Hey Umang vs. Alexa/Siri: Conversational AI Competition Intensifies
Hey Umang! An AI mobile app is nowhere to compete with top voice assistants in the industry
“Hey, Umang” is the voice-based AI command for the government’s AI mobile app. ‘Umang’ is the abbreviation of Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance that will become one of the key initiatives under the Digital India program to develop a common, artificial intelligence platform and mobile app to facilitate a single point of access to all government services. The Ministry of Electronics and IT finalized that the Bengaluru-based firm will deploy voice and chatbots in English and Hindi on UMANG over the next three months. The government will first check the efficacy of the service in English and Hindi before rolling it out in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.
Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance
UMANG is a mobile-first strategy. This multi-language app is developed and operated by National e-Governance Division. It is to abridge inconvenience faced by users in managing multiple mobile apps and facilitate a one-stop solution to avail varied government services.
Objectives of UMANG:
- To act as an enabler and facilitator in developing an overall mobile-based service delivery ecosystem in India
- Provide easy access for individuals to various services via a single mobile application, easy-to-remember short code, and a single toll-free number.
- Provide for quick mobile enablement of e-Gov applications of Government departments through easy and fast integration.
- Provide easy discoverability of services, and easy manageability of service delivery.
The government had floated a tender for the voice assistant earlier this year after realizing UMANG. It can also build a voice-enabled application to benefit those who cannot read or write, or do not communicate in English or Hindi after such functionalities as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa became quite popular. Moreover, with in-country 700 million internet users from rural areas where people speak regional languages, this initiative might either prove to be a major failure, or a major success, depending on how citizens accept it.
Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that a voice-based solution using AI may be developed so that Umang may reach the common man living in the remotest corners of the country. And it accesses the services of various government departments as well as state governments. The government recently extended the Umang platform to the overseas market, in a bid to help Indian students abroad, non-resident Indians, and Indian tourists to avail of government services from outside the country.