Google continues to customise its services for India. The internet company on Tuesday announced new initiatives and enhancements to its existing services with a focus to make its services more relevant for Indian users.
Voice, Video, and Vernacular
After having rolled out Google Assistant on smart feature phone JioPhone, Google is now leveraging its voice capacities on Google Go, a lite version of its main application. The application will now be able to read web pages out loud. Users can also pull up any web page in English and a range of Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, and Tamil.
"Powered by natural language processing and speech synthesis AI, this technology can read billions of webpages smoothly in a natural sounding voice. It supports 28 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi and Tamil—even on 2G connections," the company said in a blog post.
Google Assistant will now serve you more relevant content to Indian users and now supports Marathi language. The digital assistant will add as many as eight new Indian languages. The platform will also see integration of local applications such as Airtel, Hello English and Where is My Train.
Google also announced a new initiative 'Project Navlekha' under which it will help 100,000+ offline Indian language publishers bring their content online.
Rajan Anandan, VP, India and Southeast Asia said that the future of internet in India is "Voice, Video, and Vernacular."
"Voice has been emerging as the preferred mode of use for new internet users. We're seeing major growth of voice queries in India. Furthermore, online video now accounts for 75% of all mobile traffic. And as for vernacular, majority of the internet users today are Indian language users, a number expected to reach 500 million plus in the next two years. 95% of video consumption is in vernacular languages," he added.
Google Tez is now Google Pay
In the wake of demonetisation drive and new-found focus on digital payments, Google last year introduced a UPI-based payment platform called Google Tez. In about one year, the platform has saw over 750 million transactions worth over $30 billion (₹200,000 crore). Going forward, Tez will be called Google Pay.
The rebranding allows Google users to make digital payments to retail stores and conduct online transactions across apps as well as various Google products.
"In just under a year, Tez has found a place in the lives for more than 22 million people and businesses who use it every month. People from over 300,000 suburban areas, towns and villages are using it to pay their electrician, book bus rides or split dinner bills with friends," Payments and Next Billion Users Initiative general manager Caesar Sengupta wrote in a blog post.
Digital lending is also becoming a part of the new Google Pay. The company said that it will now work with major banks like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Federal Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank to facilitate pre-approved loans to customers.
"In the coming weeks, these customers will be able to use Google Pay to take out a customised loan amount from their banks with minimal paperwork, and once they accept the bank's terms, the money will be deposited securely and instantly into their bank accounts," said Sengupta.
Google Maps and Google Station
Google Maps continues to be a priority product for Google. After having introduced a slew of India-focused features like two-wheeler mode, Google Maps Go (the lite variant of the main application) will now offer turn-by-turn navigation functionality, and a new home page shortcut. Google Maps Go will also integrate RedBus to show more than 20,000 routes and 1,500 cities will also be added for intercity bus journey routes.
Google has also announced the next round of its free Wi-Fi project in India. Earlier, Google worked with RailTel to provide free Wi-Fi services at 400 railway stations in India. Under Google Station platform, the internet company is now extending Wi-Fi services across 12 thousand villages, towns and cities in Andhra Pradesh. The company has partnered with local Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Limited to reach almost 10 million people.
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