Google woos 'Bharat' to add 1 bn users globally

Competing with tech and e-commerce giants such as Microsoft and Amazon, global tech giant Google has introduced a host of ‘India First’ products that can be used in a number of regional languages to capture Tier-III, Tier-IV markets and the rest of India. 

From two-wheeler maps, expansion of mobile wallet Tez into rural areas, a new operating system for low-end phones, Google Assistant for JioPhone, to an app that helps getting rid of the spamming WhatsApp forwards, Google is going all out to win over the hinterlands.

It has also made its voice-based Indic language search crisper so that people in the rural area and varied dialects could search using voice commands on Google Assistant. 

The company is making all these efforts as it wants to capture the largest chunk of the Indian market in order to add a billion users globally.

Map for two-wheelers

Realising that almost 70 per cent of vehicles registered in India are two-wheelers, the tech giant has taken its map technology to the next level. 
In the third edition of the ‘Google for India’ event, the company unveiled a two-wheeler Mode in Google Maps. 
“India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market and the navigation needs of these millions of riders are different from automobile drivers. This gives routes that use shortcuts not accessible to cars. It also provides customised traffic and arrival-time estimations,” Martha Welsh, director, Google Maps, said. 

The two-wheeler mode uses machine learning to suggest more relevant routes for riders, using narrow roads and two-wheeler-friendly shortcuts. Google would take its two-wheeler maps to other countries in the coming months.

Google pact with Jio

Google has partnered with Reliance Jio to launch its voice assistant on JioPhone, a first for any feature phone in India. 

The voice assistant in both Hindi and English for JioPhone is a special version and it will automatically become available on devices starting Tuesday.

This is also the first time that it becomes available on a phone in Hindi. Jio had taken pre-order for six million JioPhones in August and has already delivered all the devices. 

Also, the Mukesh Ambani-owned company had got expression of interest for 10 million devices and the firm has started deliveries for the same, too.

Google Tez on steroids

Its mobile wallet app, Tez, launched only 10 weeks ago has gained about 12 million active users. 

Ceaser Sengupta, vice-president, Next Billion Users, Google, said the wallet had processed over 140 million transactions in a short span.

The company is planning to expand its services and has tied up with as many as 70 utility providers, including BSES and DishTv. 

The company plans to add more service providers and launch the service in a few weeks. 

Taking on leading players such as Paytm, having 280 million users and a host of services via its wallet and Paytm Payments Bank, Google plans to add services for merchants and sellers to make the use of Tez more prevalent. 

“Tez accounts for 73 per cent of Bhim UPI transactions,” Sengupta said. The company is at the heels of competitors by using the cashback route to gain users. 

New Android for low-end smartphones

To reach out to 40-million lower-end smartphone market, Google has launched Android Oreo (Go edition) to improve the experience on low-RAM or low-random access memory phones. 

“Then, you have those who are just adopting internet. For them, Android Oreo will help improve the experience on entry-level phones while new apps like Files Go will ensure their experience is smooth and these consume less data,” Sengupta said.

Files Go, which frees space on devices, finds files faster and shares files offline with people nearby, also helps in collating ‘good morning’ messages on WhatsApp and deletes then automatically.

Previously, Google had partnered with Indian handset makers such as Micromax and Spice, to launch entry-level Android One smartphones. But unlike Android One, Android Go is compatible with any handset with 1GB RAM or less.

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