Google is betting big on India as the tech behemoth unveiled five new products on Tuesday specifically tailored for users in the world's second-largest Internet market—including one designed to bring free Wi-Fi to the world.
The new India offerings include new video app YouTube Go, the Google Assistant in Hindi inside messaging app Allo, data-saving features on Chrome and faster browsing for Google Play on 2G connections.
But it was a new Wi-Fi network called Google Station that grabbed headlines. In India, Google has already partnered with Indian Railways' telecom arm RailTel to provide Wi-Fi across railway stations nation-wide Now, Google has plans to roll out more hotspots.
Google Station will essentially offer carriers, system integrators and venues an easy way to set up high-quality Wi-Fi to "provide more people in India fast, reliable, and safe Wi-Fi in more of the places where they spend time, like malls, transit stations, and cafes," the firm said in a statement on Tuesday.
On the website accompanying the Indian launch, Google announced that it was looking to seal deals with partners around the world.
The company's goal wasn't just getting more Indians online, explained Google's vice-president of product management Caesar Sengupta. Tuesday's news was also aimed at ensuring Indians have the tools to "create the online experience they want; one that serves their needs and enables them to have an impact on the entire world," he continued.
India, one of Asia's fastest-growing economies, is home to an ever-expanding crop of entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the nation's widening middle class and purchasing power. And it's no secret that technology is essential to a healthy business. Last week, the United Nations Broadband Commission announced India eclipsed the U.S. to become the world's second-largest Internet market, with 333 million users, trailing China's 721 million.
At an event on Tuesday, Google's vice-president for India and Southeast Asia Rajan Anandan also discussed plans to train two million mobile developers on Android.
Here's a breakdown of the other products that were announced Tuesday.
Branded as a new mobile app for today's video-consuming generation, YouTube Go was especially designed for data-conscious customers, explained Johanna Wright, YouTube's vice-president for product management in the statement.
The app notably claims to function even in poor connectivity.
"It also gives users control over how much data they consume on videos, allowing them to preview videos first and choose the video's file size before they save it offline to watch later...They can also share videos easily with friends and family nearby, without using any data at all," said Wright.
Seen as a rival to Apple's Siri, the Google Assistant enables the use of voice commands to speed up browsing.
A preview of the service will be launched in Hindi by year-end inside the Allo chat app, Tuesday's statement said. Released last week for Android devices, Allo has already exceeded a million downloads on the Google Play Store.
Chrome's existing data saver mode, which reduces the amount of data the internet browser uses on Android mobile devices, computers, and Chromebooks, will now support MP4 videos.
The service promises to save up to 67 percent of video data and automatically load simplified pages when 2G-like networks are detected.
"Chrome on Android's new Download feature will now allow users to save web pages, videos, music, or pictures. Downloaded items can be easily accessed in Chrome's new downloads tab, even when offline. And if users go offline before the download is complete, the process will automatically resume next time they're connected," the statement explained.
Speedier browsing on Google's app store will load the most popular parts of the store quickly for low bandwidth connections.
And when a user chooses to install an app, Google Play will offer a new "Wait for Wi-Fi" option where the app will only install when the phone connects to Wi-Fi, the company noted.
The service launched Tuesday exclusively for Indian Play users.