Google is not shying away from wooing Indian users and the third edition of Google for India held in Delhi this week was proof enough. Underlining its intention to woo the world’s second-largest Internet economy, the tech giant will roll out the latest version of its payments app Tez in coming months. The new version will allow users to make payments of utility bills directly through the app.
The company unveiled a couple of more India centric products such as Android Oreo – a new smartphone experience for entry-level devices, Google Go-a new search app and a new “two-wheeler mode” in Google Maps for India.
And that’s not enough. The Internet giant also launched a special version of the Google Assistant for the JioPhone.
Tez: Google’s Digital payments App
The latest version of the Tez will support features like payment of utility bills directly from the account. As per its official blog, Tez has processed over 140 Mn transactions from nearly 12 Mn active users. There are more than 525K merchants already on Tez, using it to make payments, pay their suppliers or transfer money to employees
Given that this year India crossed the 400 Mn Internet user mark, it will aim to leverage the increasing consumption of data through its India centric products.
Here’s a quick look at the products launched at the Google for India event:
Android Oreo (Go edition)
A new smartphone experience for entry-level devices, Android Oreo is available to the Android ecosystem of developers, partners and carriers as part of the release. There is also a new set of preinstalled Google apps, including Google Go and the Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition), designed to be lighter and more relevant to the unique needs of the next billion users.
In its blog the company stated, “Our partners’ phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will hit shelves in early 2018.”
The new Google Search app Google Go will be available as a preview on its Play Store in India and Indonesia. Google Go is tailor-made for the millions of people in those countries coming online for the first time.
As per the blog, the new search app has a tap-first user interface to help people better express themselves, is light on storage and data, and great on patchy connections and consumes less than 5MB space. Plus search results in it are optimized to save up to 40% data. Third, it’s very easy to switch and see answers in another language, for example, between Hindi and English.
The Two-Wheeler Mode
Another India-first feature is the new “two-wheeler mode” in Google Maps. India is the largest two-wheeler market in the world, and the feature is targeted at millions of motorcycle and scooter riders have different navigation needs than drivers of automobiles. Two-wheeler mode in Maps shows trip routes that use “shortcuts” not accessible to cars and trucks.
The feature will also provide customised traffic and arrival time estimations. And that’s not all, the two-wheeler mode will show major landmarks on the route so that riders can plan their trip before starting, and don’t have to keep checking the phone on the go.
Google Assistant For JioPhone
The Google Assistant for the JioPhone, built for India in both English and Hindi will make it the first feature phone to have Google’s Assistant support. The feature is specially built for India and is available in both Hindi and English. The Assistant can help make phone calls, text, play music and videos, navigate and search the internet, and access other apps and services.
Meanwhile, it also announced that the new Files Go app helps free up space, find files faster and share files offline with people nearby.
Google For India: Google’s Growing India Focus
It is no wonder that this year too the tech giant has launched a host of India centric products at the event just like it did last year when it introduced five new products that were tailored for expanding access to the Internet for Indian users.
These comprise new products built specifically for India, such as YouTube Go, the Assistant in Hindi for Allo, faster browsing for Google Play on 2G connections, as well as new, global platforms inspired by the needs of Indian users such as the Google Station WiFi platform and new data-saving features in Chrome for mobile.
In April this year, the US-headquartered technology company announced its ‘Solve for India’ programme with an aim to support entrepreneurs and developers of the country. In September this year, the search engine giant stealthily launched its web domain registrar service in the country.
This year it also launched one of its most important products targeted at the Indian payments space-its UPI enabled mobile payments app, Tez. With the new app, Indian users can link up their phones to their bank accounts to pay for goods securely in physical stores and online as well as allow person-to-person money transfers.
The tech giant has also been steadily increasing its engagement with startups in the country as well. Last week it announced the list of startups that will be joining the fifth edition of the Launchpad Accelerator Programme, at its Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco. The four Indian startups selected are: BabyChakra, m.paani, NIRAMAI, and Social Cops. This week, it also picked up a minority stake in chat-based hyperlocal services app Dunzo, which has raised $12 Mn funding.
With new India centric product launches at the Google For India event, Google is giving clear signals about the rising importance of India as a marketplace in its overall strategy.