Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, along with other key executives, addressed the media, developers, entrepreneurs, and marketers at the Google For India event held in New Delhi. This is the first time that Pichai has come to India since becoming CEO. During the event, Pichai talked about a number of different projects that the company was working on, with a special focus on expanding internet connectivity in the country.
Free WiFi in railway stations
Pichai announced that the company is working with the Indian Railways and Railtel to launch RailWire, which will provide free WiFi in train stations. Mumbai Central will be the first railway station in India to offer the services, and will go online by the end of next month. Google plans to introduce the service in 100 railway stations in the country by the end of 2016. Users will get a full connection speed for the first hour, after which the speed will be reduced. On the other hand, Google said it will try to keep the service free for users. Developing a business model that allows the service to be self sustainable, but without charging users. One of the models that the company proposed, includes a sponsorship model, where Google will find sponsors for the network. It's only an example though and Google didn't clarify whether this will be the model followed. Alternatively, the company did confirm that there will be no data consumption limit for users on these networks. Also, users will be allowed streaming, browsing, downloads and anything else they want to do on the Internet.
Internet for everyone
During the event, Pichai said that Google is planning to expand its program to connect women in rural India through Internet bikes. The initiative, called ‘Internet Saathi’, aims to provide basic training on the use and benefits of the internet for women. This will be done via specially-designed cycles that will visit villages to provide internet access to women. The initiative plans to reach 3 lakh villages in 3 years.
Pichai said that Google plans on hiring more people for their offices located in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. He also announced a new program to train two million new Android developers over the next three years. To succeed in this endeavour, Google will be working closely with more than 30 universities in India.
Do more with the YouTube app
During the event, three new features for the YouTube app were announced. One allows users to select the time to download a video, while the other allows background downloading. The third feature allows YouTube to buffer videos when paused.
Chromebit is here
He also announced the Asus Chromebit for India. The device can be connected to the HDMI port of any display, and convert it to a Chrome OS computer. He said that Chromebit will be launched in January next year, priced at Rs. 7,999.
More India-centric services
Pichai also talked about Project Loon, and said that the company will soon bring the project to India. Project Loon aims to bring internet connectivity to remote areas through the use of balloons. Other services that Google plans to introduce include ‘Tap to Translate’, which allows Google’s translation services to be used within applications. This will allow users to translate text quickly, and the service will be introduced next year. They also introduced a new keyboard called ‘Indic’, which allows users to type in 11 different languages.