Google Neighbourly expands to 5 cities including Mysuru

In May, Google had launched the beta version of \'Neighbourly\' app in Mumbai and later expanded to Jaipur. Reuters Photo

Google Neighbourly, the tech giant's social networking app for sharing local knowledge via question and answers, expanded its presence to five more Indian cities. The company is planning to expand the services to Mysuru, Kota, Ahmedabad, Visakhapatnam, and Coimbatore.

Google's new initiative comes at a time when the company is striving hard to bring on board the next million via other initiatives like WiFi network initiative, light version of YouTube and Tez mobile payment app.  

Google Neighbourly was launched as part of its Next Billion initiative last year in Mumbai and Jaipur, where the company received an overwhelming response from the local community to find answers such as fitness, food, shopping centres. 

Interacting with DH, Ben Fohner, Google Next Billion Users Product Manager, said information collected by neighbours are valuable as there is more authenticity.

"We want this social networking app allows users to get answers from locals for queries related to their neighbourhood. The app accepts both textual and voice input in eight regional languages — Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam," he said.

Fohner said it is getting harder to get good answers to questions in big cities across India because cities keep changing, including the people who live there.

"Neighbourly helps you ask your neighbours questions, be a local expert, and keep up with your neighbourhood. With Neighbourly, your questions get routed to the right neighbors instantly, and then they can write back with the most up-to-date, relevant and accurate info," he said.

Google said the company selected the cities after extensive user testing for the past several months. After speaking to locals in neighbourhoods, Google received an encouraging response, especially from women, students and daily commuters. 

Fohner said user privacy is an important component of Neighbourly app that it only shows questions and answers that a user posts. "Users are displayed by the first name only. Neighbourly will not share a user's email id or phone numbers. Also, users can't message another user directly in the app," he said.

The tech giant said Google Neighbourly app has received five lakh downloads till now and will launch an app for iOS as well soon.

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