Apple unveiled a range of India-specific features in iOS 13 at WWDC this week as it begins to adapt its software for the world’s second-largest internet market. But if you want to see how far an international service can be customized for the Indian market, look to Google Maps.
The app, which is used by hundreds of millions of people in India, today introduced three new capabilities: the ability to check live status of trains, bus travel times in 10 of India’s largest cities and mixed-mode commute suggestions that combine auto-rickshaw and public transport.
For live status of trains, the company says it worked with Sigmoid Labs, a local startup it acquired last year. Sigmoid Labs maintains an app called “Where is My Train” that offer similar functionalities — and that continues to exist as a standalone app.
The update means Google Maps users in India can now find all the suitable trains between two destinations and check their whereabouts from within the app. Each day, more than eight million people in India hop on a train to move between and through towns and cities to get to work.
For bus travel times, a feature Google is introducing for the first time in any market, the company says it is relying on a combination of its live traffic data and public bus schedules to calculate delays and provide accurate travel times. It is available in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore and Surat.
The mixed-mode commute looks at journeys that combine travel in both an auto-rickshaw and public transport. So, for example, if you take an auto-rickshaw to get to a bus stand and then board a bus from there, as is common across many cities.
Google says the Maps app can now suggest to users when taking multiple commutes is a viable option, and estimate how much time the journey would take. The app will also be able to suggest when a user should make the switch from one mode of transportation to another. This feature is initially limited to Android users located in Delhi and Bangalore, but Google said it will be extended to more cities soon.
In recent months, Google has added a number of features to Google Maps in India, some of which are available in other markets, too. Those additions include the ability to report traffic congestion and accidents, and, most recently, support for auto-rickshaw travel. The app also allows users to share their live location with friends and family. Late last year, the company inked a deal with ticket booking platform Redbus to add inter-city bus transportation information.
Google remains aggressively committed to India, a market where it is estimated to have more than 300 million users. The company has used the country as the testbed for many of its services, including YouTube Go and Google Station.
That’s helped Google surge in terms of usage. That, combined with the dominance of Android as an operating system, has led to an anti-trust probe on Google’s influence in the nation.