afaqs! news bureau

Google’s L10N push to let Indians experience the internet in their language

Announces a slew of product features aimed to elevate the experience of local Indian language users’ online journey.

The fact that India is home to over 100 languages can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s best to look at the positive side of things and that’s what Google is doing.

After its Google for India event in July 2020, the tech giant recently held a special L10n (localisation) event to introduce new localised features for its products in the country.

The tech giant said, “…there wasn’t any one common minimum that could address the needs of every potential user in this country. If we hoped to bring the potential of the internet within reach of every user in India, we had to invest in building products, content and tools in every popularly spoken Indian language.”

It went on to say India’s digital transformation will be incomplete if “English proficiency continues to be the entry barrier for basic and potent uses of the Internet such as buying and selling online, finding jobs, using net banking and digital payments or getting access to information and registering for government schemes.”

Google outlined a 3-point strategy to truly digitize India:

  • Invest in ML & AI efforts at Google’s research centre in India, to make advances in machine learning and AI models accessible to everyone across the ecosystem.

  • Partner with innovative local startups who are building solutions to cater to the needs of Indians in local languages.

  • Drastically improve the experience of Google products and services for Indian language users.

It also announced features to help deliver an even richer language experience to millions across India.

Easily toggling between English and Indian language results

Google’s L10N push to let Indians experience the internet in their language

It is now easier to toggle Search results between English and four additional Indian languages: Tamil, Telugu, Bangla and Marathi.

Understanding which language content to surface, when

Search will show relevant content in supported Indian languages (Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu) where appropriate even if the local language query is typed in English. This because typing in an Indian language in its native script is harder and takes three times as long as English.

Enabling people to use apps in the language of their choice

Today in India, more than 50 per cent of the content viewed on Google Discover is in Indian languages. A third of Google Assistant users in India are using it in an Indian language, and since the launch of Assistant language picker, queries in Indian languages have doubled.

So, Google offers you the ability to change the language of Google Assistant and Discover to be different from the phone language. Also, it is extending this ability to Google Maps.

Homework help in Hindi (and English)

Google Lens lets you search what you see and over 3 billion words have been translated in India with Lens in 2020; more people use Google Lens in India every month than in any other country worldwide. So, right from the Search bar in the Google app, you can use Lens to snap a photo of a math problem and learn how to solve it on your own, in Hindi (or English).

Helping computer systems understand Indian languages at scale

Google India has developed the Multilingual Representations for Indian Languages (or ‘MuRIL’), a powerful multilingual model that scales across languages.

It provides support for transliterated text such as when writing Hindi using Roman script. And it is good at determining the sentiment of the sentence. For example, “Achha hua account bandh nahi hua” would previously be interpreted as having a negative meaning, but MuRIL correctly identifies this as a positive statement. MuRIL currently supports 16 Indian languages as well as English