions on will build its own rewards in terms of local employment and consumer loyalty.
  • Meet people where they are.
  • Iterate and improve over time.

Apple’s successful execution of this approach is precisely why India is set to become Apple’s third biggest market.

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