With the next billion users expected to come online from developing countries in Asia, Google has a specialized team focused on creating products suited for those consumers and available devices. The latest is called Neighbourly, a social network of sorts for querying your neighbors.
Similar to Nextdoor, the service, according to Google, is designed to be a communal way for users to “ask your neighbours questions, share local expertise, and keep up with your neighbourhood.”
This local and direct querying of people around you is born out of how “it’s getting harder to get good answers to these questions because cities keep changing.” In a sense, this is really a product meant to augment areas where Google Search might fail to surface relevant content.
People nearby often have the exact information you need, but they’re too busy these days to stop and chat on the street or in the park. And group chats keep getting bigger and noisier — and often fill up with those “Good Morning” messages.
Upon asking a question, Neighbourly will automatically route it to the relevant people in the community that could best provide an answer. Besides text input, Google touts voice recognition that works in English and eight Indian languages to better emulate the experience of “talking to a neighbour.”
Local experts will be selected based on how frequently they contribute information. The app adopts a card motif with users able to swipe through stacks to find questions to answer and browse. Like in Google Maps, the more questions answered, the higher your rank is. Answers are public with the ability to upvote and flag responses.
On the safety and privacy front, phone numbers, full names, and other contact information are kept private. Additionally, users are asked to accept a terms of service called the “Neighbourly Promise.”
Currently being beta tested in Mumbai, the app supports Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and higher. A waitlist is available for other cities.
Neighbourly is basically a Nextdoor competitor for developing countries. As such, Neighbourly could be expanded to other regions if it finds success in India. However, some elements of this app already exist in Google Maps, but Neighbourly provides a more focused interface.
This service helps augment areas where content might not exist and keep users on a Google service if Search fails to be useful. Meanwhile, these informal voice answers would also be suited for something like Google Assistant and Home.