India is witnessing an unprecedented surge in internet users, with approximately 40 million new users joining the online community each year. This growth is not limited to urban areas but is extending rapidly into rural regions. Interestingly, the demographic shift is also notable, with an expected 45 percent of internet users in India being women within the next three years. This surge has significantly influenced the Indian economy and culture, marking the rise of local startups and increased adoption of digital services such as e-commerce, digital payments, ride-sharing, and online video content.
Providing Tech Aid in Crisis
Demonstrating the power of technology in critical situations, Google has played a pivotal role in supporting victims of natural disasters. During the Kerala and Karnataka floods, Google's Crisis Response team activated SOS alerts on Google Search in both English and Malayalam. Additionally, the Person Finder tool was employed to help people locate their family and friends. Google Maps is being utilized to share information about flood relief resources, including shelter locations. As part of the relief efforts, Google.org and Google employees are contributing over $1 million to support recovery, and individuals can contribute through the Tez platform.
High-Quality Internet Access for All
Google is committed to making the internet more accessible to a wider audience. Partnering with Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Limited, Google Station aims to cover over 12,000 villages, towns, and cities in Andhra Pradesh, potentially reaching 10 million people. This initiative is expected to provide high-quality internet access to areas that have never been connected before, including hospitals and remote villages.
Google's Partnerships for Better Experience
Recognizing the diverse needs of new internet users in India, Google is collaborating with Indian hardware partners to create Android (Go edition) phones at affordable prices. Notable partners include Micromax, Lava, Nokia, and Transsion. Samsung is set to launch its first Android (Go edition) device, the Galaxy J2 Core, next month. This effort aims to improve the smartphone experience for millions of Indians.
Voice-Enabled Internet with Google Go
Acknowledging the preference for listening and speaking over reading text, Google is introducing a new feature in Google Go that allows users to listen to webpages. This technology, powered by natural language processing and speech synthesis AI, supports 28 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi, and Tamil—even on 2G connections.
Local Relevance: Adapting Google Products for Indians
Google's Boost to Indian Language Content
Recognizing that the majority of internet users in India prefer local languages, Google is working with Indian language publishers to bring more relevant content online. Project Navlekhā, meaning "a new way to write" in Sanskrit, employs AI to convert PDFs containing Indian language content into editable text. This facilitates the creation of mobile-friendly web content, and publishers receive free web hosting with AdSense support, training, and a branded .page domain for the initial three years.
Expanding Language Support in Apps
Google is expanding language support in existing apps and services to cater to the diverse linguistic landscape of India. The Search feed will now display favorite news from both English and Hindi sources using AI that learns user preferences. The Google Assistant is adding Marathi (with more Indian languages to follow), and popular Indian apps like Where Is My Train, Airtel, and Hello English are now accessible through voice control.
Localized Experiences with Google Maps
Google Maps Go now features turn-by-turn navigation functionality and a redesigned home screen with convenient shortcuts. The collaboration with RedBus, India's largest inter-city bus ticketing service, adds more than 20,000 inter-city bus routes in 1,500 cities to Google Maps, providing users with comprehensive information about public transport.
Globalizing Innovation: Renaming Tez to Google Pay
Since its launch in India last September, Tez, Google's India-first payments app, has seen over 22 million users making over 750 million transactions annually, totaling over $30 billion. To extend these innovations globally, Google is unifying all its payment offerings under the name Google Pay. The app remains unchanged, retaining its features and functions, with plans to expand its utility in the coming weeks. Google Pay aims to increase its acceptance at various locations, enhance services for merchants, and collaborate with banks to offer instant loans to users.
Bridging the Digital Gap: Google's Pledge to India
As Google continues to evolve its services for the Indian audience, the company expresses gratitude to Indians who actively engage with platforms like YouTube, Google Maps, Google Pay, and Search. Google sees this commitment as not only enhancing the online experience for Indians but also contributing to the creation of better products for the global community. With these initiatives, Google aims to play a pivotal role in bridging the digital gap and empowering every Indian with the tools and services needed to thrive in the digital age.
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