Search engine and technology giant Google on Thursday made several India-specific announcements at the fifth edition of its 'Google for India' event. The company announced setting up of the first Google Research AI lab in Bengaluru that would focus on advanced fundamental science and artificial intelligence research in the country. The company also announced a partnership with state-owned telecom operator BSNL to bring open public WiFi network to villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar.
Besides, the company announced new services and features for its existing apps like Google Assistant, Google Lens and Google Pay. The Google Assistant now recognises nine Indian languages — Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Urdu. To communicate with Google Assistant in any supported regional language, you do not need to make any changes to either your phone or assistant settings. Instead, just say “Hey Google, talk to me in (name the language)” and the next response from Google Assistant would be in that language. The feature will be accessible on Android, Android Go and KaiOS -powered devices.
In addition, the company announced a new interpreter mode, which will be added to Google Assistant for Android and Android Go platform-based phones. The interpreter mode translates from one language to another in real time, allowing people with different language preferences to communicate with ease.
For those using feature phones, Google launched a phone line support, which allows calling a number (0008009191000) and asking for information related to sports, weather forecasts, traffic, etc, from Google Assistant. The service is free but limited to consumers using the Vodafone-Idea network.
The Google Lens service, which allows people to search for information on the internet and translate text by using image captured using phone’s camera, would soon be available in three additional regional languages – Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.
Google also announced several new additions to its digital payment service, the Google Pay. The company announced a new app, Google Pay for Business, for small businesses and merchants. The app is free to download and does not require lengthy verification process to bring a new merchant on-board. Besides, the existing Google Pay app has also been improved with new features and functionality. The company announced the launch of tokenised cards for debit and credit card consumers that would allow them to use digital token rather than card information to make transactions. This service will roll out in next few weeks for Visa cards consumers of HDFC, Axis, Kotak and Standard Charter banks. Support for Mastercard and Rupay cards, and more banks will be added in future.
The company also announced a new Spot platform on Google Pay for merchants to create a branded experience store on Google Pay. Additionally, the company also introduced Jobs as a Spot on Google Pay for job seekers to find and prepare for entry-level positions. It uses machine learning to recommend jobs and training content, which helps user prepare for interviews and learn new skills. To fuel the Jobs platform, the company partnered with the National Skills Development Corporation for their Skill India program. As a part of collaboration, Skill India students will be offered access to Jobs feature on Google Pay to find right employment opportunity. Currently, the Jobs Spot has partnered with 24 companies including Zomato and Healthkart. More companies and partners will be announced in coming weeks.