Google Taps Into Reliance JioPhone for Google Assistant, but Why?
Google Assistant now comes to JioPhone. 
Google Assistant now comes to JioPhone. (Photo: The Quint)

Google Taps Into Reliance JioPhone for Google Assistant, but Why?

Google announced a slew of new India-first features at its Google for India event this month, but the most interesting of them was the roll out of Google Assistant for Reliance JioPhone.

Most of the media attending the event were surprised to hear the development, and also in a fix to understand the reason behind Google’s interest in a smart feature phone.

The Google Assistant for JioPhone will be available in English and Hindi, the company announced during an event in Delhi on Tuesday. Gummi Hafsteinsson, Google's product management director-Global, asserted that for the first time Google Assistant will be available on any feature phone.

Existing JioPhones are likely to get the feature via a software update, while new units of JioPhone will offer Assistant by default. 

However, one does wonder why Google wants to bring Google Assistant to a device like the JioPhone, which already has its own version of voice assistant called the Jio Voice.

Moments after that, Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India said and showed this:

Rajan and Co are excited about the voice search potential in India. 
Rajan and Co are excited about the voice search potential in India. 
(Photo: The Quint)

While the numbers may not be significant, they show us a trend, where the users are moving towards a voice-based mobile experience.

Voice is slowly gaining traction in the Indian market, and various analysts have pointed that out. This puts features like Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and Jio Voice in the spotlight, and Google in many ways, wants to focus at places where voice search can be optimised.

400 percent growth on Hindi search queries is a strong indication that new-age mobile users are moving towards becoming tech-reliant. 

And in many ways, Gummi highlighting that his team worked along with Reliance Jio for quite sometime to make sure the voice-enabled feature works just how it does on a normal Android phone, strengthens our belief.

Gummi Hafsteinsson talking up Assistant on JioPhone.
Gummi Hafsteinsson talking up Assistant on JioPhone.
(Photo: The Quint)
We’re building a new kind of experience, specifically for that phone. Earlier we weren’t sure if this can be done, but it’s exciting and helps us unlock a whole new set of product, and becoming accessible to more users. 
Gummi Hafsteinsson, Product Management Director - Global, Google Assistant

Google has clearly emphasised on giving its best JioPhone, and Gummi proved the matter by stating Assistant on JioPhone is a better version than the Assistant Go, which will roll out to Android Oreo Go devices.

It’s got all the features, made available at toned down sizes (APKs), and the experience of Go Assistant falls between the one you get with JioPhone and Oreo Go. 
Gummi Hafsteinsson, Product Management Director - Global, Google Assistant
Jio Voice search takes you to Google on JioPhone. 
Jio Voice search takes you to Google on JioPhone. 
(Photo: The Quint)

Interestingly, all Jio Voice searches take you to Google, and this interaction is likely to have caught Google and Gummi’s eye.

World is Talking About Voice – the new Texting

Even the Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report suggest that accuracy of voice assistant (for English) continues to improve with machine learning (95 percent in 2017) and this number will get better for other languages, including Hindi in the coming years.

Globally, ComScore says that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches, and Google must be quietly confident that their efforts in India are sure to reap them rich dividends in the coming years.

Jio Voice will get company from Google Assistant on JioPhone very soon. 
Jio Voice will get company from Google Assistant on JioPhone very soon. 
(Photo: The Quint)

With the ever-growing 4G connectivity landscape in the country, and falling data rates (India offers one of the cheapest in the world), Google looks to ascertain its ambitions by not only targeting those in its own ecosystem, but also tap into consumers who are making their first move in the digital world.

Also, they can’t deny themselves the chance to connect with over six million (number of buyers who got JioPhone as claimed by Reliance Jio) new users, which’ll only help their voice ecosystem to get better, and help Jio compensate for the fact that WhatsApp hasn’t made way to their device.

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