Google launches voice maps in six Indic languages, to add new users

Photo: Reuters
Concerned about government regulations over privacy rules affecting growth in India, Google said on Tuesday that the ecosystem of location-based services was still evolving globally.


As part of the internet giant’s “Next Billion User” initiative, it has customised its voice navigation in India, which will include six indic languages — Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam — apart from Hindi.


The company has launched a host of features in its already available services. The move will add a new set of users in tier-III cities as well as in the rest of the Indian market.


Speaking about the concerns over privacy issues, the company said it follows the law of the land where it operated.


“The entire space around location technology and services is dynamic. The ecosystem is still evolving. Some of the concerns that governments have are not specific to one country as everyone wants to protect their citizens. We work in multiple countries and abide by the law of the land,” Google Maps Next Billion Users Director Suren Ruhela said.


He added regulations and laws needed to be balanced to ensure that the pace of innovation was not affected. He further said that some of the concerns that governments had over security were not specific to one country. “I think across the world, governments’ try to protect their citizens, and are concerned about their security,” he said.


Asked about the proposed Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, he said google was a global company and would abide by the law of the land.


“When it comes to, specifically, something like the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, the government is promoting location services in a lot of ways,” adding that initiatives such as Digital India and Smart Cities would aid the use of location services.


Under the Bill, one must have the requisite permission from the government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India, while also proposing fines for violation.


However, there has been criticism from various quarters, saying the provisions of the Bill are stringent and may violate privacy of individuals.


The technology giant announced launching of ‘Plus Codes’ that would make it easier to find addresses in the country. It is based on dividing the geographical surface of the Earth into tiny ‘tiled areas’, and attributing a unique code to each of them. These codes can be shared to aid navigation.


“Plus Codes can be used for a wide variety of reasons including communicating the venue of a temporary event, guiding emergency services to afflicted locations, and providing an identifiable location for complicated addresses,” he said.

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