Vice President of Engineering of Google Assistant, Scott Huffman took to the stage during the "Google for Indonesia" event on Tuesday (05/12). (JG Photo/Joy Muchtar)

Google Launches New Products and Services for Indonesia


DECEMBER 07, 2018

Jakarta. American technology giant Google announced a slew of new products and services that promise to benefit Indonesia's rapidly growing digital economy.


What surprised the audience most during the third annual "Google for Indonesia" event in Jakarta on Tuesday was the announcement of the WizPhone. The device, with styling reminiscent of the 1990's, is the first Indonesian-made mobile phone equipped with Google Assistant, the tech giant's artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant.

Scott Huffman, Google Assistant vice president of engineering, introducing the new WizPhone during Tuesday's event. (JG Photo/Joy Muchtar)

The WizPhone, which runs a lightweight mobile operating system known as KaiOS, will be sold at Alfamart convenience stores across Indonesia for only Rp 99,000 ($6.80).

AI for Indonesian Translations 

"More than half of online content is available in English, but only 1 percent of web content is available in Bahasa Indonesia," said Ken Tokusei, director of international search at Google. This means that most internet content may not be accessible to some Indonesians.

Tokusei said Google was working with Wikimedia to deploy a neural machine translation system that uses artificial intelligence to translate Wikipedia content from English to Bahasa Indonesia. Relevant search items that only used to be available in English will now also be available in Bahasa Indonesia, he said.

Google Go

With the use of artificial intelligence, the Google Go application can now be used to narrate articles on your favorite news websites, which is particularly handy if you are on the go. Just press "play" on any website and Google Go will read the text out loud to you in real time.

This feature even works with a slower 2G connection as it is designed to use less data. The app is already available in Google Play and will also come preinstalled with all Android Oreo Go edition devices.

"Our applications, such as YouTube-Go, Google-Go and Assistant-Go, have been designed to only use 50 percent of the phone memory compared with traditional applications," Google Indonesia managing director Randy Mandrawan Jusuf said.

New Features

Bahasa Indonesia was added as an option in Google Assistant on all Android and iOS devices last April, which allows locals to set alarms or call people in their mother tongue. Scott Huffman, engineering lead for Google Assistant, said many people ask the application to tell them a joke to brighten up their day.

Huffman demonstrates Google Assistant's use of Bahasa Indonesia. (JG Photo/Joy Muchtar)

One of the new features available in Google Assistant helps you book online transportation. You can tell it where you want to go and the digital assistant will open the Go-Jek or Grab app for you.

This feature is currently only available in English, but Bahasa Indonesia will be added soon. Go-Jek Indonesia chief executive Nadiem Makarim said his company is looking forward to enabling Google Assistant to directly book rides without the need on to open the Go-Jek app.

Another new future is a partnership with Indosat, Indonesia's second-largest telecommunications service provider. Through Google Assistant, Indosat customers can now access their monthly bills and manage and monitor their quotas.

A third new feature is the accessibility of news update, anywhere, anytime. All you need to do, is say, "listen to the news today," and your digital assistant will do the rest.

Advanced Google Maps Features

Krish Vitaldevara, director of product management at Google Maps, said the navigation feature now has new options to make your daily commute easier. It allows you to follow public bus locations in real time. It also allows you to share the progress of your journey in real time, so if your bus is running late, you can keep your friends or family in the loop about your expected time of arrival. Google Assistant will even be there to remind you when to get off the bus.

Google Maps now allows you to follow bus locations in real time. (JG Photo/Joy Muchtar)

Business Application

Google My Business is designed to help business owners connect with and attract more customers. Think of it as a social media platform for your business. Business entities now can make posts that will appear on their business profiles on Google Search and Maps, and share updates about products, offers and even events.

It also allows customers to follow and interact with businesses.

Krish Vitaldevara, Google Maps product management director, discussing updates to the tech giant's business app. (JG Photo/Joy Muchtar)

According to a Deloitte study, businesses can experience revenue growth of up to 80 percent by having an online presence. Based on this, Google has made it its mission to help Indonesian companies grow their online presence.

"This country is full of determined and enthusiastic people; people who are ready to take over the world," Randy said.