Looking for local info? Tap this Google app

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on May 31, 2018

Search engine giant’s Neighbourly sources information from people next door

If you’re wondering how much you should be paying for a maid in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb or who’s the best physiotherapist in Andheri, Google could now have an answer for that. But not through its search engine.

As part of its initiative to target the next one billion internet users, Google on Thursday launched a hyper local app Neighbourly, which helps people source local information from their neighbours.

While Neighbourly offers what websites such as Quora and Yahoo! Answers have been offering for years, the app does that in a hyper local manner, prompting people in your neighbourhood to answer your queries and offering them badges in return that can provide them with a tag of the Best Neighbour.

The beta version of Neighbourly is available on the Google Play Store for all smartphones in Mumbai running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and higher. There are no plans for an iOS apps for now, Google said.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Josh Woodward, Group Product Manager on Google’s Next Billion Users team, said, “We’ve created this product as a standalone product to harness collective wisdom from your neighbours.

The app will remain independent from other Google apps such as Search or Assistant to truly provide you with the trusted neighbourhood knowledge.”

According to Woodward, Google will utilise its anti-spam machine-learning engines to ensure the app is not used for commercial promotions or any offensive messages.

Users will also get to flag inappropriate content, which would then be reviewed by Google.

“Google Search got started by connecting people to information on the web. With Neighbourly, we’re finding new ways to move forward on Google’s mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

“In our research, we’ve found that most of life happens within a 1-km radius of where you live, so we wanted to create a new experience for neighbours to benefit from the collective knowledge inside their neighbourhoods. And, when that happens, we hope neighbourhoods everywhere will start to feel even more neighbourly,” Woodward said.

How it works

Neighbourly helps its users in three ways — ask the neighbourhood a question. Ask a question, and it’s routed to the relevant neighbourhood experts who can help. Using Google’s voice recognition, you can speak your question or answer into the app, just like talking to a neighbour. It works in English and eight Indian languages.

Once you open the app, you’ll get questions asked by other users in the form of cards, and you can swipe left and right through the questions and give answers. The app rewards the most helpful neighbours with badges and exclusive community events.

The app will currently be available only for users in Mumbai, this means anyone living with 40-km radius from Bandra will be able to use the app for now. The rest of the users in India will have to join a “waitlist”. Google will decide which cities to add next based on the waitlist requests.

Published on May 31, 2018

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