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(Un)folding a virtual journey with Google Cardboard

Category: Google | Jan 27, 2016

A year and a half ago we introduced Google Cardboard, a simple cardboard viewer that anyone can use to experience mobile virtual reality (VR). With just Cardboard and the smartphone in your pocket, you can travel to faraway places and visit imagined worlds. Since then everyone from droid lovers and Sunday edition subscribers, to big kids and grandmas have been able to enjoy VR—often for the very first time. Here’s a look at where we are, 19 months in:

1. 5 million Cardboard fans have joined the fold.

2. In just the past two months (October-December), you launched into 10 million more immersive app experiences:

3. Out of 1,000+ Cardboard apps on Google Play, one of your favorites got you screaming “aaaaaaahwsome,” while another “gave you goosebumps.”

4. You teleported to places far and wide, right from the comfort of YouTube.

5. Since we launched Cardboard Camera in December, you’ve captured more than 750,000 VR photos, letting you relive your favorite moments anytime, from anywhere.

6. Students around the world have taken VR field trips to the White House, the Republic of Congo, and 150 other places around the globe with Expeditions.

While you’ve been traveling the world and beyond with Cardboard, we’ve been on a journey, too. Keep your eyes peeled for more projects that bring creative, entertaining and educational experiences to mobile VR.

Posted by Clay Bavor, VP Virtual Reality http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2lf4cAt9Xoo/VqkFrHZ5xxI/AAAAAAAARzs/E8ZK8l4EPo8/s1600/Google-Cardboard_hero.jpg Clay Bavor VP Virtual Reality

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/oxUEbFGEot4/unfolding-virtual-journey-cardboard.html

New ways to stay informed about presidential politics

Category: Google | Jan 26, 2016

In just two days, Americans will tune in for the final Republican debate before the 2016 primary season officially kicks off in Iowa, and we’re teaming up with Fox News Channel to make sure every citizen can get the most out of it. To help people get informed before heading to the polls, we’re integrating three new components into the debate: a way to hear directly from candidates on Google; real-time Google Trends data; and questions from some of YouTube’s most prominent voices.

Hear from candidates directly, right on Google
Political search interest spikes 440 percent on average during live televised debates as people turn to the web to learn more about the candidates and their platforms. Now people will have a new way to hear directly from candidates themselves, in real-time—right in Google Search results. This experimental feature helps voters make more informed choices, and levels the playing field for candidates to share ideas and positions on issues they may not have had a chance to address during the debate. By publishing long-form text, photos and videos throughout the debate, campaigns can now give extended responses, answer questions they didn’t get a chance to on stage, and rebut their opponents. As soon as the first debate begins at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, search “Fox News debate” to find campaign responses.

Dig into issues with Google Trends
Throughout the debate, we’ll also spotlight key insights from Google Trends that offer interesting insights about the candidates, issues, and debate topics—anything from questions asked about key issues to trending terms and rankings like the below minute-by-minute view of which candidate was searched most during the last debate.

You’ll also be able to answer polling questions about the issues that matter to you directly on Google Search when you search “Fox News debate.” Fox News will cover responses to these questions on air after the debate.

Watch YouTube creators engage with the candidates
Finally, three prominent YouTube creators—Nabela Noor, Mark Watson, and Dulce Candy—will join the moderators in the debate to ask the candidates a question on an issue that matters to them and their communities. Bringing new voices from YouTube to political debates is something we’ve been doing since the 2008 election, and it can lead to personal and powerful interactions between candidates and voters.

The debate begins at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, with the prime time debate starting at 9 p.m. ET. So tune in to Fox News Channel to learn more about your presidential candidates on Google!

Posted by Danielle Bowers, Google News Lab IMAGE URL Danielle Bowers AUTHOR TITLE Google News Lab

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/CMBwK3TZ62w/republican-debate-presidential-politics.html

Helping refugees access education and information

Category: Google | Jan 25, 2016

Ahmed is an economics student from Aleppo in Syria. Last year he was forced to leave his hometown because of the war that has forced millions of his compatriots out of their country. He left his family and his studies—everything—behind to find a better future in Europe. Now safe in Berlin, his dream is to continue his studies and eventually become a teacher at a university in Germany.

As they make it through a dangerous journey, the first thing refugees need is to find shelter, food and access to care. But soon enough, they have to learn the local language, acquire skills to work in a new country, and figure out a way to continue their studies—all in an effort to reclaim and reconnect with the lives they had before.

Last fall, we shared how we’re supporting organizations on the frontline of providing essential humanitarian relief support. But we also wanted to do something to help with refugees’ long-term challenges, such as the need for access to information and education. So today, we’re making a $5.3 million Google.org grant to support the launch of Project Reconnect, a program by NetHope to equip nonprofits working with refugees in Germany with Chromebooks, in order to facilitate easier access to education for refugees like Ahmed.

Chromebooks have proven to be a good fit for education purposes. They can be easily set up to run education or language learning apps. They’re automatically kept up to date with the latest features, apps and virus protection. And they can be configured and managed by a central administrator (in this case the nonprofits) to offer relevant programs, content and materials depending on the situation. For example, they can run an educational game for children, a language course for younger adults or even feature information about the asylum application process on a pre-installed homepage.

Nonprofits can apply today on this website. Many organizations and their staff are doing incredible work in very difficult circumstances to help with this crisis. We hope that by supporting these nonprofits, we can help people like Ahmed on the next step of their journey.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org

IMAGE URL Jacquelline Fuller Director Google.org

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/e8CFvKCIagA/refugees-education-chromebooks.html

How we fought bad ads in 2015

Category: Google | Jan 21, 2016

When ads are good, they connect you to products or services you’re interested in and make it easier to get stuff you want. They also keep a lot of what you love about the web—like news sites or mobile apps—free.

But some ads are just plain bad—like ads that carry malware, cover up content you’re trying to see, or promote fake goods. Bad ads can ruin your entire online experience, a problem we take very seriously. That’s why we have a strict set of policies for the kinds of ads businesses can run with Google—and why we’ve invested in sophisticated technology and a global team of 1,000+ people dedicated to fighting bad ads. Last year alone we disabled more than 780 million ads for violating our policies—a number that’s increased over the years thanks to new protections we’ve put in place. If you spent one second looking at each of these ads, it’d take you nearly 25 years to see them all!

Here are some of the top areas we focused on in our fight against bad ads in 2015:

Busting bad ads
Some bad ads, like those for products that falsely claim to help with weight loss, mislead people. Others help fraudsters carry out scams, like those that lead to “phishing” sites that trick people into handing over personal information. Through a combination of computer algorithms and people at Google reviewing ads, we’re able to block the vast majority of these bad ads before they ever get shown. Here are some types of bad ads we busted in 2015:

Counterfeiters
We suspended more than 10,000 sites and 18,000 accounts for attempting to sell counterfeit goods (like imitation designer watches).

Pharmaceuticals
We blocked more than 12.5 million ads that violated our healthcare and medicines policy, such as ads for pharmaceuticals that weren’t approved for use or that made misleading claims to be as effective as prescription drugs.

Weight loss scams
Weight loss scams, like ads for supplements promising impossible-to-achieve weight loss without diet or exercise, were one of the top user complaints in 2015. We responded by suspending more than 30,000 sites for misleading claims.

Phishing
In 2015, we stepped up our efforts to fight phishing sites, blocking nearly 7,000 sites as a result.

Unwanted software
Unwanted software can slow your devices down or unexpectedly change your homepage and keep you from changing it back. With powerful new protections, we disabled more than 10,000 sites offering unwanted software, and reduced unwanted downloads via Google ads by more than 99 percent.

Trick to click
We got even tougher on ads that mislead or trick people into interacting with them—like ads designed to look like system warnings from your computer. In 2015 alone we rejected more than 17 million.

Creating a better experience
Sometimes even ads that offer helpful and relevant information behave in ways that can be really annoying—covering up what you’re trying to see or sending you to an advertiser’s site when you didn’t intend to go there. In 2015, we disabled or banned the worst offenders.

Accidental mobile clicks
We’ve all been there. You’re swiping through a slideshow of the best moments from the Presidential debate when an ad redirects you even though you didn’t mean to click on it. We’re working to end that. We’ve developed technology to determine when clicks on mobile ads are accidental. Instead of sending you off to an advertiser page you didn’t mean to visit, we let you continue enjoying your slideshow (and the advertiser doesn’t get charged).

Bad sites and apps
In 2015, we stopped showing ads on more than 25,000 mobile apps because the developers didn’t follow our policies. More than two-thirds of these violations were for practices like mobile ads placed very close to buttons, causing someone to accidentally click the ad. There are also some sites and apps that we choose not to work with because they don’t follow our policies. We also reject applications from sites and mobile apps that want to show Google ads but don’t follow our policies. In 2015 alone, we rejected more than 1.4 million applications.

Putting you in control
We also give you tools to control the type of ads you see. You can always let us know when you believe an ad might be violating our policies.

Mute This Ad
Maybe you’ve just seen way too many car ads recently. “Mute This Ad” lets you click an “X” at the top on many of the ads we show and Google will stop showing you that ad and others like it from that advertiser. You can also tell us why. The 4+ billion pieces of feedback we received in 2015 are helping us show better ads and shape our policies.

Ads Settings
In 2015, we rolled out a new design for our Ads Settings where you can manage your ads experience. You can update your interests to make the ads you see more relevant, or block specific advertisers all together.

Looking ahead to 2016
We’re always updating our technology and our policies based on your feedback—and working to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters. In 2016, we’re planning updates like further restricting what can be advertised as effective for weight loss, and adding new protections against malware and bots. We want to make sure all the ads you see are helpful and welcome and we’ll keep fighting to make that a reality.

Posted by Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP, Ads & Commerce

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CzH9B5r8W-c/VqE-GbdMYpI/AAAAAAAARwY/RpZ4_RPDtEM/s1600/Blog_Better_Ads_Report_Hero-17.png Sridhar Ramaswamy Senior Vice President Ads & Commerce

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/78w5JWAkgAg/better-ads-report.html

Reach new heights with Street View of Mont Blanc in Google Maps

Category: Google | Jan 21, 2016

Declared the “monarch of mountains” by Lord Byron, the Mont Blanc massif is shrouded in mystery, rolling clouds and imposing snowfields. One of Europe’s highest peaks, the wild terrain of the famed mountain range is reserved for ardent mountaineers and intrepid explorers. Starting today in Google Maps, you can get an up-close, 360-degree look at the breathtaking beauty of Mont Blanc. Following last year’s first-ever vertical imagery collection of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park, we partnered with world-renowned alpine photographers, skiers, mountaineers, climbers, and runners to collect Street View of Western Europe’s highest peak.

By working with legendary adventurers, the Street View team was able to capture the spirit of the massif in a way few witness firsthand. Run on the summit with Kilian Jornet—he holds the speed record for ascending and descending Mont Blanc in just 4 hours 57 minutes! Ice climb up a serac with record-setting alpine climber Ueli Steck, or go knee deep in powder alongside 14-time ski mountaineering champion Laetitia Roux and famed guide Patrick Gabarrou.

Ueli Steck ice climbing on Mont Blanc

You can also join French climbing legend Catherine Destivelle on the imposing yet beautiful Aiguille du Midi, the 3842-meter peak near the Mont Blanc. Or, crouch below innovative filmmaker and free skier Candide Thovex as he soars through the air or has fun as only he can—by taking his skis from the snow to the grass.

Catherine Destivelle ascending near the Aiguille du Midi

Renan Ozturk, acclaimed cinematographer and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, alpine photographer Jonathan Griffith, and Sender Films joined Google on Mont Blanc as part of the team.

If reaching the top is what you care about, elite guide Korra Pesce joined the troupe by carrying the Street View Trekker up and down the Goûter Route of Mont Blanc. Click through the Street View to get his first-person perspective of each step to the summit.

Climb the entire Goûter Route of the Mont Blanc massif

Unfortunately, Mont Blanc’s glaciers are receding due to climate change. You can learn more about how the rising temperatures are directly affecting the mountain from legendary guide Patrick Gabarrou, who describes the the glacial melt on the Mer de Glace. So this Street View imagery also serves as a digital record of Mont Blanc as it appears today, so future outdoor enthusiasts and scientists can look back at this time capsule to see how the mountain has changed.

Kilian Jornet on the summit of Mont Blanc

Whether you choose to run up the Mont Blanc with Kilian Jornet or ski down with Laetitia Roux, we hope you enjoy reaching new heights in Europe’s beautiful and endangered mountain range.

Posted by Sandy Russell, Project Lead, Mont Blanc Street View

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-i70rtEuFhaA/VqAgIN7MI2I/AAAAAAAAEtw/PXgYz379QtA/s1600/Ueli%2BIce%2BClimbing_25MB.gif Sandy Russell Project Lead Mont Blanc Street View

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/t7rN4t782DU/street-view-mont-blanc.html

From self-portraits to street art: 1,000 museums at your fingertips

Category: Google | Jan 21, 2016

The history of art is global. Look at Van Gogh—a Dutchman who spent much of his life in France, and was inspired not only by his contemporaries but also by Japanese artists like Hiroshige. But until recently, the act of enjoying art and culture was limited by geography. Unless you could visit a museum in person, it would be hard for you to appreciate a work, brushstroke by brushstroke. And to fully understand the legacy of someone like Van Gogh, you would have to go from Amsterdam to Chicago to New York to Tokyo to discover and marvel at all of his influences, works and successors.

Left: Van Gogh’s self-portrait (Chicago), right: a street art re-interpretation (Amsterdam)

But with the Google Cultural Institute, it’s all just a few clicks away. Five years ago, the first 17 museums brought online a few hundred artworks so that anyone in the world could explore paintings, records and artifacts no matter where they were. Today, on our fifth birthday, the Google Cultural Institute has grown to include the collections of more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions, with over 60 new ones added just today.

Starting today, you can descend through the famous rotunda of the Guggenheim museum in New York—a piece of art in itself—thanks to special aerial Street View imagery, or stroll the grand halls of the world’s heaviest building, the Palace of Parliament in Romania. View Monet’s famous water lilies in super-high “gigapixel” resolution and zoom in to see his layered brushstrokes—then visit Monsieur Monet’s real-life garden to see his inspiration.

From “gigapixel” images to Street View inside museums, today’s museums, galleries and theatres are turning to technology to help reach new audiences and inspire them with art and culture. And the possibilities keep expanding with the addition of newer technologies like virtual reality. Just recently we worked with the Dulwich Picture Gallery—England’s oldest public art gallery—to take the young patients of King’s College Hospital in London on a virtual field trip to the museum using Google Cardboard.

Young patients at King’s College Hospital, London, were the first to experience the Dulwich Picture Gallery in virtual reality

Virtual visits will never replace the real thing. But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone, and we think that’s a powerful thing. As you browse the Google Cultural Institute’s 6 million objects exploring humanity’s diverse heritage across 70 countries—from this prehistoric equivalent of the Swiss Army knife in the Netherlands, to the Taj Mahal in India and manga drawings in Japan—we hope you’ll agree.

Posted by Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute IMAGE URL Amit Sood Director Google Cultural Institute

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/nfukHpvU3kU/from-self-portraits-to-street-art-1000.html

YouTube creators interview President Obama following his final State of the Union

Category: Google | Jan 11, 2016

“We’re going to have 21st century fireside chats where I’ll speak directly to the American people in a way that I think will enhance democracy and strengthen our government.” – Senator Barack Obama, November 15, 2007

Tomorrow evening, President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress, which will broadcast live on YouTube. Then, as he has every year after the speech, he’ll turn to YouTube and Google to take questions from Americans about the issues that matter to them.

This Friday, January 15, Destin Sandlin, Ingrid Nilsen, and Adande Thorne—three popular YouTube creators—will travel to Washington, D.C. to host a live YouTube Interview with President Obama. They’ll join the President in the East Room of the White House, asking a selection of questions that are top of mind for them and their fans. You can watch the whole thing on the White House YouTube channel—and if you have a question for the President, suggest it by using the hashtag #YouTubeAsksObama on social media.

The interview will stream live on the White House YouTube channel on Friday, January 15 at 2:15 p.m. EST. And don’t forget to tune in on January 12 at 9 p.m. EST to watch the State of the Union address live, as well as the Republican response, live on YouTube.

Throughout his time in office, President Obama has used technology to open up the doors (all 412 of them) to the White House—from posting behind-the-scenes photos of life in the West Wing to uploading a weekly address on the most pressing topics facing the nation. We’re excited to have played a role in this process with our seven YouTube Interviews, tackling issues big and small, poignant and personal. We look forward to helping future presidents connect with Americans in compelling ways.

Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Google Politics IMAGE URL Ramya Raghavan Google Politics

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/ZsSUE4TPzPI/youtube-creators-interview-president.html

‘Tis the season for Santa Tracker

Category: Google | Dec 24, 2015

‘Tis the night before Christmas, at our northernmost pole
And all through Santa’s Village it’s almost time to roll.
The elves have been working hard for this night
Santa’s village is abuzz—tonight’s the big flight!

Google’s Santa Tracker launches today—
And it’s time to follow the jolly man’s sleigh.
He’s off on his trip ‘round the world
Delivering toys to all good boys and girls.

You’ve got a front-row seat to the show
Just fire up Google Maps to see where he goes.
Thanks to the elves’ precisely coded route
Santa and his reindeer will fly swiftly—look out!

Now the sleigh tuning’s done,
Tales of global traditions spun,
Every gift in the sleigh gently placed,
Wrapped with care, without haste.

The reindeer are prancing and eager to fly,
Ready for Santa’s trip through the sky.
With so little time to get their job done—
They may need your help on this gift-giving run.

So keep the translation tool handy;
Geography trivia would also be dandy.
There’s no telling what Santa might need
Traveling from Brisbane to Lima to Leeds.

Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
Join in on the fun—find out what you’re missin’!
On Maps! On Android, Chromecast and Google.com!
There’s something for everyone, from kids to mom.

So watch that sleigh as it takes to the air,
And wherever you are, St. Nick will soon be there.
To borrow a phrase, as Santa takes flight—
“Happy holidays to all, and to all a good-night!”

Posted by Luke Mahé, Chief Excitement Officer IMAGE URL Luke Mahé Chief Excitement Officer

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/YEOo33erDhY/tis-season-for-santa-tracker.html

We read the news today, oh boy: It’s The Beatles, on Google Play Music

Category: Google | Dec 23, 2015

No need for fussing or fighting, my friend. Now you can live on a Yellow Submarine, march in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band or go to Strawberry Fields Forever. Starting on December 24, all 13 of The Beatles’ iconic original albums, plus four essential Beatles collections, will be available to stream on Google Play Music—enough music to fill up eight days a week.

The best-selling band in history, with 20 number one Billboard Hot 100 hits, The Beatles continue to be one of the world’s most beloved bands decades after their last original album. So, what lyrics take a sad song and make it better? What albums get you through a hard day’s night? Come together, right now, to take a look at some of the top Beatles searches, according to Google Trends.

1. Abbey Road 2. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 3. Help! 4. Let It Be 5. Magical Mystery Tour
1. Hey Jude 2. Yesterday 3. Come Together 4. Help! 5. Let It Be

Bonus: If you open up the Google app on your Android phone and say “Ok Google, play the Beatles,” There will be an answer. Let it stream.

In the words of Ed Sullivan: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!”

Posted by Gwen Shen, Music Partnerships, Google Play

IMAGE URL Gwen Shen Music Partnerships Google Play

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/9vj3W4U5v90/we-read-news-today-oh-boy-its-beatles.html

#SpecialDelivery: Google Spotlight Stories come to YouTube with interactive 360-degree storytelling

Category: Google | Dec 22, 2015

A humble caretaker is surprised when a mysterious stranger causes mischief on the roof. He investigates, but can’t seem to catch even a glimpse of the troublemaker. And so the chase goes… room to room… up and down… The stranger remains just out of sight, leaving behind only a trail of gifts…

Meanwhile, you’re following the action at your own pace, from whatever angle you please—behind you, to your left, to your right, or in front of you. All on your mobile phone.

Today we’re bringing Google Spotlight Stories to YouTube with “Special Delivery,” an original short film made by Academy Award-winning animation studio Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit fans, take note), viewable on the YouTube app on many Android devices.

“Special Delivery” is the latest of several Spotlight Stories to come out of Google ATAP (our Advanced Technology and Projects group). With Google Spotlight Stories, your phone becomes a window to a story happening all around you. The sensors on your phone allow the story to be interactive, so when you move your phone to various scenes, you unlock mini-stories within the story.

We didn’t want anyone to miss Aardman’s “Pink Panther”-style holiday caper! So we also made a YouTube 360 version for other Android devices, iOS devices, and the web. You can find both versions of “Special Delivery” on the Spotlight Stories YouTube channel, and you can also watch with Google Cardboard. Next year, we’ll bring Google Spotlight Stories to more Android devices and the YouTube iOS app.

You’ll want to watch “Special Delivery” a few times to find all the surprises within the story. In the full interactive experience, you’ll encounter 10 subplots, three potential ways to view the ending, and 60+ moments where you can decide to follow the story in different ways. Each viewing is unique. We don’t want to spoil the ending, so that’s all we’ll say for now…

Posted by Rachid El Guerrab, Technical Project Lead, Spotlight Stories, Google ATAP

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mbUAzRH7Bao/VnjmzqSrsjI/AAAAAAAARm8/Sj0CZl2NS3g/s1600/SLS_SpecialDelivery_Twitter_1.gif Rachid El Guerrab Technical Project Lead, Spotlight Stories Google ATAP

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/m6dAX5GKl0I/specialdelivery-google-spotlight.html