News > Google

Note to employees from CEO Sundar Pichai

Category: Google | Aug 8, 2017

This note was sent to Google employees this evening. -Ed.

This has been a very difficult time. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.

First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”

The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being “agreeable” rather than “assertive,” showing a “lower stress tolerance,” or being “neurotic.”

At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo—such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all—are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics—we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.

The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree—while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct. I’d encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.

I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group—including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.


Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to traffic

Category: Google | Aug 7, 2017

In the summertime, the living’s easy and the traffic is light. We looked at historical Google Maps traffic data to confirm every summer commuter’s hypothesis—that traffic is much lighter in the summer—and this is what we found:

Nationally, once students head back to school and vacationing adults head back to work, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 21 percent compared to the summer months. And in the top 25 metro areas in the U.S., morning rush hour traffic increases between 18 percent and 49 percent.


In Atlanta, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 34% once school is back in session


In Boston, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 39% once school is back in session


In Chicago, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 34% once school is back in session


In Dallas, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 38% once school is back in session


In DC, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 28% once school is back in session


In Houston, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 38% once school is back in session


In LA, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 44% once school is back in session


In Philly, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 38% once school is back in session


In San Francisco, morning rush hour traffic increases up to 38% once school is back in session

It’s hard enough to go from sleeping in to carting the kids to school or heading into a college lecture hall. Here’s a quick look at some Google Maps features to help you keep that carefree summer attitude all year long.

Traffic graph

Whether you have a fixed departure time or your morning schedule is flexible (we’re looking at you, college students), make a morning habit of checking out the traffic trends along your route. When you get directions to your destination using Google Maps for Android, just tap the directions banner at the bottom of the screen. There you’ll see a note explaining the estimated trip duration, distance, and a brief update on what kind of traffic to expect, like “fastest route, despite heavy traffic that’s getting worse.”

Below the note, you’ll see a graph showing the traffic conditions along your route at that very moment, indicating whether traffic is better or worse than normal. And if there are specific issues impacting your commute like a slowdown or accident, that info is highlighted right below the graph. You’ll also see typical traffic conditions by the hour, so you’ll know whether to head out right then or wait until later.


Traffic layer

You’re probably already taking advantage of real-time traffic updates without realizing it. When you get directions with Google Maps, we surface the fastest routes possible based on traffic conditions at that very moment. And if conditions change while you’re en route, we’ll automatically reroute you the fastest way. To see real-time traffic conditions on the map itself, enable the traffic layer on Android, iOS and desktop to see the roads with the busiest (red) and lightest (green) traffic.

Traffic Layer

Search along your route

Forgot materials for your studio art class, or lunches for the kids? With Google Maps for Android and iOS, you can easily search for places along your route––like stationery shops or grocery stores––and see exactly how much time each option would add to your trip.

When you’re in navigation mode, simply tap the magnifying glass at the top right corner of the screen to see a menu of helpful options for places you might need to stop at, like gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants. If the drop-down options aren’t what you need, you can tap the search icon or use voice commands to search by specific name or category to find what you’re looking for. In just a few taps you can add the stop to your route, pick up what you need, and avoid a long detour.


Whether you’re a commuting freshman or parent of school-aged kids, Google Maps has all the tools you need to navigate the back-to-school madness.


Daydream Labs: Bringing 3D models to life

Category: Google | Aug 7, 2017

Blocks is a tool that lets anyone create beautiful 3D objects in virtual reality, with no prior modeling experience required. You can use the objects or characters that you make for many applications, like VR games or augmented reality experiences. Check out the Blocks gallery for some fantastic examples of what people are creating—we’ve been blown away by the quality of what we’ve seen so far.

As we explored all these quirky creations, we imagined how great it would be if the models could come to life. Right now, even the best creations are still static, and our team at Daydream Labs took that as a challenge. So, during a one-week hackathon, we prototyped ways to make Blocks scenes feel dynamic and alive. Here’s what we came up with:


Animating 3D models for use in virtual reality or augmented reality is a three-step process. First, you need to set up the model so it can moved. Then, you have to figure out how to control it. Last, you need a way to record the movements.

Step One: Preparing the Model

Before animating a character in Blocks, some prep work is required to get it ready. We explored two methods of doing this: inverse kinematics and shape matching.

Inverse kinematics is a common technique for animating characters in video games, and it’s even used in other fields like robotics. At a super high-level, the character automatically positions its body based on where you want the hands and feet to go. So if you raise the character’s hand over its head, the elbow and joints will be realistically positioned thanks to some nifty calculations done by inverse kinematics. Instead of posing every part of the character, you just move a hand or a foot, and the rest of the character’s body position adapts. 


This makes inverse kinematics great for characters with rigid “skeletons,” such as humans, animals and robots—but shape matching is a new technique for characters with less well-defined physiques, such as a sentient blob or a muppet. Shake a character’s foot, and its leg wiggles around like rubber. The jiggly quality of the movement adds character and playfulness to things like a chair or a boombox with legs. Best of all, it works with objects of any shape.


You can check out the specific shape-matching algorithm we used here. Our current prototype requires you to spend a minute setting up an object for shape matching, but the process could eventually be automated. Then, you’d be able to get a creation wiggling without any additional work.

Step Two: Controlling the Model

Once the model is prepped and ready to go, VR helps you move it using three techniques: direct control, grab points and posing.

You can directly control a character by connecting its hands and head to the user’s headset and controllers. This is similar to the performance technique used by other VR creativity apps such as Mindshow.


You can also place Vive trackers on your feet to control the character’s legs. Look at that move!


Alternatively, you can control the model by grabbing specific points and manipulating them, sort of like how you’d make a teddy bear wave by grabbing its arm and moving it. Here, someone is flapping Chairy’s gums.


In testing, this even worked with multiple players—you and a friend could wiggle characters in a shared environment. It was neat to be moving a character together, almost like playing with toys.

For humanoids, you can directly pose the character’s skeleton, similar to posing an action figure or art mannequin. In VR, spatial awareness and control allows armatures to be posed much more intuitively than in traditional apps. This is great when precise control of all parts of a 3D model is important, such as setting poses for keyframed animation.


Each of these control schemes have their strengths. People loved “becoming” the object when in direct control—many would role-play as the character when using this interface. When more precision is required, inverse kinematic posing is a good option that’s more intuitive in VR than a traditional desktop environment. We found the rubbery shape-matching effect to be particularly interesting. The stretch and jiggle makes this technique less precise than posing a skeleton, but definitely more playful.

Step Three: Recording Motion

Lastly, we experimented with two techniques to record and play back the movements: pose-to-pose and live-looping.

Pose-to-pose animation is similar to current 3D animation techniques and works for complex movements like jumping into a chair. You set a pose, take a “snapshot” (or keyframe), and then repeat the process to create a sequence of poses. When you play this, the character moves between those poses. VR makes the process more intuitive, allowing people to create expressive animations without needing to learn complex animation software.


For simpler animations, live looping lets you record an object’s movements in real-time and then play them back as a repeating loop. Press the record button, move, press the button again, and you’re done—the animation starts looping. We got these two characters dancing in under a minute.


Live looping is easy and great for quickly creating rough animation, whereas pose-to-pose is better for more precise or complex movements.

Mapping your movements to any Blocks creation is magical, and as this prototype demonstrates, technically feasible. A person with no animation experience can easily breathe life into one of their 3D models. The only limit is imagination.


Seeing is believing in the fight against climate change

Category: Google | Aug 4, 2017

In 2005, more than a thousand of acres of land in my hometown in the Santa Cruz mountains were under threat from a proposed logging contract that would have severely damaged our ecosystem by tearing down ancient Redwoods, increasing potential fire danger and endangering public safety. As part of the community group Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging, I used Google Earth to build a flyover of the area to show how closely this logging would take place to residential life, and the dangers it would create. Making geographic data visible and easily intelligible helped to bring together the community to defeat the logging proposal. Seeing is often believing.

That’s the core mission behind Google Earth. We aim to build the most detailed and realistic digital replica of our changing planet and make it universally accessible to the public—a utility for all. We’re trying to fix what former Vice President Al Gore, in his speech on the Digital Earth, called the challenge of “turning raw data into understandable information.”

Emerging technologies like our own Google Earth Engine and Google Cloud Machine Learning, and artificial intelligence in general are doing just that: empowering scientists and practitioners to create solutions at the cutting edge of global sustainability, and turning the mountains of geo-data we have into the insights and knowledge needed to guide better decision-making. This work helps drive adoption of renewable energy technologies such as solar, and allows us to better understand and manage the world’s forests, oceans, water and air.


Global Fishing Watch using big geo-data and machine learning to support sustainable fisheries


Global Forest Watch and Hansen/UMD showing Amazonian forest loss


Project Sunroof showing Manhattan’s solar potential


Environmental Defense Fund pinpointing climate pollution by mapping Boston’s methane leaks with Street View cars

Google Keyword Chasing Coral Image 001.jpg

Ocean Agency taking us underwater to explore disappearing coral reefs

Our team had the chance to sit down with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the roles of data, tools and technology in solving the climate crisis.

We’re grateful to leaders like Al Gore, and all who act as stewards of our shared planetary home. The last decade has seen immense technological progress—and we’ll continue to work on data and tools to guide us to a more sustainable world.


The High Five: A GOAT, a pig and a calf

Category: Google | Aug 4, 2017

A GOAT, a pig and a calf walk into a barn … and you get a few of the most popular searches from this week.

GOAT = greatest of all time

Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is taking a pass at writing. The cover of his first book—which explains how Brady has stayed in wicked good shape throughout his career—was revealed this week. Brady’s big four-oh was Thursday (other trending birthdays this week include Harry Potter, Jennifer Lopez and Khloe Kardashian), and top searched questions about Brady were, “Why is Tom Brady a GOAT?” and “What type of diet is Tom Brady on?” Not surprisingly, the most search traffic for Tom Brady came from New England: Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.  


Some farm

“Was E.B. White a vegetarian?” That was a top searched question this week, now that the farm that inspired “Charlotte’s Web” (and its lovable protagonist pig Wilbur) is up for sale. Other searchers wondered: “Who illustrated Charlotte’s Web?” and “Where was E.B. White’s farm in Maine?” Now that White’s farm is on the market, search interest for Charlotte’s Web spun up 300 percent this week.

You don’t see this everyday

While some were asking about E.B White’s meat intake, we’re wondering whether Gene Simmons will ever touch a hamburger again. This week a baby calf that looks exactly the KISS frontman was born, causing search interest in Gene Simmons cow to spike 1,400 percent. But apparently Gene Simmons can take the shape of several animals … other trending searches included “Gene simmons goat” and “cat looks like Gene Simmons.”


In a scientific first, researchers used genetic-engineering tool CRISPR to “cut and paste” DNA for a disease-causing gene in human embryos. Search interest in genome editing reached its highest point this month and spiked 800 percent this week, with questions like “What are designer gene editing babies?” and “What does God say about gene editing?” About CRISPR specifically, people want to know: “How does CRISPR insert genetic information?” and “Who owns the CRISPR patent?”

Movin’ on

This week soccer superstar Neymar announced his move from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain F.C. The total cost of the deal is expected to be $528 million, making Neymar the world’s most expensive soccer player and the subject of many search queries, like “Why did Neymar leave?” and “How much did Neymar cost for PSG?” This week search interest in Neymar was 5x more than his former teammate Lionel Messi (who said everything has to be a competition?).


Your Back-to-School Assistant

Category: Google | Aug 4, 2017

We’re in no to rush to get through summer, but it’s officially August and time to start thinking about going back to school! Here’s how your Assistant can help you get back into the school days groove:

back to school

  • Brush up on history: “Ok Google, when was World War II?”
  • Pop quiz: “Ok Google, play American Presidents Quiz
  • Plan your wardrobe: “Ok Google, when’s the first day of Fall?
  • Dust off your French skills: “Ok Google, how do you say ‘how was your summer’ in French?”
  • Keep track with your phone: “Ok Google, remember my locker combo is 6437”
  • Be the first one in: “Ok Google, set my alarm for 7 a.m.” 
  • Order supplies on Google Home: “Ok Google, order three notebooks”

Give me an A! Give me an S… and another S, plus an ISTANT.  What’s that spell? Assistant! Go team!


Partnering with Italy’s leaders for safer, smarter web use

Category: Google | Aug 4, 2017

With both the amount of time spent online and the number of connected devices in Italy increasing dramatically year after year, it’s more important than ever for the country to stay web-savvy.

But not everyone’s getting it right. For example, research tells us most millennials use the same password for some—or even the majority!—of their accounts online, and a surprising number think the word “password” is safe (YouGov data, Jan 2017).

In order to help Italians course-correct, we’ve partnered with the country’s Data Protection Authority and the Communications Regulatory Authority to launch “Digitali e Responsabili” with the support of the Postal Police and the consumer association Altroconsumo.

Rome digital skills launch

The launch of our new partnership in Rome.

Building on successful campaigns we’ve run in Italy over the past year, Digitali e Responsabili aims to promote the importance of civic education in the digital age. Through workshops hosted in five different universities across the country, we’ll help to facilitate an informed debate on the responsible use of the internet. From Google’s perspective, this means making sure Italian web users understand how to use the tools we’ve developed to put them in control, like My Account and Content ID.

From Rome to Milan, through Naples, Palermo and Florence, the workshops will cover a range of topics outlining both the opportunities and responsibilities of digital citizens—including concrete tips on safe internet browsing. We’ll share scenarios using digital technology for the promotion and protection of information and with our partners look at issues of creativity and responsible growth of technologies.

Partnerships like these are important to us, because we believe that civic education in the digital age, in Italy as well as across Europe, should be a shared responsibility—and priority—across the private and public sectors.


#teampixel always gets the shot

Category: Google | Aug 3, 2017

Pixel photographers know that the best image isn’t always the most obvious one. Sometimes you get it by looking up—sometimes by looking down. It might be close up, or framed by something unexpected. But if you keep your eyes open, it’s there. Take a look at what #teampixel saw this week:


Left: guigurui finds a ventana to the sky (Spain). Right: A Dali-esque double helix from jhuntley82


A Brooklyn diptych? Left: rht_3 hits the streets near the Manhattan Bridge. Right: Don’t fence bri_fii in.

Pixel_803_3.jpg brings new meaning to the term “sidewalk art”


Left: kt_adventure branches out in Death Valley. Right: sophiashahaha gets the shot in Hong Kong


Left: This door from patrickenste gets the green light. Right: theculinarybee’s flatlay is the cat’s meow

Visit #teampixel on Instagram for more great shots and don’t forget to tag your own—we’d love a peek at the world the way you see it. 


Save that thought: How Instrument uses Jamboard to capture and share ideas

Category: Google | Aug 3, 2017

We all brainstorm differently. As Avi Couillard, a Senior Strategist at the digital agency Instrument, puts it: “Some people need to noodle on an idea, some need to converse with their team about it, and some need to visit it on their own terms.” For agencies like Instrument, inspiration can strike at any place and time. 

Instrument’s creative team has been using Jamboard for 10 months as a part of early testing cycles to facilitate brainstorms and execute on big ideas for clients, including Google. Along the way, the team has noticed an interesting shift in their creative process.

Jamboard 1

We interviewed members of Instrument’s creative team to tell us about this shift, and how Jamboard has changed their team’s approach to brainstorming.

Brainstorming before and after Jamboard

For Avi and his colleagues at Instrument, brainstorms looked different last year. “It used to be one person with bad handwriting, translating whiteboard notes into a spreadsheet,” says Avi. His colleague, UX Illustrator Sheri Smith, jokes: “That handwriting was usually mine.”

They’d leave meetings with a ton of ideas that were then assigned to other designers, illustrators or animators to interpret. “It was time-consuming and the process sometimes diluted creativity,” says Avi.

Jamboard and Instrument team

Now, instead of deciphering half-formulated ideas after the fact, Sheri visualizes concepts right away by sketching them on Jamboard as they’re mentioned. Avi and Sheri also bring remote colleagues into a brainstorm session. Other designers or programmers can join meetings via Hangout within the Jamboard, have PDF versions of work sent to them, or view “jams” from their phone, tablet or computer and rev on a concept right away.

Jamboard helps us focus more on the ideas, and less on translating creative direction to different teams.

Avi Couillard

Senior Strategist, Instrument

“Jamboard helps us focus more on the ideas, and less on translating or assigning creative direction to different teams,” says Avi. His team is able to keep working on ideas after meetings wrap, too. “Because ideas from ‘jams’ are saved in Drive, they’re captured in their original form for everyone on the team. This provides the whole team with access so they can keep adding to them to make them better.” Once the work is complete, the team adds the final output into a Slides presentation to share with internal teams or clients to review.

Ideas from everywhere, everyone

With Jamboard, more team members are involved in the creative process earlier, including those who may not be viewed as traditional “creatives.” Says Andrew Barden, Senior Producer: “Jamboard democratizes brainstorms. Sometimes it’s easy to think ‘oh, I’m not a creative,’ but that’s not true. Ideas come from everywhere, and being able to iterate early in the process helps you produce your best work.”

Jamboard democratizes brainstorms. Ideas come from everywhere, and being able to iterate early in the process helps you produce your best work.

Andrew Barden

Senior Producer, Instrument

Jamboard can also impact how organizations present work. Instead of a “grand unveil” of a polished product, other business units or your clients become broader extensions of your creative team. If you involve more team members in the thinking early on, they’re more likely to be invested in the end result. “Using Jamboard, I’ve had to get more comfortable with sharing my rough sketches or unfinished work to clients early on,” says Sheri. “But they like that. It’s like if you buy a painting that you watched someone paint. That’s more valuable to you than buying it off the shelf.”

It’s like if you buy a painting that you watched someone paint. That’s more valuable to you than buying it off the shelf.

Sheri Smith

UX Illustrator, Instrument

Learn more about how your organization can get started with Jamboard.


Around the Globe – Fundación Todo Mejora supports LGBT youth

Category: Google | Aug 2, 2017

Todo Mejora means “it gets better”—and it’s this message that the Chile-based nonprofit has worked tirelessly to advocate for. In the wake of continual LGBT discrimination around the world, Fundación Todo Mejora strives to support the LGBT adolescents who face discrimination, including those considering committing suicide. Chile has one of the highest levels of suicide and school violence in Latin America. It’s projected that if nothing is done, in four years, one adolescent in Chile will end his or her life  nearly each day—an astounding metric that Fundación Todo Mejora hopes to change.1,2

Continuing  with our series about impactful organizations using Google for Nonprofits tools, this week we’re highlighting how Fundación Todo Mejora uses technology to spread its message and creates a safe space for these teenagers to find refuge in times of need.

Showing up when searching for help—Google Ad Grants

By implementing a strategic campaign using Google Ad Grants, the nonprofit targeted Google searches common to suicidal thoughts such as “I want to commit suicide”, “Who should I call if I want to kill myself?”, or “Help me, I want to die”. When a local person searches this on Google, Fundación Todo Mejora’s ads show up to intervene with supportive messages, and provide links to resources to find help. One 19-year-old girl who found support from these ads said, “Amidst my depression, I Googled how to commit suicide. Your foundation, ’Todo Mejora,’ popped up in my search results. It made me smile and reminded me the reason to go on.”

These ads have allowed Fundación Todo Mejora to save lives and navigate people to their website where they can find resources and support. As a result, website traffic increased by 20% in one year alone, which means the organization found a way to reach more people in need. This increase also prompted Fundación Todo Mejora to expand their suicide hotline support to 30 hours/week up from 7 hours/week.

Spreading the word—YouTube

To further increase visibility, Fundación Todo Mejora created a YouTube channel where adolescents share their personal stories, which have helped create a community of support, coupled with the call-to-action overlays inspiring others to follow suit, take initiative, and send donations. In their most popular video, with over 62,000 views, Demi Lovato speaks out against homophobic and transgender bullying and encourages victims to reach out for help.

TODO MEJORA - Demi Lovato, cantante

Storage & syncing—G Suite

Fundación Todo Mejora now uses G Suite exclusively for all its day-to-day operations, relying on Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar to work productively. The unlimited user accounts and 30GB of storage per user has saved them time and money that once went towards paying for other storage products. Now, they can save important data in a shared and collaborative space which has helped them streamline their processes, preserve historical documents, and improve communication.

With more time, funding, and organizational processes, Fundación Todo Mejora can focus on expanding their support for youth in need and the LGBT community. Read more about their story on our Community Stories page on our Google for Nonprofits site.

To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.

Footnote:  Statements are provided by Nonprofits that received products as part of the Google for Nonprofits program, which offers products at no charge to qualified nonprofits.

1 OECD (2016). Low Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed. PISA. OECD Publishing. Paris

2.Ministerio de Salud de Chile (2013). Situación Actual del Suicidio Adolescente en Chile, con perspectiva de Género [Current Situation of Adolescent Suicide in Chile, with a gender perspective]. Programa Nacional de Salud Integral de Adolescentes y Jóvenes. Chile.