Google I/O 2018 is just a day away for all of you reading this back at home in India and tomorrow morning for those of us covering the event from the company’s Mountain View headquarters. A day ahead of the official start of its annual developers conference, Google held a couple of useful sessions highlighting its efforts towards creating products and service for the what it calls the ‘Next Billion Users’ (NBU).
At the press meet, Google spoke about its recently launched Tez, Files Go and Datally apps, which were all focussed on markets like India, with limited data access and connectivity, as well as countries where low spec phones and lack of localised content is commonplace.
Google explained that Files Go, its India-first app to manage storage, was born after extensive research pointed out that “folks were running out of storage constantly” and in India, 1 out of 3 Android users get a low storage warning on a daily basis. “That is about 80 million people that are seeing this everyday,” said Josh Woodward, Group Product Manager at Google. Google claims that with the help of Files Go, an average user is able to free up 1.1GB of space. The app has also added some new features to manage files better and instead of a folder view, users can now find files categorised by their type. There is also a new file search feature that has been integrated within the app to help scout for important files in an easier fashion. Google execs told us that Files Go is still being worked upon and new features can be expected in the future.
Talking about Datally, a data management and Wi-Fi locator app that displays the amount of daily and real-time data being consumed by users, Google said that it has recorded around 1 million monthly active users for the app and that an average user saves around 26% data using it. Again, Datally was an app that was launched with a focus on markets like India, Indonesia, Brazil and other countries, where connectivity was pegged to be limited by the company. While internet connectivity remains pretty dull in most of the countries from where Google expects next billion users, India has shocked the Mountain View-based tech giant with a rapid growth in data usage. All thanks to Reliance Jio and its over 230 million subscribers, Google is actually having to rethink the Datally app and adapt it to the Indian market where data is becoming cheaper and more accessible by the day.
“The Indian data landscape has changed dramatically over the last 12 months. I don’t think any of us saw the Jio effect coming. Maybe in the country you did, but all the folks we have here...Total surprise! Giving people more data is great. More data means more access, more power for individual users. So, we are now adapting Datally to India and we are running a lot of experiments that are actually coming up end of this month,” said Woodward hinting at India-specific feature additions to the app.
Apart from adapting the Datally app to changing user needs in India, Google is also taking learnings from its successful Google Station Wi-Fi service in India to other emerging markets like Indonesia and Mexico. The company noticed that people in India just flock to the railway station to get online even if they don’t have a train to catch. This made them realise that they could build an entirely new product out of what was originally a partnership with telecom infrastructure provider ‘RailTel’ in India. Google is also now working to expand its free Wi-Fi service to upcoming smart cities in the country.
Another key metric shared by Google at this pre I/O media briefing was about Tez, its UPI-based digital payments app. Google announced that it now has around 16 million monthly active users on Tez in India. The company did not announce any new developments as far as Tez is concerned, but did acknowledge the fact that Tez users try to game the application for scratch cards by sending money to their own friends and having it sent back to them in a loop. Google said that the rewards and scratch cards available on the Tez app are still in the experimental stage and will keep evolving with time.
Stay tuned to Digit.in for all the key announcements from Google I/O 2018. Live coverage starts at 10:30 pm IST on May 8.