New Delhi: Tech giant Google has added voice search capability for eight additional Indian languages including Bengali, Malayalam and Tamil to help users search for content online by simply speaking into their Android phones.
Currently, voice search feature is available in English and Hindi in India. The other languages being added today are Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu and Urdu.
"Starting today, speakers of these languages will be able to use their voice to dictate queries -- both in Gboard on Android as well as in Search through the Google App," Google Technical Program Manager Daan van Esch told reporters on a video conference here. He added that in order to perform a voice-based search, users will need to set their language in the voice settings menu in the Google app.
"Globally, we now support voice search for 119 languages. We are introducing support for 30 new languages today, of which eight are Indian languages," he said.
The update, which rolls out today, will require the user to just tap the microphone icon (usually on the homescreen of Android smartphones) to start voice search.
Google has been ramping support for Indian languages across its various products like Maps and Search as a large number of the new users coming online are Indic language users.
Esch explained that Google has worked with native speakers to collect speech samples. Machine learning models were trained to understand the various sounds and words, thus translating words from sound to text in the process. "Voice input for each of these languages is expected to get better over time, as more and more native speakers use the product," he added.
Esch said many users also prefer to use voice to dictate a message as it is convenient and also faster than typing.
Earlier this year, Google had announced the launch of new products and features to help create more language content and address the needs of new users coming online.
According to a report by Google-KPMG, an estimated 536 million Indians are expected to use regional languages while online by 2021 as compared to about 199 million users who are expected to access the web in English. This growth is driven by increasing affordability of devices and data charges as well as availability of more local content, the report had said.
Interestingly, the report had pointed that apart from Hindi, Marathi and Bengali users are expected to drive volume growth, while Tamil, Kannada and Telugu users are expected to be among the most digitally engaged through 2016 to 2021.
Voice search in these new languages will be available in Google Search on iOS as well. These will soon be extended to other Google apps and products, including the Translate app.