Updated: November 18, 2021 5:29:57 pm
Google has announced a slew of products focused on the next billion users at its annual ‘Google for India’ event. There are new additions to Search, Google Pay, support for extreme weather events, and support for end-to-end vaccination booking via Google Assistant. Here’s a look at all the features that Google announced.
Google Assistant to support vaccination booking on CoWin
Google is adding end-to-end vaccination booking support, which will be guided by the Assistant. During the event, Google Search Senior Vice-President Prabhakar Raghavan said that in India voice queries are used twice the global average and that most Indians prefer to talk to the Assistant in their language.
This is one of the reasons why Google is rolling out support for vaccination booking via the Assistant since many users are comfortable talking to it.
In a blog post, the company said this is a pilot feature and that the company worked closely with CoWin to enable this integration. Users will receive voice guidance at each step while booking a vaccination appointment on the CoWin website.
This feature will work in English and eight Indian languages including Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. It will begin rolling out in early 2022. Google says it plans to “scale this technology to other services on the web,” though it is not clear what these other services will be.
Google Search in local languages
Google Search will now show results in a user’s local language, even if the page was not originally written in the same. For example, when a user searches in Hindi, they might sometimes see results in English pages, which is not ideal but a problem that exists since very often quality content might not be available in Hindi. However, the new feature will ensure that Google Search translates those quality English pages into Hindi and then displays them to the user.
Google says it is using “advanced machine learning techniques to significantly improve translation quality across Indian languages,” and it is because of these developments that this feature is rolling out.
“Tapping the translated search results will take the user to the destination page, where they can view the content in their preferred local language or in the page’s original language,” the company said.
The feature is being rolled out in five Indian languages including Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam, with support for more languages coming soon. It can be accessed on any mobile browser that supports Google Search.
Google will also expand voice-driven experiences in Indian languages by introducing the ability to hear search results out loud, for users who find it easier to consume information by listening.
By simply tapping a button in the search results, people can now hear the information read back to them in Hinglish and five Indian languages.
This feature is launching first in India and it will be available in Hinglish and five Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, and Tamil.
Google Pay gets Hinglish, MyShop feature
Google Pay is getting the option of using Hinglish for the app’s language settings. Hinglish, which is a conversational hybrid of Hindi and English, is very often used in large parts of India, often by those who are not very proficient in English.
The Hinglish language option will soon appear on Google Pay, where users can change the app’s language. Users can go to app settings, followed by the personal info tab, where they will see Language. Tapping on this allows them the option to change the language settings for the app.
Google is also adding an option for users to voice input their bank account number directly when doing transfers on the app. Users will be able to voice out the account numbers in Hindi or English into the app to enter the account number. The account number will be confirmed with the sender before initiating the payment.
The app is also getting a Bill Split feature which will help users split and settle shared expenses.
Finally, in order to help smaller entrepreneurs and merchants, Google is adding a new MyShop feature on its Pay for Business app. This is for merchants who will be able to set up a store online using the quick store builder tool. The tool will let them add images, descriptions, prices for their products within minutes and then share the link through the Business Profile.
These profiles can be seen on the Google Pay app and also on other Google products such as Search.
The features for Google Pay will go live in the coming months.
Climate and weather-related information
Google will show information related to extreme weather events in India and is partnering with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for these alerts.
First, Google Search will showcase real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) and users will be able to see the AQI from their nearest station by typing queries like “Air quality near me” or “Air quality Delhi”. This will be useful in cities such as Delhi where AQI tends to fall drastically in winter, and there are several monitoring stations.
In the second, Google will have weather alerts for extreme climatic conditions such as heavy rainfall or flooding. It has partnered with IMD for the same. The weather alerts will be applicable for heavy rainfall, heatwaves, cold waves, or thunderstorms.
These alerts will show up in the ‘At-a-Glance’ section on the Android phone’s home screen, as well as on Google Search. Google Assistant will also respond with spoken weather alerts to such queries.
Look to Speak app in more languages
Google’s Look to Speak app works as an assistive technology for those with disabilities. The app is now getting support for more regional languages. The app helps people communicate by using their eyes using pre-stored words and phrases. It was launched last year. It is now being made available in five Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, and Bengali.
Google also announced it is stepping up its efforts on Android with a focus on India and will be expanding its engineering team presence in the country. It also announced new certificate courses with Coursera, which will be priced between Rs 6000 to Rs 8000 to help upskill users in much-needed digital education.
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