Google goes bullish on India, expands free Wi-Fi across the country

Caesar Sengupta, Vice President of Billion Users announcing a new Wifi platform called Google Station that will connect public places like malls, railway stations, bus stops and hangouts like cafes and universities. (Photo: IANS)
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New Delhi–In a move to help India’s billion-plus population connect to Internet, tech giant Google on Tuesday announced to expand its free Wi-Fi service — currently available at 52 railway stations — to public places across India.

At the second “Google for India” event in New Delhi which coincided with the search giant’s 18th birthday, the company announced that “Google Station” will connect public places like malls, railway stations, bus stops and hangouts like cafes and universities.

Its artificial intelligence-powered Google Assistant will be available in Hindi by the end of the year via newly-launched mobile messaging app Allo, the company announced as its launched a slew of products in three categories — Access, Platform and Products — covering services like Google Play, Chrome, YouTube Go and Google Duo.

Caesar Sengupta
Caesar Sengupta

“Every second, three Indians come online and we have to ensure that the experience is wonderful and relevant for them. But the next billion is very different from the first billion and by building products for these users we are preparing for how the world will use tech in the coming years,” Caesar Sengupta, Vice-President, Next Billion Users at Google, told reporters here.

With an aim to encourage women to get online, the company launched “Internet Saathi” programme in 2015 and a 10-times growth in local language queries has been registered since then.

Under the Google-Tata Trust initiative, 25,000 villages now have internet saathis and one million women across 10 states have been trained so far.

Talking about Google’s collaboration with Indian Railways and RailTel to bring high-speed Internet at railway stations, Sengupta said Wi-Fi is now available at 52 stations with Mumbai CST the latest addition.

“Nearly 3.5 million users are now using Railways Wi-Fi and 15,000 users are now coming online every day,” he noted.

Sengupta also announced a new Google Play store which can now load on slower 2G connections, have options to schedule and preload downloads and install apps only over Wi-Fi.

According to John Giannardrea, Senior Vice President (Search), the company has been making progress in localising Google Search with the introduction of machine learning.

“Google is now capable of translating 100 languages and 12 of these are from India,” he added.

Amit Fulay, Product Lead for communication apps Google Duo and Google Allo, said India and the US have most number of Duo users and Allo has seen a tremendous response in India.

Google Allo is a new smart messaging app that helps users make plans, find information as well as express with ease, all within the chat and it works on all type of connections.

Packed with innovative features including smart reply, options for sharing photos, emojis and stickers specially designed for India, Google Allo makes it easier for users to respond quickly and keep the conversation moving, even when one is on the go.

Announcing new features in Chrome, Rahul Roy Chowdhury, VP (Chrome), said that new product now saves data, has offline capabilities and has more accurate content discovery.

Chrome can now work on 2G data connection and can save loads of data. People have saved over 337 TB of data, including 138 TB of video data that is equivalent to Rs 7 crore savings each week, Roy-Chowdhury informed.

“Chrome data saver can save up to 67 per cent of data while watching videos. The optimised pages have a similar look to the heavy pages and they can now load five times faster than before saving up to 90 per cent of the data,” Roy-Chowdhury added.

Johanna Wright, Vice President (Product Management) at YouTube, announced YouTube Go which has an easy user interface, works on low connectivity, cuts cost in data usage and offers personalised suggestions to the users.

With a tagline of “Mazze Udao, Data Nahi”, YouTube Go now allows a user to preview and choose the size of the video.

Users can now save, watch and share videos even when the connection is poor. Based on browsing history, patterns and languages, the new app will also serve 10 new videos every week. (IANS)


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