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Google makes Assistant available via a free phone call in India

People can call to inquire about everything from the weather to sports scores.
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Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Getting fast and accurate answers to queries is still a big challenge in places where people don't have reliable access to the internet. To help the hundreds of millions of people in India who have a mobile phone but limited or no internet access, Google has announced the Vodafone-Idea Phone Line, a service which people can call to get answers from Google Assistant.

Neither mobile data nor an internet connection is required to call the phone number (000 0800 9191000) which is available to answer questions 24/7. The phone line is offered in both English and Hindi, and there's no charges for the call or for using the service.

The examples given by Google for use cases of the service include asking "for everything from sports scores, traffic conditions and weather forecasts to help with homework". The idea is to provide some of the convenience of information available through a Google search to people who wouldn't otherwise be able to access it.

India has been the target of a recent push by Google, including rolling out new features in the country, introducing tools like a flood prediction system and debuting educational initiatives like a learn to read app. The company estimates that 460 million people in India use the internet, leaving more than half the population of 1.3 billion without internet access.

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