Tag Archives: NBU

Google for India: Building India-first products and features

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The internet in India has undergone an incredible transformation. This year India crossed the 400 million internet user mark. And Indians are using more data than ever before—4GB on average every month, projected to grow to 11GB per month in the next four years. Cheaper data through carrier innovation and greater access to public WiFi such as Google Station makes the richness of the internet more accessible to Indians. And as a result, they’re spending more time watching their favorite videos and less time worrying about the cost of data.


With so many internet users hungry to do even more online, we’ve been working to build new products and features specifically for India. At our third annual Google for India event, in Delhi today, we announced some of these updates. Here's a look:


A better entry-level smartphone experience with Android Oreo (Go edition)
Android Oreo (Go edition)—a new smartphone experience for entry-level devices—is available to the Android ecosystem of developers, partners and carriers as part of today’s release of Android 8.1. 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 the 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 allows people to download any app, while highlighting the apps designed to work best on Go edition devices.


Our partners’ phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will hit shelves in early 2018.


Google Go, a new app from Google Search
One of the core apps designed for Android Oreo (Go edition) is Google Go, a new app from Google Search. Available today as a preview on the Google Play Store in India and Indonesia, Google Go is tailor-made for the millions of people in those countries coming online for the first time. It’s simple to use and fast even on entry level devices and spotty connections, making discovering, sharing and finding content easier and more reliable.


Google Go has three special features that meet the needs of users who are new to the internet. First, typing on a small device can be slow and cumbersome, and people may not know what to look for online, so Google Go’s tap-first user interface helps them better express themselves, explore new ideas, find things to share and guide them around the web. Second, Google Go is light on storage and data, and great on patchy connections. It’s less than 5MB to download, and search results in Google Go are optimized to save up to 40 percent data. Third, it’s very easy to switch and see answers in another language, for example, between Hindi and English.


Free up space on your phone with Files Go
Files Go is a new app that helps free up space, find files faster and share files offline with people nearby. In tests over the last month, the average user saved 1GB of space. Files Go was built from scratch for Go edition devices, and today the official version launched on the Google Play Store.


The Google Assistant for the JioPhone
A special version of the Google Assistant—the Google Assistant for the JioPhone, built for India in both English and Hindi—is launching today. This will help bring the benefits of the Google Assistant to millions of first time internet users on the JioPhone with an intuitive voice-based user interface, along with a rich set of data services. The Assistant can help make phone calls, text, play music and videos, navigate and search the internet, and access other apps and services.


Two-wheeler mode in Google Maps comes to India first
Another India-first feature is the new “two-wheeler mode” in Google Maps. India is the largest two-wheeler market in the world, and the millions of motorcycle and scooter riders have different navigation needs than drivers of automobiles. Two-wheeler mode in Maps shows trip routes that use “shortcuts” not accessible to cars and trucks. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations. And since so many Indians rely on local landmarks for navigation, two-wheeler mode will show major landmarks on the route so that riders can plan their trip before starting, and don’t have to keep checking the phone on the go.


Two-wheeler mode is launching in India today, to be followed by more countries in the coming months.


Tez momentum and new features
Our India-first mobile payments app Tez has seen huge growth in its first 10 weeks. Tez has processed over 140 million transactions from nearly 12 million active users. There are more than 525,000 merchants already on Tez, using it to take payments, pay their suppliers or transfer money to employees. And Tez isn’t just being used in India’s top metros—in fact, we’ve seen Tez users from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from towns in Arunachal Pradesh to the villages of Gujarat.


In the coming weeks, Tez will start rolling out a customized experience to pay bills right in the app. More than 70 billers will be supported, including utilities and direct-to-home service providers. Once people pay a bill on Tez, they never have to add the billing organization again. Tez will also remind users when certain bills are due. And they can avoid paying the same bill twice, since the payment status will be automatically updated.


And since payments aren’t simply transfers of money, but often, personal exchanges for meaningful occasions, we’re adding fun animated moments that trigger when a certain word or phrase appears in the message with the payment, such as “hello” or “India.”


We hope this suite of products and features helps more people discover how the internet makes life easier and more convenient for Indians—whether it’s helping pay bills on time, navigating the quickest route to a destination or searching for answers to important questions.


These products and features are India-first, but if we’ve seen anything over the last few years, India-first ideas aren’t just useful to people in India. The mobile-first next billion users are changing the very nature of the internet, and so when we build better products for India, we ultimately build better products for everyone—and for the future.



Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Next Billion Users team

Ready, set… Files Go! A faster way to clean up, find and share files on your phone

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Every day, millions of smartphones run out of space. While phones with 16GB or 32GB of storage are becoming more popular, many phones around the world have much less storage, often as low as 4GB. And with the barrage of images, videos, apps and documents that keep piling up, at some point it becomes a mess—it's hard to find what you need when you need it, and your phone slows down and starts crashing. We all eventually reach that point where we have to choose what to keep or delete.


That’s why we’re excited to introduce Files Go, an app that takes a mobile-first approach to freeing up space, finding files faster and easily sharing them with others.


Free up space on your phone and find files faster


Files Go helps you:


  • Free up space. Get personalized suggestions about which files to delete, whether it’s unused apps, large files, duplicate files or low-resolution videos and memes detected using Google’s latest mobile vision technology.


  • Find files faster. No more navigating through a maze of folders. Find exactly the stuff you want with smart filters that automatically organize your images, videos, apps, documents and more.


  • Backup files to the cloud. If you want to keep a file forever, select it from the Files menu and back it up to Google Drive or any other cloud storage app.


  • Share files offline. Transfer directly from your phone to a nearby friend’s phone without using any data. The file transfers are encrypted, fast (up to 125 Mbps) and free.

Transfer files securely between two phones, fast and data-free


We’ve been testing Files Go for a month, and the average user is saving 1GB of space and has shared many files with others without using data. Starting today, we’re opening up Files Go globally on the Google Play Store for all phones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher. Free up more space and share files faster—give Files Go a try!

Posted by Caesar Sengupta VP, Next Billion Users Team

From literacy to livelihood, the Internet Saathi journey continues!

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Even as India has taken the lead to become the fastest growing Internet user market in the world, India’s Internet is still dominated by male users. And in rural areas, the situation is worse. To overcome this gender divide in 2015, we along with Tata Trusts, announced the Internet Saathi program with an ambitious plan to help women across 300,000 villages in India to learn about the benefits of Internet and how they can use it to improve their lives.

Using the train the trainer model, we equipped women within the villages with smartphones and tablets, and as of today are over 30 thousand Saathis who have covered more than 110,000 villages across 12 states in India and reached out to over 12 million women.

And while we continue to roll out the program across more villages, today we’re expanding the Internet Saathi program to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for women in rural India. We are supporting the Foundation For Rural Entrepreneurship Development i.e. FREND. set up by Tata Trusts.  Under this initiative we will jointly work with Tata Trusts to deliver sustainable employment opportunities to Internet Saathis,  by opening up the Internet Saathi network for other organisations to further the cause of socio-economic development of rural India.


Millions of women across rural India continue to fight social and cultural norms to pursue their ambitions and learn further. In this environment,  they see the Internet as a force to learn and create a better future for their families. With knowledge of the Internet, thousands of Internet Saathis have gone on to do amazing things, for themselves and their communities.  


One such story is of Rohini. She did not know how to use a smartphone till last year. Now  she used the Internet  to get more information on Bee farming, making honey and packaging it. She is also using the Internet to promote the honey she makes. I met her two weeks back and she told me how the demand was high and her stock was sold out!


These stories have inspired us to expand the Internet Saathi program from digital literacy to digital livelihood to further the cause of socio-economic development of rural India! We believe, FREND, will become a vehicle for other like minded companies and institutions to utilise the Internet Saathi network and enable dissemination of information and services in villages, thereby creating newer avenues of income for the women in rural India.


Over 12,000 Internet Saathis across India have voluntarily signed up for this new dimension of Internet Saathi. And in the past few months, some of these Saathis have successfully completed pilot programs executing projects for Kantar, Nielsen, HP Printers, Tata Water Mission and Haqdarshak.


We are grateful to Tata Trusts, our onground NGO partners and several Google volunteers who have contributed to the success of the Internet Saathi program. We hope this new direction of the Internet Saathi program will contribute in empowering more women across rural India as we work with the Saathis to spread digital literacy and improve their livelihoods with Internet.


Posted by Sapna Chadha, Marketing Head, SEA & India, Google




Introducing Tez, a mobile payments and commerce app from Google

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With over 300 million smartphone users in India and rapidly improving connectivity, the internet is becoming a daily part of life for many Indians. That includes messaging friends and family, searching the web for information, reading news, watching music videos, or playing games. But when it comes to paying for things in the real world — vegetables, bus fares, the chaiwallah, splitting the bill at dinner or paying on delivery for something purchased online — those smartphones often go unused. Out instead comes… wads of paper. Indians love cash.


There is a reason for this: cash is easy to use and works everywhere. But cash is easy to lose, difficult to carry around and can be easily stolen. More critically, cash makes it hard for people to build a financial track record, and could result in exclusion from services like credit and insurance.


To make digital payments truly work for India, we need a product that can compete with cash. It needs to be simple, affordable, and work everywhere and for everyone.  So today we are introducing a new mobile app from Google, Tez — a simple and secure way to pay for things, big and small, online and offline, in India. Tez is a payments and commerce app built for India on top of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) standard.


Tez enables you to:
  • Make cash-like payments with Cash Mode: One of the most powerful aspects of cash is that it enables you to pay others without exchanging sensitive personal information. Cash Mode enables just that by letting you pay another Tez user nearby without having to share personal details like your bank account or phone number. This is ideal for paying the auto-wallah or sabzi-wallah. Bring two phones near each other, hit pay or request, enter your UPI PIN and the payment goes instantly from one bank account to another. Cash Mode is built using our proprietary AQR (Audio QR) technology, which is similar to QR codes but more convenient and more secure. And unlike NFC, it works on almost any smartphone in India, whether Android or iOS.


  • Like a chat app. Easy, fun and phone number based: Tez uses your phone’s contact list so there’s no need to add people as beneficiaries or remember complicated bank numbers. This makes it easy and quick to transact with people you know. So sending money to your family across the country, paying your landlord, or splitting a bill with a friend is simple and fast. Further, your transaction history with each person or business is grouped together like a conversation — just as chat apps group your messages together. This experience feels natural and enables richer, more engaging interactions.


  • Pay, get offers and more. At offline and online businesses: Small businesses can also use Tez to accept payments directly into their savings or individual current accounts (subject to regulatory limits). But we wanted to do more to help Indian merchants unlock the potential of digital payments, so we are launching the Tez for Business program. Participating businesses will be able to interact with their customers in new ways, including securely accepting UPI payments on their mobile websites with just a few taps. These merchants will also get their own Business Channel in the Tez app itself, so users can interact and transact easily with them without needing to install multiple apps. From their customized Business Channel, merchants will be able to engage customers directly by sending smart reminders for recurring payments, sharing tailored offers, and more. Our launch partners, PVR Cinemas and redBus, will be joined by a number of other businesses like DishTV, Jet Airways and Domino’s in the coming weeks. And we’re working with our existing advertisers and online e-commerce platforms like Shopify and payment aggregators like Billdesk and PayU to bring hundreds of India’s online businesses to Tez. And today, we’re opening up the Tez for Business program so sign up here if you’re interested in learning more.


  • All the power of UPI & India’s most trusted banks: Tez works with all of the 55 banks on UPI. Our first-of-its-kind multiple payment service provider partnership with NPCI and four top banks in India — Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank today and soon with the State Bank of India — means you can use Tez to transact with other UPI apps like BHIM or even check out online using your Tez UPI ID.  It doesn’t cost you anything to use Tez, and your money stays in your bank so you continue to earn interest. And best of all, because Tez works directly with your bank account, there's no need to top-up a wallet balance or pay fees to get money out.


  • Protected by the Tez Shield: Backed by Google’s expertise in security and machine learning, Tez Shield works 24/7 and uses multiple signals to help detect spam, fraud, prevent hacking, and to verify and protect the identity of every user. Your account is also safeguarded with security options including your phone security method such as passcode or fingerprint and a Google PIN code. And if you ever need help, our customer service team is available all day, every day by phone or chat support.


  • Made for India first: Tez works on the vast majority of India’s smartphones (with apps for both Android and iOS) and Android supports English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu with more coming soon.


But this is just the beginning. In the next few weeks and months we’ll be working with our partners to add even more ways to pay on Tez (e.g. credit cards and wallets) and more places to pay. And select phones from our manufacturer partners Lava, Micromax, Nokia Mobile, and Panasonic will come with Tez, making it even easier to get started.


Tez is available today on Google Play and the App Store, and we’re excited for you to try it. We hope you’ll like our fresh approach to digital payments and commerce and that Tez will help make your life a little bit easier. This is just one step in a long and important journey towards enabling a cashless India — a crucial component of a Digital India.


Posted by Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Next Billion Users Team


High-speed Wi-Fi rolls into 100th railway station in India


“I visit [Jaipur station] every 3 to 4 days to get fast access to the Internet. I stop there for a few minutes, download apps, update them and get things my daughter wants. She is in 10th grade and uses my smartphone in the evenings to fulfill her educational needs. She also teaches my wife, her mother, to read and write using my smartphone.”

This is the story of Bhagwan Sahay, whom our team met at Jaipur Railway station, one of the earliest stations to be connected to Railwire Wi-Fi. It’s also one of the many stories we’ve heard from people across India who are using the Wi-Fi in ways that improve their daily lives.

With Railwire Wi-Fi rolling into Udhagamandalam (Ooty) today, we’ve now brought high-speed Internet to 100 of the busiest railway stations across India. That means the 10 million people (think the entire population of Sweden) who pass through these stations every day now have access to fast enough Internet to stream (or offline) an HD video, research their destination or download a new book or game for the journey ahead. And for 15,000 people, every day, these stations connect them to the Internet for the first time, ever.



We’re really excited about how far we’ve come since we announced that we were partnering with Indian Railways and RailTel to provide Wi-Fi at 400 railway stations throughout the country. But what has really inspired us are the stories of how people, like Bhagwan, are using this high-speed access to the full and open Internet.

They’re using Railwire Wi-Fi to be more productive with their time and to get things done more efficiently. Somesh Singh in an engineering graduate who logs on at Hazrat Nizamuddin station in Delhi to search the web for job opportunities and prepare for interviews without having to wait for slow loading pages or worry about the cost of browsing. Ajay Jain is a teacher who uses the Wi-Fi to get schoolwork done on his daily commute from Indore to Ujjain, so he can spend more time with his family once he gets home. And there’s Sandesh Awasthi, a cricket fan who no longer has to miss another game if he can stream matches live while waiting at Churchgate station in Mumbai.

And because it's high-speed, quality Wi-Fi, travellers are now able to connect with their loved ones more regularly and can even see them using video calling apps.


“I am migrant worker from Bihar and I travel to Rajasthan for work. Traveling usually means I won’t have a good connection. I got so excited when I saw free Wi-Fi here at the station. I just called my wife, and the voice and picture clarity were so good. I haven’t seen her face this clear in so long, whenever I talk the image is blurred because the network isn’t great. She also got so excited to see my call, she was very surprised to see me. I feel so good after speaking to her.
I can’t stop smiling.” — Bholu
A traveler checks train timetables online

A look inside Churchgate station, one of Mumbai's busiest, which came online in August.


What’s next? In September we announced Google Station, which gives partners an easy set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. With all the possibilities that our partnership with Indian Railways and Railtel have created for 10 million Indians passing through 100 stations every day, we look forward to the many more opportunities that Google Station will open up to every Indian and the stories we hope to hear from them.

Posted by Gulzar Azad, Country Head - Connectivity, Google India

Android Developer Story: Culture Alley reaches millions of English learners on Google Play

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Google Play team

Culture Alley developed the app Hello English to help Indians learn English through gamification, supporting over 15 dialects. More than 13 million people now use Hello English in India and around the world.

Hear Nishant Patni, Founder & CEO and Pranshu Bhandari, Co-Founder, explain how they optimized the app to address challenges faced by emerging markets. Learn how they used various Google Play tools to address varying levels of connectivity and device capabilities, and improve user retention.

Learn more best practices about building for billions and watch the ‘10 tips to build an app for billions of users’ video to get more tips. Also, get the Playbook for Developers app and stay up-to-date with more features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.