One criticism often levelled at “stock” (AOSP) Android is its lack of Australian English as a system language. While OEMs like Samsung and HTC often add this to their custom Android builds, Nexus devices have never had this option offering only US or UK English and possibly confounding users during setup.
Why is this even an issue?
We don’t spell words the same way the Americans do. We don’t ‘customize’ things, we don’t change ‘color’, and we don’t use ‘aluminum’. We also don’t use their month-day-year date system. While many of our words are found in the English (United Kingdom) dictionary, we also have a different currency to the United Kingdom, so the pound symbol shouldn’t feature prominently on our keyboards. Finally, we use the metric system – some apps decide which units to use based on your selected system language.
How do we get Android to let us spell with British spelling, but have a dollar sign on the keyboard and recognise the metric system?
Until Android 4.2, you could just download MoreLocale 2 and have it change the system time for you. Since then, changes to Android mean that this now requires additional privileges – it’s still fine on a rooted device where you can just go ahead and install the app, but non-rooted users will need to use the Android SDK to allow the app to make the needed changes.
If your Nexus 5 doesn’t show you Developer Options in Settings, go to About Phone and tap the Build Number 7 times to enable the hidden menu.
These steps are recommended for intermediate or power users. You do not need an unlocked bootloader or rooted device to complete the following steps:
- Install the Android SDK – you’ll find instructions in our guide to setting up ADB
- Plug your Nexus 5 into your computer.
- On the phone, ensure that USB debugging is turned on in Developer Options and that your computer is authorised
- Install MoreLocale 2 from Google Play
- Open a command shell with ADB:
- Enter the following command:
pm grant jp.co.c_lis.ccl.morelocale android.permission.CHANGE_CONFIGURATION
- Open MoreLocale 2 on your device, and add the custom locale (it’s called “en AU”)
- Clean up after yourself – stop MoreLocale 2 from making further changes with this command:
pm revoke jp.co.c_lis.ccl.morelocale android.permission.CHANGE_CONFIGURATION
- Disconnect your Nexus 5 and restart it.
Under Settings > Language, you should now see that your language is English (Australia)!
If you ever have to reset your device or reinstall your OS, you’ll need to carry out these steps to ensure that the English (Australia) language comes back.