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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: Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:00:00 +0000


Get on the same page: new Google Docs features power team collaborationGet on the same page: new Google Docs features power team collaborationProduct Manager

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Getting people on the same page for a project can be tough. It requires managing a ton of opinions and suggestions. The last thing you should have to worry about is making sure your team is literally working on the same document. That’s why we built our powerful real-time editing tools to help with this—Google Docs, Sheets and Slides—so that teams can work together at the same time, using the most up-to-date version.Today, we're introducing new updates to better help with "version control," to customize tools for your workflows, and to help teams locate information when they need it.Track changes, make progressIt can take dozens of edits to make a document just right—especially a legal agreement, project proposal or research paper. These new updates in Docs let you more easily track your team’s changes. Now, your team can:Name versions of a Doc, Sheet or Slide. Being able to assign custom names to versions of your document is a great way to keep a historical record of your team's progress. It's also helpful for communicating when a document is actually final. You can organize and track your team’s changes in one place under “Version history” (formerly known as “Revision history”) on the web. Select File > Version history > Name current version. For even quicker recall, there’s an option to select “Only show named versions” in Docs, Sheets or Slides. Preview “clean versions” of Docs to see what your Doc looks like without comments or suggested edits. Select Tools > Review suggested edits > Preview accept all OR Preview reject all.Accept or reject all edit suggestions at once in your Doc so your team doesn’t have to review every single punctuation mark or formatting update. Select Tools > Review suggested edits > Accept all OR Reject all.Suggest changes in a Doc from an Android, iPhone or iPad device. Click the three dots menu in the bottom right of your Doc screen to suggest edits on-the-go. Turn on the “Suggest changes” toggle and start typing in “suggestion mode.”Compare documents and review redlines instantly with Litera Change-Pro or Workshare Add-ons in Docs. Here's a quick way to preview and accept all changes (or reject them) and name versions of your document Use new templates, add-on time-saving functionalityTeams use templates in Docs and Sheets to save time on formatting. At the same time, developers are building add-ons to customize functionality. We thought, why not bring these two together? That’s why today, we’re introducing new templates with built-in add-ons and the ability to create your own, so your templates not only look good—but they make sure the work gets done.These templates allow you to customize and deploy tools specific to your organization’s workflows. We’ve launched five examples of this in the general template gallery, like the new Mutual Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) template from LegalZoom and DocuSign. With this template, businesses can quickly create an NDA and collect signatures using the DocuSign Add-on for Docs. Bonus: it also automatically detects the required signature fields on the template, which saves even more time when you request signatures. This is just one of a few new templates—we’ve also worked with Lucidchart, PandaDoc, EasyBib and Supermetrics to help you save time and maximize efficiency throughout your team’s workflows.In addition, you can also create your very own template with built-in Add-on customized to your company’s workflows. For example, create a Sheets template paired with an add-on to gather internal approvals or an invoice template in Docs (paired with an add-on) that pulls information from your CRM system. The new mutual NDA template from LegalZoom and DocuSign lets you collect NDA approvals stat. Find the information you need, when you need itSometimes the hardest part of creating a proposal[...]

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All your questions answered on Google Maps and SearchAll your questions answered on Google Maps and SearchAssociate Product Manager, Google Maps

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:00:00 +0000

When deciding where to go and what to do, we often ask ourselves lots of questions before making a decision. Soon, you'll be able to ask those questions, get the answers you need, and even answer other people’s questions about places on Google Maps for Android and mobile Search.

To ask or answer a question—or read the existing questions and answers about a place—simply search for the location on Google Maps or Search and open the local business listing. Then scroll down to the “Question & answers” section where you can add a question, answer someone else’s question, or upvote informative ones by tapping the thumbs up icon. Upvoted questions and answers will appear toward the top of the section so that the most helpful content is most accessible.


To make sure “Questions & answers” contains the most accurate and useful local info possible, business owners can add frequently asked questions and answers as well. In addition, when you ask a question about a place, we notify the business owner and other in-the-know users to see if they have knowledgeable answers to contribute. When your question is answered, we notify you too.

No matter where you’re headed or what you’re looking to do, Google Maps and Search highlights the information you need to make quick decisions and discover the world around you.

*This feature is rolling out to Google Maps and mobile Search users worldwide. 

(image) Ask questions about places you want to visit and answer questions about the places you know

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Meet the fifth grader turning water bottles into light bulbs to brighten communitiesMeet the fifth grader turning water bottles into light bulbs to brighten communities

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Schools in Latin America and around the world are searching for ways to take student impact beyond the classroom. In Mexico, we wanted to explore how teachers and students are using technology to empower a rising generation of innovative changemakers—and this week, we’re sharing some of the stories we found. Tune into the hashtag #innovarparami to see how education leaders in Latin America are thinking about innovation.Twelve-year-old Bryan Gonzalez was traveling through a neighborhood near his school when the unlit windows of several homes caught his attention. When his parents and teachers explained to him that those homes lacked electricity, he started to search for information about access to lighting in communities in Mexico and around the globe. His research led him to discover that nearly 15 percent of the world’s population lives without light.Believing that every community deserves access to commodities as basic as lighting, Bryan decided to turn his annual school science project into a mission to defeat darkness. With the support of his peers, teachers and parents, Bryan began to brainstorm sustainable, affordable methods to illuminate the world around him.His solution? Converting water bottles into light bulbs! Bryan recently implemented his prototype in the field for the first time, and we captured the experience as he began to install his homemade light bulbs in the very houses that had initially inspired him to take on his project. In the moments after Bryan installed his lightbulbs, community members began to process the impact of Bryan’s invention. Families reflected on the difficulties inherent in relying on candlelight to assist kids with homework, the daily pressure to finish working by sunset because no work could get done in the dark, and what unlit houses and streets meant for the physical safety of children and parents alike. “Things are going to be different now. This 12-year-old boy has changed this family’s life,” said Doña Sofía, a mother and grandmother, as she embraced him. This image was captured just moments after Doña Sofía’s house had lighting for the very first time, thanks to Bryan’s efforts. Seeing his efforts materialize into real-world impact has been extremely gratifying for Bryan, but he knows this is just the beginning. As Bryan sets his eyes on new horizons, he hopes to start inspiring other young people around the world to implement the prototype in homes that lack electricity in their own communities. Your age doesn’t matter. Your idea does. Bryan Bryan’s definition of innovation is “finding creative ways to help a community solve their problems.” Follow the hashtag #innovarparami to see how other people are defining—and cultivating—innovation.[...]Believing that every community deserves access to commodities as basic as lighting, 12-year-old Bryan decided to turn his annual school science project into a mission to defeat darkness.

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There’s no place like home, in Google EarthThere’s no place like home, in Google EarthProgram Manager

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:00:00 +0000

When you opened Google Earth for the very first time, where did you go? For most people there's a common destination: Home. The definition of "home" changes by country, culture and climate. So as part of the relaunch of Google Earth back in April, we introduced This is Home, an interactive tour to five traditional homes around the world. You could step inside the colorful home of Kancha Sherpa in Nepal, or head to the desert and learn how an extended drought changed the lives of the Bedouin people. Since then, we’ve traveled to dozens more homes across six continents and today we’re bringing 22 new homes and cultures to explore in Google Earth. This is Ngaramat Loongito, Kenya, home to a Maasai community. Photo courtesy of Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust Start with a Torajan home, built to withstand Indonesia’s wet season. Then head to Fujian Province, China, to peek inside the immense walls the Hakka people built to keep away bandits, beasts and warlords. See the shape-shifting yurt homes Mongolian country-dwellers use to move where their herds roam. Visit a village on Madagascar’s southwest coast where the Vezo people live off the third largest coral reef system in the world. Finally, see how a Paiwan shaman has integrated her spirituality into the walls of her home in Taiwan. To tell these stories, we worked with partners and communities to digitally preserve homes of different cultures in Street View. Many of these homes belong to indigenous people, such as The Garasia people of India, the Chatino people of Mexico, the Torajan people of Indonesia, and the Māori people of New Zealand. Their homes represent their unique cultural identity and ways of relating to the environment. This is Emchiin Uveljee, Mongolia. Family member Buyansanaa stands amidst a sea of livestock outside their yurt home, built to fit with their nomadic lifestyle. This is Sanikiluaq, Canada. Inuit educator, Lisi Kavik, stands outside the community’s learning igloo, where she shares stories and traditions from her ancestors. When built correctly, an igloo can support the weight of a person standing on the roof. This is Tjuvecekadan, Taiwan: Tjuku, the community’s shaman, stands outside her home made from the local slate stones. This is Chengqilou, Fujian Province, China: Jiang Youyu is one of a dwindling number of people to live inside the immense, circular walls the Hakka people built to keep bandits, beasts and warlords out of their homes. [...]

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Achoo! Watch out for seasonal sniffles with pollen forecasts on GoogleAchoo! Watch out for seasonal sniffles with pollen forecasts on GoogleAssociate Product Manager

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:00:00 +0000

While most of you out there are enjoying the dog days of summer, some are bracing themselves for the fall allergy season that’s right around the corner. In fact, one in five Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Across the U.S., we see that search interest for allergies spikes each year in April and May and then again in September. To help you get ahead of your seasonal allergies symptoms, now when you search on mobile for pollen or allergy information on Google, you’ll see useful at-a-glance details on pollen levels in your area.

To make the most up-to-date and accurate information available, we’ve worked with The Weather Channel to integrate their pollen index and forecast data information directly into Google. To see more pollen and allergy details, you can tap the link within the pollen experience.


In addition, when the pollen count in your area is particularly high, you can receive reminders in the Google app. To opt in to these notifications, just search for pollen levels, pollen forecast or a similar query on Google, then tap “turn on” when prompted.

With this pollen info, you can better understand and prepare your seasonal allergy symptoms. Stop sneezing and go out and enjoy those fall colors!

(image) Now when you search for pollen or allergy information on Google, you’ll see useful at-a-glance details on pollen levels in your area to help you better manage your seasonal allergies.

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Around the Globe - Improved Operations for Girl Scouts JapanAround the Globe - Improved Operations for Girl Scouts JapanGoogle for Nonprofits

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:00:00 +0000

For this segment of G4NP Around the Globe, we’re highlighting Girl Scouts of Japan: a nonprofit that supports more than 30,000 young women across the country with its vibrant community and empowering programs. With such a large network of members, the nonprofit needed technology to effectively keep members updated on events, ensure personal information stays secure, and manage their Local Council’s communications. The suite of tools provided by Google for Nonprofits has allowed Girl Scouts of Japan to improve their productivity and increase their member base, giving them more time to focus on supporting young women.  Operations - G Suite GSuite has helped Girl Scouts of Japan operate more efficiently and provide a positive experience for their members. More than 7,000 attendees signed up through Google Forms for e-learning programs about safety procedures before they headed off on a scouting adventure. Google Sheets helped the chapter to quickly access and organize this data. And by migrating to Gmail, the nonprofit feels secure with their custom Google privacy settings and the tool’s ability to weed out spam and malware.Girl Scouts of Japan has also used technology to revolutionize a central component of the global Girl Scout organization: badges. Typically, Girl Scouts can earn woven badges for their vests by completing tasks or trainings. With the help of Google tools, Girl Scouts of Japan has created an interesting twist to this tradition: using Forms to create quizzes on their Google Site and reward women with digital badges.  Furthermore, the nonprofit creates engaging content with Google Sites and shares their manuals and materials on Google Drive so each Local Council can always access the most updated trainings. With G Suite scaled to the entire organization, the nonprofit seamlessly keeps all communications and information safely stored in one place—allowing them to spend less time handling administrative tasks, and more freedom to plan engaging events. Girl Scouts Japan - Virtual Tour of WAGGGS World Centers Visibility - Google AdGrants, YouTube, Google MapsGirl Scouts of Japan recognized an opportunity to connect with their young target audience by building a strong online presence. Ad Grants helps them reach new members with over 3,000 monthly visitors to their site—a 500% increase in just two months. To further enhance their online engagement, the nonprofit created a YouTube channel to showcase their thriving community and impactful programs with original content. Their videos showcase the strength of their community and the empowering programs they provide. And with Google Maps, members can easily find events happening nearby, resulting in over 18,000 views about event information.Lastly, to spread awareness and encourage women to get involved, Girl Scouts of Japan uses Google Earth to provide a global view of their expansive network. Using instructions from Earth Outreach tutorials, they created this Virtual Tour to share with members to encourage a global perspective and community of Girl Scouts.From G Suite to YouTube, Girl Scouts of Japan has successfully harnessed the power of technology to cultivate a strong community of women who support each other and grow together. Read the full story by visiting our Community Stories page on our Google for Nonprofits site.//To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.Footnote:  Statements are provided by Nonpr[...]

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Chillax, it’s National Relaxation Day!Chillax, it’s National Relaxation Day!Chief Relaxation Officer

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:00:00 +0000

Even though the calendar says it’s only Tuesday, we say it’s time to kick back and relax. After all, National Relaxation Day comes but once a year! And if you’re like the 44% of Americans who feel more stressed than they did five years ago, you may be in need of a break. To help you unwind, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to calm down, free up your mind, and release the stress. Starting off in Google Search, we have some go-to guides to help you chill out. First, try typing “breathing exercises” into Google, and you’ll see a nice guided exercise right at the top of search results. Cue exhale...and inhale! For the established (or aspiring) yogis out there, you may also want to check out some of the yoga positions that are just a tap away. And don’t worry, if you’re not up for the Chakrasana, Bālāsana still counts. Namaste. More of a video viewer? You’re not alone. Guided meditation videos on YouTube are on the rise, with an 84% increase in views since last year. Some popular picks include Blissful Deep Relaxation by The Honest Guys and Guided Meditation for Sleep... Floating Amongst the Stars by Jason Stephenson. Oooohhhmmmmm. If you want to pamper yourself on National Relaxation Day, head over to Google Maps. You can now book appointments at spas and salons across the U.S. To get started, do a quick look for a nearby salon, barbershop or spa and look for the “book” button on the business listing. You can also visit the Reserve with Google site to browse recommendations or find serene spots you never knew existed. This is just a sample of the serenity that awaits. And if you’re stuck at  your computer, here’s a pro tip: take a breather with the Mindful Break Chrome extension that gives you tips and guides you through some short breathing exercises. Ready, set, chillax!  [...]Chill out in honor of National Relaxation Day with some of Google’s most calming tips and tricks.

Meet a teacher helping indigenous women in Mexico get onlineMeet a teacher helping indigenous women in Mexico get online

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Schools in Latin America and around the world are searching for ways to take student impact beyond the classroom. In Mexico, we wanted to explore how teachers and students are using technology to empower a rising generation of innovative changemakers—and this week, we’re sharing some of the stories we found. Tune into the hashtag #innovarparami to see how education leaders in Latin America are thinking about innovation.Miroslava Silva is a teacher, social scientist and activist who has dedicated much of her career to studying the digital literacy gap and its ramifications. Across cultures, women often lack access to technology and digital education—and in Miroslava’s native Mexico, communities of indigenous women are the most affected by the digital literacy gap. Determined to change this, she founded a technology class specifically for Otomí women at the University of Querétaro. Since the class’s inception two years ago, Miroslava’s students have engaged in activities that range from learning to search for information, to building slide decks and documents, to designing personal websites. Miroslava’s only rule? All content must be relevant and useful in her students’ unique contexts and lives. To this end, she enlists her students to help craft their own curricula, and the class looks different for every student as a result. Some of her students are working on launching sites for their businesses. Others are conducting individual research projects on topics that interest them. And some even co-founded a movement to digitize and preserve the indigenous language Otomí.Angélica Ruiz, who has taken Miroslava’s digital literacy class for two years, had never used a computer before enrolling. Now, she has launched and manages her own website to promote her handmade doll business, connect other women to education technology resources, and foment interest in the Otomí language. Recently, she built an online campaign to raise awareness about violence against women. Miroslava and Angélica One of the projects Ángelica worked on in Miroslava’s class was to incorporate her handmade doll designs onto Google Cardboard, through which she passes on her own learnings to other women of the Otomí community. Angélica sets up booths in public spaces where she gives technology workshops to the Otomí community. Pursuing a digital education has been no small feat for Angélica. A mother of five, she travels two hours from her home to the University of Querétaro each week, but says that the sheer empowerment she feels makes her efforts worth it. Indeed, the ability to design websites and to use the internet for social activism is the tip of the iceberg [...]

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Daydream brings you inside Vogue Supermodel ClosetsDaydream brings you inside Vogue Supermodel ClosetsDirector, VR Video

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:00:00 +0000

Everyone has items of clothing that hold sentimental value. For Kendall Jenner, it could be that pair of boots that Kanye got for her or the matching snuggies that the Jenner/Kardashian clan wore on Christmas morning. Supermodels, they’re just like us! (Minus the boots gifted by Kanye part).In partnership with Condé Nast Entertainment and Vogue, we created a VR series to give you a peek into the closets of models and hear about the stories (and sentimental value) behind their favorite articles of clothing. “Supermodel Closets” was created to celebrate Vogue’s 125th anniversary and their upcoming September issue. In the first of five episodes, you’ll hear from Kendall Jenner and see the Christmas snuggies for yourself. This is one of the first productions to use YI HALO cameras, which are the next generation of Jump cameras for high quality, professional VR capture. You can look around (and even up!) thanks to the up camera and immersive 4k stereoscopic capture. Julina Tatlock, executive producer for 30 Ninjas, was able to easily use Jump even in tight spaces in each closet. Combined with unique graphics and post-production elements, this brings you even closer to the clothes. If you’ve got Cardboard or Daydream View at home, check out the first episode of Supermodel Closet Secrets on Vogue’s YouTube channel, with more episodes available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more Daydream and Jump productions coming this fall. [...]In partnership with Condé Nast Entertainment and Vogue, we created a VR series to give you a peek into the closets of models and hear about the stories (and sentimental value) behind their favorite articles of clothing.

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Code Jam 2017 wraps up with the World Finals in DublinCode Jam 2017 wraps up with the World Finals in DublinProgram ManagerEngineer

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:00:00 +0000

The results from this year's Code Jam, Google's largest and toughest programming competition, are in! The contest wrapped up with a two-day World Finals event from August 10-11. After a record-breaking season with more than 60,000 registrants, finalists representing 16 countries traveled to Dublin, Ireland to compete for cash prizes and the title of 2017 World Champion.

The event kicked off with Distributed Code Jam, in which contestants are required to program in a distributed environment (much like the day-to-day of a Google software engineer). While our returning 2015 and 2016 champion, bmerry (Bruce Merry), endeavored to hold onto his spot for another year, the other top 20 Distributed finalists, including Code Jam's reigning three-year champion Gennady.Korotkevich (Gennady Korotkevich), battled for a chance at the $10,000 grand prize. The contest was so tough that no contestant submitted more than six out of the eight possible datasets. In a scintillating finale with numerous close scores, ecnerwala (Andrew He) of the United States swooped in to steal first place, becoming our second-ever Distributed Code Jam Champion.

The action continued the next day with Gennady.Korotkevich and 25 other Code Jammers competing for a $15,000 grand prize and the coveted title of Code Jam Champion. Finalists approached the problem set using techniques such as max flow, dynamic programming, and randomized algorithms; the problems required challenging original insights in addition to algorithmic knowledge, and two of them were so difficult that no contestant solved them completely. After four hours of ferocious coding, during which the leader on the scoreboard changed several times, Gennady.Korotkevich stole the show and took the World Championship for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year in a row! Once the official results were announced, fans of Gennady (or "tourist" as he is known in other programming contests) enthusiastically took to social media to celebrate this record-breaking moment in Code Jam history. You can learn more about this year's problems and analyses, and see other past contests, on our website.

In addition to exclusive competition coverage and features with Code Jam Googlers, the live stream showcased the diversity of teams and people at Google working to make great products across the globe. Whether you've been following since the Qualification Round in April, or are a newcomer to the arena, we hope you'll check out the full recording of the World Finals live stream. We also hope to see you in the 2018 Code Jam and Distributed Code Jam competitions; it's never too early to start practicing for next year!
(image) Code Jam 2017 wrapped up with an exciting two-day event for the World Finals in Dublin, Ireland. Competitors from across the globe battled their way to victory for Code Jam, and the Distributed track.

It must be nice to have Hamilton on your phoneIt must be nice to have Hamilton on your phoneProduct Manager

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

HAMILTON fans got a treat last Friday when the team behind the broadway hit released … Wait for It … an app! Available on Android and iOS, the app lets you enter the #Ham4Ham lottery more easily and has fun features for the biggest HAMILTON fans out there. It was also one of the first apps to be built with Firebase, Google’s mobile development platform to handle the backend and infrastructure, as well as Flutter, a new UI toolkit to make it easy and fast to build high-performance, modern, beautiful apps for iOS and Android.To learn more about how the app was built, and why the HAMILTON team chose to use Flutter and Firebase, we sat down fan to fan with Mike Karns, HAMILTON’s director of social media, and David DeRemer from POSSE, who helped build the HAMILTON app. Seth: What made you decide to build and launch a mobile app?Mike: We’re always looking for opportunities to create a unique experience for the HAMILTON community, whether or not they’re able to be in the theatre each night. This app expands our presence in digital space and brings fans closer to HAMILTON.How did you decide which features to include?Mike: It started as a way for people to enter the HAMILTON lottery, and we brainstormed more ideas from there. Because HAMILTON has broken the confines of normal Broadway scope and audience, we’ve been able to build a really diverse fanbase in terms of age, location, etc. So all of our ideas served the purpose of giving those fans ways to connect with HAMILTON in more real ways.David: It was all about providing access. HAMILTON is in such high demand, yet so many people love it and it’s so important from a historical and artistic perspective. How do make sure the HAMILTON community doesn’t feel like an exclusive club that requires thousands of dollars to be in? That’s ultimately what the lottery is for, and we’re improving the experience. Before you had to go the website every day and re-enter your info—now you can get a reminder and then enter in one tap.Then there are the other features like shareable stickers with lyrics and HAMILTON emojis, #HamCams (HAMILTON-themed photo filters), a merch store, and exclusive content from cast members that make it even more fun. We wanted to go beyond the lottery and keep things interesting for someone who might have tickets to see the show a year from now. And we’ve got a lot of ideas for more features to make sure it’s still compelling even in five or seven years. How did you decide to use Flutter to build and manage your app?Mike: We knew we’d have to build this app quickly, while also making sure that HAMILTON was accessible to everyone. To democratize the brand, there was never any question that we’d have to build an app that was available on both Android and iOS.David: That’s why we decided to use Flutter, a new modern, reactive UI toolkit that is portable across iOS and Android. Flutter allows us to have a less complicated codebase, which means we can be more efficient and keep parity between platforms.Because Flutter is new, this was also a unique opportunity to collaborate with Google to improve the Flutter SDK. We provided a lot of feedback and bug reports throughout the development process! The result is something really unique—I don't think there are many other apps that use this technology yet. And not too many companies would have had the willingness to work with us and take a risk like that. It really ties into the HAMILTON idea of not throwing away your shot! By the way, developers can even find some HAMILTON easter eggs in the Flutter documentation.And what about Firebase?David: Firebase was also a cri[...]

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A Megamovie volunteer on snapping photos and contributing to scienceA Megamovie volunteer on snapping photos and contributing to scienceManaging Editor

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 16:00:00 +0000

On August 21—for the first time in 100 years—a total solar eclipse will cross the the United States.Last week we shared an interview with Vivian White, who is coordinating a mighty team of volunteers capturing photos of the eclipse. In collaboration with UC Berkeley, the Eclipse Megamovie project will take these photos and algorithmically align and stitch them together to create a continuous view of the eclipse: the Eclipse Megamovie.Today we’ll hear from a volunteer whose contributions will make Megamovie possible. By day, Steven Madow works as a product analyst for Shop Disney Parks (the app and website that let you buy as much Disney swag as your heart desires), and for the last 12 years, videography and photography have been his passion projects. Now he’s bringing his passion to Megamovie.Keyword: How did you hear about this project, and how did you get involved?Steven: I listen to NPR a lot, and they talked about Megamovie on two of my favorite shows—Planetary Radio and Science Friday—which got me interested. According to my fiancée, I’ve been talking about this eclipse since 2015, so I guess I’ve been excited for it for a while! Steven and his telescope Where are you going to watch? And what will you do when you get there?I’m heading to Madras, OR, where there’s the lowest probability of cloud cover on the path of totality. It seemed like a good excuse for a trip! I’m bringing two cameras—a Panasonic and a Nikon—to capture photos for Megamovie, as well as a couple other cameras I'm planning to use just for my own photos. I can connect these cameras to a telescope (which tracks the sun), and it’s all automated. I’ve heard that watching the eclipse is like being in 360 degrees of a sunset, so the automation will allow me to actually watch and enjoy the eclipse. How long have you been interested in astronomy?I like outdoorsy things and have always been interested in natural events. I’m from Baltimore but went to college in Florida, and when I first saw a rocket launch from a balcony 60 miles away, I thought, “Wow, that’s so cool. I have to learn more about this.” Since then I’ve seen dozens of rocket launches up close, as well as amazing shots of night launches, which inspired me to make the jump to more serious camera gear. I got into drones before they were called drones—they were called “quadcopters” then—and I started making videos as a side project. People saw my work and started hiring me to make more videos.What kind of prep work do Megamovie volunteers have to do?Volunteers attend webinars and need a certain level of photography gear. We’ve been doing practice tests—shooting the moon and sun—and testing out a special uploader that was created for this project. It was created for different camera types and allows for uploading with very low bandwidth, which is key since most of us will be using heavily overloaded cell networks.Have you been able to connect and create a community with other citizen scientists through this project? There are volunteer forums where you can ask questions about all aspects of planning—traveling with equipment, traffic predictions, image uploading and everything else imaginable.Through a forum I met Xavier Jubier, the creator of Solar Eclipse Maestro, an eclipse photography automation program, and worked with him to add support for Panasonic cameras (which I’m using during the eclipse). There were a lot of tests and back-and-forth on email, but now a few of the Panasonic cameras are supported and I’ve been able to teach other volunteers how to use the software.So people share expe[...]

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Type less, talk moreType less, talk moreTechnical Program Manager, Speech

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:05:00 +0000

Using your voice to dictate a message can be up to three times faster than typing. With this in mind, today we’re bringing voice typing (aka talking to your phone instead of typing) to 30 new languages and locales around the world, covering more than a billion people. With this update, Google’s speech recognition supports 119 language varieties, in Gboard on Android, Voice Search and more. And now in the U.S. in English, you can use use voice dictation to express yourself with emoji. Bringing voice input to more global users To honor languages around the world, speech recognition will support ancient languages such as Georgian, which has an alphabet that dates back to the 10th century. We’re also adding Swahili and Amharic, two of Africa's largest languages, as well as many Indian languages on our quest to make the internet more inclusive. For your reference, here's the full list of newly supported languages and locales:Amharic (Ethiopia)Armenian (Armenia)Azerbaijani (Azerbaijan)Bengali (Bangladesh, India)English (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania)Georgian (Georgia)Gujarati (India)Javanese (Indonesia)Kannada (India)Khmer (Cambodia)Lao (Laos)Latvian (Latvia)Malayalam (India)Marathi (India)Nepali (Nepal)Sinhala (Sri Lanka)Sundanese (Indonesia)Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya)Tamil (India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia)Telugu (India)Urdu (Pakistan, India) To incorporate 30 new language varieties, we worked with native speakers to collect speech samples, asking them to read common phrases. This process trained our machine learning models to understand the sounds and words of the new languages and to improve their accuracy when exposed to more examples over time. These new languages are also available starting today in Cloud Speech API and will soon be available across other Google apps and products, including the Translate app. To enable Voice Typing in your keyboard, install Gboard from the Play Store and pick your language (press the G in the suggestion strip and select the Settings wheel). Then just tap the microphone to start speaking. To enable Voice Search, open the Google app and pick your language in the Voice settings menu (tap the top-left menu and go to Settings, then pick Voice and select your language). Speak your emojiIn addition to drawing or searching for your favorite emoji, in English in the U.S. you can now say something like “winky face emoji” to express yourself  . Or even “Colbert emoji” to your friends when the occasion calls. We will be bringing this to more languages soon![...]We’re bringing voice typing (aka talking to your phone instead of typing) to 30 new languages and locales around the world, covering more than a billion people.

Helping 4-H equip students with skills they’ll need for the futureHelping 4-H equip students with skills they’ll need for the futureVP Google & President,

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 16:45:00 +0000

The world is changing rapidly, creating new opportunities and careers we can’t yet predict. But even with a lot of unknowns, skills like collaboration, problem solving and technical know-how can be the tools students need to adapt and thrive, no matter what the future holds.Today, at the Illinois State Fair, where hundreds of 4-H youth are exhibiting projects, we announced our support of 4-H with a $1.5 million grant to provide students around the country the opportunity to grow future skills through computer science programming like CS First and virtual field trips via Expeditions. 4-H is the United States’ largest youth development organization, with more than 6 million students participating. By supporting this work, we’re excited to see how more kids across the country use technology to achieve their goals and improve their communities. 4-H CEO Jennifer Sirangelo and Illinois state fair goers exploring CS First, our video-based coding activities for 4th-8th graders. 4-H club educators will receive training to help apply these coding skills to everyday problems and challenges. Illinois 4-Her on a virtual reality Expedition to Minnesota to see how students coded an ear tag for farmers to keep track of their wandering cattle Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner at the Illinois State Fair While there are thousands of 4-H’ers at any state fair this summer, you can find hundreds of 4-H alums within Google—and I had the opportunity to chat with one. Julie Eddleman grew up in Indianapolis, spent 10 years in 4-H, and is now a Senior Director at Google working with some of our largest corporate partners. I talked with Julie about her experience in 4-H and how the skills she learned there continue to help her at Google.  Jacquelline Fuller: How were you personally involved in 4-H and what did that look like? Julie at the Illinois State Fair Demonstration competition in 1981 showing judges how to build a terrarium Julie Eddleman: I started going to 4-H meetings as early as two years old, tagging along with my older sisters. Through 10 years of hands-on projects, we learned anything you can imagine, from rocketry to water conservation. I was a very curious child and couldn’t choose just one subject! When I think back to why I stayed in 4-H so long, I think it was because of the variety of the education styles—there was reading, workshops, hands-on projects, team events and, of course, the competitions filled with ribbons and trophies.JF: Can you tell us [...]

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#teampixel becomes one with nature#teampixel becomes one with natureTeam Pixel

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 16:45:00 +0000

Looking for a breath of fresh air? You came to the right place. This week #teampixel is becoming one with nature and capturing everything from surreal sunrises to the scenic views outside their tents. Check out another round of stellar contributions, pitch a tent and celebrate the final weeks of summer with us. Sunrise at the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk by @morningbondi  Spiraled succulents in Border Ranges, Australia by @drewhopper and a bumblebee buzzing around in Canada by @haylescolin Mammoth Lakes, California by @jennnnnnnng and Sunset in Jordan by @rebirthdna Camping in Tunnel Bluffs, Canada by @canoman19 Still life at Badlands National Park by @theallamericanwanderlust Lakeside in Hearst, Ontario by @bpolnicky  [...]Grab the bug spray and explore the world’s wide open spaces with #teampixel.

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“A whole new world” of ideas at the Technovation Challenge“A whole new world” of ideas at the Technovation ChallengeVice President

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 05:00:00 +0000

“Programming opens new horizons. It gives me full space to [create things] I couldn’t even imagine.” These are the words of Diana Zhanakbayeva, a young woman from Kazakhstan who, along with three classmates, just took home the top prize at an international coding challenge.Great ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone. That’s what’s behind the 2017 Technovation Challenge,  run by nonprofit Iridescent, announced last fall in partnership with Google’s Made with Code and UN Women to offer young women from around the world the chance to code an app that solves a real-world challenge. More than 11,000 girls from 103 countries formed teams to address issues in those categories: peace, poverty, environment, equality, education, and health. This week, the finalists traveled to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View to pitch their ideas to a panel of tech leaders and other experts. And tonight, in front of 900+ supporters, educators, mentors and past participants, the four girls behind a safety app called QamCare were crowned the winner of the Senior Division. The 2017 Technovation Challenge Senior Division Finalists To girls around the world who participated in the Challenge, or who are considering a career in computer science, or any field: we believe you should be encouraged and empowered to become the coders, entrepreneurs and inventors that shape the world around you. We will never stop working to create an industry and environment in which women feel welcome and can thrive.Meet the girls behind QamCare, and the other finalist teams: QamCare (Peace)Aruzhan Koshkarova, Azhar Sultansikh, Dianna Zhanakbayeva, Diyara Beisenbekova“QamCare” comes from the Kazakh word-Qamqor, which stands for care and support. The team behind this winning app describes it as a “potential life-saving tool,” which can be used in case of emergency to provide your location information to your contacts. With the press of a button, you can alert trusted friends and family via SMS. Azhar Sultansikh says the app is designed to give people “peace of mind.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes a selfie with members of the winning team behind QamCare QamCare’s creators describe a number of other hobbies and interests beyond CS: Diana Zhanakbayeva has dabbled in fashion and creating YouTube videos; Aruzhan Koshkarova says she used the cognitive skills learned from playing chess to work in programming; Azhar’s first loyalty is to art; and Diyara Beisenbekova is interested in medicine and chemistry. But all share a motivation to keep learning—and making a difference. Aruzhan says that the team was inspired to participate in the Challenge to “make change in [her] community” and for “women’s empowerment”—hoping to blaze the trail for more young Kazakh women to participate in science and tech.One Step Ahead (Education)Aghavni Hakobyan, Sona Avetisyan, Svetlana Davtyan, Violeta Mkrtchyan, Vardanush NazaretyanWhen a deaf classmate visited their school, this team of five girls from Karbi, Armenia, came up with the idea for an app to help people learn Armenian Sign Language using videos of sign gestures. The One Step Ahead team demonstrates how experiences like Technovation can inspire young people to pursue a wide variety of career paths. While Aghavni Hakobyan, 17[...]

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It all started with a party: the story behind today’s Hip Hop DoodleIt all started with a party: the story behind today’s Hip Hop DoodleDoodler and non-traditional media enthusiast

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000

On August 11, 1973, there was a party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx—and four decades later, we’re still talking about it. Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 44th anniversary of that party, which is widely credited as the birth of the Hip Hop movement. To learn more about the Doodle and the movement that inspired it, the Keyword team chatted with three of the Googlers behind the Doodle—Kevin Burke, Ryan Germick and Perla Campos. We also talked with two legendary hip hop pioneers who served as close partners in the project: Fab 5 Freddy, former host of “Yo! MTV Raps” and narrator of the Doodle, and Cey Adams, visual artist and founding creative director of Def Jam records, who designed the Doodle logo image that you see on the homepage today. Here’s what they had to say. Keyword: How did you come up with the idea for this Doodle?Kevin: I’m a huge Hip Hop fan. Growing up outside New Orleans, it was a part of my DNA—performing Hip Hop in my high school band, adding Hip Hop to my college radio station’s rotation, and working on the set of Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” music video in my first job out of college. Hip Hop has been a constant thread through my life and I wanted to bring my love of it to a Doodle. I developed the concept for interactive turntables, showed it to my manager Ryan (also a fan of Hip Hop), and he lost it. He said, “let’s make it tomorrow!” OK, so people were into the idea. But Hip Hop is such a big topic. How did you decide what to focus on?Perla: From the beginning, we were thinking big. I mean, Hip Hop touches so many parts of culture but a lot of people don’t know much about its origins. So, we anchored the Doodle to the birth of Hip Hop, and wanted to celebrate the people who pioneered the movement. We hope to give them the voice and the recognition they deserve, which is what Doodles are all about—shining light on times of history that maybe you didn’t know about. Kevin: It all started with DJ Kool Herc, an 18-year old Jamaican DJ in the Bronx. He and his sister threw a party in August 1973, and when he DJ’d the party, he used two turntables to extend the instrumental break in the music where people did their craziest dance moves (that’s actually how “break” dancing got its name!). And the Hip Hop movement was born. Ryan: With each Doodle, we try to touch a different part of the human experience. But we hadn’t yet touched on a massive part of U.S. and global culture—Hip Hop. And by bringing in elements like “Achievements,” we can also make it about the real people behind the Hip Hop movement. Speaking of the real people … Fab and Cey, how did you feel when you first heard about this project?Fab: It was a full circle experience for me. I first went online in 1994—I even remember doing a segment on “Yo! MTV Raps” about email. And going back to when I first got on the internet, I was looking for likeminded people who were part of the culture. And now, Hip Hop is on one of the biggest digital platforms out there, in a way that acknowledges and recognizes what this culture is, and what it continues to be. It’s pretty amazing. Cey: Everybody on this project was so excited to be a part of it, which made me excited too. I could add an authentic point of view and represent all the people who helped start the movement, even the ones who are no longer here. The project is rooted in honoring the past. [...]

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Exploring strategies to decarbonize electricityExploring strategies to decarbonize electricityPrincipal Scientist

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 21:00:00 +0000

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and the way we generate and use electricity now is a major contributor to that issue. To solve it, we need to find a way to eliminate the carbon emissions associated with our electricity as quickly and as cheaply as possible.Many analysts have come up with a number of possible solutions: renewable energy plus increased energy storage capacity, nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration from fossil fuels, or a mixture of these. But we realized that the different answers came from different assumptions that people were making about what combination of those technologies and policies would lead to a positive change.To help our team understand these dynamics, we created a tool that allows us to quickly see how different assumptions—wind, solar, coal, nuclear, for example—affect the future cost to generate electricity and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.We created a simplified model of the electrical grid, where demand is always fulfilled at least cost. By “least cost,” we mean the cost of constructing and maintaining power plants, and generating electricity (with fuel, if required). For a given set of assumptions, the model determines the amount of generation capacity to build and when to turn on which type of generator. Our model is similar to others proposed in other research, but we’ve simplified the model to make it run fast.We then ran the model hundreds of thousands of times with different assumptions, using our computing infrastructure. We gather all of the runs of the model and present them in a simple web page. Anyone —from students to energy policy wonks—can try different assumptions and see how those assumptions will affect the cost and CO2. The web UI is available for you to try: you can explore the how utilities decide to dispatch their generation capacity, then can test different assumptions. Finally, you can compare different assumptions and share them with others. We’ve written up the technical details of the model in this paper. In case you want to change the assumptions in the model, we are also releasing the code on Github. The paper shows how the cost of generation technologies change as a function of the fraction of demand that they fulfill. The paper also discusses the limitations and validity of the model.One interesting conclusion of the paper: if we can find a zero-carbon, 24x7 electricity source that costs about $2200/kW to build, it can displace carbon emission from the electricity grid in less than 27 years. We hope that the tool and the paper help people understand their assumptions about the future of electricity, and stimulate research into climate and energy.[...]The Google Research team built a tool that allows users to quickly see how different factors affect the future cost to generate electricity and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

Daydream Summer SaleDaydream Summer SaleContent Partnerships

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Take a break from the summer heat and jump into virtual reality. Starting today until August 17, you can grab some of our favorite Daydream apps for up to 60% off. No matter where you are this summer, make your own adventure with two of our favorite adventure apps:  Lola and the Giant: Embark on an journey full of puzzles and fantastic creatures, and download the companion app to play with a friend. Along Together: Explore extraordinary worlds and use your Daydream controller to make new paths when there are none to follow. Want to stay sharp over summer? Check out three of our top puzzle apps: Mekorama :  Help B, a little robot, find his way home by solving different puzzles. Claro: Travel to a zen-like world where you can manipulate the sun to grow a tree in each of 38 different puzzles. Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes : Race against the clock to defuse bombs with a friend. Feeling competitive? Battle your enemies in beautiful, dynamic and otherworldly settings: Battle Planet:  You're alone on a micro-planet. Defend yourself against a gigantic army of enemies. Wands: Challenge other Wielders with your own set of spells and skills. Toy Clash: Your desk has been invaded! Use your toys and magic to defend your towers. Feeling artsy? Grab a comfy chair and let your inner sculptor shine with SculptrVR. You can build incredible worlds in VR with an entire 3D canvas at your disposal. Check out all the apps on sale on Google Play or your Daydream app. [...]Starting today, you’ll be able to find some of our favorite Daydream apps up to 60% off. The sale runs from August 10th to August 17th.

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From Uganda to Korea—teaching English, one chat at a timeFrom Uganda to Korea—teaching English, one chat at a timeProduct Manager

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 09:25:00 +0000

As part of our series of interviews with entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific who use the internet to grow, we sat down with Tella founder and CEO, Yuha Jin. Tella provides one-on-one English-language tutoring through mobile chats for Korean students. Now in its third year, the startup teaches more than 2,000 Korean students while providing an avenue of employment for talented Ugandan college graduates, all while leveraging machine learning to get the job done.  Founder and CEO Yuha Jin, third from the right, with members of her Tella team in Uganda What led you to start Tella?I’ve always wanted to make an impact, and I really like to do work no one has really done yet. In college, I studied social enterprise and became interested in startups. Six years ago, I spent three  weeks in East Africa, helping a friend’s missionary group. While there, I learned there are many college graduates who are fluent in English and other languages, but they’re unemployed.  It’s always exciting to see how a problem can be solved if it’s viewed as a business opportunity. That’s how I thought of linking online English language education needs in Korea to unemployed graduates in Uganda. We now have a growing team of English language tutors in Uganda. The average monthly wage for employees with tertiary education and higher in Uganda is UGX 335,000, or $92. Tella provides double this, a minimum of $200 per month in salary to each one of our tutors. Supporting our tutors is at the heart of our business.  In the next three to five years, we want to expand our pool of tutors to employ around 500 people in Uganda. How did you decide to establish Tella as a mobile phone-based startup?When I traveled to East Africa for the first time I noticed everybody had a mobile phone, and that many people used it to do business using “mobile money.” This inspired the idea of  starting an online English education business on mobile, in particular, via online chat. Students and their tutors chat in English on the app, and we use machine learning and Google Cloud’s natural language processing API to analyze their lessons and provide a “before” look at their original English sentences and an “after” look with their tutor’s feedback. We provide data analysis for each lesson, too—the number of words used and the average length of sentences, which helps to diagnose their proficiency. Students love this. They believe this analysis of the chat information really helps them study. We have 2,000 students now! What helped to really transform your business and make it more successful? Being located at the Outbox Hub, a Google for Entrepreneurs tech hub partner, means our teachers are part of a vibrant community of Ugandan entrepreneurs and creative thinkers—this is really inspiring for us. Also, we were lucky to be selected to participate in Google’s Customer Success Lab in Seoul. By working closely with the Google team, we learned how to improve our online advertising strategy. As a result, our quarterly business revenues grew by 15%. The results are paying off. Over half of our students repurchase their subscriptions for more tutoring.  Tutors at Tella’s offices in the Outbox Hub in Kampala, Uganda (clockwise from top left): Simon Aguma, [...]

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