Google Now and Voice Search get Indian accents as part of big local expansion

Google India today hosted a Google Cafe in Delhi for the press it showcased the new Indian Accent that is supported by Google Now's voice search command.


Google today hosted a Google Cafe in Delhi for the press, where it showcased new features for Google Search on mobile.

 

Indian English has been supported for a long time on Google Now, but now the company has said that the Indian accent will be more easily recognised by Google Now. Google gave a demo of how this actually works to the media.

 

Sandeep Menon, Head of Marketing, Google India said at the event, “We’re delighted to showcase the improvements we’ve made to Search for Indian users today. These features demonstrate Google’s commitment to India and to continually improving Indian users’ search experience.” The event also featured special guests Indian footballer Baichung Bhutia, singer and model Shibani Dandekar, and chef Kunal Kapur.

 

Menon also pointed out that to understand the Indian accent for voice search Google worked with over 700 volunteers in India, and collected spoken utterances to create the specific language models to power English Voice Search in India.The volunteers were asked to read popular search queries in a variety of acoustic conditions such as in restaurants, out on busy streets, and inside cars, etc.

 

Users can choose the Indian accent by going to the settings in the Google Search app, then select Voice>Language> choose English > English (India). Voice search requires Android 2.3+ and is also available in iOS in the Google Search app.

 

The event also focussed on Knowledge Graph and Google Now, which was a little strange given that both products are fairly old. Both were first introduced 2012. The Google Now app uses Voice Search as well and also helps users in getting other information like today's weather, traffic route, flight status, etc. Of course to activate all these 'cards', as they are referred to on Google Now, users need to sign into their Google Account on the Google Search App or on Chrome (for desktop and laptop).

 

For Google, the event was clearly about emphasising how big search will be for it in a market like India. In fact as Menon pointed out the company expects that 61 percent of the Internet users in India will be mobile only in the coming two years. That is a massive number and for Google, capturing the mobile search market is thus even more important.

 

With the growth of mobile users in India, Google has won in a big way since Android has clearly emerged as the winner as it is the dominant OS. From low-end budget phones to premium devices, Android had a 91 percent market share in India in 2013, according to IDC data.

 

Given how big Android is, the company will also be hoping that the search market continues to grow and adapt to changing user outlook. Since smartphones will mean a new generation of mobile first and in some cases mobile only users in India, Google will hoping that they will be well-versed with how search works on these devices. Plus with Google Now, the company will try and make sure that users see Google as more than just a search engine with a voice-capability option.


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