On Thursday, at an exclusive event, Google launched a new app called Neighbourly especially for India. Besides its usual app projects focused on India like Tez Payments app, Google Areo and Google Station, this app marks a new milestone in the series. The Next Billion Users Team at Google has developed this app to help people source local information for the users. Right now, the app is limited only to Android users in Mumbai.
Caesar Sengupta, VP, Next Billion Users Team, said in a blog post “People nearby often have the exact information you need, but they are too busy these days to stop and chat on the street or in the park. And group chats keep getting bigger and noisier – and often fill up with those ‘Good Morning’ messages.”
It is Google’s belief that it is becoming harder and harder for people to get information about their locality and neighbourhood because cities keep changing a lot, along with the people who live in them. This application will be an attempt to help users avail that information easily.
The app is said to be working in English along with eight other Indian languages. Users who wish to ask any questions about their locality can do so in the app, also using voice recognition. They will then be directed to the relevant neighbourhood expert who will answer their questions.
Much similar to the Local Guides feature on the Google Maps, users will be able to swipe left and right on the questions and they can answer them. More answers will earn them badges and exclusive community events for contributing more information about the neighbourhood.
In the event, Google also illustrated that users would be able to share information while protecting their own personal privacy. Data like name, phone number etc. will be kept private when the users use Neighbourly. There is also the ‘Neighbourly Promise’, which the user will need to make when they join the app. The promise will require them to “be civil and help improve the neighbourhood.”
Although right now the beta version of the app is available only in Mumbai, other users from different cities can join the waitlist which is awaiting expansion. The user can download the app from the Google Play Store. The app is almost 7MB in size and is also able to function offline. In the app, it has been said that neighbours will be divided perimeter wise for example Bandra West, Bandra East, Santacruz West, Santacruz East etc.
Also, users will only be allowed to ask extremely hyper-local questions as Google said. If they are in Bandra, users won’t be able to ask questions about Colaba, and even if users were to change their locations and ask, only people from Bandra would answer them.
Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.