Google unveils new India-first products to connect next billion


Firming up its commitment to connect the next billion Indians, Google on Tuesday announced several India-first products and features that will be rolled out in other developing countries in the coming months.

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Currently, there are nearly 400 million Internet users in India along with over 300 million smartphone users. Rajan Anandan, Vice President, South East Asia and India at Google, told reporters at the company's third annual "Google for India" event in New Delhi,

On average, a connected mobile Internet user in India today is consuming over 4GB of data per month. At the current growth rate and given the connectivity environment, we expect this number to reach 11GB per user per month in the next four years and Google is here to help connect all.

"There are 230 million Indian language users online on Google today and 170 million of them are using our messaging service. Yet, we have over 900 million Indians who aren't connected to Internet. Our mission is Internet for every Indian. We'll stay focussed until every single Indian is connected," Anandan stressed.

At the event, Google announced Android Oreo (Go edition) that will be available for entry-level smartphones, for which India is a huge market.

Android Oreo (Go edition) is available for the Android ecosystem of developers, partners and carriers as part of Android 8.1 Oreo release on Tuesday.

"Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM will get all the optimisations that come with Android Oreo (Go edition), including a better performing OS with built-in data management features and security benefits," said Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Next Billion Users Team at Google.

The company also announced a new set of pre-installed lighter Google apps, including Google Go (a new app from Google Search) and Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition).

Google Go is light on storage and data and works efficiently on patchy connections. "It's less than 5MB to download, and search results in Google Go are optimised to save up to 40 percent data," Sengupta added.

Google also announced "Files Go," an app that will help free up space, find files faster and share files offline on smartphones that come with less internal storage.

The company also brought bill payment facilities on its digital payment app "Tez".

"More than 70 billers will be supported, including utilities and direct-to-home service providers, on Tez," Sengupta told reporters here.

"Tez" will support bill payments for Tata Power, MTNL, DishTV, CPDCL and other utility providers that will include national and state electricity providers, water, DTH, and gas recharges.

Tez has processed over 140 million transactions from nearly 12 million active users. There are more than 525,000 merchants already on Tez.

To help bikers find the most suitable route in India, Google incorporated navigation routes for two-wheelers with Voice Assistant capabilities in its Maps feature.

"The India-first feature is the new "two-wheeler mode" in Google Maps. India is the largest two-wheeler market in the world, and the millions of motorcycle and scooter riders have different navigation needs than drivers of automobiles," said Sengupta.

Two-wheeler mode in Maps shows trip routes that use "shortcuts" not accessible to cars and trucks. The two-wheeler mode will arrive in more countries later.

In a move to empower feature phone users in the country, Google announced to bring its Voice Assistant on Reliance JioPhone.

The Google Assistant for JioPhone will be available in English and Hindi. This is the first time Voice Assistant will be available in any feature phone.


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