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General News Google Maps to become smarter, can be accessed offline on weak data connection
The Indian story in 2017 seems to have been good for Google. Google Maps is seeing a 100% year-on-year growth in India now.

"Thanks to larger data plans, people are not really concerned about bandwidth anymore and as a result, we see specific opportunities to make maps better for Indian users”, says Dane Glasgow, Vice President of Google Maps.

India’s internet user base grew more than 28% according to Mary Meeker's India Internet Trends 2017 report. The exponential growth in Internet users is also the result of growing smartphone industry and drop in data costs. To cater to this increasing user base, Google has various apps and services out of which the company has a special focus on Google Maps for India.

The product Maps was launched 12 years ago in 2005 and it reached India in 2008. Since then, the app has been evolving and a number of features have been added specifically for the Indian audience. For instance, offline viewing of maps (you can download specific areas of a map if you’re traveling without a data connection) and a redesigned home page that allows for quick access to commonly used features.

“With explosion of large data plans, we see that people don’t have concern about bandwidth but connectivity is still an issue. So being able to take your map and bring it offline means maps still works even if your connection drops and that been a big part of expansion of this feature” said Dane Glasgow, VP, Google Maps.

The company is working on a number of new additions for transit updates – important, because India is amongst the top three countries from a transit usage perspective. Apart from live traffic, blocked routes and the option of booking a cab directly through the app, Google is also tying up with various public transport organisations to provide real-time updates. Delhi Metro, Mumbai local rail and Kolkata buses are already working with Google Maps. Google already offers an offline public transit app for Delhi-NCR with details for Delhi Metro and bus routes. These learnings might find their way into the Maps app eventually.

Another feature in Maps is the real-time tracking of Indian event routes. Google recently created the progress path of the Satyarthi Foundation Bharat Yatra against sexual exploitation of children. Under the Swachh Bharat campaign, Toilet locations were added in Maps and Google also encouraged users to rate and review the public toilets to help the Government.

[Image: 61015389.cms]

India is also big for the Google local guides program: amongst the top 3 counties globally in terms of user participation. Anyone can become a ‘local guide’ on Google, providing other Google Maps users with their local knowledge. “We are always looking for user feedback to drive our investment and understand where customer need is. We make a lot of decisions based on inputs from users under the Local Guide program” added Dane Glasgow.

There are other pain points that Google is trying to address in India. Maps currently provides navigation guidance using landmarks and intersection names. Metro pillar numbers as identifiers will also come soon. Then there’s the support for languages including Hindi, Bengali, Telegu and Tamil. And the folks who rely on the various cab aggregator services can compare fares from Uber, Ola & Meru from within the app. They’re all steps (or rides) in the right direction.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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