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Campus, coming to a tech community near you

Category: Google | Oct 6, 2014

When entrepreneurs are empowered to dream big and take action, they’re capable of tackling significant problems—and they can be an important pillar of a thriving economy. As a former startup ourselves, entrepreneurship is still part of Google’s DNA. That’s why two and a half years ago we opened our first Campus in London, a space designed to help entrepreneurs learn, connect, and build companies.

Campus is a hub for the startup community, where entrepreneurs can fuel up on caffeine at the Campus Cafe, gather in our free event space, rent coworking space, and connect with mentors, accelerators and Google teams. So far, we’ve seen great results at our first locations, Campus London and Campus Tel Aviv. In 2013, startups at Campus London raised more than $54 million in funding and created more than 570 jobs. They’ve also created great products and services that are reaching consumers and customers. For example, Borrow My Doggy, which began at a Startup Weekend in London and also received funding from Seedcamp, one of our partners, lets dog owners with limited time for walking share their pooches with city dwellers who can’t have their own. Eyetease, which created a HD digital taxitop and high-speed WiFi system for taxis, has been a resident at Campus since their launch and have grown their revenue 100X during that time. In Tel Aviv, local community groups have hosted more than 1,000 events at Campus (and consumed 6,000+ slices of free pizza!).

Building on the success of these spaces, this year we’ve announced new Campuses in Warsaw, Poland, São Paulo, Brazil, and Seoul, South Korea. And today, we’re welcoming another new member to the Campus family: Campus Madrid. We’re excited to open doors in all these new locations in 2015. Each of these cities has a growing startup community, as well as a Google office so our teams can get directly involved with supporting Campus. We hosted more than 1,000 Google mentoring sessions through our Campus Office Hours Program in London, and are planning similar efforts at our other locations.

We’re also trying out new programs at all our locations to help even more aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. For example, Campus for Moms is a baby-friendly startup school for new moms on maternity leave. CampusEDU offers courses for founders both in person and streamed for free online, like this Friday’s session, Hiring Rockstars and Keeping Them.

As with all our Google for Entrepreneurs programs, we hope Campus will provide a home for entrepreneurs and startup founders, and put resources at their fingertips to help them build transformative products and companies around the world.

Posted by Mary Grove, Director of Google for Entrepreneurs

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/YnN42k6Y_ts/campus-coming-to-tech-community-near-you.html

Through the Google lens: search trends September 26 – October 2

Category: Google | Oct 3, 2014

Diseases, protests and DUIs? Search wasn’t a pretty place this week.

Somebody call a doctor
This week, searchers went into a frenzy following news that someone had been diagnosed with Ebola on U.S soil—causing a surge in interest for the deadly disease. While this hopefully will remain an isolated case in the U.S., the virus is taking its toll on the people in West Africa. The region is experiencing its worst outbreak in history, with more than 3,000 people dying from the illness.

An indefinite break
It was a bad day at the office for several prominent figures this week as they were asked to step down from their positions. After a couple of bizarre security breaches like allowing the President to share an elevator with an armed man or when a person literally jumped the White House fence and walked inside the building (knife in tow), Secret Service director Julia Pierson handed in her resignation.

American Olympian and swimming icon Michael Phelps was arrested on charges of a DUI after he was pulled over for going 84 mph in a 45 mph zone. Amidst a firestorm of bad behavior from athletes, some are calling for USA Swimming to suspend Phelps, who had a previous DUI in 2004, for at least a year. Across the Pacific, students in Hong Kong staged massive demonstrations against the country’s Chief Executive, C.Y. Leung, seeking to oust him from office. The government has proposed talks with the students in order to calm the chaos, but so far Leung has refused to quit.

Crossovers
Searchers were saying “what the?” this week as we were hit with a couple of crossovers on TV and in music. First up, two classic American cartoons came together for one night to give viewers double the laughter. The famed Simpsons appeared in an episode of Family Guy. Unfortunately, the laugh track was off this time around and the show received negative reviews, perhaps thanks to an awkward seven-minute fight scene between Peter and Homer (d’oh!). And we heard a new take on a popular tune as “The Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin made a breathtaking cover of pop-soul star Adele’s song “Rolling in the Deep.” Listen to it and prepare to have your mind blown.

Who’s got game?
The MLB playoffs are in full, um, swing. The Kansas City Royals and their fans had something to cheer about as team made the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, ending the longest postseason drought in North American sports history—and then eliminating Oakland in an extra-inning thriller. And, after an 8-0 stomping of the Pittsburgh Pirates behind ace Madison Bumgarner, the San Francisco Giants are hoping to keep their every-other-year World Series streak alive.

Tip of the week
It’s beginning to look a lot like winter. Before you head out, make sure to check the weather by saying, “Ok Google, what’s the weather like outside?” and you’ll be ready to go—mittens or umbrella in hand.

Posted by Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched for [hypochondriac] and [one day you’re in, the next day you’re out].

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Cq6kOOmZkI0/through-google-lens-search-trends.html

Through the Google lens: search trends September 19-25

Category: Google | Sep 26, 2014

Spoiler alert! Those of you not caught up with Scandal might want to skim this one. -Ed.

This week, searchers learned how to get away with murder—and how not to get away with public criticism of prominent figures with important business relationships with your employer.

Shonda, Shonda, Shonda
TV fans, rejoice! This week brought premiere episodes for old favorite shows as well as hotly anticipated new ones. Top returning shows on search include CBS’s The Big Bang Theory (natch), and NBC’s The Blacklist and Chicago Fire. New shows that shot up the search ratings include Batman prequel Gotham and new family comedy black-ish.

But premieres week really came to a head on Thursday night, which we prefer to call the Night of Shonda. Producer Shonda Rimes has got ABC’s lineup locked up with Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy (in its final season this year) and the new How To Get Away With Murder, starring Academy Award-nominee Viola Davis. All three shows were in the top 10 hot searches the day of their premiere. True to form, Scandal’s season 4 debut left people with more questions than answers. Here’s a sampling (spoiler alert!) of what searchers were asking during the show:

The end of an era
Derek Jeter first took the field as a New York Yankee in May 1995. Five World Series, more than 3,000 hits and nearly 20 years later, this weekend he will take to the diamond for a final game at Fenway against his archrivals, the Boston Red Sox. Though neither the Yankees nor the Sox made this season’s playoffs, anticipation for Jeter’s farewell at-bat was already high. But last night, after giving baseball fans so many memorable moments over the years, he gave us one more. In his final game at Yankee Stadium, Jeter’s ninth-inning walk-off single gave the Yankees a win over the Orioles, provided the world another excuse to search for the star shortstop, and was a fitting ending to Jeter’s fairy-tale career.

Over on the political field, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that he is stepping down. Holder will leave behind a large and sometimes complicated legacy on issues including same-sex marriage, voting rights, criminal justice, national security and government secrecy. He’ll go down in history as the fourth longest-serving and first black AG.

NFL in the news
The NFL continues to be in the news for more than just its games. First, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave a press conference on Friday addressing the league’s issues with domestic violence. Then, on Monday, prominent sportswriter Bill Simmons was suspended for three weeks by ESPN after he called Goodell a liar in his podcast “The B.S. Report.” Simmons is prohibited from tweeting or other public communications until October 15, but Sports Guy supporters took to the web on his behalf, fighting to #FreeSimmons. Finally, this week’s season premiere of South Park featured a malfunctioning “GoodellBot” and a plotline about the controversy over Washington’s team name.

Happy 5775
Shana Tova! That’s what a lot of people were saying (and searching) as people worldwide dipped apples in honey and celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The holiday was the fourth hottest search trend on Wednesday.

Tip of the week
Google can help you get a good deal on your next airplane ticket. When the price drops on a flight you’ve been researching on Flight Search, you may see a Now card letting you know. Just tap the card to quickly and easily book your trip. This works on the latest version of the Google app on Android in the U.S.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [where do kiwis grow] and [reign season 2]

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/pCQ_VgpqdmA/through-google-lens-search-trends_26.html

You don’t know what you don’t know: How our unconscious minds undermine the workplace

Category: Google | Sep 25, 2014

When YouTube launched their video upload app for iOS, between 5 and 10 percent of videos uploaded by users were upside-down. Were people shooting videos incorrectly? No. Our early design was the problem. It was designed for right-handed users, but phones are usually rotated 180 degrees when held in left hands. Without realizing it, we’d created an app that worked best for our almost exclusively right-handed developer team.

This is just one example of how unconscious biases influence our actions every day, even when—by definition—we don’t notice them. These biases are shaped by our experiences and by cultural norms, and allow us to filter information and make quick decisions. We’ve evolved to trust our guts. But sometimes these mental shortcuts can lead us astray, especially when they cause us to misjudge people. In the workplace, for example, the halo effect can cause us to inflate performance ratings or in-group bias can lead us to overlook great talent.

Combatting our unconscious biases is hard, because they don’t feel wrong; they feel right. But it’s necessary to fight against bias in order to create a work environment that supports and encourages diverse perspectives and people. Not only is that the right thing to do, but without a diverse workforce, there’s a pretty good chance that our products—just like that early YouTube app—won’t work for everyone. That means we need to make the unconscious, conscious.

The first step is education; we need to help people identify and understand their biases so that they can start to combat them. So we developed a workshop, Unconscious Bias @ Work, in which more than 26,000 Googlers have taken part. And it’s made an impact: Participants were significantly more aware, had greater understanding, and were more motivated to overcome bias.

In addition to our workshop, we’re partnering with organizations like the Clayman Institute and the Ada Initiative to further research and awareness. We’re also taking action to ensure that the decisions we make at work—from promoting employees to marketing products—are objective and fair. Here are four ways we’re working to reduce the influence of bias:

  • Gather facts. It’s hard to know you’re improving if you’re not measuring. We collect data on things like gender representation in our doodles and at our conferences.
  • Create a structure for making decisions. Define clear criteria to evaluate the merits of each option, and use them consistently. Using the same standards to evaluate all options can reduce bias. This is why we use structured interviews in hiring, applying the same selection and evaluation methods for all.
  • Be mindful of subtle cues. Who’s included and who’s excluded? In 2013, Googlers pointed out that of the dozens of conference rooms named after famous scientists, only a few were female. Was this our vision for the future? No. So we changed Ferdinand von Zeppelin to Florence Nightingale—along with many others—to create more balanced representation. Seemingly small changes can have big effects.
  • Foster awareness. Hold yourself—and your colleagues—accountable. We’re encouraging Googlers to call out bias. For example, we share a “bias busting checklist” at performance reviews, encouraging managers to examine their own biases and call out those of others.

As we shared back in May, we’re not where we should be when it comes to diversity. But in order to get there, we need to have this conversation. We have to figure out where our biases lie, and we have to combat them. Tackling unconscious bias at work is just one piece of making Google a diverse workplace, but it’s absolutely essential if we’re going to live up to our promise to build technology that makes life better for as many people as possible.

Posted by Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations, and Brian Welle, Ph.D., Director of People Analytics

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/qKqoMVVcCKk/you-dont-know-what-you-dont-know-how.html

For those who dream big: Announcing the winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair

Category: Google | Sep 22, 2014

Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow became interested in addressing the global food crisis after learning about the Horn of Africa famine in 2011. When a gardening project went awry, they discovered a naturally occurring bacteria in soil called Diazotroph. The girls determined that the bacteria could be used to speed up the the germination process of certain crops, like barley and oats, by 50 percent, potentially helping fulfill the rising demand for food worldwide. Oh—and they’re 16 years old.

Today, Ciara, Émer and Sophie were named the Grand Prize Winner and the 15-16 age category winners of our fourth annual Google Science Fair. They are some of thousands of students ages 13-18 who dared to ask tough questions like: How can we stop cyberbullying? How can I help my grandfather who has Alzheimer’s from wandering out of bed at night? How can we protect the environment? And then they actually went out and answered them.

From thousands of submissions from 90+ countries, our panel of esteemed judges selected 18 finalists representing nine countries—Australia, Canada, France, India, Russia, U.K., Ukraine and the U.S.—who spent today impressing Googlers and local school students at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. In addition to our Grand Prize Winners, the winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair are:

  • 13-14 age category: Mihir Garimella (Pennsylvania, USA) for his project FlyBot: Mimicking Fruit Fly Response Patterns for Threat Evasion. Like many boys his age, Mihir is fascinated with robots. But he took it to the next level and actually built a flying robot, much like the ones used in search and rescue missions, that was inspired by the way fruit flies detect and respond to threats. Mihir is also the winner of the very first Computer Science award, sponsored by Google.
  • 17-18 age category: Hayley Todesco (Alberta, Canada) for her project Waste to Water: Biodegrading Naphthenic Acids using Novel Sand Bioreactors. Hayley became deeply interested in the environment after watching Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Her project uses a sustainable and efficient method to break down pollutant substances and toxins found in tailing ponds water in her hometown, a hub of the oil sands industry.
  • The Scientific American Science in Action award: Kenneth Shinozuka (Brooklyn, New York) for his wearable sensors project. Kenneth was inspired by his grandfather and hopes to help others around the world dealing with Alzheimer’s. The Scientific American award is given to a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge.
  • Voter’s Choice award: Arsh Dilbagi (India) for his project Talk, which enables people with speech difficulties to communicate by simply exhaling.

As the Grand Prize winners, Ciara, Émer and Sophie receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands provided by National Geographic, a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a personalized LEGO prize provided by LEGO Education and the chance to participate in astronaut training at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in the Mojave desert.

Thanks to all of our young finalists and to everyone who participated in this year’s Google Science Fair. We started the Science Fair to inspire scientific exploration among young people and celebrate the next generation of scientist and engineers. And every year we end up amazed by how much you inspire us. So, keep dreaming, creating and asking questions. We look forward to hearing the answers.

Posted by Clare Conway, on behalf of the Google Science Fair team

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/zSAlr6FIEh0/for-those-who-dream-big-announcing.html

Through the Google lens: search trends Sept 12-18

Category: Google | Sep 19, 2014

-Welcome to this week’s search trends. May I take your order?
-Can I have a referendum on independence, a totally inappropriate flight passenger with a Hollywood baby on the side?
-Coming right up!

Flag and country
“They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” That was Sir William Wallace battlecry for Scottish independence in the film Braveheart. While this week’s events in Scotland weren’t quite as cinematic, the results could have been revolutionary. On Thursday the world watched and searched as an unprecedented numbers of Scots went to the polls to answer the question, “Should Scotland be independent from the United Kingdom?” Turns out the majority of people don’t think it should, and voted to stay a member of the U.K. Party leaders have now promised significant constitutional changes for the entire kingdom. What would Wallace have made of that?

The comeback kings
Everybody loves a comeback and search had its fair share this week. First up, nostalgia for the 90’s brought Surge soda back from the dead. Thanks to a Facebook campaign called “The SURGE Movement,” Coca-Cola will now sell its “fully-loaded citrus” soft drink for a limited time on Amazon. And the Chicago Bears denied the 49ers a win in their brand-spanking-new stadium when they rallied to overturn a 13-point deficit in the last quarter to beat San Francisco 28-20.

Airing dirty laundry
Hard plastic-y seats, broken recliner adjusters, zero leg room—flying economy isn’t always the most pleasant experience. And depending on who you’re sitting next to, your easy two-hour flight could turn into a nightmare before you even take off. But the passengers of the world aren’t having it, not anymore. This week, “passenger shaming” went viral on social media as traumatized travelers shared photos of the most absurdly obnoxious unconscientious things some passenger do on flights—we’re talking bare feet, bare skin… well, you should just see for yourself.

But at least those offending fliers were shielded in anonymity. Singer Robin Thicke wasn’t afforded the same luxury, revealing in a court deposition this week that he had little to do with the creation of last year’s song of the summer “Blurred Lines.” As part of his defense against a copyright infringement lawsuit, Thicke admitted that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol for most of 2013—bringing a whole new meaning to the song’s title.

And the winner is …
The hipster revolution has finally taken over the United States! Need proof? Searchers don’t. When New Yorker Kira Kazantsev won the the title of Miss America, the Internet discovered that the U.S.A’s new leading lady is a former food blogger. She’s even reported on her state’s crown foodie jewel, the cronut. Miss America wasn’t the only who got to bask in the limelight; boxing world champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. won his rematch with contender Marcos Maidana by an unanimous decision. The victory brings his undefeated tally to 47… somehow the title world champion is starting to sound like an understatement.

Love on the set!
For Orange is the New Black screenwriter Lauren Morelli, life imitated art a bit more than she probably expected. While writing the hit program, Morelli decided to divorce her husband and start a relationship with Samira Wiley, an actress from the show. Meanwhile, searchers learned that Mindy Kaling considers former The Office castmate and on-screen boyfriend B.J. Novak “the love that got away.” But while not all on-set relationships last, some couples not only make it work but also take their relationship to the next level. That’s the route taken by Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who met while making the movie The Place Beyond the Pines. The power couple welcomed baby girl Gosling earlier this week.

Tip of the week
The NFL season’s just getting started so it’s time to hunker down and plan your football viewing schedule. Just say, “OK Google, show me the NFL schedule” to coordinate your life for the next four months. We’ll see you back in the spring.

Posted by Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched this week for [hey girl] and [no shirt, no shoes, no service].

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/-ik4R7zVhX4/through-google-lens-search-trends-sept_19.html

For the next five billion: Android One

Category: Google | Sep 15, 2014

Knowledge is a game changer. I’ve long been inspired by the Internet and how it opens the doors to opportunity. It provides access to knowledge, no matter who you are or where you are. For instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel Laureate at a world-class research center or a young student at a rural school in Indonesia, with Google Search, you have the same information at your fingertips as anyone else.

If we look at how people are getting online and accessing information today, increasingly it’s through a smartphone. While 1.75 billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world’s population—over five billion more—do not. That means most people are only able to make simple voice calls, rather than connect with family through a live video chat, use mapping apps to find the closest hospital, or simply search the web. We want to bring these experiences to more people.

That’s where Android One comes in. At I/O, we first talked about this initiative to make high-quality smartphones accessible to as many people as possible. And today we’re introducing the first family of Android One phones in India.

Addressing key barriers—hardware, software and connectivity
There are three big reasons why it’s hard for people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines to get their hands on a high-quality smartphone. First, is the hardware itself. Even entry-level smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250). Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.

Android One aims to help tackle these challenges. By working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to share reference designs and select components, we’re making it easier for our partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable. They have lots of processing power, so you can get information quickly. They have high-quality front- and rear-facing cameras. And for all those pictures, along with your apps and videos, Android One phones will have expandable storage. We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio.

To help ensure a consistent experience, Android One devices will receive the latest versions of Android directly from Google. So you’ll get all the latest features, up-to-date security patches, and peace of mind knowing your stuff is always backed up. It also means Android One devices will be some of the first to be updated to the Android L release later this year. For our hardware partners, they’ll be able to create customized experiences and differentiate their devices without having to change the core software.

In an effort to reduce data costs, if you have an Airtel SIM card, you’ll get these software updates for free for the first six months. As part of this same Airtel offer, you’ll also be able to download up to 200MB per month worth of your favorite apps (that’s about 50 apps overall) from Google Play—all without counting toward your mobile data usage.

More to come
This is just the beginning of the Android One journey. The first phones, from our hardware partners Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek, are available starting today in India from leading retailers starting at Rs 6,399. We’re also excited to welcome more partners to the program, including phone manufacturers Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm. We expect to see even more high-quality, affordable devices with different screen sizes, colors, hardware configurations and customized software experiences. Finally, we plan to expand the Android One program to Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) by the end of the year, with more countries to follow in 2015.

Access for access’s sake is not enough. With Android One, we not only want to help people get online, we want to make sure that when they get there, they can tap into the wealth of information and knowledge the web holds for everyone.

Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/aw18KIDIcxw/for-next-five-billion-android-one.html

Through the Google lens: search trends Sept 5-11

Category: Google | Sep 12, 2014

New phones, new games, new looks. Let’s take a peek at all the happenings this week in search:

All you can eat? 
The Olive Garden learned this week that it’s risky to get between people and their food. The restaurant chain’s new “Never Ending Pasta Pass” offered up to 1,000 people seven weeks of unlimited pasta, salad and those sneaky-good breadsticks for just $100. The rush of pasta lovers eager for a deal crashed the Olive Garden website before the pass was even for sale—and thousands more turned to search to learn more about the debacle.

The latest edition
It was a big week for our neighbors from Cupertino. Apple’s latest announcement this week flooded the search trends, with more than 10 million searches for the new iPhone 6, along with its release date and price. People were also curious about the new Apple Watch, the band U2—whose latest album Apple gave away for free to all iTunes users—and how the announcement was affecting AAPL stock.

And baby makes four for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, who announced this week that they’re expecting a little brother or sister for one-year-old Prince George. People turned to the web to learn more about the news. Start your office naming pools now! 

Football frenzy 
A full 15 out of 20 top searches on Sunday were related to the first Sunday of football season, with the Cowboys, Steelers and Broncos topping the pack—on search, at least. But unfortunately, it was events off the field that had many people turning to the web this week. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely from the league on Monday, after TMZ released a video that appears to show him assaulting his then-fiancee in an elevator. More than 2 million searches for Rice followed—the highest spike ever. People were also looking for more information on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an effort to understand whether the league’s leadership had knowledge of the incident earlier in the year.

POTUS and ISIS
Just a day earlier, President Obama announced that the U.S. military would expand its air strikes in Iraq and now Syria, against the extremist group ISIS. Searches for ISIL, the term the President used for the group, climbed the day of his speech as people looked for more information on the news. 

Transformations 
The latest season of “The Biggest Loser” premiered yesterday with new trainers and a new concept—“Glory Days,” in which former athletes compete to regain their former fitness—leading people to the web to learn more. And “The Sixth Sense” star Haley Joel Osment was in the news this week—but we won’t blame you if you missed it, since he was nearly unrecognizable from his former self. Osment is filming a new Kevin Smith movie “Yoga Hosers,” in which he plays Canadian fascist journalist Adrien Arcand.

Tip of the week 
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. With the Google Search App, you can get warnings from Google Public Alerts when bad weather is on its way. Take a few minutes to get prepared by learning more about Alerts, which are available on Google Now, Search and Maps.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [ducktales intro] and [adichie city arts]

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/kXUn0fdpoTo/through-google-lens-search-trends-sept.html

Google Drive and the Docs editors: designed with everyone in mind

Category: Google | Sep 11, 2014

Imagine trying to keep track of another person’s real-time edits in a document—using only your ears. Or trying to create a table from spreadsheet data—without being able to clearly see the cells. Whether you’re backing up a file in Drive or crunching some numbers in Sheets, it should be easy to bring your ideas to life using Google’s tools. But if you’re blind or have low vision, you may need to rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers and Braille displays—and that can make working in the cloud challenging. While screen readers can parse static webpages (like this blog) relatively easily, it’s much harder for them to know what to say in interactive applications like Google Docs because the actions they need to describe are much more complex.

With these reasons in mind, today we’re announcing some improvements to Drive and all our editors—Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms—specifically designed with blind and low-vision users in mind.
Improved screen reader support in Drive and Docs 
In June, we introduced a new version of Drive that’s sleeker, easier to navigate and much faster. But just as importantly, the new Drive also includes better keyboard accessibility, support for zoom and high-contrast mode and improved usability with screen readers.

Across Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms, you’ll find that it’s now much easier to use a screen reader, with nicer text-to-voice verbalization and improvements to keyboard navigation. You’ll also notice other updates, including:

  • Support for alt text on images in Docs, so you can tell a screen reader what they should sayd to describe an image 
  • Better support for using a keyboard to edit charts and pivot tables in Sheets 
  • Additional screen reader improvements specifically for Docs, Sheets and Slides, including support for spelling suggestions, comments and revision history 
  • The ability to quickly search the menus and perform actions in Docs, Slides and Drawings (and soon Sheets and Forms)—even if you don’t know the action’s key sequence 

Collaborating with others is easier too: in Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings, screen readers announce when people enter or leave the document, and you’ll now also hear when others are editing alongside you.

Refreshable Braille display support 
If you use a Braille display, you can now use it to read and enter text in Docs, Slides and Drawings. With Braille support, your screen reader’s settings for character echoing are automatically followed. Braille also dramatically reduces the lag between when you press a key and when it’s announced by your screen reader, and improves the announcements of punctuation and whitespace. Learn how to enable Braille support in our Help Center.

Get up and going faster
The first time you use a screen reader or a Braille display, getting up to speed can be a daunting task. But it’s simpler with new step-by-step guides for Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawings.

You can also access the in-product “Help” menu at any time without interrupting your work, or use the updated shortcut help dialog to easily search through keyboard shortcuts if you don’t remember them.

Finally, we’re offering phone support for Google Drive accessibility questions. If you get stuck, visit support.google.com/drive to request a phone call and someone from our team will reach out to you.

What’s next
Referring to recent updates to Google Drive, Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said at this year’s National Convention: “The progress…during the last few months has just been positively extraordinary.” We’re pleased the community has welcomed these improvements, and will continue to work with organizations like the NFB to make even more progress.

Everyone, regardless of ability, should be able to experience all that the web has to offer. To find out more about our commitment to a fully accessible web, visit the new Google Accessibility site at www.google.com/accessibility.

Posted by Alan Warren, Vice President, Engineering

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/z4HSdhpL1UE/google-drive-and-docs-editors-designed.html

Call me maybe? Introducing free voice calls from Hangouts

Category: Google | Sep 10, 2014

We know how important it is to keep in touch with friends and family, especially when they’re spread around the world. Hangouts already makes it easy to send a quick message, or start a group video chat. But sometimes it’s best to just call to say “I love you,” and with the new version of Hangouts you can.

Starting today you can make voice calls from Hangouts on Android, iOS and the web. It’s free to call other Hangouts users, it’s free to call numbers in the U.S. and Canada, and the international rates are really low. So keeping in touch is easier and more affordable than ever.

To get started on Android, just grab the new version of Hangouts (v2.3, rolling out over the next few days), then install the accompanying dialer to turn on voice calls. On iOS and the web, voice calls will be available the next time you open the app.

Voice calls in Hangouts: call history (left); dialer (middle); in a call (right)

Whether it’s your sister in Paris, your best friend in Boston or Jenny at 867-5309, Hangouts lets you call the people you care about at little or no cost. So download the app and dial your loved ones today!

Posted by Amit Fulay, Product Manager

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/aQ7-HnGqOgI/call-me-maybe-introducing-free-voice.html