The Google House demo featured appearances from celebrities like chef Kunal Kapur, fashion photographer Dabboo Ratnani, YouTube comedy sensation Kanan Gill, and emerging photographer Anushka Menon, explaining how they use Google's mobile products.
Sandeep Menon, Country Marketing Director India at Google, said that the event was curated to showcase what its engineers have worked on for the past year, from an India-specific, mobile-specific perspective. "Every month, six million people are coming online in this country, and a lot of thought needs to given to whether our products work seamlessly with them," he said.
Menon cited the example of Web Light, which was rolled out in India last month. Designed to make mobile webpages faster and lighter when accessed from Google's search results. Google's field tests in Indonesia found the light webpages to load four times faster and use 80 percent less data, driving a 50 percent increase in traffic. He also talked about features like On Now, which has added India-specific features like bus and train timings, local attractions and monuments.
Suren Ruhela, Director, Program Management, Google Maps, said that around 20-30 percent of all informational needs are about a place, and that Google Maps strives to be comprehensive, accurate, and usable. He cited innovations like landmark-based navigation, public transport integration, and voice guidance in Indian accents, apart from offline support and real-time traffic data. "Our maps work just in urban areas, but semi-urban or rural areas. We launched real-time traffic in 34 cities in India, which helps you predict the time taken to reach a destination." he said.
"We have our in-house efforts where we work with lots of data partners at Google, and use algorithms to aggregate inputs from smartphones on the road to provide in-depth traffic information." Ruhela said, explaining how the real-time traffic feature works.
Ruhela said that Offline Maps, announced at Google I/O, will be a game-changer Indian users, as it will help them navigate in situations where the Internet connectivity is non-existent or poor. "We want the feature to be so seamless that it doesn't look very different from the online mode." he said.
Google is working with the government of India to bring Street View to the country, Ruhela said, but he didn't have a specific announcement to make around it. He said that Street View's collaboration with the Archaeological Survey Of India, which provides a 360-degree view of India's monuments has got a tremendous response, with Taj Mahal becoming one of the most viewed sights in the world.
The US-based firm said it is witnessing strong growth in consumption of Hindi language, which is growing 94 percent year-on-year compared to 19 percent growth for English content.
"While there are an estimated 500 million speakers of Hindi, there are just 100,000 Wikipedia articles. India's Internet population is growing really fast, from 100 million users in 2011, we are now the world's second largest Internet base with 300 million users and we are well-poised to touch 500 million base by 2017," Menon said. He added that one in five (21 percent) prefers to access Internet in Hindi in the country.
(With Inputs from PTI)