Google CEO Sundar Pichai in India: 5 takeaways from first day of visit

Google’s Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday the tech giant will use India as a testing ground for its products as it targets millions of consumers in the developing world set to move online in the next few years.

Here are five takeaways from Pichai’s engagements in Delhi on Wednesday:

1) New Google campus in Hyderabad

Google will build a new campus at Hyderabad and hire more people. The technology giant is working towards including as many people as possible in the use of internet in the country, and added the company will develop products in India that have global usage.

“We will ramp up our engineering investments at our Bangalore and Hyderabad facilities. We will also build a huge new campus in Hyderabad,” Pichai said.

2) Free high-speed WiFi at 100 train stations soon

Free WiFi being set up across 400 railway stations will be “highly reliable and hi-speed” with speeds higher than what an average internet user gets.

The network is being set up by Google in partnership with the Railways’ telecom wing, RailTel and Mumbai Central will be the first station to get the facility.

“In our attempt to provide internet access to people, we have decided to provide Wi-Fi at 400 railway stations in association with RailTel. The first 100 stations will come online by 2016-end. Mumbai Central station will be online by early January,” the Google CEO said.

3) In-principle agreement for Loon

Pichai met Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said Google has reached in-principle agreement with the government for its research and development project, Loon. The project is aimed at providing internet connectivity in rural India. “I have proposed Google to partner with the state-owned telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for the pilot project,” Prasad said.

4) Tap to translate on the fly

An upgraded translation service, Tap to Translate, will provide real-time translation into almost a dozen Indian languages as you type, and will work across all applications on Android devices.

The tech giant is also working to make search easier by incorporating multiple Indian languages in its voice recognition software, making it work for slower networks typically found in India and tailoring search for local interests like cricket and Bollywood.

5) India will be a bigger market than US for Google

Projecting India as a larger market than the US for Google by 2016, the internet giant’s Indian-origin CEO said doing business has improved here but should “get a whole lot better”.

The company is beginning training programmes for two million new Android developers over the next three years that will make it easier for Indian developers to build solutions to local problems. The online search giant is also partnering with the National Skill Development Council for this.

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