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Google’s fight against human trafficking

Category: Google | Sep 7, 2017

Google has made it a priority to tackle the heinous crime of sex trafficking. I know, because I’ve worked on this from the day I joined in 2012. We have hired and funded advocates in this area. We have developed and built extensive technology to connect victims with the resources they need. And we have helped pioneer the use of technologies that identify trafficking networks to make it easier and quicker for law enforcement to arrest these abusers. You can read about these efforts here. We’ve supported over 40 bills on human trafficking. And we are determined to do more to stop this evil, including support for tougher legislation. 

There is currently a debate over a proposed bill to combat sex trafficking by amending section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. While we agree with the intentions of the bill, we are concerned that it erodes the “good samaritan” protection and would actually hinder the fight against sex trafficking. While large companies are more likely to continue their proactive enforcement efforts and can afford to fight lawsuits, if smaller platforms are made liable for “knowledge” of human trafficking occurring on their platforms, there is a risk that some will seek to avoid that “knowledge”; they will simply stop looking for it. This would be a disaster. We think it’s much better to foster an environment in which all technology companies can continue to clean their platforms and support effective tools for law enforcement and advocacy organizations to find and disrupt these networks. We’ve met with the sponsors of the particular bill and provided alternatives that will encourage this environment, and we’ll continue to seek a constructive approach to advance a shared goal.

We’re not alone in this view. Organizations as broad and diverse as Engine Advocacy, PEN America, Charles Koch Institute, Heritage Action, ACLU, U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, Business Software Alliance, Internet Commerce Coalition, Internet Association (whose members include Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Snap, Match.com, Pinterest, etc.), TechFreedom, Medium, GitHub, Reddit, Wikimedia, National Venture Capital Association and many others have raised concerns about the bill. We—and many others—stand ready to work with Congress on changes to the bill, and on other legislation and measures to fight human trafficking and protect and support victims and survivors.

A lot of the discussion around this issue focuses on the role of a website called Backpage.com. I want to make our position on this clear. Google believes that Backpage.com can and should be held accountable for its crimes. We strongly applaud the work of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in exposing Backpage’s intentional promotion of child sex trafficking through ads. Based on those findings, Google believes that Backpage.com should be criminally prosecuted by the US Department of Justice for facilitating child sex trafficking, something they can do today without need to amend any laws. And years before the Senate’s investigation and report, we prohibited Backpage from advertising on Google, and we have criticized Backpage publicly.

I understand that when important legislation is being discussed, public debate is robust. That’s how it should be. But on the crucial issue of sex trafficking, we’ve been a deeply committed partner in the fight. Let’s not let a genuine disagreement over the likely unintended impact of a particular piece of legislation obscure that fact.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/trr17CQ0RM0/

Analyze your business data with Explore in Google Sheets, use BigQuery too

Category: Google | Sep 7, 2017

A few months back, we announced a new way for you to analyze data in Google Sheets using machine learning. Instead of relying on lengthy formulas to crunch your numbers, now you can use Explore in Sheets to ask questions and quickly gather insights. Check it out.

Quicker data → problems solved

When you have easier access to data—and can figure out what it means quickly—you can solve problems for your business faster. You might use Explore in Sheets to analyze profit from last year, or look for trends in how your customers sign up for your company’s services. Explore in Sheets can help you track down this information, and more importantly, visualize it.

Getting started is easy. Just click the “Explore” button on the bottom right corner of your screen in Sheets. Type in a question about your data in the search box and Explore responds to your query. Here’s an example of how Sheets can build charts for you.

Sheets Explore GIF

Syncing Sheets with BigQuery for deeper insights

For those of you who want to take data analysis one step further, you can sync Sheets with BigQuery—Google Cloud’s low cost data warehouse for analytics.

Compare publicly-available datasets in BigQuery, like U.S. Census Data or World Bank: Global Health, Nutrition, and Population data, to your company’s data in Sheets and gather information. For example, you can see how sales of your medical product compared with last year’s disease trends, or cross-reference average inflation prices in key markets of interest to your business.  

Check out this post to see how you might query an example.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/uGpVFUkZxE8/

Building for Daydream gets easier with new tools

Category: Google | Sep 7, 2017

With Daydream, our goal is to enable developers to build high-quality mobile VR experiences. We’re always trying to make the development process easier and more efficient, helping you focus on innovation by providing tools to optimize your apps, interactions, and workflow. With that in mind, we have some new updates and features for our tools.

Performance HUD

We built the Daydream Performance Heads-up Display (HUD), so you can easily monitor key performance metrics in VR, without removing your headset. With the Performance HUD, you get at-a-glance visibility into information about frame rate, process memory usage, thermal throttling status, and platform-specific metrics. So whether you’re an artist understanding how your assets are affecting performance, an engineer checking how your rendering parameters are affecting frame rate, or doing QA checks for issues and regressions, the Performance HUD makes it much easier to see what you need while working in VR.

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Three new Daydream Elements

VR development is evolving rapidly, and we’re continuing to work on new ways to address its physiological, ergonomic, and technical challenges. Daydream Elements is a collection of tested solutions that showcases best practices for immersive design. You can check out the first six Elements here, and this release adds three more.

Great mechanics for object manipulation are key for making a VR experience feel immersive. This demo shows how developers can simulate weight on objects to make them feel lighter or heavier, and how to tune hinges and sliders so they behave in ways that feel natural for common interactions like opening doors and closing drawers.

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The Constellation menu demonstrates a gesture-based interaction model that helps users navigate deep information hierarchies in a simple, responsive way. This helps with item inventories, file directories, and enterprise applications with large feature or data sets.

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The Arm Model demo shows how you can use mathematical arm models to approximate the physical location of the Daydream controller in VR. You can then simulate the interactions of a fully tracked (rotation and translation) controller with a controller that only tracks rotation. Tuning custom arm models from scratch can be a complex process, but when done correctly, the arm model provides a fluid and natural interface for a wide range of different gestures. This demo includes a number of custom models specifically tuned to simulate different types of controller interactions.

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Making Instant Preview even smoother

Instant Preview lets you make changes in Unity or Unreal editor previews and see them reflected instantly in VR, on device, skipping the need to compile and re-deploy projects to see a new change. This enables more efficient development and tight iteration cycles. With the V1.1 release for Unity, Instant Preview is even faster, smoother and easier to use.

In addition to being able to connect over USB, you can also now connect your phone to the PC via WiFi.

InstantP

New support for Metal on OSX makes Instant Preview run even better, giving developers a noticeably smoother experience on Mac. V1.1 also includes lots of other little goodies like controller emulator compatibility, the ability to see the controller battery level on the rendered controller, and a new streamlined setup process that lets you auto-push the APK to your phone and get started with Instant Preview immediately.

You can check all these tools out on the Google VR developer site, and we look forward to your feedback and input.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/KJDcivpKu0s/

Preserving and celebrating Latino cultures in the U.S.

Category: Google | Sep 7, 2017

Last September, before I left my hometown in San Antonio, Texas for a job at Google in New York, I went to a special mass at Mission San José, one of five historic missions in San Antonio. As I walked up to the old wooden doors, I saw Latino families from the neighborhood gathering outside to greet each other. Inside the church, kids settled onto antique pews and the church choir opened their sheet music, accompanied by the familiar sound of a mariachi band.

Now more than ever it’s important that we celebrate the culture, influence and experience of Latinos and their crucial role in the social fabric of the United States. Today, we are making that community’s rich history accessible to everyone with our newest Google Arts & Culture collection: Latino Cultures in the U.S.

Exploring how Latino cultures have left their mark on America and inspired the world.

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This is Winston Vargas’s “Domino Players,” shot in Washington Heights, New York. The photo is featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and is now a part of the Latino Cultures in the U.S. Arts & Culture collection.

The collection has more than than 2,500 new artworks and archives and 69 new exhibits that enable you to easily explore the lives of influential Latino figures, learn about Latinidad and U.S. Latino art and experience cultural traditions. 

It includes important Latinos in news and entertainment, the story of iconic New York institution Ballet Hispánico, Puerto Rican baseball players like Roberto Clemente Walker (who also served as a U.S. Marine) and the Dream 9, a group of undocumented young people who changed history. 

You can even visit some of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the U.S.—the homes to and centers of Latino culture—by way of historic photographs or unmissable locations on Google Street View, all from your phone. 

Through Google Arts & Culture you can dive into ultra-high resolution images of iconic Latino murals, such as Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry from the Detroit Institute of Arts. This tribute to the city’s manufacturing base and labor force of the 1930s is considered the finest example of Mexican mural art in the United States, and the artist himself deemed it the most significant piece of art of his career.

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Detroit Industry: North Wall

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Detroit Industry: South Wall

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Detroit Industry:  East Wall

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Detroit Industry: West Wall

In addition to the online collection, Google is working with educators to create and distribute a curriculum so that more students can learn about Latino history in the U.S. And through Google technologies like Expeditions, students can take virtual field trips and explore important moments in Latino history, discover influential Latino artists, or walk through vibrant Latino neighborhoods.

These stories, creators and everyday heroes are part of our nation’s legacy and we’ve been inspired working alongside our partners to make this content accessible to all on the Google Arts & Culture app (on iOS and Android) and at g.co/uslatinocultures

Bringing together stories from museums, universities and other cultural institutions across the United States, this collection reminds me of how I felt while sitting in Mission San José—in complete awe of the U.S. Latino community’s ability to come together to build something greater than ourselves. It is a characteristic that has and always will define us.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/bVGUAb5TX3M/

Google Trips, Flights, and Destinations add new languages and countries

Category: Google | Sep 6, 2017

For all you travelers and explorers out there, planning your next vacation just got easier. Google Trips, Google Flights, and Destinations on Google now support a combined 20 new languages and 26 new countries globally. So whether you’re just starting to get ideas for your next trip, or you’re ready to book your flight and get to sightseeing—we’ve got you covered.

If you need some suggestions for the place you’re dreaming of going next—maybe you’ve heard great things about Provence in southern France and want to know more—Destinations on Google can help. Simply search for “Provence destinations” on Google, and we’ll show you a collection of popular destinations to choose from in the region like Nice, Marseilles and Avignon. Tap on each city and instantly see top sights, popular itineraries, local weather, high seasons for travel and more. Hint: this rich collection of travel information from Destinations is at your fingertips when you search for any of the top destinations in the world with “destinations,” and now available in 14 new European and Asian languages. The new languages include Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Filipino, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Malaysian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovakian, Slovenian.

Destinations in Nice

When you’re ready to book your travel, Google Flights makes it easy to find the best flights, compare your options, and book with whatever airline you choose. Now search on Google for flights in 26 additional countries in Europe by searching for things like “Flights to Nice, France” or “Flights to the U.S.” Or you can go directly to Google Flights to find results. The full list of new countries includes Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

Google Flights in Greece

Finally, when you’re on your vacation and ready to fill your day with sights and activities, instantly discover cool things to do nearby with Google Trips. If you end up in Nice, we’ll show you highlights like the Colline du Chateau for great views or stops for art lovers like the Musee Matisse. Get all your travel reservations, suggestions for things to do, and customizable day plans at your fingertips and available offline. The mobile app is now available on Android and iOS in six new languages globally, including French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese.

Google Trips Nice

Vacation is a time to recharge or have some adventure, and planning your next getaway shouldn’t be a lot of work. We’ll keep working to help make each step of the way—from the wanderlust phase to arriving in Nice—as stress-free as possible no matter where you’re traveling from.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/e4M9sMtMNjI/

A better world for wheels on Google Maps

Category: Google | Sep 6, 2017

More than 65 million people worldwide need wheelchairs. I became one of them after an accident eight years ago, and I discovered what it’s like to navigate the world on wheels.

As I learned, those of us with mobility issues need information about places before we arrive. Does the art museum have a stair-free entrance? What about the cafe across the street? And is there an accessible restroom at that new restaurant?

Google Maps now offers answers that allow me—and millions of others on wheels—to find accessible places. Because anyone can identify and label wheelchair-friendly locations directly on the map, it’s easy to share this knowledge around the world. But not everyone knows this tool exists, so we want to do more.

Starting today, we’re calling on Local Guides, a community of people who contribute their expertise about places on Google Maps, to add more wheelchair accessibility attributes to the map. If each of our tens of millions of Local Guides answers three of these questions every day for two weeks, we can gather nearly two billion answers to help people who rely on this information every day.

And wheelchair users aren’t the only ones who will benefit. You’ll also be making life easier for families with strollers, seniors with walkers, or anyone making plans with a friend who has impaired mobility.

It takes seconds to have this type of impact. First, make sure your Google Maps Location History is turned on. Then visit “Your contributions” in the upper-left menu, tap “Answer questions about a place,” and indicate whether businesses you’ve visited are wheelchair-friendly. (If you aren’t sure, take a look at a brief guide to answering accessibility questions.) On Google Maps for Android, you can even seek out places that need this info.

Manifesting

All month, Local Guides across the globe are getting together at meet-ups to answer wheelchair accessibility questions on Google Maps. Join a meet-up, or even host your own (if you’re a Local Guide Level 3 or higher). Or gather some friends and explore a neighborhood, adding info as you go.

We hope you’ll contribute your knowledge to the map to help those of us on wheels more easily navigate the world.

Spread the word using #LocalGuides and #a11y.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/zMmxziZQO2c/

Manage your business listing without leaving Google Search

Category: Google | Sep 6, 2017

Businesses succeed and grow when they reach new customers online. With more than 80% of people searching the web to find local information,1 it’s important to have a high quality presence that showcases what makes your business unique. When people get to know your business, they are more likely to become customers. Businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust,2 38% more likely to attract in-store visits, and 29% more likely to see a purchase.3

That’s why we’ve created a simple, easy-to-access business dashboard right in Google Search. Just find your business on Google Search, and you can complete and enhance your listing, share photos and posts related to your business, and see how many views you’re getting.

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Now business owners can manage their online presence right from Google Search:

  • Add or correct business information, post updated hours, and more.
  • Post on Google and stay engaged with your customers.
  • Share photos that make your business stand out.
  • See how many views your listing gets, and easily access detailed information about your listing’s performance.
  • Know when users upload photos of your business.
  • Quickly take the most important actions to complete and enhance your business listing.

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How does it work?

1. Find your business on Google Search and you will see a new, simple menu right above the search results. If you’re not seeing the menu, make sure you’re logged in with your business account.

2. Click the edit button, and the fields you can edit will be highlighted. You can update your information and upload photos directly.

1 Consumer Barometer 
2 Google/Oxera, The Benefits of Complete Business Listings, Dec 2014

3 Ipsos MORI, Impact of Search Listings for Local Businesses, Aug 2014

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/1JsrlCY2WbU/

Step inside of music

Category: Google | Sep 5, 2017

What if you could step inside your favorite song and get a closer look at how music is made? That’s the idea behind our new interactive experiment Inside Music.

The project is a collaboration with the popular podcast Song Exploder and some of our favorite artists across different genres—Phoenix, Perfume Genius, Natalia Lafourcade, Ibeyi, Alarm Will Sound, and Clipping. The experiment lets you explore layers of music all around you, using spatial audio to understand how a piece of music is composed. You can even turn layers on and off, letting you hear the individual pieces of a song in a new way.

It’s built using technology called WebVR, which lets you open it in your web browser, without installing any apps. You can try it on a virtual reality headset, phone or laptop. And we’ve made the code open-source so that people who make music can create new interactive experiments.

Watch the video above to learn more, and check it out at g.co/insidemusic.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/jCnyXl-Cf5I/

Daydream Elements: Foundational VR Design

Category: Google | Sep 5, 2017

Daydream Elements launched at Google I/O this year. It’s a set of best practices and reusable code for some of the most fundamental things you do in VR — like walking around and interacting with the environment. So whether you’re a seasoned app developer, an immersive design enthusiast, or just curious about VR, you can take  a look at the first set of interactions.

Getting around

Teleportation

Teleportation is popular in VR because it allows you to easily explore a large virtual environment. In Elements, the Daydream controller’s ability to detect touch is used to make teleportation more discoverable. When you touch the touchpad, an arc is drawn to the teleportation target, so you can click to teleport to that destination point.

TeleportGif

A simple touch on the touchpad draws the teleportation arc to a destination point.

The Teleportation Element also addresses a previous downside: becoming disoriented right after you teleport. With an instant jump or a fade to black, you need a few seconds to get your bearings again. However, you can avoid this with a very fast warp effect that quickly flies you to your new location. The warp effect also helps you remain situated, and it’s fast enough to prevent any potential discomfort.

Tunneling

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The field of view gets smaller and the background is replaced with a grid when walking.

Motion causes some people to feel uncomfortable in VR, even if they don’t feel that way when they play video games on a TV. That’s because the living room (with its chairs, lamps, and mid-century modern asymmetrical coffee table with hairpin legs) helps keep you grounded. The Tunneling Element for VR takes advantage of this same living room effect, and can be used during rotation or when virtually moving around. In the Tunneling Element, the use of a stable grid was the most effective at reducing discomfort. This interaction model was also used and tested in Earth VR and is now available for use in any app.

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Bringing in tunneling during rotation helps improve comfort for users who are highly sensitive to major movement.

Chase Camera

Sometimes you need to follow a character while in-game, but if it happens automatically and isn’t under your control, it may be uncomfortable. Our Chase Camera Element is fine tuned to avoid these issues. It emphasizes control and expectations: you determine your target destination with a touchpad click so that moving in that direction feels natural and expected.

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The user is in control of the camera movement by selecting the target destination for the fox.

It also avoids automatic camera rotation. You can still manually rotate the camera with the touchpad, and the Tunneling Element will turn on during the rotation or if you look in a different direction from the camera movement—which is one of the biggest reasons that chase cameras are so hard to get right in VR.  Also note that tunneling effects the environment, but not the character—the fox can run into the tunnel so the user never loses it.

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Menu Systems

Click Menu

The Daydream controller is simple and easy to use, but sometimes you need more action choices. Your touchpad-touches may be used for moving around, and your touchpad-click may be dedicated to a primary app action, but you still may want easy access to more options.

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Clicking the app button reveals a radial menu of options that are hidden from the user at first but are always easily accessible.

In Elements, there’s an example of a drawing application where you click the app button to see a radial menu for access to a larger set of drawing tools and colors. That way, the touchpad can remain dedicated to a primary action (in this case, point-and-click drawing).

Swipe Menu

What if you’re fighting a menacing fire-breathing dragon in the boss level of your favorite RPG, and you need to quickly switch between your sword and crossbow, not to mention replenish your health with your limited supply of potions? The swipe menu is a great way to quickly swap between tools. In Daydream Elements, no dragons were available, but you can see the swipe menu in action against some balloons (still menacing).

SwipeMenu

The swipe menu provides very fast access to actions.

Daydream Renderer

Last, there’s a new real time rendering system for Daydream, and it’s pretty awesome. You can play with dynamic light sources and textures, and it shows that mobile devices are now capable of rich visual experiences. This demo scene is just one example of how content creators can use the Daydream Renderer to make their apps look beautiful. If you’re interested in the technical details of how all this works, check out the documentation.

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The goal of Daydream Elements is to make VR design and development accessible to everyone who wants to create great immersive content. Keep your eyes peeled for more Elements coming soon!

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/g0brQxwy5VA/

Bringing digital citizenship into the school curriculum

Category: Google | Sep 5, 2017

Educators around the world have embraced digital literacy in the classroom, encouraging their students to create and engage on the the internet. They recognize digital literacy as an important future skill for their students, and also understand the importance of teaching kids how to be good digital citizens. And yet, teaching digital citizenship isn’t always straightforward—and can be pretty intimidating—given the many ways in which young people use the internet today.

This is why we are releasing a free online training course that helps educators equip their students with the foundational skills they need to create a safe and positive experience online. By reading, watching videos, and doing different activities in the Digital Citizenship and Safety Course, they can learn how to integrate digital citizenship and safety activities into their school curriculum.

The course includes five interactive units:  

  • Teaching students about internet safety and privacy, including setting strong passwords and privacy settings
  • Staying safe on the go by securing your mobile device and avoiding harmful downloads on your smartphone
  • Savvy searching, to help students evaluate the credibility of online sources of information
  • Staying safe from phishing and other scams
  • Managing online reputation, including protecting sensitive information

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Upon completion, educators will receive a downloadable Digital Citizenship and Safety Curriculum that they can use to introduce these critical lessons to their students. And teachers who successfully complete the course will receive a Digital Citizenship and Safety Educator recognition badge.

The online training course is now on the Google for Education Training Center, and available in 15 languages: Chinese, Danish, English, Finnish, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish.

We want to help ensure that today’s young people will become smart and responsible citizens both online and off. This is why we’ve developed programs like Be Internet Awesome and the Online Safety Roadshow that teach kids how to be safe, confident explorers online. But we also recognize that it’s important to partner with educators too, so we really look forward to seeing how the Digital Citizenship and Safety Course will help teachers tackle this important topic in the classroom.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/9fc53RJEzqE/