Google for India 2018: Here’s everything you need to know


  • Google’s announcements this year focus on furthering their efforts to localise their ecosystem for Indian users.
  • Aside from Hindi and English, the tech giant has plans of introducing eight new languages to Google Search and Google Assistant starting with Marathi.
  • Google’s Tez payments app is being renamed Google Pay, to bring it at par with its international counterpart without losing aspects that are specific to India.
Google’s focus towards India was reiterated in its yearly event, Google for India 2018, earlier today. While highlighting how the connectivity has drastically increased the numbers of Indian users online, Google made a few key announcements about how it’s making its ecosystem more localised for India.

Keeping in mind that India now has nearly 450 million internet users with 390 being active on a monthly basis, the country’s data usage has skyrocketed to 8GB per month, which is at par with users in developed nations around the world.

Which is why it makes sense that the Google Assistant will now be rolling out in local Indian languages, aside from just Hindi and English. The introduction of Marathi onto the platform is the first of eight new languages that Google has planned to roll out.


Project Navlekha

One of the biggest barriers to Indian content being online in indic languages is the lack of awareness. Project Navlekha is Google’s initiative to empower publications that publish in local languages.

Though this platform, publishers will have free web hosting, a branded domain name for three years as well as AdSense to support the monetisation of their content. The biggest boon is probably the artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will enable PDFs in indic languages to be seamlessly converted into editable text.

Listen to webpages on Google Go

Google Go was introduced during last year’s Google for India event. The stripped down version of the Google Search app uses less data, less storage and has a simpler interface.

More than 50% of Indian are currently using the search function, Google Go or just Google search, on their phones.

This year, Google has introduced a readability feature. The Assistant will now be able to read web pages out loud, not only in English, but in various Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and Tamil.

And, usually when apps read text out it’s in a monotonous drone. The Assistant, with it’s AI capabilities, will actually be able to modulate what’s being said to offer a more ‘natural-sounding’ experience according to the company.

Google Pay is here

Google Pay is the Tez payments app, with a few more bells and whistles attached. The aim is to streamline the Indian payment app with its international counterpart, without losing out on the localisition.

The company is expanding its reach through multiple programs targeted to attract more merchants onto the platform. First off, it’s partnering with large stores across India to tap into their large base of consumers. They’re also building something called the ‘merchant experience’ so that businesses can find more customers through Google Maps and customised notifications.

The ‘merchant experience’ is already being tested in Delhi and Bangalore.

In addition, it’s introducing new integrations to make the app more user friendly. One of those integrations is users being able to make payments with Google Pay without having to leave the merchant’s app.

In partnership with Indian banks like HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, Google is also looking to go beyond basic payments. In their new collaboration efforts, Google Pay will soon have pre-approved, instant loans available on the platform in the coming weeks.

Google Home in Hindi

Another feat in Google’s race to localise for India, the Assistant will now be able to switch between English and Hindi seamlessly. No extra command or intimation, just a bilingual Assistant.

One of main complaints by Indian users when using any smart speaker has been that they don’t integrate well with the Indian diaspora of apps. Despite that, the use of the Google Assistant has tripled in the last year alone.

Google, in turn, has introduced three new actions for the user. The ‘Where is My Train’ action to tracks trains across the country, the ‘Airtel’ action which allows subscribers to pull information about their account details using voice commands and the ‘Hello English’ to help users learn English via online lessons.

Localised Google Maps

How many times have you gotten lost using Google Maps because the turn indications are precise enough? The low-connectivity friendly version of the app, Google Maps Go, will now have turn-by-turn navigation as well as a new home screen with specialised shortcuts.

And with respect to inter-state travel, Google is partnering with RedBus to bring on 20,000 new routes and 1,500 new cities to Google Maps.

Google Stations

Google stations was an initiative that the company took up with Railtel, which now spans across 400 stations in India. Not only is it being replicated across the world, the company has plans of introducing it in Andhra Pradesh to expand its reach to 10 million more people.

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