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Key Highlights From the 4th Annual Google for India Event

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Bhaswati Sarkar
Bhaswati Sarkar
She is a feminist pursuing a M.A. degree. She likes to lose herself in music and daydreams quite often. Travelling excites her and photography is her passion- nature is her favorite subject. Writing is cathartic for her. A happy-go-lucky kind of person, she tries to remain calm and serene through daily life.

The fourth annual edition of Google for India was held today in New Delhi which was also streamed live on its YouTube channel. Among the speakers were Google’s product leaders including Pravir Gupta (Senior Engineering Director of Google Assistant), Caesar Sengupta, (Vice President of Google’s Product Management) Gayathri Rajan (Vice President of Google Maps), Ken Tokusei (Director of International Search), Shashidhar Thakur (Vice President Engineering of Search), Rajan Anandan (Vice President of Sales & Operations in South East Asia and India) and Anitha Vijaykumar (Program Manager of TensorFlow).

In 2017, there was an announcement of incremental changes being brought to software, including the Android Oreo (Go Edition) that is designed to run on low-end phones, availability of the Assistant on Reliance JioPhone, the imminent ‘two-wheeler’ model Google Maps, among others.

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The Google for India 2018 highlights can help briefly gather important announcements made in today’s event. According to the Bain and Company Digital Bharat Report, 390 million users from India are monthly active users, making India the second-largest active internet user base. The internet use in rural areas has increased by quadruple times, almost 160 million users use online transactions, and it has been predicted that in the next 3 years women will constitute 45% of internet users in India.

Google for India focused on a New India defined by increased voice searches and almost 95% of video consumption in vernacular languages. Google stated that all leading products support the top 8 Indian languages, voice input enabled in 8 Indian languages, ads supported in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Telugu, and the GBoard keyboard supporting 50 Indian vernacular.

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Startup businesses can be supported by the Launchpad Accelerator Program alongside the focus on the growth of the AI/ML ecosystem. Google has also been developing the AI to forecast flood warnings, predicting dangerous flood-affected areas, and sending alerts through Google Search to reduce the drastic impacts of floods and save lives.

Google has also developed its Artificial Intelligence to assist doctors in diagnosing diabetic eye diseases much quicker with AI systems detecting diabetic retinopathy at rates on par with retinal specialists. Google attempts to make the search easier in many languages through the following features –

  • Bilingual feed (Hindi, English, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, and Tamil) and Google Go (reads in English, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and more)
  • Project Navlekha to help bring online more Indian content
  • Talking dictionaries and pronunciation answers

Google Assistant also has brought in new features –

  • Along with English and Hindi, Marathi is now available in the many Google Assistant languages
  • Real-time location updates on the train by asking “Where Is My Train?”
  • Learn English from Hindi
  • Airtel users can recharge data using voice

The new Google Maps features the following –

  • Along with redBus, a traveler can make use of voice navigation in English and Hindi and receive alerts when he/she is about to reach his/her destination
  • Access Turn-by-turn navigation on Maps Go, complete with a “redesigned home screen with shortcuts for public transport.”
  • Plus Codes to help assign addresses to homes in Kolkata which have no real address

Moreover, Google Station is helping Andhra Pradesh become more connected than ever with fast, free, and reliable Wi-Fi.

Google also stated that Indian hardware partners of Google are helping create more Android (Go Edition) phones at lower prices so that every Indian can avail of the Android experience. Devices upgrading to the Android Pie (Go Edition) will get the latest security features, additional 50MB storage, and faster booting time. The Samsung Galaxy J2 Core is Samsung’s first ‘Android Go smartphone. Google has stated that more than 400 Android Go edition smartphones will be launched later this year.

More importantly, Tez has changed its name to Google Pay, retaining all of its important features. Google Pay has 22 million monthly active users, which are still growing in number. One can now pay friends straight from the home screen alongside mobile recharges done with just one tap. Google Pay will soon accept over 2000 online merchants, including redBus, Goibibo, BookMyShow, MI, among many others. Over 15000 retail stores would soon start accepting payments through Google Pay.

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