Photo Credit: Google
Google at the Google for India 2021 event on Thursday introduced an end-to-end COVID-19 vaccination booking flow via Google Assistant in eight Indian languages. The search giant also announced its partnership with massive open online course (MOOC) platform Coursera to offer online certification courses in the country. At the virtual event, the company also launched a feature on Google Search that will allow users to get results in their preferred languages. Google Search will also get read aloud support in regional languages. Additionally, Google announced features including bill split and Hinglish support for Google Pay users in India.
Among other announcements, Google at this year's Google for India unveiled the end-to-end COVID-19 vaccination booking flow via Google Assistant that will go live next year. It will get started as soon as you search for “COVID vaccine registration” on Google Search. Users will see a Register easily with Google Assistant button, apart from the regular Register at cowin.gov.in button. It will let you book your COVID-19 vaccine through a step-by-step guide powered by Google Assistant in any of eight Indian languages, namely Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. All this is aimed to help eradicate the complexity and barriers in booking for COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Google has worked closely with the government's CoWIN to enable the integration. The new experience will be available in Chrome on Android and will begin rolling out in early 2022, Google said.
Alongside allowing users to book COVID-19 vaccines via Google Assistant, Google at the Google for India event announced updates coming to Google Pay. One of these biggest changes is Hinglish support that will essentially allow users to access Google Pay in a conversational hybrid of Hindi and English. It will be available to users in the country starting early 2022.
Google said that there are over 350 million users that use Hinglish as their default language. The update will help support those users.
In addition to Hinglish support, Google Pay is getting voice input support in English and Hindi for entering bank account numbers. This will ease bank transfers through the payments app.
Google Pay is also getting a feature called Bill Split later this year that will be available for users in the group to split and settle their shared expenses. Group support on Google Pay was introduced earlier this year.
Additionally, Google Pay is getting a functionality named MyShop that will allow merchants to quickly build their online stores that will be available for access through Google as well as on social media.
The MyShop offering will be available through Google Pay for Business app and will allow merchants to add images, descriptions, and prices of their products. Once created, the listings can be shared online.
Google Pay for Business is claimed to have over 10 million merchants. The new arrival would help all of them and new merchants joining the platform to have their online presence via Google Pay.
Google Search is also getting updated specifically for Indian users by starting to translate “high-quality” content from sources including Wikipedia and Quora to a local language when they appear on search results. The new experience is initially available in five Indian languages, namely Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. It can be accessed through any mobile browser that supports Google Search, the company said.
Users will also be able to view the page in its original source language if they don't want to see them in the language they searched.
Google has additionally introduced the ability to start hearing search results out loud in Hinglish as well as five Indian languages, namely Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, and Tamil. You just need to tap the button in Google Search results to hear the given information read back to you in your preferred language.
This update will help people listen to the information they want to get from Google Search. It will also enable Google to reach new users in India by easing the information delivery mechanism — using its voice-driven experience.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the demand for online courses and digital skills among young Indians, Google has partnered with Coursera to kick off Google Career Certificates — a programme meant to offer online certification courses in the fields of data analytics, IT support, UX design, project management, and IT automation, among others. These courses will be available between Rs. 6,000–8,000. Google has also partnered with Nasscom Foundation, Tata Strive, and Safeducate to offer 100,000 scholarships to underserved people in the country. The company has also tied up with entities including Accenture in India, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Genpact, Times Internet, and Better.com — alongside Google India itself — to recognise the certification courses and their certificates.
Google has also partnered with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to launch a Rs. 110 crore financial assistance programme for microenterprises in the country. It will allow micro-enterprise owners to have loans between Rs. 25 lakh and Rs. 1 crore via SIDBI to scale up their existence.
The programme will prioritise women-owned businesses and those that are engaged in production of equipment for the country's fight against the pandemic, and benefit from SIDBI's recently introduced digital lending process, the company noted.
Google Classroom has received offline support to let them download their assignments when they have the Internet and can access them even when there is poor or no connectivity. Once the assignments are prepared, they can submit their notebook images through the Classroom app. Teachers have also received the ability to review assignments, share feedback, and add grades using their mobile devices — if they don't have access to their computers.
In addition to the Google Classroom updates, Google has introduced a Practice Problem feature on its search engine. This will allow both parents and students to practice their math, physics, and chemistry problems directly using Google Search. Google has partnered with companies including Byjus', Toppr, Vedantu, GradeUp, and Careers360, among others.
Google also claimed that through its existing partnerships with educational boards and state governments including the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Maharashtra state government, it has trained over 550,000 teachers on digital skills for education.
Google has partnered with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) to launch Weather Alerts in the country for extreme climatic conditions. These alerts will now be available through Google Search. Users will also see real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) via the Central Pollution Control Board when searching for queries such as “Air quality near me”, or “Air quality in Delhi”.
Since the start of the monsoon season this year, Google said that it sent 110 million notifications to at least 20 million affected people through its flood forecasting developments in states including Tamil Nadu and Kerala.