I had an awesome kick start to the new week being hosted by Google South Africa at their Influencer dinner. I always consider it such a privilege to be invited to Google South Africa HQ. It’s always such an exciting and informative session. We get exclusive information on what’s new and what’s still to come in the digital world.

In turn, I believe that the responsibility we have as influencers is to relay the information we receive from different brands in a way best understood by each of our unique audiences.  

I’d also like to acknowledge just how much care Google South Africa takes at creating a stimulating and exciting environment for us. Each of us feel welcome and at home, safe and in no way feel compelled to be and do anything outside of our own will.

I find that the environment Google creates for us is for the betterment and growth of Influencers and digital entrepreneurs at large. As content creators we get to be in one room, and have conversations which help each of us  connect the dots. We find out about some of the many challenges each of us share, as well as share tips and tricks to help us grow.

What’s new with Google?

With this being the very first Google for South Africa event, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. And after just a few moments at the Galleria Conference centre in Sandton, I got a better understanding of what was coming and of course the importance of providing a more helpful internet for South Africa.

I have to hand it to Google. They’ve really worked thoughtfully at creating products and services that are inclusive for all in South African. Products and services that are helpful, and provide a great user experience!

Google has gone as far as Going as far as partnering with MTN to offer free data for YouTube and applications for 6 months, with the purchase of any devices from MTN.

With a strong presence of twelve years in this country, they’ve managed to service a rapidly growing internet population of 32 million. Initially an office of four Googlers, their offices in South Africa now have more than fifty Googlers.

Attending the very first Google for South Africa Event

Android Go

Android Go is the configuration of the android system that has been optimized for low memory devices.

By optimizing the android operating system, Android Go now ensures that there is room for more storage on your android phone. Android Go also has enhanced performance, with applications now opening 50% faster.

Android Go also addresses the “Data must fall” issues we face in this country through better data management.

With its security improvements, Android Go also addresses the security issues many of us face. You are now able to erase data off of your device and even track your device in the unfortunate incident of it perhaps being stolen.

The app user experience on Android Go has also been optimized. Android users can now expect a smoother experience on apps such as Google Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail and the rest of the first party app from Google.

Cameos

Cameos is a selfie – style video app which allows celebrities and public figures to narrate their own story by directly answering the top searched questions about themselves on Google. From where they were born, to what their favorite meal is.

As the end user, you can simply type your question on google or use voice recognition as an alternative input.

I’m loving this new feature because it’s going to enable us as South Africans to learn more about OUR stars, and in turn have knowledgeable conversations around their life stories and contributions in their various areas of expertise.

Google Assist

Google Assist

Google assist has been of great help to many people around the world, and is now available in 30 languages across 80 countries. Every month, millions of users in South Africa use Assistant to get clued up on information they need, as well as get a dose of their favorite content.

Google Assistant can now be accessed via Google Go. You can now use your voice to instruct your device to make a call to your mom, call an Uber, and even play your favorite song!

Bolo

When I heard of Bolo for the very first time, I thought to myself “This is brilliant!” It’s no secret that this generation of kids are very tech savvy and love playing on their gadgets.

Bolo is a speech-based reading app that assists kids in learning how to read in English, and more importantly, encourages them to read out loud. Numerous studies have been conducted into just how beneficial reading out loud is – an exercise parents should definitely consider for their kids.

Once tasks are complete, Bolo then provides customised feedback that can be used to identify areas which need improvement. Another great thing about Bolo is that once downloaded, it is available to use offline, without the interruption of voice recognition. In this way, you’re saving on data!

Google Station

As we all know, South Africa not only faces a crisis of high data rates, but also faces the overall crisis of limited access to internet. Many people are still dependent on areas with free and open Wi-Fi hotspots, which even then are usually capped.  With only 39% with access to the web, Google stations aim to provide fast, free and open Wi-Fi hotspots in partnership with ThinkWiFi.

Google Stations are currently available in more than 100 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philipi and more. I certainly do hope Google Stations continue to grow into underserved KZN and Gauteng next, and positively contribute to the learning and overall empowering of peoples lives. It’s incredible just how much power access to the internet has at expanding ones mind beyond their current environment and circumstances.

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