CEO's desk

9 WOW Moments at #GoogleForIndia2018

The fourth edition of Google for India happened recently and I was nothing but delighted as well as excited to witness all that the company has planned for India in the near future. Here's some highlights from the event that I can undoubtedly say as the 'WOW' moments for me.

The fourth edition of Google for India recently happened wherein they showcased some interesting updates they have planned to roll out and revealed what new things we can expect from the tech giant in the future. As always, the updates shared are really fascinating and we are all sure to be awed with these features.

Here’s a quick look at some of the useful and showstopper updates from the event.

  1. 3Ms play a key role in the growing the popularity of internet usage. Is it still true?

The internet as a medium was largely dominated as a Metro phenomenon, mostly used by Male users and Millenials who helped it grow for a long time. However, we are witnessing a paradigm shift, and it is surely no more just a metro phenomenon, is used by a significant number of female users as well. We can say it without a doubt that we are moving away from the 3Ms.

At the same time, there are a lot of new factors that are further adding up to the popularity of the usage of this medium. It won’t be a surprise if we add 3Vs as additional new factors in the internet’s path of growth. These are Video, Voice and Vernacular languages. Eventually, I am sure these factors too will change, and we will see a tremendous shift in the dynamics of how the internet medium flourishes.

  1. Artificial Intelligence for Natural Disasters?

Artificial Intelligence technology has been doing wonders lately and is helping solve various problems across sectors. It is believed that AI could solve almost any kind of problem. Can AI help forecast floods and possibly reduce its impact? Can AI deliver accurate warnings for flood? Well, with the new system launched by Google, this is possible.

Flood is the most common natural disaster on this planet with India, China and Bangladesh being the most affected countries. Google has now partnered with Ministry of Water Resources to launch a pilot flood forecasting system. Currently they are trying to explore ways of making the forecast data available to people in areas with low connectivity. The overall aim of this system is to save more lives and hence the company plans to partner with more people and organisations to expand this system all over the world and make a difference in the people’s lives.

  1. Technology meets healthcare services

Another area where AI is making a huge impact is healthcare.  Google is currently working on a project for diabetic retinopathy. Considering the huge number of diabetic people in India and across the world, and the shortage of healthcare specialists; the company has launched a Diabetic Retinopathy Project. The system is very easy to use and can detect diabetic retinopathy on par with the retinal specialists.

  1. A new way to write with Navlekha

Internet search has become an important part of everyone’s life these days. When people are looking for something, they immediately look up to the internet to get answers for their queries. English is the main language in which search happens. Search for content in Indian languages is not that advanced. This is primarily because the pool of information available in Indian languages is very small. Google plans to work on this. They have launched a new project called ‘Navlekha’ which helps users instantly create webpages for Indic content, offers free hosting with branded domain and also provides AdSense support. Under this project, they have already partnered with a few publishers in Delhi and plan to expand it soon to other parts as well. However, the company says, this is just a small step towards their effort to add rich content in Indian language to the web world and we can surely expect a lot of new updates in this arena.

  1. Google feed in your local language?

We are all so much used to seeing a personalized Google feed with information on things and topics we prefer to read about. What if you can see the feed in your local language? Well, you asked for it and you are getting it. Google announced a major update to the Google feed – bilingual feed. The company is currently rolling out the bilingual feed in English and Hindi and will soon make it available in Bengali, Marathi, Telugu and Tamil in a few weeks time. This bilingual feed will be available on Google Go as well with some added updates. It will also have features to make understanding, hearing and even practicing speech easier for users.

  1. Added support with Google Maps

We all surely use Google Maps extensively and Google had put in a lot of efforts when building the maps for India. They believed they needed a new approach for building maps for India and used Machine Learning to recognize information from satellite images and add them to the map. The company has been adding a lot of updates to Maps to make the platform more user friendly and convenient to use. Google says, they are committed to making travel convenient and stress free for people using public transport. The company has partnered with long distance trains and are now enhancing the experience for intercity buses by partnering with RedBus. That’s not all. The company is also announcing voice navigation for public transport with timely alerts that will also tell you when your stop arrives and when to get down. After the launch of Maps Go last year for low cost mobile devices, the company is launhing turn by turn navigation and redesigned home screen for Maps Go.

  1. Got no postal address? You’ve got Plus Codes

We all know that a lot of people in India do not have formal addresses. And we also know how important it is to have a proper address to avail a lot of services, etc. Well, Google has a solution for this now with their ‘Plus Codes’.  Plus Codes can easily recognize geographical coordinates for any location and are free, open source and work offline too. As a part of this initiative, the company has partnered with a NGO who is providing Plus Codes as virtual addresses for people in underserved communities. So far they have assigned Plus Codes to 100K residents across 25K households in Kolkata. The company surely plans to expand this and provide virtual addresses to many more people across the country.

  1. Did we hear instant loans?

Accelerating financial inclusion is one of the key focus areas of Google and they are putting in a lot of efforts to make this happen. With the launch of the payment app Tez (now Google Pay) that uses BHIM UPI, they have seen tremendous success in the adoption of this app and its usage among the Indian users. Now the company is ready to take the services a step ahead. As we all know, it is very difficult to get financing ad involves a tedious process with complex paperwork. Now, with Google Pay (Tez), the loan process has been made simpler and quicker on the platform itself. The company has partnered with banks who will now offer you preapproved, instant loans via Google Pay app.

  1. When Google becomes a Marathi Mulgi!

It always feels so good when someone talks to you in your local language, right? So here’s one of my personal favourite and exciting moment from the Google for India event. It’s no surprise why this captured my attention quickly. It was very interesting to see Google Assistant having a conversation in Marathi. No, this is not some edited video. You will soon experience this too on your own Google Assistant devices. Here’s a look at how the Marathi conversation was with GA.

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