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Google to target next billion users of entry-level smartphones

google-payments-file-reuters [File] Representative image | REUTERS

Google made a slew of announcements, targeting the next billion users at its 'Google for India' event, today in New Delhi. 'Google for India' is an annual event where Google showcases its product innovations over the last one year as well as the upcoming ones. Two themes or focus areas that stood out across all the launches were – Google's increased impetus on regional languages and targeting the affordable handset users.

Google today has 230 million language users and there has been 400 per cent growth in search queries in Hindi. Google's Vice President, Engineering and Search, Shashidhar Thakur said that more and more searches were happening in Indian languages. Google's India head Rajan Anandan said that the company is working with Ministry of Information Technology and Indian Language Internet Alliance to get more regional language users on web.

The search major announced a new operating system for affordable smartphones called Android Oreo, Go edition. Phones running on Android Oreo (Go edition) will hit shelves in the coming months.

Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM will get all the optimizations that come with Android Oreo (Go edition), including a better performing OS with built-in data management features and security benefits. There is also a new set of pre-installed Google apps, including Google Go and Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition), designed to be lighter and more relevant to the unique needs of the next billion users. Android Oreo (Go edition) smartphones also come with a version of the Google Play Store that enables users to download any app, while highlighting the apps designed to work best on Go edition devices.

These devices will also have Google Go, the new, lighter search app from Google, tailor-made for the millions of people in India coming online for the first time. Google Go is easy-to-use and works fast even on entry-level devices and spotty connections, making discovering, sharing and finding content easy and more reliable.

The company also spoke about its India first strategy – how a product innovation was done first for India and then taken to other emerging markets. Google Station, the rail wi-fi project is now going to be tried out in Indonesia.

Similarly, as an India first initiative the company launched two-wheeler mode in Google maps.

Martha Welsh, Director Google Maps said, "India is the world's largest two-wheeler market and the navigation needs of these millions of riders are different from automobile drivers. Two-wheeler mode in Maps gives routes that use shortcuts not accessible to cars. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations."

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