In Sri Lanka, smartphones brought the internet into the hands of those once disconnected from the internet. Yet, it was a tool designed to operate in English. For many Sri Lankans, this was an obstacle as they tried to get the best benefits of this technology. Helakuru was launched by the team at Bhasha, which has eliminated this problem. The app has evolved considerably and is now the first Sri Lankan built app to cross 10 million downloads on the Play Store.
How Helakuru evolved from a keyboard to Lankan super app
The world has long been unravelling the threads and delights of the internet. With the knowledge it offers, countries have surged ahead. They set up their digital communities, and innovation burst forth in a wellspring of new apps and services. Sri Lanka as a community felt the waves of this shift not long after.
Yet, the language barrier prevented much of the island nation from coming online. Seeing this, the team at Bhasha had been working hard at developing a mobile app that would help eliminate this barrier. Thus, it is bridging the digital divide between communities, allowing for authentic communication and interaction using the technology at hand.
In 2011, the team at Bhasha released their first public version of the Helakuru app. Upon its launch, the alternative keyboard mainly supported the Sinhala language. Tamil was introduced as a feature on the app as it rose in popularity, adding accelerant to its already rapid growth.
Sri Lankans living both domestically and internationally depend on its service as an alternative keyboard on smartphones as a mode of communication. From the first day of its release, the Helakuru app has proved its use cases repeatedly. Over a decade, the app has gained several users and just recently crossed the spectacular threshold of 10 million downloads.
What started as a revolutionary change in Sri Lankans’ communication evolved into a rich ecosystem. Alongside its trilingual keyboard, Helakuru also offers users real-time news updates (Esana), reloads, e-channelling, a classified section, dictionary and even astrology service. It is also now considered as a place where Sri Lankan’s can showcase their creative writing prowess in their native tongues.
Helakuru has cemented itself in the lives of Sri Lankans
It’s clear from the close to 100,000 reviews on the Google Play store for Helakuru that it has won the hearts of its users to whom the platform is irreplaceable. As one user proclaimed, ‘One of the greatest and most useful apps in my app drawer’.
Suffice to say, the evolution of this app has taken it from a bareboned and practical product in 2011 to a staple for Sri Lankans. Whether it is data from the ongoing pandemic or the latest news across the spectrum, Helakuru has built a massive userbase that depends on its day-to-day functioning.
Bhasha states its vision as the hope to empower people digitally, and the Helakuru mobile application has done just that. It has broken down the barriers to communication that existed and has helped millions of people stay connected, reconnect and engage with each other in a way that has never been possible before.