If internet is an important part of life, especially in urban India, Google is the most vital component of it. From Google search, Android apps, to Google maps and YouTube, urban India, especially youth, swears by Google. Within a few years after big tech companies realised India as a lucrative market for internet and related services - thanks to our enormous population - there has been an exponential rise in the internet penetration. But, don't be mistaken, India is still in its tender age when it comes to the internet usage. The country with over 1.3 billion people - and just 400 million internet users so far - has so much more to offer to these tech giants that it is imperative for them to put India on top of their priority when it comes to research, innovation, product launch and customer base. And, being a market leader, Google is eager to own the Indian internet market with an array of products and features.
'Google for India ', an event that started in New Delhi on Tuesday, is a part of the company's "commitment to India's next billion users" and its "role as a growth engine for the country". The first speaker of the event, Rajan Anadan, VP South East Asia and India for Google, talked about the internet usage and its future for India. He said with India becoming a huge broadband market - a connected mobile user in India consumes 4GB data a month - the figure could reach 11GB in the next four years. According to Google, the company's newly launched digital payment mobile app, Tez, has over 12 million users, and has seen 140 million transactions. The app would soon feature payments for merchants too.
The app also allows users to make all kinds of payments, big or small, directly from your bank account with Tez. Business owners and shops can use the Tez app with their individual current account to start accepting digital payments. Payment goes directly to your bank account - all with no fees. The company also announced the launch of bill payments on Tez. So from Tuesday onwards, one can even pay bills for Airtel, ACT, Tata Power, DishTV, DoCoMo, and other utility providers. The app also has a feature to detect all unpaid bills.
Google has also partnered with Reliance Jio to launch Google Assistant for the Mukesh Ambani-led company's JioPhone, a feature phone that comes for Rs 1,500, and has features similar to a smartphone (it's a 4G LTE phone). Google Assistant would provide the JioPhone users quick information on searches through text and voice-related searches. Google said India holds the number one spot when it comes to Google Play, with over 1 billion app downloads every month. During the event, it was also revealed that over 28 per cent of search queries in India were done by voice, and that there's been over 400 per cent year on year rise in Hindi voice searches.
Recently, Google, in association with Pluralsight and Udacity, said it would offer scholarships to 130,000 developers and students across India. In this joint effort, Google is sponsoring 100,000 scholarships on the Pluralsight learning platform and 30 thousand scholarships on Udacity to help developers gain access to advanced learning curriculum and further their employability in emerging technologies such as Mobile and Web development, Machine Learning, AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence, and Cloud Platforms. This scholarship programme is in continuation of Google's plans to train two million developers in India, to help spur innovation and support the growth of India's start-up ecosystem. Since the last year and a half, Google has trained over a thousand faculty over 400 colleges and 11 state universities for the technologies of the future which has already benefited 75000 students, said William Florance, Developer Products Group and Skilling Lead for India, Google.
Google launches Android Oreo Go, repackaged version of Android One
Google's also announced the formal rollout of Android Oreo Go Edition, an operating system designed for entry-level devices, in India on Tuesday. Android Go is a re-packaged version of Android One with several apps and features for bare-bone devices even as Android One now caters to slightly more premium hardware. Devices with Android Oreo Go Edition will start shipping from next year, Google further announced. Android Go was first announced at Google I/O 2017 as a special configuration of Android Oreo for entry-level handsets with less than 1GB of RAM. The OS aim, much like it is in the case of Android One devices, is to offer high-quality handsets with high-quality software at rock-bottom prices. Android One demands handsets to ship with 1GB and more of RAM, but Android Go handsets will be able to support RAM as low as 512MB.
Google unveils 'Go' and two-wheeler mode in Google Maps
Tech giant Google on Tuesday unveiled a slew of new solutions, such as Android Oreo Go edition for low-cost smartphones and a bike mode for Maps, aimed at driving Internet adoption across markets, including India. The technology giant also announced the launch of yet another India first feature for Google Maps - a two-wheeler mode with voice navigation. The feature will be available on Google Maps in India from Tuesday and will offer accurate travel times to reflect speed, customised routing and voice guided navigation and enhance landmark navigation for two-wheeler drivers. Caesar Sengupta, Vice-President, Next Billion Users, said Google's India-first suite of products and features are aimed to help more people discover how the Internet can make life easier and more convenient. "These products and features are India-first, but they are not India-only. When we build better products for India, we ultimately build better products for everyone," he added. Citing the example of the bike mode on Google Maps and addition of bill payment feature in Tez, Sengupta said, "These additions both speak to the specific lifestyles of a large number of Indians". "Then you have those who are just adopting Internet. For them, Android Oreo (Go edition) will help improve the experience on entry-level phones while new apps like Files Go will ensure their experience is smooth and they consume less data," he said.
Google, Tata Trusts to create jobs via Internet Saathi
Google said on Tuesday that it will expand its Internet Saathi programme in India -- run in partnership with Tata Trusts -- to create "digitally-enabled livelihood opportunities" for women. Launched in July 2015, Internet Saathi programme aims to facilitate digital literacy among women in rural India. It has so far, trained 30,000 Internet Saathis, who have in turn influenced 12 million women in the country. "Internet usage by women in rural areas is a challenge. Earlier, only 1 in 10 Internet users in rural India was a woman. Two years later, this has grown to 3 in 10," Google Marketing Head (South East Asia and India) Sapna Chadha said. Citing a study, she said women, who were part of the Internet Saathi programme, felt their social and economic standing had improved after the training. "Many have set up their own businesses and this inspired us to look at creating a sustainable framework to deliver employment opportunities to the Internet Saathis," she said. Tata Trusts has set up Foundation for Rural Entrepreneurship Development (FREND), which will help companies and institutions to utilise the services of Internet Saathis in dissemination of information and services in rural areas. This will create newer avenues of income generation for Internet Saathis in rural India, Chadha said. Tata Trusts Head (Strategy) Raman Kalyanakrishnan said the intent of bringing income-generating opportunities to these women was to ensure that they become self-dependant and further encourage women in their communities to emulate them.
With PTI inputs