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Challenges and learnings of building for the next billion users

Pankaj Gupta
Director of Engineering at Google
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2018 Google I/O
May 8, 2018, Mountain View, USA
2018 Google I/O
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Challenges and learnings of building for the next billion users
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About speakers

Pankaj Gupta
Director of Engineering at Google
Nithya Sambasivan
Software Engineer at Google
Devesh Sarwate
Staff Software Engineer at Google
Josh Woodward
Product Manager at Google

Pankaj leads engineering for Google's payments product called Tez in India and our Next Billion markets. He joined Google in 2017 when the team from his AI/ML startup, Halli Labs, joined Google. Pankaj was an early employee at Twitter in San Francisco where he led the Personalization and Recommendations teams that were responsible for some of Twitter's search, discovery, and relevance products. He has previously founded two startups, both of which were acquired, and a tech architecture group for startups ca

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Nithya leads research with under-represented communities at the Next Billion Users org. She has 11 years of experience understanding users and designing technology for emerging markets, from grid electrification in Kenya to Internet access in India. She has a PhD. in Human Computer Interaction.

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Devesh is the technical lead on the Files Go android app team. Before coming to Google, Devesh spent more than 10 years working for enterprise software startups

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Josh is a group product manager for Google’s Next Billion Users effort. He leads the product management and design teams for many of Google's upcoming apps that are built and optimized for first-time internet users around the world.

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About the talk

Building products and services that work for everyone regardless of where they live, what language they speak, which devices they use, or the network they're connected to presents exciting opportunities and challenges. Engineering, product, and UX leads from Tez, Datally, and Files Go - Google products built specifically for the next billion users - will discuss the design and development of unique technologies (including Audio QR and Offline P2P connections) to address the needs of these users.

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Alright. Hi everyone. Thank you for coming. My name is Josh and I'm a product manager on the next billion users team at Google basically use this session to tell you a little bit about what we've been learning building for the next billion in places like India, Indonesia Brazil and other countries around the world before we get started just maybe a show of hands who's flown in from India for IL faut. Awesome. Okay. I know it's almost very late right now for you also will try to keep anybody from Indonesia who's here. Okay couple cool,

Brazil. Great. Okay, and I'm sure there's a lot of other countries represented to so thank you all for coming what it wanted to do just quickly by way of intro before we interview. Some of the folks on stage is tell you a little bit about how this initiative and this Focus area for Google got started. So since the beginning Google has always been interested in building products for everyone looking around literally Aprilia new people come online for the first time that changes how we think about some of the ways we develop products and really this session. We want to

share some of those lessons with you. Some of the things we go to one thing is changed is how we think about our existing products. So if you think about YouTuber search or maps are Chrome or any of the others what we found is a whole new crop of user behaviors that are becoming really common in nbu, for example today in India 28% of the searches. We see our voice searches, which is amazing and it's growing Is growing everywhere around the world brings up really interesting questions about how you interact with Computing devices localization and others.

We've also seen in Google maps for example are new to Wheeler mode feature really popular and spreading to other markets to stairs new modalities. We're having to solve for for transportation directions. That's a little bit about how we started thinking about our existing products. But obviously as smartphone prices drop around the world is connectivity becomes more affordable more people come online and it opens up brand new use cases and problems to solve and that's really why are three panelists up here been doing the last few years. So they're going to talk to you a little bit about

some of the products. We've launched over the last six to eight months and a lot of what's kind of gone into them both from the engineering side as well as the design and research side. So what else is just introduce them briefly and then we'll get into some of the questions and it's a very end we've got to Mike's in the room if people want to come up. We'll save some I'm at the end. You can ask a few questions first just quick intros down the road. I want to introduce pankaj Punk ales Leeds engineering for Google taste taste is our payments app and India that we launched back in

September and there's a whole lot of stories he can share about that is just a few minutes to finish engineering team late last year that helps users free up space on their phone find files really fast and also share files offline when you're nearby people so so very interesting engineering that went into that product. And it finally we have this year this year is on a research and design team and she's worked on I think every product at this point in some form or fashion. She's going to share a lot of lessons. We've learned doing

research both in the fields. But also we have a lot of local teams based around the world that build a lot of these products for us. So our kind of the next billion users group really thinks about how do we staff people in these Market? So we can really watch these Trends as their emerging. We also give a lot of these small teams a lot of latitude to go after big repeating problem. So we're in experimental group trying out a lot of new things. And of course the three of them will talk about some of the products we launched. So without further Ado let's maybe just give us an overview

of what days is it will start their yeah sure. So they mobile payments and the world turns itself means fast in Hindi and some of the regional languages. It's built on top of a new interbanking Protocol New York Times article that was introduced to call UGI that stands for Universal payment center face and almost all Indian banks have implemented this it's 24 by 7 instant bank to bank money transfer protocol and what days does as it puts a brand new user experience on a variety of payment use cases on top of this protocol. So

their bank account The Google account and Yuki, I give them a payment address which is called a virtual payment address. The protocol lease payment address is interoperable. So any service or product that is using UPI has to support this destination addressing mechanism. And anything is that any payments that are done from this address or into this address Harden from the bank account or into the bank account directly. So it's different than a digital wallet and you don't have to load up a digital wallet first from your bank account

and then comes back from that wallet. The other thing is that the council which maintains and rompers protocol has made these transactions free of cost towards digitization of payments. And so effectively what you have is instant 24 by 7 free kind of like a wiring ability. tips on your smartphone a demo of some of these features Okay. Well, we've been having some Wi-Fi issues earlier as they usually do with the demo, so I have two phones here if I could get the wolf Vision. Okay.

So this wolf Vision one is my phone and I'm going to get into that says it uses the OS lock so we will get here. I'll do the same on. Sorry about the orientation also on the phone on the left here. I will launch the taser again use the iOS lock to open and now we have these two phones and what you see right up front is a is a is a circular button and let me explain this week or cash Bond payments. So imagine that a user has this phone and they walk in the door shop and

there's a motion behind the counter who has their own phone. And so basically two phones nearby and one of my phone is working on India international roaming. So I hope it works, but basically, okay. Let's put this into the receive mode and let's put it to the Bay mode and see if the phone discovers the other phone. What what should happen if I was working was that one phone would be discovered by the other phone see? Boom, so as you can see the phone on the left has discovered the phone on the right, which is my phone. So the user

can tap-to-pay and listen buying some chili which cost a lot these days. So I can put in a message. I can proceed to pay UPI mandates that every transaction is protected by a pin and for purposes of this demo. It will go to the banks destination and the receiver bank and walleye and we're trying something out when you get this. So that's how these nearby payments work what you can also see now just focusing on the Chromecast the phone on the left you see these

jackets and essentially these are profile pictures of the payment Pierce so I can tap on someone. Let's say this person and if you give me the entire history of the payment transaction that have happened between me and this person So that's really convenient. Now, if you go down further, you see the section called businesses and that has providers like my phone provider my internet provider and listen to integrated bill payments on top of UTI as well. So every month I get a notification to pay your bill is due when I tap it and it's done in instant

like why is there so you can check balance and other such things as well? So that's kind of like a quick overview of the app. Could you tell him I'm a little bit more about the cash mode and how you guys built that a little bit the backstory there? Yeah, so it started with some user insights and the key is inside comes from the fact that Bing by cash is still quite widespread in India and other and new markets and benefits and it just plain convenience. So when we wanted to do a digital mode of payment, we wanted to have an experience

which is kind of like cash and in many senses. And so that's why we called Cash mode and how it works is Patrick Swayze to make these nearby on proximity payments work and like in the US invaded parts of the world. He has been the way to go but most of them don't have NFC. So now you can use Wi-Fi you can use Bluetooth for pairing potentially you're trying to make two phones who have never seen each other ever. Don't want to exchange explicitly Summit Racing information to be connected to each other. So what we do is be transmitted

information for bearing on audio actually using ultrasound. Let me go into a little bit more detail. So what happens is that one phone sends a short ID at broadcast the short ID identifying itself saying hey, this is me. This is me and this is broadcast using what car did XXX or direct fit on Spectrum Spectrum technique, which what it is doing. Is it by spreading signal audible frequency? So nobody can hear it from user experience one of you that's very important. What was being transported is White

Noise because of this pseudorandomness wedding and it's really important for security because then a super can get access to the signal but not make sense out of it can use the same and markiplier with the signal got to get with the same pseudo random noise cold and recover the signal so the receiver recovers the ID validates the ID and then. Look up to figure out okay, who does this belong to and the silver sent back more information, which is related to the receiver for just like the other phone got okay and so cap, that's the confirmation.

So that's how it works. I think it's been great challenges and making this work in terms of tuning and configurations receiver configuration broadcaster configuration does videos audio settings to give you some What is 6 about this when he launched and they launched in India in September last year we tested about 200 devices and hand hewn them in a lab. And since then we have evolved this process of tearing and now it's the control system like feedback loop and which we just

adjust automatically the private and absolve how that goes. And today we have nearly 6,000 unique devices who have made a successful cash transaction so that we get the coverage that we eventually ended up getting and that's why we chose audio over say NFC briefly. Can you share a little bit about what you've learned working with a new app a new protocol and UPI a lot of external partners and I think there's a war This particle is very new and Lord of the banks and we have the largest

banks in India's our partners and they were implementing a new as well. So we literally broke the bank when we launched with such a PS, but you know, whether it's your components or external components when you go to build some health monitoring and various other kind of things. So what we do is couple of things just to give you a quick example each user account creation time when this address has been created. If One bank then we will go to the other bank time.

However, you know, you're transferring from One Bank a to bank V and what's important is to not have the user in words. State and for that what we do is win. MLP naked models to figure out whether the any of the bank there's actually five parties in a transaction the way the protocol Defiance than any of them if it is download almost down then they would rather bring it up to the user and say hey, please try again rather than having the risk of the transaction entering in a little bit of a stock state where nobody knows where the money is gone. Nice trash out

if there's a little bit and talk about files go and maybe you can tell just briefly what it is. I think you want to show us about to file management app for Mu market for mobile first uses. It also supports peer-to-peer sharing using nearby technology. It all started when we started looking at what the users in India market needed and we realized that mobile data. What document was using his markers but not able to consume content on their phones, which was a primary or only device for the most of the time because

of the expense. That's what idea for nearby sharing was born very little internal storage. So you just started running out of storage when they got Mountain from their friend and we started looking at storage management you this was not able to find the content on the phone is really because most of the existing file managers out there show up a new user chemical mobile first time having already used a laptop or a desktop computer before Look at Mountain from

difference. Cool that you want to show you one thing while he's pulling up the demo. I remember when this team came back from field research. They spent a lot of time on college campuses across India and we found a stat which was shocking one out of three smartphone users in India run out of storage or see a low storage warning every day. So if you think about that is something like eighty million people are constantly up against the boundary of running out of storage. So anyway, we'll switch over to the whole fish and you can show him how it works.

Okay, so this is a sizable app. Right on top with storage available on the phone and What's the total storage on what they can clean up from the phone to free up storage that uses shoot on the content. They get from their friends like movies and stuff so you can just get it off. Let's take a look at files a tough time trying to find the content on the phone. We came up with the scheme of categorizing the Fontainebleau Hotel Ecuador Hotel associated in uses mine. For example,

what do you think of the weather images came from? Similarly for videos again. It's it's got to prove that you can identify with. Write down here. You see two but also send and receive this is where you guys can initiate the the nearby sharing mode to transfer content to or from the French interesting thing just like fungus talking about there's a connection of what does a bunch of stuff in there because they are in the market. We use a combination of

Bluetooth Bluetooth low-energy a Wi-Fi Direct Wi-Fi hotspot type of technology and be able to connect on Bluetooth and negotiate a girl with cancer rate of a GB in around 42nd, which is pretty impressive. Talk about the Lord and memes that you listen is Marcus use chat apps quite a bit from girlfriend. Most of which is good morning messages memes jokes because it fills up the phone at the same time. They also received from the France wisdom of the key which might be pictures of each other. They

use us we're going to be going through all this chat messages and deleting stuff manually by figuring out what was useful and what does not this and we came up with the scar that internally we use Google Vision API Region Library to do Tech detection. images that are not useful to users with the country Mali once and these are some of the things that get detected and do you use one click again to delete it and they can keep the rest of the use of messages intact without having to go through it manually. Cool. That was one

thing also just to call out from this that the team is seeing is that the average user the first time they use the app is freeing up over a gig of storage and a little bubble boy is dancing. A lot of storage space is freezing up before you go into this year. Can you tell us a little bit about what you feel like you've learned so far this app is only been out about four months it launched at the end of last year. Yeah. Just a bunch of stuff you learn the most interesting for me was the fact that this app is getting use a whole lot in us and

Europe which we did not expect when we launched. I didn't send you that a book by Willa going running car reverse Innovation, which start a lot about building products does Abilify reviews Market which you can then bring back and using which you did not build a product or and which is very fulfilling. You can take us home here with the last set of questions before we open it up to everyone talk to us a little bit about some of those somatic work you've done around connectivity

and access with your sort of research and design experience a spot of Google's mission of bringing the the benefits of the internet to everyone. There are two main products is Google station. Provide high-quality internet access in the form of public Wi-Fi and they tell me which is a mobile application which helps users get more value out of their data. So talk about station first station was launched in 2016 malls in public venue has people come online for the first time on the Station Network helps make

existing constrained internet more manageable and accessible. So it provides data transparency. So that users can understand where their MB than TVs are going in the browsing activities a provides data saving functionality which helps users. Get more value extended data packs and it also allows users to public Wi-Fi hotspot when they're outside. So users can be online more often. I put a tally is that many people around the world treats mobile data as money because of his expensive slow and

limited and as a result list result of practices, like turning off mobile data when they're not using it to cut costs or hesitate to get new applications or have fears around using existing application. So that limits their participation online and they totally provides functionality to help users even to their experience of getting more value from the internet. Can you talk a little bit about what we've learned with these products now that they've been out instead of the environment that they landed in this to

simplify things that people contacts and devices. So what is growing all over the world Technologies touching new societies and a lot of the people that are coming online are increasingly diverse. So there's diverse Licious peas languages aspiration income level professions Geographic spread and many of the assumptions that we've made around the first few billion users need rethinking. So for example, it may not hold true that users are well educated or relatively wealthy or an English-speaking even many people around the next billion users.

Speaking primary lead, but may prefer to use for New Eyes in English because English is seen as the language of upward mobility and aspirations. So into in terms of design homework, we design interfaces that help users with the use of simplified English and more visually Rich interfaces. Like I mentioned internet is often intermittent and constrained broccoli only forty-five 43% of the world has access to LTE and 3-g and sometimes even offline. So how do we

think about designing for these constraints networks and featuring offline as not an error case, but as a normative you stays Wheels have to think about economic factors like purchasing power and like fungus mention the prevalence of cash and social factors like gender and Religion in in using technology today, you can buy an Android phone for 30 to $40. It is very likely to have a small screen loram low processing power but it is the first Computing device that many

people have access to so you're in the west because of cultures of frugality and gift-giving. So how might we think about hardware and software design for low-end devices a range of folks from different backgrounds here, but on sort of wearing your ux hat if you had to pass along some research and design tips and tricks you learned along the way over the last few years, what would you share with everyone to research and design methods on design. Google Envy you you can find it. It's part of the goo. Design website and we regularly share

this product stories in the behind-the-scenes look to research and design Innovations. We'll talk about it through the lens of a product life cycle. So when you start to build a product and we're trying to understand the problem space and we want to create a vision for the product. We really want the foundation of the rich insight and understanding of people and their relationship with technology and the unmet needs. So here we were introduced techniques like intercepts and the more traditional Latin graphic in motion intercepts a spot interviews that

are done with people in their various contact such as where they live where they commute where they work where they have fun and be doing several of these We Gather a form understanding of of people in the contacts and they use of technology in station when we wanted to build. Wi-Fi service in train stations of India. We spent a lot of time hanging out in train stations talking too fast and furious talking to business owners riding trains ourselves. So we could understand what that experience was like and shadowing passengers who were embarking on these

Journeys and really what we wanted to understand was who is in the station? What are they doing? What is the context of using the Wi-Fi? What is there an understanding of Wi-Fi and these insights letter letter design principles such as the service the logon service to get onto the network has to be really efficient and quick because stations are highest risk environments with a lot of stimulus that's the service has to be trustworthy and secure. We saw in our research that women were hesitant to give out phone numbers to log on to a public Wi-Fi networks. Are we really in show that the network

was secured and that because of the heterogeneity of devices in dinner train station. This is really the cross section of the entire. Country the service was browser-based if it works as a captive portal morning and doesn't require the installation of any mobile application. An example of research and design techniques later on in product development is when the project is nearing launch, we've created a technique called trusted tester studies dissolve large panels of Representative participants who are recruited to consensually make use of

the application and provide feedback something and we collect both qualitative and quantitative data and ran several of these studies 48 alley in various parts of the Philippines using and the tables are really understanding of what are the core Eustace is what's the resident value proposition what are issues that we're running into that we need to fix before we launch the product in math 4th grade cool. That's it. Thank you all.

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Pankaj Gupta
Nithya Sambasivan
Devesh Sarwate
Josh Woodward