Google hosted its L10n event on Thursday to showcase a list of features for Indian language users. One of the key announcements at the virtual event was the ability to toggle search results on mobile between English and any of the four newly added Indian languages: Tamil, Telugu, Bangla and Marathi. This is an extension of the existing option to toggle search results between English and Hindi. Google also highlighted that its search engine would display content in supported Indian languages even if the query was entered in English. Google Maps also gives users the ability to view results in nine Indian languages in the app without changing their system language. Google also announced its multilingual model called Multilingual Representations for Indian Languages (MuRIL) to help computer systems understand Indian languages on a large scale.
Google released an update to toggle search results between English and four other Indian languages - Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, and Marathi – except Hindi. The company had already introduced the option of switching between English and Hindi in the search results in June 2016. This was provided via a simple “chip” or tab that users could tap on their mobile devices to view the results in their preferred language.
Google said that after the English-Hindi switcher was introduced, Hindi queries in India increased more than ten times.
In addition to switching search results between English and Indian, Google is expanding its search engine to include the ability to understand what language content to display, even when a local voice query is entered in English. This new functionality will be rolled out in five Indian languages next month: Bangla, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. It is designed to help people get relevant content in supported Indian languages. It would also be useful for bilingual people who could understand English in addition to their national language.
Google has also provided Google Maps with a language selector that allows users to quickly change their language settings to one of the nine supported Indian languages. The update will allow users to search for places, get directions and navigation, and understand various settings in their preferred local language. It will be possible by going through the settings and tap App language.
Before the last change, users could only change their preferred language in Google Maps by changing the system language of their devices.
Google initially made a similar language selection available to the Google Assistant and Discover. The search giant pointed out that a third of Google Assistant users in India use it in an Indian language. Since the start of the language selection, the requests in Indian languages have doubled. Similar effects were also seen on Discover, where more than 50 percent of the content was displayed in Indian languages.
“In the past two years. India has added 400 million new internet users from rural India, “said Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and VP of Google India, during the L10n event. “Every new user that goes online is an Indian language user and we are determined to have a role to play.”
In addition to the language-related changes related to Search and Google Maps, Google has updated the lens integration with the Google app for mobile devices so that users can easily solve math problems in Hindi and English. All you have to do is go to the search bar in the Google app and tap the Google Lens icon to take a photo of a math problem. This allows the vision system to convert the image into a query and then get step-by-step instructions and videos to explain the problem.
Without specifying the exact number of users, Google stated that more people use Google Lens in India each month than in any other country in the world. In 2020 alone, over three billion words were translated using Lens in this country. The new update is likely to expand the use of Google Lens further and ultimately give the company more data to improve its artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.
The existing AI developments at Google have already helped the company understand the Indian languages better. This has led to the development of multilingual representations for Indian languages (or ‘MuRIL’) created by a research team at Google Research India. The new language model is scalable across languages and offers support for transliterated text. This helps, for example, if the text is written in Hindi using Roman script.
According to Google, unlike traditional language models for training computer systems, MuRIL can help determine the mood of the sentence. This means that it can interpret the meaning of sentences – whether they are negative or positive. For example, if someone wrote in Roman script: “Achha hua account bandh nahi hua (I’m glad the account was not closed) ”. The language model should correctly identify this as a positive statement.
MuRIL also includes the ability to classify a person and a place. For example, when someone writes “Shirdi ke Sai Baba (Sai Baba from Shirdi) “would correctly interpret it as a person.