Google introduces new machine-learning products for Indian languages

Tomas Mccoy
April 25, 2017

Google on Tuesday announced that the company is introducing improved support for Indian languages in its products.

Recently, a study conducted by the tech major in collaboration with KPMG India revealed that 234 million Indian language users are now online, as against 175 million users browsing in English. "With today's launches, we are taking a huge step forward to bring down the barriers that stop Indian language users to get more out of the Internet and also help the industry to solve for the needs of billions Indians", Rajan Anandan, vice-president of Google's India and South East Asia operations was quoted as saying in company's release.

In comparison to the decade old practice of a phrase-based translation system, neural translation enables the translation of sentences as a whole, rather than being broken down into fractions. Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu will form 30% of the total Indian language internet user base. We have identified gaps that bar Indians from accessing the internet.

"About 35% of Indian language internet users access government services, classifieds, news and payment services exclusively online".

The new translation capability will also be available to users on Google search and Maps to aid discovery of new places with translations of local reviews on Google Maps, both on mobile and desktop. The number of English-speaking Internet users is expected to grow at a mere 3 per cent to touch 199 million during the same time. In the next four years, report said, Hindi speaking users alone will overtake English speaking users and will be the most used language on the Internet in India. With today's launches (GNMT and Gboard for 22 Indian tongues), Google is making sure it isn't left behind in the linguistic domain, an area where a lot of local competitors have come up and have offered decent solutions to cater to this large non English speaking populace.

Google said it does one billion translations everyday and 95% of Google Translate has its usage outside of the US. For users who often switch back and forth between Hindi and English, they will also be able to use Hinglish language option with new text editing tool that makes it easier to select, copy and paste, plus new options for resizing and repositioning the keyboard so it fits into the hand and texting style.

The feature may be relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but could turn users away from other travel apps offering local reviews in favor of Google Search. Google search is also getting built-in Hindi dictionary, the company said.

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