Google has announced a slew of initiatives for India that will further facilitate access to Internet. In a global first, it is launching a feature in India that will enable people to hear search results, making it convenient for users who prefer consuming information by listening.

The feature will be available in Hinglish and five Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, and Tamil.

The tech major has also announced the introduction of a feature in Search that will give users an option to access web pages from other languages and view them in their preferred local language. Google said this is aimed at bridging the information gap that local language users often encounter while searching for information online. The announcements were made at the seventh edition of the Google for India event.

Information on the Internet is primarily available in English. This is a barrier for most Indians. Many companies, including e-commerce major Amazon and Flipkart, have added vernacular languages in their apps to solve the problem. Analysts believe small-town India will drive the next phase of growth for India’s Internet economy.

Google will also launch a pilot of the first-ever Google Assistant-enabled end-to-end vaccine booking flow in India. The feature, which will guide users through the process of booking a vaccination appointment on the COWIN website with voice guidance in English and eight Indian languages, will be rolled out from early 2022. Google Pay users in India will also get the option of browsing the app in Hinglish as this is how a large section of Indians interact, the company said.

Also, to tap into the growing community of Indian merchants and micro-entrepreneurs that are adopting digital, Google Pay will launch MyShop, a feature that will allow merchants to set up online storefronts directly via the Google Pay for Business app. Ambarish Kenghe, Vice-President, Product Management at Google Pay, hopes the feature will further fuel the adoption of digital payments. Google Pay for Business claims to have a merchant base of over 10 million.

Among other important initiatives, Google has partnered with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to launch a $15 million (Rs 110 crore) financial assistance programme, enabling Indian micro-enterprises to avail loans of Rs 25 Lakh to Rs 1 crore at competitive rates. The programme will prioritise women-owned businesses and those engaged in production of equipment for the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“Today’s announcements aim at bridging more gaps and further broadening the inclusive base of India’s digital economy so that the advantages of this crucial transformation are accessible to everyone,” said Sanjay Gupta, Country Head & Vice President, Google India.

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