On Tuesday, Google India announced a new set of features and products for Indian languages. The move was a part of its efforts to expand in a country which is home to several languages. The U.S. firm probably believes that to make its products more useful, it needs to learn the local languages.

Google India languages
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Google uses “Neural Machine Translation”

Google has expanded support for nine Indian languages, including Marathi, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam and Punjabi, across several products to make sure that more Indian users can access the Internet in a language they want. India recognizes only 23 official languages, but more than 400 languages are spoken in the country.

The U.S. firm used its Neural Machine Translation technology, which will enable users to translate between English and nine Indian languages. Rather than translating the sentences in pieces, the new technology translates full sentences and hence, it provides a better quality translation. The language support is being added to several products, including Chrome, Translate, Gboard (Google Keyboard) and Maps.

Google has also announced the extension of Neural Machine Translation to the Chrome browser’s built-in Auto-Translate functionality. This will enable Indian users to consume all Web content in nine languages with better quality translations of everything from news articles to song lyrics and cricket discussions. Millions of reviews – ranging from cafes to hotels or restaurants – will be available in the language a user selects along with the original language of the review.

The U.S. firm is also building dictionary functionality on Search, offering Hindi dictionary results, notes Livemint. It will also support transliteration so users will be able to find meanings in Hindi using their existing keyboards.

India offers huge potential for tech firms

Removing the language barrier seems very important for the internet giant if it wants to expand in the Indian market. In a recent survey (titled “Indian Languages — Defining India’s Internet”) conducted with consultancy firm KPMG India, the search giant counted around 234 million Indian language users on the Internet, which is more than the 175 million English users. The report adds that nine of ten users will be Indian language speakers in the future, and the number of Hindi speakers is expected to surpass the number of users who speak English.

Rajan Anandan, Google’s vice president for India and Southeast Asia, told the media, “We expect another 300 million Indian language users to come online in the next four years.”

The market potential is huge, with more than 450 million Indians anticipated to be online by June. The availability and access of content in local languages play an important role in persuading more people to use the Internet, Anandan said.

“The most important aspect of making the web more useful and meaningful for all of India is to make India’s Internet more representative of the India we live in.”

Many technology companies are coming to the Indian market to cash in on the opportunity created by Indian PM Narendra Modi’s push for a digital India. Tech giants like Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook have developed “lite” versions of their apps to allow more people use them at slower Internet speeds in the country.