At I/O 2016, Google unveiled its own voice assistant Google Assistant, and made it available in Allo chat app and the Google Home smart speaker initially. It is now available on most Android phones out there, and is regularly updated with more features. India has been a priority for Google since the start, and the Assistant supported English and Hinglish (a mixture of English and Hindi) since the initial days, before being made available in Hindi earlier this year. Now, at the Google for India 2018 event held in New Delhi on Tuesday, Google has announced new India-specific features for Google Assistant, with support for Marathi also introduced. The tech giant is also working with several local service providers to bring more functionality to the Google Assistant.
Google also announced that support for seven other Indian languages is in the pipeline. Furthermore, Google Assistant is also getting the ability to talk in regional languages as well. This feature is coming soon, and to activate it, all the user has to say is, "Okay Google, Talk to me in Hindi" or any of the other supported regional languages of their choice. Because of this, Google Home will also be able to talk in Hindi in the future. Asserting its importance of the Indian market, Google says that it has doubled down the localisation on Google Assistant since launch, and its usage has notably tripled in India since 2016.
Google is also working with several third-party apps to bring more functionality on Google Assistant. It is working with Where Is My Train to introduce the ability to locate trains, and Hello English integration will help Indian users learn English using Hindi through Google Assistant. It is also working with Airtel to allow users to check plan expiry date, new recharge options, existing plan details, and even recharge directly through Google Assistant.
Separately, Google has also launched a new India Builds Actions campaign to get more Indian developers involved in making software to extend the functionality of the Google Assistant. This campaign looks to show Indian developers how to build their Actions on Google in English and Hindi in just 15 minutes. Head to the Actions on Google website to learn more about building software for Google Assistant.
At the Google for India event, the Mountain View firm also announced it was rebranding Google Tez as Google Pay, and also unveiled Project Navlekha to help offline publishers in India get online. There were also several other Search and Android Go based announcements, including the bilingual (English and Hindi) for Google Feed and the new Google Go ability that lets users listen to webpages.