Google Developers Solve For India — New Delhi Highlights

Rohan Taneja
Nov 27, 2017 · 12 min read

Solve for India is an initiative by Google to help developers learn about how they can design & implement functionalities in their apps & other solutions differently, so as to target the seekers in the Indian community.

Internet users from India come from all parts of the country, most of them having a regional language as their mother tongue. Over 80% of them access the internet from their mobile phones and a majority of this 80% prefer to use apps that have language support for their mother tongue. But the current Indian developers are building products for the English speaking audience, which caters only to 15% of the population.

The Solve for India program also aims at providing a platform for entrepreneurs to hear from experts and learn about the latest Google technologies and get access to direct mentoring and support from Google and introduce them to the Google Developers Launchpad program.

I attended Solve For India’s New Delhi event held at Hotel Pullman in Aerocity on 23rd September 2017. This post includes the event highlights & my key takeaways from that day.

Before the event began, we were shown the first-look video of India in a Day, a film co-produced by Google highlighting the role of technology and internet in the lives of Indians.

The event had two tracks: A Mobile track & a Cloud track.

I decided to attend the Mobile track sessions.

#1: Keynote:

By Kartik Padmanabhan: Developer Relations Lead @ Google

The day began with Karthik’s keynote, introducing us all to what Solve for India actually meant. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, Solve for India means building solutions for the seekers in the Indian community.

Seekers = Families with a household income of less than $2,500 annually.

He compared the app experiences of the Globals, Strivers & the Seekers. If you are reading this on your mobile phone or a laptop, you belong to either of the first two categories.

“The reason why we’ve started this programme called Solve For India is to make sure that we are able to reach people who are using smartphones across all class and categories” - Karthik Padmanabhan

When a person comes to know about an app that the people around him have been using:

  1. Globals & Strivers like you & I, would download the app if they need it and use it.

Global or Striver Mentality: Need it? -> Download it -> Use it

2. Seekers on the other hand, for whom, the Internet is a luxury & who aren’t using high-end Android devices would need answers to a few questions before they download the app:

How many “MBs” do I need to download for using this, how many rupees does that download correspond to? Would this work without internet after I download or do I need to keep spending money on the internet to use this? Would this app work on 2G?

Seeker Mentality: Affordable? -> Device supported? -> Download it -> Switch off phone internet -> Use it

Hence, the keynote described the diversity in both the experiences. Karthik also talked about what Google had been doing to build apps to cater to this section of the Indian internet users and also highlighted some notable apps created by Indian developers in this regard.

At the end of the keynote, he also informed us about the Building for billions framework which was introduced during Google I/O 2016.

“Android apps experience varying levels of connectivity, device capability, data costs and commerce. While challenges in these categories are observed worldwide, certain regions have a concentration of these challenges. Today, as the next billion users to come online, they will do so from these regions and on their smartphones — this presents developers with an immense opportunity. This session presents the “Building for Billions” framework, to help you build apps that provide a great experience to billions of future and current Android users, globally.”

Don’t forget to check out these two videos on the framework’s page:


#2: Panel Discussion

By Dushyant Jadeja: Global Product Management Leader @ Google
Panel (L to R): Hemanth, Rohit Gupta, Ruhbir Singh, Karthik, Raveesh Bhalla and Pakhi Bagai

The discussion was based on the current trend in Android apps in the Indian market. Each of the panellists shared their experience of an app, that was targeted at Indian users and was already solving for India.

One of them that I particularly remember was FastFilmz, as told by Raveesh.
A startup which focuses on providing compressed movies in Telugu and Tamil.

The app allows the user to whistle at a particular scene or burst crackers via the app to show that they liked the scene. There’s a leaderboard in the app which allows the users to see that which actor’s scenes got the max whistles or cracker bursts. Since the targeted audience loves their actors so much, it keeps them engaged to the app because of this leaderboard.


#3: Designing for the Indian Users

By Raveesh Bhalla: UI/UX Expert for Google

Raveesh’s talk was focussed on building solutions for the ‘next billion’ users. The users who’d soon be coming online for the first time in their lives, the users who are a part of “skipped the PC-age”, as Raveesh puts it.

He also talked about his research based on design that he started with Uber drivers. Uber’s Driver app would ask the driver to swipe to end ride when they reached the destination. During the ride, Raveesh noticed something pretty fascinating. The drivers would:
- Swipe to pick up a call even though there was an answer call button.
- Swipe
through all the stars to give a 5-star rating to the rider even though the driver could just tap the 5th star instead.
- Swiping on all other clickable buttons

On educating the drivers about the click/tap functionality, the drivers would tell him that swiping was what they were taught in training and hence they felt that it was how every action on a mobile worked.

Other highlights from his talk:
— How the ‘magnifying glass’ icon for search wasn’t intuitive enough for a large chunk of users from smaller cities in India and hence they would keep scrolling in the Contacts app for finding a particular contact rather than searching for it.
— Android system apps use Material Design. So if you use Material Design in your apps, then don’t deviate from the guidelines since this may confuse the user.
— Why Haptik turned out to be a success
— Bottom navigation vs Top navigation: Short answer - Mobile screens are now taller & hence the bottom of the screen is more reachable. Top tabs have swiping but most people don’t know that they can swipe.
— Have a look at Android Go. The Play Store in Android Go will feature apps made specifically for power and data consumption.

All of the above are included in Raveesh’s presentation that he used that day. Don’t forget to read the speaker notes.

The bottom line is that you can engineer the sh** out of an app, provide support for 2G, optimise it for offline support, but if the user doesn’t know how to connect with your app (user experience), your engineering is of no use.

#4: Analytics for Mobile Developers

By Ruhbir Singh: Country Lead, Google Analytics 360 suite, India @ Google

“You are what you measure” was the theme of Ruhbir’s talk

The theme of Ruhbir’s talk, “You are what you measure” wasn’t clear before the talk began but it started to make more sense as he kept telling us about the importance of collecting data, analysing it and then using it for customer retention or other factors which would help improve the impact of your marketing.

“If you can collect data, great!
If you can analyse it, awesome!
But if you don’t use it, it is the same as throwing it away. “

Google Analytics 360 suite was earlier called Google Analytics Premium. Ruhbir’s talk also focussed on the following key points:

- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) & Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- How screen stats provided by Firebase Analytics have been used to increase user retention.
- How Google Analytics data is combined with Google’s ad technology to serve customers more relevant ads and create personalised digital experiences for different audiences.

“Companies spend a lot of money on marketing, it’s difficult to understand which dollars are working and which dollars aren’t. The Google Analytics 360 Suite allows you to actually understand which half is working.”

Harry Tannenbaum — Head of Marketing Analytics, Nest

#5: Google Cloud Functions for Firebase

By Dushyantsinh: Global Product Management Leader @ Google

This was held in the cloud track.

Cloud Functions for Firebase lets you automatically run backend code in response to events triggered by Firebase features and HTTPS requests. Your code is stored in Google’s cloud and runs in a managed environment. There’s no need to manage and scale your own servers.

Google Cloud Functions is Google's serverless compute solution for creating event-driven applications. It is a joint product between the Google Cloud Platform team and the Firebase team.

Serverless doesn’t imply that there are no servers. They are there, cloud functions just make it easier for you since now you don’t need to deal with your own servers. You just need to tell Firebase what you want using functions.

#6: Integrating Indic in your solution

By Pakhi Bagai: Marketing & Developer Relations @ Reverie Language Technologies

Pakhi highlighted a few myths about technology and India’s language ecosystem. She also talked about how her team at Reverie was tackling
these myths and using Language as a service (LaaS) for creating language equality on the internet.

Localisation is one aspect of language as a service and Pakhi highlighted that most people assume that localisation is the translation of text to local languages and how this definition of localisation given by most people is exactly 25% of what it really is:

#7: Power your solutions with Firebase

By Manoranjan Padhy: Developer Community Manager @ Google

Manoranjan’s talk was short and crisp, highlighting the services offered by Firebase such as real-time database, hosting, authentication, storage, FCM, test lab for Android, crash reporting and much more.

Firebase also a offers a range of tools which would help grow your business: Invites, Dynamic links, Google Adwords, App Indexing, Predictions, Admob, Google Analytics, etc.

Services offered by Firebase. Source:

#8: Building for Google Assistant

By Dushyantsinh: Global Product Management Leader @ Google

Google is all about data. After the launch of Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, it was clear that Google would now give a lot of attention to Google Assistant, by trying to incorporate it in as many of its products as possible such as the Pixel, PixelBook, Google Home, etc.

Whenever you build a bot, write it down first, analyse where it could fail and then tell the computer what to do.

The talk started with a brief intro to Actions on Google followed by a demo of how to create our own assistant using intents and entities in which is now called DialogFlow.

#9: Panel discussion

The day ended with a Q/A session where the speakers cleared the attendees’ doubts. Other than the speakers, the panel had Rohan Arora and Arpan Garg who are the organisers of Google Developers Group New Delhi. Here, they both informed the attendees about GDG New Delhi’s DevFest.

It all ended with the announcement of Google Developer Days India which is being held in Bangalore on the 1st and 2nd of December. I hope to see you at #GDDIndia. If you missed out on GDD this time, you can still watch all its sessions LIVE on their YouTube channel or attend a GDD Extended event near you.

I believe that Solve for India is a great initiative by Google and the New Delhi event was well organised. Everyone who attended the event went back with new ideas for designing their apps and were glad to attend this event also because of the networking opportunities that it offered. I feel that Solving for India would also help India move one step closer to becoming a Digital India.


Rohan Taneja

Written by

Flutter Evangelist

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade