Along the Southern edge of the San Francisco Bay, our headquarters sit at the intersection of Silicon Valley’s physical footprint and a diverse and increasingly fragile ecosystem. From an ecological standpoint, the area presents both unique challenges and singular opportunities. Federally protected Burrowing Owls call this area home, and Snowy and Great Egrets return every spring to raise their chicks in sycamore trees on our campus. Far above, the Pacific Flyway buzzes with migratory birds in search of once vast willow groves.
It’s with this in mind that our real estate and workplace services group launched the Ecology Program in 2014. The program seeks to incorporate the best available science into the design of Google’s outdoor spaces, create partnerships to support the implementation and growth of this science, and share programmatic resources publicly for all to use.
Google Ecology Program
We’ve long been an industry leader in the design of healthy and sustainable indoor environments, but only recently have we formalized a science-based strategy to create and maintain healthy and resilient outdoor environments. Traditional landscape designs, while well-intentioned, don’t always implement data-driven strategies to promote diverse and enduring habitats—habitats that can withstand climate change, include drought-tolerant and native plantings, and support pollinators, birds and native biodiversity. To lay this foundation for our campus’ outdoor spaces, we’ve created resources for design teams and initiated efforts to “re-oak” Silicon Valley with native valley oaks, expand the footprint of vanishing willow groves, and create new habitat through projects such as Charleston East and the expansion of the Charleston Retention Basin.
The program also seeks to engage and enhance the experience of individual Googlers and local residents with interactive learning sessions and home planting guidance. During each of the last two springs, we’ve partnered with the Santa Clara Audubon Society to sponsor informational “Egret Office Hours” and birding tours for the public throughout our South Bay Campus.
From the onset, we’ve known that we can’t “go it alone” in implementing successful ecological initiatives. We partnered with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to create the Resilient Silicon Valley vision, a roadmap to guide ecological planning in the region. Through this partnership, we can engage with the regional community while providing a framework for a science-based approach to ecology that anyone can access. We also launched a small Resilient Silicon Valley Awards program in 2016, providing financial sponsorships to support 10 regional environmental organizations, creating a coalition to advance this shared Bay Area vision.
We see great potential to transform our local and regional landscapes through engagement and collaboration. While ecology and tech may not be obvious partners, science, data-driven analysis and transparency are the pillars that will guide meaningful and lasting change in the outdoor environments that we and so many others call home.
If you don’t speak Japanese, Tokyo can be a confusing and sometimes daunting place to visit. Even if you make it through the complex subway system, you’ll be faced by street signs, menus or products on supermarket shelves that are only in Japanese.
With Word Lens now available in Japanese, you’ll never have to worry about taking a wrong turn on a busy Shibuya street or ordering something you wouldn’t normally eat.
The Google Translate app already lets you snap a photo of Japanese text and get a translation for it in English. But it’s a whole lot more convenient if you can just point your camera and instantly translate text on the go. With Word Lens, you just need to fire up the Translate app, point your camera at the Japanese text, and the English translations will appear overlaid on your screen—even if you don’t have an Internet or data connection. It’s every savvy traveller’s dream!
To turn your smartphone into a powerful instant translation tool for English to Japanese (and vice versa), all you need to do is download the Google Translate app, either on Android or iOS.
A free and open web is a vital resource for people and businesses around the world. And ads play a key role in ensuring you have access to accurate, quality information online. But bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone. They promote illegal products and unrealistic offers. They can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself.
We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. And we have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors. Over the years, this commitment has made the web a better place for you—and a worse place for those who seek to abuse advertising systems for their own gain.
In 2016, we took down 1.7 billion ads that violated our advertising policies, more than double the amount of bad ads we took down in 2015. If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish. But our technology is built to work much faster.
Last year, we did two key things to take down more bad ads. First, we expanded our policies to better protect users from misleading and predatory offers. For example, in July we introduced a policy to ban ads for payday loans, which often result in unaffordable payments and high default rates for users. In the six months since launching this policy, we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads. Second, we beefed up our technology so we can spot and disable bad ads even faster. For example, “trick to click” ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” 6X more than in 2015.
Here are a few more examples of bad ads we took action against in 2016:
Ads for illegal products
Some of the most common bad ads we find online are ads promoting illegal activities or products. Although we’ve long had a policy against bad ads for pharmaceuticals, last year our systems detected an increase online. We disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015.
Similarly, we saw more attempts to advertise gambling-related promotions without proper authorization from regulators in the countries they operate. We took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.
We don’t want you to feel misled by ads that we deliver, so we require our advertisers to provide upfront information for people to make informed decisions. Some ads try to drive clicks and views by intentionally misleading people with false information like asking, “Are you at risk for this rare, skin-eating disease?” or offering miracle cures like a pill that will help you lose 50 pounds in three days without lifting a finger. In 2016, we took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.
Bad ads on mobile
If you’ve ever been on your phone and suddenly, without warning, ended up in the app store downloading an app you’ve never heard of, a “self-clicking ad” could be to blame. In 2015, we disabled only a few thousand of these bad ads, but in 2016, our systems detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on our platforms, a huge increase year over year.
Ads trying to game the system
Bad actors know that ads for certain products—like weight-loss supplements or payday loans—aren’t allowed by Google’s policies, so they try to trick our systems into letting them through. Last year, we took down almost 7 million bad ads for intentionally attempting to trick our detection systems.
In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.
To fight cloakers, we take down the scammers themselves, and prevent them from advertising with us again. In 2016, we suspended more than 1,300 accounts for tabloid cloaking. Unfortunately, this type of bad ad is gaining in popularity because people are clicking on them. And a handful of scammers can pump out a lot of bad ads: During a single sweep for tabloid cloaking in December 2016, we took down 22 cloakers that were responsible for ads seen more than 20 million times by people online in a single week.
Promoting and profiting from bad sites
When we find ads that violate our policies, we block the ad or the advertiser, depending on the violation. But sometimes we also need to suspend the website promoted in the ad (the site people see after they click on it). So, for example, while we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads last year, we also took action on 8,000 sites promoting payday loans.
Here are some examples of common policy violations we saw among bad sites in 2016:
We took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams.
We took action on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software and disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.
And we suspended around 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, like imitation designer watches.
Publishers and website owners use our AdSense platform to make money by running ads on their sites and content, so we have strict policies in place to keep Google’s content and search networks safe and clean for our advertisers, users and publishers. When a publisher violates our policies, we may stop showing ads on their site, or even terminate their account.
We’ve had long-standing policies prohibiting AdSense publishers from running ads on sites that help people deceive others, like a site where you buy fake diplomas or plagiarized term papers. In November, we expanded on these policies, introducing a new AdSense misrepresentative content policy, that helps us to take action against website owners misrepresenting who they are and that deceive people with their content. From November to December 2016, we reviewed 550 sites that were suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations. We took action against 340 of them for violating our policies, both misrepresentation and other offenses, and nearly 200 publishers were kicked out of our network permanently.
In addition to all the above, we support industry efforts like the Coalition for Better Ads to protect people from bad experiences across the web. While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here. As we invest in better detection, the scammers invest in more elaborate attempts to trick our systems. Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.
If you’re busily cleaning your house right now to cast away bad luck and clean up before your extended family arrives, you’ll definitely know how the Rooster is feeling in our opening video:
Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google: Spring Cleaning
Check back on the site over the coming days to pick out your favorite reunion dishes and learn the meaning behind each one, work together with your friends to perform a digital dragon dance, draw your own New Year couplets to share with loved ones, cast a “Lo Hei” blessing by virtually shredding food (far less messy), and finally launch your own sky lantern high into cyberspace to bring the Lunar New Year celebrations to a close.
We’d tell you more, but we don’t want to ruin the surprise!
Connecting your Google Assistant on Google Home to other devices around your house can simplify your day and help you get more done. Last year we announced that Nest, Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings are all available on Google Home to help you control your lights, thermostats and switches—with more partners coming soon. Today, “more” have arrived—you can now add Belkin Wemo and Honeywell to that list.
With Honeywell and your Google Assistant on Google Home, you can conveniently manage your home’s temperature without leaving the comfort of your covers—just say “Ok Google, turn the temperature up downstairs.” And when you’re headed out the door, Belkin Wemo and your Google Assistant can help you remember if you turned off the lights—just say “Ok Google, did I leave the bedroom lights on?”
To set up Home Control from your Google Home, go to the Google Home app, select settings and then select Home Control, and click “+” to add a new device. We’re also bringing Home Control to Pixel soon.
Looking for more ways to get things done at home? Try IFTTT, a platform that lets you combine hundreds of different services in new ways. With IFTTT on Pixel and Google Home, you can create custom voice commands for your Google Assistant. So instead of saying “Ok Google, turn on the living room lights,” you can say “Ok Google, I’m home” (or another command of your choice) to turn the lights on.
With the Google Assistant, we want to make it as simple as possible to get things done from anywhere, whether you’re at home or on the go. With today’s addition of Belkin Wemo and Honeywell to the Assistant on Google Home—and soon, Pixel—it’s easier than ever to control your smart home and get on with your day!
Editor’s Note: At Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we’re announcing new Chromebooks designed for education. Check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to follow along.
When I was a student, I juggled different tools throughout my day—a paper notebook for history, a shared desktop for writing, and a graphing calculator for math. In the years since, computers have begun to replace the need for those various tools—what we did on that calculator can now be done with an app, for example—allowing new possibilities for teaching and learning. Through our tools and devices, we try to help these possibilities come to life. Today both Chromebooks and Classroom are used by more than 20 million teachers and students, and we’re excited to announce that more than 70 million people actively use G Suite for Education.
Chromebooks have been the device of choice for educators because of their simplicity, security, shareability and low cost. And at Bett this week we’re introducing a new generation of Chromebooks designed to adapt to the many ways students learn. Look out for new Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, and Lenovo in addition to the recently announced Samsung Chromebooks—a powerful option for educators. With new apps, stylus and touch capabilities, we expect our partners will continue to build an even wider variety of Chromebooks in the future, including detachables and tablets.
More versatile Chromebooks
At Bett we’re featuring two devices: the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213, arriving late spring. We worked with educators and partners to design these Chromebooks for the specific needs of schools:
Stylus capability: Both Chromebooks come with an intelligent, affordable stylus for student note-taking and drawing. The low-cost pens resemble #2 pencils with a unique eraser for correcting mistakes and don’t need charging or pairing, so they can be shared and easily replaced if lost. These Chromebooks use an input prediction model built using Google’s machine learning to ensure writing is extremely responsive. And with Optical Character Recognition in apps like Google Keep you can easily search handwritten notes.
Our math department was keen to get tablets so students could write out equations. Stylus on Chromebooks will be a massive help for mathematics.
Roger Nixon, ICT Director
Wheatley Park School, Oxford
World-facing camera: Schools everywhere have asked for world-facing cameras so students can use Chromebooks to capture photo and video from all directions. We carefully designed the camera on the keyboard side, so when a Chromebook is flipped, the camera faces outwards and students can hold it like a tablet.
USB-C charging: We heard from educators that multiple chargers and slow charging wastes precious time for students. Going forward, all Chromebooks will have standard super-fast USB-C charging, so one Chromebook cart can charge any device quickly.
A world of content on Chromebooks
Now educators have even more ways to find great educational content on Chromebooks:
From teaching design concepts to visual storytelling, Adobe apps on Chromebooks will open up avenues for our students.
Kelly Kermode, Teacher
Forest Hills Public Schools, Michigan
Creative apps: Today we‘re also announcing that creative apps on Chromebooks—WeVideo, Soundtrap, and Explain Everything—are available in the U.K. and Nordics at a discount from resellers XMA, Lin Education and Avalon Solutions when purchased as a bundle.
Recent updates to Google Classroom
On all Chromebooks, students and educators can use Google Classroom to collaborate, stay organized and save time. The Classroom Android app, now available on Chromebooks, opens up new possibilities to students in how they use their devices. With the help of a stylus-enabled Chromebook, students can complete their math homework by hand or sketch a visual for a science project by annotating documents directly in the Classroom app.
We believe in the power of technology to help students learn how they learn best and teachers teach the way they find most effective. We’ll continue to work with educators in 2017 to build tools that support the important work they do every day.
Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we’ll be sharing stories about the teachers, students, and administrators using educational technology to help schools flourish and make learning more interactive and impactful. If you’re attending Bett, be sure to visit Google for Education at stand C230 to check out Google Expeditions and sign up for the U.K. Expeditions Pioneer Program.
Last autumn, we brought Google Expeditions to the U.K. In just a few months, half a million students have gone on virtual field trips to places they couldn’t otherwise go—places like outer space, historical sites on another continent, and inside the human body. Students explore with the help of Google Cardboard, a virtual reality viewer that works with a smartphone, while their teachers guide the trip using a tablet.
Today, we’re adding 58 new destinations, which means students and teachers now have more than 500 Expeditions to choose from. We’re also updating 35 of the most popular Expeditions with detailed photos, videos and even sound to make them more interactive.
We’ve partnered with the British Museum to create an Expedition exploring the Mayan Ruins of Quiriguá, Guatemala, and with the National Trust for Scotland for a tour of a Victorian era printing factory and the home of Miss Agnes. Students can explore the deep oceans of Bermuda, Canada, the Sargasso Sea, and the high seas in between on Nekton’s NW Atlantic Expedition. Beyond landmarks, students can even travel through time for a culturally immersive experience. “Vikings: Way of the Warrior” lets students join with the legendary Norsemen while they’re worshipping Odin, hunting, and telling tall tales in the mead hall. Teachers can find lesson plans for these Expeditions and many more at #googleexpeditions on TES.
To bring Expeditions to your school, you can sign up online to have a Google representative visit. While Expeditions can be used with many of the devices schools or pupils already have—both smartphones and tablets—schools in the U.K. can now purchase a complete Expeditions kit from Redbox VR. The kits include student and teacher phones, VR headsets, a charging case with router and a mobile student cart.
Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we’re highlighting teachers, students and administrators who are using educational technology to help schools flourish and make learning more interactive and impactful. In this post, Chris Lickfold, Director of Learning at Tring School in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, explains how technology has encouraged their school’s 1,500 students to become more curious, independent learners. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more Impact Portraits on the blog. And check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to learn what we’re talking about at Bett. Chris Lickfold will be speaking at Google’s teaching theatre at 11 a.m. on Jan. 26.
Traditional measures like attendance rates and grades are important benchmarks for a school’s performance, but they don’t paint a complete picture of student success. They don’t, for example, indicate whether students are engaged with their classwork or are inspired to discover knowledge.
Last year we brought Chromebooks to Tring School and trained teachers and students to use G Suite for Education. We were fortunate to be in a school environment that was already reaching its goals, but we saw an opportunity to improve further by creating a culture of sharing and engagement.
Shortly after bringing Google tools to students at Tring School, we saw students becoming more independent in their learning—and more curious about the world than we could have imagined. For example, when conducting primary research, we saw students collecting upwards of 300 data points using Google Forms, versus just a handful before the rollout of Google tools. Now, we’re beginning to see the impact of student-led learning in more traditional performance benchmarks. In our science classes, 21 percent more students performed above their expected level in 2016 compared to 2015. And 20 percent more students reached average levels in 2016 compared to 2015.
Students take ownership of learning—and ask teachers for support when they need it
With a few hundred Chromebooks and Google Classroom, we were able to fully appreciate our students’ proficiencies and challenges. Because Chromebooks allow for real-time collaboration, teachers can see school work in progress and offer support to students as they’re working on assignments instead of providing feedback after classwork was already completed. Students like the privacy of communicating within Classroom, and they’re less self-conscious about asking for help. Teachers are also able to direct students to specific resources they need. And the portability of Chromebooks lets teachers and students to share and respond to feedback even when they’re not in a classroom together.
“The increased feedback and interaction with teachers improved my marks,” one of our Year 11 students told us. “We never had this level of detail or ability to ask specific questions back within the work.”
Richer, more contextual learning environments
Chromebooks and G Suite have buttressed our flipped learning approach and given students more autonomy over how they learn and what they learn about. It’s easy to provision content on Chromebooks; teachers in our modern foreign languages department add tools like Google Maps so students can immerse themselves in the locations of the languages they’re studying. Students in our design and technology department can work on projects at their own pace. In other words: Students, not teachers, decide how they’ll meet learning goals.
As students work with their chosen resources, such as digital textbooks, teachers can tailor feedback and guidance for individual students—something they wouldn’t have had the time or tools to do in the past. G Suite applications help increase students’ accountability and lets teachers track homework more efficiently than paper-based methods, and that saved time can go back into working with students one-on-one.
Students share classwork with each other simply because it’s so easy to do so. Teachers don’t need to encourage sharing—it’s become part of learning. All in all, Google’s tools have helped us build a culture of sharing that’s not only fun and engaging for students and teachers—it actually delivers better results.
In April 2016, the Android Security team described how the Google Play App Security Improvement (ASI) program has helped developers fix security issues in 100,000 applications. Since then, we have detected and notified developers of 11 new security issues and provided developers with resources and guidance to update their apps. Because of this, over 90,000 developers have updated over 275,000 apps!
ASI now notifies developers of 26 potential security issues. To make this process more transparent, we introduced a new page where developers can find information about all these security issues in one place. This page includes links to help center articles containing instructions and additional support contacts. Developers can use this page as a resource to learn about new issues and keep track of all past issues.
G Suite helps teams cut through clutter and get right down to business: accomplishing more with less rigmarole. In November, we welcomed DocuSign to the Recommended for G Suite Program to trim time businesses spend on e-signatures and approvals. This G Suite integration makes it easy to fast-track signatures with multiple signers, which is especially valuable for our customers in the real estate industry.
Sereno Group, a real estate brokerage firm in California, uses DocuSign and G Suite to schedule signings, maintain communication between agents and clients, and easily exchange paperwork. By using less complicated tools, agents can build their business and clientele faster.
“When our tools are easier to use, agents can spend less time managing paperwork and devote more time to their clients,” said Tim Proschold, VP of Group Strategy & Success at Sereno Group.
Sereno Group agents save time by using other G Suite integrations, like DocuSign for Google Drive and the DocuSign Gmail extension. Agents use Zipforms, online forms used by real estate agents, to store important deal information. Then others can go into these Zipforms, assemble important real estate, add in files or documents stored in Google Drive with the DocuSign for Google Drive integration and send materials to clients for them to sign. Tracking the status of signatures is easy with the DocuSign Gmail extension. Sereno Group agents can see the status of signatures directly in Gmail to know what’s pending and what’s complete.
These real estate agents are clearly on to something. According to DocuSign, Sereno Group real estate agents are using DocuSign tools more and more — last year they used 18,000 envelope signatures up from 5,500 the year before. To learn more about how to use G Suite and DocuSign for your business, sign up for this webinar on February 7, 2017 at 10am PST / 1pm EST.