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Category: Google | May 19, 2014
As a designer, it’s always humbling when you encounter a perfect piece of design. Good design attracts our attention with its beauty, doesn’t need a user manual, is universally understood by anyone in the world, and is simple without sacrificing functionality.
In 1974, the world gave us one such piece of perfect design—the Rubik’s Cube. Budapest-based educator and inventor Ernő Rubik created the puzzle originally to help his students better understand spatial geometry. Released to the public in the 1980s, it quickly became an international obsession, bigger than hairspray and breakdancing combined. But the Rubik’s Cube is more than just a toy; it’s a puzzle waiting to be solved and a question waiting to be answered. Over the past 40 years, the cube has puzzled, frustrated, and fascinated so many of us, and has helped spark an interest in math and problem solving in millions of kids. That’s part of why so many of us at Google love the cube, and why we’re so excited to celebrate its 40th birthday this year.
As everyone knows (right??), there are 519 quintillion permutations for the Rubik’s cube, so May 19 seemed like a fine day to celebrate its 40th anniversary. To kick things off, we’re using some of our favorite web technologies (HTML5 and Three.js among others) to bring the cube to the world in the form of one of our most technically ambitious doodles yet. You can twist and turn it by dragging along its sides, but with full respect to all the speedcubers out there, we’ve included keyboard shortcuts:
Using the same technology that’s behind the doodle, we built Chrome Cube Lab, a series of Chrome Experiments by designers and technologists that reinterpret Rubik’s puzzle with the full power of the web. Create your own music with experiments 808Cube and SynthCube; make a custom, shareable cube of your own photos and GIFs with ImageCube; or send a scrambly message with the Type Cube. You can visit some of these experiments at the Liberty Science Center’s Beyond Rubik’s Cube exhibition, and if you’d like to explore the cube even further, consider borrowing the cube’s source code to build an experiment of your own.
We hope you enjoy getting to know the cube from a few new angles.
Posted by Richard The, Designer and a child of the ‘80s, Creative Lab New York
Category: Google | May 16, 2014
Search is often the first place we turn when something unexpected or unusual happens. This week is no exception, as people looked for news on a celebrity smackdown, an interspecies showdown and everything in between.
When the news is news
A newsroom shuffle at the New York Times put the Grey Lady at the top of headlines around the country. Wednesday, it was announced that Jill Abramson, who served as executive editor since 2011 and was the first woman in that position, would be replaced by Dean Baquet (himself a “first”—no African-American has held the job before now). Searchers scrambled to find information on the story behind the story.
The Finals countdown
Basketball continues to be in the search spotlight as the NBA Finals approach. After a crazy, up-and-down, roller-coaster first round, the second round went more according to plan. Now we’re rewarded with matchups of the top two seeds in each conference finals, leading people to do some searching for the Spurs, Thunder, Heat and Pacers. While those teams are preparing for their next opponent, some teams are already making changes to prepare for next year; the Golden State Warriors announced a new coach, Steve Kerr, a former player with five championships under his belt. Searchers looked for information on [steve kerr rings] and [steve kerr bulls] (he won three of those rings in Chicago), as well as [steve kerr knicks]—rumor has it that Kerr turned down an offer to coach that team.
What a wonderful web
Legions of loyal cat people felt vindicated this week when a video of a family’s “hero cat” saving a four-year-old boy from a dog attack went viral. Not only were there hundreds of thousands of searches for [cat saves boy from dog], but the video now has more than 9 million views on YouTube. I personally vouch that it’s worth your time.
In other viral news, Macaulay Culkin was photographed wearing a T-shirt showing my own favorite famous person Ryan Gosling wearing a T-shirt of Macaulay Culkin back in his “Home Alone” days. People rushed to the web to see the photos, as well as create their own recursive images. As the A.V. Club says: great job, Internet!
Bey it ain’t so
An elevator surveillance video released by TMZ and showing Solange Knowles in a physical altercation with brother-in-law Jay-Z inspired a frenzy of speculation and search activity—and you could say it added one more problem to Jay’s list. Monday’s top trending topic—with more than 5 million searches!—was [tmz], and searches for terms like [solange attacks jay], [jay z fight] and [solange fight] were through the roof. Call it a testament to Bey and Jay’s status as celebrity royalty.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [what to see in valdez ak] and [cite news wikipedia]
Category: Google | May 14, 2014
More than 70 percent of the world’s population doesn’t own a car1—a surprising fact for anyone who’s sat for what seems like hours on end in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Millions of people rely on public transit to get around. That’s why, since 2007, we’ve worked to include public transit routes and schedules in Google Maps. In fact, buses, trains, trams and subways included in Google Maps travel 200 million kilometers every day—that’s the equivalent of driving every single road in the world three times!2
Today, Google Maps is helping you get around on public transit even more easily with these additions:
- We’ve added every single transit route in Great Britain to Google Maps—making it easier to get anywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
- On the other side of the globe, Vancouverites looking for sun can now get real-time updates on whether a bus to Kits is faster than one to Third Beach.
- In Chicago, Cubs fans can now zip to and from Wrigley Field, armed with the real-time information they need to hop on a bus and avoid congestion on Lake Shore Drive.
- And finally, just in time for the games, we’ve recently added transit information for every host city in Brazil. Can you say “GOOOAAALLLLL?!”
Our transit data spans six continents, 64 countries and more than 15,000 towns and cities worldwide. And we’re not done yet: Google Maps will continue to improve—serving people the information they need to get around town when and where they need it.
Posted by David Tattersall, Product Manager, Public Transit
1 This estimate is based on the most recent World Bank data on the number of passenger cars per 1,000 people throughout 100 countries and territories. Passenger cars refer to road motor vehicles, other than two-wheelers, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine people (including the driver). 2 CIA World Factbook
Category: Google | May 13, 2014
As a student growing up in France, I was always looking for ways to improve my English, often with a heavy French-to-English dictionary in tow. Since then, technology has opened up a world of new educational opportunities, from simple searches to Google Translate (and our backpacks have gotten a lot lighter). But it can be hard to find time and the means to practice a new language. So when the Web Speech API made it possible to speak to our phones, tablets and computers, I got curious about whether this technology could help people learn a language more easily.
That’s the idea behind Spell Up, a new word game and Chrome Experiment that helps you improve your English using your voice—and a modern browser, of course. It’s like a virtual spelling bee, with a twist.
We worked with game designers and teachers to make Spell Up both fun and educational. The goal of the game is to correctly spell the words you hear and stack them to build the highest word tower you can—letter by letter, word by word. The higher the tower gets, the more difficult the word challenges: You’ll be asked to pronounce words correctly, solve word jumbles and guess mystery words. You can earn bonuses and coins to level up faster.
Spell Up works best in Chrome on your computer and on Android phones and tablets. (It also works on iPhones and iPads, but you’ll need to type rather than talk.) Whether you’re just learning English or you’re already a pro, check it out! And if you’re a teacher, we encourage you to try it out in your classroom.
Posted by Xavier Barrade, Creative Lead and Polyglot, Creative Lab London
Category: Google | May 9, 2014
Here’s our look back at the stories and searches that made this week, from lightsabers to Lewinsky.
Mint juleps and margaritas
This past week people across the country celebrated several long-held traditions and some newer ones. With the 140th “Run for the Roses” on Saturday, there were more than 2 million searches on the subject of the Kentucky Derby, including research on [kentucky derby time] and [kentucky derby horses]. (We’re partial to derby fashion.) Then, on Sunday, nerds everywhere celebrated what’s come to be known as “Star Wars Day,” thus named because the date lends itself to the pun “May the Fourth be with you.” According to search data at least, the unofficial holiday has been getting bigger every year. And finally, Monday’s Cinco de Mayo inspired lots of pranks, jokes, and more than a few people looking up the history of the holiday.
Red carpet moments and capital celebs
At this week’s Met Gala, the annual fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Blake Lively turned heads and inspired searches. And though searchers were interested in the White House Correspondents Dinner, it was old, not new, Beltway gossip that dominated this week. In a “Vanity Fair” essay, Monica Lewinsky broke a 10-year media silence to talk about life since the affair that made her a household name. Search interest in Lewinsky subsequently jumped to the highest point ever since 2004 (the time period for which data is available) as people looked for more information on the original story as well as [lewinsky now].
On the issues
The phrase “Bring Back our Girls” became a rallying cry to raise awareness about a group of nearly 300 school girls abducted in Nigeria in April. A number of leaders, including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, have raised their voices in support of the campaign.
On a completely different viral note, Jimmy Kimmel hit the streets asking people “what is gluten?” This now viral YouTube video has left many people laughing at the responses, as well as looking up the definition of gluten, and related issues such as celiac disease, for themselves.
Giving thanks to teachers and moms
We hope you took time to thank a teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week. More than a hundred thousand searches on the topic indicate that people around the country were showing their gratitude. And finally, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and many people were looking up gifts—from more traditional treats like flower deliveries and chocolate-covered berries, to creative DIY ideas and even poems. For those of you whose moms are teachers as well (like mine), this is an even better time to show them you care.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [rolf and daughters nashville] and [how tall is prince]
Category: Google | May 6, 2014
Austin is home to some of the best barbecue in the country, a killer live music scene, and an energy that can match any other city in the world. It’s no coincidence, then, that it’s also home to some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there, which is why we’re pleased to welcome Capital Factory, an Austin-based incubator and co-working space for startups, to the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network. The city’s thriving startup community and deep bench of engineering talent, combined with its natural creativity and eclecticism, make it the perfect place to expand.
Capital Factory is the eighth space to join the Network, a group of partner organizations across the U.S. that does everything from hosting accelerator programs for talented developers to providing desks for entrepreneurs. Google for Entrepreneurs provides funding to all the hubs and give them access to mentorship opportunities and Google products.
In just over six months, the Tech Hub Network is already having a dramatic effect on entrepreneurs around North America. Seventy-one percent of startups say their hub is having a significant impact on their growth, and companies from the Network have raised more than $50 million and created 1,200 jobs since becoming members. Just last month, we hosted a Demo Day for these hubs, where 10 startups raised millions of dollars to help grow their businesses.
To give these entrepreneurs an even greater boost going forward, starting today anyone who works in one of the eight tech hubs or Google’s Campus London and Tel Aviv will be able to work for free from the other member spaces when traveling. This will give startups a home base when they’re on the road, and the chance to spread and exchange ideas from city to city.
Not too long ago, Google was just a small startup in a garage. Now that we’ve grown up a bit, we want to give others a place where they can work on their ideas, and feed off each other’s creativity and ingenuity. Capital Factory is no exception. So, get your boots on, Austin entrepreneurs—we can’t wait to see how your growing startup community plays its part in keeping Austin weird.
Posted by John Lyman, Head of Partnerships, Google for Entrepreneurs
Category: Google | May 6, 2014
As a former high school math teacher, I know all too well that teachers spend a ton of valuable time doing things other than teaching—waking up early to grade quizzes, collecting and returning piles of paper assignments, and battling copy machine paper jams. But with today’s technology it doesn’t have to be this way. Many teachers and professors have found ways to use technology to be better educators and avoid busy work. We spent the past year working closely with many educators to understand the systems they use to simplify their workloads, so they can get back to doing what they love—teaching.
Today, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re announcing a preview of Classroom, a new, free tool in the Google Apps for Education suite. It helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease. Classroom is based on the principle that educational tools should be simple and easy to use, and is designed to give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn.
With Classroom, you’ll be able to:
- Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
- Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.
- Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.
We know that protecting your students’ privacy is critical. Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom contains no ads, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools.
Starting today, teachers and professors can apply for a preview of Classroom. Based on the requests we receive, we’ll be inviting a limited number of educators to try Classroom in about a month. By September, Classroom will be available to any school using Google Apps for Education. Since we want to make sure Classroom plays well with others, if you’re a developer or partner, sign up to learn more about integrating with Classroom.
We’ve been working with more than a dozen pilot schools and universities to try out Classroom and provide feedback—and we can’t thank them enough. We can’t wait to hear your feedback, and to work together to make Classroom even better.
Posted by Zach Yeskel, Product Manager, Classroom
Category: Google | May 2, 2014
From matters of the heart to matters off the court, join us on a trip to a galaxy far, far away for our look back at this week’s search trends.
Searching for romance
It’s the end of George as we know him. Saturday, word got out that longtime bachelor George Clooney was engaged to his girlfriend, Amal Alamuddin. Alamuddin is a respected human rights lawyer in Britain, but she’s not—or wasn’t—a household name, and many people turned to search to learn more about the woman who captured Clooney’s heart. While they were at it, they looked for information on actress Talia Balsam, who was married to George in the early 90’s (for those of you paying attention, that’s pre-Doug Ross!). In other celebrity couple news, Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas have reportedly broken up. So, if you’re disappointed that George is off the market, there’s still hope for women around the world wishing to marry a royal.
A historic week for the NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver made league history this week when he fined Clippers owner Donald Sterling and banned him from the league for recent comments. Millions of searches followed, and terms like [adam silver comments], [adam silver sterling], [adam sterling clippers] immediately climbed more than 1,000 percent.
The fetch is strong with this one
On Wednesday, we wore pink in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls.” The movie that gave us “fetch” was the subject of so many searches, quizzes (searches for [mean girls quiz] were up 350 percent) and retrospectives that even Cady Heron might have trouble adding them up. And though rumors of a [mean girls reunion] (up 850 percent) are apparently false, that can’t exactly be said of another movie on searchers’ minds this week: “Star Wars.” A photo revealing the cast of J.J. Abrams’ “Episode VII” showed original stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and more seated alongside new faces like John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver. The new cast members were on the top of the search charts quicker than the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run. (Fun fact: searches for [bill weasley] were also on the rise; “Episode VII”’s Domhnall Gleeson played him in the “Harry Potter” movies.).
Actress Emma Stone made headlines this week when she faced off against Late Night’s Jimmy Fallon in an epic lip syncing battle; searches for [emma stone fallon] climbed 2,200 percent. But while we can’t deny Emma’s spoken-word skills, we’ve got a soft spot for two other playful phrases that made the zeitgeist this week. On Saturday, searchers learned that [zonkey] was not an adjective for how you feel after a red-eye, but actually a rare zebra/donkey cross born last week in Mexico. And [it’s gonna be May] was trending Wednesday after Organizing for Action’s Barack Obama Facebook page used the meme-y caption on a photo showing POTUS with Justin Timberlake. Just to bring this week full circle, the Know Your Meme entry on “It’s gonna be May” includes a reference to… “Mean Girls.”
Happy Friday, and we’ll see you next week.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [derby day history] and [andre movie]
Category: Google | Apr 30, 2014
Every year, phones and tablets get better, and more of you are starting to use your mobile devices not just to view, but also to create and edit content. And while the Drive app is a convenient place to store your stuff, we want to make it easier for you to quickly find, edit and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go. Starting today, you can download new, standalone mobile apps for Docs and Sheets—with Slides coming soon. Need to find a spreadsheet? Go to the Sheets app. Need to create a document? Go to the Docs app. They’re all right there at your fingertips.
When you open the new apps, you’ll see your most recently edited files, which means less time searching and scrolling.
The apps also come with offline support built in, so you can easily view, edit and create files without an Internet connection. Now, if you have a brilliant idea for a best-selling novel while traipsing through the Amazonian rainforest (or you know, something more probable, like during flight takeoff)…no problem. You can jot down your idea in the Docs app on your phone, even when you’re offline.
You can get the apps on Google Play [Docs] [Sheets] and in the App Store [Docs] [Sheets]. If you don’t have time now, over the next few days you’ll be prompted to download the apps when you go to edit or create a document or spreadsheet in your Drive app. And of course, you’ll still be able to use the Drive app to view and organize all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and more.
So enjoy the Amazon—we’re looking forward to buying that novel someday. And in the meantime, just remember: even if a crocodile eats your phone, your files are safe in the cloud!
Posted by Brian Levee, Product Manager
Category: Google | Apr 29, 2014
In February, we asked K-12 students across the country to doodle about the one thing they’d invent to make the world a better place—and we were amazed by their curiosity and creativity. For many students, environmental issues were top of mind, resulting in impressive and artistic doodles depicting water and air purification or turning garbage into flowers. Another common theme was really smart robots; they clean up garbage or help students with their homework. Others created possible solutions for solving obesity or eliminating world hunger. And we saw some thoughtful ideas around time travel and goggles that help you see the world from another person’s point of view so you can truly understand them.
From more than 100,000 creative ideas, we’ve selected the best one from each state with the help of our guest judges. Today, we’re celebrating the 50 state winners—little ones just six years old to high school seniors—at their schools from Fort Paine, Ala. to Moorcroft, Wyo., and from Anchorage, Alaska to Plant City, Fla. We’ll reveal the winning artists in front of their classmates, teachers and parents and, in some places, their local mayors or elected officials.
Now it’s your turn to cast a vote for your favorite Doodle. Starting today through May 9, you can go to the Doodle 4 Google site to help select one winner for each age group. On May 21, we’ll host all 50 state winners at our headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where we’ll reveal the five age group finalists as well as the national Doodle 4 Google winner.
Then, for the first time ever, the national winner will get to hang out with our team in Mountain View and animate their doodle. You’ll see the spiffed-up version on our homepage on June 9. For now, don’t forget to vote!
Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead