Google to launch an array of India-centric apps early next year

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, gestures during a news conference in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
To touch the right cords with Indian users, global search giant Google has developed many applications and customised features to meet the language diversity of the country.

The company has identified bringing internet to people anywhere and everywhere for optimum use as its key vision.

According to the status revealed by the company, India is Google’s second-largest source of mobile traffic, next only to the US. It is ahead of developed countries like the UK and Japan. Recently, searches around the world on mobile phones overtook desktops. But in India this had happened as early as in 2013. Also, the number of Android users here is set to exceed those in the US by 2016.

Google is, therefore, looking forward to investing in quality content creators and skilled developers in India.

Keeping India’s diversity — in both languages and culture — in mind, the company has developed some customised features for the Indian user. Here is a look at some of the India-centric initiatives that Google has announced:

1) Tap to Translate

Probably one of the most impressive ones, this feature, to be released early next year, is expected to help rural and semi-urban population in Indian. Developed mainly for messaging apps, Google Translate will instantly translate the Hindi messages into English, and vice versa, with a tap. Besides Hindi, this feature would be available in other local Indian languages, too. Indians travelling to other parts of the country can avail of the benefits of this feature. Even if you do not understand Hindi, you will be able to read and write messages using this feature.

Caesar Sengupta, vice-president for Google’s Next Billion initiatives, said: “With Tap to Translate you can copy text anywhere on your Android phone and instantly get the translation — without ever leaving the app.

2) Translation of text on any format

Another feature, also in Google translate, enables translation of text on any format of data. For example, it will transliterate text on images in any of your preferred language, making it extremely convenient for tourists and foreigners to understand signboards or shop names. The app will also be useful for Indians — they will be able to read texts and signboards written in local languages when travelling outside of their states. The unique feature is that the facility will be available offline, too. Once downloaded, the app will work even without data connection.

3) New virtual keyboard

Google has created a new virtual keyboard that makes it easy to type in 11 Indian languages. It has entered into an exclusive partnership with Intex and Lava, whose handsets would come with inbuilt virtual keyboards.

4) YouTube video buffering

Last year, YouTube announced a feature where users could download videos and access those offline. Now, it has announced a feature that allows videos to buffer while they are paused, for those on limited bandwidth.

5) Panoramic imagery of Indian monuments

Google has worked with the culture ministry and the Archaelogical Survey of India to add panoramic images of 250 Indian monuments to both Google Maps and Google Cultural Institute. It works in a way similar to street view in some countries — a 360-degree view of the place is available.

6) RailWire Wifi

Google is working with the India Railways and Railtel to launch RailWire Wifi, which will provide Wifi at train stations across India. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, a team is working to set up RailWire at the Mumbai Central station, which will be the first train station to go online, in January 2016.

7) Chromebit

A small device that turns any monitor into a modern-day computer will also be launched in January and help boost computing in the education sector.

8) Training Android developers

Google also announced a programme to train two million new Android developers over the next three years by working closely with more than 30 universities across India, in partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation.

9) Google stream line search

Launched last year, this feature offers fast loading time even on limited connectivity. With this, websites can be streamed in 2G-like connections four times faster with less data.


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