News > Google
Category: Google | May 30, 2013
As we search for investments that can help speed up the adoption of renewable energy, we’ve been looking beyond the U.S. and Europe to parts of the world where our investments can have an even greater impact. We’ve just closed our first investment in Africa: $12 million USD (103 million Rand) investment in the Jasper Power Project, a 96 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Upon completion, Jasper will be one of the largest solar installations on the continent, capable of generating enough electricity to power 30,000 South African homes. The project, developed and funded by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, is also backed by Rand Merchant Bank, the Public Investment Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust.
View Jasper Power Project in a larger map
The Jasper Power Project is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, near Postmasburg
When we consider investing in a renewable energy project
, we focus on two key factors. First, we only pursue investments that we believe make financial sense. South Africa’s strong resources and supportive policies for renewable energy make it an attractive place to invest—which is why it had the highest growth in clean energy investment in the world last year. Second, we look for projects that have transformative potential—that is, projects that will bolster the growth of the renewable energy industry and move the world closer to a clean energy future. The Jasper Power Project is one of those transformative opportunities. To explain why, perhaps some background would be helpful.
Back in 2008, South Africa experienced a severe energy shortage, which resulted in blackouts throughout the country and slowed down economic growth. Since then the South African government has been actively supporting the growth of new sources of electricity to power the nation. While today South Africa is primarily dependent on fossil fuels, there’s lots of potential for renewable energy—it’s a country blessed with abundant wind and solar resources—and the government has set an ambitious goal of generating 18 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030 (as a comparison, the entire South African grid is currently 44 GW
To meet this goal, the South African government has established the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program
(REIPPPP). Through the program, renewable energy projects compete on the basis of cost and contribution to the local economy to be awarded a contract with Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned energy utility. Jasper and the other projects being developed through the REIPPPP have the potential to transform the South African energy grid. And given South Africa’s position as an economic powerhouse in Africa, a greener grid in South Africa can set an example for the whole continent.
Once constructed, the project will use solar panels like these.
Just as compelling are the economic and social benefits that the project will bring to the local community. Jasper will create approximately 300 construction and 50 permanent jobs in a region experiencing high rates of unemployment, as well as providing rural development and education programs and setting aside a portion of total project revenues—amounting to approximately $26 million over the life of the project—for enterprise and socio-economic development. We appreciate how forward-thinking the South African government has been in designing the REIPPPP to encourage these kinds of local economic benefits.
Google has committed more than $1 billion to renewable energy investments and we continue to search for new opportunities. Our search has brought us from the U.S. to Europe and now to Africa. We’re excited to see where else it might lead.
Posted by Rick Needham, Director, Energy & Sustainability
Category: Google | May 29, 2013
We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more. All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, Gmail is getting a brand new inbox on desktop and mobile that puts you back in control using simple, easy organization.
On the desktop, the new inbox groups your mail into categories which appear as different tabs. You simply choose which categories you want and voilà! Your inbox is organized in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when.
You can easily customize the new inbox—select the tabs you want from all five to none, drag-and-drop to move messages between tabs, set certain senders to always appear in a particular tab and star messages so that they also appear in the Primary tab.
In the Gmail for Android 4.0+ and Gmail for iPhone and iPad apps, you’ll see your Primary mail when you open the app and you can easily navigate to the other tabs.
If the new inbox isn’t quite your style, you can simply switch off all optional tabs to go back to classic view, or switch to any of your other favorite inbox types.
The new inbox is rolling out gradually. The desktop, Android and iOS versions will become available within the next few weeks. If you’d like to try out the new inbox on Desktop sooner, keep an eye on the gear menu and select Configure inbox when it appears in the Settings options.
Posted by Itamar Gilad, Product Manager
Category: Google | May 23, 2013
The Galapagos Islands are some of the most biologically unique ecosystems in the world. Explorers and scientists alike have long studied and marveled at these islands—made famous by Charles Darwin. The Ecuadorean Government, local conservation groups and scientists are working to protect the Galapagos from threats posed by invasive species, climate change and other human impacts.
It’s critical that we share images with the world of this place in order to continue to study and preserve the islands’ unique biodiversity. Today we’re honored to announce, in partnership with Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD), that we’ve collected panoramic imagery of the islands with the Street View Trekker. These stunning images will be available on Google Maps later this year so people around the world can experience this remote archipelago.
Daniel Orellana of Charles Darwin Foundation crossing a field of ferns to reach Minas de Azufre (naturally-occurring sulfur mines) on the top of Sierra Negra, an active volcano on Isabela Island. The Google Maps team traveled for more than three hours, hiking and on horseback, to reach this remote location.
Images, like the one you see above, are also an important visual record that the CDF and GNPD will use to study and protect the islands by showing the world how these delicate environments have changed over time.
Daniel Orellana of the Charles Darwin Foundation climbs out of a lava tunnel where he was collecting imagery. The dramatic lava landscapes found on Isabela island tell the story of the formation of the Galapagos Islands.
Our 10-day adventure in the Galapagos was full of hiking, boating and diving around the islands (in hot and humid conditions) to capture 360-degree images of the unique wildlife and geological features of the islands with the Trekker. We captured imagery from 10 locations that were hand-selected by CDF and GNPD. We walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra.
A Galapagos giant tortoise crawls along the path near Googler Karin Tuxen-Bettman while she collects imagery with the Street View Trekker in Galapaguera, a tortoise breeding center, which is managed by the Galapagos National Park Service.
Life underwater in the Galapagos is just as diverse as life on land. We knew our map of the islands wouldn’t be comprehensive without exploring the ocean that surrounds them. So for the second time we teamed up with the folks at the Catlin Seaview Survey to collect underwater panoramic imagery of areas being studied by CDF and GNPD. This imagery will be used by Catlin Seaview Survey to create a visual and scientific baseline record of the marine environment surrounding the islands, allowing for any future changes to be measured and evaluated by scientists around the world.
Christophe Bailhache navigates the SVII camera through a large group of Sea Lions at Champion Island in Galapagos. Image courtesy of the Catlin Seaview Survey.
We truly believe that in order to protect these Galapagos Islands, we must understand them. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We hope this Street View imagery not only advances the important scientific research, but also inspires you to learn more about this special place. Stay tuned for updates on this collection—the first time we’ve captured imagery from both land and sea! We can’t wait to share this amazing imagery with you later this year.
Posted by Raleigh Seamster, Project Lead, Google Maps
Category: Google | May 22, 2013
After 130,000 submissions and millions of votes cast, Sabrina Brady of Sparta, Wisc. has been named the 2013 U.S. Doodle 4 Google National Winner. Her doodle, “Coming Home,” will be featured on the Google homepage in the U.S. tomorrow, May 23.
Students across all 50 states amazed us with their creative interpretations of this year’s theme, “My Best Day Ever…” From scuba diving to dinosaurs to exploring outer space, we were wowed by the ways young artists brought their best days to life in their doodles.
Sabrina’s doodle stood out in the crowd; it tells the story of her reunion with her father as he returned from an 18 month deployment in Iraq. Her creative use of the Google letters to illustrate this heartfelt moment clearly resonated with voters across the country and all of us at Google.
In addition to seeing her artwork on the Google homepage, Sabrina—who is in 12th grade at Sparta High School—will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer and a $50,000 technology grant for her school. She will attend Minneapolis College of Art and Design this coming fall, where she will continue her artistic pursuits. Congratulations Sabrina!
In addition to the National Winner, voters across the country helped us determine the four National Finalists, who will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship:
- Grades K-3: Reagan Gonsalves (Grade 1, Santan Elementary School, Chandler, Ariz.) for her doodle “My best day ever is learning about nature.” Reagan says, “My best day ever is to be around the pretty animals and plants in nature, because I love to know about what is around me. I love to watch hummingbirds drink nectar out of flowers. I love to read books on nature and how plants and animals grow.”
- Grades 4-5: Audrey Zhang (Grade 4, Michael F. Stokes Elementary School, Levittown, N.Y.) for her doodle “…When I discover paradise!” Zhang says, “My best day ever will be when I discover paradise. In paradise, I could play with dragons, romp with leopards, and chat with fairies…It would be the best day ever when I could finally live in a mystical, dreamy realm.”
- Grades 6-7: Maria Iannone (Grade 7, Chestnut Ridge Middle School, Sewell, N.J.) for her doodle “The best day ever.” Maria says, “Where I live, it’s difficult to view the night sky very well. Having an interest in astronomy, a day where I can observe the things I study on my own time would satisfy me.”
- Grades 8-9: Joseph Han (Grade 8, Falmouth Middle School, Falmouth, Maine) for his doodle “Late-afternoon bliss.” Joey says, “For me, ‘the best day ever’ doesn’t consist of ambitious dreams, but rather the enjoyment of a day spent in carefree euphoria. Being in the woods is something that evokes such happiness in me. The lighthearted joy of rafting, fishing or catching fireflies is what I’ve attempted to capture.”
After the awards ceremony, all 50 of our State Winners will unveil a special exhibition of their artwork at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where their doodles will be displayed for the public to view from May 22 – July 14.
Thanks to all who voted and helped us select the 2013 Doodle 4 Google winners. Even more importantly, thank you to all of the students who submitted their artwork and the parents and teachers who continue to inspire and support their young artists. Until next year… happy doodling!
Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead
Category: Google | May 22, 2013
Ever wonder what the world is searching for? With Google Trends, you can see what’s hot right now, and also explore the history and geography of a topic as it evolves. Today you’ll find new charts of the most-searched people, places and things in more than 40 categories, from movies to sports teams to tourist attractions. You’ll also find a new colorful visualization of real-time Hot Searches.
Top Charts—a new monthly “spirit of the times”
Top Charts are lists of real-world people, places and things ranked by search interest. They show information similar to our Year-End Zeitgeist, but updated monthly and going back to 2004. To check them out, go to Google Trends and click “Top Charts” on the left-hand side. For example, you can see the 10 most-searched cities, movies and scientists in April:
Top Charts includes more than 40 top 10 lists and more than 140 time periods. Hover on a chart for links to embed the chart in your own page or share on social media.
Top Charts is built on the Knowledge Graph, so the data shows interest in real-world things, not just keywords. When you look at a chart of sports teams and you see the Golden State Warriors, those rankings are based on many different related searches, like [gs warriors], [golden state bball] and [warriors basketball]. That way you see which topics are most popular on Google Search, however people search for them. Top Charts provide our most accurate search volume rankings, but no algorithm is perfect, so on rare occasion you may find anomalies in the data. You can learn more about Top Charts in our Help Center.
Hot Searches, now in hot colors
In addition to Top Charts, now there’s a vibrant new way to visualize trending searches as they happen. On the Trends homepage in the left-hand panel, you’ll find a new link to “Visualize Hot Searches in full-screen.” You’ll see the latest trending topics appear in a colorful display:
You can customize the layout by clicking the icon in the upper-left corner and expanding it to see as many as 25 searches at a time. You can also pick any region currently supported by Hot Searches. Use fullscreen mode in your browser for the biggest, purest eye candy.
…and a few design updates
We’re also continuing to spruce up our site. Among other things, now the homepage shows you more interesting stuff up front, and the search box is always available at the top:
The new Trends homepage shows a list of today’s Hot Searches. Enter search terms at the top to see search interest over time and by geography.
We hope you enjoy bringing new stories to life with Google Trends. We love feedback, so please feel free to let us know what you think by posting online or by clicking “Send Feedback” at the bottom of any page in Google Trends.
Posted by Roni Rabin, Software Engineer
Category: Google | May 21, 2013
Dr. Anita Borg revolutionized the way we think about technology and worked to dismantle the barriers that keep women and minorities from entering the computing and technology fields. In her lifetime, Anita founded the Institute for Women and Technology (now The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology), began an online community called Systers for technical women, and co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. We’re proud to honor her memory through the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, established in 2004.
Today we’d like to recognize and congratulate the 30 Google Anita Borg Memorial scholars and the 30 Google Anita Borg Memorial finalists for 2013. The scholars, who attend universities in the United States and Canada, will join the annual Google Scholars’ Retreat this summer in New York City, where they will have the opportunity to attend tech talks on Google products, network with other scholars and Googlers, participate in developmental activities and sessions, and attend social activities. This year, the scholars will also have the opportunity to participate in a scholars’ edition of 24HoursOfGood, a hackathon in partnership with local non-profit organizations who work on education and STEM initiatives to make progress against a technical problem that is critical to their organization’s success.
Find out more (PDF) about our winners, including the institutions they attend. Soon we’ll select the Anita Borg scholars from our programs around the world. For more information on all our scholarships, visit the Google Scholarships site.
Posted by Azusa Liu, Student Development Programs Specialist
Category: Google | May 21, 2013
Every day on the Art Project Google+ page we post a snippet of information about a painting, an artist or a talk—and every day, at least one of our 4 million followers has something to say in response. We’re constantly delighted by how the appetite for art online is growing and today we have a veritable feast in store with a swathe of fresh artworks, gigapixel paintings and museums on Street View.
New artworks from the famous to the unusual
Mario Testino is a world-famous photographer, known for his work in the fashion industry. Fewer people are aware of his photographs focusing on the culture of his native Peru. A new body of photographs called “Alta Moda” (high fashion), featuring Andean people in traditional and festive dress, is currently on display in Testino’s cultural institution, MATE. And for those of you not lucky enough to visit Lima, you can now see this collection of 27 photos online on the Google Art Project.
In total, we have more than 1,500 new high-resolution artworks including masterpieces such as Monet’s “Waterlilies,” Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Man in a Broad-Brimmed Hat” and Johannes Vermeer’s “The Geographer” (meaning Art Project now houses 15 of his 34 total works, all contributed by different museums). However, the diversity goes well beyond paintings; from ancestral relics used to worship the dead to an ancient Jinsha gold mask from China thought to have been worn by sorcerers. Often the old contrasts with the new, with inscribed Arabic gemstones existing alongside contemporary glass structures from Germany as you can see in this “Compare” image below.
Zoom in to “gigapixel” paintings
Gigapixel paintings—very high-resolution works which enable you to zoom in at brushstroke level—have long been at the heart of the Art Project. They’re a great example of the magic that can happen when technology meets art—and today we have 16 new ones to add, ranging from famous pieces like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch to those chosen by public vote such as “Whitewashing the Old House” by L.A. Ring.
The beauty of gigapixels is their ability to surprise. Look at the painting “Fra Stalheim” by Johan Christian Dahl, shown in full on the left below. You’ll see a beautiful landscape. Zoom in, however, and you discover scenes within a scene—a village with smoking chimneys, a woman tending to her child, and cows grazing on the hillside. Details that can’t always be fully appreciated by the naked eye are brought to life online.
Immerse yourself in Street View
Through Street View and the Google Art Project, many museums have opened their galleries to the world the past few years, and today we’re launching 20 more. For example, Fondation Beyeler Museum in Switzerland houses a collection of seven Mark Rothko paintings. Now anyone in the world can virtually explore the collection.
Of course art collections are not exclusively found in museums—we’re delighted to have our first monastery on Street View in the Art Project. The Monastery of St. John the Theologian on the Greek island of Patmos was founded in 1088 and is a World Heritage Site. In addition to their 116 contributed artworks, you can also explore the architectural splendors of this ancient building.
Jump inside a whole range of beautiful buildings and corridors here by clicking on the orange pegman where it appears.
In a week that celebrates International Museum Day, we’re glad to be able to showcase some of the great treasures held by museums and cultural institutions the world over. There are so many benefits to bringing more content online, be it discovering a new style of art or artist, creating your own gallery, stumbling across a hidden detail of a painting you thought you knew or simply being inspired by something beautiful. With more than 40,000 total works and 250+ cultural organisations around the globe, we hope the experience will be more enriching than ever.
Posted by Marzia Niccolai, Google Art Project
Category: Google | May 15, 2013
This morning, we kicked off the 6th annual Google I/O developer conference with over 6,000 developers at Moscone Center in San Francisco, 460 I/O Extended sites in 90 countries, and millions of you around the world who tuned in via our livestream. Over the next three days, we’ll be hosting technical sessions, hands-on code labs, and demonstrations of Google’s products and partners’ technology.
We believe computing is going through one of the most exciting moments in its history: people are increasingly adopting phones, tablets and newer type of devices. And this spread of technology has the potential to make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world—whether it’s simply helping you in your daily commute, or connecting you to information that was previously inaccessible.
This is why we focus so much on our two open platforms: Android and Chrome. They enable developers to innovate and reach as many people as possible with their apps and services across multiple devices. Android started as a simple idea to advance open standards on mobile; today it is the world’s leading mobile platform and growing rapidly. Similarly, Chrome launched less than five years ago from an open source project; today it’s the world’s most popular browser.
In line with that vision, we made several announcements today designed to give developers even more tools to build great apps on Android and Chrome. We also shared new innovations from across Google meant to help make life just a little easier for you, including improvements in search, communications, photos, and maps.
Here’s a quick look at some of the announcements we made at I/O:
- Android & Google Play: In addition to new developer tools, we unveiled Google Play Music All Access, a monthly music subscription service with access to millions of songs that joins our music store and locker; and the Google Play game services with real-time multiplayer and leaderboards. Also, coming next month to Google Play is a special Samsung Galaxy S4, which brings together cutting edge hardware from Samsung with Google’s latest software and services—including the user experience that ships with our popular Nexus devices.
- Chrome: With over 750 million active users on Chrome, we’re now focused on bringing to mobile the speed, simplicity and security improvements that we’ve seen on the desktop. To that end, today we previewed next-generation video codec VP9 for faster video-streaming performance; the requestAutocomplete API for faster payments; and Chrome Experiments such as “A Journey Through Middle Earth” and Racer to demonstrate the ability to create immersive mobile experiences not possible in years past.
- Google+: We unveiled the newly designed Google+, which helps you easily explore content as well dramatically improve your online photo experience to give you crisp, beautiful photos—without the work! We also upgraded Google+ Hangouts—our popular group video application—to help bring all of your real-life conversations online, across any device or platform, and with groups of up to 10 friends.
- Search: Search has evolved considerably in recent years: it can now have a real conversation with you, and even make your day a bit smoother by predicting information you might need. Today we added the ability to set reminders by voice and we previewed “spoken answers” on laptops and desktops in Chrome—meaning you can ask Google a question and it will speak the answer back to you.
- Maps: Today we previewed the next generation of Google Maps, which gets rid of any clutter in order to put your individual experience and exploration front and center. Each time you click or search, our technology draws you a tailored map that highlights the information you need. From design to directions, the new Google Maps is smarter and more useful.
Technology can have a profound, positive impact on the daily lives of billions of people. But we can’t do this alone—developers play a crucial role. I/O is our chance to come together and thank you for everything you do.
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps
Category: Google | May 9, 2013
Today, we’re making it possible for you to go back in time and get a stunning historical perspective on the changes to the Earth’s surface over time. Working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and TIME, we’re releasing more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space, compiled for the first time into an interactive time-lapse experience. We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.
Built from millions of satellite images and trillions of pixels, you can explore this global, zoomable time-lapse map as part of TIME’s new Timelapse project. View stunning phenomena such as the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and urban growth in Las Vegas from 1984 to 2012:
The images were collected as part of an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landsat. Their satellites have been observing earth from space since the 1970s—with all of the images sent back to Earth and archived on USGS tape drives that look something like this example (courtesy of the USGS).
We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.
As the final step, we worked with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, recipients of a Google Focused Research Award, to convert these annual Earth images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation. Check it out on Google’s Timelapse website.
Much like the iconic image of Earth from the Apollo 17 mission—which had a profound effect on many of us—this time-lapse map is not only fascinating to explore, but we also hope it can inform the global community’s thinking about how we live on our planet and the policies that will guide us in the future. A special thanks to all our partners who helped us to make this happen.
Posted by Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager, Google Earth Engine & Earth Outreach
Category: Google | May 8, 2013
Developers today have the power to introduce powerful, breakthrough technologies to the world through their code. That’s why we look forward to bringing Google developers together year after year at Google I/O, our annual developer conference. In one week, we’ll welcome more than 6,000 developers to I/O through the doors of Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco, Calif.—and many more via our event’s live streams. If you’re looking for inspiration and want to learn more about the future of our products, we hope you’ll tune in to our live keynote and technical sessions.
Starting on May 15 at 9 a.m. PT (16:00 UTC), join us as Google Developers Live (GDL) powers multiple channels of live streamed content from Google I/O on developers.google.com/io. On this page, you can:
- Stream the keynote on your computer, tablet or phone. Get in on the action, and listen to product and technology announcements straight from our teams. Live streaming will run on developers.google.com/io from 9 a.m. PT (16:00 UTC) to 7 p.m. PT (2:00 UTC) on May 15 and 16.
- Watch exclusive interviews with the Googlers behind the latest product announcements. This year, GDL will broadcast one-on-one product deep dives, executive interviews and Developer Sandbox walkthroughs from our onsite stage.
- Get the latest news in real time. We’ll post official announcements during I/O. You’ll be able to see the feed on the Google I/O homepage, in the I/O mobile app (coming soon), and on +Google Developers.
- Never miss a session. The keynote and all sessions will be recorded and made rapidly available on GDL and the Google Developers YouTube channel.
Whether you’re joining us from the comfort of home for Google Developers Live at I/O or at an I/O Extended event, tune into developers.google.com/io at 9 a.m. PT (16:00 UTC) on May 15 for the latest from Google product teams. Add +Google Developers to your circles and follow #io13 to stay updated on official conference announcements and connect with the community.
Posted by Mike Winton, Director of Developer Relations