News > Google
Category: Google | Oct 20, 2014
Meet District Voices, the latest campaign in our Art, Copy & Code project—where we explore new ways for brands to connect with consumers through experiences that people love, remember and share. District Voices was created in partnership with Lionsgate to promote the upcoming release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. -Ed.
Greetings, Citizens of Panem!
The Capitol has joined forces with Google and YouTube to celebrate the proud achievements of our strong, lively districts. Premiering today on YouTube, a new miniseries called DISTRICT VOICES will take you behind the scenes to meet some of Panem’s most creative—and loyal—citizens.
At 4 p.m. EDT/ 1 p.m. PDT every day this week, one of your favorite Citizen creators from YouTube will give you a never-before-seen tour of their districts. First, the Threadbanger textile experts of District 8 will show how utility meets beauty in this season’s fashion—plus, you’ll get a look at a new way to wear your Capitol pride. Tomorrow, District 2’s Shane Fazen will provide a riveting demonstration of how we keep our noble peacekeepers in tip-top shape. On Wednesday, Derek Muller from District 5—Panem’s center of power generation—will give you a peek at a revolutionary new way to generate electricity. Thursday The Grain District’s own Feast of Fiction will show you how to bake one of beloved victor Peeta Mellark’s most special treats. And finally, iJustine, District 6’s liaison to the Capitol, will give you an exclusive glimpse at the majestic and powerful peacekeeper vehicles in action.
Tune in at CAPITOL TV. And remember—Love your labor. Take pride in your task. Our future is in your hands.
Posted by Vikram Tank of The Capitol, devoted to excellence, progress & unity
Category: Google | Oct 17, 2014
Diet secrets from Zach Galifianakis, and cord cutting from a cable company?! Here’s a look at another topsy-turvy week in search.
A cast of characters
Search will always have its fair share of characters and this week was no different. First up, moviegoers learned who’s next in line for Hollywood’s superhero treatment when Ezra Miller, star of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, landed the title role in the 2018 film The Flash. And whispers are swirling in Tinseltown that Gal Gadot’s already impressive resume—she’s set to play the world’s most famous Amazonian, Wonder Woman—will soon get another stellar addition, the lead female role in a remake of Ben-Hur.
But they weren’t the only celebrities to get the Internet buzzing. Comedian and fan favorite Zach Galifianakis caused a stir on the trends charts after he revealed a much thinner version of himself on the red carpet of the New York Film Festival. When a reporter asked Galifianakis if he had made any lifestyle changes to lose the weight, he responded with a straight face, “No, I’m just… I’m dying.” Clearly Galifianakis isn’t sharing his weight loss secrets.
Out with the old, in with the new
HBO has seen the light! This week the premium television network announced that they will launch a new stand-alone service for fans of its TV shows. Soon, homes without a cable subscription can sign up for HBO Go and get their fill of Game of Thrones and other HBO shows with just an Internet connection—leading people to wonder if this is the beginning of the end for cable providers.
Consumers also had a lot of new mobile devices to choose from this week, starting with our own line of Nexus gadgets like the Nexus 6 running the latest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop. Meanwhile, Apple announced an updated version of the iPad.
The show’s just getting started
Is it awards show season already? It’s not—but that’s not stopping searchers from looking ahead. The Internet rejoiced when How I Met Your Mother and Gone Girl star Neil Patrick Harris said “Hosting the 2015 Academy Awards? Challenge accepted!” But with the Oscars red carpet still months away, searchers had their sights set on another celebrity bash: Paul Rudd’s keg party… at his mom’s house… in the suburbs of Kansas City. What else are you supposed to do when mom’s out of town and the KC Royals just punched a ticket to the World Series after a nearly 30-year hiatus?
Tip of the week
‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice beers? Next time you’re in a new town and looking to grab a cold one just say “Ok Google, show me pubs near my hotel” and find your new favorite haunt.
Posted by, Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched for [tv a la carte] and [yo yo diets]
Category: Google | Oct 15, 2014
Good things happen when everybody’s invited. A few years ago, we had the thought that phones (and stuff that hadn’t even been invented yet like tablets and smart watches) would be way more interesting if everyone could build new things together. So we created Android as an open platform, and put it out there for everyone to imagine, invent, make, or buy whatever they wanted.
Since then, all kinds of people—from companies big and small to folks on Kickstarter, kids in schools, and crazy smart developers—have been innovating faster, together, more than we ever could alone. And the best part is that every time someone new joins in, things get more interesting, unexpected, and wonderful for all of us.
Getting everyone in on the party is the same spirit behind Android One—an effort recently launched in India (coming to other countries soon) to make great smartphones available to the billions of people around the world who aren’t yet online. It’s also why we’re excited about Lollipop, our newest software release, which is designed to meet the diverse needs of the billion-plus people who already use Android today.
Joining the party: Android 5.0 Lollipop
As previewed at Google I/O, Lollipop is our largest, most ambitious release on Android with over 5,000 new APIs for developers. Lollipop is designed to be flexible, to work on all your devices and to be customized for you the way you see fit. And just like Android has always been, it’s designed to be shared.
Lollipop is made for a world where moving throughout the day means interacting with a bunch of different screens—from phones and tablets to TVs. With more devices connecting together, your expectation is that things just work. With Lollipop, it’s easier than ever to pick up where you left off, so the songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all the other ones.
As you switch from one screen to another, the experience should feel the same. So Lollipop has a consistent design across devices—an approach we call Material Design. Now content responds to your touch, or even your voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluid.
Lollipop also gives you more control over your device. You can now adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through, for example, when you’re out to dinner or in the middle of an important meeting. And when an important notification does come through, you can see it directly from the lockscreen.
And because we’re using our devices a lot more, there’s a new battery saver feature that extends the life of your device by up to 90 minutes—helpful if you’re far from a power outlet. We’ve enabled multiple user accounts and guest user mode for keeping your personal stuff private. And you can now secure your device with a PIN, password, pattern, or even by pairing your phone to a trusted device like your watch or car with Smart Lock. But this is just a small taste of Lollipop. Learn more on android.com.
Meet the Nexus family, now running Lollipop
Advances in computing are driven at the intersection of hardware and software. That’s why we’ve always introduced Nexus devices alongside our platform releases. Rather than creating software in the abstract, we work with hardware partners to build Nexus devices to help push the boundaries of what’s possible. Nexus devices also serve as a reference for the ecosystem as they develop on our newest release. And for Lollipop, we have a few new Nexus treats to share with you.
First, with Motorola, we developed the Nexus 6. This new phone has a contoured aluminum frame, a 6-inch Quad HD display and a 13 megapixel camera. The large screen is complemented by dual front-facing stereo speakers that deliver high-fidelity sound, making it as great for movies and gaming as it is for doing work. It also comes with a Turbo Charger, so you can get up to six hours of use with only 15 minutes of charge.
Next, a new tablet built in partnership with HTC. Nexus 9, with brushed metal sides and 8.9-inch screen, is small enough to easily carry around in one hand, yet big enough to work on. And since more and more people want to have the same simple experience they have on their tablets when they have to do real work, we designed a keyboard folio that magnetically attaches to the Nexus 9, folds into two different angles and rests securely on your lap like a laptop.
Finally, we’re releasing the first device running Android TV: Nexus Player, a collaboration with Asus, is a streaming media player for movies, music and videos. It’s also a first-of-its-kind Android gaming device. With Nexus Player you can play Android games on your HDTV with a gamepad, then keep playing on your phone while you’re on the road. Nexus Player is Google Cast Ready so you can cast your favorite entertainment from almost any Chromebook or Android or iOS phone or tablet to your TV.
Nexus 9 and Nexus Player will be available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores starting November 3. Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November—with options for an unlocked version through Play store, or a monthly contract or installment plan through carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon. Specific carrier rollout will be subject to certification completion and will vary. Check out google.com/nexus for more details on availability.
Android 5.0 Lollipop, which comes on Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, will also be available on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.
The party’s just getting started
With this latest release of Android Lollipop, we’re excited to continue working with our developer community, hardware partners, and all of you. More ideas and more creators is what gets us all to better ideas faster. And since everyone’s invited to the party, we hope you’ll join in the fun by creating and sharing an Android character that captures a little bit of who you are—one of a kind. Enjoy!
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps
Category: Google | Oct 14, 2014
“Ok Google, do I need an umbrella today?” “How tall do you need to be to ride the Cyclone?” “How long does a goat live?” People of all ages are starting to talk to their devices more regularly—in fact, our data also show mobile voice searches more than doubled in the past year. But how, why and where do people use voice search? To find out, we commissioned a study, conducted by Northstar Research, surveying 1,400 Americans across all age groups. Here are the results:
We weren’t surprised to find that teens—always ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology—talk to their phones more than the average adult. More than half of teens (13-18) use voice search daily—to them it’s as natural as checking social media or taking selfies. Adults are also getting the hang of it, with 41 percent talking to their phones every day and 56 percent admitting it makes them “feel tech savvy.”
Both teens and adults are asking their phones for directions and using it to help skip the hassle of typing in phone numbers. And it’s pretty clear a lot of people are relying on voice search for multitasking: they talk to their phones while watching TV (38 percent) and 23 percent of adults use voice search while cooking. Apparently, it’s becoming common kitchen etiquette to ask your mobile device: “Ok Google, how many ounces are in a gallon?”—all while making sure your screen stays crumb-free.
While people of all ages ask practical questions, it’s teens who are exploring all angles, with nearly one-third talking to their phones to get help with homework. I see my kids asking my phone questions like: “Ok Google, who was the sixth president of the U.S.?” or “what’s the tallest mountain in Europe?” On the bright side, teens are ditching voice search in the classroom: 74 percent of them think using voice search at school is unacceptable. In fact, most admit to using voice search “just for fun”—I know my daughter finds it pretty amusing to tell her phone: “Ok Google, play Olivia Holt’s ‘Fearless’” to start a dance party.
And teens don’t seem to associate any stigma with using voice search while hanging out with friends, whereas only one-quarter of adults speak to their phones when in the company of others. Teens don’t mind talking to devices in private as well, with more than one in five admitting to using voice search while in the bathroom! Maybe they’re merely setting reminders like “Ok Google, remind mom to buy toilet paper next time we’re at Safeway.”
Though it’s already helping a lot of people save time and simplify their days, there’s also potential for voice search to do a lot more in the future. So we asked people what they wished voice search could one day deliver. And I have to say, I agree with the results! it would be great to rely on my voice to easily find my car keys or TV remote, both of which somehow always end up under the couch cushions.
And I’m not alone in wishing a simple voice command could save me from having to cook dinner. Forty-five percent of teens—and 36 percent of adults!—wish they could place a pizza delivery order using voice search on their mobile device. We’re not quite there yet, but next time you don’t feel like cooking, just pull out your phone, tap the Google app, and say: “Ok Google, call Round Table Pizza.” You’ll still have to place your order over the phone, but we’re getting closer!
The small print: The study was commissioned by Google and executed by Northstar Research, a global consulting firm. It examined the smartphone voice search habits of 1,400 Americans, 13 years of age and older (400 ages 13-17 and 1,000 adults ages 18+). Voice search is part of the Google app (available on iOS and Android) and is the best way to access Google for helpful assistance throughout your day. Learn more about the Google app.
Posted by Scott Huffman, VP, Conversational Search
Category: Google | Oct 14, 2014
One year ago, the first Google Shopping Express order was delivered—a box of granola. Our idea was to make shopping your favorite local stores as easy and fast as shopping online, and to help you get what you need delivered the same day. Since then, you’ve told us how we helped you restock diapers in the nick of time, made sure you had Bananagrams for family game night, and even made you feel connected to the outside world when you were home sick. Along the way, we’ve expanded to new locations, brought on more merchants, and offered more products. And now, we’re adding to the program you love.
More cities, more stores and more products
Starting today, we’re expanding to three new cities: Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Across all our cities, more than 7 million people can now access our same-day delivery service, and in Northern California almost 12 million can use our next-day service.
We’re also adding more merchants: 16 in total over the last couple of months. We’ve added national brands including 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, Nine West, PetSmart, Vitamin Shoppe and Sports Authority, and regional merchants such as Paragon Sports in New York and Vicente Foods in Los Angeles. In our new markets, we’ve added regional brands including Stop & Shop in Boston; Giant Food in D.C.; and Lux Roses, TigerDirect, Treasure Island Foods and Wrigleyville Sports in Chicago.
Additionally, customers in the Bay Area who are 21 and over can now order alcohol. Cheers (and please drink responsibly)!
Starting today, shoppers who decide to become Google Express members will enjoy:
- Free same-day or overnight delivery on eligible orders over $15.*
- First dibs on delivery windows
- Shared membership with a household member
Membership costs $95/year or $10/month. Or you can choose to pay as you go, at $4.99 per eligible order. Learn more on our Help Center. Either way, we don’t add any hidden markups, so you pay the same price for your stuff on Google Express as you would in-store.
New shoppers can try the first three months of membership for free. You can cancel it at any time, so it’s easy to test it out and decide if you like it.
A shorter name
We’ve also noticed people referring to us as “Google Express”—and we love it. So as of today, we’ve simplified our name. Plus, we’ve added a punch of color to our parachute:
With more cities, more merchants, and more of your favorite items, Google Express is on its way toward making your life easier by helping you get even more errands out of the way. We hope to give you more free time—and we can’t wait to hear about all the things you do with it.
Posted by Brian Elliott, Head of Partnerships, Google Shopping
*Free delivery means no shipping & service fees. Same day or overnight depends on availability of delivery windows. Eligible orders are $15+ before taxes/fees in select delivery areas and exclude restricted items. Service fees apply to ineligible orders. Pricing may change. Requires active membership subject to terms & conditions.
Category: Google | Oct 10, 2014
The Royals are in the playoffs, Carlton’s doing the Carlton and a Cosby Show star is in the news… what decade is this anyway? Here’s a look at a week of search trends so weird, it’s almost a Twin Peaks experience:
The National League and American League division series thrilled fans of October baseball this week. KC fans gave their brooms a workout as the Royals swept the Angels. They’re in the playoffs for the first time in almost 30 years and at an all-time high in search as a result. And after the Cardinals beat the Dodgers to make it to their fourth straight NLCS, the only Midwest team that’s not happy is the Tigers, who lost to the Orioles (also a sweep). Meanwhile, the Giants beat the Nationals in a four-game series that was really almost like five games, since Game 2 went an epic 18 innings. The next round starts today.
Fans of 90s TV shows were breaking out some celebratory dance moves this week, starting, of course, with The Carlton. This week Alfonso Ribeiro—former Fresh Prince of Bel Air actor and current Dancing with the Stars contestant—did what we’ve all been hoping for and broke out his famous Carlton dance moves on the show. Not only was Ribeiro wearing a Carltonesque sweater and bowtie, the show’s set was decorated to look like the sitcom.
News also broke that cult classic Twin Peaks is coming back to the screen. Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost will write nine episodes of the murder mystery for a limited run on Showtime. If you’re one of those people who’s like, “Laura Palmer, who?” don’t fret—the new episodes won’t be on the air until 2016, so you have plenty of time to catch up with Agent Dale Cooper between now and then.
Finally, former Cosby Show and Disney channel star Raven Symone was top of mind this week after an interview with Oprah in which she discussed personal identity and labels. Oprah told the actress not to “set up the Twitter on fire,” but it didn’t do much good as people took to the web to read more about the actress’ declaration that she is “not African-American.”
For nearly two decades, “Red Bull gives you wings” has been the energy drink company’s slogan. This week, Red Bull agreed to pay more than $13 million after settling a U.S. lawsuit accusing the drink maker of false advertising claims. The plaintiffs argued that Red Bull’s ad campaigns claim the drink gives people special energy benefits. Scientific reports, however, show it offers about the same benefits as a cup of coffee and does not, in fact, give you any wings at all. Searchers looked to find out more about the settlement, which may entitle them to $10, or alternatively, $15 worth of free Red Bull.
Tip of the week
Next time you’re on vacation and looking for a nice place for dinner, let Google be your concierge. Open the Google app and say “Ok Google, show me restaurants near my hotel” to see a variety of options. When you find the one you like, you can say “Ok Google, make a reservation there for 7 p.m.” If the restaurant is on OpenTable, you’ll see a reservations screen pop up with the details already filled out—no need to waste time on the phone when you could be enjoying your time off!
Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [attendance hardly strictly bluegrass] and [matilda musical]
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
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.
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].
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.
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]
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