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Google Maps & YouTube to be accessible offline; Chrome to load web pages faster soon

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At Google’s I/O developer conference held last week, Google introduced a series of light apps for people using low bandwidth connections in developing countries, to be rolled out later this year, reports Gizmodo. Along with this, Google Maps and YouTube will work offline on Android phones.

In Google Maps, users will be able to view features like the destination address, phone number, opening hours, reviews, turn by turn directions along with voice directions (for saved routes) offline. YouTube will also receive similar offline support through an archiving tool. The feature will let users save a video for offline viewing for up to 48 hours.

Websites on Chrome will get a ‘Network Quality Estimator’ (NQE), which will analyse the user’s network connection in order to optimise search results and subsequent landing web pages to load faster, giving higher priority to text and information over data-intensive images. The NQE will, in effect, change the rendering of web pages on a slow connection in order to make the web pages usable and fast.

Google gave an example of the Times of India’s mobile site where it had replaced the images with placeholders on slow net connections but retained navigation and logo links. Users would also get an option to load the images if they choose to view them. Chrome for Android is also likely to get offline capabilities where users would be able to save visited web pages for later offline access.

According to a FoneArena report, Google had introduced data compression and bandwidth management for Chrome for Android and iOS. The report also mentioned that Google was field testing a feature in Indonesia where pages would supposedly load 4 times faster with 80% less data consumption and 80MB less of memory usage.

In the same conference, the search giant unveiled an open platform API called Android Pay to enable its users to make payments from credit cards within the Android app.

Google’s recent Maps and Internet developments:
– In February this year, Google said that it was looking to bring Project Loon, its balloon powered-Internet service, to India and was working with the government for the same.
– Last month, Google had added traffic alerts feature to Google Maps. Following this update, users would be able to check the traffic status while searching for directions on particular routes and view routes in which traffic was busiest at any given time, including blockades or construction zones on the selected route.
– It also updated its Maps app with local transit data for bus and metro information in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune, in addition to railway schedules for over 12,000 trains. The information is available to users through the Google Transit feature in Google Maps on Android, iOS and desktop.
– In April, the company was looking to set up a cache or mirror server in India which would enable quicker searches and stream YouTube videos faster.

Image Credit: Flickr user Masato Ohta

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