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  • Unwrap the season’s trending holiday gifts
    on December 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    As the year wraps up, holiday shoppers are getting busy wrapping, too. And they’re looking for a wide range of gifts, according to data from Shopping Insights over the last few weeks. Here are just some of the trends we’ve seen nationwide for toy tinkerers, bookworms, makeup pros, sneakerheads and home decorators.Tech toys cast a spellWhile holiday favorites like dolls and LEGO kits remain popular, tech toys are drawing lots of attention—from the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX to the Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit, which teaches kids to code using a programmable magic wand. Among other trending products, we see three L.O.L. Surprise! toy sets: Pearl Surprise, Bigger Surprise and Pets Series 3—all very popular in YouTube unboxing videos.Books to read on holiday vacationThe winter months are perfect for curling up on the couch with a mug of cocoa and a good read.  This year, the most popular book for adults is former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming,” and the book they’ll most likely be reading to their kids is The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, the illustrated storybook that comes with the Elf itself.Worth watchingNewcomer analog watch brand MVMT steals the show this year. Vans Old Skool sneakers, Nike’s classic Windrunner jacket for men, and Canada Goose’s Solaris parka for women also stand out as winter favorites. The Ray-Ban Erika Classic has a sunny outlook—but the retro, round Ray-Ban Ja-Jo style is quickly catching up.A fresh lookThe eyeshadow palette is a makeup bag staple and a favorite stocking stuffer. Urban Decay’s “Naked 12-Color” palette and Huda Beauty’s “The New Nude” palette are among the most searched. Meanwhile, Urban Decay’s new “Naked Petite Heat” palette is on the rise, adding warm hues to the trend.Setting the barWireless soundbars get lots of attention in December, perhaps because a cozy movie night has special appeal during the cold winter months. The Sonos PLAYBAR is hugely popular among audio aficionados, while the Vizio SB3621N-E8 is piquing interest. We also see a growing demand for waterproof, shower-ready Bluetooth speakers, with Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM making a big splash. As for headphones and headsets, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Jabra Elite 65t are in demand, with Under Armour’s Project Rock Sport On-Ear Headphones growing very fast.Caffeine fiendsIf holiday shopping gives you the urge to have a strong cup of coffee, you’re not alone: coffee makers are hot this winter, especially in black. The Keurig K-Select B Single Serve and the Cuisinart Coffee Center are favorites, but the contemporary Ninja Coffee Bar CF091 is also on the rise.For more insights behind this season’s trends, and to see how a product is trending in your region, check out the Shopping Insights tool. That's a wrap! […]

  • ICYMI in November: here’s what happened in G Suite
    on December 10, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Sorry we missed you these past two months. Next Tokyo and London were at the top of our to-dos. Check out the keynotes to catch the highlights.In case you’re curious, we improved the G Suite Developer hub this past month to make it easier for developers to track projects from one place. We also launched a way for you to integrate content from third-party apps directly into your email drafts. With Compose Actions in Gmail, you can do things like add attachments from other apps into emails.Now you can make a Google Doc even faster. Type in “doc.new,” “docs.new” or “document.new” into your web browser and a new Google Doc will appear. Less clicks!→With one click, you can get others to join your meeting as you’re hosting it. Click “add people” at the top of your participant list in Hangouts Meet—up to 100 people can join now. Bring your friends!→ Admins can make even stricter password requirements for users. Check it out.→ Formatting presentations takes time, but we’re making it even easier in Slides. Now, you can double-click the tool icon to enter “persistent” mode to make changes all at once.→ You might’ve noticed a new icon at the top of your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings. Use the squiggly-line icon to access the activity dashboard—a great place to see stats or adjust privacy settings in documents.Check out the full recap of product updates in November. See you next month. […]

  • Expediting changes to Google+
    on December 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    In October, weannounced that we’d be sunsetting the consumer version of Google+ and its APIs because of the significant challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations, as well as the platform’s low usage.We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.Details about the bug and our investigationOur testing revealed that a Google+ API was not operating as intended. We fixed the bug promptly and began an investigation into the issue.Our investigation into the impact of the bug is ongoing, but here is what we have learned so far:We have confirmed that the bug impacted approximately 52.5 million users in connection with a Google+ API.With respect to this API, apps that requested permission to view profile information that a user had added to their Google+ profile—like their name, email address, occupation, age (full list here)—were granted permission to view profile information about that user even when set to not-public.In addition, apps with access to a user's Google+ profile data also had access to the profile data that had been shared with the consenting user by another Google+ user but that was not shared publicly.The bug did not give developers access to information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft.No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.We have begun the process of notifying consumer users and enterprise customers that were impacted by this bug. Our investigation is ongoing as to any potential impact to other Google+ APIs.Next steps for Consumer Google+We will sunset all Google+ APIs in the next 90 days.  Developers can expect to hear more from us on this topic in the coming days, and can stay informed by continuing to check the Google+ developer page.We have also decided to accelerate sunsetting consumer Google+, bringing it forward from August 2019 to April 2019.  We want to give users ample opportunity to transition off of consumer Google+, and over the coming months, we will continue to provide users with additional information, including ways they can safely and securely download and migrate their data.A note for our enterprise customersWe are in the process of notifying any enterprise customers that were impacted by this bug. A list of impacted users in those domains is being sent to system administrators, and we will reach out again if any additional impacted users or issues are discovered.G Suite administrators are always in control of their users’ apps. This ensures that G Suite users can give access only to apps that have been vetted and are trusted by their organization. In addition, we want to reiterate that we will continue to invest in Google+ for enterprise. More details were announced in October.We understand that our ability to build reliable products that protect your data drives user trust. We have always taken this seriously, and we continue to invest in our privacy programs to refine internal privacy review processes, create powerful data controls, and engage with users, researchers, and policymakers to get their feedback and improve our programs. We will never stop our work to build privacy protections that work for everyone. […]

  • This holiday season, keep calm and Google Fit on
    on December 10, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Earlier this year, we redesigned Google Fit around new activity goals based on American Heart Association and World Health Organization physical activity recommendations. Many of you have shared your feature requests and today—just in time for the busy holidays—we're bringing new updates to make it easier to achieve your health goals.Quicker access to your progress and improved activity loggingYou can now see your progress at a glance on your Android home screen with new Google Fit widgets. Pin a widget to instantly check your Heart Points, Move Minutes and other daily stats.Google Fit now features your last workout on the home screen. When manually logging a workout in the journal, you’ll also have the option to adjust your activity intensity and get awarded more accurate Heart Points for it.Take a deep breath, relax and unwindBetween last-minute gift shopping, holiday decorations, and family gatherings, there’s a lot to do and plan for the holidays. On Wear OS by Google watches, Google Fit will now guide you through a breathing exercise to help you unwind and relax.We’ll be rolling out these updates on your Android phone or Wear OS by Google watch this week. If you’re new to Google Fit, try the app here to kick-start your journey to a healthier, more active life. […]

  • The journey toward a circular economy: From Muir Beach to data centers
    on December 10, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Editor’s note: This article is a condensed version of Kate’s talk at TEDWomen on November 29, 2018.I grew up in Muir Beach, California and spent my childhood exploring its beautiful trails through the forest and tide pools at the beach. During my time in this coastal ecosystem, I learned something: The animals, plants and microbes that make up what we call nature are the consummate engineers of the world.They represent billions of years of research and development that has created a circular system where waste doesn’t exist. Think of a tree that grows from the energy of the sun and the nutrients in the soil. Eventually the tree falls and microorganisms, enzymes and bacteria begin to turn the tree back into the soil and nutrients that fuel the growth of new life in the forest. This is the genius of nature, the original circular economy.The ‘economy’ in circular economyWhat if we could apply this same approach to our modern economy? What if, like nature, everything was repurposed, reused and reborn for use again? What if instead of our current linear economy of take-make-waste we had a “circular economy” that mimicked this natural system?These questions aren’t just hypotheticals, they hold the key to our future. According to the latest science, we only have 12 years left to make an unprecedented, economy-wide shift or the damage we will have done to our planet will be irreversible. From my time working in sustainability at the Pentagon, the White House and now as Sustainability Officer at Google, my colleagues and I have struggled to find an approach that could drive transformation at this scale.I believe the shift will incorporate circularity. This thinking builds on multiple schools of thought like cradle-to-cradle, industrial symbiosis and biomimicry, but what’s new is the “economy” in circular economy, the strong focus on value creation. It’s estimated that the Circular Economy could generate $4.5 trillion of new economic output by 2030.We’re already putting this circular approach  into practice at Google, and it’s grounded in three principles: design out waste, keep products and materials in use and transition to renewable energy.  Learning fromthe world’s most efficient engineer—natureGoogle owns and operates 14 data centers on four continents. These data centers and the people who work in them are the ecosystem that make Google tick. And it’s not just Google, it’s Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Baidu and more. Cloud and IT services are not immaterial, they are a growing part of our modern world embodied in millions of data centers. Like all industrial systems, millions of data centers means a significant need for natural resources and an urgency to find a new model for addressing growing demand for energy and materials.Stepping into a data center feels like the polar opposite of the dirt, decay, and life of the organic world. But it’s still a system—with inputs and outputs, much like the coastal forest of my childhood.The most significant input to this system is energy. In 2017 Google’s total energy footprint was around 8 million megawatt hours; that’s roughly equivalent to the energy used by the city of Atlanta in one year. And that’s just Google. Data centers worldwide use an estimated 200 terawatt hours each year. That is similar to the national energy consumption of some countries like Australia and roughly one percent of global electricity demand.The other major input into the system is hardware, mostly in the form of thousands of servers ultimately made up of raw materials like tin, gold and cobalt.So how does the circular genius of nature translate into a high-tech, industrial setting like a Google data center?Designing out energy waste:At Google’s data centers, machine learning is used to optimize the controls of the cooling system. The team took sensors data on temperatures, power, pump speeds and used it to create an AI-powered efficiency recommendation system. To date, this has produced a 30 percent reduction in energy use in the cooling system. Transition to renewable energy:Even with these efficiency measures, we still use a lot of energy. So we committed to matching 100 percent of our energy use with renewable purchases. In 2017, we purchased power from more than three gigawatts of wind and solar projects, more than the amount of energy it takes to power the city of San Francisco for a year. Keep products and materials in use:A circular data center ecosystem also requires keeping products and materials in use, we need to design everything for longevity, repairability and disassembly for future use. Today, we use components from old servers to upgrade machines and we build remanufactured machines with refurbished parts. Last year, Google sold more than 2.1 million units that we no longer had use for. Google certainly isn’t the only company on the journey towards a circular economy. But the work of a few companies isn’t enough. There is a lot more left to do. Last week Google joined world leaders in Katowice, Poland for the 24th consecutive Conference of the Parties (COP24). Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of our time. Rising to that challenge involves a complex mix of policy, technology, and international cooperation. We believe global businesses like Google should lead the way in improving people’s lives, while reducing or even eliminating our dependence on raw materials and fossil fuels.Together, I believe we can turn to the work of world’s most efficient engineers and reverse the global challenges created by a take-make-waste economy and create a circular world of abundance. […]

  • The For You tab comes to iOS and over 130 countries on Android
    on December 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

    It’s officially the holiday season, which means lots of time spent with friends and family. But all of that together time can sometimes leave you wondering “um...what should we do now?” After all, there are only so many board games you can play before a mini family feud breaks out.Today, the For You tab is making its way over to Google Maps in over 40 countries on iOS and 130+ new countries on Android—helping you stay up to date on fun, new places so you’ll know exactly where to take the fam this winter. The For You tab is designed to be a constant source of inspiration tailored to your tastes and preferences. Simply follow neighborhoods or places you’re interested in to get updates and recommendations—everything from recent news about an opening or pop up, a new menu item, and even restaurant suggestions based on what you’re likely to enjoy. If you’re making a trip this holiday season, the For You tab can help you get a jump start on travel planning even before you take off.The For You tab starts rolling out more widely today. Whether you’re staying local or traveling to a new city, let the For You tab be your guide for your next culinary adventure. […]

  • GNI Innovation Forum: Looking towards the future of news
    on December 7, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Today at the first Google News Initiative Innovation Forum in London, we heard from Claire Wardle of First Draft, Lisa Gibbs of the Associated Press, Daniel Bramatti of Abraji, Marie-Louise Timcke of Funke Media Group and Dmitry Shishkin of BBC World Service about the future of news. Covering topics like how to stop the spread of misinformation in the lead up to elections worldwide to how to establish creative new voices in the world of data journalism, these experts gave us insight into the big questions that are top of mind for the industry.In addition to hearing from these speakers, we shared updates on four key ways we will collaborate with the news industry in the coming year.Exploring the intersection of journalism and AIIn June, we shared a set of principles that guide how our company approaches the development of AI. As we saw with efforts like the New York Time’s use of Perspectiveto foster community and healthy conversation in their comments section, AI has the potential to enhance storytelling and newsroom processes.To bring AI to the news industry in more ways, the Google News Initiative (GNI) is partnering with Polis, the international journalism think-tank at London School of Economics and Political Scienceto create Journalism AI. The program will focus on research and training for newsrooms on the intersection of AI and journalism. As a part of Journalism AI, next year we’ll publish a global survey about how the media is currently using—and could further benefit from—this technology. We’ll also collaborate with newsrooms and academic institutions to create a best practices handbook and produce free online trainings on how to use AI in the newsroom for journalists worldwide.Telling visual stories with Google EarthAfter testing with partners over the last two years, we’re introducing a new tool called Google Earth Studio. Google Earth Studio is an animation tool for Google Earth’s satellite and 3D imagery.The Google Earth Studio interfaceThe tool empowers graphics specialists with new ways to leverage Google Earth imagery for storytelling. We’re inviting newsrooms around the world to start using the product for the first time. To learn more and sign up, visit g.co/earthstudio.Sharing best practices around data journalismLast year, we announced a partnership with the European Journalism Centre to create a new version of the Data Journalism Handbook. The project is one in a series of initiatives by the GNI to help journalists understand incorporate technology into their work .The cover of The Data Journalism Handbook 2 that’s available online and in print in 2019.Available online starting today and in print next year, the book covers topics like working with data, training data journalists and investigating data sources. The handbook is written by diverse group of data journalists including chapters from Buzzfeed’s Lam Thuy Vo on  storytelling with social media data from, Spiegel Online’s Christina Elmer on collaborative data journalism investigations and Meredith Broussard of New York University on best practices around archiving data journalism.Helping journalists use our toolsFor the last four years, we’ve provided free training to journalists on a range of tools reaching more than 140,000 people in-person. We’ll continue these workshops, but to make them accessible to more people, we’re revamping our free online Training Centre.  Our trainings on Google tools for journalists are now available in 16 languages—including Indonesian Bahasa, Thai and Turkish. We’ve also added an optional sign-in feature to help you track your own progress.The GNI Training CentreToday’s announcements from the GNI Innovation Forum are examples of our deep commitment to partnering with the news industry to enable the creation of quality storytelling that helps people understand the world around them. […]

  • Cloud covered: What was new in Google Cloud for November
    on December 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    In November here in the U.S., we felt some Thanksgiving gratitude that there’s never a dull moment in cloud technology. We’ve been keeping track of what’s new and quickly evolving, from AI and ML tools to storage and databases. Here are a few of the highlights from last month in Google Cloud.There’s a new way to make a Google Doc.Here’s a new, time-saving (and dare we say, fun?) way to create a Google Doc when you’ve got to get your ideas down on the page immediately. Type in doc.new, docs.new or document.new into your web browser and it’ll bring up a new Google Doc. See how it works.The New York Times uses Google Cloud to digitize its photo archive.The New York Times photo archive, nicknamed “the morgue,” contains more than a hundred years’ worth of photos—five to seven million in all. The paper built a processing pipeline using Google Cloud Platform (GCP) products to digitize, organize and easily search those photos. See some of the pictures and read more on their plans.Asia Pacific cloud users can access GCP data faster.We were excited to announce the opening of our Hong Kong region last month, and plans for the Jakarta region, to bring faster access to GCP data and apps for users. Locating your company’s data closer to a cloud region means you can transmit that data faster, with lower network latency. Find your own location latency here.Non-data scientists can now experiment with AI and ML.Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are hot topics in tech these days—but how do you even start using these concepts? Our new central AI Hub is now in its first stage of availability, offering pipelines, modules, and other preconfigured ML content. Check out real-world examples of AI and ML, like using data analytics to predict health problems or predict potential hazardous driving areas in Chicago.We put forth our principles for building ethical AI.AI is a fascinating technology, full of great potential. It’s also still a technology built by humans, dependent on us to input data and train models. We’re considering AI principles every step of the way, and working to eliminate bias from AI models, use AI for positive results, make sure AI is interpretable by humans, and helping businesses prepare for a future with more automation built in. Find out more about how we’re creating AI ethics at Google.We described our microservices vision.A microservices architecture is one where discrete, single-purpose software units are the basis to build large, distributed apps that work in both hybrid and on-prem situations—especially interesting as businesses continue to run their IT operations both in their own data centers and with cloud resources. Using container technology means developers can deploy new apps faster, and lets developers use that microservices architecture more easily. The missing piece has been a management layer. Read more on how Istio fills the gap.For all of what we covered in November, check out the Google Cloud blog. […]

  • Collaborating on the future of audio news for the Assistant
    on December 6, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    For the past century, radio has been a one-size-fits-all medium. Turn on the radio and you’re dropped into a show at a moment in time—regardless of what you already know, where you are, or what you’re interested in. Imagine instead if you could have your own radio, one that’s available on-demand, accessible throughout your day, and brings you news about the world and your interests.Over the past year, we worked with publishers from around the world—including The Associated Press, Hollywood Reporter, Universo Online and the South China Morning Post—to think through the future of audio news. Together, we built a prototype that brings the artificial intelligence of Google News to the voice context of the Assistant.This new experience will bring you an audio news playlist assembled in that moment, for you. It starts with a briefing of top stories and updates on topics you care about, and extends into longer-form content that dives deeper into more stories. At any point in your day when you want to listen to the latest news—as a morning wake-up, during your commute, or while jogging—the Google Assistant will be ready with new stories and updates to the ones you’ve already heard. Plus, using your voice, you can easily ask the Google Assistant to skip a story, go back or stop.How the new audio news experience with the Google Assistant works.To improve and build out this audio news experience, we’ve built an open specification, available for news organizations that would like to participate. The prototype relies on single-topic stories—segmented out from newscasts or shows—to contribute to the audio news feed.Audio journalism requires new capabilities and workflows for both print publishers and broadcasters, whether it's adding a sound booth or segmenting larger broadcasts into shorter stories. To help with this, the Google News Initiative provided funding to a number of news organizations, such as KQED and McClatchy, to support building out more audio capabilities for the industry as a whole.Audio news on the Google Assistant will roll out first to a limited number of people via the Google Assistant in the United States in English. Publishers from around the world who produce English-language content are welcome to submit feeds for inclusion today and sign up to try the experience. […]

  • Reducing gender bias in Google Translate
    on December 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Over the course of this year, there’s been an effort across Google to promote fairness and reduce bias in machine learning. Our latest development in this effort addresses gender bias by providing feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words on the Google Translate website.Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web. Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form. So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed. For example: it would skew masculine for words like “strong” or “doctor,” and feminine for other words, like “nurse” or “beautiful.”Now you’ll get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word—like “surgeon”—when translating from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. You’ll also get both translations when translating phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. For example, if you type “o bir doktor” in Turkish, you’ll now get “she is a doctor” and “he is a doctor” as the gender-specific translations.Gender-specific translations on the Google Translate website.In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages, launch on other Translate surfaces like our iOS and Android apps, and address gender bias in features like query auto-complete. And we're already thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it’s not part of this initial launch.To check out gender-specific translations, visit the Google Translate website, and you can get more information on our Google Translate Help Center page. […]

  • Proposed copyright rules: bad for small publishers, European consumers and online services
    on December 6, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Copyright rules give news publishers rights over how their work is used. Europe is updating these rules for this digital age, and that’s a move Google supports. But the European Parliament’s version of a new copyright directive—specifically Article 11 and its recital 32—will have unintended consequences for smaller news publishers, limit innovation in journalism and reduce choice for European consumers. We urgently call on policymakers to fix this in the final text of the directive.Let us be clear on one thing: Article 11 seeks to protect journalists and their work, and we agree with that goal. We care deeply about supporting the broader news industry because journalism is critical to the functioning of a free democracy. And we built Google to provide everyone with equal access to information. However, Article 11 could change that principle and require online services to strike commercial deals with publishers to show hyperlinks and short snippets of news. This means that search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licences in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out. Effectively, companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers. Online services, some of which generate no revenue (for instance, Google News) would have to make choices about which publishers they’d do deals with. Presently, more than 80,000 news publishers around the world can show up in Google News, but Article 11 would sharply reduce that number. And this is not just about Google, it’s unlikely any business will be able to license every single news publisher in the European Union, especially given the very broad definition being proposed. This would mostly benefit larger players. One analysis hasforecast that in Germany, small publishers would receive less than 1 percent of the revenue generated by a so-called ancillary copyright—whereas the largest publishing group alone would receive 64 percent. Smaller newsrooms and overall online news diversity will be impacted as a result.Because so much of the conversation in Brussels is driven by larger publishing organizations, the small publishers who raise this concern are not heard. Why are large influential companies constraining how new and small publishers operate? Particularly at a time when news business models continue to evolve, new, small, and innovative publishers need flexibility. The proposed rules will undoubtedly hurt diversity of voices, with large publishers setting business models for the whole industry. This will not benefit all equally. Not only might this harm individual news publishers, it also seriously risks reducing consumers’ ability to discover and access a diversity of views and opinions. Unlike people in other parts of the world, European citizens may no longer find the most relevant news across the web, but rather the news that online services have been able to commercially license. We believe the information we show should be based on quality, not on payment. And we believe it’s not in the interest of European citizens to change that. Today we drive economic value to publishers by sending people to news sites over 10 billion times a month. That free traffic has enabled many smaller or emerging publishers to get discovered, grow a business, and find success online. A Deloitte study found that each user visit was worth on average between €0.04 and €0.08 to publishers. That means real business value to European publishers, every year.We recognize the news industry is undergoing substantial change as publishers around the world transition to digital. We’ve been working with EU institutions to develop workable solutions that benefit journalists and publishers. We’ve invested in creating tools to help publishers increase subscription revenue and enable mobile sites to be much faster, so that they can grow their audiences and their revenue. Thousands of news publishers use Google advertising services where they retain 70 percent and more of the revenue that’s generated.There is a way to avoid the unintended consequences of Article 11. The copyright directive should give all publishers the right to control their own business models and destiny by giving them the choice to waive the need for a commercial license for their content. Publishers— big and small—should continue to be able to make their own choices about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content. The exact language of the new rules is being determined in the next few weeks. Now is not the time to stifle innovation in news or limit access to quality journalism. […]

  • The latest on Messages, Allo, Duo and Hangouts
    on December 5, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Communicating with the people in our lives is one of the most important things we do every day, whether it’s chatting with friends about an upcoming trip, calling mom to check in, or touching base with colleagues. Over the past few years, we’ve built products to help improve the way you communicate and today we’re sharing an update on our current efforts, and our focus moving toward a simpler communications experience.Investing more in Messages, and bringing the best of Allo to MessagesWe want every single Android device to have a great default messaging experience. We’ve been working closely with the mobile industry to upgrade SMS so that people around the world can more easily enjoy group chats, share high-res photos, and get read receipts on any Android device. Thanks to partnerships with over 40 carriers and device makers, over 175 million of you are now using Messages, our messaging app for Android phones, every month.In parallel, we built Google Allo, a smart messaging app, to help you get more done in your chats and express yourself more easily. Earlier this year we paused investment in Allo and brought some of its most-loved features—like Smart Reply, GIFs and desktop support—into Messages. Given Messages’ continued momentum, we’ve decided to stop supporting Allo to focus on Messages.Allo will continue to work through March 2019 and until then, you’ll be able to export all of your existing conversation history from the app—here are instructions on how to do so. We've learned a lot from Allo, particularly what’s possible when you incorporate machine learning features, like the Google Assistant, into messaging.Making video calls even easier with DuoWe built Duo, our simple, high-quality video calling app, so you never miss a moment with the people who matter most. It’s one of Google's highest rated mobile apps and is seeing strong growth and engagement across both Android and iOS.This year we launched Duo support for iPad, Android Tablet, Chromebook, and Smart Displays, giving you more flexibility to make calls from your favorite devices. We also launched the ability to leave a video message, and will continue to bring more quality improvements based on machine learning that make video calls with Duo simple and reliable.Continuing our enterprise focus with HangoutsCommunications at work, on both desktop and mobile, is critical to business success. In March of last year, we announced plans to evolve classic Hangouts to focus on two experiences that help bring teams together: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. We’ve seen great adoption with both among our G Suite customers. Recently, we announced the ability to organize meetings with up to 100 participants in Meet and made it easier for businesses to use meeting solutions without worrying about compatibility with existing equipment. In the coming months, Chat customers will be able to include people from outside of their organization, making it easy to stay aligned with clients, vendors, partners and others, all from one place.Hangouts Chat and Meet are primarily focused on team collaboration for G Suite customers and at some point will be made available for existing Hangouts users, too. We’re fully committed to supporting Hangouts users in the meantime.We’re excited by the progress we’ve made with our communications experience over the past few years, and ready to take what we’ve learned from Allo and put it to work to make Messages even better. And by refocusing on Messages and Duo for consumers and Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet for team collaboration, we’re focused on delivering a simpler and more unified communications experience for all of you. […]

  • Announcing Kaggle integration with Google Data Studio
    on December 5, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    As of today, Kaggle is now officially integrated with Data Studio, Google’s serverless business intelligence and data visualization platform. You’ll be able to connect to and visualize Kaggle datasets directly from Data Studio using the Kaggle Community Connector.Kaggle is the world's largest online community of data scientists. Its two million users come to the platform to explore, create, and share data projects using Kernels, a free hosted notebook IDE. Over 10,000 public datasets can be analyzed using Kernels, accessed via the web or Kaggle's public API. This new integration, users can analyze these datasets in Kaggle; and then visualize findings and publish their data stories using Data Studio.Here’s an example dashboard in Data Studio using a Kaggle dataset:As a free-to-use reporting solution, Data Studio makes it easier for users to understand their data, derive key insights, and effectively communicate findings using compelling interactive dashboards. Data Studio is creating an innovative landscape where users can spend less time building their data pipeline and more time on creating data stories and sharing them with the right audience.With this integration, users can browse to a dataset in Kaggle, pick a file, and use the one-click integration button to launch Data Studio with the selected data. From there, users can create and publish their own interactive dashboard, which can be embedded in websites and blogs. Since there is no cost to use Data Studio and the infrastructure is handled by Google, users don't have to worry about scalability, even if millions of people view the dashboard.Here’s a quick clip showing how easy it is to use this integration to build dashboards in Data Studio:See Connecting Kaggle Datasets to Data Studio to learn more.Data Studio helps data professionals bring the power of visual analytics to their data. The hassle-free publishing process means everyone can tell engaging stories, open up dashboards for others to interact with, and make better-informed decisions. We're also releasing the connector code for this integration in the Data Studio Open Source Repository. This should help both Data Studio developers and Kaggle users to build newer and better solutions.To get started, try out a Kaggle maintained dataset and launch the Kaggle connector for Data Studio. Let’s analyze more data and build awesome dashboards! […]

  • Defying stereotypes: Jason’s journey learning how to code
    on December 4, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Jason Jones, a recent graduate of The Last Mile, a program that prepares incarcerated individuals for successful re-entry to the job market through business and technology training. Today, Google.org announced a $2 million grant to The Last Mile, which will allow the program to expand to prisons across the United States, and to establish its first program in an Indiana juvenile facility, Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility. Now that more people will be able to benefit from this program, Jason wrote a letter to future students to help prepare them for their journey.Dear students,My name is Jason Jones and I am a software engineer; however, that wasn’t always the case. For the majority of my life, I was whatever stereotype that public opinion thought would fit: at-risk, system impacted, low-income; the list goes on. I’m 35 years old and recently released from prison after 13 years.I come from a broken home, where gangs became family and the streets became my household. In 2014, while incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, I entered The Last Mile program with no understanding of the opportunity it presented. It gave me a home and my new family. No one could have told me that this one decision would turn my life around.Before The Last Mile, I had no idea what coding was or how technology worked. I had no real plans of rehabilitation or changing my mind set. Through coding, I was able to redefine how people perceived me. I became part of another underrepresented group: a person of color in tech with a non-traditional background.Through the program, I found classmates, instructors and volunteers who were genuinely invested in my education and in me as a person. We spent thirty-two hours each week learning skills like JavaScript, web development, team collaboration and how to navigate the workplace. I discovered mentors and positive role models who I could go to with problems or for advice.Since graduating from the Last Mile, I signed a contract with a tech company that was interested in my success, and I relocated to a better place for growth and prosperity. And just two months out of prison, I’m able to travel on a plane for the first time in my life, visit parts of the country I’ve never been, and do things that I thought were out of my reach.This process has been anything but easy. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment, discipline, focus and sacrifice.I’ve faced a lot of adversity in my life, but coding gave me a different approach to solving problems. It taught me how to break down the larger problems into smaller, workable ones and create a workflow that leads to a solution. I’ve learned better communication skills and how to collaborate successfully on a team. I’ve learned how to break down some barriers that were stunting my growth and learned how to ask for and accept help. But most of all, I’ve learned how to take control of my life and set the direction in which it is going.All of you have the opportunity to reimagine what you want your life to look like—always be your best self and believe in the process. This keeps me on a positive path.Yours truly,Jason Jones […]

  • Four ways top brands deliver faster, smarter marketing with Google Marketing Platform
    on December 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    When today’s consumers need answers, they expect to find them in just a few swipes and taps. For brands, it’s become a race against time to meet those needs.Consumers are making more decisions in less time, based on what they need in the moment, and they demand an experience that can keep up with their fast-paced lives.Today we’ve published a new guide featuring research and best practices from top brands, including adidas and Sprint, that use Google Marketing Platform to win those moments. The guide, “Race against time,” covers the four ways leading marketers use advertising and analytics together to set themselves apart.These leaders:Understand audiences on a deeper level by building a connected data strategyDeliver faster, smarter marketing using automation and machine learningGain more visibility and control by bringing ads and analytics technology togetherShare insights across teams and improve business outcomesDownload our new guide to learn more about “How top brands win consumer moments.&rdquo […]

  • Live from the North Pole: what's new at Santa's Village
    on December 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

    It’s the 15th year of Santa’s Village, an interactive holiday hub where you can play games to learn coding skills, create original artwork, exercise your geographic chops, and more. Here’s what’s new this year:Entertain yours-elf with a new game🧝With our Elf Maker, you can customize an elf from head to toe to make sure they’re stylin’ for all of the holiday shindigs happening on the North Pole this year. Choose an outfit, accessories, hairstyle, and even facial hair to add some flair to your little friend.Giving you a better way to follow Santa📍One of the hardest parts about being married to Santa is that he always forgets to let me know where he is. This year, I’ve enlisted our elite team of cartographelves to let everyone know where he is as soon as he takes off from the North Pole. In the days leading up to Christmas, Santa will share his location with you on Google Maps so you can see his travels as he moves across the map. Follow along with him there or on our Santa Tracker dashboard on December 24 so you don’t miss his visit.Going global for the holiday season 🌎From beaches to blizzards, you can get a better glimpse into how people all over the world are spending the holidays. You’ll see holiday photos from Local Guides and you can test your knowledge of holiday traditions with a festive quiz powered by Google Earth and Street View. Curious about how to say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy New Year” in other languages? Check out our Translations game to take your snowmenclature to new heights.These and other educational games, lesson plans, PDFs and instructional videos can be found in Santa’s Villagestarting this week. If you want more holiday fun, make sure to tell the Google Assistant to tell you a holiday story or starting December 23, ask, “Hey Google, where’s Santa?”. And make sure to keep things festive with new Gboard holiday stickers found on iOS and Android, and in the Santa Tracker Android App.snowball elfsanta dunkhugging treesFrom the Claus family to yours, have a very happy holiday. And remember: you’re sleighing it. 👊 […]

  • New partners and courses to develop tomorrow's workforce
    on December 4, 2018 at 9:00 am

    At Google, we’re committed to creating more opportunity for everyone. Through our Grow with Google initiative, we’ve trained 7.5 million people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on digital skills since 2015. But we’re doing more than just training—we want to help people put these new skills to use, which is why we’ve also committed to helping 1 million Europeans find a job or grow their business by 2020.To reach this commitment, we offer free online and offline courses through Google Digital Garage across 64 countries. Up until now, digital marketing has been the core of our training, but as the nature of work changes and the demand for a broader set of both technical and soft skills grows, we believe it’s critical to incorporate these skills into our programs.New courses to help people succeed in the workplaceWe're partnering with FutureLearn, The Open University, OpenClassrooms and Goodwill Community Foundation, leading providers of online education, to expand our current modules with new training on soft skills. These include social and emotional skills, such as communicating with others, motivating and influencing teams and colleagues, and making decisions under pressure; skills crucial for success in any career and increasingly valued by employers, according to the latest research from the World Economic Forum.Here’s a closer look at the courses we're launching today:Learn techniques for public speaking : Learn how to plan and deliver presentations that capture the attention of your listeners, whether it’s sharing a business plan or motivating your employees or colleagues.Communicate your ideas through storytelling and design: Ideas become more powerful when they’re shared. This course will help you discover simple tools like mind maps, storyboards and storytelling to help you engage people with ideas.Business communications: Learn how to craft clear, well-structured emails, presentations or reports.Effective networking: Whether you’re running a business, looking for a job, or ready for that next career move, learning how to network is key. In this course, we will introduce you to the principles of networking, to help you develop your professional brand.In the coming months, alongside our partners, we’ll make the new courses available on Google Digital Garage in more than 30 languages in 64 countries.Get certified with Google Digital GarageWe know that when looking for a job, certifications are often essential in demonstrating acquired skills to potential employers. Today, The Open University, the largest academic institution in the UK, a leading European university, and a world leader in flexible distance learning, is adding their high-quality accreditation to our Google Digital Marketing Certificate. The certificate, already accredited by IAB Europe, provides jobseekers with a tangible way to demonstrate their skills, and is awarded to learners completing the free online training course available at Google Digital Garage.By partnering with leading providers of online education, we are confident we will have a greater impact in helping learners and businesses gain new skills and training for the workplace. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with industry partners to help even more people grow their skills and see their careers or businesses thrive. […]

  • Building a better internet experience together with Indonesia
    on December 4, 2018 at 5:00 am

    One of my favorite snacks is made by Rina Trisnawati, a 45 year old entrepreneur from Indonesia who bakes cookies for a living. I like them because they’re not just a treat for the tastebuds. Her business, Tin Tin Chips, employs mothers of children with disabilities. Since Rina learned how to market her cookies online, orders have shot up 75 percent. Rina now employs 25 women and donates 50 percent of her profits to organizations caring for children with disabilities.Indonesia has the largest and fastest growing internet economy in Southeast Asia. And Indonesians everywhere are getting involved—they’re building the companies that create jobs, provide goods and services, and make life better for everyone. Today, at our annual Google for Indonesia event, we announced the next round of products and partnerships to help us move forward together with Indonesians in the internet economy.A more accessible internet for IndonesiansUsing the internet for the first time can be daunting. We’re making it easier for first-time smartphone users to discover the web with Google Go, an AI-powered app that showcases the latest Search trends as well as Indonesia’s most popular apps and websites. Google Go makes using the internet as easy as watching TV by allowing people to listen to any webpage being read out aloud.But there’s no point in web pages being read aloud if you don’t understand what’s being said. Less than one percent of the content on the internet is in Bahasa Indonesia, while more than half of all online content is available in English. To help close this gap, we are collaborating with Wikipedia on a new way to make English-only content accessible and useful for Indonesians. Now, our systems will identify relevant Wikipedia articles that are only available in English, translate them into Bahasa Indonesia using Google’s AI powered neural machine translation system, and then surface these translated articles in Search.Speaking of talking AI, we launched the Google Assistant in Bahasa Indonesia in April. Now, we’re taking our Indonesian-speaking Assistant out of smartphones and putting it into feature phones. WizPhone is the first feature phone made by Indonesians that will have the Google Assistant built in and it will retail at less than $10 (IDR 99,000).A more useful internet for IndonesiansThe Assistant is becoming even more useful—and even more Indonesian—because of our partnerships with Indonesian businesses. For example, you can now ask the Assistant to Book a Ride in Indonesia––no more opening apps and typing in addresses or tell it to give you the news. With News Briefings, Indonesians can now hear the latest news hands-free and on-the-go from five Indonesian media outlets we partnered with.To help connect those business owners with job seekers, we’re introducing Jobs on Google Search. Starting today, searches for “job vacancies,” will surface job listings in Indonesia, with options to organize them by different criteria like job type and distance.And to support Indonesians in getting the skills to excel in the new jobs within the internet economy, we announced a new commitment to train a further one million Indonesian small and medium businesses by 2020. This is in addition to the one million that we have already trained since 2015.A safer internet for IndonesiansWe want Indonesians to have access to more information. But we want it to be better information—and that comes from high-quality Indonesian journalism. We’ve already trained 2,000 journalists through the Google News Initiative and we’re training another 3,000 more by next year. As part of the CekFakta.com, Google News Initiative training includes fact-checking and verification best practices, plus how to fight misinformation.Having better information is great, but using that information responsibly is greater. So that the next generation of Indonesians use the internet responsibly, our philanthropic arm Google.org is making a grant of $875,000 to non-profit organizations Maarif Institute, Peace Generation, RuangGuru and Love Frankie to teach more than 12,000 students to champion tolerance, multiculturalism, and positivity.These are just a few of the announcements from today that we hope will build a more accessible, useful and safer internet together with Indonesians. We’re excited to keep on working with Indonesia to realize the benefits of the internet for every Indonesian and every Indonesian business. […]

  • New tools to automate enterprise app distribution with managed Google Play
    on December 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Managed Google Play provides a simple, standard way for enterprises to deliver applications to their organizations. It offers a secure and familiar interface to share both internal and third-party apps with managed Android devices.Automating the app distribution process is an efficient method for quickly getting apps out to your team, and today we’re highlighting how Google tools can now make that simpler and faster with the addition of fastlane support via the Custom App Publishing API.App automation with fastlaneAs part of the Firebase mobile development platform, fastlane offers a set of developer tools that help automate app builds and releases. Now, fastlane supports managed Google Play by integrating with the Custom App Publishing API.The open source fastlane platform offers a suite of app automation tools that can automate screenshots, manage beta deployments, as well as sign and push apps to the Play store. It helps save time, as it can configure and run releases without building custom release tools.Give it a try if you’re looking to automate multiple aspects of your workflow. The documentation for fastlane provides specific details for developers.Quicker custom app publishingThe Google Play Custom App Publishing API is another key tool for enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers, third-party developers, and other organizations that want to enable their enterprise customers to publish private apps directly from their end-user interface.The key benefit is the ability to automate the creation of apps, without any code, which enables enterprise customers to publish and distribute private apps to employees even faster.Getting startedIt’s now easier to deploy and manage your private enterprise apps with managed Google Play, which provides access to the world’s largest app ecosystem. With fastlane, you can quickly deploy your applications without the need to code the solution. However, if you prefer to write your own software and integrate your own tools, you can use the Custom App Publishing API.For more technical information, see our blog post on our Android Developer publication that details how developers can take advantage of these tools. […]

  • Imagining new ways to learn Morse code’s dots and dashes
    on December 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    We first met Emmett at Adaptive Design Association, an organization near Google’s NYC office that builds custom adaptations for children with disabilities. Communicating for him is difficult—he uses a clear plastic word board and looks at specific squares to try and get across what he wants to say. We thought we might be able to help.At the time, we were working on a special Morse Code layout for Gboard. With its simple dot and dash encoding, Morse is a good fit for assistive tech like switch access and sip-and-puff devices. Emmett was hoping to learn Morse as a more robust form of communication, and we wanted to make a small game to help him learn the new alphabet.Our first attempt was a small connect-the-dots spelling toy that drew Emmett's favorite cartoon character and only took a few days to build. After watching Emmett get set up with his switches and start excitedly conquering pieces of the little Morse toy, we knew we wanted to do more. We partnered with Adaptive Design on a 48 hour hackathon, where independent designers and game developers worked with Emmett and another 4 kids to prototype games that made Morse code fun to learn.Here's more on how we partnered with Adaptive Design to create the prototype games.The kids played the role of creative directors, using their imagination to set the vision for their own games. Each game reflected their interests and personalities. Hannah’s passion for music led to a game where you play notes by typing them in Morse. Matthew combined his interest in soccer and spy thrillers to make a game where you shoot soccer balls at targets by typing their corresponding Morse letters. Emmett made a maze you solve writing different letters. Ben, who likes trains, made a game where YouTube videos are shown on a train once the correct letters are typed in Morse Code. And Olivia’s love for talent shows led to a game called “Alphabet’s Got Talent.”We’re posting the code for each independent team's games on the Experiments with Google website, where you can also find open-source examples that will help you get started with your own Morse-based apps. If you’re a developer, we hope these resources will inspire you to get involved with the community and make a difference by building your own accessibility projects. […]

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