Google offers local language support in India

Google offers local language support in India in a bid to win over users who are not at ease with English.

Google has introduced technologies that will allow people in India to use local languages in search queries and that will generate content in local languages.

Internet growth in India is expected to come from outside of cities, where many people are more at ease using Indian languages, Roli Agarwal, a spokeswoman for Google India, said Monday.

Google has set up a version for India of Google Labs, which it styles as a "technology playground" for products that are in development and require market feedback to improve. The Indian version of Google Labs will focus on products for that market, though these may not be developed only by Google's research and development (R&D) centers in India, Agarwal said.

Google has put up two technologies for testing by users on the Google Labs Web site: an Indic On-Screen Keyboard iGoogle Gadget and Google Indic Transliteration.

The Indic On-Screen Keyboard iGoogle Gadget allows users to type search queries in 14 Indian languages by choosing letters from an on-screen keyboard using a mouse. Users can add the gadget of their chosen language to their personalized iGoogle home page and use it to search for content in their language, Google said.

Google Indic Transliteration allows the user to type in Hindi, a key language in India, using phonetically equivalent English text entered through an English keyboard. The content created can be used in e-mail, word processors and other applications from both Google and its competitors, Agarwal said. This technology will help increase the amount of content available online in Hindi, she added. Hindi transliteration was launched earlier this year on Google's Blogger, a service for bloggers.

A number of multinational companies are working on technologies that will make access to the Internet and computers easier for people in India who are more at ease with local languages. IBM, for example, announced earlier this month that it has developed speech recognition software that will allow people speaking Hindi to create e-mail and documents on computers and also to operate ATMs (automated teller machines) and IVR (interactive voice response) systems.

Yahoo Inc. launched earlier this year portals in seven Indian languages. It has introduced plug-in modules to its instant messenger, that allow users to chat in nine different regional languages and scripts. Later this year, the company is also introducing Indian languages versions of its e-mail service.

Google also launched Monday an Indian version of its Google Local Search for Indian users looking for locally relevant information on the Web. It also launched an Indian version of Google Local Business Center, that allows business to add their names to Local Search. These products use English, and do not support Indian languages.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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