Every year since 2017, Google Nigeria has had a ‘Google for Nigeria’ event where the company showcases new products and announcements. First edition in 2017 had Google CEO, Sundar Pichai in attendance with other executives from the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.
In its 3rd edition this year, Google for Nigeria had product announcements and updates and usual. At the event, Google announced new products and updates to existing ones.
Nigerian English Voice
For voice prompts on its products, Google is announcing an option for Nigerian users to choose a Nigerian accent over the existing American one.
This update has been in the works for a while and has been rolled out gradually over the past few months, but it’s now official.
According to a Google representative,
“Having a representation of the local language will help users relate better with these services and get more out of them.”
Google says this is the first in Africa and will now be available for Maps, Google Search, Assistant and other products requiring voice prompts.
More Street View
Google Street View is a technology in Google Maps and Google Earth that lets users see interactive pictures and panorama of streets.
In Nigeria, the technology only existed in Lagos State. Google says it has mapped 12,000 km for Street View and will now be expanding to Ibadan in Oyo State, Abuja, Enugu State and Benin City in Edo State.
Maps for Motorcycle and informal transit
In the top area of Google Maps, there is an option to choose mode of transportation. Apart from the regular cars, cars, walking and public bus option, Google is now adding an option for motorcycle navigation.
This option will consider safety, routes only accessible to motorcycles and will ultimately save time for commuters.
For Lagos, in the next couple of months, Google will in partnership with Road Preppers also introduce a new directions experience optimised for informal transit, bringing Lagos’ popular yellow buses, Danfo routes into Google Maps.
Google Go gets Lens, Discover Feed and new Gallery
The lighter version of Google’s system, Google Go is getting previously unavailable Discover Feed and Lens, and a brand new Gallery Go.
An offline first app that automatically helps users automatically organise and group photos, and documents. Has features like Smart organisation, Editing tools and enhanced performance.
Shows a user topics and news items around things that interest them. It basically gives latest update based on a user’s interaction with Google.
Google Lens is an image recognition technology that shows details of an object. According to Google, Lens will “help people read, translate, and search the words they see just using their camera. You can open Lens, point it at a sign, and listen to the words read out loud.”
Bolo is a speech-based reading app that encourages young children to read out loud and gives them customised feedback in real time. Once downloaded, Bolo can work completely offline. This may be one of the most exciting announcements at the event.
For the first time in Lagos, Google says there will be a physical space for startups going through its accelerator program, Google Launchpad.
Speaking on the development, Head of Startup Success and Services, Launchpad Africa, Fola Olatunji-David said the space is meant to provide ease and accessibility to startups under the program.
There were also announcements for an online safety curriculum for Primary and Secondary School students that will potentially reach 56 million students.
Nigerian startups raised $377m in 2019, more than twice what they did in 2018. Find out more when you download the full report.