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Google developer conference has news for India

Starting its two-day developer conference in San Francisco, Google has announced a new, ultra-cheap smartphone to hit the Indian market in the fall. But the get-together will not focus solely on mobile telephony.

Google said Wednesday it was cooperating with three manufacturers to develop a smartphone specifically for the Indian market, with the device to cost less than $100 (73 euros).

It said the smartphone would run on its Android operating system, opening up more business opportunities for the US giant through the sale of apps in the country. Google said the device would be able to use dual SIM cards and come with an FM radio.

Also at the start of its conference, the company demonstrated to developers how cars running the Android Auto system would act like an extension of its mobile phone software. Executives said drivers would be able to navigate maps and send messages behind the wheel, with the software being completely voice-enabled.

Fierce competition with Apple

More announcements were sure to come, with Google seeking to directly counter Apple's recent push towards digital health monitoring products and home automation.

The San Francisco get-together comes at a time of transition for Google, which still makes most of its money from advertising as it benefits from its status as the global leader in online search.

The company has been trying to stay at the forefront of innovation, not shying away from launching sometimes unproven technologies that may take years to pay off, if at all. Recent examples have been the firm's investment in

driverless cars

, Google Glass and thinking thermostats.

hg/sgb (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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