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Category: Google | Oct 28, 2015
Starting next year, the top three mobile network operators in Indonesia will begin testing Project Loon balloon-powered Internet. Over the next few years, we’re hoping that Loon will help put high-speed LTE Internet connections within reach of more than 100 million Indonesians, giving them access to the limitless educational, cultural, and economic opportunities of the Internet.
From left to right: Ririek Adriansyah, CEO of Telkomsel; Dian Siswarini, CEO of XL Axiata; Alexander Rusli, Indosat CEO; Mike Cassidy, VP, Loon; Sergey Brin, President, Alphabet Inc
In Indonesia today, only about 1 out of every 3 people are connected to the web, and most of their connections are painfully slow. Many people live in areas without existing Internet infrastructure; on an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, with mountains and jungles, it’s difficult to run fiber optic cable or install mobile phone towers. That’s where Loon comes in. Loon balloons act like floating cell phone towers in the sky. Flying on the winds at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, each one beams a connection down to the ground; as one balloon drifts out of range, another moves in to take its place. We hope this could help local operators extend the coverage of their existing networks, and reach further into rural and remote areas.
Project Loon balloons travel approximately 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere. Winds in the stratosphere are stratified, and each layer of wind varies in speed and direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.
These tests with Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata are an important step toward bringing all of Indonesia online, and a key milestone for the Loon team as we continue to test, learn and expand the project.
Of course, to make the Internet not just accessible but useful, there’s more to do, and we have a wide variety of efforts underway in Indonesia and elsewhere to help achieve that goal. For example, Android One phones are helping to make affordable high-quality smartphones more accessible in places where most people first access the Internet on a mobile device. We’ve also built features for when connections are slow or nonexistent, such as Search Lite and offline videos on YouTube. And Google Translate for Bahasa and Sundanese can help knock down the language barrier between Indonesia and the rest of the web.
The Internet is still out of reach for too many people, but we’re making progress. If all goes well, soon many more millions of people in Indonesia will be able to bring their ideas, culture and businesses online. At that point, the sky’s the limit.
Posted by Mike Cassidy, Vice President, Project Loon
Category: Google | Oct 27, 2015
Whether you’re chatting with friends, streaming music or video calling family, Wi-Fi matters. You should have more router options that don’t involve spotty connections, messy cords and complicated settings. That’s why we introduced the first OnHub router this summer, designed to be fast, secure and easy to use—not to mention attractive enough to put out in the open, where Wi-Fi works best. Now, with our partner ASUS, we’re introducing the second member of our growing OnHub family.
OnHub routers are meant to be displayed proudly, and to get rid of the headaches you usually associate with home Wi-Fi. That makes ASUS a great partner, since they design intuitive products that focus on the ways real people use them. Like our first router, the ASUS OnHub comes with faster Wi-Fi, easy set-up, and simple management with the Google On app.
With the ASUS OnHub, we’re also introducing Wave Control, which lets you boost the Wi-Fi speed for a particular device by simply waving your hand over the top of the ASUS OnHub—great for busy houses.
OnHub routers are designed to stay fresh and get better over time. So in addition to the new ASUS router, in the coming week we’re rolling out our first software update with several performance improvements, including a new smart antenna algorithm. Phone in the kitchen? Laptop in the living room? OnHub will intelligently select the best combination of antennas to direct Wi-Fi to your devices, based on their location and orientation. The best part is, if you already have an OnHub, your router will automatically update when your network is quiet so it won’t interrupt your connection. Learn more about OnHub’s platform:
Beginning this week, select retailers will open pre-orders for the ASUS OnHub for $219.99. Visit our website to pre-order the ASUS OnHub—available in the U.S.—or purchase the TP-LINK OnHub, available in the U.S. and in Canada.
Posted by Trond Wuellner, Group Product Manager, OnHub
Category: Google | Oct 23, 2015
Millions of people around the world want to do what they can to help refugees and migrants caught up in the crisis in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa. We wanted to give you an update on where things stand as we continue to think about what Google—and all of us—can do to help.
A month ago we invited everyone to make a donation to support the work of organizations providing essential assistance to refugees and migrants. We were amazed that in just over 48 hours people around the world donated €5M ($5.5. million) to support the work of Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. As promised, we then matched your donations with €5M in Google.org grants to support high-impact projects, like offering wireless connectivity solutions in refugee camps, providing emergency cash transfers to refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and enabling access to education. Googlers around the world also gave, donating more than €1.2M (matched by Google) to charities working on the humanitarian efforts.
These organizations and their staff are doing incredible work in very difficult circumstances, and have the skills and contacts necessary on the ground. With that in mind, we’ve been working with them to better understand how our technology expertise can be put to work, too. One issue identified was the the lack of timely, hyperlocal information for refugees. Working with the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps, we’ve developed an open source project called “Crisis Info Hub” to disseminate such information in a lightweight, battery-saving way. Already live in Lesvos (with more locations coming online shortly) and being run by our NGO partners, Crisis Info Hub is providing refugees—most of whom carry smartphones—with critical information for their journeys: lodging, transportation, medical facilities, etc. And we’re working to make connectivity in the region more widespread and reliable by partnering with NetHope to deploy robust access solutions where they’re needed most.
When refugees travel across different countries, they’re confronted with languages they don’t speak, which can make it even more difficult to know where to turn to access the most basic needs. Just this year, we saw a 5X growth in Arabic translations in Germany, which got us thinking about what we could do to make our products work better for Arabic speakers in these places. We’ve since added Arabic as our 28th language for instant visual translation, enabling immediate, offline translation of signs and other printed text from English or German to Arabic. We’re also asking anyone who knows the languages spoken by refugees or the countries they’re traveling through to help us improve translations through Google Translate Community—our goal is 2 million community contributions. Hundreds of thousands of people have helped out already; if you speak Arabic and German, we’d love your help.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to work closely with our partners on the ground to evaluate how else we can bring the best of Google’s resources to help out with this tragic situation. Thank you for all your generosity and support so far.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org
Category: Google | Oct 20, 2015
There’s nothing like reminiscing over family albums, capturing that perfect sunset pic, or finding the throwbackiest of throwbacks for #TBT. When we launched Google Photos in May, we wanted to make all these experiences even better—with unlimited high quality storage so you never need to worry about where to store your snapshots, automatic organization and great search so you can quickly find the photo you’re looking for, and easy sharing so you can send any photo to anyone with just a link. Five months later, we’ve crossed more than 100 million monthly active users—and to celebrate, we’ve collected a few factoids we’ve discovered about people and the things we photograph, along with a few tips.
1. One hundred million of you are using Google Photos.
Thanks to everyone who’s given Google Photos a whirl!
2. You’re all foodies… or at least you want people to think you are.
Note: Search for “pizza” on an empty stomach at your own risk.
3. Let the good times roll.
Try searching “Halloween” (“pumpkins” and “costumes,” too) for a seasonal trip down memory lane.
4. Dogs rule.
We can’t make your dog Internet-famous, but we can help you find the photo that will get them there. Try searching for breeds of dogs, from French bulldogs to Great Danes.
5. Dude, where’s my car?
Search for car types (truck, sedan, convertible) to find it fast. Sweet!
6. Paris, nous t’aimons
We’d recognize the Eiffel Tower anywhere. No, really: we’ll add it to your Places even without a geotag. Baguette not included.
7. You really aren’t sick of baby photos.
Pro tip: in the U.S., you can even add a private name label with their nicknames to find pictures of your favorite little ones fast.
8. The GIF that keeps on GIFing
Haven’t made a GIF yet? Start by selecting photos, tapping the + button, then select “Animation.”
9. You need some space.
You can safely delete backed-up photos and videos from your device, and still access them using Google Photos. Never run out of space on your phone again!
10. It’s Adventure Time.
Proving you’re outdoorsy has never been easier. Create a collage of your #NoFilter sunsets by selecting a few photos, tapping the + button, and selecting “Collage.”
11. We’re so vain.
Searching for “selfie” works, too, the next time you need a dose of self-confidence.
Posted by Chris Perry, Product Manager and Data Guru, Google Photos
Category: Google | Oct 19, 2015
We’re always amazed by the power of technology to connect people. Not long ago we heard a story involving the Google Translate app and a boy named Alberto who had recently moved from Spain to a small town in Northern Ireland, with little knowledge of English. When Alberto joined Portadown’s youth soccer club, his coaches Gary and Glen turned to Google Translate to communicate with Alberto and his mother, on and off the field. As they progressed from protección de la pelota to retroceso de bicicleta, Alberto grew to feel a part of the team.
We loved this story (and wanted to share it with you) because what Gary and Glen did was so much bigger than translating sentences from one language into another. They didn’t just find a way to coach Alberto in football—they found a way to invite someone who was on the outside into their community.
Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate
Category: Google | Oct 19, 2015
Today we’re kicking off the 2015 Doodle 4 Google art competition, where creative and curious students across the U.S. vie to take over the Google homepage for a day with their artwork. This year’s theme, “What makes me…me,” invites students K-12 to express themselves in the form of a doodle highlighting what makes them unique.
But wait don’t get out those pencils just yet. This year, there’s a twist.
Doodle 4 Google is now in its eighth year (if Doodle 4 Google were a kid, it’d be a third grader)—so we decided to mix things up a bit to let kids’ imaginations really run wild. For the first time, there are no constraints on medium: students can cook, build, cut, spin, paint, or mold their doodle–basically use any material they like as long as they incorporate the letters G-O-O-G-L-E. The Doodle team itself has used a variety of unexpected materials over the years; for example, one Earth Day, we grew a bed of flowers to spell out the doodle. So we figured: let’s open the doors for all the creative kids out there do the same.
Here you can see how I decided to express “me”! I made my doodle out of clay, baked it in the oven, and painted it with acrylic paint. The succulent was taken from my garden. See more tips from my team of Doodlers on the Doodle 4 Google website.
We anticipate a whole lot of creative use of pottery, crochet, cookie dough and more by students (although of course we want all the drawings and paintings too!), so we figured we need some help picking out the winning artwork. We have an amazing group of guest judges: professional basketball player Stephen Curry, astronaut Dr. Yvonne Cagle, director and author BJ Novak, professional soccer player Alex Morgan, Emmy-award winner Julie Bowen and animator Glen Keane (more on the judges on our site).
Together, with the Doodle Team, we’ll pick one National Winner who will have their artwork displayed on the Google homepage for millions to see, receive $30,000 towards a college scholarship, and meet and work with the Doodle team on a visit to Mountain View, Calif. Plus, their school will get to spend $50,000 on technology.
Submissions are open until December 7. And for teachers, check out some classroom ideas and activities to get your young artists ready to Doodle!
Posted by Sophie Diao, Doodler, on behalf of the Doodle Team
Category: Google | Oct 7, 2015
Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized the way we access information, and today people consume a tremendous amount of news on their phones. Publishers around the world use the mobile web to reach these readers, but the experience can often leave a lot to be desired. Every time a webpage takes too long to load, they lose a reader—and the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions. That’s because advertisers on these websites have a hard time getting consumers to pay attention to their ads when the pages load so slowly that people abandon them entirely.
Today, after discussions with publishers and technology companies around the world, we’re announcing a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant—no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.
The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages. To give you a sense of what a faster mobile web might look like, we’ve developed this demo on Google Search:
Over time we anticipate that other Google products such as Google News will also integrate AMP HTML pages. And today we’re announcing that nearly 30 publishers from around the world are taking part too.
This is the start of an exciting collaboration with publishers and technology companies, who have all come together to make the mobile web work better for everyone. Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages.
In the coming months we’ll work with other participants in the project to build more features and functionality focused on some key areas:
- Content: Publishers increasingly rely on rich content like image carousels, maps, social plug-ins, data visualizations, and videos to make their stories more interactive and stand out. They also need to implement ads and analytics in order to monetize the content and to understand what their readers like and dislike. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project provides an open source approach, allowing publishers to focus on producing great content, while relying on the shared components for high performance and great user experience. The initial technical specification—developed with input and code from our partners in the publishing and technology sectors—is being released today on GitHub.
- Distribution: Publishers want people to enjoy the great journalism they create anywhere and everywhere, so stories or content produced in Spain can be served in an instant across the globe in, say, Chile. That means distribution across all kinds of devices and platforms is crucial. So, as part of this effort, we’ve designed a new approach to caching that allows the publisher to continue to host their content while allowing for efficient distribution through Google’s high performance global cache. We intend to open our cache servers to be used by anyone free of charge.
- Advertising: Ads help fund free services and content on the web. With Accelerated Mobile Pages, we want to support a comprehensive range of ad formats, ad networks and technologies. Any sites using AMP HTML will retain their choice of ad networks, as well as any formats that don’t detract from the user experience. It’s also a core goal of the project to support subscriptions and paywalls. We’ll work with publishers and those in the industry to help define the parameters of an ad experience that still provides the speed we’re striving for with AMP.
We hope the open nature of Accelerated Mobile Pages will protect the free flow of information by ensuring the mobile web works better and faster for everyone, everywhere.
Posted by David Besbris, Vice President Engineering, Search
Category: Google | Oct 7, 2015
For the last eight years, teams from around the world have been racing to win a global competition to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon successfully. It’s called the Google Lunar XPRIZE, and it’s been going on in labs and universities from Brazil to Japan to Carnegie Mellon. With 16 remaining teams of scientists, explorers and adventurers hard at work designing and fundraising, the race is on to be the first privately-funded moon landing (and to take home a share of the $30 million prize purse that comes with it).
This week, they all got a little bit closer. Team SpaceIL, a team of engineers based in Israel, has just managed to secure a “ticket to the moon”—in the form of an official, verified launch contract—for its spacecraft on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft will hitch a ride in a specially designed capsule on the Falcon 9; once separated from the launcher and released from the capsule, it will use navigation sensors to guide it to the lunar surface. Here’s a first look at the craft that will be heading to the moon in 2017:
An artist’s rendering of SpaceIL’s newly-designed spacecraft
And this is where the real fun begins. We kicked off this challenge in 2007 to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in space through low-cost, efficient access to the moon. But until now, all the tinkering has been on terra firma. SpaceIL’s securing of a verified launch contract by the December 2015 deadline keeps the competition open to all Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, who now have until the end of 2016 to secure their own launch contracts to head to the moon by the end of 2017.
The moon is not only our nearest neighbor in space, but also the gateway to the rest of the universe—providing exciting opportunities for discovery, and giving the rest of us a chance to engage more with science, technology and innovation. We hear a lot about “moonshots” these days, but this is the real thing.
So, congratulations to SpaceIL for getting to this phase, and to the other 15 teams: the new space race is on! Just like the astronauts, explorers and moonwalkers who came before you, you’re pushing the limits of what’s possible—let’s see who will make history.
Posted by Yasemin Denari Southworth, Manager, Cultural Activation & Partnerships
Category: Google | Sep 29, 2015
From your watch to your phone to your TV, we want to help you stay connected, entertained and informed across all your screens. Today we’re introducing a few new things that do just that: two Nexus phones, a tablet for work and play, updates to Chromecast and features for some of your favorite apps—all working together to make your day a little bit easier and more fun.
New Nexus phones
We made Android to be an open platform that anyone can build on, and today there are 4,000+ Android devices in all shapes and sizes. Android’s diversity is why it’s become the most popular mobile platform in the world, and the latest version, Marshmallow, takes Android to a new level of performance.
While we love all the Android devices out there, every year we build Nexus devices to show off the latest and greatest, directly from the people who built Android. Today we’re introducing the latest Nexus treats, both running Marshmallow, sweetened by amazing apps and sandwiched by some cutting-edge hardware (see what we did there?):
- Nexus 6P is the first all-metal-body Nexus phone. Built in collaboration with Huawei, this 5.7” phone is crafted from aeronautical-grade aluminum, with a USB Type-C port for fast charging, a powerful 64-bit processor, and a 12.3 MP camera sensor with massive 1.55µm pixels (hello, better photos!). The Nexus 6P starts at $499.
- You’re not the only one who misses your Nexus 5. We’ve joined forces with LG to bring it back with the new Nexus 5X, which gives you great performance in a compact and light package, with a beautiful 5.2” screen and the same 12.3 MP camera and Type-C port as the Nexus 6P. Nexus 5X starts at $379.
Both phones include a new fingerprint sensor, Nexus Imprint, which gives you quick and secure access to your phone, as well as use of Android Pay (in the U.S.). They are available for pre-order on the Google Store from a number of countries, including the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Japan, and come with a free 90-day subscription to Google Play Music. In the U.S., pre-orders include a $50 Play credit to help you stock up your favorite music, apps, games and shows. And, finally, for you Project Fi fans out there, you’ll be happy to know Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X will work on your favorite network. Request an invite to our Early Access Program at fi.google.com.
We’re expanding the Pixel family by introducing the first Android tablet built end-to-end by Google. The Pixel C brings together the benefits of a full-size keyboard with the portability of a tablet. The tablet and keyboard attach magnetically (no docking mechanism FTW), so it’s easy to switch between typing and using the touch screen.
And if you’re familiar with the Chromebook Pixel, you’ll immediately see the family resemblance: the Pixel C has the same beautiful aluminum design, great display and USB Type-C port. The Pixel C will be available in time for the holidays on the Google Store.
Cast ALL the things
Today we’re introducing two new Chromecast devices. The new Chromecast has a fresh design, and is easier to plug into TVs with crowded ports. It supports the latest Wi-Fi standards and adapts more easily to changing Wi-Fi conditions in your home, so you get higher quality video with less buffering. Most importantly, we added two new colors. ;)
Chromecast Audio is a small device that plugs into your existing speakers, so you can stream your favorite music, radio and podcasts over Wi-Fi, similar to Chromecast. It works with tons of apps, including Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music. Just like Chromecast, it works from anywhere in your home with your favorite devices, including Android, iOS, and laptops. And it’s available on the Google Store and other online retailers for just $35—way less than most Wi-Fi speakers today.
We’ve also updated the Chromecast app to make it easier for you to find great things to watch or to play, across the thousands of apps that work with Chromecast—whether you feel like browsing or want to search for a specific TV show or movie. For Cast-enabled apps that aren’t already on your phone, we’ll suggest one for you. The updated Chromecast app is rolling out on Android and iOS over the next few weeks.
Your favorite apps… for the whole family
All your shiny devices get even better when you have great apps to go with them. So we’re making a few updates to Google Play Music and Google Photos.
First, Google Play Music will offer a new family plan later this year. Up to six people will be able to use one account for a shared fee of $14.99 a month (instead of $9.99 per person). Get the dance party ready.
Sharing is a theme of today’s Google Photos updates, too. We’re adding Chromecast support to give you that old-school slideshow experience—dimmed lights optional. In the U.S., you can now add private labels to your photos to make it easier to search for specific pics of people with things, places or other people—say, that photo of Mom at the Grand Canyon, or of your daughter with her pet bunny. And soon you’ll be able to pool all your photos and videos with friends and family in one place, and get updates as soon as new photos are added. Best of all, there’s no setup involved, and you can use any device. So that dance party we mentioned earlier? Now it’s easier to gather all the memories from everyone who was there.
More to love, for more people
From Nexus to Chromecast to Pixel C to Photos, these updates are more than the sum of their parts—they unite great apps with devices that are designed to support them. They’re built to work together, so they do—seamlessly, across all your screens.
Posted by Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP Android, Chromecast and Chrome OS at Google
Category: Google | Sep 29, 2015
Converting a liquor store into a community-based learning and tutoring center. Providing millions of dollars of 0% interest loans to small businesses. Breaking the poverty- to-prison cycle by building a residential alternative to prison for young adults. This is just a sampling of the big ideas that local nonprofits submitted for our second annual Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area.
Today, after reviewing hundreds of submissions, we’re unveiling 10 finalists chosen together with our panel of advisors—a group that includes the San Francisco Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief Audrey Cooper, The Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes, The San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence, and CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, Fred Blackwell.
Representing San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Clara, San Mateo and more, these organizations span the Bay Area. Learn more about these groups and their ideas for change:
This year, finding and funding new ideas will be just one part of the Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area. We are also reinvesting in a few of our 2014 finalists. The Ella Baker Center, Beyond12, Lava Mae, and Bay Area Community Resources in collaboration with Instituto Familiar de la Raza all were funded last year, and will receive between $250,000 and $1,000,000 in additional funding this year. We’re very pleased to continue supporting organizations focused on homelessness, youth employment, and racial justice—big problems that Google.org works to tackle with local organizations, year-round.
What happens next is in your hands! Anyone can vote for the new projects they think will have the most impact on the Bay Area. Again, the top four will receive $500,000 in grant funding, the remaining six will get $250,000 each. 15 additional organizations will each receive $100,000 and all nonprofits will be connected with Googler volunteers and coworking space in San Francisco. We’ll announce winners on October 21.
To vote, visit g.co/bayareachallenge or check out one of our voting stations across the Bay Area.
When creative, socially-conscious minds and the Bay Area’s innovative spirit join forces, big things can happen. Congratulations to all finalists, and best of luck the rest of the way!
Posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, Alphabet