At its annual Google for India event on Tuesday, the technology giant announced several key Next Billion Users initiatives relevant to the Indian market. Google, at the event, showcased its efforts in the country and provided a look at all the new features that have been developed with Indian users in mind. While the company announced a new initiative called Project Navlekha and renamed Tez to Google Pay, it also announced several upcoming features for Google Go and Android (Go edition). The biggest announcement of these was that thanks to AI-based tech, Google Go users will now be able to "listen to webpages". Meanwhile, Google also announced that Samsung is ready to launch its first Android Oreo (Go edition) smartphone in India, something the South Korean company unveiled last week.
Google has unveiled two brand new features - bilingual news feed and audio playback. Google has announced that Google Feed will become a bilingual feed with English and Hindi languages support and it will arrive on Google Go as well, in the coming months. "The Search feed will now display your favourite news from both English and Hindi sources, using AI that learns which types of stories you like best," Rajan Anandan, Vice President, India and Southeast Asia, said via a blog post. To recall, Google in July last year had announced an overhaul of its search app on mobile phones to include a personalised feed of links in the US. The new offering was named as 'Google Feed,' and the company had said that the changes would begin rolling out in other countries in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the audio playback is a new feature that is coming on Google Go that lets users listen to webpages. The new feature, powered by natural language processing and speech synthesis AI, Google says, can read billions of webpages smoothly in "a natural sounding voice." It supports 28 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi and Tamil - and works even on 2G connections. Additionally, Google says, this technology relies on AI to determine which parts of a page to read, and which to leave out. Also, Google is bringing definitions and pronunciations to search for Indian users as well.
"Using this technology, consuming long-form text becomes as easy as watching TV or listening to the radio. It's also helpful for multitasking, like following a recipe while cooking a meal, listening to articles while exercising, or catching up on news on your commute," Yossi Matias, VP, Engineering, and Simon Tokumine, Senior Product Manager, write in a Google blog post. They said that in the future, Google wants to bring the ability to listen to webpages to more of its products.
Meanwhile, Google says that Indian hardware partners on Android such as Micromax, Lava, Nokia and Transsion are creating Android (Go edition) phones "at prices within reach of more Indians." The company claims, over 150 OEMs are working with Google for Android Go to launch 400 devices across the globe, by the end of 2018. It said that more than 50 percent of buyers of Android Go handsets upgrade directly from feature phones. Meanwhile, Google said Samsung will continue that momentum with the release of its first ever Android (Go edition) smartphone, the Galaxy J2 Core, which was launched without price or exact availability details last week.
Google at the event reiterated the announcement of Android Pie (Go edition). The company, in a tweet, says that devices upgrading to Android Pie Go edition now have access to better security, additional 50MB storage, faster boot time, and more.