Google Assistant, the digital assistant from the global search giant, is available to users through their smartphones, laptops, and smart speakers. Earlier this year, the company partnered with KaiOS to bring Assistant to feature phones with internet access. Now Google is going a step further: Bringing its virtual assistant to people who have the most basic cellphone with no internet access. It’s starting this program in India.
At an event in New Delhi on Thursday, the company announced a 24×7 telephone line that anyone in India on Vodafone-Idea telecom networks could dial to have their questions answered.
Users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won’t be charged for the call or the service. Manuel Bronstein, a VP at Google, said through this program the company is hoping to reach hundreds of millions of users in India who currently don’t have access to smartphones or internet.
Even as there are more than 500 million users with access to internet and about 450 million with smartphones in India, more than half of the nation’s 1.3 billion people remains unconnected.
India has emerged as one of the last great growth markets for Silicon Valley companies that are looking to find their next billion users worldwide.