November 25, 2008

Search tools for Indian language websites

As a Google employee, I really like search, and I especially like being able to search for content on a web site using a search box, like the "Search our Blog" box on the right of this page. However, very few Indian language web sites have such a search box, probably because most users find it hard to input queries in Indian languages using their English keyboards.

If you are a web master who runs an Indian language web site, and would like to enable users to search through your web pages, Google can help you give your users the ability to search, without you having to write any code. All you would need to do is to configure and embed one of our iGoogle gadgets.

Lets say that you have a Tamil language web site and want to enable search within your site. You would go through the following steps:
  1. Go to the gadget syndication page and search for the keyword Tamil
  2. Choose either the transliteration search gadget or the on screen keyboard gadget
  3. Click on the "Add to your webpage" button
  4. Configure the size, title and border
  5. Type the domain name of your web site in the site restrict box
  6. Click on the "Get the code" button, and copy the Javascript code to your web site

Your site visitors will be able to use our transliteration technology to convert the equivalent English characters into Tamil words, or click on the letters of the Tamil alphabet to search on your site depending on which of the two gadgets you chose. If your web site is in another language you can choose the appropriate language gadgets. Currently our Transliteration API supports Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu, while we have on screen keyboards in about 18 languages.

If you want to help site visitors search through multiple web sites instead of just one, you can create a Custom Search Engine and specify the id of the Custom Search Engine instead of a domain name when you configure the gadget. As an example we have embedded a Tamil on screen keyboard gadget into this post, that searches through Indian Government Web sites. Try a query like "வேலை வாய்ப்பு" for example.



So, go ahead and help your visitors search through your Indian language web sites !





November 18, 2008

Google SMS Search on 9-77-33-00000

- Power cut during a nail biting cricket match?
- New city, late night and you're out of cash with an upset tummy. Need to find an ATM, a doctor and a taxi service?
- Dread long queues at the railway reservation enquiry counter simply to confirm your seat or find the train information?


If you've been through any of above then we have a great friend for you - Google SMS Search (9-77-33-00000), which lets you find answers to these specific problems and a lot more questions on the go.

In the past, cricket scores and astrology updates on SMS brought a smile to a lot of us until seeing the premium charges associated with short code services. And this was after we had to remember a complicated set of prefixes for different types of information.

Understanding these woes, the SMS team at Google has come up with Google SMS Search. Now send all your queries to 9-77-33-00000 without paying any premium charges! SMS Search offers an easy-to-use way to type in free-form searches. No longer will your questions require complicated prefixes or a tight syntax. You can learn about the interesting features and try our interactive demo at http://www.google.co.in/sms.

Launched nationally, this service is available across all operators on both GSM and CDMA mobile phones. Give it a try by SMSing "help" to 9-77-33-00000 and don't forget to save the number of your newly found friend (Google SMS) in your phone book!

November 5, 2008

Discover India with Maps

Have you recently moved to a new place? Or do you sometimes feel like exploring your neighborhood? I recently moved to Bangalore and was very enthusiastic to know more about the city. With the recent launch of Google Maps India [maps.google.co.in], Google Maps for Mobile and Google Map Maker, I was able to explore my neighborhood, visit Lal Bagh from my computer and after getting stuck in traffic figured out alternate routes via the map. And whenever I feel like getting away from the hustle and bustle, all I have to do is to just look at my alma mater from the air and I am happy again.

But you're not just stuck to a computer! Have you ever got lost driving around myriad lanes and sub-lanes? Just browse Google Maps from your data-enabled cell phone and let it pin-point your location, even if your cell phone is not GPS capable. It also answers the question children perpetually ask, "Are we there yet?" Be warned though - Googlers who have shown this to their kids have a hard time getting their cell phones back! You can download Google Maps by pointing your cell phone to http://m.google.com/maps.

We realized that maps in India still are not as feature rich as those in countries like the US. Moreover, they keep changing on a daily basis. Passionate Googlers took this challenge head on when they set about creating maps of the entire country (and not just the mega cities) from scratch, using Google Map Maker. In August '08 we enabled editing maps of India for users anywhere in the world, and since then the progress has been phenomenal. Users have mapped their favorite businesses, neighborhoods and places where they grew up.

We hope that maps will become more than a way to find your way around a city - so go ahead and browse the map, relive those nostalgic moments of your life or mark your favorite hangout on the map.


Posted by Manik Gupta, Product Manager