Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture
Google Photos: One year, 200 million users, and a whole lot of selfies
May 27, 2016
A year ago,
Google Photos with one mission: To be a home for all your photos and videos, organized and brought to life, so that you can share and save what matters.
Now 200 million of you are using Google Photos each month. We’ve delivered more than 1.6 billion animations, collages and movies, among other things. You’ve collectively freed up
of storage on your devices—it would take 424 years to swipe through that many photos! We’ve also applied 2 trillion labels, and 24 billion of those have been for ... selfies.
To celebrate our first birthday, we’ve gathered a few of the team's favorite tips and updates we’ve made in the past year, so you can keep all that good stuff going...
1. To fly through Google Photos on the web at photos.google.com, press Shift-? to see a list of keyboard shortcuts.
2. Narrow down your search results by searching for more than one thing at a time. Search for two people: “Mom and Dad,” or a person and a place: “Mom Yosemite,” a place and a thing: “Yosemite bear,” or a person and a thing: “Mom bear” to find that photo of your mama bear with the real bear.
3. Running out of Google storage? On photos.google.com, under settings, you can choose to convert all of your uploaded content from “Original quality” to the free “High quality” size to recover lots of space.
4. Enter your favorite emoji (😎 🍂 💗 🎂 ) into search to pull up your corresponding photos.
5. On photos.google.com, easily find the photos you recently uploaded by going to search, then choosing "Show More” and then “Recently Added.”
6. Tap into your device folders from the top of the albums page on Android, and see which folders are being backed up. Double-check that all those screenshots are safe!
7. Create a shared album for your family. Every time someone adds a new photo, everyone will get a notification so they can see your latest photo or video.
8. Have you spied the easter egg in the photo editor on Android? Hint...It’s out of this world.
9. Occasionally photos can appear out of order in your gallery—perhaps because the date was incorrectly set on your phone or camera when you took them. On photos.google.com, you can edit both the time and time zone of a photo or group of photos to put them in the right order in your library. Change one and they all get adjusted.
10. At the top of the albums page on mobile, scroll the carousel to the right and tap on the videos tile to get a view of all the videos in your library (on photos.google.com, you’ll see videos at the top of the album page).
Thanks for a wonderful first year—keep it up; all those selfies aren’t going to take themselves!
Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Vice President, Google Photos
Meet more of our Top Contributors
May 26, 2016
This is the second of two posts spotlighting our Top Contributors. Read part one
. - Ed.
If you’ve ever asked a question about a Google product in the
Google Product Help Forums
, chances are you’ve encountered a
—passionate Google product experts who enjoy sharing their knowledge with their fellow users. We introduced you to two of the super users in this program
, and now we’re shining a spotlight on a few more. If you’re interested in becoming a Top Contributor, start participating in a
Google Product Forum
let us know you’re interested
Leonika Sari says:
I’m a developer and founder of the startup
, which aims to awareness and promote blood donation in Indonesia. But in my downtime, I help people regain access to their Gmail accounts. Imagine not being able to access your Gmail or finding out your account was hijacked—it’s quite scary! I like helping people get back into their accounts so they can continue living their life.
Answering posts in the Google Product Help Forums has also taught me a lot about how to run my startup. It’s shown me the importance of listening and replying to users. Google treats every piece of user feedback as a useful resource to improve the product—which inspires me to pay more attention to feedback about my own product and quickly turn that into product improvements. I also see parallels between the community of volunteers in the Top Contributor program and my own company Reblood’s community of donors. It makes me happy that I can help people, even those I’ve never met.
I work in the Systems and Education Innovation Department for Colegio Alameda de Osuna in Madrid. My son, Jorge, is studying psychology at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. We’re both passionate about helping and are members of the Top Contributor Program. I’m a TC and Jorge is a Rising Star, the entry level into the Top Contributor program.
I was the first one to discover Google Product Help Forums. Helping people in the forums is very similar to teaching. It allows me to do something I like—teach—while enabling me to reach a much larger number of people than I would in the classroom. Plus, I get to learn more about tools I use in my job on a daily basis.
My dad told me about the forums last summer when I was off from school. I thought I’d give it a try and now I’m hooked. I like it because helping others makes me feel good. When I was first starting, my dad would help me by suggesting solutions or showing me other ways of answering a question. Now that I’m back in school and busy with classes, the Top Contributor program helps us stay in touch. In fact, I think it improves our relationship.
The Top Contributor program has brought us many great connections. The forums bring you closer to people, whether it’s through the questions you answer or the motivation to help that all the TCs share. And those bonds are something I wouldn’t change for anything.
Posted by Brenna Robertson, Program Manager
Passionate Google users helping others with Google products
May 25, 2016
This is the first of two posts spotlighting our Top Contributors. Read part two
. - Ed.
If you’ve ever asked a question about a Google product in the
Google Product Help Forums
, chances are you’ve encountered a
—passionate Google product experts who enjoy sharing their knowledge with their fellow users. Last year, Top Contributors helped more than 55 million people with 30 different Google products, answering questions and providing tips.
The super users in the Top Contributor program come from 60+ different countries. Their passion for our products and willingness to help others make them a community. To showcase the faces and stories behind this group of helpful users, we asked a few Top Contributors to share a bit about themselves. This is the first of two posts—come back tomorrow to learn more.
As a writer, editor, and all-around book enthusiast, I spend a lot of time using word-processing programs. I first discovered Google Docs when I saw a Chromebook ad on TV. I was intrigued by the idea of working in the cloud and not needing an external hard drive to backup my work.
I use Docs for both my professional and personal writing and have completed works of nonfiction as well as novels in it. As senior editorial director at
Book Publishing Co.
, I use Docs for reviewing and editing manuscripts, writing copy, and communicating with authors and colleagues. My authors and colleagues are fascinated when we're in a document at the same time and they see me making changes. It looks like magic to them!
Helping others navigate Docs might seem like an unusual hobby, but I love it. I like exercising my brain by exploring all that an app can do. It’s rewarding to answer users’ questions and help them solve conundrums, especially knowing that my reply could potentially reach hundreds or even thousands of others users who visit the forum with a similar issue. The occasional “thank you” or “you saved the day” is icing on the cake.
I grew up in a small town in the central region of Ghana, the oldest of five children—which meant I learned how to work hard. Being the oldest meant I had to set a positive example for my siblings and cousins. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with honors from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where I’m now a teaching and research assistant.
I first got involved with Google products as a
Google Student Ambassador
, a program that gives students the opportunity to be a liaison between their university and Google. During that time, I gave tutorials to anyone from first year students to senior faculty in my department, teaching them how to incorporate Google apps like Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides into their day-to-day.
When I became a teaching and research assistant, I started using Google Forms to create short quizzes and Google Groups to send assignments and notes to the students in my lab experiment groups. Those experiences inspired me to start helping out in the forums, where I specialize in Nexus and Photos—products I don’t often get to use in the classroom.
I love troubleshooting issues with products because it challenges me to pinpoint issues given very little information. It not only teaches me to solve problems, but it also shows me how I can interrelate things when teaching in order to help students. My experience there inspires me to take on more challenges elsewhere. Next up: grad school.
Get involved with the Top Contributor Program
We’re always looking for people around the world who have strong Google product knowledge, a friendly attitude, and enjoy helping others. If you’re interested in becoming a Top Contributor, start participating in a
Google Product Forum
let us know you’re interested
. Once you’re helping people on a regular basis, you may be invited to become a Rising Star, the first level in the Top Contributor program.
Posted by Brenna Robertson, Program Manager
10 things you may have missed at Google I/O
May 24, 2016
Last week thousands of developers joined us at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA, at Google I/O, our annual developer conference, for three days of talks, sandboxes, and some festival fun. Here’s a look at I/O beyond the keynote:
1. It’s not just for grown-ups.
A day before Google I/O officially began, we hosted
. Over the course of the day, 120 students from Bay Area-based schools engaged in four hands-on activities focused on storytelling, designing, and coding. They heard from inspiring speakers that bring creative solutions to their jobs like Brent Bushnell, CEO of the entertainment company
Two Bit Circus
, and Pavni Diwanji, who leads our Google-wide efforts to create a better experience for kids online. Check out 11-year-old Cindy Zhou’s
coverage of I/O Youth for
Time for Kids
2. Machine learning is already making products smarter.
As Sundar said during his keynote, machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing computing in incredible ways. One of the biggest uncracked nuts in A.I. is understanding natural language. But we’re making progress, and we can see people are eager for it—on the Google app on Android, over 20 percent of the searches we get in the U.S. are now by voice. Ok Google!
3. ATAP is bridging the physical and the digital.
On Friday, ATAP took the stage to share a glimpse of what’s going on in the ATAP garage. In
“Pearl,” an interactive 360 story
made for mobile by Academy award-winning director Patrick Osborne, a girl and her dad crisscross the country in their beloved hatchback. Project Jacquard introduced a twist on the iconic denim jacket—the
Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker Jacket
Jacquard’s interactive fabrics
woven in. With the LG Electronics Inc. smartwatch and JBL by Harman speaker prototypes Project Soli demonstrated, you don’t have to touch a screen to view a message or change a song. And Ara showed off a developer version of their modular phone and provided a
into a future where phones can be customized for function and style.
The Soli smartwatch prototype (developed in collaboration with LG Electronics Inc.) is controlled without touching the screen
4. We're working to make I/O more inclusive for everyone.
As in past years, we made an effort to make I/O a diverse and welcoming conference for women and minorities who are underrepresented in technology. Women at I/O made up 23 percent of our 7,000+ attendees (at last year’s conference, women made up a similar percentage of our 5,000 attendees). We partnered with 13 community groups for women in technology, and offered travel grants to attendees making the trip. On Tuesday night, we hosted a
dinner for 1,000 women.
Women Techmakers dinner
We also want I/O to be more accessible for people with disabilities. To that end, we worked with Googlers and attendees with disabilities to provide things like real-time captioning for all breakout sessions at the conference.
Finally, this was also the
first year we released ethnicity and race information
for a Google conference.
5. We’ve made custom hardware for machine learning.
We designed and built a chip (of the silicon variety) that’s specifically made for machine learning. We call it a
Tensor Processing Unit (TPU)
because it's tailored for TensorFlow, our machine learning software that’s openly available to all. A TPU is an order of magnitude (10x) more power efficient than a traditional computer chip—and TPUs were also the secret hardware sauce for AlphaGo, our
machine learning system that played and won 4 of 5 matches
with Lee Sedol in Korea.
6. The Google Play Music experience blended Google smarts with musical discovery.
Not far from the
dancing paint robot
, I/O’s Google Play Music room brought Google Search and Google Play Music together in perfect harmony. On the Play Connections Wall, you could explore connections between different artists, albums, and songs, powered by the Knowledge Graph. Nearby, a display with 3,000+ earphone jacks let you listen to songs from Google Play Music’s many different playlists, complete with LED lights that matched the mood of each song. The audio cables powering the display added up to 18,000 feet (3.4 miles)—almost as tall as Mount Kilimanjaro.
7. Android Pay is powering commutes in the U.K. and ATMs in the U.S.
Last week we announced the first countries outside of the U.S. to get Android Pay,
starting with the U.K.
Londoners will also be able to use Android Pay across the Transport for London network, including on the tube, bus, and rail. That’s 13 million journeys where you can now just tap and pay. In the U.S., Bank of America customers will be able to start using their phones to withdraw money in ATMs across the country starting in June.
8. Your favorite Google apps are coming to Daydream.
As part of our
effort to make VR even more accessible and immersive
, we’re planning to bring some of your favorite Google apps to Daydream, including Play Movies, Street View, Google Photos, and YouTube. The
YouTube VR app
will provide an easier, more immersive way to find and experience virtual reality content on YouTube. Look out for it sometime later this year.
9. Android apps are coming to a Chromebook near you.
Chromebooks are now the
#2 most popular PC operating system in the U.S.
, and soon you’ll be able to do even more with them. We’re
bringing the Google Play Store to Chromebooks
, so you can download and use all your favorite Android apps, right on your Chromebook.
10. It was full of festival fun.
Bringing I/O to Shoreline Amphitheatre meant a conference with a festival feel. Interactive experiments let people from around the world send paper planes and splashes of virtual paint zooming onto the keynote stage. That night, Charli XCX and Kygo performed for a crowd lit up with glow sticks. And at After Hours, acrobats mingled alongside a karaoke rickshaw, DJs spun from the tops of art cars, and domes that held tech talks during the day were converted into underwater discos and a planetarium.
For more from #io16, check out
this photo album from the event
or take a tour of the sandbox in 360 degrees:
Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, Google Blogs
I/O: Building the next evolution of Google
May 18, 2016
This morning in our Mountain View, CA backyard, we kicked off Google I/O, our annual developer conference. Much has changed since our first developer event 10 years ago, and even more since Google started 17 years ago. Back then, there were 300 million people online, connecting through desktop machines; today that number is over 3 billion, with the majority using mobile devices as their primary way to get information, organize their day, get from point A to point B, and stay in touch. In a world in which the mobile phone has become the remote control for our daily lives, Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” is truer and more important than ever before.
The Google assistant
When we think of the Google search experience today—a rich panel of information on [Zika virus], or an alert telling you your flight is delayed—it’s striking to see how far things have come from the early days of 10 blue links. Many of these advances have been thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence—specifically, areas like natural language processing, voice recognition and translation—and they have helped us build an increasingly useful and assistive experience for users. They are the ingredients that make Google speech recognition the most accurate in the world, and that let you take a picture of a sign in Chinese and see it translated into English.
Progress in all of these areas is accelerating, and we believe we are at a seminal moment. People are increasingly interacting naturally with Google, and aren’t just looking for the world’s information but actually expecting Google to help them with their daily tasks.
Which is why we’re pleased to introduce...the Google assistant.
The assistant is conversational—an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done. It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater. It’s a Google for you, by you.
The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users' questions.
Today we gave a preview of two new products where you’ll soon be able to draw on the Google assistant.
Google Home is a voice-activated product that brings the Google assistant to any room in your house. It lets you enjoy entertainment, manage everyday tasks, and get answers from Google—all using conversational speech. With a simple voice command, you can ask Google Home to play a song, set a timer for the oven, check your flight, or turn on your lights. It’s designed to fit your home with customizable bases in different colors and materials. Google Home will be released later this year.
Allo and Duo
Allo is a new messaging app that also comes complete with the Google assistant, so you can interact with it directly in your chats, either one-on-one or with friends. Because the assistant understands your world, you can ask for things like your agenda for the day or photos from your last trip. If you’re planning a dinner with friends, you can ask the assistant to suggest restaurants nearby, all in one thread.
Allo includes Smart Reply, which suggests responses to messages based on context, and comes with fun ways to make your chats more expressive, including emojis, stickers, and the ability to get creative with photos. There’s also an Incognito mode that provides end-to-end encryption, discreet notifications, and message expiration.
In addition to Allo, we’re introducing Duo, a companion app for one-to-one video calling. With Duo, our goal is to make video calling faster and more reliable, even on slower network speeds. We also introduced a feature called Knock Knock, which gives you a live video of the other caller before you answer.
Best of all, both Allo and Duo are based on your phone number, so you can communicate with anyone regardless of whether they’re on Android or iOS. Both apps will be available this summer. Read more
Android N, Wear, VR, and Instant Apps
Today we shared details about what’s coming in Android N, including better performance for graphics and effects, reduced battery consumption and storage, background downloads of system updates, and streamlined notifications so you can power through them faster, and updated emojis including 72 new ones. And we want your help coming up with a name for N that can be a sweet successor to Marshmallow.
and help us #NameAndroidN at
On top of Android N, we’ve built a new platform for high quality mobile VR called
. Together with Android manufacturers, we're working on upcoming phones, and sharing designs with them for a VR viewer and controller that will be really immersive, comfortable and intuitive to use. Your favorite apps and games will be coming to Daydream too, including Google's—like YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Google Photos and the Play Store. More to come this fall.
We also previewed
Android Wear 2.0
, including a revamped user experience and standalone apps that run right on the watch, no matter where your phone is or even if it's off.
Finally, we’re introducing
Android Instant Apps
—which let you run Android apps instantly, without requiring installation.
Today we launched a big expansion of
, our most comprehensive developer offering to date. Going beyond a mobile backend, the platform helps developers quickly build high-quality apps, grow their user base, and earn more money across iOS, Android and the mobile web.
Tackling global challenges with smarter tools
Machine learning and AI are changing not only computing, but also the way in which we tackle problems we’ve never been able to solve before. The opportunities are even greater when we harness the powers of
to make them available to the broader developer and researcher community. Imagine what we could do if we work together and use these technologies to tackle challenges in climate change, health care or education. As our machine learning and AI capabilities get smarter and more versatile, these possibilities are starting to appear on the horizon. These are very exciting times indeed.
Posted by Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
Saying 👋 to Allo and Duo: new apps for smart messaging and video calling
May 18, 2016
Whether it’s welcoming a new baby, celebrating the winning shot in overtime, or discovering the best taco stand ever—we all want to share these moments with friends and family the instant they happen. Most of the time, this means picking up our phones and sending a message or starting a call. Today we’re sharing a preview of two new apps that take a fresh look at how people connect.
Allo, a smart messaging app
Allo is a smart messaging app that makes your conversations easier and more expressive. It’s based on your phone number, so you can get in touch with anyone in your phonebook. And with deeply integrated machine learning, Allo has smart features to keep your conversations flowing and help you get things done.
Emojis, stickers, Ink, and our Whisper Shout feature in Allo
Allo has Smart Reply built in (similar to
), so you can respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and will show suggestions that are in your style. For example, it will learn whether you’re more of a “haha” vs. “lol” kind of person. The more you use Allo the more “you” the suggestions will become. Smart Reply also works with photos, providing intelligent suggestions related to the content of the photo. If your friend sends you a photo of tacos, for example, you may see Smart Reply suggestions like “yummy” or “I love tacos.”
Smart Reply suggestions in Allo
Allo also features the Google assistant, bringing the richness of Google directly into your chats—helping you find information, get things done, and have fun. You can chat one-on-one with the assistant, or call on Google in a group chat with friends. Either way, you no longer have to jump between apps to do things like book a dinner reservation with friends, get up-to-date sports scores, settle a bet, or play a game. The assistant in Allo lets you bring things like Search, Maps, YouTube and Translate to all your conversations, so that you and your friends can use Google together.
The Google assistant in Allo understands your world, so you can ask for things like your agenda for the day, details of your flight and hotel, or photos from your last trip. And since it understands natural language patterns, you can just chat like yourself and it’ll understand what you’re saying. For example, "Is my flight delayed?" will return information about your flight status.
Google assistant in Allo
Privacy and security are important in messaging, so following in the footsteps of Chrome, we created Incognito mode in Allo. Chats in Incognito mode will have end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications, and we’ll continue to add new features to this mode.
Duo, a video calling app for everyone
Duo is a simple, fast one-to-one video calling app for everyone—whether you’re on Android or iOS, a fast or slow connection, in New York or New Delhi. Like Allo, Duo is based on your phone number, allowing you to reach anyone in your phonebook. And its simple interface fades away when you’re in a call, so it’s just the two of you.
Video call in Duo
One of our favorite features of Duo is Knock Knock, which shows you a live video preview of the caller before you pick up. Knock Knock invites you into the moment, making calls feel spontaneous and fun. Once you answer, Duo seamlessly transitions you right into the call.
Duo calls are in crisp HD video (up to 720p) and audio. We’ve optimized Duo to work well even on spotty networks, so if bandwidth is limited it gracefully adjusts quality so you’re still able to connect. We also seamlessly transition calls between cellular and Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to worry about what network you’re on. Finally, we built Duo with privacy and security in mind and all calls on Duo are end-to-end encrypted.
Both apps will be available this summer on Android and iOS. Head over to Google Play and register to be notified when
are available. We can't wait for you to try them.
Posted by Amit Fulay, Group Product Manager, Google, and Yariv Adan, Group Product Manager, Google
An eye for detail: Zoom through 1,000 artworks thanks to the new Art Camera from the Google Cultural Institute
May 17, 2016
So much of the beauty and power of art lives in the details. You can only fully appreciate the genius of artists like Monet or Van Gogh when you stand so close to a masterpiece that your nose almost touches it. As you step back from the brush strokes, you wonder how it all comes together. At the Google Cultural Institute, we know that people love experiencing art in close detail. Millions of people spend time exploring our ultra-high resolution “gigapixel” images, inch by inch—spotting something new every time, like a
individual dabs of paint
that give the impression of shimmering, turbulent waters.
Zooming into these images is the closest thing to walking up to the real thing with a magnifying glass. This is why we’re so excited about our new Art Camera—a custom-built camera ready to travel around the world to bring people more of these ultra-high-resolution images than ever possible before.
The Port of Rotterdam by Paul Signac, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
A gigapixel image is made of over one billion pixels, and can bring out details invisible to the naked eye. So creating digital images in such high resolution is a complex technical challenge. You need time, highly specialized and expensive equipment, and only a few people in the world can do the job. In the first five years of the Google Cultural Institute, we’ve been able to share about 200 gigapixel images. But we want to do much more. That’s why we developed the Art Camera.
The Art Camera is a robotic camera, custom-built to create gigapixel images faster and more easily. A robotic system steers the camera automatically from detail to detail, taking hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. To make sure the focus is right on each brush stroke, it’s equipped with a laser and a sonar that—much like a bat—uses high frequency sound to measure the distance of the artwork. Once each detail is captured, our software takes the thousands of close-up shots and, like a jigsaw, stitches the pieces together into one single image.
Many of the works of our greatest artists are fragile and sensitive to light and humidity. With the Art Camera, museums can share these priceless works with the global public while ensuring they're preserved for future generations. We want to give museums the tools they need to do this important work, so we're sending a fleet of these cameras from museum to museum around the world—for free.
The Art Camera will dramatically increase the scale and depth at which museums are able to provide access to our shared cultural heritage to anyone around the world. For example, if you wanted to see Van Gogh’s six famous portraits of the Roulin family up close, you’d need to travel across the Netherlands then over to LA and New York. Now the Art Camera can travel for you. It’s already captured the
Portrait of Armand Roulin
, which you can explore alongside
the rest of the family
, all in one place.
Today, we’re sharing the first thousand ultra-high resolution images of artworks from artists including
and many more from museums across Australia, India, the Netherlands, Brazil and everywhere in between. As we prepare to celebrate
International Museum Day
and welcome more than 25 new museums on the Google Cultural Institute, we want to thank everyone who worked with us to test the new camera in the recent months. Thanks to their work, today you can start zooming and
explore more art in the details than ever before
Posted by Ben St. John, Engineer, Google Cultural Institute
Ben St. John
Google Cultural Institute
Introducing Spaces, a tool for small group sharing
May 16, 2016
Group sharing isn’t easy. From book clubs to house hunts to weekend trips and more, getting friends into the same app can be challenging. Sharing things typically involves hopping between apps to copy and paste links. Group conversations often don’t stay on topic, and things get lost in endless threads that you can’t easily get back to when you need them.
We wanted to build a better group sharing experience, so we made a new app called
that lets people get people together instantly to share around any topic.
With Spaces, it’s simple to find and share articles, videos and images without leaving the app, since Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome come built in.
When someone shares something new to a space, the conversational view lets you see what the group is talking about without missing a beat.
And if you ever want to find something that was shared earlier—articles, videos, comments or even images—a quick search lets you pull it up in a snap.
You can create a space with just one tap for any topic and invite anyone via messaging, email, a social network, or whatever way you like.
We’ll also be experimenting with Spaces this week at Google I/O. We’ve created a space for each session so that developers can connect with each other and Googlers around topics at I/O, and we've got a few surprises too. If you’re joining us in person at I/O, make sure you install Spaces on Android or iOS before you arrive!
is rolling out today on
, desktop, and mobile web for all Gmail addresses. Give it a try and create your first space today.
Posted by Luke Wroblewski, Product Director
Introducing The Data Center Mural Project
May 12, 2016
Whether it’s sharing photos, searching the web or translating languages, billions of requests are sent to “the cloud” every day. But few people think about how all this information flows through physical locations, called data centers. Because these buildings typically aren’t much to look at, people usually don’t—and rarely learn about the incredible structures and people inside who make so much of modern life possible.
To begin to change that, we created the
Data Center Mural Project
: a partnership with artists to bring a bit of the magic from the inside of our data centers to the outside.
We’re starting with two data center locations.
In Mayes County, Oklahoma, digital artist
’s mural is made up of Google Maps satellite imagery. Her mural artwork focuses on types of infrastructure that enable the flow of goods, power and information—not unlike data centers themselves.
Belgium local street artist
took inspiration from “the cloud” for his colorful mural on the outside of our St. Ghislain data center. He’s painted clouds that include elements specific to the region, the data center and the people who run it—including the sheep that roam the data center grounds and a balloon from the annual festival L'Ascension à Saint-Ghislain.
Soon, we’ll add murals at two more data centers, and eventually we hope to bring the project to more locations around the world. Check out photos, videos and more at
Posted by Joe Kava, VP Google Data Centers
Google Data Centers
Meet Gboard: Search, GIFs, emojis & more. Right from your keyboard.
May 12, 2016
iPhone users—this one’s for you. Meet Gboard, a new app for your iPhone that lets you search and send information, GIFs, emojis and more, right from your keyboard.
Say you’re texting with a friend about tomorrow’s lunch plans. They ask you for the address. Until now it’s worked like this: You leave your texting app. Open Search. Find the restaurant. Copy the address. Switch back to your texts. Paste the address into a message. And finally, hit send.
Searching and sending stuff on your phone shouldn’t be that difficult. With Gboard, you can search and send all kinds of things—restaurant info, flight times, news articles—right from your keyboard. Anything you’d search on Google, you can search with Gboard. Results appear as cards with the key information front and center, such as the phone number, ratings and hours. With one tap, you can send it to your friend and you keep the conversation going.
Search in Gboard
You can search for more than just Google search results. Instead of scrolling to find💃 or 👯 , search for “dancer” and find that emoji you were looking for instantly. Even better—you can search for the perfect GIF to show people how you’re really feeling. Finally, Gboard has Glide Typing, which lets you type words by sliding your finger from key to key instead of tapping—so everything you do is just a little bit faster.
Emoji search, GIF search, Glide Typing
Gboard works in any app—messaging, email, YouTube—so you can use it anywhere on your phone. Get it now in the
in English in the U.S., with more languages to come.
Posted by Rajan Patel, Principal Engineer
Translate where you need it: in any app, offline, and wherever you see Chinese
May 11, 2016
Of the 500 million+ people who use Google Translate, more than 9 in 10 live outside the U.S. We've talked with thousands of you in India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Thailand to learn what works and what doesn’t—and today we’re rolling out some big improvements.
First, say hello to
Tap to Translate
on Android. We know millions of you painstakingly copy-paste text between Google Translate and other apps. Now, you can just copy the text of a chat, comment, song lyric, etc. in whichever app you’re using, and a translation will pop up right there—no need to switch apps:
Watch the video
to learn more. Tap to Translate works for
all 103 of Google Translate’s languages
on any Android phone running Jellybean (4.2) and above.
now works on iOS, and joins Android in using small offline packages. We know that many of you found the previous packages too big to download on unreliable data connections or to keep on your phone’s limited storage. That’s why we shrunk them by 90 percent, to a much more manageable 25 MB each.
Offline Mode is easy to set up: Just tap the arrow next to the language name to download the package for that language, and then you’ll be ready to do text translations whether you’re online or not—and it works with Tap to Translate too. We’ve just added a Filipino language pack, bringing our
total number of offline languages
Finally, we’re adding
Word Lens in Chinese.
It’s our 29th language for instant visual translation, and it reads both to and from English, for both
Simplified and Traditional Chinese
. Try it on menus, signs, packages, and other printed text. As with all Word Lens languages, it works offline.
With Tap to Translate, improved Offline Mode, and Word Lens in Chinese, we hope you’ll find the latest version of Google Translate a helpful companion. These updates are rolling out over the next few days.
Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate
Digital #LoveLetters from children of the incarcerated
May 7, 2016
Back in February,
a new effort from Google.org focused on racial justice, including support for organizations working to end mass incarceration. This is a critical issue in the United States,
which represents 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population
Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
—in fact, the United States imprisons a larger percentage of its Black population than
South Africa did at the height of apartheid
An often overlooked fact of mass incarceration is that many first-time, nonviolent offenders who receive prison sentences are parents. There are 2.7 million American children with a parent behind bars, and Black children are 7.5 times more likely to have a parent behind bars than their white counterparts. The experience of having a parent in prison is traumatizing to a child: a new
study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation
found that the incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence.
So this Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in an effort to raise awareness of the impact of mass incarceration, we’ve partnered with NGOs on Love Letters: a series of videos that contain children’s messages of love for a mother or father in prison. These digital love letters are demonstrations of the unbreakable love between parent and child, and of the pain of growing up without a parent present.
The videos reveal a side of mass incarceration that many people don’t get a chance to see. They allow us to bear witness, to be proximate to the very human costs of incarceration. Before I joined Google, I spent years as a human rights lawyer working on criminal justice reform. When I visited women’s prisons, I saw how broken women prisoners were because almost all were mothers to small children. Few received visits from family or children because of how remote women’s prisons usually are. When children did visit, some weren’t allowed to hug or touch their mothers. I also visited detention centers for girls, where many were the daughters of incarcerated mothers. The girls had been trafficked or arrested for running away from group homes or abusive foster placements, and they shared with me the pain of not having a mother there to teach them and protect them.
The impact of mass incarceration is generational and devastating. I hope that after
watching these videos
, you’ll choose to learn more about the critical work organizations like
The Osborne Association
, and Google.org grantees
Essie Justice Group
Ella Baker Center
Equal Justice Initiative
are doing to support children affected by incarceration and to advance criminal justice reform. You can also learn more about mass incarceration on
and contribute to the conversation with #LoveLetters on social media.
Posted by Malika Saada Saar, Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Counsel – Civil and Human Rights
Malika Saada Saar
Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Counsel – Civil and Human Rights
Helping for the long term in Flint, Michigan
May 3, 2016
Access to clean drinking water is a concern all over the world, but in the United States it’s often a foregone conclusion. That is not the case recently for the residents of Flint, Michigan, many of whom we now know have been exposed to lead in their tap water. It’s a crisis, one to which the American people readily responded by donating water and resources to help alleviate the immediate pain. But the problem won’t go away quickly, and understanding its extent is both challenging and an absolute necessity. Today, Google.org is providing $250,000 to partners in the Flint community to help, with a special focus on a technical solution for understanding and resolving the crisis for the long term.
First, we’re making a
$150,000 grant to the University of Michigan-Flint
to enable the University of Michigan-Flint to develop a comprehensive data platform that will assist government and community leaders in making more informed decisions about the crisis and providing critical information to citizens. The funds will support student researchers at the University of Michigan, Flint and Ann Arbor campuses, to do this work under the leadership of Professors Mark Allison (Flint) and Jake Abernathy (Ann Arbor) to answer key questions about the crisis and response, such as the probability of lead levels before they are tested. The team plans to develop a platform and app that visualizes the data and also provides the ability for citizens to seek out and request key services, such as reporting concerns about water and requesting testing kits. Google volunteers will provide guidance and mentoring on the technology and product design.
We’re also making a
$100,000 donation to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint for the Flint Child Health & Development Fund
Flint Child Health & Development Fund
was founded to ensure the long-term health of Flint families, especially newborns to children 6 years old—the group most vulnerable to developmental issues from lead. The Fund is a supplemental resource to state and federal funding and gives grants for childcare-related initiatives such as early childhood education, student support services, continuous access to a pediatric medical home, access to infant and child behavioral health services, and research.
With Google offices in Ann Arbor and Birmingham, Flint and its residents are also our neighbors. In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, a group of 20 Google volunteers went to Flint and volunteered at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, where they helped with distributing bottled water and food in the greater Flint area. Around $35,000 has been donated through employees and Google's gift match program to the
United Way of Genesee County
Flint Water Fund
to aid in the crisis, and our employee groups, like the Black Googler Network, continue to explore more ways to help.
As a native Michigander, I'm proud that we can help our neighbors in Flint. We hope we can support a resolution to this crisis and assist the residents of Flint in getting the resources they need and deserve, both for the short and long term.
Posted by Mike Miller, Head of Google Michigan
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