Polytonic Greek on Android Smartphones

Jason Hare posted the following advice on the TextKit forum for getting Android smart phones to display polytonic Greek back in June. I thought I would share his advice here for those of you using Android phones to read this blog.

Download “Fontomizer” from the Android Market. It’s a free app. Install it. Open it and choose the Ubuntu-TTF font. Download and install it.

Go into Settings > Display > Font Style and choose Ubuntu. It displays polytonic Greek fantastically.

I hope this works for you.

Update from August 17, 2015.

The advice in this post is old. It does not work on the Android phones newer than version 4.1. The comments discuss the experiences of several readers and my responses to them. If you have anything to add about how you are using polytonic Greek on an Android phone or your frustrations with trying to do so, feel free to post your experience as a comment.

34 Replies to “Polytonic Greek on Android Smartphones”

      1. I’m new to forums, but on one forum (which I can’t seem to find now) someone suggested using Firefox for Android. It displays the polytonic greek characters! I had given up on this, but this works, and now I can use the word study tool at Perseus http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=

        To type, I have to use their codes like a/)| but the results in polytonic I can read just fine with firefox.

        Does someone know — will windows tablets and smartphones handle polytonic greek keyboard straight out? Thanks for any comments.

        Orrin in Susanville Calif.

          1. With firefox it works with Android 4.4.4 and 5.0, but not with Android 4.0.4. Interesting. I gave my Toshiba Thrive away because of this. The Thrive had reached EOL (end of life) and no Android updates after 4.0.4 will be issued.

  1. This trick worked for the first Android phone that I had. I’ve subsequently had two other phones, and it didn’t work. For both my Note 2 (recently broken) and my Galaxy Grand Duos, I had to root the device and replace the default Roboto fonts with Arial fonts, which are excellent in their support of Unicode.

    We batted this problem around on B-Greek for a long time, and we’re all in agreement that Android is seriously lacking in support for Polytonic Greek. It is because of this that I chose a Windows tablet (Surface) over one that runs on Android. It’s a basic issue that I will not compromise with. I think my next phone may be a Windows phone, too.

    Apparently the developers of Android do not think that this is an issue, even though we have all contributed to a thread in Google’s Android developer’s site regarding this issue. Apple doesn’t have this problem, nor does Windows. If Android doesn’t want to take care of it (and it should be an easy adjustment!), then perhaps they don’t want our business. I spend several hundred dollars a year on devices and upgrades, and if they don’t want to take care of this issue, then I’m done with them. It might be a small dent in their market, but I think we all need to be clear with our money that if they don’t take us seriously, all of our future purchases will leave them behind.

    Jason Hare

  2. I have a Note 3, rooted even, but all I can get is modern Greek keyboard. I sure wish I could get a polytonic keyboard. I have been thinking about getting an Android tablet, but I won’t now that I know that it can’t use a polytonic keyboard either. I have Xubuntu on my laptop and it can use a polytonic keyboard, so it must be possible.

  3. Some of the problems identified in the post above have been resolved in newer Android phones, but polytonic Greek is still problematic.

    In case you missed it on the main blog page, I thought you would like to know that in addition to the blog, the online grammar now displays nicely on both Apple and Android smartphones.

    1. But still the Android does not have a polytonic keyboard. So that caused me to buy a Windows 8.1 tablet. Problem solved. … In addition though, the Greek word study tool at Perseus.tufts.edu does not require polytonic or accents or anything. Plus it parses. What’s not to like there.

      1. That’s quite right, Orrin. I overstated the improvement in my July 13 comment. I’ve revised it to reflect your needed correction. What I have found with my new Motorola X (Android 5) is that I can type very easily in Greek, and that most sites that deal with Ancient Greek ignore the accents for purposes of searches. This will clearly not do if what you want to do is write Greek text on your phone for a Greek discussion board like b-Greek, though. At least I can easily switch between English, Spanish, and Greek now (which I couldn’t do with android 4) and polytonic Greek displays beautifully when I encounter it on the web.

  4. I bought galaxy tab s from japan i live in greece and iwant greek language menu and keyboard ,the problem is that as a default languages there are on the tablet are english , korean and japanese.any clue hot to fix that?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Do you know what version of Android your phone is running? When I had a Galaxy S I had a lot of difficulty getting it to display Greek correctly, but it was running Android 4. I now have a Motorola X running Android 5.1, and it works beautifully. If you can upgrade Android, that might solve your problem.

      Let me know what version of Android your phone has, and I’ll see what I can do to help.

        1. Thank you. That’s what I suspected. I found dealing with polytonic Greek very cumbersome with 4.4. I’m sorry I don’t have a good suggestion for how to deal with it other than upgrading to android 5. Even then, you will still have some difficulties. See my response to Orrin below.

    1. Jason’s advice about Fontomizer is quite old now (It was posted in January of 2014. (See his own comment below.) I don’t know what has taken the place of this utility since that time. I suspect your phone is running Android 4.x. If that’s the case, I unfortunately don’t know of anything that can get it to allow you to type polytonic Greek.

  5. Hey there,

    I am a pro polytonist from Greece. Unfortunately though, the mighty Android 4.4.4 doesn’t let me express that right I have 😛

    Anyway, is there any way to at least see, polytonic Greek? I have a rooted phone and I’m planning to update to 5.0. myself at some point.

    Thank you in advance. 🙂


    1. I owned an Android 4.4.4 for a while and was not able to get it to handle polytonic Greek adequately. I now have version 6. It displays polytonic Greek beautifully, but I still cannot enter polytonic Greek from my keyboard. That’s a major drawback for Android. I don’t understand why this is so difficult. When I first wrote the post above I was much more hopeful that a solution was coming quickly. Now I’m not so sure.

    2. The last time i tried with my android, the Firefox browser *does* display polytonic.

      For a keyboard, though, i moved to a Windows 8.1 tablet.

      Plus: the Greek word-study tool at Perseus allows entering Greek words in the Latin alphabet, with no accents or breathings required. If/when this leads to ambiguous results, you just have to sort through the results, not difficult.

    3. If you have a font installed with all the polytonic Greek characters, you should be able to view polytonic Greek with the Firefox browser.

      Firefox is a free download. If you don’t have it installed , install it and let me know how it works for you.

    4. You can use keyman keyboard for Android for languages not supported by mainstream keyboard. It’s free. And you can pay several dollars to have the pro version. It’s working perfectly with the later versions of android.

        1. Hi Micheal, it works for mine. ῶῆ

          But the circumflex works with other vowels?

          I’d suggest that you try a different keyboard since keyman has 4 different polytonic Greek keyboards. I’m using the Galaxie one. One of them should work at least. I’ve not tried the rest.

          If that still doesn’t work, I guess you’d have to contact them to fix it.

          Oh I’m using the paid version btw, not that it should make a difference.

          Ah and I assume you’ve been using keyman for a while. If this happens to be your first time, the Galaxie keyboard needs to switch to capital letters mode to find the circumflex button.

          Hope that helps! There are a ton of other languages available too.

          1. Thank you, Erwin.

            For me the circumflex works only with α and ι on the unicode font. Thanks for suggesting the other keyboards. The circumflex works correctly on the non-unicode keyboards, but that could cause problems for display on the web.

            This is definitely the best solution I’ve seen yet, though. Thank you!

          2. Hi Micheal. They’re all Unicode keyboards. I’m not sure why one of them has the name Unicode. It can be a misleading naming.

            Btw, I suspect the previous keyboard you tried could not add circumflex for those two vowels due to some logic they apply on how to input.

            For more information, you can go to the keyboard, tap the globe button, then tap the i button in the language list. You can access a mobile friendly page. For Galaxie, it’ll lead you to this page http://help.keyman.com/keyboard/galaxiegreekkm6/1.1/galaxiegreekkm6.php

            Or you can go to the keyman website and type the language you want, and then they’ll bring you to this page, for example, where you can go to desktop-sized web pages for more information for every keyboard available. Although the help pages are more PC-usage-oriented. Additionally, there is also an overview table comparing the different features of all keyboards.


            Either way works. You could find out perhaps why the previous keyboard you used couldn’t add circumflex to the long vowels. Or may be it doesn’t matter if you’re happy with the current keyboard. 🙂

          3. I just tried to install the paid version and got this warning (translated from Spanish):

            The entry method can collect all of the text you write, including personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers. It comes from the application, Keyman. Are you sure you want to use this entry method?

            That’s sounds pretty scary.

          4. Well any keyboard we use on our phone can capture sensitive information especially those keyboards that offer predictions including Google and iPhone native keyboards. It’s just that Google and Apple don’t show warning for their own keyboards.

            But one can argue, like my brother did, that at least big companies are more reputable and the chance of getting hacked is less. Not sure if that’s true.

            That said, for keyman, I doubt you’d be inputting sensitive information like credit card details and passwords on keyman polytonic Greek keyboard. You’d probably still use either your native Moto keyboard or, highly recommended, recently Microsoft-acquired SwiftKey, for English and Spanish. It’s easy to switch keyboard to and fro anyway. So there shouldn’t be any additional risk for you. The risk remains isolated to the current QWERTY keyboard you are using.

            Hope that assures you. 🙂

  6. After a long struggle, I successfully installed Greek Polytonic fonts on an older tablet (Superpad, with Android 4.0.3), thanks to the excellent advice I found at this url:
    It was actually quite simple and fast after I realized I must use an older version of Firefox.
    So, I downloaded the “SBL Greek Font” from the given link and added it into the Firefox browser as per the article. However, it is very important to note that the add-on is allowed only on older versions of Firefox, which still allowed “unsigned add-ons” (Firefox 40 or earlier). Google-play store will only have the latest Firefox version (currently 44), which won’t let you (even the beta version locks you out). So, one should get the Firefox 40 app from another site, such as:
    All Internet sites I checked now display the Ancient Greek properly in the Firefox browser.
    If you already have a newer version of Firefox on your device, I recommend you uninstall it before you install version 40.
    I am pretty confident this solution will work with any device using Android 4.0.3 or later versions.

    Hope this helps.

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