MANILA, Philippines — For many users, Google is the doorstep to the rest of the Internet. But did you know that Google can also help you solve those complicated Sudoku puzzles?
This can be done using a technology developed by the search giant called Google Goggles, an app that helps users gain more information about images by doing what is called as reverse-image search.
Simply point your phone’s camera in a Sudoku puzzle you can’t solve and Google Goggles will spew out a result for you, with the empty blocks completely filled out with the correct answers.
Google Goggles is just one of the more interesting technologies demoed by Google executives during the recently concluded g|Philippins, a two-day technology and developer conference which pooled hundreds of Filipino Google users for the first time in the same room.
The annual event, held at the Asian Institute of Management Conference in Makati, is geared towards introducing Google technologies to Filipino users. Day one of the conference catered to businesses and government, while the second day focused on university offerings of the technology company.
Google executives said the Philippines is an interesting market for Google, considering its more than 90 percent mobile penetration rate and that 86 percent of its Internet users are actively engaged in social networking.
“The Philippines is a great example of an aspiring market, mainly because you have a lot of people who are very social online,” said a Google spokesperson in an interview with InterAksyon.com.
The Google executive also pointed out how a lot of Filipinos own mobile phones and how Internet-enabled smartphones are becoming a hit in the country, “which creates an environment where things like g|Philippines simply make sense.”
The conference, attended by hundreds of participants coming from the government, business, education, and software development sectors, also featured key implementations of Google technologies in the country, such as in the case of the Department of Science and Technology’s Project N.O.A.H.
Project NOAH, also known as the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH), is an online system developed to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters in at-risk areas.
It uses the Google Maps API and other Google technologies to depict the weather conditions of specific areas around the country on a map.
During the conference, Google also announced the Google Apps Developer Challenge, a competition that will seek out the best new applications using Google’s Apps and Drive APIs.
The contest will run from August 3 until August 24, Google said, and winners stand to take home a $20,000 prize during the awarding ceremonies set on November 12.
“Google Apps adoption is growing in emerging markets, and people are asking for extended functionality,” Google said. “It is hoped that this competition will not only generate locally-relevant apps, but also recognize and reward the hard work of the most talented Pinoy developers.”
Google Vice President for Product and Engineering Nelson Mattos said they piloted the same contest on a smaller scale in Africa last year, which churned out an app that shows the popular songs and information about movies coming out of Nigeria.
“We met with the winners about four weeks ago, and they just recently signed a contract with the largest operator in Nigeria, distributing their app on every phone in the country,” Mattos said.
“It’s now the most popular app in there right now. They even have billboards for their app!” he added.
The technology conference is just the latest in the search company’s attempts to broaden its reach and increase its presence in developing countries like the Philippines.
Last year, Google chose the country as the launchpad for its localized YouTube offering in Southeast Asia, topping it off with a YouTube World View interview with President Benigno Aquino, the first Asian head of state to be featured in the series.
Just recently, rumors were rife online that Google will soon establish an official presence in the Philippines following the posting of various job openings for the country, although Google has yet to confirm anything final.
Aside from its regional headquarters in Singapore, Google operates in Southeast Asia in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.