Abhimanyu GhoshalManaging Editor
Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].
In May, Google launched Neighbourly, a Q&A app to help you learn more about your neighborhood by asking people who live near you. The company kicked off a trial in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, followed by seven smaller cities. Now that it’s rolled out to New Delhi, and my home base in Bangalore, I’ve finally had a chance to try it, and I’m happy to report that it actually works pretty well.
Once you logged in and allowed Neighbourly to identify your location and neighborhood, you can ask and answer questions from people in your area. However, I spotted several questions from people who lived quite a distance (about six kilometers) away from me. I imagine that the service doesn’t yet have enough users to justify restricting its audience to individual neighborhoods just yet.
Sure, Google’s search engine can help you get information about services in your area – but humans can go a step further by offering alternatives, walking you through your options, and sharing tips that you won’t find on search results pages.
For example, when one user in my area asked where they could find fresh veggies nearby, I found some interesting responses that not only mentioned stores I hadn’t shopped at, but also listed the ones that stocked organic produce. Meanwhile, others were using the app to find photowalk groups and ways to exchange books. I also received a response to my first question on the app in just an hour.
You can follow questions to receive alerts when they’re answered, and score medals for your profile by answering questions and upvoting responses. The slick interface is great for quickly scanning through loads of questions quickly, and is easy enough to use without having to go through a lengthy tutorial.
It’ll be interesting to see what Google does with this service, and with all the data it’ll gather from its users. While the company hasn’t mentioned plans for monetization yet, it could potentially mine this data for insights that it could sell to local businesses, or eventually introduce targeted ads. Ben Fohner, senior product manager, Next Billion Users at Google, told the Economic Times that the firm may consider business accounts or integration of third-party retailers in the future.
Google noted that since Neighbourly launched, it’s added features like the ability to switch between multiple neighborhoods (like your home and work locations, for example), and notifications with advice on how to frame your questions to get more responses.
The app will soon open up to users in Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Indore and other cities on the waitlist. You can sign up by grabbing the Android app from Google Play.
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