Google on Thursday announced an extensive network of Wi-Fi hotspots as part of its Google Station project across the African country of Nigeria. At the event, the tech giant also revealed updates that are coming to its Google Go, Google Maps Go, and YouTube Go apps, and on Google Search. The company also revealed statistics for its digital skills programme, Launchpad Accelerator, and Android Oreo (Go edition)-powered smartphones in the African continent.
At its Google for Nigeria event, the company announced the rollout of webpage dictation on its Google Go app for smartphones with low RAM and inbuilt storage. This feature will allow the app to read webpages out loud and highlight each word for readers to follow. It will be available for billion of pages in 28 languages in the coming weeks.
Google Maps Go doesn't offer real-time navigation capabilities, its biggest draw back. But, with the latest announcements, Google has brought real-time navigation to the Android Go ecosystem in the form of the Navigation for Google Maps Go app that will allow users to get real-time navigation features, with turn-by-turn directions even on handsets with limited RAM and unstable network connections, whether travelling by car, bus, train or on foot. The Navigation for Google Maps Go app serves as a companion app to Google Maps Go, and can be accessed when users tap on the Navigation button after searching for directions on Google Maps Go. Previously, for navigation, the Maps Go used to redirect users to the original Google Maps app. The regular version of Google Maps is getting new Nigerian landmarks and natural wonders on Street View.
Available on smartphones running Android Oreo (Go edition), YouTube Go is getting a new video file extension in the form of .yt. With this new format, the videos made available offline on the YouTube Go app will be available for access in the phone's default Gallery app. Users can share the videos via various apps and also delete them in one go. Once shared, the videos will only be playable in the YouTube Go app.
In Nigeria specifically, Google Search is getting capabilities to identify health issues by entering in symptoms, and a new recipe search experience. Job search will be expanded to over 32 countries in Africa.
Apart from these app updates, Google also announced that it had trained over 2.5 million Africans to date as part of its digital skills programme, and is expected to hit the 10 million mark soon. More than 9,000 developers from the continent have also been certified by Google.
As part of its Launchpad Accelerator Africa, twelve startups have already graduated and have created 132 jobs with a total of $7 million (roughly Rs. 48.1 crores) in funding. Lastly, Google said that Android Oreo (Go edition)-based smartphones are retailing for as low as NRN 17,000, which is roughly Rs. 3,200, in the African continent.