Sundar Pichai during his first visit to India since he became the Google CEO, talked about Google’s vision to develop products to improve access, Internet connectivity for Indians. Pichai, also, met the Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to start the pilot testing of ‘Project Loon’ in India.
The project aims at connection millions to Internet with the help of large balloons. The government has in-principle agreed to the project and state-run BSNL will help it take flight in India. The company announced several things including free WiFi at 100 railway stations in India, Asus Chromebit coming to India and more.
VIDEO: WATCH Google CEO Sunder Pichai in conversation with cricket commentator and journalist Harsha Bhogle at Delhi University (Note: Video starts at 16:27)
Here are the top 11 takeaways from the event.
1) Google Faster Search
Google search will get faster in India, especially for those on slower Internet connections in India. Google’s streamline web search results pages and streamlined web pages will ensure that content and text load in a matter of seconds, rather than the current scenario where the experience is often fragmented for most users.
Google Search VP Tamar Yehoshua said 50 per cent of Indian internet users were on 2G networks, while those on 3G were complaining of 2G-like speeds. “Google plans to fix that with its streamlined search pages,” she said.
2) Google free WiFi at railway stations
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced free Wi-Fi in 100 railway stations as promised to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to Silicon Valley earlier this year. The company plans to roll out the free WiFi service in Mumbai Central by January 2016, followed by other stations in India.
Google has partnered with Railtel to make this project a reality and will be using the fibre optic network by Railtel to get its Wireless Access Network ready. Google’s free Wi-Fi will offer broadband like speed to commuters at these railway platforms.
3) Tap to translate
With an intention to connect millions of Android users in India in their own language, Google announced a new ‘tap to tanslate’ feature for the OS, which will be rolled out next year. The feature will allow users to translate any text written in either Hindi (both in Devnagri script or English letters) in any app by just tapping on the text. Users will not have to leave the app to open Google Translate and switch back and forth, and instead will the translated
Further explaining the feature, Android VP Caesar Sengupta said that a message received in Hindi can be copied and Google Translate will appear right inside WhatsApp to show translation. Google will also run ‘translateathon’ which will get people translate more words. It will expand beyond Hindi to Bengali, Punjabi and Marathi.
4) YouTube pause to buffer
YouTube users will now be able to pause a video, leave it to buffer and even leave the app or site and let it continue buffering with Google’s ‘pause to buffer’. Eyal Manor, Vice-President of Engineering for YouTube said the content uploaded on YouTube from India has also doubled and time spent was growing at 150 per cent ahead of global figures.
5) Cricket score, Live Replays
Google Search VP Tamar Yehoshua said the company will launch improved versions of live cricket scores and replays on search early next year.
6) New Hyderabad campus
Sundar Pichai announced plans to launch a “huge new” campus in Hyderabad. The company plans to recruit more Indians for engineering, and its business teams as well.
7) Train 2 million Android developers
Google said that will also train 2 million Android developers for a period of 3 years across 30 universities in India and will work with the National Skill Development Corporation of India.
8) Google Maps Offline Local Guides
Google Maps now supports turn by turn navigation in India, even without an Internet connection. Google also said that it would help more businesses come online by getting them to list on Google Maps. Google says that India now ranks third in terms of local guides on Google Maps.
Sundar Pichai during the ‘Google For India’ announced that Asus Chromebit will be launched in India in January at Rs 7,999. The Chromebit is a candybar-sized PC-on-stick and lets users upgrade their old PCs get a faster, Chromebook like experience.
10) Project Loon
Sundar Pichai, during his visit met the Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to start the pilot testing of ‘Project Loon’ in India. The government has in-principle agreed to the project and state-run BSNL will help it take flight in India.
While Telecommunication ministry may have raised issues about Project Loon’s interference with telecom signal, Pichai sounded confident of beaming internet from balloons. Google’s Project Loon was conceived for India and Mountain View based search major would want to get it floating in Indian airspace as early as possible.
11) Android N or P could be named after Indian dessert
While addressing students at SRCC in New Delhi, Google CEO Pichai said for the next version of Android, the company could do an online poll and if all Indians vote, Android N or Android P could get an Indian name. There were even references of Android P being named Peda on stage and on a lighter note, Pichai joked of Android P being named Payasam, a popular dessert served in Southern India.