Google launches an array of India-focused apps, services
New Delhi: Google India announced a slew of India-first products and features built especially for the ever-growing base of Indian internet users at the third edition of its annual “Google for India” event.
Customized for Indian conditions and needs, these include two-wheeler navigation in Google Maps, bill pay in payments app Tez, Android Oreo (Go edition) to improve the experience on low-RAM phones, new apps like Google Go and Files Go that are built from scratch, and Google Assistant for the Reliance Jio Phone that brings the benefits of the Assistant to first-time internet users.
“The India-first suite of products and features are aimed to help more people discover how the internet can make life easier and more convenient—whether it’s helping pay bills on time, navigating through the quickest routes or searching for answers to questions wherever we are. These products and features are India-first, but they are not India-only. When we build better products for India, we ultimately build better products for everyone,” said Caesar Sengupta, vice-president, Next Billion Users, Google’s initiative to connect all Indians to the internet.
Google’s payments and commerce app Tez, which the company launched in September, will offer a customized experience to pay bills from within the app. Not only will users be able to pay their utility bills, the app will also remind users when a bill is due, track payments and store payment history so that users will never pay the same bill twice.
Sengupta said Tez will support more than 70 billers (both national and state providers), including utilities and direct-to-home service providers like BSES, Tata Power, Dish TV etc. Once users pay a bill on Tez, they will never have to add the billing organization again. The bill pay feature will start rolling out gradually over the next month. Tez has 12 million daily active users and has processed 140 million transactions in about 10 weeks, with 70% of all UPI transactions being driven by the app.
“Google has gone all out for India and is finding solutions for India and by doing this it will find solutions for the rest of the seven billion people around the world,” Amitabh Kant, chief executive of Niti Aayog said at the event.
Another India first product launched at the event was the two-wheeler mode in Google Maps. The company said India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market and the navigation needs of these millions of riders are different from automobile drivers. Two-wheeler mode in Maps gives routes that use shortcuts not accessible to cars. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations. The two-wheeler mode uses machine learning to suggest more relevant routes for riders, using smaller roads and two-wheeler-friendly shortcuts. It will also show major landmarks on the route so that riders can better plan their trip before starting, and not keep checking their phone on-the-go. Two-wheeler mode will be available in India starting Tuesday, and in more countries in the coming months.
Additionally, the company rolled out its Google Assistant in both English and Hindi for the Reliance JioPhone. This is the first time globally that the virtual assistant will be available on a feature phone.
The company is also enhancing the Search experience for users and over the next few months, Google will also offer information on air quality for 20 Indian cities through its search platform.
“We’ve been hard at work at this and the body of work that has happened is astounding even for us. For an American company putting this kind of focus on India and being determined to prove that we are as Indian as any other Indian company is a pretty big step and I felt that this was a desire at some point of time and now our actions speak louder than our words,” said Sengupta.