News > Google
Category: Google | May 28, 2015
This morning, more than 6,000 developers descended on San Francisco’s Moscone Center to burn through 1,500 gallons of coffee and join millions of others via live stream for our 8th annual Google I/O—a time to fill people in on what we’ve been building recently, and how we’re tackling the future.
Android growth and momentum
In just a short number of years, mobile technology has completely changed the way we find information and entertainment, communicate with friends and family, and get things done. Having a supercomputer in our pocket is now second nature; today more searches on Google come from mobile than from desktop computers, and by some estimates there are more mobile devices than there are people on the planet. For evidence of the mobile revolution, look no further than the growth of Android. There are now more than one billion Android users worldwide—a long way from when we launched the first Android phone back in 2008. And there are 4,000 unique Android devices on the market, from more than 400 manufacturers and over 500 carriers.
The devices themselves have changed a lot, too. In today’s multi-screen world, you can now use Android on your phone, your tablet, your wrist, in your car and in your living room, and move seamlessly between each. Many of these new form factors have arrived just in the last year. You can now choose from seven different Android Wear watches, not to mention bands, styles, and more than 1,500 watch faces built by developers.
By the end of this year, 35 car models will offer Android Auto, helping you access Search, Maps, music and other information through your car’s controls. And the first sets running Android TV have now arrived.
With all of these new places and devices for people to use Android, developers have even more opportunities to build the apps that people use for education and engagement and entertainment. So today we talked about the new tools and features we’re giving them to build more powerful experiences on the Android platform.
M is for more performance and an improved user experience
Android M is the most powerful Android release yet, with hundreds of improvements made to the platform. Among the highlights, we’ve improved battery life and streamlined permissions for apps to make it easier for you to decide what information the apps on your phone can use. We previewed Android Pay, which lets you pay for things with your phone, without even opening an app. And we’re making it much easier to find information in apps, as well as making some important updates to Google Now (more on that below!).
Organizing the world’s information, better
Your mobile phone packs a lot of information, but it’s not always easy to find that nugget of information when you need it—as you know if you’ve ever tried to navigate your email, organize hundreds of photos across devices, or search for restaurant reviews when you’re chatting about dinner plans with friends. Luckily, finding and organizing information is something Google is good at (some might even call it our mission).
So as part of M release, we’re expanding Google Now to give people on-demand assistance in the moment they need it—like seeing if there’s an open table at a new restaurant or when and where “Pitch Perfect 2” is playing—no matter where you are on your phone. We’re also making it much easier to find new apps and in-app content—which is good news for both users and developers.
We’ve also put our years of research into machine learning to work in other ways, making Search more useful and your inbox more insightful. And now it’s also helping you make sense of all your photos. Today we launched a new Photos app that gives you a single place for all your photos and videos, and helps you sort through them more quickly, bring them to life in cool new ways, and share them however you choose.
A new platform for the Internet of Things
We’re surrounded by devices, but they often exist independently of each other. Our day-to-day lives will be much simpler when these technologies can talk to each other—if our recipe app, for example, could communicate with our smart oven to turn the temperature to exactly the right setting. Or outside the home—from transportation systems that notify commuters of schedule changes, to farms where harvesters and irrigation systems are controlled from phones.
But many roadblocks remain—the user experience is inconsistent and confusing, manufacturers often redo their work for every device, devices don’t interoperate, and developers often have no way to create great experiences across devices.
Enter Project Brillo, a new platform derived from Android that lets developers and manufacturers build connected devices. As part of Brillo, we’re introducing a communications protocol (Weave) developed in partnership with Nest, a set of developer APIs, a core set of schemas and a certification program to ensure device and app interoperability.
Although it will launch later this year, we previewed Brillo today because we’re committed to fostering a vibrant ecosystem in which we all work together to move the industry forward.
New mobile experiences
Mobile has evolved so much in the past few years, with connected screens for different experiences depending on your needs. But we are just at the start of what will prove to be a much more immersive mobile experience. At last year’s I/O we introduced Cardboard, which lets you turn your phone into a virtual reality experience. Now there are more than 500 Cardboard apps for film, games, tours and learning, and more than 1 million Cardboard viewers have been shipped. Today we announced iOS support for developers and debuted Google Expeditions, which lets students take virtual trips with Cardboard to places like the moon and underwater. We also shared a preview of Jump, which lets you capture the world in video that you can step inside of.
The next billion users
The first billion users of the Internet came online through desktops. The next billion are taking a different path to computing—coming online through mobile and smartphones—and present a unique set of opportunities and challenges. We’re working hard on ensure these people have a great experience across our products.
In addition to making devices more affordable with Chromebooks and Android One (now in seven countries), we’re making changes to ensure that our software works even where there aren’t great Internet connections. We’ve launched a streamlined version of our Search results page in 13 countries, and 73 million people now use data saver mode in Chrome to browse the web more efficiently. Finally, we previewed the new offline maps—that’s right, and it’s as simple as it sounds—maps that you can take offline, even with turn-by-turn directions.
Solving complex problems for a mobile world
From our earliest days in Search, our aim has always been to build products for everyone, applying unique technical insight to tackle big problems. That’s just as relevant in today’s mobile-centric world—from finding the information scattered across apps, to helping someone organize and share the photos of their kids; from taking people on a virtual trip to the Pyramids to helping the next billion people come online.
And by providing a platform on top of which any developer can innovate, we can reach people around the world and put the power of the Internet in their hands—no matter what device they use, where they live or who they are.
So here’s to the mobile revolution. We can’t wait to see what comes next.
Posted by Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President, Products
Category: Google | May 28, 2015
Every second of every day, people around the world are capturing their memories through photos and videos. Humankind has already taken trillions of photos and will take another trillion this year alone.
But the more moments we capture, the more challenging it becomes to relive those memories. Photos and videos become littered across mobile devices, old computers, hard drives and online services (which are constantly running out of space). It’s almost impossible to find that one photo right at the moment you need it, and sharing a bunch of photos at once is frustrating, often requiring special apps and logins.
We wanted to do better. So today we’re introducing Google Photos—a new, standalone product that gives you a home for all your photos and videos, helps you organize and bring your moments to life, and lets you share and save what matters.
A home for all your photos and videos
Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.
And when we say a lifetime of memories, we really mean it. With Google Photos, you can now backup and store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free. We maintain the original resolution up to 16MP for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos, and store compressed versions of the photos and videos in beautiful, print-quality resolution. For all the storage details, visit our help center.
Organize and bring your moments to life
Google Photos automatically organizes your memories by the people, places, and things that matter. You don’t have to tag or label any of them, and you don’t need to laboriously create albums. When you want to find a particular shot, with a simple search you can instantly find any photo—whether it’s your dog, your daughter’s birthday party, or your favorite beach in Santa Barbara. And all of this auto-grouping is private, for your eyes only.
The app can also help you quickly enhance photos and combine them in new ways to help you relive your life’s moments. In one tap, get instant adjustments tuned to the photo’s color, lighting, and subject to make each photo look its best. Press the “+” button to create your own collages, animations, movies with soundtracks, and more.
If you swipe to the left, you’ll open the Assistant view, where we’ll suggest new things made with your photos and videos, such as a collage or a story based on a recent trip you took. After previewing the creation, you can choose to keep, edit, or discard it.
Easily share and save what matters
With Google Photos, you have the choice to share your photos and videos however you want across any service you choose, from Hangouts to Twitter to WhatsApp. But even then, it’s still remarkably difficult to share a lot of photos just with friends and family and keep the ones shared with you—it usually involves a lot of downloading and re-uploading across a number of different services. We wanted to make sharing much simpler and more reliable.
You can now take any set of photos and videos, or any album, and simply create a link to share hundreds of photos at once. The recipient can see what you shared without a special app or login, then immediately save the high-quality images to their own library with a single tap. So now it’s easier to hang on to the photos you care about even if you weren’t the one holding the camera.
If you want to give Google Photos a whirl, it will be available later today across Android, iOS and the web. With this launch we’ve made a lot of progress towards eliminating many of the frustrations involved in storing, editing and sharing your memories. But we have a lot more in store—so as you keep snapping photos and capturing videos, we’ll keep working on making them even easier to store, share and bring to life.
Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Head of Google Photos
Category: Google | May 26, 2015
When Laura Palmaro was 10 years old, she woke one morning to find that the central vision in her left eye had all but disappeared. She was not ill and had no genetic issues—it was completely out of the blue. When she was 14, the same rare condition struck her right eye, and she began her freshman year of high school legally blind. Suddenly she was forced to depend on other people to read everything aloud, from school assignments to menus. The toughest part, according to Laura, was losing her sense of independence—and not knowing when or how she would get it back.
Laura has since adopted technological solutions to her vision challenges, using a combination of screen-readers and magnification software to read, work and more. Now a program manager at Google, she is following her passion, helping Chrome and Chrome OS teams make their products more accessible. “Technology has truly transformed my life,” she says. “Assistive technology can tear down boundaries, and empower people to find their independence and fulfill their dreams.”
We agree with Laura about the power of technology to change lives. And in order to support more people like her—people who see obstacles as opportunities—we’re launching the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. We’re putting $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities, and today we’re issuing an open call to identify new areas of opportunity at g.co/ImpactChallengeDisability.
We’re kicking things off with support for two remarkable organizations. Each of these organizations is using technology to dramatically reduce the cost of and access to prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, respectively—which could be transformative for hundreds of millions of people.
- The Enable community connects people who want prosthetics with volunteers who use 3D printers to design, print, assemble, and fit them, for free. This dramatically cuts costs, increases speed of distribution, and meets unmet needs. We’ll support the Enable Community Foundation’s efforts with a $600,000 grant to advance the design, distribution and delivery of open-source 3D-printed upper-limb prosthetics.
- Diagnosing auditory challenges can be a struggle in low income communities—the equipment is expensive, bulky and unrealistic, particularly in the developing world. With our support, and a $500,000 grant, World Wide Hearing will develop, prototype and test an extremely low cost tool kit for hearing loss using smartphone technology that’s widely available—and affordable—in the developing world.
The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious “what ifs” for the disabled community. We will choose the best of these ideas and help them to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying our people and by mobilizing our resources in support of their missions.
But of course, we realize there’s always room to improve our products as well. We have a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and we provide engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well. For example, Liftware is a stabilizing utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, and self-driving cars could one day transform mobility for everyone.
Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change. Thanks to groups like Enable and World Wide Hearing, and with tools like Liftware, we’re starting to see the potential for technologies that can profoundly and affordably impact millions. But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort—which is why we’re launching Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities today. Together, we can create a better world, faster.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google.org
Category: Google | May 26, 2015
Today’s guest blog post is from Tam O’Shaughnessy—life partner of astronaut Sally Ride, and co-founder & CEO of Sally Ride Science. Over the past few months, Tam worked with our Doodle team to create a doodle for Sally’s 64th birthday. In this post, she tells us more about Sally’s life, her flight aboard the space shuttle Challenger, and her passion for helping kids stay excited about science and technology. -Ed.
As the first American woman in space, Sally Ride—who would have been 64 today—captured the nation’s imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers. But her historic flight represented just one aspect of a remarkable and multifaceted life. She was also a physicist, a science writer, and an inspirational advocate for keeping kids excited about science as they go through school.
Sally was born on May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles. She grew up playing with a chemistry set and small telescope—and playing football in the streets with the neighborhood kids. Later she considered playing professional tennis, but decided instead to study science.
In 1977, Sally was finishing her Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University when she saw an article in the student newspaper saying that NASA was looking for astronauts—and for the first time was allowing women to apply. Sally didn’t hesitate to send in her application, and became one of six women selected as part of the new crop of astronaut candidates. On June 18, 1983, she soared into history as the first American woman in space.
A look behind the scenes of today’s Sally Ride doodle, narrated by the artist of the doodle, Olivia Huynh, and Tam O’Shaughnessy
Looking back at Earth through the window of the space shuttle, Sally was moved by the view of our beautiful blue planet wrapped in its thin blanket of air. She realized how important it is for all of us to take care of our fragile home in space, and became an environmentalist. Many years later, we wrote books for young adults about Earth’s changing climate.
After leaving NASA, Sally became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. She loved being a scientist, but she was concerned that many young people—especially girls and minority students—abandon their early interest in science and math.
Studies show that the reason kids turn away from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is not that they don’t like it or aren’t good it. Instead, young people get turned off because society sends false messages about who scientists are, what they do, and how they work. So Sally decided to use her high profile to motivate young people to stick with their interest in science and to consider pursuing STEM careers.
In 2001, Sally and I and three friends started Sally Ride Science to create programs and publications that bring science to life and show young people that STEM is fascinating, creative, and fun. Since then, we’ve trained thousands of teachers on how to spark and sustain interest in STEM and reached millions of students with our books and programs.
Sally died almost three years ago on July 23, 2012, from pancreatic cancer. But I know she would be honored by today’s Google Doodle. With whimsy, it expresses Sally’s sense of fun and adventure, and her ability to inspire young people. And who knows—maybe her Doodle will motivate some girl or boy somewhere in the world to become a scientist and adventurer just like Sally.
Sally said it best . . .
Everywhere I go I meet girls and boys who want to be astronauts and explore space, or they love the ocean and want to be oceanographers, or they love animals and want to be zoologists, or they love designing things and want to be engineers. I want to see those same stars in their eyes in 10 years and know they are on their way!
Posted by Tam O’Shaughnessy, Co-Founder & CEO of Sally Ride Science
Category: Google | May 22, 2015
Between finding out what everyone has always wanted to say to Dave Letterman, and singing along to Taylor’s “Bad Blood,” here’s a look at what everyone was searching for this week:
Deadly biker brawl
A shooting between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas, left nine dead and more than 170 people in jail this week. There were more than 500,000 searches for “Waco shooting” on Sunday as people asked questions like “What biker gangs are in Texas?” and “What county is Waco, Texas in?” to try to understand why the shooting may have happened.
An NBA family affair
The NBA playoffs continue to be a top topic in search as the conference finals began this week, with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets matchup garnering the most attention. (The Cavaliers made the trends charts on Wednesday, but otherwise all eyes are on the West.) After going down 2-0 to the Warriors, the Rockets are in the spotlight, with 200,000+ searches following their game 1 loss. But the search standout, not surprisingly, is NBA MVP and Warriors point guard Stephen Curry. And not just for his sweet three-point stroke. There were 50,000+ searches for his mom, Sonya Curry, after she appeared looking ageless at Tuesday’s game, while others were interested in his daughter Riley’s post-game press conference hijinks. In fact, three out of the top five Curry-related searches on Wednesday were about his family.
David Letterman ended his 33-year career in late-night TV on Wednesday night. His farewell show featured favorite clips from the past, some classic Dave self-deprecation and a Top 10 list to top all Top 10 lists starring celebs like Steve Martin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and (Dave’s apparent favorite) Peyton Manning. Dave was at the top of the search list, too, with more than 500,000+ searches—consider it a small consolation for not getting “The Tonight Show.” Top questions leading up to the last show included “How tall is David Letterman?” and “Who is taking over for Letterman?” (Answer: someone else who brought a crew of celebs to his final show last December.)
The Billboard Music Awards swept the search charts on Sunday, with big-time winner Taylor Swift at the top of the pack. Swift had a big night, taking home eight trophies and a million searches. She also debuted her much-buzzed-about music video for “Bad Blood,” which featured Kendrick Lamar and a full squad of Taylor’s celebrity friends, including Cindy Crawford, Lena Dunham and Karlie Kloss. The video broke the Vevo record with more than 20 million views in 24 hours, and appeared in Hot Trends twice. But even Taylor has to share the spotlight sometime: people were also searching for show performers Iggy Azalea, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Wiz Khalifa.
Elsewhere in Billboard news, the soundtrack for “Pitch Perfect 2” climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week as fans became hooked on the fun cover songs and mashups. The movie has been big in search over the past week, with lots of interest in the cast, particularly Rebel Wilson.
Tip of the week
Now you can find real-time content from Twitter in your Google search results on mobile. So if you want to see what others are saying about tonight’s Cavaliers/Hawks game, just ask Google.
Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [leighton meester] and [how many cows are there in the world]
Category: Google | May 19, 2015
Starting today, we’re bringing Tweets to Google Search on mobile devices. So now when you’re searching on the Google app or any browser on your phone or tablet, you can find real-time content from Twitter right in the search results.
Whether you’re interested in the latest from Taylor Swift, news about the #MadMenFinale, or updates on the NBA playoffs, you’ll have access to it directly from Google. Let’s use NASA as an example—just ask the Google app about “NASA Twitter,” and in the search results, you’ll see Tweets from @NASA:
Or if you heard today was Malcolm X’s birthday, you can ask the Google app and see what various people and organizations in the Twitter community are saying about it.
It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments.
To start, we’re launching this on Google.com in English in the Google app (on Android and iOS) and on mobile browsers, rolling out gradually. We’re working on bringing it to more languages and to desktop, so stay tuned.
Posted by Ardan Arac, Senior Product Manager
Category: Google | May 15, 2015
This week people said goodbye to a blues legend, and hello to a (possible) new face of American money. Read on for more on this week in search:
Amtrak’s tragic accident
First up, we saw a rise in searches for Amtrak after a train that was traveling at more than 100 miles an hour derailed Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The accident killed eight people and injured more than 200, and led people to the web to ask questions about the derailment and about train safety in general. There were more than 500,000 searches for Amtrak on Tuesday, and top questions included “How fast do Amtrak trains go?” and “When will Amtrak resume service?”
Madness down under
“Mad Max: Fury Road” comes out in theaters today, and anticipation for the fourth film in the classic series is running high. The movie, a dystopian thriller set in Australia starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, appeared on the Hot Trends list twice this week, with more than 500,000 searches yesterday.
While a battle for survival in the Outback takes place on screen, a real-life high-stakes story was playing out this week in Australia. The government told the actor Johnny Depp that he had to remove his two Yorkie dogs from the country by Saturday or they would be euthanized. Australia has strict laws about bringing animals into the country, and Boo and Pistol hadn’t followed proper procedure. There were more than 50,000 searches in the U.S. for the actor as people followed the doggie drama. But that’s nothing compared to searches in Australia:
Sing the blues
Today, people are saying goodbye to B.B. King, who died yesterday at the age of 89. The blues guitarist (the name “B.B.” comes from “Blues Boy”) was a legend in music circles, and influenced stars like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. More than half a million searches and an outpouring of memories followed the news of his death.
“American Idol” fans are saying farewell to the popular Fox show. “Idol” crowned its 14th winner this week, Connecticut-based Nick Fradiani, and announced that next season will be its last. There were more than 200K searches for the show the day of the finale and announcement. And elsewhere in long-running Fox TV series news, “The Simpsons” voice actor Harry Shearer (the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and many other beloved yellow characters), won’t be back for the show’s 27th season. Show co-creator James L. Brooks isn’t giving up hope, though, and neither, it seems, are searchers, who sent Shearer into the top charts yesterday.
Ladies in green
Searches spiked for Harriet Tubman this week after the abolitionist and Underground Railroad hero won an online poll about who should be the new face of the $20 bill. More than 600K people voted in the Women on 20s campaign, in the end choosing Tubman over Eleanor Roosevelt by a slim margin. The petition would need to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Regardless of whose face is on the front, you’d need 8 million 20s to buy “Women in Algiers,” the Picasso painting that broke records this week at Christie’s in New York when it sold for $160 million. The anonymous buyer made the cubist painting the most expensive to ever sell at auction, and now it’s the top Picasso painting in search to boot.
Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [the craft] and [when did the twilight zone start]
Category: Google | May 15, 2015
When we started designing the world’s first fully self-driving vehicle, our goal was a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving. Vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button could transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error (PDF), reclaiming the billions of hours wasted in traffic, or bringing everyday destinations and new opportunities within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car.
Now we’re announcing the next step for our project: this summer, a few of the prototype vehicles we’ve created will leave the test track and hit the familiar roads of Mountain View, Calif., with our safety drivers aboard.
Our safety drivers will test fully self-driving vehicle prototypes like this one on the streets of Mountain View, Calif., this summer.
We’ve been running the vehicles through rigorous testing at our test facilities, and ensuring our software and sensors work as they’re supposed to on this new vehicle. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that our existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses. That fleet has logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project, and recently has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. So the new prototypes already have lots of experience to draw on—in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience.
Each prototype’s speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and during this next phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. We’re looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles, and to uncovering challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle—e.g., where it should stop if it can’t stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion. In the coming years, we’d like to run small pilot programs with our prototypes to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this. If you’d like to follow updates about the project and share your thoughts, please join us on our Google+ page. See you on the road!
Posted by Chris Urmson, Director, Google Self-Driving Car Project
Category: Google | May 14, 2015
We first launched the Transparency Report in 2010 to help the public learn about the scope of government requests for user data. With recent revelations about government surveillance, calls for companies to make encryption keys available to police, and a wide range of proposals, both in and out of the U.S., to expand surveillance powers throughout the world, the issues today are more complicated than ever. Some issues, like ECPA reform, are less complex, and we’re encouraged by the broad support in Congress for legislation that would codify a standard requiring warrants for communications content.
Google’s position remains consistent: We respect the important role of the government in investigating and combating security threats, and we comply with valid legal process. At the same time, we’ll fight on behalf of our users against unlawful requests for data or mass surveillance. We also work to make sure surveillance laws are transparent, principled, and reasonable.
Today’s Transparency Report update
With this in mind, we’re adding some new details to our Transparency Report that we’re releasing today.
- Emergency disclosure requests. We’ve expanded our reporting on requests for information we receive in emergency situations. These emergency disclosure requests come from government agencies seeking information to save the life of a person who is in peril (like a kidnapping victim), or to prevent serious physical injury (like a threatened school shooting). We have a process for evaluating and fast-tracking these requests, and in true emergencies we can provide the necessary data without delay. The Transparency Report previously included this number for the United States, but we’re now reporting for every country that submits this sort of request.
- Preservation requests. We’re also now reporting on government requests asking us to set aside information relating to a particular user’s account. These requests can be made so that information needed in an investigation is not lost while the government goes through the steps to get the formal legal process asking us to disclose the information. We call these “preservation requests” and because they don’t always lead to formal data requests, we keep them separate from the country totals we report. Beginning with this reporting period, we’re reporting this number for every country.
In addition to this new data, the report shows that we’ve received 30,138 requests from around the world seeking information about more than 50,585 users/accounts; we provided information in response to 63 percent of those requests. We saw slight increases in the number of requests from governments in Europe (2 percent) and Asia/Pacific (7 percent), and a 22 percent increase in requests from governments in Latin America.
The fight for increased transparency
Sometimes, laws and gag-orders prohibit us from notifying someone that a request for their data has been made. There are some situations where these restrictions make sense, and others not so much. We will fight—sometimes through lengthy court action—for our users’ right to know when data requests have been made. We’ve recently succeeded in a couple of important cases.
First, after years of persistent litigation in which we fought for the right to inform Wikileaks of government requests for their data, we were successful in unsealing court documents relating to these requests. We’re now making those documents available to the public here and here.
Second, we’ve fought to be more transparent regarding the U.S. government’s use of National Security Letters, or NSLs. An NSL is a special type of subpoena for user information that the FBI issues without prior judicial oversight. NSLs can include provisions prohibiting the recipient from disclosing any information about it. Reporters speculated in 2013 that we challenged the constitutionality of NSLs; after years of litigation with the government in several courts across multiple jurisdictions, we can now confirm that we challenged 19 NSLs and fought for our right to disclose this to the public. We also recently won the right to release additional information about those challenges and the documents should be available on the public court dockets soon.
Finally, just yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 338-88 to pass the USA Freedom Act of 2015. This represents a significant step toward broader surveillance reform, while preserving important national security authorities. Read more on our U.S. Public Policy blog.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
Category: Google | May 8, 2015
From new moms to dads in disguise, here’s a look at the week on Google Search:
The princess and the Parliament
The Duke and Duchess welcomed their second child, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge, this week—setting off a wave of royal baby fervor worldwide. Searchers were quick to turn to Google to learn more about Princess Charlotte, who is fourth in line to the throne. Search interest in the “meaning of Charlotte” spiked 15X worldwide in the 24 hours following the reveal. In the U.S., Dallas and New York were the places searching the most for the baby’s name.
While U.K. citizens celebrated their new princess, they had something else on their minds: yesterday’s national election. Weeks of polling had predicted a close tie between the Conservatives and the Labour Party, but in the end David Cameron’s Conservative party walked away with the majority in a victory that surprised many. The election dominated search in the U.K.—all but one of the top 20 search terms Friday were election-related—and even in the U.S., it was the second-most trending term on Thursday.
From Jedi robes to couture gowns
Fans around the world donned their best Princess Leia and Stormtrooper costumes for Star Wars Day on Monday. Celebrated on May 4 (May the Fourth Be with You, get it?) thanks in large part to the Internet, the holiday has been growing for the past few years in search, but we saw the biggest spike yet in 2015. In addition to Leia and Stormtrooper, top costume searches on Monday include [yoda dog] and [female jedi costume]. Interest in the upcoming movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” doubled, and other popular questions include “Is Star Wars on Netflix?” and “What order should you watch Star Wars?”
That same night, the Met Gala brought people to Google to see some of the daring fashion choices from the event. Searches for the red-carpet affair reached 500K. Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez dominated search as people looked for photos of their sheer, jewel-encrusted gowns. Rihanna’s stunning yellow dress, Anne Hathaway’s coppery hood and Sarah Jessica Parker’s headdress inspired memes as well as searches; and Jason Derulo stumbled into the trends charts after rumors that he’d fallen on the Met’s stairs.
The mascot and margaritas
There were more than a million searches in the U.S. on Tuesday for Cinco de Mayo—in fact, for the past two years more searches for the holiday have taken place in the U.S. than in Mexico. As people looked into the history of the holiday, common questions include “Who won the Battle of Puebla?” and “What caused the conflict that led to the Battle of Puebla?” But for the most part, people seem to be in it for the food (and, we assume, the margaritas).
If tacos aren’t your thing, maybe hamburgers are? This week McDonald’s unveiled its new, updated Hamburglar character—and he’s very different from the masked mascot you remember from the 80’s and 90s. The new Hamburglar is being called the “hipster Hamburglar” and a “hot dad”; others are saying he looks “creepy” or like he’s in a “midlife crisis.” Whether you think the new Hamburglar is well done or a little undercooked, he’s stolen our attention to the tune of 20,000 searches.
Finally, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and search interest around the holiday has been on the rise since April as loved ones look for recipes, DIY gift tips, Mother’s Day quotes and more.
Tip of the week
Sunday’s not the day to forget a phone call. Set a reminder to call your mom with the Google app now. Then give her a ring just by saying “Ok Google, call mom.” Find more Mother’s Day tips at google.com/mothersday.
Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [phantom menace podcast] and [fug girls met ball]