Google is releasing low-bandwidth versions of several of its most popular apps geared toward users who do not have access to high-bandwidth internet, with the products to be introduced first in India.
India is a major opportunity for online companies, and through its new apps, Google is looking to tap into the country where the growth of the internet, as it describes, is explosive.
There are over a billion people in the country, with over 800 million people living in the rural areas with limited connectivity to the internet. In fact, of the entire Indian population, less than a third can be considered online.
At the Google for India event, the company made the announcements for several new products and platforms that look to expand the participation of Indians in the internet.
The first new app is YouTube Go, a reimagined version of YouTube that allows for videos to be loaded and played back smoothly across different levels of connectivity. The app also gives users more control over the consumption of their data, with a feature that allows users to share videos with other users nearby without consuming data.
Google also announced Google Station, an expansion of an earlier project that will give the company’s partners in India tools to easily launch Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. Users will be able to connect to the internet using unified login credentials among all the hotspots.
Two updates for the mobile versions of Chrome and Google Play also added features for users on low-bandwidth connections. An expanded Data Saver mode will reduce the data needed by the internet browser, with the Android version of the app to also add a new Download feature which lets users save online content on their phone to be accessed later, even while offline. Google Play, meanwhile, will preload parts of the app store while on Wi-Fi so that browsing will be faster even when the user switches to a low-bandwidth connection.
Why go through all the trouble of launching new apps and platforms to give Indians better access to the internet? Google is looking to lure new users to go online and use its services so that the company will be able to tap the currently dormant advertising revenue potential in India and in countries which have similar connectivity issues.
In addition, India is serving as an incubator for the future of internet products, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who is Indian himself, claiming that while the company is improving products for the country, the developments are also making the apps and platforms better for the rest of the world.
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