Google has introduced a new transliteration feature in its Maps app to help people in India to navigate and find nearby places better. For now, the feature will work in a total of 10 local languages — Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, and Odia. Users will be able to search nearby places or Point of Interests (POIs) in their own language which can range from restaurants to banks, petrol pumps etc.
“Nearly three-quarters of Indians interact with the web primarily using local languages rather than English, and this number is only growing. To make Google Maps as helpful as possible for millions of Indian language users, we’ve introduced an updated automatic transliteration system that enables us to deliver more accurate results…,” Cibu Johny, Software Engineer at Google Maps said in a press statement.
Google says that they have used transliterations from the Latin script (English) name of the place instead of translations. The idea behind this is that people often use names of places in mixed languages to search for a certain place. For example, Lilavati hospital, the first word of the destination is the local language while the other is English.
The feature can be accessed by users by going into the settings of Maps app and picking the desired language.
“In the past when Maps could not understand the context of एनआईटी, it would instead show a related entity that might be farther away from the user. With this development, we can find the desired result from the local language query. Additionally, users can see the POI names in their local language, even when they do not originally have that information,” he added.
Google added in its blogpost that there has been an increase in coverage and quality improvement of different places in multiple languages. While the coverage and quality improvement was measured at 3.2 and 1.8x in the Hindi language by the company, it reached 24x and 1.7x in Kannada.