Tap to translate, Wi-Fi at railway stations: Top takeaways from Sundar Picha’s …

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google tackles dear data.

Two seemingly unrelated events were significant last week. Sundar Pichai during his first visit to India since he became the Google CEO, talked about Google’s vision to develop products to improve access, Internet connectivity for Indians.

Yet, tech giants making incursions in the country are at pains to assure everyone that they are here on a noble mission to connect everyone, to empower the disempowered, and to give a voice to the voiceless. It didn’t take long for Pichai to recall his upbringing in India, and how he felt the need to give back to the country where it all started for him. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed students at IIT, Delhi in a town hall meeting in October, explaining Facebook’s vision to digitally transform the world. The service is part of the vision for Google in India that CEO Sundar Pichai presented in New Delhi on Wednesday, along with other features such as adding more Indian language support. While the likes of Airtel, Reliance talk about the 4G-effect in India, Google has no clue about it (or so it seems), which is why their focus is solely on 2G, or providing faster internet speeds.

VIDEO: WATCH Google CEO Sunder Pichai in conversation with cricket commentator and journalist Harsha Bhogle at Delhi University (Note: Video starts at 16:27) Google search will get faster in India, especially for those on slower Internet connections in India. We want to ensure that people in India get consistent internet at high speed for which we’re first looking to provide seamless Google products on 2G network.

India’s average Internet speed is the second worst among countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and the nation comes in at 115th place worldwide, network equipment maker Akamai Technologies said in a June report. Google’s streamline web search results pages and streamlined web pages will ensure that content and text load in a matter of seconds, rather than the current scenario where the experience is often fragmented for most users. A slick AV at his presentation showed local trainers with bicycle carts reach out to rural women — seated on the floor, pallu firmly on head – looking through a phone, talking about how they had never used the internet before this.

Google Search VP Tamar Yehoshua said 50 per cent of Indian internet users were on 2G networks, while those on 3G were complaining of 2G-like speeds. “Google plans to fix that with its streamlined search pages,” she said. Their publicity machines are working in carefully matched moves on a chessboard called India, where the number of mobile Internet users is expected to roughly double to 300 million levels by 2017 compared with 2014. Google is also partnering with India’s railways to offer Wi-Fi access in more than 400 railway stations, covering 10 million passengers each day, Pichai said.

The two times Pichai plugged the program on the visit, the women-are-marginalised narrative was offered as if it existed without the social systems that prevent them from accessing the Internet. Unsurprisingly, then, there was no word on what Google’s program was going to do about local diktats that ban women and young girls from using mobile phones.Facebook, with its Free Basics program tried to do right by incorporating some suggested changes.

The search-engine giant has been running special 2G speed tests back in the US to acclimatise and fix issues with services tailor-made for our country. He also announced plans to hire more engineers and open a new campus in Hyderabad. “This country has given me and Google so much,” India-born Pichai said. “I hope we can give much more in return to India in the months and years ahead.” Google has partnered with Railtel to make this project a reality and will be using the fibre optic network by Railtel to get its Wireless Access Network ready. Take a look at Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s status message from November this year, talking about the Free Basics launch in India: “We just took another step towards connecting India,” he begins, and launches into the story of Maharashtrian farmer Ganesh Nimbalkar who used weather and commodity prices apps through the service to make his work more efficient after suffering droughts.

With an intention to connect millions of Android users in India in their own language, Google announced a new ‘tap to tanslate’ feature for the OS, which will be rolled out next year. The before-after here is strongly reminiscent of the classic “main bahut pareshan tha” advertising ploys of teleshopping networks. “Today, nearly 1 billion people are currently without internet access in India.

The feature will allow users to translate any text written in either Hindi (both in Devnagri script or English letters) in any app by just tapping on the text. Now with Internet.org’s Free Basics available to everyone in India, many more people like Ganesh and Bharati will have access to the information and opportunity the internet brings,” Zuckerberg further writes in his post. Users will not have to leave the app to open Google Translate and switch back and forth, and instead will the translated Further explaining the feature, Android VP Caesar Sengupta said that a message received in Hindi can be copied and Google Translate will appear right inside WhatsApp to show translation.

In March this year, CEO Dick Costolo visited the country, did the usual rounds with political honchos, and launched a tweets-through-texts service for select few government accounts. Eyal Manor, Vice-President of Engineering for YouTube said the content uploaded on YouTube from India has also doubled and time spent was growing at 150 per cent ahead of global figures.

Consider the title of the blog post announcing this: “Twitter Samvad brings digital governance to the masses.”Silicon Valley’s civilizational project comes with a heavy white man’s burden. Google got into trouble with European regulators when its search algorithms weeded out some sites ostensibly because it was fighting spam through filters. This reduction of the demographic to poor farmers who need better resources or languishing women who need healthcare information for their kids denies them complexity and personhood. While Telecommunication ministry may have raised issues about Project Loon’s interference with telecom signal, Pichai sounded confident of beaming internet from balloons.

Google’s Project Loon was conceived for India and Mountain View based search major would want to get it floating in Indian airspace as early as possible. There were even references of Android P being named Peda on stage and on a lighter note, Pichai joked of Android P being named Payasam, a popular dessert served in Southern India.

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