Google for India 2018: Focus on native language apps and enabling AI...

Google for India 2018: Focus on native language apps and enabling AI ecosystem

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Majority of Internet users are Indian language users and 95% of video consumption is in vernaculars in India. This is one segment which Google is looking to cater with the rollout of new features.

Among the latest features of Google is a Bilingual Feed in Google Go and Project Navlekha that is a free-to-publish source and would empower writers, journalists and anyone who wants to generate new content in vernacular Indian languages. What prompted the creation of Navlekha was the paucity of content in Indian languages and the increasing demand for it.

Google Assistant has also been launched in Marathi and would soon be launched in 7 other Indian languages.

Tez, the Google payment app which is used by 22 million people in India, has now been rechristened to Google Pay. Google is also working on extending its reach across 15,000 retail stores in India. Financial inclusion and easy accessibility of loan are among the key priorities via Google Pay.

Google is also working to make voice searches more easier and precise. The year 2018 is also the 10th anniversary of Google Maps in India and Google is looking at ways to further improvise navigation.

Gayathri Rajan, Vice-President, Geo, announced new features coming to Google Maps that make the service more relevant to more Indians. Google Maps Go now brings turn-by-turn navigation functionality, while featuring a new home screen with convenient shortcuts. Google Maps is also adding better public transport guidance, which will inform riders of upcoming stops and alerts on when to get off. And thanks to a new partnership with RedBus — India’s largest inter-city bus ticketing service — more than 20,000 routes and 1,500 cities will also be added for intercity bus journey routes.

At the Google for India 2018 event, which took place today (August 28, 2018) in New Delhi, Google has affirmed its faith in the growing potential of Indian internet market, which is growing at a rapid pace and highlighted emerging trends and focus areas .

At the event, Rajan Anandan, Vice President Google SEA and India, said “There has been a paradigm shift in Indian internet and it is pivotal in the emergence of a new India”. He also added that earlier “3Ms – Metro, Male and Millennials – dominated Indian internet for a long time but now the trend is changing and internet is becoming more inclusive, with an increase in the number of women users”.

At 8 GB per user per month, India’s internet usage is on par with developed world and has increased drastically over the last 4 years, said Mr Anandan. He also stressed on the fact that majority of Internet users are Indian language users and 95% of video consumption is in vernaculars in India. This is one segment which Google is looking to cater with the rollout of new features. Google is also working to make voice searches more easier and precise.

At the keynote session, Rajan Anandan, also extended Google’s solidarity with the victims of Kerala flood and spoke about Google’s efforts in relief and rehabilitation, including Google Person Finder, Plus Codes and instant donations to Kerala Government using Google Tez, the UPI payment app.

Anitha Vijaykumar, Project Manager, Tensor Worklfow, which is Google’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning wing, said that the future lies in seamless integration of apps and workflows with AI and ML and Google is looking ahead at it.

She said, “AI is helping solving numerous problems, from helping doctors in diagnostics, to advancing innovations, providing agricultural solutions and much more”

One of the application areas of AI where Google is focusing on is early and accurate flood warning by using Google elevation and maps, she added. It is part of the Google strategy to nurture AI ecosystem in India and then synchronize AI in other applications.

Disaster mitigation using AI is an emerging field and Google is at the forefront of it. Google India is also mentoring and teaming with start-ups in India in AI and ML.

Google Maps location sharing feature now shares phone battery status too