Google turns 18, announces YouTube Go, Wi-Fi station for India – A big step towards Digital India
On its 18th birthday, the search engine giant hosted the second edition of Google for India event today in New Delhi where it announced a variety of products and service made specifically for the country. The focus of the products announced today – a new Wi-Fi platform called Google Station and a video app YouTube Go – is to tap into the burgeoning Internet market in India, where users are primarily coming online through smartphones.
“Our goal has not just been to help more Indians get online — but also to help Indians create the online experience they want; one that serves their needs and enables them to have an impact on the entire world,” Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Next Billion Users division said. “So we have been thinking about how to build products and services for this wave of new users — products that work for any level of connectivity, in local Indian languages, and across the devices that are most frequently used in India.”
The search engine giant also highlighted the importance of India in innovating products and features that could be replicated across the globe. “Building for India and other countries where the next billion Internet users are coming online not only improves their experiences,” Sengupta added, “it gives us better ideas that work for everyone.” For instance, the offline version of Google Maps was first introduced in India and then introduced in the US and Europe.
The new platform will work with partners like system integrators (SIs) and venue owners to roll out Wi-Fi hotspots, Sengupta said.
“With Google Station, we aim to bring fast, affordable Wi-Fi to millions of people,” Caesar Sengupta said. Rolled out this January, the Google-Railtel project now includes 52 stations and 3.5 million users across India, with 15,000 people coming online for the first time every day through these stations.
A research team from Google went out to remote as well as urban parts of the country and conducted surveys around its popular video app YouTube. The research concluded that a majority of users were unsatisfied with the video app as it consumed a lot of data and was inconsistent because of poor connectivity. To cater to this issue, a new variant of the app was made.
YouTube Go is said to run smoothly on smartphones even on slow 2G connections with almost zero buffering. It has been created to play videos fast. The app will not only adapt to the connection but also the resolution and performance capability of the device. Google has used a variety of codecs to compress videos so that they can be pushed out on slow networks easily.
“YouTube Go is a brand new app to help the next generation of users share and enjoy videos,” Johanna Wright, YouTube Vice-President for Product Management said. “YouTube Go was designed and built from the ground up with insights from India, in order to bring the power of video to mobile users in a way that is more conscious of their data and connectivity, while still being locally relevant and social.” Wright and her team travelled to 15 Indian cities to find out how YouTube worked on slower connections and less-powerful mobile phones.