Last year we started a pilot of Google Phone Search where users from Hyderabad and Delhi could call a toll free number and search for local businesses or movie showtimes. We believe that speech recognition and voice access to information is a very important technology for India because it helps us reach users who may not have access to PC or are on the move all the time.
Starting today, users in Mumbai and Bangalore can also call the same toll free number 1-800-41-999-999 at no cost from any phone to search for local business and movie showtimes and get the results by SMS. For example, if you are looking for pizza delivery businesses you can call and say "pizza" and your area name (like Bandra in Mumbai or MG road in Bangalore) to get listings near you.
We are continuously working towards improving our speech recognition technology but it is still not perfect and it may not recognize you at times. We will transfer your call to an operator after 2 recognition failures who can assist you with your query.
So go ahead and try Google Phone Search for free and send us your feedback on how we can serve you better.
As discussed in the first blogpost in this series, there are several steps involved and issues to keep in mind while designing mobile-friendly websites. One should always start with the user, and that's what we do here - in this post, we look at how to design the user experience for a mobile-friendly site.Its a different world / Know thy userA mobile user is completely different from someone who accesses information from a desktop. A mobile user wants to check email in a bus, view friends' photographs waiting in a line, wants to find out stock quotes any time anywhere and is looking for help when lost in an unknown place. A mobile phone too is completely different from a PC - it does not have a large monitor, completely usable keyboard and a fast broadband connection like a PC.
Fig 1: The world of mobile phones is very diverse
Screen-size makes or breaks the experienceAs mentioned earlier size of the screen and the keyboard are one of the biggest constraints to be kept in mind while designing websites for a mobile phone. Do not make the website for just one screen size and one kind of keyboard. Make it generic or carefully choose a handful of common target screen sizes of your users. The screen size on mobile phones today ranges from 176x208 to 320x480. Add to this different dpi ,orientation and browsers and it makes the world of mobile devices very diverse. But here's the bright side: a mobile phone user normally only wants to do the one or two things frequently on your website. Keep the primary features and information in mind and make it very easy for the user to discover them and use them.
Fig 2: The most common screen sizes and orientations
Typing is painfulDon't make the users type a lot because even on the smartest of phones typing is not as easy as on a desktop. Make the site more click based. If the primary use cases demand keyboard input from the user, give auto suggest as the user types and have incremental search for items wherever possible.Up & down is better than sidewaysKeep the site contents as vertical as possible. Expanding the site horizontally results in bad user experience while scrolling back and forth. Also some older phones only allow vertical scrolling. Also repeating the header contents in the bottom of the page is a good idea since it makes it easier for the user to switch to a different use case instantly without scrolling a lot.GPRS is slow, unsteady and costlyIn terms of quality and cost to the user, GPRS has a lot to catch up in comparison to the normal broadband internet connections. Unlimited data connections are still not available everywhere. 3G networks are still a dream for many countries. And many of the cheaper data plans have high loss rate and exceptionally high latencies for SSL connections. Keeping all these considerations in mind, the website should not have too many images and data. It should maintain the right balance between richness and latency depending on which device the user is using.
Posted By: Chunky Gupta, Software Engineer & Ram Brijesh, User Experience Expert, Google
For the last few years, Google India has worked to increase Internet usage in our country of a billion people via various products such as SMS Search , Voice Search, and Google Map Maker, translating our interfaces into Indian languages. We've also worked on numerous initiatives to increase the quality of search with useful local information like business listings, railways and flight status, and cricket scores. We've been witnessing a steady growth in Internet adoption, but as impatient observers, we wanted to do more to directly engage the offline population of India. In that vein, earlier today, we announced the launch of the Internet Bus Project – a mobile bus designed to showcase the benefits of the Internet to the people across the cities of Tamil Nadu. We're aiming to reach out to people with limited exposure to the Internet, and the bus will cover numerous Tamil Nadu cities over the next month and a half. The bus is designed to make a simple introduction to the Internet for a new user. With a focus on the four themes of education, information, communication, and entertainment, the Internet Bus will be loaded with useful and informative content in English and Tamil. We'll showcase how the Internet can make everyday life simple through services like search, email, social networking, maps and others.
We strongly believe the Internet is a great equalizing force, and this project represents another way Google is directly engaging with people in India.We welcome you to visit the Internet Bus Project website at http://www.google.co.in/internetbus to see when the bus will visit your city, get regular updates, and view photos and videos as we travel around Tamil Nadu.