By Martin Ekpeke
Google, the American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, has announced updates to some of its services.
The announcement was made yesterday in Lagos, Nigeria during the Google for Nigeria event that attracted the company’s global top management staff, including the Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai to Lagos, Africa most populous city.
The services include Youtube Go, Street View and the Google Search.
According to Google, Youtube Go has been reimagined to meet the needs of the next generation of users and is available for download in the Google Play Store.
Built from the ground up to meet the needs of the growing online youth population, YouTube Go offers easy video saving and sharing, phone-number sign-in, effortless searching, and more effective ways to control data use.
YouTube Go gives you a home screen that shows trending and popular videos nearby, allowing you to see the latest content that the people around you are watching and sharing, upfront. It offers a ‘preview video’ function to make it easier for you to decide what you want to watch.
You can save videos for offline watching, and can choose what resolution video to save – low quality or standard quality – giving you better control over how you use your precious data. Unlike in the main YouTube app, you will be able to choose what resolution to stream videos in – low or standard.
Sharing videos with friends has also become easier – even if you’re offline – YouTube Go lets you wirelessly transfer videos to nearby devices, without using any data.
YouTube Go’s ‘search’ function lets you search everything on YouTube to find that one video you want to watch.
With more and more Nigerians coming online every year, and most of them only using their mobiles for internet access, YouTube and Google are working hard to make products that are tailored to Nigerians’ specific needs.
Before developing YouTube Go, the YouTube team spent thousands of hours gathering information, conducting interviews, doing testing, and refining the product. The result is YouTube Go, an entirely new YouTube app that is designed to be offline first.
YouTube Go has been designed to take into account the challenges faced by YouTube users in countries like Nigeria, such as data costs and connectivity. With YouTube Go, YouTube is making it possible for everyone in Nigeria to be able to discover and share videos that they love, regardless of their network status or data consumption preferences.
For the Street View Nigeria, it is one of the most popular features of Google Maps, a massive collection of panoramic pictures. It’s used millions of times a day, and these images make it possible to visually preview places, or virtually experience places you might never have the opportunity to visit in person. Today, for the first time, Google has launched Street View imagery of Nigerian locations, enabling millions of people around the world to experience Nigeria for themselves.
Many Nigerians use Google Maps for getting around, navigating traffic and turn by turn direction guidance. With the launch of Street View, Nigerians and people around the globe will be able to view iconic imagery of roads and places in Lagos like Marina Road, Third Mainland Bridge, the National Theater in Iganmu, Ikorodu Road and the Lekki Toll Gate.
Through showcasing 10 000 km of Lagos’ most important historic roads on Street View, Google hopes to help people to learn more about the city – one of Africa’s top business destinations – and to be able to explore its beauty, rich heritage and history.
Street View takes Google Maps to a new level, allowing you to visually explore and navigate a neighborhood through panoramic street-level photographs. The street View imagery appears as the lowest zoom level in Google Maps. To access the images, zoom into the lowest level on Google Maps or you can drag the orange “Pegman” icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a street outlined in blue. You can move up and down the streets, or look around in 360 degree panoramas.
So far, Google has published imagery on every continent, across 84 countries and travelled over 10 million miles with Street View.
Meanwhile, the Google Search is synonymous with Google, so much so that ‘to Google’ has become a verb.
“Because we understand how important it is that information is accessible to everyone, Google is constantly working to improve Search to make it more relevant and more useful to you. For Nigerians, this means taking into account your situation, your device and your connection speed,” it says.
The new features in Search are aimed to make Search more relevant for Nigerians, saving them time and ensuring they can use Search to get what they need, when they need it, no matter where they are.
Search Lite – Search Lite streamlines search results and websites down to their essentials so they load with less data and at high speed, even on devices with low RAM. Nigerians can expect their searches to load five times faster and use 90% less data from now on.
Background Retry – sometimes connectivity isn’t ideal, and search results just won’t load. By the time they do, you’ve likely forgotten about the search or the opportunity has passed. With Background Retry, the Google app will notify you with the results of search queries that failed due to poor connectivity once your device regains its connection.
Gboard – along with making Google search easy to access on any device and network, we’re also working to make it easy to access when you’re not in the Google app – for instance if you’re chatting to a friend about your dinner plans and they ask for the restaurant address. Ordinarily you’d need to go from your messaging app to the Google app to search for the address, copy it, go back to your messaging app, paste it, finally hit send. With Google’s new keyboard – Gboard – you can search from your keyboard, no matter what app you’re in, just by hitting the Google button.
Google Posts – Posts on Google makes it possible for musicians, entertainers and in the future other public figures to post updates, images and videos directly on Google, so when you search for them you can get all this information straight from them. Though we’re just getting started, a few of the most popular Nigerian musicians are already with us. Following the US and Brazil, Nigeria is now the third country where we’ve made this feature available.
The Feed – Another area recent improvement to Search to help you stay up to date on your interests is the Feed. You can find the feed on the Google app homepage. It helps you discover relevant and useful content and articles from across the web tailored to your interests. This collection of recommendations is constantly being refreshed, and gets smarter the more you use it, keeping you in the know based on your interests and Google history.
Local Health Search – We want to help people across all their journeys, and health is a topic we care deeply about. We see a high volume of searches in this area globally – 1 in 20 searches are from people looking for vital information including symptoms and treatments for various conditions. Nigeria is no exception and as a result will be one of the first countries that will get locally tailored health search results later this year. By the end of 2017, we will launch over 800 knowledge cards detailing common symptoms and treatments for the most prevalent health conditions in Nigeria To do this, we’ve partnered with the University of Ibadan and worked closely with them for the last year and a half to ensure that every answer has been reviewed by Nigerian doctors for local relevance and accuracy.