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Google to shut down Neigbourly, its local Q&A app for India

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Google is shutting down Neighbourly, an app it released in 2018 in India to help neighbours ask Q&As about — wait for it — their neighbourhood. This was first reported by TechCrunch. The app helped people find facilities in their locality: you ask a question, it goes around to people living around you (since you share your location data), and get helpful tips. It may lead some users to spots they didn’t know of, tips from humans help too, as The Next Web had pointed out. Google has said that neighbours have often asked where that strong LPG smell is coming home — a common occurrence in this country in my experience as well.

The app was launched in beta mode in Mumbai by Google’s Next Billion Users unit in May 2018. It expanded to Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Mysore, Vizag, and Kota in September 2018, and to Bangalore and Delhi in November 2018. As of June last year, it was active throughout India. It had added some features in June last year — users could update neighbours about road repairs, create events, and post photos. The app had seen 10 million downloads on Android.

One might think this is a bad timing to close down an app, given that the country has been in lockdown for over a week, and it’s difficult to get essentials. If you stay on the homepage right now, with location set to Delhi, the app is overflowing with queries on what ration store, medical store, and delivery services are operational. Once you choose a particular neighbourhood, the queries become fewer and less relevant, indicating a low user engagement.

Google told TechCrunch that it did not get the traction it was hoping for, though users got answers to over a million questions. The app will shut down on May 12, users have another six months to download their data.

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