Google Assistant Coming to India
Google Assistant apps can now be localized for Indian English. Google doesn’t mention this explicitly anywhere in the text of its recent announcements that we could find, but there are several clues embedded in information for developers. First, we have a graphic inside of a gif that clearly indicates Indian English support.
Of course, the documentation for Actions on Google developers lists only four variants of English–none of which are localized to India.
However there is also a video discussing localization for Google Assistant apps which depicts language variations with small flags pinned on a map. The one over India on the map has the label, “en-IN.” Then there are the new male and female voices for Google Assistant apps for en-IN TTS (text-to-speech) voices.
Finally, there are posts in Reddit from Google Assistant developers which indicate that English-language apps are going to be automatically made available in Indian-English around the time of “consumer launch.”
Google Assistant Joins Alexa in India, But When Will Google Home Join Echo
All of these data points make it clear that Google Assistant has been localized for Indian English. The question now is when Google Home will become available. Amazon Echo began shipping earlier this month and is the only English-language smart speaker currently available in the Indian market. The updates from Google Assistant will mean that the voice assistant will be available on mobile devices, but not necessarily a smart speaker in the near term.
This may not be a big problem for Google initially. David Watkins of Strategy Analytics commented on this week’s Voicebot Podcast that homes without high quality broadband connections may not be a good option for smart speakers that rely on cloud connectivity. By contrast mobile device connectivity has been expanding more quickly in many countries including India. Data from 2014 reported by the International Telecommunications Union found that there were only about 18 million homes with broadband connectivity in India. The number of mobile phone subscriptions was 273 million.