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Preview: The Official Google Blog

The Official Google Blog



Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture.



Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 03:45:00 +0000

 



Scoring a touchdown with Google Home MiniScoring a touchdown with Google Home MiniBroadcaster and former NFL Quarterback

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 03:45:00 +0000

Hey Google, who is Tony Romo?

… I’m kidding! But if you do ask, Google will tell you that I'm a former quarterback who played my entire 14-year career in Dallas. When you're used to playing at the top of your game, it takes a ton of practice. I used to have my team behind me every day, but now as a TV analyst, I’ve got a new companion to help me out—my Google Home Mini.

Being ready is especially important for the game this Thanksgiving. A big part of my new job is having enough stuff to say. Thankfully, Google Home Mini’s got me covered—the little device has helped me learn tons of new things. I already knew how to break down defensive coverages, but now I have a few new fun facts up my sleeve to keep it real.

This year is the return of the touchdown dance and my Google Home Mini keeps me on top of the hottest dances and plays new music when I need to practice my own moves. For what it's worth, I’m a pretty amazing dancer, even though my wife disagrees.

Alright, I’ve got to get back to prepping for the game. Thanks to my friends at Google for sponsoring a video (shot with Pixel 2!) that lets me show you all the ways my Google Home Mini helps me get ready. I’ll see you from the booth.

(image) NFL star Tony Romo gets help from Google Home Mini as he returns to Dallas as a broadcaster on Thanksgiving Day



Let’s talk turkey: Thanksgiving food trendsLet’s talk turkey: Thanksgiving food trendsEditor-in-Chief

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Set the table and pour yourself a glass. It’s time to talk about your top Thanksgiving recipes and questions according to Google Search. Though it might not be as subject to debate as some conversations you have at your family table, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to our national menus this holiday. Whet your appetite. Everyone has a strategy for saving maximum stomach space for mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing on Turkey Day. But while the turkey roasts and the drinks are served, you might be in need of a snack. Enter deviled eggs, the #3 searched recipe in the U.S. last Thanksgiving Day. If you’re in Ohio, you might go a bit bigger with a seven-layer salad. This fruit-based dish is uniquely highly searched in the Buckeye state. Now for the main course. Turkey, of course, is the centerpiece dish on most Thanksgiving tables: The answer to one of your top searched questions, “How many turkeys are consumed on Thanksgiving?” is somewhere around 45 million. Now it’s just a question of how to do it. On Thanksgiving Day last year, the top searched Thanksgiving question was “How long to cook a turkey?” The answer depends in part on how you do it; although roasting is common, there were more questions about brining and smoking on the day preceding Thanksgiving. And as the clock ticks by on the day itself, people may find themselves looking for a faster method. That’s when questions like “How long to fry a turkey” and “How to deep fry a turkey” creep into the top 10 searches. And it may be controversial to suggest a turkey-free table, but if anyone’s doing it might be Californians. Excluding turkey, the top searched Thanksgiving recipe in every state is either green bean casserole or sweet potato casserole—except in the Golden State, where it’s honey baked ham. Nobody puts side dishes in the corner. But let’s be real. Most of us are in it for the sides. Many households are breaking out the fried onions and marshmallows to make green bean casserole—the most popular side dish in 26 states—and sweet potato casserole, respectively. But there’s a huge variety when it comes to side dishes, which you can see when looking at the dishes that are uniquely highly searched across states. Examples of these dishes include mac and cheese in Tennessee, collard greens in Maryland and acorn squash in New York. Corn is popular in many places and many forms—casserole in Iowa, pudding in North Carolina and Virginia, and souffle in Florida. Kentucky, Texas and West Virginia are eating their greens, with broccoli casserole, broccoli rice casserole and broccoli salad, respectively. In Oregon and South Dakota, you might find ambrosia salad on your plate.Sometimes there may be just a difference in vocabulary. Though sweet potatoes are popular across states, in Kansas, Louisiana and Utah, yams were uniquely highly searched. You know what they say: I yam therefore I yam.  There’s always room for dessert. Pumpkin spice everything! Pumpkin is the most searched pie type in nearly 30 states, followed by sweet potato and, in a distant third, pecan. There’s one true outlier: in Maine, chocolate cream pie takes the, um, cake.  But no one has just one pie on their table, right? (Right?) Across states, there’s more variety in the #2 and #3 searched pies, including apple, banana cream and even buttermilk and peanut butter. And pie might not be the apple of some states’ eye. In Arizona, the most uniquely highly searched dish is actually pumpkin roll, a cream-cheese filled dessert.Now that you’ve eaten your fill and given thanks, it’s time to clean up and ask one last question: “What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?”Top questions and most popular searches are based on data from 2016. Unique searches are based on aggr[...]


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Safely and quickly distribute private enterprise apps with Google PlaySafely and quickly distribute private enterprise apps with Google PlayProduct Lead, Managed Google Play

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 17:30:00 +0000

Google Play gives your organization a rich ecosystem of apps for work, enabling your team to be productive from anywhere.Many businesses use a managed version of Google Play, which allows IT administrators to whitelist specific applications for their team to use. However, sometimes you need a more customized solution, such as custom-built, proprietary apps to conquer specific tasks. Also, with growing popularity of low code development tools, more and more employees are developing apps to serve a company's specific needs, and these need to be managed.The managed version of Google Play enables you to deploy proprietary apps privately. It gives you all the benefits of Google Play’s high availability, global reach and scale, optimized app delivery, the security of Google Play Protect, and the reassurance that your app remains private to your company.You can curate private apps alongside public apps on Google Play through your Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) console. These enterprise apps are then available to your organization directly through the Play Store app - no need for a separate, proprietary enterprise app store. This saves development time and is a more familiar experience for the end users. Users can browse and install the apps that you’ve authorized, or you can push them directly to team members’ devices.Publish apps without the complexityWhether you have a dedicated engineering team building in Java, you enable employees to develop apps, or use external development agencies, managed Google Play enables your teams to easily get their apps into the hands of the users that need them.Following a recent update to Google Play’s app targeting features, any Google Play developer can publish an app privately to an enterprise. This means that not only can developers publish apps internally without complex administrator setup, but this also enables third-party developers, such as agencies, to manage publishing of apps they develop for a client. For more details about targeting the enterprise with private apps, check out this managed Google Play help page.The new Custom App Publishing API offers additional workflow advantages to those who wish to publish private apps. The API eliminates the need for enterprise IT administrators to access the Google Play Console every time they publish an app. Apps can be published to their managed Google Play directly from the EMM console or Integrated Development Environment (IDE).Better for securityEvery app uploaded to Google Play is scanned for security vulnerabilities. Google Play Protect scans more than 500,000 apps per day. Scanning may flag poor coding practices or usage of old, vulnerable versions of third-party SDKs so they can be mitigated before the app is published, enabling you to be more confident in the security of apps developed internally.With Google Play Protect constantly working in the background, you can be sure that internal apps are being vetted with the same level of protection that safeguards the Play ecosystem.Flexibility for large organizations Private apps can now be targeted to up to 20 EMM tenants. So if your organization is managed regionally, or you have test environments that you need to keep representative of production, you can simply publish the same app across your environments as you need. It’s as easy as if you were publishing to one tenant. For example, an app can be deployed to different environments as simply as if it was done for just one.Get startedOur private apps whitepaper details the steps necessary to get started, and highlights many best practices for private app publishing. Much of the publication process is similar to other applications, with the core difference being that distribution is limited to your organization. So teams with experience building apps should be able to make a very easy transition to private app publishing.[...]


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Spreading holiday cheer with great deals on Google PlaySpreading holiday cheer with great deals on Google PlayGlobal Head of Apps & Store Engagement, Merchandising, Google Play

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 08:05:00 +0000

As temperatures drop, stay warm and entertained with these hot holiday deals on Google Play. Starting today, you’ll be able to find your favorite movies, apps, games, music, TV and books at deep discounts. Just in time for the holidays, these deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday run through November 27 in select markets. Battle in your favorite games—not the crowds—on Black Friday. Avoid store crowds and battle it out with a favorite game instead. Google Play offers discounts of up to 80 percent for premium games, including Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies, LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin and LEGO® Jurassic World™  and more. You’ll also get special discounts, power ups and unlimited lives for the perennially popular Gardenscapes and Homescapes games on Google Play. Set the mood with Google Play Music.‘Tis the season to start playing songs of cheer. You can get a Google Play Music subscription free for four months, for the right songs to suit your mood anytime. Survive the season with must-have apps.When you need a last-minute recipe or a mental break from those holiday errands, Google Play has you covered with discounts on hundred of apps, including a 50 percent discount on a monthly subscription to Colorfy. Take a turkey break with a movie or TV show.Once the meal is done and the dishes are cleared, wind down with a favorite classic or a new release as Google Play offers 50 percent off any one movie to own and 25 percent off a TV season of your choice starting on November 23. You’ll also be able to rent any movie for 99 cents for one day only on November 25. Whether it’s catching up on the latest episodes of “The Walking Dead” or “Outlander,” the latest Minion antics in “Despicable Me 3” or a young Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” there’s something the entire family can enjoy. Snuggle in with a good book.The weather outside may be frightful, but a good book can be delightful. Whether it’s a bedtime story or the latest mystery, Google Play is offering a $5 credit towards any book over $5 and discounts on top titles starting on November 23. You can also find some of the most popular omnibus comics books, including Batman: The Complete Hush, Thor and Flashpoint, for $5 or less on November 25 only. For more information on these and other deals throughout the season, head to Google Play’s Holiday Hub.[...]Find your favorite apps, games, movies, music and more on sale this holiday season on Google Play.


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Tune in for the world’s first Google Translate music tourTune in for the world’s first Google Translate music tourGoogle Sweden

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 07:55:00 +0000

Eleven years ago, Google Translate was created to break down language barriers. Since then, it has enabled billions of people and businesses all over the world to talk, connect and understand each other in new ways.

And we’re still re-imagining how it can be used—most recently, with music. The music industry in Sweden is one of the world's most successful exporters of hit music in English—with artists such Abba, The Cardigans and Avicii originating from the country. But there are still many talented Swedish artists who may not get the recognition or success they deserve except for in a small country up in the north.

This sparked an idea: might it be possible to use Google Translate with the sole purpose of breaking a Swedish band internationally?

Today, we’re presenting Translate Tour, in which up and coming Swedish indie pop group Vita Bergen will be using Google Translate to perform their new single “Tänd Ljusen” in three different languages—English, Spanish and French—on the streets of three different European cities. In just a couple of days, the band will set off to London, Paris and Madrid to sing their locally adapted songs in front of the eyes of the public—with the aim of spreading Swedish music culture and inviting people all over the world to tune into the band’s cross-European indie pop music.

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William Hellström from Vita Bergen will be performing his song in English, Spanish and French.

Last year Google Translate switched from phrase-based translation to Google Neural Machine Translation, which means that the tool now translates whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar.

Using this updated version of Google Translate, the English, Spanish and French translations of the song were close to flawless. The translations will also continue to improve, as the system learns from the more people using it.

Tune in to Vita Bergen’s release event, live streamed on YouTube today at 5:00 p.m. CEST, or listen to the songs in Swedish (“Tänd Ljusen”), English (“Light the Lights”), Spanish (“Enciende las Luces”) and French (“Allumez les Lumières”).

(image) Introducing the world’s first Google Translate music launch and tour—three gigs, three cities and three languages.


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Learn more about the world around you with Google Lens and the AssistantLearn more about the world around you with Google Lens and the AssistantProduct Manager, Google Assistant

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:30:00 +0000

Looking at a landmark and not sure what it is? Interested in learning more about a movie as you stroll by the poster? With Google Lens and your Google Assistant, you now have a helpful sidekick to tell you more about what’s around you, right on your Pixel.

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When we introduced the new Pixel 2 last month, we talked about how Google Lens builds on Google’s advancements in computer vision and machine learning. When you combine that with the Google Assistant, which is built on many of the same technologies, you can get quick help with what you see. That means that you can learn more about what’s in front of you—in real time—by selecting the Google Lens icon and tapping on what you’re interested in.

Here are the key ways your Assistant and Google Lens can help you today:


  • Text: Save information from business cards, follow URLs, call phone numbers and navigate to addresses.
  • Landmarks: Explore a new city like a pro with your Assistant to help you recognize landmarks and learn about their history.
  • Art, books and movies: Learn more about a movie, from the trailer to reviews, right from the poster. Look up a book to see the rating and a short synopsis. Become a museum guru by quickly looking up an artist’s info and more. You can even add events, like the movie release date or gallery opening, to your calendar right from Google Lens.
  • Barcodes: Quickly look up products by barcode, or scan QR codes, all with your Assistant.

Google Lens in the Assistant will be rolling out to all Pixel phones set to English in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, India and Singapore over the coming weeks. Once you get the update, go to your Google Assistant on your phone and tap the Google Lens icon in the bottom right corner.

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We can’t wait to see how Google Lens helps you explore the world around you, with the help of your Google Assistant. And don’t forget, Google Lens is also available in Google Photos, so even after you take a picture, you can continue to explore and get more information about what’s in your photo. 

(image) With Google Lens and your Google Assistant, you now have a helpful sidekick to tell you more about what’s around you, right on your Pixel.



Turn customers into advocates with #SmallThanksTurn customers into advocates with #SmallThanksVP of Marketing, Ads & Americas

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000

The holiday season is a time to be grateful for friends, family and community. For me, that gratitude includes the small businesses who are a part of my everyday life in California. From my friends at Zombie Runner whose post-run coffee is the best part of my workout, to the folks at Tin-Pot Creamery who make it impossible to give up ice cream; these small businesses make my day-to-day life better and add heart to our community, and for that, I am thankful. I firmly believe when we support the businesses we love, we make the places we live better. I also spend much of my time at work thinking about how to help small businesses grow using the web. Our products play a pivotal role in helping people and small businesses connect with each other.  As this year’s holiday shopping season and Small Business Saturday approach us, we’re doing something extra to help small businesses stand out and succeed, both online and in their neighborhoods.We’ve created the #SmallThanks Hub to help you get free, customized marketing materials to promote your business. Simply search for your business name on the site, and we’ll automatically create posters, social media posts, window clings, stickers and more—based on the reviews and local love from your customers on Google. And now, it is available nationally in U.S. to any verified Google listing with an address. (Don’t yet have a verified listing? Signing up is free and only takes a few minutes. Start here.)  Reviews from your fans are like digital thank you notes, and they’re one of the first things people notice about your business in search results. A few positive small thanks can mean the difference between a potential customer choosing your business or going elsewhere. 71 percent of consumers say that positive reviews in search results make them more likely to use that the business, and listings with positive reviews see 360 percent higher clicks to their site. Show why your customers love you with posters in your store, and posts on social media. Here are a few tips on how to use the materials from the #SmallThanks Hub to gain new customers and turn existing ones into advocates.Personalize your assets: Choose the reviews you want to feature, and select from several layouts, colors and styles to match your business’s aesthetics. You can create as many versions as you want.Show why your customers love you: Print and hang your customized posters in a visible area in your store, and share the social media versions with #SmallThanks to join in the conversation and show what makes you unique. Post the flyers around your neighborhood where potential customers might see them. Ask customers to support you with reviews: Some customers may not remember to leave you a review, or realize the impact that it can have, so why not give them a little nudge? Place stickers in your window, receipt booklets, point-of-sale machine or anywhere else it can be prominently displayed to remind them to support you with a review. Remind people to search for you: Post the “Find us on Google” stickers in your store and on your social media channels with #SmallThanks hashtag to tell potential customers how to connect with you.Keep your Google listing up to date: The holiday season usually means different hours and special offerings. Let customers know when you’ll be open using the special hours feature, and promote holiday specials with Local Posts.  Encourage customers to support you on Google by placing these in visible spots. Happy holidays and best wishes from all of us at Google.[...]This holiday season, grow your business by turning your customers into advocates with[...]


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Two years of Google.org grants for racial justiceTwo years of Google.org grants for racial justicePrincipal

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000

For many years, bold leaders across the U.S. have been using technology to foster a national dialogue on systemic inequity. Through painful moments like the Charleston church shooting, Googlers, like many others, asked what we could do to advance a more inclusive society. Two years ago, alongside our Black Googler Network and its allies, Google.org started a formal grant portfolio to advance racial and social justice in the United States. In the spirit of understanding and getting closer to these complex issues, we began funding nonprofits fighting for racial justice in the California Bay Area—home to Google and many deep-rooted justice movements. In 2016, we doubled down on our commitment by supporting national organizations using data science and research to measure disparities in our system of mass incarceration. And today, we’re building on this commitment with another $7.5 million in grants to organizations advancing reform in our justice system, bringing our support to $32 million total. Through these latest grants, we continue to support data and research demonstrating the impact of mass incarceration. Last month, we supported LatinoJustice with a $1 million grant to improve the quality of Latinx criminal justice data and shape the narrative and storytelling on the impact of mass incarceration in Latinx communities. And today we're providing a $4 million grant to the Vera Institute of Justice to help them build an authoritative data set that will allow researchers to measure the true economic impact of incarceration rates in rural areas. Vera Institute: In Our Backyards × Many of our initial grantees are focused on data gathering, research and analysis. We’re now also investing in organizations working on systemic solutions. For example, we’re supporting the Leadership Conference Education Fund with a $2 million grant to bolster their effort to help more law enforcement jurisdictions work with community groups, who are a critical partner in policing. The Leadership Conference has a well-known track record in this area, and they will help establish best practices that lead to more constitutional policing, less crime, and more trust and accountability. Our $500,000 grant to the R Street Institute’s Justice for Work Coalition will support their efforts aimed to bring bipartisan support for criminal justice reform and to reduce barriers to employment following incarceration. We’ll also continue to multiply the impact of our grants with skills-based volunteer support from Googlers. Just last month, 10 Google software engineers and data scientists volunteered with Google.org grantee the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) on a full-time basis for six weeks in New York. These 10 Googlers helped build and improve CPE’s National Justice Database, the nation’s first-ever database tracking national statistics on policing. They also built software, audited tools, and improved automation efforts to help CPE better process and analyze the reports they send to partner police departments. Googler Austin Swift, a lead on the CPE Impact Immersion, rides along with an officer to understand his efforts to implement community-informed policing. This isn't the only time we've teamed up Googler volunteers with grantees. Earlier this year, we helped the Equal Justice Initiative launch Lynching in America, an interactive site that explores this difficult time in U.S. history. More than 200 Googlers have volunteered in grantee Defy Ventures' prison and post-release programs for aspiring business owners, known as Entrepreneurs-in-Traini[...]



A merry mobile holiday with Google ShoppingA merry mobile holiday with Google ShoppingProduct Management Director

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0000

In those spare moments between basting the turkey, assembling gingerbread houses, and planning your ugly-sweater party, you might find yourself reaching for your phone to research holiday gifts you still need to buy. You’re not alone: With information readily available at the swipe of a finger, holiday shoppers are doing more research before buying than ever before. Indeed, Black Friday searches containing “best” have more than doubled over the past two years on mobile. People are also scrutinizing products from every angle, including the packaging—mobile watchtime of unboxing videos is equivalent to watching “Love Actually” over 20 million times!Before you head “over the river and through the woods” to deliver your presents this season, we’re introducing improvements to mobile shopping experiences on Google that’ll help you browse, research, compare, and get the items crossed off your holiday gift list. What’s hot on the list this year  As always, there's a new crop of gifts climbing the trends chart. Here's a look at popular searches going into Black Friday: Classic apparel brands like Vans, Canada Goose and Nike Air Jordan Retro 11Celebrity-backed products like Kevin Durant’s Nike KD 10, Pharrell x adidas and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Gifts for gamers, including Razer phones, Nintendo Switch, and Call of Duty WW2Get the shopping scoop in a snap To help you search for gifts on the go, we recently redesigned mobile shopping on Google, bringing more product information to the forefront. Click the “Quick View” button in the Google Shopping ad to preview details like a bigger image, product description, reviews and seller rating—and to see if you can score a good deal by checking if it’s on sale. If you see an item that’s almost perfect but not quite what you want, scroll down to view visually similar or related products underneath, or to discover more products from the same brands or retailers. More quickly and easily research, compare and narrow down your gift optionsWe know you’ve got limited time and lots of gifts to buy. Knowing that researching items and comparing prices are two of the most common mobile shopping activities, we recently introduced enhancements to the knowledge panel on Google.com to help you quickly find product photos, videos, reviews, descriptions and more. To help you further narrow down your options and give you deeper insight into potential purchases, we’re now showing buying guides on Google for broad categories (like sewing machines or coffee grinders). Also, when you search for a specific product, Google.com now shows you other helpful information, like related items, and allows you to compare reviews, prices and other specs, side by side. And if you’re searching for tech gadgets, we’ll help ensure that you're looking at the latest and greatest. You’ll now see a label alerting you there’s a “newer model available” if you're browsing last year’s product. Shop by voice with the Google Assistant As much as we try to plan ahead, procrastination happens. If you find yourself looking for something at the last minute, try using your Google Assistant to see where you can purchase needed items nearby by saying “Ok Google, where can I buy…”, or to get it sent right to your doorstep by saying “Ok Google, buy…”. Heading into the holidays, we see people with a Google Home device—which enables voice shopping with the Google Assistant—are using their voice to most frequently buy or add everyday essentials like pa[...]


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Experimenting with VR at the South China Morning PostExperimenting with VR at the South China Morning PostNews Lab Lead, APAC

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:50:00 +0000

Having spent my pre-Google career as a reporter and editor at legacy media organizations, I can tell you that digital transformation in the news industry is challenging. Even when news organizations have the will, resources and technical expertise, the obstacles to transformation can be daunting.In Asia, few news organization have plunged headlong into digital transformation like South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s top English-language daily newspaper. With a daily weekday circulation of roughly 105K, SCMP is a midsize paper, but its language and geography give it outsized influence.For more than a century, SCMP has been documenting Greater China for the English-speaking diaspora across Asia-Pacific. Before the internet, expatriates and visitors would pick up the paper, sometimes days old, on airplanes and in hotels across the region. For those living in mainland China (like I did in the 1990s), the paper offered a window into the place where they lived, from a familiar yet discrete vantage point.Now, SCMP uses the web to reach the growing global community of readers interested in news about China, and experiment with new methods of storytelling along the way. After its purchase by Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma in 2016, the newspaper suddenly had a mandate to evolve, and was given the runway and resources to experiment.“Culture and identity are massively important when you are trying to turn around a 114-year-old company … until you have a company that is ready to experiment, willing to fail, and able to move with agility … you can talk all day long about transformation and where you’re heading but you’ll never get there,” said SCMP CEO Gary Liu in an interview with Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Policy.That entrepreneurial spirit led SCMP to take on an immersive virtual reality project that would trace the history of Hong Kong from British rule to the present day, mining a century’s worth of archival photos and illustrations and presenting them alongside modern-day 360-degree video and drone footage. The project was Google News Lab's first immersive storytelling partnership in the Asia-Pacific region, part of the team’s broader effort to accelerate immersive storytelling across the news industry. “It had to be big, bold, and beautiful—and leverage new formats, technologies and platforms to tell the story,” according to SCMP online editor Brett McKeehan, who helmed the project and talked about the process at a recent Google News Lab event. In order to make the project accessible to as many readers as possible, especially in the smartphone-dominant Asian market, the SCMP team built a responsive website that was optimized for mobile, tablet and desktop. Animations of 3D Google Earth imagery helped to tell the story and orient the reader across time and space throughout the piece. One of Hong Kong’s wettest Junes in history. They set a deadline to complete the project within two months—an eternity for a newspaper used to daily deadlines. “What can’t you do in two months? What could possibly go wrong? Two months—I thought, we could do anything in two months,” McKeehan said. Shooting and production schedules were set, everyone was ready to go…And then it rained. And rained and rained—for six straight weeks—one of Hong Kong’s wettest Junes in history. While it rained, the Hong Kong government changed its drone restrictions, rendering certain planned shots illegal. Meanwhile, SCMP’s developer team of three learned how to build, for the first time, a responsive HTML webfr[...]


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Defying gravity: an epic stunt at the Guggenheim BilbaoDefying gravity: an epic stunt at the Guggenheim BilbaoProgram Manager, Google Arts & Culture

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0000

When the Guggenheim Bilbao museum opened 20 years ago it was described by many as a starship from outer space. Its swirling roof is made of paper-thin titanium tiles—33,000 of them—covering the building like fish scales. At the time, it was such a novelty that the museum had to commission a chemical laboratory to produce a custom liquid to clean the titanium! Guggenheim Bilbao (photo by Trashhand) The museum was an unusual experiment not just because of its gleaming shell. Over two decades ago, following the collapse of the traditional industries Bilbao was built on, the city was scarred with industrial wastelands, abandoned factories, and a community afflicted by unemployment and social tensions. Bilbao surprised the world (and raised a few eyebrows) with a unique idea to kickstart the city's regeneration, and they set out to build—not new factories or new roads—but instead a new center for modern art.Since then, the museum has attracted 19 million visitors and became the epicenter of the urban renewal that rippled through Bilbao. Today it stands as an icon of the city and its successful self-transformation. To celebrate the Guggenheim's 20th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture partnered with the museum to bring their stories to you and show it from a new angle.But how do you find a new angle on one of the world's most photographed buildings? Google invited Johan Tonnoir—known for running and jumping across Paris's busy rooftops with only a pair of sturdy shoes—to the Guggenheim. Bending Gravity at the Museum Guggenheim Bilbao × Johan explored the building in his own way … through a breathtaking stunt-run across the building and its iconic slippery roof. He climbed to the highest peak and jumped, flipped and leapt from one wing of the roof to the other at 50 meters high. And all along, urban photographer Trashhand from Chicago followed him with his lens.Check out the museum’s masterpieces on Google Arts & Culture (but please don't try to do it Johan's way…). You can see all this online at g.co/guggenheimbilbao or in the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android.[...]Guggenheim Bilbao opens its world famous roof for an epic birthday stunt by free runner Johan Tonnoir.


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Investing £1 million in training for computing teachers in the U.K.Investing £1 million in training for computing teachers in the U.K.Head of Computer Science Education Programs, UK & Africa

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000

Advancing our students’ understanding of the principles and practices of computing is critical to developing a competitive workforce for the 21st century.In every field, businesses of all sizes are looking to hire people who understand computing, so we need more students to leave school confident in skills like coding, computational thinking, machine learning and cybersecurity.The U.K. has already led the way in preparing for this future by making computer science education a part of the school curriculum in 2014. But we know there is more to do to ensure young people in every community have access to world-class computer science education. A recent report from the Royal Society found that despite the good progress in recent years, only 11 percent of Key Stage 4 pupils take GCSE computer science. The majority of teachers are teaching an unfamiliar school subject without adequate support. These teachers are eager to offer computer science to their students but they need access to subject area training to build their confidence.The U.K. government’s announcement that they’re investing £100 million for an additional 8,000 computer science teachers supported by a new National Centre for Computing is an encouraging step forward. It builds on the progress that’s been made since computing was added to the curriculum in 2014 by helping to ensure teachers have the specialist training and support they need to educate the next generation of British computer scientists.We want to continue to play our part too. Today we're announcing £1 million in grants to support training for secondary school computing teachers in the U.K.The Google.org grant will allow the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the British Computer Society and the National STEM Learning Centre to deliver free computer science and pedagogy training for thousands of key stage 3 and key stage 4 teachers in England over three years, with a specific focus on disadvantaged areas. A Raspberry Pi and Google teacher training workshop in Leeds, U.K. Through this effort, they will make make online courses and professional development resources available to teachers anywhere, anytime, for free, and deliver free in-person workshops for teachers across the country.Googlers care deeply about helping to develop our future computer scientists, and many of them will give their time and skills to this program. A team of Google engineers and learning and development specialists will volunteer with Raspberry Pi to ensure that all teachers are able to access the online resources and courses. This grant is part of Google’s long-standing commitment to computer science education. Through Google.org, we’ve given nearly $40 million to organizations around the globe ensuring that traditionally underrepresented students have access to opportunities to explore computer science. In the U.K., we also support teacher recruitment and professional development by teaming up with organizations like Teach First and University of Wolverhampton, and we focus on inspiring more children, especially girls and those from disadvantaged areas, to take up computing through Code Club UK after-school clubs. CS education and computational thinking skills are key to the future, and we’re committed to supporting Raspberry Pi—and other organizations like them—to ensure teachers and young people have the skills they’ll need to succeed.[...]



How Sweden’s Oxievång School helps teachers navigate the journey to the “learning island”How Sweden’s Oxievång School helps teachers navigate the journey to the “learning island”Principal

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000

Editor’s note: Google has just completed its first-ever Google for Education Study Tour, bringing nearly 100 educators from 12 countries around Europe to Lund, Sweden, to share ideas on innovating within their systems and creating an environment that embraces innovation.. One of the highlights of the two-day event was a visit to Oxievång School in Malmö, where principal Jenny Nyberg has led their adoption of technology in the classroom. Below, Jenny explains how to support teachers during a period of technology adoption. When we’re introducing new technology for our classrooms, I tell my teachers to imagine the ultimate goal as an island we all have to swim toward. Some of us are very fast swimmers, and we’ll figure out how to get to the island quickly, and even get around any sharks. Some of us are slow swimmers, and may be hesitant to jump in, but the strong swimmers will show us the way (and how to get around the sharks). Eventually, we all have to jump into the water.Bringing tech-based personalized learning into the classrooms at Oxievång School was our “island” and we’ve all completed the journey, which was particularly important given that our school, like the city of Malmö itself, is a mix of different people with varying needs. We have immigrant students as well as native Swedes; 40 percent of our students speak Swedish as their second language. But all students can  become strong learners when teachers discover what motivates and excites them. When we adopted G Suite for education, our “fast-swimmer” teachers showed their colleagues how they could now customize learning for each and every student. Jenny Nyberg during school visit As school leaders, my vice principals and I served as role models for using G Suite— not just for teaching, but for making our jobs easier too. We showed teachers how to use Google Sites to store information we needed every day, like staff policies and forms. We walked teachers through the Google Docs tools that allow them to comment on student work immediately rather than waiting to receive homework from students, and giving feedback much later. When teachers saw this in action, they understood how adopting G Suite was going to make a big difference for their teaching effectiveness and their productivity.If you want teachers to become enthusiastic about using new technology, they need to be confident in their use of the new technology. For this, you have to give them support.  So we hired a digital learning educator who works exclusively with teachers to help them build up their technology skills. Every teacher receives a personalized development plan with a list of resources for training.Our students have become more engaged in their coursework as teachers have become better at using Google technology to personalize learning. If students are curious about a subject, they can use their Chromebooks and G Suite tools to further explore the topic on their own. They also interact with teachers more often, even using Hangouts to meet with teachers outside of the classroom. As teachers become more confident, their enthusiasm spreads to the students. One of the stations included students demonstrating robots they programmed with their Chromebooks Once we give teachers basic training, we keep supporting them so that the transformation spreads throughout the school. When they need extra help with using G Suite, teachers know where to find it: they can schedule a meeting with the digital learning educator. We have team[...]


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Fact-checking the French election: lessons from CrossCheck, a collaborative effort to combat misinformationFact-checking the French election: lessons from CrossCheck, a collaborative effort to combat misinformationGoogle News Lab Lead, France

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:45:00 +0000

Nine months ago, 37 newsrooms worked together to combat misinformation in the run-up to the French Presidential election. Organized by First Draft, and supported by the Google News Lab, CrossCheck launched a virtual newsroom, where fact-checkers collaborated to verify disputed online content and share fact-checked information back to the public. The initiative was a part of the News Lab’s broader effort to help journalists curb the spread of misinformation during important cultural and political moments. With a recent study finding that nearly 25% of all news stories about the French Presidential election shared on social media were fake, it was important for French newsrooms to work closely together to combat misinformation in a timely fashion. Yesterday at our office in Paris, alongside many of the newsrooms who took part in the initiative, we released a report on the project produced by academics from the University of Toulouse and Grenoble Alpes University. The report explored the impact the project had on the newsrooms and journalists involved, and the general public.   A few themes emerged from the report:Accuracy in reporting rises above competition. While news organizations operate in a highly competitive landscape, there was broad agreement that “debunking work should not be competitive” and should be “considered a public service." That spirit was echoed by the willingness of 100 journalists to work together and share information for ten weeks leading up to Election Day. Many of the journalists talked about the sense of pride they felt doing this work together. As one journalist put it, “debunking fake news is not a scoop.”    The initiative helped spread best practices around verification for journalists. Journalists interviewed for the report discussed the value of the news skills the picked up around fact-checking, image verification, and video authentication—and the lasting impact that would have on their work. One journalist noted, “I strengthened my reflexes, I progressed in my profession, in fact-checking, and gained efficiency and speed working with user generated content.” Efforts to ensure accuracy in reporting are important for news consumers. The project resonated with many news consumers who saw the effort as independent, impartial and credible (reinforced by the number of news organizations that participated). By the end of the election, the CrossCheck blog hit nearly 600,000 page views, had roughly 5K followers on Twitter and 180K followers on Facebook (where its videos amassed 1.2 million views). As one news reader noted, "many people around me were convinced that a particular piece of misinformation was true before I demonstrated the opposite to them. This changed how they voted.”You can learn more about the News Lab’s efforts to work with the news industry to increase trust and fight misinformation here.Over the course of the French election, Google supported CrossCheck, a virtual newsroom, where fact-checkers collaborated to verify disputed online content and share fact-checked information back to the public.[...]



‘Tis the season to Fi it Forward‘Tis the season to Fi it ForwardProduct Manager

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:40:00 +0000

With the season for giving right around the corner, we’re excited to kick off the Fi it Forward referral challenge. The challenge is rolling out today starting on desktop.


Like our last referral challenge, participants will earn prizes for the referrals they make throughout the challenge. In the Fi it Forward challenge, you can win up to two hardware gifts when you refer friends to Project Fi: a Google Chromecast and the new Android One moto x4.


But we’re most excited about our opportunity to pay it forward with our third gift. At the end of the challenge, Project Fi will donate $50,000 to the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC). We’re thrilled to see organizations like the ITDRC harness the power of communications technology to make a meaningful difference in crisis response and recovery, and we’re grateful to come together as a community to support their initiatives. Project Fi users don’t have to take any action to participate in the community gift—you’re already supporting the ITDRC’s disaster relief efforts just by being a part of Project Fi.


Ready to get started?. Remember to enter the challenge and get your referrals in by December 17. We can’t wait to Fi it Forward with all of you this holiday season.

(image) We’re excited to kick off the Fi it Forward referral challenge, with hardware gifts for participants and a $50,000 donation to the ITDRC.



Lights, shadows and silhouettes by #teampixelLights, shadows and silhouettes by #teampixelTeam Pixel

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:00:00 +0000

Shadows don’t always have to be scary—they can be downright magical. This week, #teampixel is sharing everything from a solitary lemon’s shadow to palm trees silhouetted against a vivid sky in Venice, CA. Come chase shadows with us and see what you find.If you’d like to be featured on @google and The Keyword, tag your Pixel photos with #teampixel and you might see yourself next. Pixel_1116_.jpg Left: james_4388 - palm tree silhouettes in Venice, CA. Right: Lkkben - shadowing a game in Singapore Pixel_1116_2.jpg davidhorneman - caught in a sea of lights Pixel_1116_3.jpg Left: prokopakis_ - Athens Olympic Sports Complex. Right: sidgoswami - a spark of madness Pixel_1116_4.jpg Left: Wanderingislemissionpic - a lemon and its shadow. Right: phoolandevi_ - shadow play in Jaipur, Rajasthan Pixel_1116_5.jpg rhyslawsn - soggy sandals and socks in British Columbia [...]This week we’re chasing #teampixel through the dark and into the light.


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7 ways the Assistant can help you get ready for Turkey Day7 ways the Assistant can help you get ready for Turkey DayThe Google Assistant Team

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 20:00:00 +0000

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and, as always, your Google Assistant is ready to help. So while the turkey cooks and the family gathers, here are some questions to ask your Assistant. 

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  • Show up to dinner on time: “Ok Google, how’s traffic?”
  • Prepare accordingly: “Ok Google, set a turkey timer for 4 hours.”
  • And don’t forget dessert: “Ok Google, add apple pie and pumpkin pie to my shopping list”
  • Play a game while you wait for turkey: “Ok Google, play Thanksgiving Mad Libs” 
  • Hear a funny tale: “Ok Google, tell me a turkey story” 
  • Learn something new: “Ok Google, give me a fun fact about Thanksgiving”
  • When Thanksgiving’s over, get ready for the next occasion:  “Ok Google, play holiday music” 

Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

(image) Thanksgiving is just a few days away and, as always, your Google Assistant is ready to help.



Developing a VR game in just two weeksDeveloping a VR game in just two weeksProduct Manager

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:00:00 +0000

Earlier this year, 3D modeler Jarlan Perez joined the Blocks team for a two-week sprint. The goal of his time with the team was to create a fully immersive virtual reality game in just two weeks using Blocks and Unreal Engine, two tools that have significantly influenced his process as a modeler and game enthusiast.The result was “Blocks Isle,” the first level of a game that takes you on a journey to find your long lost friend in a sci-fi land of wonder. To win, you must solve a puzzle using hidden clues and interactions throughout the experience. You start out on a strange desert island. After uncovering some clues and pulling a handy lever, a rocky pathway opens for exploration. Up ahead, hidden radios and books reveal clues to solve the puzzle. Initial steps to get onto Blocks Isle. Levers and teleportation immerse the user in a new world. Solving the puzzle on Blocks Isle We caught up with Jarlan to hear more about his process and advice for other developers building immersive experiences using Blocks and Unreal Engine 4.Brittany: Tell us about using Blocks and Unreal to develop a game in such a short amount of time.Jarlan: Tag teaming both pieces of software worked very well! Blocks allowed me to visualize and be in the space during the modeling and conceptual phase. Unreal is like giving an artist magical powers: I’m able to fully build a proof of concept and implement functionality without having to be a professional programmer.I found myself spending part of the day in Blocks experimenting with concepts and the rest in Unreal creating basic functionality for those ideas. This method allowed for rapid prototyping and was later beneficial when populating the space with art assets. Basic prototype in Unreal What tips and tricks did you uncover that made it easy to build your game?Being able to build large parts of the environment while standing smack dab in the middle of it is wonderful. A big thing that I found myself doing is blowing the scene up to actual size, standing in it, and using a combination of the move grip and me moving my arms back and forth to simulate walking within the space. It helped me further understand how I wanted the player to navigate the space and where certain things needed to be placed. Again all within Blocks and no code. Simulating walking through the experience in Blocks, as part of the creation process Another general tip, the snap trigger is your friend! I’ve used it for most of my modeling in Blocks to snap and place assets. Using Blocks’ snapping feature to align shapes in the environment How did you experiment with different ideas and concepts?I had a few different concepts when I started the project. Blocks allowed me to quickly build a mock up of each for testing.Blocks is an amazing tool for spatial prototyping. Before bringing a scene into Unreal, I’d [...]


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The High Five: our searches go on, and onThe High Five: our searches go on, and onManaging Editor

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:55:00 +0000

Turkey, “Titanic” and the pope’s new ride were on our minds this week. Here are a few of the week’s top search trends, with data from the Google News Lab.

Almost time for turkey

As people in the U.S. prepare to gather around the table for Thanksgiving next week, our Thanksgiving insights page has all the trends. Pumpkin pie dominates searches in the U.S., but pecan pie is more popular in the southeast and apple pie is the state favorite in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. A smoked turkey is popular in most states, though some contend it should be roasted, fried or grilled. And Friendsgiving continues to rise in popularity, with searches like “friendsgiving ideas,” “friendsgiving invitations” and “friendsgiving games.”

We’ll never let go

Two decades ago, “Titanic” left an iceberg-sized hole in our hearts, and now it’s coming back to theaters in honor of its 20-year anniversary. In the years since its debut, search interest in “Titanic” reached its highest point globally in April 2012 when Titanic in 3D was released. All this talk of sinking ships made us think about other famous boats—the top searched shipwrecks this week include the Batavia, the Edmund Fitzgerald and the USS Indianapolis.

Hot wheels

The “popemobile” got an upgrade this week. Lamborghini gifted the pope a special edition luxury car, which he decided to auction off for charity. Though the pope is known for his affinity for Fiats, interest in “Pope Lamborghini” zoomed 190 percent higher than “Pope Fiat.” People also searched to find out, “Why did the Lamborghini company give the pope a car?” and “How much does the Lamborghini that they gave the pope cost?”

That’s a foul

Searches for “UCLA basketball players” shot 330 percent higher this week when three players returned home after being arrested for shoplifting while on tour with the team in China. The search queries dribbled in: “How long are the UCLA players suspended for?” “Why did China let the UCLA players go?” and “What were the UCLA players stealing?”

All about the music

With hits like “Despacito” and “Mi Gente” taking over the globe this year, the Latin Grammys last night were a hot ticket. People searched “How to watch the Latin Grammy awards online,” “What time are the Latin Grammy awards on?” and “How does music qualify for a Latin Grammy award?” Of the nominees for Record of the Year, “Despacito,” “Guerra,” and “Felices Los 4” were the most searched.

(image) Check out what’s trending on Google with a look at a few of the top searches from this week.


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An AI Resident at work: Suhani Vora and her work on genomicsAn AI Resident at work: Suhani Vora and her work on genomicsGoogle AI Residency Program

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:10:00 +0000

Suhani Vora is a bioengineer, aspiring (and self-taught) machine learning expert, SNES Super Mario World ninja, and Google AI Resident. This means that she’s part of a 12-month research training program designed to jumpstart a career in machine learning. Residents, who are paired with Google AI mentors to work on research projects according to their interests, apply machine learning to their expertise in various backgrounds—from computer science to epidemiology.I caught up with Suhani to hear more about her work as an AI Resident, her typical day, and how AI can help transform the field of genomics. Phing: How did you get into machine learning research?Suhani: During graduate school, I worked on engineering CRISPR/Cas9 systems, which enable a wide range of research on genomes. And though I was working with the most efficient tools available for genome editing, I knew we could make progress even faster.One important factor was our limited ability to predict what novel biological designs would work. Each design cycle, we were only using very small amounts of previously collected data and relied on individual interpretation of that data to make design decisions in the lab.By failing to incorporate more powerful computational methods to make use of big data and aid in the design process, it was affecting our ability to make progress quickly. Knowing that machine learning methods would greatly accelerate the speed of scientific discovery, I decided to work on finding ways to apply machine learning to my own field of genetic engineering. I reached out to researchers in the field, asking how best to get started. A Googler I knew suggested I take the machine learning course by Andrew Ng on Coursera (could not recommend it more highly), so I did that. I’ve never had more fun learning! I had also started auditing an ML course at MIT, and reading papers on deep learning applications to problems in genomics. Ultimately, I took the plunge and and ended up joining the Residency program after finishing grad school.  Tell us about your role at Google, and what you’re working on right now.I’m a cross-disciplinary deep learning researcher—I research, code, and experiment with deep learning models to explore their applicability to problems in genomics.In the same way that we use machine learning models to predict the objects are present in an image (think: searching for your dogs in Google Photos), I research ways we can build neural networks to automatically predict the properties of a DNA sequence. This has all kinds of applications, like predicting whether a DNA mutation will cause cancer, or is benign.What’s a typical day like for you?On any given day, I’m writing code to process new genomics data, or creating a neural network in TensorFlow to model the data. Right now, a lot of my time is spent troubleshooting such models.I also spend time chatting with fellow Residents, or a member of the TensorFlow team, to get their expertise on the experiments or code I’m writing. This could include a meeting with my two mentors, Mark DePristo and Quoc Le, top researchers in the field of machine learning who regularly provide invaluable guidance for developing the neural network models I’m interested in. IMG_20171109_134038.png Suhani heads to the whiteboard. [...]