In its bid to make the Internet more accessible, inclusive and empowering for everyone in India, Google on Thursday announced a slew of products, including an artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Bengaluru, BSNL partnership, 'Google Pay for Business' app for merchants along with expanding Indian language support across Google Assistant, Discover, Lens and Bolo products.
The fifth edition of the annual 'Google for India' event also saw the company launching tokenized cards for debit card and credit card users across India and introduced "Spot" platform on Google Pay for merchants to create branded commercial experiences that bridge the offline and online worlds.
Google also announced a new initiative focusing on entry-level jobs, and a partnership with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) for their Skill India programme.
"Digital India was designed to ensure digital inclusion. I wish to compliment Google for launching so many new products contributing to this goal with due regard to safety and security," said Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who was the cheif guest at the event.
"I don't have a slightest doubt that Google has a crucial role in helping India achieve its goal of a trillion dollar digital economy," Prasad added.
The An lab in Bengaluru will focus on advancing fundamental computer science and AI research and applying this research to tackle big problems in fields like healthcare, agriculture, and education.
"With Google's ongoing commitment to improve access beyond train stations to villages across India, we have partnered with BSNL to bring fast, reliable and secure public WiFi to villages in Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra," announced Caesar Sengupta, Vice-President, Next Billion Users Initiative and Payments.
Google also announced an initiative to help the hundreds of millions of Indians who use 2G phones get the information they need, without requiring data or an internet connection.
The company also unveiled an all new experience in nine Indian languages -- Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Urdu -- that will help users talk to their Assistant more naturally, without the need to go digging around in settings.
For example, Hindi-speaking users can now simply say, "Hey Google, talk to me in Hindi".
The feature will be accessible on all Android, Android Go and KaiOs devices.
Manuel Bronstein, Vice President, Product Management, Google also announced that interpreter mode will be coming soon to the Assistant on Android and Android Go phones in the coming months, which will help translate from one language to another, helping unlock more relevant information and content for even more users across India.
Bronstein also launched The Vodafone-Idea Phone Line -- supported by Google Assistant that enables Vodafone-Idea users to call a single number free of charge (000 800 9191000), at any time, and ask for everything from sports scores, traffic conditions and weather forecasts or simply get help with homework.
Yossi Matias, Vice President, Engineering, Google said: "We are adding more Indian languages to Discover -- a Google feed that gives Indians updates on the stories they care about"
Google also expanded Bolo, a speech-based app that helps children learn to read, to five new Indian languages -- Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
"Bolo has already helped 800,000 young Indians read stories more than three million times, and speak half a billion words," informed Sapna Chadha, Director of Marketing, Southeast Asia & India, Google.
Google Lens -- which allows people to search for information, will now ask questions and translate text by pointing phone's camera at things they're interested in and will now be available in Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.
According to Ambarish Kenghe, Director, Product Management, Google Pay, the biggest story in India's booming Internet economy has been the rise of digital payments.
"In the last 12 months alone, Google Pay has grown 3X to reach to 67 million monthly active users, driving transactions worth over $110 billion on an annualized basis, with hundreds of thousands of offline and online merchants," Kenghe announced.