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Google Maps now offers better discoverability in Indian languages with automatic transliteration

Google Maps has introduced learning models that help automatically transliterate the names of points of interest in Indian languages. 

Google improves discoverability in Maps
Google improves discoverability in Maps (HT Tech)

Google on Wednesday said its Google Maps has now gotten better for users using the app in Indian languages. The application has now incorporated learning models that automatically transliterate the names of points of interest (POIs) to 10 local languages.

Through automatic transliteration from Latin script (English), Maps will now show the names of points of interest in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, and Odia.

According to Google, the new feature helps delivers more intuitive language experience users and will enable search queries in their own languages and find information. Users can use the language picker through in-app Settings on Google Maps.

Explaining how the feature works, Cibu Johny, Software Engineer, Google Maps explained, “Common English words are frequently used in names of places in India, even when written in the native script. How the name is written in these scripts is largely driven by its pronunciation. For example, एनआईटी from the acronym NIT is pronounced ‘en-aye-tee’, not as the English word ‘nit’. Therefore by understanding that NIT is a common acronym from the region, Maps can derive the correct transliteration.”

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“In the past when Maps could not understand the context of एनआईटी, it would instead show a related entity that might be farther away from the user. With this development, we can find the desired result from the local language query. Additionally, users can see the POI names in their local language, even when they do not originally have that information.”

Google said Maps has already added names in local languages to millions of POIs across India using an ensemble of learned models, various transliteration dictionaries, and a module for acronyms.

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