Smartphone users in Nigeria will now be spared the exotic Google Map accent, complete with its uncanny ability to humorously mangle local street names and roads.
Google Map will now talk to you in Naija accent and here’s why
The next voice you hear on Google as you try to find your way around Lagos or Abuja, will sound just like you. You have arrived biko, no?
Beginning this month, commuters making their way through Nigerian roads will hear travel advice on the Google Map app in a local voice.
Move over, Oyinbo voice on Google Assistant, the Igbotic, Yoruba and Hausa accents are here!
New features on Google
Google is unveiling new features aimed at attracting more users in Africa—an emerging market with immense opportunities for growth in the tech space.
The local accents feature was unveiled at an event in Nigeria’s commercial capital city of Lagos on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
The feature is also available on Google Assistant.
It is the first move by the U.S. technology giant to offer such a service in Africa.
“Rapidly expanding populations, increased mobile phone penetration and crowded cities that are often poorly signposted, have led technology firms to identify African countries as potential growth areas”, Reuters writes.
Motorbike hailing services
Google, owned by technology behemoth, Alphabet Inc, is also offering transport features-- from detailed maps to motorcycle ride-hailing services.
Google’s motorcycle directions will be available in Benin Republic, Ghana, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda beginning this month, the company announced.
The technology firm said it is aiming to capture new users and expand its appeal beyond just drivers.
Google says it is monitoring the bike hailing market in Nigeria, especially in Lagos where traffic gridlocks have become a permanent feature of a fast paced, chaotic and energetic city.
“There are 10 million (motorcycles) in Nigeria, it’s hugely popular,” said Ramesh Nagarajan, Google’s Director of Product Management. “We’re going market by market based on popularity.”
Google goes for the Danfo
The new Google Maps feature will also allow users in Lagos to seek directions on what it calls “informal transit”.
“Informal transit” will include the ubiquitous yellow danfo minibuses that ply virtually every road in Lagos.
However, it is difficult for outsiders or even Lagosians traveling to a new neighborhood to find information on the yellow buses. Google intends to plug this gap in the coming months.
Google has partnered with local startup Road Preppers Technologies Ltd to gather data on the different routes available, and aims to tell users the best options available based on traffic, weather and road conditions.
“What we’re really hoping is for people who might be making a trip to an unfamiliar town, maybe a journey they don’t usually take, to be able to discover the info they need to make that journey,” said Jeff Albertson, a Google senior Product Manager who worked on the development.
The map will include information on the expected fare, travel time and even photos of the bus stops to help guide commuters.
Google and the Nigerian market
Outside Lagos, Google is expanding street view imagery to Abuja, Benin City, Enugu and Ibadan.
Google has shown more than a passing interest in the Nigerian market in recent times.
The tech giant has worked hard to expand its business in West Africa, especially in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country with an estimated 200 million citizens.
Last year, Google unveiled WiFi hotspots across Lagos.
In 2017, the company launched a program to train millions of Africans in tech skills which will make them more employable.
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