23 January 2016

Google brings free Wi-Fi to Mumbai Central Station, introduces Indic keyboard app

Instructions on how to connect to the free Google Wi-Fi service in train stations in India.
Source: Google Asia Pacific blog.

Starting 22 January, those passing through Mumbai Central station in India will have access to free, high-speed Wi-Fi, courtesy of Google. The service is part of a project announced in September 2015 to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India.

Working with Indian Railways, which operates one of the world's largest railway networks, and RailTel, which provides Internet services as RailWire via its fibre network along many of the railway lines, Google's Access & Energy team plans to cover 100 of the busiest stations in India before the end of 2016, with the remaining stations following in quick succession.

"We’re hoping those of you from — or travelling through — AllahabadJaipurPatna and Ranchi, will be as excited to learn that your stations are up next!" said Gulzar Azad, Head of Access Programs in India for Google in a blog post.

"Commuters will be able to tell if there is high-speed Wi-Fi available if they can see the ‘RailWire Wi-Fi’ network in Wi-Fi settings. If you see it, select it and follow the simple steps below to gain access on your phone and up to two additional devices, like a laptop or tablet — you’ll just need an Indian mobile number to get an access code for each device."

Azad said the Wi-Fi will initially be free, with a drop in speed after the first hour online. The long-term intention is to charge for the service in some way for self-sustainability.

The news follows an 18 January announcement that Google has developed a touch-based keyboard for the easier input of Hindi—and ten other Indian languages—with a phone or tablet. The Google Indic Keyboard app has been downloaded over 10 million times, and supports the alphabet used for that language, a transliteration keyboard, and handwriting input. Both Latin characters and native characters are recognised.

"By making mobile input easier for almost one billion speakers of Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu, we also hope to see more engaging content in these languages on the web," said Linda Lin, Product Manager, Google in a separate blog post.

January 2016 also saw the launch of YouTube home pages customised for Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, in the local language and domain. YouTube was previously available in Nepali, Sinhalese and Urdu.