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For Star Wars fans, old and new

Category: Google | Nov 23, 2015

The first memory I have of watching a movie is with my dad. I was around four years old, and one afternoon he fired up our bulky, ’80s-style front-projection TV and the Betamax, and popped in Star Wars. Of course, it was *amazing*, and I’ve watched the original trilogy a dozen times since.

It probably isn’t a surprise that there are tons of Star Wars fans like me here at Google. You can regularly spot Darth Vaders, dogs dressed like Yoda, and even the occasional stormtrooper, roaming the halls of our data centers (probably still looking for those droids). So when we first heard about Episode VII, we started thinking about what a Google tribute to these epic stories might look like: “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was some sort of Star Wars thingy in Search? The Millennium Falcon in Cardboard would be sweet! What if Google Translate could decipher galactic languages?”… and on, and on, and on. As this list of ideas grew, so too did the band of passionate engineers and product folks who wanted to build them.

We reached out to our friends at Lucasfilm and Disney, and since then we’ve been working together on building google.com/starwars. It’s a place for fans, by fans, and starting today you can choose the light or the dark side, and then watch your favorite Google apps like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome and many more transform to reflect your path. And that’s just the beginning. We’ve got more coming between now and opening night—the Millennium Falcon in all its (virtual reality) glory included, so stay tuned. And we’ve hidden a few easter eggs, too. So awaken the Force within, and be on the lookout for things from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

See you in line at the theater in December. I’ll be there with my dad.

Posted by Clay Bavor, VP of Product Management

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/iuCdOtlfntA/for-star-wars-fans-old-and-new.html

Introducing the new Google+

Category: Google | Nov 17, 2015

If you head over to Google+ today, you’ll see that things look a little different.

Since we last posted, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say. There were two features they kept coming back to: Communities, which now average 1.2 million new joins per day, and Collections, which launched just five months ago and is growing even faster. Whether it’s the Nonfiction Addiction Community, where people can be found discussing the best in Crime or Travel storytelling, or the Watch Project Collection, where more than 40,000 people are following an antique watch hobbyist, these are the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love.

And so we’ve reimagined Google+ to help them do that. Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly—we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one. You’ll need to opt-in to this new version of Google+ on the web to see the changes—check out our Google+ post for more on how to give it a try.

Creating great products that solve real needs and make life easier for people is something Google is always striving for. Your feedback got us this far—as we continue to refine Google+, we’d love to keep hearing from you. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing how today’s changes help kickstart even more conversations around everything from Zombie Cats to Vintage Calculators.

Posted by Eddie Kessler, Director of Streams

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/s_c5C6v3nm0/introducing-new-google.html

Get ahead this Thanksgiving with Google Maps

Category: Google | Nov 17, 2015

It’s that time of year again. Next week, tens of millions of us will hit the roads, consume millions of pounds of turkey, and then spend billions on Black Friday deals. Google Maps looked at Thanksgiving trends from the last three years to uncover the most useful information to make your holiday plans go a little bit easier. Whether you’re traveling, doing some last-minute grocery shopping, or Black Friday deal-dashing, here’s our day-by-day guide to braving the holiday crowds.

Tuesday: No travel day leading up to the holiday is going to be a breeze, but if you can, start driving Tuesday rather than Wednesday. Yes, it’s still the second-worst travel day of the week, but according to Google Maps searches, for the last three years Wednesday has been the worst travel day—with the exceptions of Boston (Tuesday), and Honolulu, Providence and San Francisco (all Saturday).

Wednesday: Americans are pretty predictable when it comes to the holidays: for the third year in a row, “ham shop” was the #1 trending destination search on Google Maps the day before Thanksgiving. Whether you’re running out to a ham shop, pie shop (#2), or liquor store (#3), make sure you don’t head all the way there just to find it closed. This year Google Maps and Google Search have added holiday hours, so when you search for a business, you’ll see its updated holiday schedule.

Thanksgiving Day: Maybe folks were put off by the trauma of last year’s burnt turkey? Nationwide, “buffet restaurants” were the #1 trending Google Maps term on Thanksgiving Day. But locally, folks were heading in other directions. In Houston, “doughnut shops” were trending on Thanksgiving. It was “bars” in Chicago— maybe people needed a break from their families. And Miami residents were interested in looking their holiday best—”beauty salons” were among the trending searches by the South Beach crowd.

Black Friday: The top Black Friday Google Maps trends nationwide were predictably of the “electronics store” and “outlet mall” variety—with “Christmas tree farms” not far behind as people looked ahead. Digging into local trends, however, things get more surprising. New Yorkers were on the hunt for tattoo shops, among other things, Angelenos for hookah bars, and people in Detroit spent their Black Friday on the lookout for hamburgers. Whether you’re in the market for a Christmas tree tat or shopping deals, here’s a tip: use the Explore feature on Google Maps to discover the stores, restaurants and local entertainment around you.

The weekend: Traffic patterns show that you’re better off driving home from a long weekend on Sunday rather than Saturday—traffic can be up to 40% worse on Saturday. And Google Maps will be with you all the way home, helping you check out gas prices and add detours to your route, without having to exit out of navigation.

Posted by Pierre Petronin, Google Maps

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/i5zxVETOIWY/get-ahead-this-thanksgiving-with-google.html

Bringing the NYC Veterans Day Parade to veterans across the country

Category: Google | Nov 12, 2015

I am a veteran and a Googler. I retired in 2012 after a 25-year career in the military, and this week with Google.org, I helped bring veterans with disabilities, and those otherwise unable to travel, their first virtual reality experience. On Thursday morning, we filmed the NYC Veteran’s Day Parade in 360-degree video, and with Google Cardboard, brought together veterans and their families at VA hospitals from Palo Alto, California, to Pryor, Oklahoma to experience the nation’s largest Veterans Day parade in virtual reality as if they were there, marching. These #UnitedWeMarch events will continue over the next few days, at VA hospitals around the country.

The virtual parade video is available on YouTube 360 (desktop), the YouTube app (mobile) and via Google Cardboard (also mobile).

It was incredible to reconnect with other veterans and even better to see their reactions to the virtual parade. One Marine who served in Vietnam even remarked, “You just took me away from this hospital room to New York. And you didn’t even charge me airfare!”

#UnitedWeMarch is part of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, which has given $20M in grants from Google.org toward organizations improving the lives of people with disabilities. In honor of disabled veterans, Google.org also gave a $235,000 grant to America Makes to create a training for military veterans to learn the basics of using new technologies to build personalized assistive devices like 3D-printed prosthetic limbs. This is all in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation.

I’m so grateful to have been there yesterday, seeing the veterans temporarily escape their hospital beds through virtual reality and experience the crowds cheering them along the parade route. We’ll continue these virtual marches tomorrow and into next week, so that every veteran has the chance to be celebrated. 

Posted by James Reid, Googler and Google VetNet member

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/RbEtehOuYDo/bringing-nyc-veterans-day-parade-to.html

Navigate and search the real-world … online or off

Category: Google | Nov 10, 2015

Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty. That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population. This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they’re going, even when they don’t have an Internet connection.

Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity—whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage—Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly. Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.

You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping “Download” on the resulting place sheet, or by going to “Offline Areas” in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all. When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route. By default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.

We first previewed these new capabilities during Google I/O in May, and today we’re gradually rolling out the first set of these improvements with the latest version of Google Maps on Android (coming soon to iOS). Over time, we’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way—even when you can’t find a connection.

Posted by Amanda Bishop, Product Manager

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/9aENcmV5LF8/navigate-and-search-real-world-online.html

Navigate and search the real world … online or off

Category: Google | Nov 10, 2015

Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty. That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population. This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they’re going, even when they don’t have an Internet connection.

Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity—whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage—Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly. Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.

You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping “Download” on the resulting place sheet, or by going to “Offline Areas” in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all. When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route. By default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.

We first previewed these new capabilities during Google I/O in May, and today we’re gradually rolling out the first set of these improvements with the latest version of Google Maps on Android (coming soon to iOS). Over time, we’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way—even when you can’t find a connection.

Posted by Amanda Bishop, Product Manager

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/9aENcmV5LF8/navigate-and-search-real-world-online.html

TensorFlow: smarter machine learning, for everyone

Category: Google | Nov 9, 2015

Just a couple of years ago, you couldn’t talk to the Google app through the noise of a city sidewalk, or read a sign in Russian using Google Translate, or instantly find pictures of your Labradoodle in Google Photos. Our apps just weren’t smart enough. But in a short amount of time they’ve gotten much, much smarter. Now, thanks to machine learning, you can do all those things pretty easily, and a lot more. But even with all the progress we’ve made with machine learning, it could still work much better.

So we’ve built an entirely new machine learning system, which we call “TensorFlow.” TensorFlow is faster, smarter, and more flexible than our old system, so it can be adapted much more easily to new products and research. It’s a highly scalable machine learning system—it can run on a single smartphone or across thousands of computers in datacenters. We use TensorFlow for everything from speech recognition in the Google app, to Smart Reply in Inbox, to search in Google Photos. It allows us to build and train neural nets up to five times faster than our first-generation system, so we can use it to improve our products much more quickly.

We’ve seen firsthand what TensorFlow can do, and we think it could make an even bigger impact outside Google. So today we’re also open-sourcing TensorFlow. We hope this will let the machine learning community—everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists—exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code rather than just research papers. And that, in turn, will accelerate research on machine learning, in the end making technology work better for everyone. Bonus: TensorFlow is for more than just machine learning. It may be useful wherever researchers are trying to make sense of very complex data—everything from protein folding to crunching astronomy data.

Machine learning is still in its infancy—computers today still can’t do what a 4-year-old can do effortlessly, like knowing the name of a dinosaur after seeing only a couple examples, or understanding that “I saw the Grand Canyon flying to Chicago” doesn’t mean the canyon is hurtling over the city. We have a lot of work ahead of us. But with TensorFlow we’ve got a good start, and we can all be in it together.

Posted by Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

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From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/zaQCVWNifVg/tensorflow-smarter-machine-learning-for.html

Celebrating Hedy Lamarr

Category: Google | Nov 9, 2015

We love highlighting great stories about women’s achievements in science and technology. When the story involves a 1940s Hollywood star-turned-inventor who helped develop technologies we all use with our smartphones today … well, we just have to share it with the world.

Today on Google’s homepage we’re celebrating Hedy Lamarr, the Austrian-born actress Hollywood once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world.” Lamarr’s own story reads like a movie script: bored by the film industry and feeling typecast, Lamarr was more interested in helping the Allied war effort as World War II broke out than in the roles she was being offered. She had some background in military munitions (yes, really), and together with a composer friend, George Antheil, used the principles of how pianos worked (yep, pianos) to identify a way to prevent German submarines from jamming Ally radio signals. The patent for “frequency hopping” Lamarr co-authored laid the groundwork for widely-used technologies like Bluetooth, GPS and wifi that we rely upon daily.

It’s no wonder, then, that Lamarr has kind of a mythical status at Google, and I was pretty excited at the chance to tell her story in Doodle form. This took some tinkering of my own—after deciding on the movie format as a nod to her Hollywood career, I dug through old fashion illustrations and movie posters to try to capture the look and feel of the 1940s. Sketching storyboards on a yellow notepad helped me figure out how to show Lamarr in very different scenarios—movie star by day, inventor by night—which we then animated and set to the awesome soundtrack created by composer Adam Ever-Hadani.

So in the spirit of celebrating women in technology everywhere, here’s to Hedy Lamarr, who fused the arts with science and never let herself be typecast. Happy birthday, Hedy, on what would have been your 101st birthday. And thank you.

Posted by Jennifer Hom, Doodler

Day one of sketches and exploration
Storyboard organizing
Alternative ending from an early draft

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From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/iQZWc-AEAQw/celebrating-hedy-lamarr.html

Rewriting the code for girls in CS

Category: Google | Nov 1, 2015

When it comes to computer science, millions of girls are being left out of the conversation. Despite earning the majority of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S., women earn fewer than 20 percent of computer science degrees, with serious implications for our economy and for women at large.

The problem of getting girls more interested in tech has many sources, but according to Google’s own research, one of them is optics. Girls don’t see positive role models of other girls and women in popular culture. In a study of popular films in 11 countries, fewer than 20 percent of computer science or tech roles were held by women.

As someone who runs a company at the intersection of technology and media, I want to help change the perceptions of women and technology we see today. So, as part of our Made with Code and media perception initiatives, I’m excited that we’re supporting award-winning documentary filmmaker Lesley Chilcott—of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman” fame—on her next film, “CODEGIRL.”

“CODEGIRL” follows the story of 5,000 girls from 60 countries as they compete in a global entrepreneurship and coding competition by Technovation. The girls have three months to develop an app that attempts to solve a problem in their local community. In the film, they size up their competition, interact with teachers and local mentors, learn to code, and pitch their ideas all in hopes of winning $10,000 in funding and support.

Starting today and until November 5, Lesley’s film will be available for free on YouTube, before its theatrical debut in the next few weeks. You can watch the film below and use the hashtag #rallyforcodegirl to show your support.

Our goal is to inspire as many students as possible during this special five-day free viewing period before it hits theaters. With your help, we’ll be able to inspire more girls around the world to pursue their passions in tech.

Posted by Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/HGBYBoF0VSw/rewriting-code-for-girls-in-cs.html

Trend or treat: Searching for the top Halloween costumes

Category: Google | Oct 29, 2015

“How many days until Halloween?”
“What should I be for Halloween?”

In the weeks leading up to All Hallows’ Eve you turn to Google Search to ask these two crucial questions. So with just days left to perfect a costume for yourself, your kid, your pooch or your partner, here’s a look at some of the top Halloween costume trends across the United States. For more, see Frightgeist, our Google Trends Halloween hub.

Hair-raising
If your costume involves a certain familiar ‘do, prepare to have company. Get-ups based on the bombastic GOP candidate for President are spiking, with the top-related search being “Donald Trump wig.” And don’t go looking for blue or purple hair-dye at the last minute on Saturday: chances are it will already have been bought up by kids dressing up as Disney’s “Descendants” characters Mal and Evie.

And if you’re aiming for a unique costume, you might want to avoid buns on the side of your head too. “Star Wars” is the second most searched costume nationwide, and within that Princess Leia reigns supreme above Dark Side standbys Stormtrooper and Darth Vader.

Superhero Squad
“Suicide Squad” may not hit box offices until next summer, but one character from the film is already making a killing in costume searches. “Harley Quinn” takes the top search spot nationwide (rival Batman is in fifth place). But Harley and Bruce Wayne are just a few of the superheroes (and super villains) you can look for this weekend: People are also donning their cuffs for Wonder Woman, their creepy facepaint for Joker, their bodysuits for Catwoman, and their half shell as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (T-U-R-T-L-E Power!). Even lesser-known characters like Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp are getting a boost from film franchises like “The Avengers” and “Ant-Man.”

Frightful Fidos
“Dog costume” is always a top search around Halloween—but not because you’re dressing up as Snoopy or Scooby. No, you’re searching for the cutest costume for your four-legged friend. In addition to being adorable, the top dog costumes are just as “Star Wars”-filled as the top human costumes. We assume that’s because they’ve already got the fur and/or ears to make it work.

If dressing your pooch as Chewy feels like asking for trouble, other popular canine costumes include “lion,” “dinosaur,” “shark” and … Olaf. Because—ahem—you still can’t let “Frozen” go.

Better together
When you want a partner in crime or just want insurance against looking silly solo, couples costumes are the way to go. This year, you’re dressing up as famous pop culture pairs like Bonnie and Clyde (the top couples costume overall), Jasmine and Aladdin, Woody and Jessie from “Toy Story,” Danny and Sandy from “Grease,” and Barbie and Ken. You’re keeping that Halloween realness with searches for Gomez and Morticia Addams and Beetlejuice (#2 on the list, and based on Google Images subject to lots of interpretation). And you’re bringing new meaning to the phrase “I’m dressing up with my boo” with searches for a “Boo and Sully” costume from “Monsters, Inc.”

The treat in “trick or treat”
Even for adults, Halloween is an excuse to eat junk food. In the past month you’ve searched for candy corn, candy apples and Halloween variations on all of your favorite sweets, from donuts to pudding cups to Kit Kats. But one candy reigns supreme: marshmallows (no, not that marshmallow) are the top searched candy over the past month.

Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who, despite the above, is still taking recommendations for this year’s costume

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/MnWKr6l-OHQ/trend-or-treat-searching-for-top.html