Google announced new updates to its Neighbourly app in an official blog post today. The app connects local communities to help them learn and share about nearby events. It is open to cities across India and is a platform for neighbours to ask and answer questions.
The latest update lets users post photos in the community, create events and polls, and share tips with each other. A Neighbourhood Challenge which tests the users on how well they know their neighbourhood has also been integrated into the app. It also has a feed where users scroll to keep up with everyone around them. They can also follow a question or subject and get an update on it as their neighbours answer or participate in the discussion.
The Neighbourly app is available for free download on the Google Play Store for smartphones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher. The update has also started to roll out today for the pre-existing users of the app.
Neighbourly app serves the basic goal of providing local communities with more insights on the local life and helps them answer questions about the place. Questions and answers within the app are handled via swipeable cards. It uses GPS to add users to their neighbourhood community as soon as they sign up. This way, the app has a particular advantage over WhatsApp groups where a group administrator has to add users manually.
The app is a venture of Google’s ‘Next Billion’ team which works around building products in emerging markets. Other initiatives of the team include data-friendly YouTube versions, Files Go and Google Pay.
Josh Woodward, a product manager within the Next Billion initiative, had told TechCrunch that Google is employing ranking and personalization technology which, over time, will match users with the kind of questions they can answer or have shown an interest in.
Woodward also said that the company had launched the app after testing it on thousands of users over a period of about a month to get the mechanics right. During the test, 30-50%of questions were answered within five minutes. He added that Google may later want to integrate the local business into the app, but the app has to make a significant impact and gain more popularity before any of that can happen.