Google Assistant coming to feature phones, starting with India's JioPhone


After over six months of initially talking about the Android Go initiative at the I/O developer conference earlier this year, Google revealed that it is finally ready.

And it makes sense: India is the world's biggest two-wheeler market, where motorbikes still outsell cars by seven to one.

Google also announced a new version of Tez, its payment app that incorporates UPI technology. "For them, Android Oreo (Go edition) will help improve the experience on entry-level phones while new apps like Files Go will ensure their experience is smooth and they consume less data", he said.

Google also announced "Files Go", an app that will help free up space, find files faster and share files offline on smartphones that come with less internal storage.

The Go Edition of Android will be 15% faster than the regular edition and leaves a much smaller footprint on the storage memory than the regular version, it said. "Android Go" is basically, created to run better with devices sporting either 512MB or 1GB of RAM.

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Google has already launched YouTube Go that is in beta testing phase in India.

Now Google is bringing a customized version of Assistant (with Hindi voice support) to the device, that is adapted to the JioPhone's 2.4-inch QVGA color screen. All the other features available in Google Maps while accessing directions are in place for the bike mode as well.

Over the next few months, Google will also offer information on air quality for 20 Indian cities through its platform. Tez will also remind users when certain bills are due.

Just a few weeks ago, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai at the company's earnings call said that Google Tez has managed to grab over 7 million users in just five weeks since the service launch in September 2017.

Currently, there are over 70 billers in Google Tez, and the list includes both state and national electricity providers. Now when you choose to get directions for a destination, Maps also shows you a "two-wheeler" mode along with vehicle, public transportation and walking. This version is said to offer voice-based user interface along with a rich set of data services for first time internet users on the JioPhone. Sengupta said Google is now working on offering WiFi hotspots across Indian cities and is also taking it to other markets like Indonesia.