News > Google
Category: Google | Aug 3, 2012
We work every day to create a more seamless, beautiful user experience—to give you a better, easier-to-use Google. This means continuously improving the products we offer, and recognizing when users of one product might have a better experience with another. Over the past year, we’ve made changes to around 50 products, features and services—donating, merging and shutting things down so we can focus on the high-impact products that millions of people use, multiple times a day. Today, we’re announcing a few more changes:
- We introduced Google Apps for Teams in 2008 to allow people with a verified business or school email address to collaborate using non-email applications from Google like Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Talk. Over time, we realized that Google Apps for Teams was not as useful for people as we originally anticipated. Beginning September 4, 2012, we’ll start converting existing Google Apps for Teams accounts into personal Google Accounts, and shutting down Google Apps for Teams. This change does not affect other editions of Google Apps.
- We launched Google Listen through Google Labs in August 2009, to give people a way to discover and listen to podcasts. However, with Google Play, people now have access to a wider variety of podcast apps, so we’ve discontinued Listen. People who have already installed the app can still use it, but after November 1, podcast search won’t function. You can access your podcast subscriptions in Google Reader in the “Listen Subscriptions” folder and download them from the Import/Export tab.
- Google Video for Business is a video hosting and sharing solution that allowed Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Education customers to use video for internal communication. Starting this fall, we’ll migrate all videos hosted on Google Video for Business over to Google Drive, which has similar storage and sharing capabilities. All migrated videos will be stored for free and will not count against a user’s Google Drive storage quota.
- Finally, Google maintains 150+ blogs and other communications channels about our products and services, and so over time we’ll also be closing a number of Google-created blogs that are either updated infrequently, or are redundant with other blogs. This doesn’t mean that we’ll be sharing any less information—we’ll just be posting our updates on our more popular channels.
Technology has the power to change people’s lives. But to make a difference, we need to carefully consider what to focus on, and make hard decisions about what we won’t pursue. This enables us to devote more time and resources giving you products you love, and making them better for you.
Posted by Max Ibel, Director of Engineering
Category: Google | Aug 2, 2012
For fifty years, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been the launch point for a generation of space technology and exploration. Countless enthusiasts (including this one) grew up longing to see a space shuttle up close and walk in the paths of astronauts. Today, a collaboration between NASA and Street View is enabling people around the world to take a trip to the doorway to outer space, and see Kennedy as it transitions into a multipurpose launch complex for the next 50 years of space innovation. This location is our largest special collection of Street View imagery to date, totaling 6,000 panoramic views of the facilities, and expanding our mission to document the world’s most amazing places.
Street View fleet at Kennedy Space Center
Among the images you can now explore online with the click of your mouse are the space shuttle launch pad, Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Firing Room #4. Gaze down from the top of the enormous launch pad, peer up at the towering ceiling of the Vehicle Assembly Building (taller than the Statue of Liberty) and get up close to one of the space shuttle’s main engines, which is powerful enough to generate 400,000 lbs of thrust. From these vantage points, anyone can live out his or her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.
Even though they recently entered retirement, you can still get an up-close, immersive experience with two of the Space Shuttle Orbiters—the Atlantis and Endeavour —with Street View.
We’d like to thank NASA for making this project possible and giving all of us the chance to digitally walk in the shoes of all of the pioneering astronauts, scientists, engineers and technicians that made our space dreams possible. To explore more of our largest special collection yet, visit our Street View gallery at maps.google.com/nasa.
Posted by Ryan Falor, Product Manager, Google Street View
Category: Google | Aug 2, 2012
The application for the 2013 Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards is now open. Given once a year, Google RISE Awards are designed to promote and support education initiatives in two key areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and Computer Science (CS). Google grants awards of $5,000 – $25,000 USD to organizations around the world working with K-12 and university students in these fields.
This year, our community welcomed more than two dozen organizations from around the world, from Denmark to Uganda and California to Romania. The RISE grants have helped these groups to scale their reach by allowing for more scholarship recipients, to deepen their impact by providing hands on robotics kits, and to ultimately inspire their students by creating a community for CS outreach.
Now, the RISE Awards have expanded to include applicants from Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, bringing our total to six continents and 243 countries. All eligible nations are listed on our website.
The growth of technology is undoubtable, and the impact technology will have on our future is equally undeniable. We believe it’s our duty to support students who have the uncanny ability not only to consume technology, but also to create it. We believe that inspiring the next generation of computer scientists will enrich the lives of not only individual students, but also the communities and countries they live in.
Show us what you can do to get students excited about STEM and CS! Submit your application by September 30, 2012. Awardees will be announced by January 2013.
Posted by Roxana Shirkhoda, K-12 Education Outreach Specialist
Category: Google | Aug 1, 2012
The 2012 NFL season is just over a month away, which means one thing for millions of fans around the world: it’s time for fantasy. Fantasy football has been around since the 1960s, and has become a great way to follow your favorite athletes—and stay in touch with the people you care about. This year, alongside the NFL, we’re giving fantasy football fans a new way to connect throughout the season: Google+ Hangouts. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
- From any NFL.com/fantasy page—including the Draft and Game Centers—you can now click a single button to start a hangout with your league
- Later this month, you’ll see a live indicator on NFL.com/fantasy if anyone in your league is already hanging out
Because most fans select their fantasy rosters in real time, and many leagues consist of people from across the globe, we think you’ll find that hangouts are a natural extension of your (healthy) obsession. Not only can you connect live with your friends on draft day; you can actually
gloat celebrate in person, regardless of where your league members are located. We’re also upping the number of hangout participants from 10 to 12 on NFL.com/fantasy, since the standard fantasy league has a dozen players.
Fantasy football hangout (top window), live indicator on NFL.com (right), chat bar on NFL.com (bottom-left)
Fantasy football hangouts don’t stop at the draft, however. Throughout the season you’ll be able to:
- Hang out with your friends to conduct trades, review league business or just chat while watching the game on TV
- Enjoy fantasy hangouts on the go or on the couch using the new Google+ app for phones and tablets (Android, iOS)
- Get advice from top NFL Fantasy commentators as they hang out with fans and discuss the week’s results
The +NFL Network will broadcast weekly highlights from some of these commentator hangouts. And of course, you can always share fantasy articles and tips with your circles—either from the NFL’s site, or their newly-launched Google+ page.
Visit NFL.com/fantasy today to sign up, and to prep for your draft via hangout. If you like football but haven’t yet played fantasy, this year’s a great time to start. After all, hangouts help make fantasy football about more than just the game; they’re a great way to build lasting relationships on any given Sunday (and every day in between).
Posted by Nikhyl Singhal, Google+ Product Director
Category: Google | Jul 31, 2012
Businesses around the world—from neighborhood restaurants to major retailers—are embracing social media to share information and forge stronger relationships with their fans and customers. We know because we are one of those businesses—on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Indeed, a social presence can complement all marketing campaigns—search, display, video, mobile, offline ads and more.
With this in mind, today we’re happy to share that the Wildfire team will be joining Google. Their co-founders, Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, launched their startup just four years ago. Since then, they and their team have built a service that helps businesses like Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify manage their social efforts across numerous social websites. It’s a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place.
The ultimate goal is better and fresher content, and more meaningful interactions. People today can make their voices heard in ways that were previously impossible, and Wildfire helps businesses uphold their end of the conversation (or spark a new one).
In a complex and changing landscape, businesses want to manage and measure these efforts in an integrated way. We’ve been working towards this end for some time. For example, Google Analytics helps businesses measure the contribution of hundreds of social sites; our Admeld service has helped to serve ads in Facebook developers’ social apps; and our DoubleClick platform enables clients to run and measure ads across social websites. On Google+, brands use services like Vitrue, Buddy Media and others to manage their pages, with many more to come.
With Wildfire, we’re looking forward to creating new opportunities for our clients to engage with people across all social services. We believe that better content and more seamless solutions will help unlock the full potential of the web for people and businesses.
Posted by Jason Miller, Product Management Director
Category: Google | Jul 26, 2012
Unlike searching on a desktop or laptop computer, when you’re searching on a touch-screen mobile device it’s often inconvenient to type. So we strive to give you a variety of ways to interact with Google, be it by speaking your queries, getting results before you finish typing, or searching by image. Now there’s a new way for you to interact with Google: Handwrite for web search on mobile phones and tablets.
Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet. Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device’s screen—there’s no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing.
Getting started is easy: go to Google.com in your mobile browser, tap on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen and enable “Handwrite.” Note that after you’ve saved the setting, you may need to refresh the homepage to see the feature.
On tablets, the Search settings are available as an option behind the gear icon.
Once the feature is enabled, tap the Handwrite icon on the bottom right corner of your screen to activate the writing surface. Write a few letters and you’ll see autocomplete options appear below the search box. If one of the options is what you’re looking for, just tap it to search. For longer queries, you can continue writing and use the arrows next to the autocompletions to move the right one into the search box. Since you can write anywhere, you don’t have to look back and forth repeatedly from the keyboard to the search box.
For more tips and tricks on how to use Handwrite, see our Help Center article. To make accessing Google.com faster, be sure to bookmark it and add it to your home screen.
We designed Handwrite to complement rather than replace typing: with the feature enabled, you can still use the keyboard at any time by tapping on the search box. Handwrite is experimental, and works better in some browsers than others—on Android devices, it works best in Chrome. For now, we’ve enabled Handwrite for iOS5+ devices, Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0+ tablets—in 27 languages.
Have fun with this new way of searching!
Posted by Rui Ueyama, Software Engineer
(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)
Category: Google | Jul 26, 2012
Our goal is to build products that will help improve our users’ lives. And when it comes to Internet access, it’s clear what provides a better user experience:
- Fast is better than slow. On the web, nobody wants to wait for a video to buffer or a website to load.
- Abundance is better than scarcity. There’s a plethora of rich content available online—and it’s increasingly only available to people who have the speeds and means to access it.
- Choice is better than no choice. Competition and choice help make products better for users.
With that in mind, we embarked on a journey to bring ultra-high speeds to Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. And today, we’re excited to announce Google Fiber. Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the web. Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.
When we asked people what they value in their Internet service, the majority of them simply said, “choice.” So we listened. Kansas Citians will choose where we install and when. We’ve divided Kansas City into small communities we call “fiberhoods.” To get service, each fiberhood needs a critical mass of their residents to pre-register. The fiberhoods with the highest pre-registration percentage will get Google Fiber first. Households in Kansas City can pre-register for the next six weeks, and they can rally their neighbors to pre-register, too. Once the pre-registration period is over, residents of the qualified fiberhoods will be able to choose between three different packages (including TV).
It’s easy to forget how revolutionary high-speed Internet access was in the 1990s. Not only did broadband kill the screeching sound of dial-up, it also spurred innovation, helping to create amazing new services as well as new job opportunities for many thousands of Americans. But today the Internet is not as fast as it should be. While high speed technology exists, the average Internet speed in the U.S. is still only 5.8 megabits per second (Mbps)—slightly faster than the maximum speed available 16 years ago when residential broadband was first introduced. Access speeds have simply not kept pace with the phenomenal increases in computing power and storage capacity that’s spurred innovation over the last decade, and that’s a challenge we’re excited to work on.
To find out more about the different service packages and the pre-registration process see our Google Fiber Blog, which we’ll regularly update with new information over the coming weeks. This is an exciting new project for Google and we can’t wait to get homes connected to Google Fiber in Kansas City—because we’re pretty certain that what people do with a gig will be awesome.
Posted by Milo Medin, Vice President, Access Services
(Cross-posted from the Google Fiber Blog)
Category: Google | Jul 24, 2012
Twenty-one of the world’s brightest young scientists gathered at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View today to celebrate their achievements and present their projects to a panel of renowned judges at the Google Science Fair finals.
Chosen from thousands of projects from more than 100 countries, these top 15 projects impressed the judges and public with their breadth of topics: from cancer research to vertical farming, 3D electronics to dementia. It was a tough decision, but we’re proud to name these three projects the winners of this year’s Google Science Fair:
- 13-14 age category: Jonah Kohn (USA)—“Good Vibrations: Improving the Music Experience for People with Hearing Loss Using Multi-Frequency Tactile Sound.” By creating a device that converts sound into tactile vibrations, Jonah’s project attempts to provide the hearing impaired with an improved experience of music.
- 15-16 age category: Iván Hervías Rodríguez, Marcos Ochoa and Sergio Pascual (Spain)—“La Vida Oculta del Agua (The Secret Life of Water).” Iván, Marcos and Sergio studied hidden microscopic life in fresh water, documenting the organisms that exist in a drop of water, and how those organisms influence our environment.
- 17-18 age category AND Grand Prize Winner: Brittany Wenger (USA)—“Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.” Brittany’s project harnesses the power of the cloud to help doctors accurately diagnose breast cancer. Brittany built an application that compares individual test results to an extensive dataset stored in the cloud, allowing doctors to assess tumors using a minimally-invasive procedure.
Each of the winners will receive prizes from Google and our Science Fair partners: CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and Scientific American. This evening, we also recognized Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela, from Swaziland, the winners of the Scientific American Science in Action award.
The judges were impressed with the quality of all the projects this year—and by the ingenuity, dedication and passion of the young scientists who created them. We applaud every contestant who submitted a project to the 2012 Google Science Fair and look forward to seeing the innovations, inventions and discoveries of young scientists in the years to come.
Posted by Cristin Frodella, Google in Education
Category: Google | Jul 20, 2012
Today, more than a billion Muslims around the world begin to observe the holy month of Ramadan, fasting from dawn to sunset. This year, we’re bringing some of the most venerable Ramadan traditions online.
We’re sharing the Islamic prayers live from Mecca on a dedicated YouTube channel. Millions of people from around the world will be able to experience and comment on the event by tuning in via video.
Ramadan is about more than just prayer; it is also a special moment to gather with friends and family. Muslims gather to watch special television shows produced for the holiday and shown only during Ramadan. Often the shows overlap in scheduling. This year, for the first time, YouTube is enabling people to watch their favorite shows anytime, anywhere. A new YouTube Ramadan channel lets viewers see more than 50 premium Ramadan shows the same day they air. In the clip below, famed Syrian actor Jamal Suliman appears in a drama:
Ramadan’s tastiest tradition is the food. After fasting through the day, families gather for evening break-the-fast meals called Iftar. Through Google+ Hangouts, we’re hosting 30 virtual get-togethers in the 30 days of Ramadan, in which celebrity chefs will share their favorite recipes and doctors will give tips on eating healthy.
The hangouts will engage people in subjects far beyond eating. Actors will talk about their favorite Ramadan shows. Poets will discuss literature inspired by the holiday. Religious figures will answer questions. Stay tuned to the Google Arabia page on Google+ for more details and join in.
We hope you enjoy experiencing your favorite Ramadan traditions with a digital twist this year. Ramadan Kareem!
Posted by Maha Abouelenein, Head of Communications Middle East and North Africa
Category: Google | Jul 19, 2012
Whether you’re travelling abroad or exploring your own city, the maps you carry with you should be comprehensive, accurate and easy to use. We’re constantly making improvements to Google Maps to help you find and discover places that are meaningful to you no matter where you are. And today, we’re launching updated maps of Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lesotho, Macau, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore and Vatican City to do just that.
As was the case for past updates, our new maps are more detailed and precise. For example, in Ireland we now have excellent coverage of National Heritage Areas, as well as more detailed coastlines and bodies of water:
We’ve also added more accurate names and locations for major points of interest, such as airports, universities and public squares. Here you can see St. Mark’s Square in Venice, now with accurately aligned canals, 3D buildings and detailed labels of the countless number of places to be discovered.
We’ve also added better and more clearly labelled ferry routes in many places, such as the area below surrounding Naples, Italy. Traveling by ferry is one of my favorite ways to explore a city—I love looking back from the water at the cityscapes—and this improvement will help you find the ferry routes you need to do the same. You can even use Google Maps to get transit-based directions for ferries. We take into account ferry timetables to route you over water just easily as you might follow our driving directions over land.
In addition to the above changes, local roads on these maps are now more accurately distinguished from highways, and multi-lingual names are available for a larger proportion of roads in many of the updated countries. These improvements give you a better visual feel of the location, as well as make it easier to navigate the area when you’re on the ground.
Of course, the world around us is always changing, so we’re making our “Report a problem” tool available in each of these countries as well. You can use it to send us a description of any corrections to be made, which we then incorporate into our maps, often within days.
Today’s improvements follow the recent expansion of our collection of Antarctic imagery, and are part of our ongoing effort to build maps that are comprehensive, accurate and easy to use. We’ve partnered with numerous authoritative sources to ensure that Google Maps is a living reflection of every corner of the globe. After all, a map is only as good as the data behind it. The maps that we’ve built will help ensure that you get correct and up-to-date information about the world around you.
Posted by Michael Weiss-Malik, Engineering Manager, Google Maps