The updated Google Maps with Hindi language support, available both in the Android app and Web-interface for desktop, can now show users Hindi names of cities, localities, important roads, as well as popular points of interest such as public parks and schools, all alongside their English names.
Speaking about the same, Suren Ruhela, Director Product and Program Management, Google, says, "We wanted to remove the geographical boundaries that come in the way of Internet users across the globe. That was one of the main reason as to why have been working on expanding maps. The Hindi version of Google maps will help remove the language barrier for a huge section of people in India."
To view Hindi name labels on Google Maps, people must enable Hindi as their preferred language on their device. For the desktop-interface, users can change the language preference to Hindi on their Google account settings or by selecting the Hindi option at the bottom of the page on the google.co.in home page. On the Android app, users simply need to select the Hindi option within the Language and input menu found in their phone's Settings menu.
Ruhela however does agree that with the kind of ethnic diversity that India boasts of, serving the app with Hindi as the only regional language option is not the ideal solution. "That is one of the reasons why the default language is still English," adding that once the Hindi language is selected, the names of the places will be displayed "in Hindi as well as English."
Ruhela says that the only reason for giving both Hindi and English names is to ensure that users do not become confused. "There may have been a chance that we may have gotten the translations wrong. We have kept both the names because we want users to have clarity regarding its usage. We have only kept the names of places of prominence, and widely searched places on the translated lists as of now," he says.
While Ruhela hasn't given a timeline as to how long did it take to develop the Hindi version or whether there are newer versions of Google Maps due with support for other regional languages, he does say that that is the direction they want to head in.
As of now, Google Maps in Hindi is available to desktop users and on Android devices that run Android version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and upwards. Ruhela says that the Hindi-supported version of maps is not yet available on other platforms, or even older versions of the Android OS. "The idea is to create a complete eco-system eventually. As of now we also want to see how we can integrate devices running the older versions of the Android OS. Eventually the idea is to come on the App Store, the Windows Phone Store, and the BlackBerry World store," he says