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Category: Google | Nov 13, 2012
We think it’s important to shine a light on how government actions could affect our users. When we first launched the Transparency Report in early 2010, there wasn’t much data out there about how governments sometimes hamper the free flow of information on the web. So we took our first step toward greater transparency by disclosing the number of government requests we received. At the time, we weren’t sure how things would look beyond that first snapshot, so we pledged to release numbers twice a year. Today we’re updating the Transparency Report with data about government requests from January to June 2012.
This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise. As you can see from the graph below, government demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report. In the first half of 2012, there were 20,938 inquiries from government entities around the world. Those requests were for information about 34,614 accounts.
The number of government requests to remove content from our services was largely flat from 2009 to 2011. But it’s spiked in this reporting period. In the first half of 2012, there were 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content.
You can see the country-by-country trends for requests to hand over user data and to remove content from our services in the Transparency Report itself, but in aggregate around the world, the numbers continue to go up.
As always, we continue to improve the Transparency Report with each data release. Like before, we’re including annotations for this time period with interesting facts. We’re also showing new bar graphs with data in addition to tables to better display content removal trends over time. We’ve now translated the entire Transparency Report into 40 languages, and we’ve expanded our FAQ—including one that explains how we sometimes receive falsified court orders asking us to remove content. We do our best to verify the legitimacy of the documents we receive, and if we determine that any are fake, we don’t comply.
The information we disclose is only an isolated sliver showing how governments interact with the Internet, since for the most part we don’t know what requests are made of other technology or telecommunications companies. But we’re heartened that in the past year, more companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net and Twitter have begun to share their statistics too. Our hope is that over time, more data will bolster public debate about how we can best keep the Internet free and open.
Posted by Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst
Category: Google | Nov 13, 2012
I love shopping for gifts for my family and friends, but it’s not always easy. Fortunately, the Google Shopping team has built several new tools to help you (and me!) get an early and stress-free start on holiday shopping.
Explore products in 360-degree detail on Google Shopping
Having trouble imagining what a toy actually looks like from the online picture? Now, when searching for a subset of toys on Google Shopping, you can see 360-degree photos of the products. These interactive images bring the in-store feeling of holding and touching a product to your online browsing.
Look for the “3D” swivel icon on the product image to see a toy in 360-degree view, on HTML5 enabled browsers. We’ve also put together a Holiday Toy Collection featuring this enhanced imagery—explore the collection on this site. 360-degree imagery is coming for other types of products soon.
If you’re a retailer or manufacturer interested in displaying these rich images of your products on Google Shopping, please fill out this form.
Use Shortlists to stay organized and collaborate with friends
New in Google Shopping, Shortlists make it easier to research products and plan purchases with friends and family. Instead of using bookmarked websites and docs containing long lists of URLs, or back-and-forth emails with friends, you can now consolidate all your shopping research in one place. With Shortlists, you can easily:
- Keep track of products you like from Google Shopping and across the web
- View product photos, prices and specs side by side
- Share your Shortlist with friends, who can add their own ideas
Create a Shortlist by visiting google.com/shopping/shortlists or clicking the “Add to Shortlist” button as you browse products on Google Shopping.
Discover great deals and store promotions on Google Shopping
To help you make the most of your holiday budget, Google Shopping now shows discounts or promotions on the products you’re viewing. If discounts or promotions are available, you can click on the link and visit the retailer’s site to redeem the offer.
That’s not all…a few more new Google Shopping features
Here are a few of the other tools we’ve created to make your holiday shopping a little easier:
- Not sure you’ve found the perfect gift? Read reviews from people you know and write your own product reviews on Google Shopping.
- Found an item that’s almost perfect but not quite? Now you can view “visually similar” results for even more types of products and categories, including jewelry, coats, handbags and more.
- Buying an important gift? Look for the Google Trusted Store logo as you shop. It indicates a store ships quickly and delivers excellent customer service.
- Shopping on the go? Browse for gift ideas, find local sales and research products with the new and improved Google Shopper 3.0, currently available for Android.
- Still need some inspiration? Browse holiday catalogs from the top retailers directly on Google Shopping.
Happy holiday shopping!
Posted by Vineet Buch, Group Product Manager, Google Shopping
Category: Google | Nov 13, 2012
This Veterans Day was an especially poignant one for us at Google. November 9 marked the fifth anniversary of the Google Veterans Network, our employee volunteer community that strives to make Google a great place to work for those who have served, their families and their friends. Our group has doubled in size every year, and we represent 34 offices in nine countries around the world.
Veterans Day 2012 doodle
This year, we’re honoring the spirit of Veterans Day with a week of activities from November 7-14. Googlers deployed with Team Rubicon to Rockaway Beach, N.Y. to help residents recover from Hurricane Sandy, cooked dinner for military families at VA Puget Sound Fisher House, hosted a Meals Ready-to-Eat luncheon in Atlanta, Ga., and ran a U.S. Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test in Mountain View, Calif.—just a few of the events underway around the United States.
Our commitment to supporting the military veteran community at large continues to strengthen, with a focus on helping veterans make a successful transition to civilian life. Here are some examples of how Google tools and employees have joined the fight against veteran unemployment, in particular:
We’ve also put our technology to work as sponsors of Veterans Week NYC, including:
- Google technology training for more than 100 wounded warriors and caregivers in NYC and a panel discussion, also broadcast on Google+, with advice for wounded warriors on transitioning to the civilian workplace.
- A live broadcast of the Bob Woodruff Foundation‘s annual Stand Up For Heroes concert on YouTube and Google+ to raise awareness and funds for wounded warriors.
- Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 14, a broadcast of the Big Apple Circus for military families around the country, hosted by the USO. You can join in the fun on Google+ where we’ll stream the performance live.
Honoring wounded warriors with The Boss at Stand Up For Heroes on November 8.
Photo by Stefan Radtke.
Please follow our new Google for Veterans & Families Google+ page to stay abreast of our support for the community all year long. Every day is Veterans Day here at Google.
Posted by Carrie Laureno, Audience Evangelist and Founder, Google Veterans Network
Category: Google | Nov 13, 2012
The holiday shopping season is upon us. Your favorite retail stores are already playing holiday tunes, promoting sales, and decking out their displays in red and green. But if flashbacks of people rushing all around you frantically trying to find gifts for everyone on their lists are giving you anxiety, fret not. This year you can use indoor Google Maps on your Android device to stay cool, calm, collected and most of all, one step ahead of the crowd.
On Black Friday and throughout this holiday season, simply zoom in to a participating store on Google Maps to devise your shopping game plan. An indoor floor plan with helpful labels will automatically appear, and the familiar “blue dot” icon will help you figure out the fastest way to the accessories department, the food court when you need to refuel, and the closest restroom or ATM when you need a break from your marathon shopping session. For many locations, you can even get indoor walking directions to find the best route from one store to the next.
Indoor Google Maps for Mall of America in Bloomington, MN (left)
and for Macy’s in New York, NY (right)
These accurate, easy-to-use indoor maps are available for a number of popular retail locations across the globe including many local malls and select Best Buy, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Harrod’s, Selfridges, John Lewis and other stores. With the help of your Android device, you can beeline it to the camcorder you’ve been eyeing for your dad, and then quickly make your way to that sweater you know your sister will love. For list of additional venue partners, including some in Belgium that just became available today, check out this list.
Indoor Google Maps for West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (left)
and for Nordstrom in Seattle, WA (right)
We hope these indoor maps make finding your way in and around retail stores easier, less stressful and more efficient this holiday season. To access them, simply update Google Maps on your Android by visiting Google Play on your phone or desktop. Happy holiday shopping!
Posted by Cedric Dupont, Product Manager, Google Maps
Category: Google | Nov 12, 2012
Creating a better, simpler computer and making it available for everyone is at the core of the Chromebook vision. It’s exciting to see people using Chromebooks as the perfect additional computer in the home, and we continue to work with our partners to make them easy-to-use and more affordable. Today, we’re delighted that our partner Acer is introducing a new addition to the Chromebook family: the new Acer C7 Chromebook.
The new Acer C7 Chromebook delivers a hassle-free computing experience with speed, built-in security and the simplicity of automatic updates. It features a full-size keyboard, fully clickable trackpad, an extra bright 11.6-inch display and over 3.5 hours of battery life. Powered by an Intel Core processor, the Acer Chromebook is fast—boots up in 18 seconds, resumes instantly and high-definition videos play smoothly (yes, videos like Gangnam Style in 1080p, in case you’re one of the few left who hasn’t seen it). You can easily store your stuff on the Chromebook or in the cloud, with a 320GB hard drive and 100GB of free storage on Google Drive.*
As you’d expect from a Chromebook, it’s easy to share with others around the home. Moms, dads, siblings or even your roommate can all have separate accounts and simply log in to get things done. And because Chromebooks bring you the best of Google, if you use products like Gmail, Drive, Maps, YouTube and Google+, your stuff is always available and everything just works.
Starting tomorrow, the Acer Chromebook will be available for $199 in the U.S. on Google Play, BestBuy.com and rolling out this week in select Best Buy stores. In the U.K., it’s available on Google Play, Amazon UK, PC World and Currys. We’re working hard to bring it to more countries soon.
Together with Acer, it’s great to welcome the newest addition to the Chromebook family. We hope it will make a great additional computer for your family, too. New Chromebooks, for everyone.
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Chrome & Apps
*You will have 100 GB of free storage for 2 years, starting on the date you redeem the offer on eligible Chrome devices.
(Cross-posted on the Chrome Blog)
Category: Google | Nov 8, 2012
If you ever dreamed of playing in a band, now’s your chance to be a rock star. JAM with Chrome is an interactive web application that enables friends in different locations to play music together in the Chrome browser on their computers. No matter what your level of talent—from daydreaming air guitarist to music pro—you can JAM together in real time over the web.
When you enter the site, you can choose from a selection of 19 different instruments, from acoustic and bass guitars to drum kits and keyboards. Once you get playing, you can switch instruments as often and as many times as you like.
In the default “easy mode” you can experiment by clicking individual strings, drum pads or keys, or you can play around with the four different autoplay functions and let the machines do the work. Switch to “pro mode” to play any instrument using your keyboard.
Invite up to three friends in different locations to join your JAM via the sharing buttons on the site. Here’s “Keyboard Cat” jamming with his friends:
JAM with Chrome is a Chrome Experiment that uses the latest modern web technologies, including HTML5 features such as the Web Audio API, Websockets, Canvas and CSS3. For more detailed information on the technologies used, check out the technology link in the app.
Go on, get the band together at jamwithchrome.com.
Posted by Emma Turpin, Google Creative Lab
(Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog)
Category: Google | Nov 8, 2012
There are certain events in history that are momentous enough to make you remember where you were at the time. This Friday is the 23rd anniversary of one of those moments—the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
To mark this turning point in history, we’re releasing a collection of online exhibitions under the theme of The Fall of the Iron Curtain. Partners, including The DDR Museum in Berlin, Polish History Museum, Romanian broadcaster TVR and Getty Images, have created 13 exhibitions containing documents, videos and photos telling the stories behind how events unfolded.
Independent historians have also contributed their expertise. For example, Niall Ferguson, professor of history at Harvard University, provides video commentary on events as part of his exhibition The Fall of the Wall: Revelation, not Revolution.
Some of the other exhibitions include:
- Solidarity & the fall of The Iron Curtain – the creation and evolution of the Solidarity trade union leading to Lech Walesa’s election as President of Poland in 1990
- Visions of Division – Professor Patrick Major, a specialist in Cold War history, gives an account of life in a divided Germany and the everyday human cost of the Wall
- Years of change – diary of a fictitious author documenting events in Berlin such as the staged elections, the first protests and David Hasselhoff’s concert at the wall
- The Berlin Job – a personal account of life in East Berlin made by independent curator Peter Millar, one of the only non-German correspondents in East Berlin in the 1980s
- Romanian Revolution – a series of four exhibitions containing more than 50 videos documenting the live TV transmission of the overthrow of Romanian dictator Ceausescu
The Fall of the Iron Curtain is the latest chapter in the work of the Google Cultural Institute, following the launch last month of 42 online historical exhibitions telling the stories behind major events of the last century. You can explore all the exhibitions on www.google.com/culturalinstitute and follow us on our Google+ page.
If you’re a partner interested in working with the Google Cultural Institute to turn your archives into online exhibitions, we’d love to hear from you—please fill out this form.
Posted by Mark Yoshitake, Google Cultural Institute
(Cross-posted from the Google Europe blog)
Category: Google | Oct 31, 2012
Today we are launching AMBER Alerts coordinated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the Google Public Alerts platform. Public Alerts are designed to bring you emergency alerts when and where they’re relevant to you, and AMBER Alerts aim to help bring abducted children home safely.
If you’re using Google Search or Maps on desktop and mobile you’ll see an AMBER Alert if you search for related information in a particular location where a child has recently been abducted and an alert was issued. You’ll also see an alert if you conduct a targeted search for the situation. By increasing the availability of these alerts through our services, we hope that more people will assist in the search for children featured in AMBER Alerts and that the rates of safe recovery will rise.
AMBER Alerts will provide information about the abducted child and any other details about the case as they become available. Additional details could include the make and model of the vehicle he/she was abducted in or information about the alleged abductor.
Screenshot for a test version of an AMBER alert
The US Department of Justice’s AMBER Alert™ Program is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies and others to engage the entire community in the most serious child-abduction cases. We are working with the NCMEC, who will provide the AMBER Alert data to Google and make it possible to display information in Public Alerts.
We’re working closely with Missing Children Europe and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to try and scale this service to more countries. We’ll keep exploring different ways to improve child protection through innovative technologies, like what has been used to reduce exploitation and improve reporting to NCMEC.
Posted by Phil Coakley, software engineer, Google Public Alerts team
Category: Google | Oct 31, 2012
What does a cable car in Niagara Falls have to do with the world’s
first chess-playing machine? Surprisingly, both were inventions of Spanish civil engineer Leonardo Torres-Quevedo.
Next week, as part of our ongoing effort to celebrate Europe’s computing
heritage, we’re commemorating Torres-Quevedo’s legacy and his
Ajedrecista” (in English, “The Chess Player”)—in partnership with
the Telecommunication Engineering department of the
Technical University of Madrid.
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons
Torres-Quevedo’s inventions span many fields. He was the second in
the world to demonstrate wireless remote control, beaten to the
post only by Nikola Tesla.
His designs for airships were used by both the French
and British during WWI. He was a global leader in cable car design,
creating the “Spanish aero car” over the Niagara Whirlpool
which, nearly a century on, remains a tourist attraction.
However, his most remarkable achievements were in the field of
automation, developing machines that are antecedents to what we now
call computers and robots.
Torres-Quevedo’s ambitions were bold. As Scientific American proclaimed in 1915: “He would substitute machinery
for the human mind.” In the 1890s, Torres-Quevedo built a series of mechanical devices that solved algebraic
equations. In 1920 he wowed a Paris audience with an
electromechanical arithmometer with a typewriter attachment. You
simply typed a formula—say, “24×48”—and the machine would calculate
and automatically type the answer “=1152” in reply.
But El Ajedrecista, an algorithmically powered machine that could
play an end-game of chess against a human opponent completely
automatically, is his most notable creation. Although it’s a far cry
from Deep Blue, El Ajedrecista can lay claim to being
the world’s first (analog) computer game.
Photos thanks to Museo Torres Quevedo
The machine didn’t just calculate its moves—it had mechanical arms
that physically moved its pieces, in the form of electrical jacks,
across a grid. In later models the arm mechanism was replaced by
magnets, and play took place on a more ordinary-looking chess board.
You couldn’t cheat the machine as it could spot illegal moves; and you
couldn’t win, as the game always started at a point (machine’s King
and Rook versus human’s King) from which the machine could never lose.
In honor of El Ajedrecista’s 100th birthday, we’re working with the Telecommunication
Engineering department of the Technical University of Madrid to
stage a conference commemorating Torres-Quevedo’s legacy. The
conference, taking place on November 7, will feature lectures and
panel discussions, as well as an exhibition of Torres-Quevedo’s
devices—including El Ajedrecista itself. Attendance is free—if you
want to join us, request an invitation.
Posted by Lynette Webb, Senior Manager,
Category: Google | Oct 30, 2012
When you have a question, finding the answer should be effortless—wherever you are and whatever device you’re using. The new Google Search app for iPhone and iPad helps you to do just that with enhanced voice search that answers any question with the comprehensive Google search results you know and love.
Fast and accurate voice recognition technology enables Google to understand exactly what you’re saying. Getting an answer is as simple as tapping on the microphone icon and asking a question like, “Is United Airlines flight 318 on time?” Your words appear as you speak, you get your answer immediately and—if it’s short and quick, like the status and departure time of your flight—Google tells you the answer aloud.
You can get answers to an increasingly wide variety of questions thanks to Knowledge Graph, which gives our search technology an understanding of people, places and things in the real world. Here are a few of the questions that Google can answer:
- “What does Yankee Stadium look like?” Google will show you hundreds pictures instantly.
- “Play me a trailer of the upcoming James Bond movie.” The trailer starts playing immediately right within Google Search.
- “When does daylight savings time end?” The answer will appear about the search results, so you can set your clock without have to click on a link.
- “Who’s in the cast of The Office?” See a complete cast list and find out who made you crack up last night.
Download the Google Search App on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and find out how much wood a woodchuck would chuck (if a woodchuck could chuck wood).
Posted by Kenneth Bongort, Engineer, Google Search