As part of its effort to keep up with Facebook, its main competitor in the Indian market, Google will expand its social platform Neighbourly to more Indian cities, the company announced on Wednesday. Neighbourly, a…
“With over 1.5 million downloads and half a million people on the waitlist, we’re excited to begin rolling out Neighbourly across all of India, ” the company said. We know that most of life happens within 1km from home or work and that many information needs are local. We’ve also found that when finding local information, people prefer to ask or discuss with another person — whether that’s a friend, family member, or neighbour.”
The content is regionally adapted, and Google notes that so far users have asked a wide range of questions: Residents of Mumbai have asked about flooded areas, celebrations, the best restaurants and street food, while students in the North Indian city of Jaipur asked plenty of questions about their studies, and families in Coimbatore, in the southern part of India, sought advice on shopping for festivals.
Neighbourly is available only in India, in English and eight Indian languages, and uses speech-to-text technology to process language commands. Users can ask questions to others in their community, review answers to existing questions, answer questions themselves, and build their neighbor “expert” reputation.
The content on the app is personalized, and users can toggle between neighborhoods — an option that address early feedback from users who live in one neighborhood but work in another. If a user posts a question that doesn’t get much of a response, the app offers suggestions for asking again in a better way.
Google is in a tight competition with Facebook in India’s market — Google’s revenues from India reached about $1 billion in 2017, according to a Reuters report, while Facebook is expected to generate about $980 million in revenue in India this year — and the app is part of Google’s move to tap into the half a billion internet users there. Google has already adapted some other services for an Indian audience: In 2016, Google launched a Youtube version for the Indian market, a messaging app with a voice assistant that replies in Hindi, and a Google News and Weather feature for people on low-bandwidth connection s.