Google has made strong use of Belo Horizonte’s developer teams, now the country will see big updates on Waze, Allo, Duo and Google Maps
Google rolled out several updates specifically for Brazilian users at an even in São Paulo that include special Brazilian Portuguese translation of emoji searches, audio calling via Google Duo, and direct posting to Google Search by people and places in the US and Brazil. They also announced a $5 million grant to the Lemann Foundation for a technology education project in the country.
“Our engineering team in Belo Horizonte has made remarkable contributions to our products globally, such as improving health-related searches, wrote Google VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz on Google Blog. “But we know there is still a lot of work to do in Brazil and elsewhere to make technology work better for more people.”
Google maintains two offices in Brazil: Belo Horizonte and São Paulo. The announcements were made at the “Google for Brazil” event late Wednesday in the latter city. Brazil will be one of the first to get the audio-only version of Duo, a variation of Google Hangouts that more resembles FaceTime. But low-coverage areas make Duo unusable, so requests for an audio default have been answered by the technology giant.
“This feature will be available starting today first in Brazil, and we’ll be rolling it out to users around the world in the coming days,” Queiroz said. Another Hangouts variant, Allo, will also get a makeover in the South American superpower with easy file sharing for Android users (PDF, .docs, mp3s, APKs, and Zip files). Updates to the Smart Smiley feature will roll into speakers of Brazilian Portuguese, “which uses machine learning to help you find the right emoji faster. Tap the Smart Smiley icon on the compose bar, and the app will suggest relevant emojis and stickers to help you finish your thought.”
For those unfamiliar with Portuguese differenced between the dialects spoken in Portugal and its former Latin American colony can at times be stark, sometimes incomprehensible for speakers in one country versus the other. Last December, Microsoft updated Skype Translator for Brazilian Portuguese, while language-learning college Middlebury introduced a machine translation program for Brazilian Portuguese in January.
The direct-to-search posts are actually long overdue not only in Brazil but anywhere. Updates on a given website will appear in search results underneath the main URL result, in the same way direct links to an About page or Contact form might appear beneath a certain business site.
“So if you’re searching for the Henry Ford Museum in the U.S. or for Vanessa da Mata in Brazil, you’ll see updates directly from the source with relevant information, like new exhibits, timely updates and interesting facts. Beyond these categories in the U.S. and Brazil, we’ll continue to experiment globally and look forward to making Search even more useful and timely.”
The updates to Waze Brazil tie into Google’s recent global update to Maps: location sharing. The latter, which allows you to share your immediate location to contacts, should help with the introduction of Waze Carpool in Brazil later this year. Google last made country-specific updates for Brazilians last year with in-country travel information for Google Flights. Back in 2012, Google Maps added online touring for Brazilian pre-colonial cities across the country near present-day Fortaleza, Brasilia, Recife, Salvador, and Natal.