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Category: Google | Mar 18, 2014
Most of us are rarely without our smartphones in hand. These powerful supercomputers keep us connected to the world and the people we love. But we’re only at the beginning; we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology. That’s why we’re so excited about wearables—they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word.
Android Wear: Information that moves with you
Today we’re announcing Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables. And we’re starting with the most familiar wearable—watches. Going well beyond the mere act of just telling you the time, a range of new devices along with an expansive catalogue of apps will give you:
- Useful information when you need it most. Android Wear shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them. The wide variety of Android applications means you’ll receive the latest posts and updates from your favorite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more.
- Straight answers to spoken questions. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game. Or say “Ok Google” to get stuff done, like calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm.
- The ability to better monitor your health and fitness. Hit your exercise goals with reminders and fitness summaries from Android Wear. Your favorite fitness apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.
- Your key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear lets you access and control other devices from your wrist. Just say “Ok Google” to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV. There’s a lot of possibilities here so we’re eager to see what developers build.
If you’re a developer, there’s a new section on developer.android.com/wear focused on wearables. Starting today, you can download a Developer Preview so you can tailor your existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear. Because Android for wearables works with Android’s rich notification system, many apps will already work well. Look out for more developer resources and APIs coming soon. We’re also already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year.
We’re always seeking new ways for technology to help people live their lives and this is just another step in that journey. Here’s to getting the most out of the many screens you use every day—whether in your car, in your pocket or, very soon, on your wrist.
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps
Category: Google | Mar 17, 2014
Today, residents of Vancouver, Canada, will notice a new addition to their scenic waterfront: an interactive artwork on one of the largest textile sculptures ever. The piece, entitled Unnumbered Sparks, is a collaboration between artist Janet Echelman and Google Creative Director Aaron Koblin, as part of TED’s 30th annual conference.
Echelman is known for building sculptures that respond to the forces of nature—wind, water and light—and this project is no exception. Made from ultralight fibers, the sculpture soars from the roof of a skyscraper over the water and walkways near the Vancouver Convention Center (site map). As visitors collaborate via mobile devices, they create colors and ripples that move over its surface.
Photo by Ema Peter
What’s not obvious to the public is when you look at the sculpture, you’re actually looking at a web browser. The interactive lighting is actually one giant Chrome window, stretched across the 300-foot long sculpture with the help of five high-definition projectors. To interact, visitors open a website using Chrome or other modern mobile browser on their smartphone or tablet. After selecting a color, they use their fingers to trace paths along the surface of their device, which are then projected onto the sculpture in real-time as colorful beams of light. The result is a crowd-controlled visual experiment on a giant, floating canvas.
Photo by Ema Peter
Watch this short documentary to get a quick look at the work involved in creating this project:
Art and technology are continuously evolving together, and we hope that this project showcases the opportunity for mobile devices and the web to play a part in that evolution. We all carry devices in our pockets that have the power to connect with people around the world, but rarely do we get a chance to use this incredible power to connect and create with the people standing next to us. With Unnumbered Sparks, we hope to turn strangers into collaborators, working together to create a single piece of art on this amazing canvas.
Posted by Jenny Ramaswamy, Google Creative Lab
Category: Google | Mar 13, 2014
Having launched Google Drive just two years ago, we’re excited that so many people are now using it as their go-to place for keeping all their files. Whether it’s all the footage of your kids’ baseball games, the novel you’re working on, or even just your grocery list for the week, we all have files that are too important to lose. Today, thanks to a number of recent infrastructure improvements, we’re able to make it more affordable for you to keep everything safe and easy to reach on any device, from anywhere.
We’ve lowered the price of our monthly storage plans to $1.99 for 100GB (previously $4.99), $9.99 for 1TB (previously $49.99), and $99.99 for 10TB, with even more storage available if you need it. How big is a terabyte anyway? Well, that’s enough storage for you to take a selfie twice a day for the next 200 years and still have room left over for… shall we say… less important things. Like before, storage continues to work across Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos. And, of course, the 15GB plan remains free.
You can sign up for one of these new Google Drive plans at www.google.com/settings/storage. If you already pay for storage, you’ll automatically move to a better plan at no additional cost. You can visit the storage purchase page to make a change or review your account, and see the Help Center for more information on these simpler storage options.
Posted by Scott Johnston, Director of Product Management
Category: Google | Mar 12, 2014
On the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, we’re pleased to share this guest post from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. In this post he reflects on the past, present and future of the web—and encourages the rest of us to fight to keep it free and open. -Ed.
Today is the web’s 25th birthday. On March 12, 1989, I distributed a proposal to improve information flows: “a ‘web’ of notes with links between them.”
Though CERN, as a physics lab, couldn’t justify such a general software project, my boss Mike Sendall allowed me to work on it on the side. In 1990, I wrote the first browser and editor. In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever.
The first web server, used by Tim Berners-Lee. Photo via Wikipedia
This decision enabled tens of thousands to start working together to build the web. Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and healthcare and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we’re just getting started.
How has this happened? By design, the underlying Internet and the WWW are non-hierarchical, decentralized and radically open. The web can be made to work with any type of information, on any device, with any software, in any language. You can link to any piece of information. You don’t need to ask for permission. What you create is limited only by your imagination.
So today is a day to celebrate. But it’s also an occasion to think, discuss—and do. Key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet are looming, and it’s vital for all of us to speak up for the web’s future. How can we ensure that the other 60 percent around the world who are not connected get online fast? How can we make sure that the web supports all languages and cultures, not just the dominant ones? How do we build consensus around open standards to link the coming Internet of Things? Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public? These are some of my questions—what are yours?
On the 25th birthday of the web, I ask you to join in—to help us imagine and build the future standards for the web, and to press for every country to develop a digital bill of rights to advance a free and open web for everyone. Learn more at webat25.org, and speak up for the sort of web we really want with #web25.
Posted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web
Category: Google | Mar 10, 2014
Tobi Mueller started coding when his grandfather, who works in IT, gave him access to a spare PC. It was a sweet 286 machine which Tobi learned to program with the then-popular teaching language Pascal. He eventually became interested in free and open source software, but it was Google Summer of Code (GSoC) that helped transform Tobi into the free software contributor he is today.
Tobi was a GSoC student in 2007 for GNOME, a free software desktop environment. He’s been a regular contributor to the GNOME community ever since—and in 2012, Tobi was elected to the GNOME Foundation board of directors.
Tobi is one of more than 7,500 students who have participated in Google Summer of Code program over the past nine years. Every summer, GSoC participants work with various organizations in the open source community, building important technical skills and gaining workplace experience. Students aren’t the only ones who benefit; their projects also give back to the open source community. Karen Sandler, GNOME’s executive director, told us how Google Summer of Code “encourages and empowers” new contributors and helps “invigorate projects.”
So if you’re a university student looking to earn real-world experience this summer, we hope you’ll consider coding for a cool open source project with Google Summer of Code. We’re celebrating the 10th year of the program in 2014, and we’d love to see more student applicants than ever before. In 2013 we accepted almost 1,200 students and we’re planning to accept 10 percent more this year.
You can submit proposals on our website starting now through Friday, March 21 at 12:00pm PDT. Get started by reviewing the ideas pages of the 190 open source projects in this year’s program, and decide which projects you’re interested in. There are a limited number of spots, and writing a great project proposal is essential to being selected to the program—so be sure to check out the Student Manual for advice. For ongoing information throughout the application period and beyond, see the Google Open Source blog.
Good luck to all the open source coders out there, and remember to submit your proposals early—you only have until March 21 to apply!
Posted by Carol Smith, Google Open Source team
Category: Google | Mar 8, 2014
Picture the women in your life—the women you admire. Your grandma. Your daughter. Toni Morrison. Maria Klawe. Temple Grandin. Malala. Somaly Mam. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate these phenomenal women and all the others around the world—to recognize their impact on society, and to focus on what still needs to be done to achieve gender equality. Today, Google is joining in and showcasing inspiring women of the past and present through a series of events, new content on the Cultural Institute and—of course—a doodle. Join us in celebrating women worldwide!
Celebrating technical women on stage at global Women Techmakers events
To help increase visibility, community and resources for technical women, we’re launching a series of 100+ Women Techmakers events in 52 countries to celebrate and support passionate techmakers around the world. Starting today and throughout March, the event series will feature panel discussions with talented female technology leaders, hands-on career planning workshops, networking opportunities and more. To learn more about the program and find an event near you, visit g.co/womentechmakers.
Shining a light on women in history and their collective impact
The Google Cultural Institute is launching Women in Culture, a new channel featuring exhibits that tell stories of women—some familiar and some lesser-known—and their impact on the world. Starting today, you can browse 18 new exhibits, from both new and existing Cultural Institute partners, including:
Since history has so often been biased, leaving out or sidelining contributions from women, the channel is also integrated with the rest of the Cultural Institute collections, making it easier for people to discover even more amazing stories about women throughout history.
A homepage homage
Women have been underrepresented in the history-telling of almost all fields: science, school curricula, business, politics—and, sadly, doodles. In addition to our continued effort for doodle diversity and inclusion, today’s truly International Women’s Day doodle features a host of more than 100 inspiring women from around the world, including the President of Lithuania, a brave Pakistani education activist, the most recorded artist in music history, an ever-curious explorer and dozens more.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Posted by Kyle Ewing, People Operations
Category: Google | Mar 5, 2014
At age 40, my mom quit her job to start an employment agency for people with disabilities. Over the next few years and without a college degree or any formal funding, she grew her business to employ more than 30 people and serve thousands of clients.
Though to me she’s one-of-a-kind, it turns out there are other women like my mom out there. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, women make up 30 percent of U.S. business owners and employ nearly 7.8 million workers. Even though women-owned enterprises operate with far less capital, in the venture-backed tech industry, they produce 12 percent higher returns. That means that not only is supporting women in business the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.
In an effort to find new ways to advance female entrepreneurs, this week Google for Entrepreneurs is committing $1 million in aggregate to 40 startup-focused organizations, challenging them to increase the representation of women in their respective tech communities. From simply changing the times of events to accommodate busy moms to teaching young girls to see themselves as entrepreneurs, 40 of our partner communities will soon launch new programs and outreach initiatives to encourage women founders. We’re calling this collective effort #40Forward. Here are a few highlights from our global community:
- 1871 in Chicago is launching a new accelerator program for women founded or co-founded companies that’s more flexible and family-friendly, with a customized plan for each startup.
- Gaza Sky Geeks in Gaza is providing rewards for women attending startup events to demonstrate the economic value of them getting involved in tech to their families.
- Startup Grind chapters all over the world are hosting Women Take the Stage fireside chats featuring successful women business leaders in their communities.
- Outbox in Uganda is launching a year-long training to teach young women programming and entrepreneurial skills.
- Astia is increasing female entrepreneurs’ access to capital by creating monthly opportunities for women-led companies to pitch to world-class investors.
Along with our 40 partners, we hope to create more inclusive networks and to move the needle for entrepreneurs like my mom—and young women like me who aspire to be like her. Follow and participate in the conversation throughout the month of March using #40Forward on Google+ and Twitter.
Posted by Bridgette Sexton Beam, Global Entrepreneurship Manager
Category: Google | Feb 27, 2014
This guest post is from Krista Wright, the executive director of Polar Bears International. We’ve partnered with PBI to share a fascinating look at polar bears in the wild using Google Maps. -Ed.
In Inuit poetry, the polar bear is known as Pihoqahiak, the ever-wandering one. Some of the most majestic and elusive creatures in the world, polar bears travel hundreds of miles every year, wandering the tundra and Arctic sea ice in search of food and mates. Today, with the help of Street View, we’re celebrating International Polar Bear Day by sharing an intimate look at polar bears in their natural habitat.
The Street View Trekker, mounted on a Tundra Buggy, captures images of Churchill’s polar bears
We’ve joined forces with Google Maps to collect Street View imagery from a remote corner of Canada’s tundra: Churchill, Manitoba, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters Frontiers North, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “Tundra Buggy,” allowing us to travel across this fragile landscape without interfering with the polar bears or other native species. Through October and November we collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the sea ice to freeze over.
One of Churchill, Manitoba’s Polar Bears on Street View
Modern cartography and polar bear conservation
There’s more to this effort than images of cuddly bears, though. PBI has been working in this region for more than 20 years, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact of warmer temperatures and melting sea ice on the polar bear’s environment. Understanding global warming, and its impact on polar bear populations, requires both global and regional benchmarks. Bringing Street View to Canada’s tundra establishes a baseline record of imagery associated with specific geospatial data—information that’s critical if we’re to understand and communicate the impact of climate change on their sensitive ecosystem. As we work to safeguard their habitat, PBI can add Street View imagery to the essential tools we use to assess and respond to the biggest threat facing polar bears today.
We also use the Google Maps API to support our Bear Tracker, which illustrates the frozen odyssey these bears embark on every year. As winter approaches and the sea ice freezes over, polar bears head out onto Hudson Bay to hunt for seals. Bear Tracker uses of satellite monitors and an interactive Google Map to display their migration for a global audience.
Mapping the communities of Canada’s Arctic
Google’s trip north builds on work they’ve done in the Arctic communities of Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit. In the town of Churchill, the Google Maps team conducted a community MapUp, which let participants use Map Maker to edit and add to the Google Map. From the Town Centre Complex, which includes the local school, rink and movie theatre, to the bear holding facility used to keep polar bears who have wandered into town until their release can be planned, the citizens of the Churchill made sure Google Maps reflects the community that they know.
But building an accurate and comprehensive map of Canada’s north also means heading out of town to explore this country’s expansive tundra. And thanks to this collaboration with Google Maps, people around the world now have the opportunity to virtually experience Canada’s spectacular landscape—and maybe take a few moments to wander in the footsteps of the polar bear.
Posted by Krista Wright, Executive Director of Polar Bears International
Category: Google | Feb 19, 2014
Over the coming weeks the new Google Maps will make its way onto desktops around the world. Many of you have been previewing it since its debut last May, and thanks to your helpful feedback we’re ready to make the new Maps even more widely available.
It’s now even easier to plan your next trip, check live traffic conditions, discover what’s happening around town, and learn about a new area—with Pegman’s help if needed. Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect in the new Google Maps:
- Make smarter decisions. Simply search for “coffee” in your neighborhood, and you’ll be able to see results and snippets right on the map. When you click on a cafe, the map will suggest related results that you may not have known about.
- Get where you’re going, faster. Car? Bike? Train? Find the most efficient route for you, with your best options laid out on the map, including the time and distance for each route. And with the new real-time traffic reports and Street View previews, you’ll become a commuting ninja.
- See the world from every angle. Rich imagery takes you to notable landmarks, sends you flying above mountains in 3D, and gives you a sneak peek of businesses you plan to visit. The new “carousel” at the bottom of the map makes all this imagery easy to access, so you can explore the world with a click.
With any product redesign, there may be bumps along the road. We’re hoping that you’re as excited as we are to navigate uncharted territory in pursuit of the perfect map. As always, we want to hear what you think as we work to improve the new Maps over time.
Here’s to many more years of mapping together!
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps
Category: Google | Feb 19, 2014
Over the last few years, gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, with dozens of communities (PDF) working hard to build networks with speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today. People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority. Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S. have stated (PDF) that abundant high-speed Internet access is essential for sparking innovation, driving economic growth and improving education. Portland, Nashville (PDF) and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans. And Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, declared in June that every school should have access to gigabit speeds by 2020.
We’ve long believed that the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it’s fantastic to see this momentum. And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks. So we’ve invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.
We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.
We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.
While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network. In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog by industry expert Joanne Hovis. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.
Posted by Milo Medin, VP, Google Access Services