Puja Baniya Science & Technology
Getting rid of frequent and heavy good morning messages, videos and gifs is going to get easier for Android users. Google on Tuesday formally launched the free Files Go app, which in addition to having the usual functions of space and file management apps, also culls out all "good morning" messages on an Android device, so that a user can delete them en masse. This was among the several India-focused announcements the internet giant made on Tuesday, chief among them being a version of Android called Android Go, which consumes less data and comes with a suite of "Go" apps that take up less space. The latest Android version - Android Oreo which is also called Android O -- will be the first one to get the Go edition. Devices with Android Oreo Go edition will start shipping in India in the first half of 2018, Google said.
The Android Go edition of the mobile operating system will be the default OS for entry-level phones, which Google identifies as those that have between 512 MB and 1 GB RAM. These devices typically fall in the sub-Rs.7000 price range. After Android Oreo, subsequent Android versions will also have a Go edition.
A clutch of data and storage-friendly free Go apps will also be available on the Google Play store to complement Android Go. These include the older YouTube Go and the more recent Files Go, which was in a pre-launch beta phase since summer. Even the Google search app will be available as Google Go, tailored for first-time internet users. In May, Android Go was announced as a project in the pipeline at the annual Google I/O conference in the United States.
In addition to rolling out the Android Oreo Go edition, Google also announced a clutch of product updates and new features for the Indian market. For example, navigation and directions on Google Maps will now come with a two-wheeler mode, which will show commuters routes through narrow alleys where bikes or scooters can easily venture. Google Search will answer queries on the air quality data for 22 Indian cities. Google Assistant, a Siri-like app that responds to voice commands on a phone, can now crack jokes with Bollywood references and even respond to commands in Indian languages. Google has partnered with Reliance to bundle a light version of Google Assistant on Jio feature phones. "We're not just adapting our products for India, we're building for India first," says Caesar Sengupta, who heads the Next Billion Users division at Google.
The Files Go app has the functions of file and storage management apps currently available as stock apps on several Android phones. These typically point one to heavy files or duplicate files that can be deleted to free up storage space. Files Go does that, along with giving one an option to back files up. About the good morning message feature, Sengupta told TOI: "It is such a small feature, but the moment the team came up with that idea we realised that in India, this will fly!"
Sameer Samat, vice president of product management at Google says that this feature will work not just on text messages, but also on images, videos and gifs. "It uses a vision-based classification system with artificial intelligence to cull out these messages. You can then review them and decide which ones you want to delete," he told TOI.
Monday's announcements are among a long list of earlier product or product feature launches from Google meant specifically for bandwidth-poor conditions and for low-capacity smartphones. In 2014, they had announced the Android One program, where they partnered with device manufacturers to provide the Android platform tailored for sub-$100 devices. YouTube Go and offline Google Maps were launched soon after for those who could not spend on or access mobile data. In 2013, Google ran what was internally called "Project Svelte" for Android Kit Kat to find out ways to make the operating system lighter for lower-end devices with limited capabilities.
'Google's Tez accounted for 70% of UPI transactions in Oct-Nov'
Google's Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based payments app Tez accounted for 70% of UPI transactions in October and November, Sengupta said on Tuesday, citing data from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Google.
Google says that the app has processed over 140 million transactions from 21 million active users since its launch on September 18, and that the average transaction size had grown four times since then.
Sengupta said that the internet giant has signed up with over 70 billing partners to introduce bill payments on the app as well. He said that the app had already signed up over 5.25 lakh merchants. "50% of Tez users come from outside the top 10 cities of India," he told TOI.
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