23 Jan 2015

feedThe Official Google Blog

Through the Google lens: Search trends January 16-22

Here's a side of search trends to go along with your Friday. Read on to find out what got people talking-and searching-this week.

Deflate-gate and other scandals
Super Bowl drama is already here, and it's not even February 1. After the New England Patriots dominated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 to win the AFC Championship, news broke out that 11 out of the 12 balls used by New England quarterback Tom Brady were under inflated, which is a no-no in the NFL. The league has strict rules about the air pressure in game day balls since alterations could give one team an advantage. Both Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are singing Shaggy's greatest hit "It Wasn't Me," so we'll all have to wait and see how the mystery unfolds.

On the other "football" field, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team goalkeeper Hope Solo is back in trouble with the law after she and her husband, Jerramy Stevens, were pulled over for suspicions of driving under the influence. The kicker? This all happened while Stevens was driving the U.S. team van, which promptly resulted in a 30-day suspension for Solo. This event comes just seven days after charges of domestic violence were dropped against the athlete.

The last laugh
On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address to outline his legislative agenda for the year ahead. Then, on Thursday, the President took questions about his remarks from YouTube Creators. While topics like education, the economy and foreign relations got people searching, the Internet had a field day after Obama dropped the proverbial mic at the expense of his Republican counterparts during his speech. In the midst of his talk, Obama stated "I have no more campaigns to run," generating applause from some of his opponents. But Obama -- not one to be the butt of a joke -- responded as smooth as butter: "I know because I won both of them." Burn.

Not what you expected
Search left people salivating after news that milk's favorite cookie, the Oreo, was getting a new flavor inspired by Valentine's Day. Confection-maker Nabisco decided to bring cupcake and cookie together in holy matrimony with the launch of a red velvet version of their snack on February 2. And as some people tried to satisfy their sweet tooth, it looks like Tiger Woods may have lost his...literally. The famed golfer made an appearance at his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn's World Cup skiing race in Italy sporting a missing tooth, causing a stir on the web as people tried to find an explanation for his gap-toothed smile.

Meanwhile, things took a turn for the worse at the happiest place on earth. Disneyland was linked to an outbreak of more than 50 cases of the measles. Health officials are declaring the park safe for those who have their immunizations, but the situation has drummed up more controversy around the anti-vaccination movement.

Tip of the Week
Still sticking to your diet resolution? If you need a little help knowing the number of calories you're eating just ask, "Ok Google, how many calories are in an avocado?" to stay in tip-top shape.

Posted by Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched for [hope for hope] and [all scandals that end in -gate]

23 Jan 2015 8:52pm GMT

feedGoogle Operating System

YouTube Music Key for Desktop: Ad-Free Music Videos

YouTube Music Key is not just for YouTube's mobile apps. One of its feature is also available if you use YouTube's desktop site: ad-free music videos. You'll notice the "ad-free" label next to the video title. Mouse over the label and you'll see this message: "Your YouTube Music Key subscription lets you play this video without ads."



"Subscribe to YouTube Music Key and you'll be able to listen to music without seeing or hearing ads. Ads won't be shown before or during eligible music videos you watch on youtube.com, and music videos and playlists will play continuously on your mobile device, without interruption. You will still see ads on other YouTube videos, however. The Ad-free badge tells you that a video will be ad-free," informs YouTube.

23 Jan 2015 3:35pm GMT

YouTube Tests Rounded Channel Icons

YouTube experiments with a slightly different interface that uses rounded icons for channels and moves the title and buttons like "add to" and "share" to the right.

Here's an image that shows both the experimental interface and YouTube's regular UI:


YouTube's mobile apps already use rounded icons, just like Google+ and Google's navigation bar. "If your Channel is merged with a Google+ profile or page, then your YouTube Channel Icon and your Google+ Profile Image are synched," informs YouTube's help center.

23 Jan 2015 3:06pm GMT

21 Jan 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

YouTube Music Key Restrictions

An important downside of YouTube Music Key is that YouTube treats music videos just like Google Play Music songs. You can't play music videos on 2 different Android/iOS mobile devices when using the YouTube app and the same Google account.

Let's say I play a YouTube music video on an iPad and then try to play another music video on a Nexus 5. YouTube shows this message: "Playback paused because your account is being used in another location". That means I can't play YouTube music videos on multiple mobile devices at the same time. This is strange, especially when you realize that YouTube Music Key is only available in the Android app.


If I sign out, I can play music videos, but YouTube Music Key features are disabled (background playing, offline caching, no more ads). I can also play music videos in Chrome or other mobile browsers, where YouTube Music Key features aren't available.

Google Play Music has a similar limitation: "If you play music on multiple devices at the same time using the same account, playback will be paused so you can choose which device you'd like to use. To help ensure uninterrupted playback, make sure you're listening to music using one device or computer at a time."

Maybe it would be a better idea to enable Music Key on a single device at a time and disable its features when using other devices. This way, you could still use the YouTube app and play music videos just like any other videos.

21 Jan 2015 7:06pm GMT

16 Jan 2015

feedThe Official Google Blog

Through the Google lens: Search trends January 9-15

This time of year may be cold and dark, but there was plenty to brighten our days-and keep us searching-this week.

Top of the pack
El Capitan is a stunning sight on a normal day-the sheer granite face rising above the valley in Yosemite National Park is hard to miss. But this week, people around the world had an extra reason to keep their eyes on El Cap: two mountain climbers, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, made history on Wednesday when they completed the first ever free climb of the 3,000-foot wall. Searches for [el capitan climb] went up more than 1,000% as people looked to learn more about the feat.

Back on firm ground, Ohio State beat #2-ranked Oregon in an upset victory in the College Football Playoff championship. Though the Buckeyes may have won on the field, the Ducks still held the top of the search charts, with more than 2 million searches on Monday. People were also searching for the teams' top players, especially Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who announced this week that he had decided to stay with the team for another year, passing on the NFL draft. (His Oregon counterpart in Monday's game, Marcus Mariota, made the opposite call.)

Glitter and glamour
We're officially in peak entertainment awards season. The "72nd and final" Golden Globes took place on Sunday with hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Of particular interest on search were Jane the Virgin and its star Gina Rodriguez, whose win was considered a surprise and whose speech was considered a win, and The Honourable Woman's Maggie Gyllenhaal, who gave a quietly passionate speech about women in Hollywood. And Michael Keaton, who won best actor in a drama for the film Birdman, brought some company with him to search, as well as the ceremony: his son and "best friend," Sean Douglas, who spiked in search after Keaton sang his praises in his acceptance speech.

Then just when we'd finished analyzing the Globes' winners and losers, the Oscar nominations were announced, meaning we officially have just over a month to catch up on all the films before the ceremony on February 22. Top nominees include Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Boyhood. (Someone get Sean Douglas a tux rental for February.) Want help with your Oscar pool? There's no telling which film will win, but over the past year, the title of top film in Search is a close race between Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Finally, in addition to all the glitz on the red carpet, there was a different kind of glitter in search this week. A start-up business that lets you "ship your enemies glitter" went viral, giving you a new way to show that special (un)loved one how you feel. Millions of clicks and a website crash later, the founder is now saying he wants to quit. All that glitters is, apparently, not gold.

Tip of the week
Time to catch up on all those movies you haven't seen. Just say "Ok Google" then "movie times" or "Selma movies times" and you'll get a list of theaters and films playing near you.

Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched for [lucy parks and rec] and [spanish homophones]

16 Jan 2015 10:28pm GMT

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through community service

This Monday, January 19, we're celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and marking the national MLK Day of Service. It's a holiday that's especially meaningful this year: 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, and it's a time when civil rights is at the forefront of our national conversation.

Next Monday, Googlers across the country are heeding the call to give back to their communities, and we hope you'll join us. Take some time to honor Dr. King by volunteering in your community-you can find opportunities at All for Good. In the meantime, here's a look at some of the projects Googlers will be participating in, and the reasons why they've made the commitment to serve this MLK Day.

Dona Bellow, a legal assistant, will be helping middle school students in New York with computer science and STEM activities. She says, "doing something to help further the goals of someone else is reclaiming power: power to choose love over conflict, power to recognize and celebrate our differences, power to achieve an equitable outcome for all."

In California, Googlers will be volunteering with the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation as it hosts a full day of festivities including the annual parade/march in San Francisco. Eliana Murillo, who is head of multicultural marketing and will be participating in Monday's event, told us that "giving a hand to those in need helps build compassion and understanding of the diversity of life experiences."

Leadership coordinator Aerica Banks says that she serves to "break down barriers and build community. We are all able to serve, and we all stand to benefit." She helped organize volunteers in our Atlanta office for the Atlanta Food Bank Kids In Need program event, which provides school supplies free of charge to teachers in low-income schools.

And Fabian Elliott, from our ads team in Chicago, helped organize Google volunteers in the Windy City to help middle school students practice compassion by writing letters to children struggling with terminal illnesses. He says, "Even the most obscure challenges of the world impact each of us at varying levels...It's as simple as doing something that you love that supports a cause you believe in. What are you waiting for?"

Dr. King said: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" Googler volunteers are joining in the national efforts to honor the legacy of Dr. King-and we know that a commitment to service goes well beyond Monday. So we also support projects throughout the year to help to deepen our connections with local communities. Together, let's make Martin Luther King Jr. Day "a day on, not a day off!"

Posted by Johanne Sterling, on behalf of the Black Googlers Network and GooglersGive

16 Jan 2015 7:42pm GMT

15 Jan 2015

feedThe Official Google Blog

YouTube Creators interview President Obama following the State of the Union

Every year since 2010, President Obama has turned to YouTube and Google after his State of the Union speech to answer questions that are top of mind for the American people. Asked through YouTube video submissions or live via Google+ Hangouts, these questions always bring an interesting perspective to the issues the president addresses in his speech. This year we're doing something we've never done before: bringing a handful of YouTube creators directly to the White House to talk with the president in person in a live broadcast on Thursday, January 22.

YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell Green and Hank Green will interview President Obama about the top concerns facing them and their audiences. Over the next few days, the creators will ask you to share the questions you have for the president, some of which may be asked during the interview. In years past, people across the United States have used this interview to ask important questions about jobs, immigration and even Valentine's Day. Use #YouTubeAsksObama on social media to suggest issues that are important to you or any questions that are on your mind.


Finally, don't forget to tune in on January 20 at 9 p.m. EST to watch the State of the Union address, as well as the Republican response, live on YouTube.

Posted by Steve Grove, Director, News Lab

15 Jan 2015 5:00pm GMT

14 Jan 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

Updated Google Drive App for Desktop

Google updated the Drive app for Windows and Mac. The latest version (1.19.8268.4572) brings new features: the Drive menu shows the latest synced files, there's a new three-dot contextual menu that shows the previous items from the standard menu and you can limit bandwidth for both downloads and uploads from the settings. It's interesting to notice that all these features have already been available in the Dropbox app.




{ Thanks, Eston Melton. }

14 Jan 2015 4:34pm GMT

Word Lens in Mobile Google Translate

Google Translate's mobile apps are about to get a major upgrade. The latest version of the Google Translate app for iOS and Android adds support for instant translation with Word Lens and improves the conversation mode. The iOS app also adds support for conversation mode and camera translation, which were already available in the Android app.

"While using the Translate app, just point your camera at a sign or text and you'll see the translated text overlaid on your screen - even if you don't have an Internet or data connection. This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and we're working to expand to more languages," informs Google. There's already camera translation, which works in 36 languages, but the new Word Lens is smarter and easier to use. Google bought Word Lens last year and this is the first tangible result of the acquisition.


Conversation Mode is smarter too: the app will now recognize the languages automatically, so you don't have to tap the microphone button. "Starting today, simply tap the mic to start speaking in a selected language, then tap the mic again, and the Google Translate app will automatically recognize which of the two languages are being spoken, letting you have a more fluid conversation. For the rest of the conversation, you won't need to tap the mic again - it'll be ready as you need it," explains Google.



The new version of the Google Translate app for Android and iOS is rolling out over the next few days.

14 Jan 2015 2:11pm GMT

Chrome Rolls Out Updated Account Switcher

A few readers noticed that Chrome's stable version started to enable the account switcher added back in August to Chrome Beta.

"Get started by clicking on 'You' in the upper right corner of your Chrome window and then clicking 'Sign in to Chrome.' You'll be able to switch devices and pick up where you left off with all of your tabs, bookmarks, and history automatically kept in sync. If you share a computer, click 'Switch person' to add your profile and get your own bookmarks, apps, and theme. Switching lets you keep your stuff separate," explained Google.



There's also support for guest mode. "With the new 'Guest mode,' you can let others use Chrome without letting them see your stuff. And after they've closed out their tabs, their browsing information is deleted from your computer as well." That's the main difference between incognito and guest mode: guest mode is treated as a separate profile that doesn't have access to the data from your main profile.


You can also enable these features in chrome://flags:

1. copy this text in the address bar and press Enter:
chrome://flags/#enable-new-avatar-menu

2. select "Enable" in the dropdown below "Enable the new avatar menu"

3. (optional) select "Enable" next to "Enable fast user switching in the avatar menu" to quickly switch between profiles

4. click "Relaunch now" at the bottom of the page to restart the browser.

Pick "Disable" instead of "Enable" to turn off the new avatar menu.


With features like guest mode and account switcher, Chrome looks more and more like an operating system. After all, these features were borrowed from Chrome OS.

{ Thanks, Konstantin Yakovlev, Fede and Karol Kobos. ]

14 Jan 2015 1:37pm GMT

Google's Web & App Activity

Google's Account History page has been updated and includes a few new features. The last time I checked this page, Google allowed you to pause or disable search history, location history and YouTube's search and watch history.

The search history card is now called Web & App Activity and deals with searches and browsing activity. In addition to the Google Search history, there's also an option to "include history from Chrome and other apps in your Web & App Activity." If this feature is enabled, Google saves information like your Chrome browsing history, the apps you use and the data they share with Google. "This lets you see things like sites or content that you've looked at in other apps in your Google search results," explains Google.


When you uncheck "include history from Chrome and other apps in your Web & App Activity", Google shows this warning: "Pausing this setting may result in fewer content suggestions in products like Google Now or Google+, and some autocomplete suggestions in Search will not appear. Remember, you can search or browse in incognito mode whenever you want to be more anonymous."


There's a page for Web & App Activity history: https://history.google.com/history/app and it shows the mobile apps you've used on your Android devices. You can remove this information.


Google added 2 new cards for Voice & Audio Activity and Device Information.


"Voice & Audio Activity helps recognize your voice and improve speech recognition by storing your voice and audio inputs to your account (for example, when you say 'Ok Google' to do a voice search)." This feature is automatically turned on by the mobile Google Search app when you enable the always-on OK Google hotword. You can see the audio history here: https://history.google.com/history/audio.

When you pause audio activity, Google shows this message: "Pausing Voice & Audio Activity may limit or disable features such as using 'Ok Google' to start a voice search and reduce the accuracy of speech recognition across Google products that use your voice. Note that this setting does not affect storage of information by Google products (like Voice) that can be used to store your audio or voice inputs. Google may also continue to collect and store audio data in an anonymized way."


There's also a section for device information, which "stores your contacts, calendars, apps, and other device data to improve your experience across Google". You can find the device history here: https://history.google.com/history/device, but it's not very useful. Google shows status messages like: "System state saved", "Contacts saved", "List of installed apps saved".


Click the Pause button and you should see this warning: "Pausing Device Information means you will receive fewer reminders about upcoming events, and features like speech recognition (especially of names in your contact list) may be less reliable. Note that this setting doesn't affect the storage of information by certain other Google products (like Calendar, Contacts, or Play)."


Some of these features were already available, but it's now easier to disable them from Google's account settings.

14 Jan 2015 11:57am GMT

feedThe Official Google Blog

Hallo, hola, olá to the new, more powerful Google Translate app

Often the hardest part of traveling is navigating the local language. If you've ever asked for "pain" in Paris and gotten funny looks, confused "embarazada" with "embarrassed" in Mexico, or stumbled over pronunciation pretty much anywhere, you know the feeling. Now Google Translate can be your guide in new ways. We've updated the Translate app on Android and iOS to transform your mobile device into an even more powerful translation tool.

Instant translation with Word Lens
The Translate app already lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages. Now, we're taking it to the next level and letting you instantly translate text using your camera-so it's way easier to navigate street signs in the Italian countryside or decide what to order off a Barcelona menu. While using the Translate app, just point your camera at a sign or text and you'll see the translated text overlaid on your screen-even if you don't have an Internet or data connection.

This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and we're working to expand to more languages.

Have an easier conversation using the Translate app
When talking with someone in an unfamiliar language, conversations can... get... realllllllly... sloowwww. While we've had real-time conversation mode on Android since 2013, our new update makes the conversation flow faster and more naturally.

Starting today, simply tap the mic to start speaking in a selected language, then tap the mic again, and the Google Translate app will automatically recognize which of the two languages are being spoken, letting you have a more fluid conversation. For the rest of the conversation, you won't need to tap the mic again-it'll be ready as you need it. Asking for directions to the Rive Gauche, ordering bacalhau in Lisbon, or chatting with your grandmother in her native Spanish just got a lot faster.


These updates will be coming to both Android and iOS, rolling out over the next few days. This is the first time some of these advanced features, like camera translations and conversation mode, will be available for iOS users.

More than 500 million people use Google Translate every month, making more than 1 billion translations a day to more easily communicate and access information across languages. Today's updates take us one step closer to turning your phone into a universal translator and to a world where language is no longer a barrier to discovering information or connecting with each other.

Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate

14 Jan 2015 8:00am GMT

13 Jan 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

Google Domains No Longer Requires Invitation

Google Domains is now available to everyone in the US. Until now, Google's service required an invitation.


Google added a lot of new features:

* 60 new domain name endings like .company, .florist and .coffee

* a simple dashboard to manage your domain, website and email settings

* Blogger integration

* better integration with website builders

* better search suggestions

* dynamic DNS: "setup your domain and keep it pointing to the same computer even when the IP address changes".

"We're excited to share the open beta with you today and still welcome your input, questions and feedback", says Google.


13 Jan 2015 8:18pm GMT

Find Maps in Google Drive

Now that custom Google Maps are available in Google Drive, you may wonder how to find them. "My maps" is not included in the list of file types from the advanced search, but you can use the "opens with" feature that was added in the new Google Drive interface. Just click the arrow from the search box, select "Google My Maps" from the "opens with" list and click the search button. Google Drive will display all the maps you've created in Google My Maps. Another option is to search for app:"google my maps".


You can add some keywords to the query to find a map.

13 Jan 2015 8:00pm GMT

Disable Google Package Tracking

Google uses the notification messages you receive in Gmail to display useful information in Google Now, Google Search and other Google services. For example, Google shows details about your purchases, reservations, flights and more.

Google Dashboard has a new section for package tracking. If you scroll down to the package tracking section, you'll probably see this information: "Package tracking data is accessible (e.g. in Google Now and Google Wallet)." Expand the section and you'll see a button that lets you opt out: "By clicking the button you will opt out of Package Tracking in various Google applications and data will be removed. You can opt in again via Google Wallet or Google Now."


I'm not sure why package tracking is singled out and Google doesn't let you disable from Google Dashboard the other features that use data from Gmail.

13 Jan 2015 7:39pm GMT

Google Now History

Google Now has a history page that shows the number of cards served each day, the type of cards and it lets you delete historical data. For example, you may find out that Google Now displayed 9 cards on January 8th: articles, updates, packages, music, stocks, time at home, birthdays and 2 other cards.


Unfortunately, Google doesn't show the actual cards and you can't see the card history in Google Now's interface: there's only a link to the history page in the settings. That's one of the issues with Google Now: once you dismiss a card, you can't get it back.

13 Jan 2015 7:17pm GMT

10 Jan 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

Material Design for Google Maps Transit Directions

The desktop Google Maps got a Material Design update: the timetable for transit directions is now displayed in an overlay. Just click More options and times next to Google's transit directions to see the new interface. Here's an example.



"If you're taking public transit, you'll see details about the transit line, trip duration, and schedule. To see other public transit times and enter a specific time, click More options and times. From here, you can see key information: overall travel time for your route, time spent walking (dotted lines), time spent on transit (solid lines), transportation lines used. To see the next scheduled departure, click Leave now. Or choose a different time and date for your directions in the boxes at the top. Click on a trip to select it and see it on the map. Click Route options to narrow your directions down to a particular type of transit. You can also choose Fewer transfers and Less walking," informs Google.



{ Thanks, Emanuele Bartolomucci and Jérôme Flipo. }

10 Jan 2015 4:14pm GMT

09 Jan 2015

feedThe Official Google Blog

Through the Google lens: Search trends January 2-8

2015 may have just begun, but search is already full steam ahead. From a tragedy in Paris to buzz around the new Calvin Klein ads, read on to find out how the year got started on search.

"Je suis Charlie"
The world was left in a state of disbelief on Wednesday after three gunmen stormed into the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical news magazine, and killed 12 people, including the paper's editor Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier. The shooters targeted the publication in response to satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Interest in the outlet reached an all-time high on the web and people looked for more information about "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"), a slogan adopted by free speech supporters in the wake of the shootings. A manhunt for the suspects finally ended Friday in a standoff at a printing company just outside of Paris, in which the two brothers behind the attacks were killed. Meanwhile, France mourns what is being called the country's "worst terrorist attack in generations."

The goals we can't promise to keep
You know what they say-new year, new you. Searchers took to the Internet this week to find out how they could turn their new year's resolutions into reality. And the usual suspects of diet and weight loss were on everyone's list. The Dash Diet made it onto the trends charts after it took the number one spot on The U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of the best diets. Created by physicians to help treat high blood pressure, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains and low sodium. So long, carbs; it was nice knowing you.

We're working to get our bodies photo-shoot ready, but Justin Bieber has beaten us to the punch. "Beliebers" everywhere were left drooling over a new Calvin Klein underwear ad. Meanwhile, Justin's campaign co-star, Dutch model Lara Stone, is getting some unwanted attention: she received several death threats from Bieber's fans.

Looking ahead
The year's not even two weeks old and people are already excited for what's to come. If you blinked, you probably missed tickets for Coachella 2015, the star-studded desert music festival. The concert sold out after a mere 40 minutes! And comic book fans (and Paul Rudd loyalists) went into a frenzy when Marvel released the trailer for their latest superhero flick, Ant Man. Our take? This smells like a Millennial version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

Finally, while many were looking ahead to this year's entertainment, others took the time to remember a legend. This week, searchers were feeling sentimental for Elvis Presley's 80th birthday and revisited the King's classic songs and memorable white suits.

Tip of the week
Don't let this be another year of resolution failure: use Google to set reminders for all of your goals. Just say "Ok Google, remind me to go to the gym" when you're ready to commit to 365 days of sweat.

Posted by Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched for [heartbreak hotel] and [gym discounts].

09 Jan 2015 10:13pm GMT

08 Jan 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

First TVs Powered by Android TV

Android TV is Google's second attempt to bring Android to TVs (the first one was Google TV). After Chromecast's success and the launch of Nexus Player, Google partnered with a few TV manufacturers that will launch Smart TVs powered by Android TV.

"This spring, Sony, Sharp and TP Vision, with its range of Philips TVs, will start shipping televisions powered by Android TV. These have all the goodness of Android TV built in so you won't need to plug anything extra into your television. You can use a single remote to watch live TV channels and play games, movies or shows from Google Play and your apps. These televisions feature voice search, to help you quickly find what you want, and they're Google Cast Ready so you can cast your favorite entertainment from your phone or tablet to the big screen," mentions Google.

From The Verge: "Live at CES 2015, Sony's CEO Kaz Hirai announced that the company's new smart TVs will run on Google's new platform for television, Android TV. The remote control for the TV is essentially a giant trackpad, so that you can navigate the Android TV interface more easily. The remote also comes with a microphone, to make searching easier." According to Sony, "all new 4K and some new Full HD BRAVIA models will come equipped with Android TV."


Other manufacturers use different operating systems: Samsung uses Tizen, LG uses WebOS, while Panasonic launches Firefox OS Smart TVs. It's interesting to notice that Samsung and LG use their own operating systems to power smartwatches, smart TVs, smart washing machine, smart vacuum cleaners, cars and more. "The OS of everything - Tizen is the open-source operating system for all device areas," mentions Tizen's homepage. Having their own operating system allows them to control their own destiny and launch new devices without relying on software from Google.

08 Jan 2015 3:48pm GMT

Google Now Tests Contextual Photos

Sterling Alvarez, a reader of this blog, noticed a new Google Now background image that shows some buildings from downtime Miami. He's from Miami, so it's likely that Google tests a feature that displays photos related to your location. Google Now already shows custom images for cities like London and San Francisco, but they're background illustrations. The new ones look more realistic and they're pretty small, since they look pixelated.


Here's another image that's displayed in the morning:


{ Thanks, Sterling. }

08 Jan 2015 12:24pm GMT

Android Lollipop's Slow Growth

I'm running Android Lollipop on my Nexus 5 and I must say that this is a great Android release, the best Android experience on a mobile device. Many reported performance issues and various bugs, so Lollipop still has a way to go until it's properly optimized.

Google has recently updated the Android platform distribution numbers and it's interesting to notice that Lollipop still doesn't show up, 2 months after its release. Google doesn't display Android "versions with less than 0.1% distribution", so it's obvious that less than 0.1% of the Android devices run Lollipop.



Back in June, Google reported that the number of active Android users was 1 billion, while in May 2013, the number of Android devices that were activated was 900 million. It's hard to estimate the number of Android devices that run Google Play Store (this excludes Amazon devices and Android devices from China), but assuming that the number is still around 1 billion, this means that less than 1 million Android devices run Lollipop.

In January 2014, Android stats looked different: KitKat's market share was 1.4%, 2 months after its release. "KitKat, which was positioned at 1.1% last month, has eked out an additional 0.3% to reach 1.4%," reported Android Police back then.

So why is Lollipop's market share growing so slowly?

* The Lollipop launch devices (Nexus 6 and Nexus 9) were more expensive, more difficult to find and reviews weren't that great. I've checked Google's Play Store US site and Nexus 6 is still out of stock. Google no longer offers an affordable tablet (Nexus 7), while Nexus 6 is not a phone for everyone: many people think it's too big.

* A lot of users reported issues after updating to Android 5.0 and some of them downgraded their devices to KitKat. Other users no longer updated their devices, after reading all the news articles about Lollipop issues.

* Google didn't push Lollipop to all Nexus devices. I have a Nexus 2012 WiFi and there's no Lollipop OTA update in the settings.

* Some Nexus and Google Play Edition devices started to get the Lollipop update late. Galaxy S4 GPE was the last to get Android 5.0.

Despite all of these issues, Lollipop is available for a lot of devices: Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, Nexus 10, Galaxy S4 GPE, Moto G GPE, One M7 GPE, One M8 GPE, Sony Z Ultra GPE, LG GPad 8.3 GPE (GPE = Google Play Edition). No other Android release was available for so many devices in the first 2 months. Some Android manufacturers already started to release Lollipop updates for phones like Moto X (2014), LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5. HTC promised to update HTC One M7 and M8 this month.

With so many popular devices getting updates, Lollipop's market share will grow much faster in the coming months.

08 Jan 2015 11:02am GMT

06 Jan 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

Wrong Google Answer

Google's answers aren't always that great. Google picks the snippet for a search result and places it in a special card that is supposed to provide a quick answer. When searching for [Cheapest Health Insurance], Google provides the following answer: "Don't wait to enroll! Humana can help you find a plan for you and your family with benefits you want and offers plans at a variety of prices. You must enroll in a plan by February 15 to have coverage in 2015!". Obviously, the snippet is an ad and not an informative answer to the query.


There are questions that are better left unanswered and this is one of them.

{ via Google Groups. Thanks, Thomas P. }

06 Jan 2015 8:46pm GMT

24 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

“The Interview” now available on Google Play and YouTube Movies

Last Wednesday Sony began contacting a number of companies, including Google, to ask if we'd be able to make their movie, "The Interview," available online. We'd had a similar thought and were eager to help-though given everything that's happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds.

Of course it was tempting to hope that something else would happen to ensure this movie saw the light of day. But after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be).

So starting at 10 a.m. PST in the U.S., you can rent or buy "The Interview" on Google Play and YouTube Movies. It will also be available to Xbox Video customers and via www.seetheinterview.com.

Update 3:44p.m. PST: "The Interview" is now also available in Canada.

Posted by David Drummond, SVP Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

24 Dec 2014 5:10pm GMT

Ho Ho Ho! Track Santa around the world with Google’s Santa Tracker

After 23 days of preparation, the elves are finally ready for Santa's annual journey around the globe. They've taught each other how to say "Santa Claus" in Swedish, guided their friends through mazes with code, brushed up on their geography, and learned about organizations making a difference worldwide. It's been a busy month, but Santa's sleigh is now ready for lift-off!

The elves brushed up on coding fundamentals with blockly maze games
The elves decorated their trees with ornaments about organizations making a difference

Each stop on Santa's journey offers more to explore-discover 360-degree imagery, Wikipedia snippets, geography facts, and updates on how far Santa's current location is from yours (take note-Santa's path is not a direct one!). Come back and visit google.com/santatracker throughout the night for more surprises, like sleigh selfies or a latitude and longitude game to deliver presents.

Follow Santa on any screen-desktop, phone, tablet, or TV

If you're on the ho-ho-go, download the Santa Tracker App for Android to keep track of Santa on your phone or tablet. With the Android app, watch Santa's journey on your TV using Chromecast, or on your wrist with Android Wear (especially handy when wrapping last-minute gifts). And, you can always search for Santa on www.google.com or on Google Maps, and get real-time location updates with Google Now in the Google App.

Santa's available at the flick of the wrist with Android Wear

Santa's got a long and exciting night ahead of him before heading back to the North Pole. Grab some eggnog, set out the cookies, and join Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter to #tracksanta!

Posted by Brendan Kenny, Reindeer Platform Engineer

24 Dec 2014 10:00am GMT

19 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

Let's celebrate the season of giving

It's the season of giving, and there are a lot of ways to give-by donating, by volunteering, by surprising a stranger with a random act of kindness. And we're joining in to help spread the holiday cheer. This month, Google.org is giving more than $15 million in grants to organizations using technology to address some of the world's biggest problems. From San Francisco to Western Africa, these organizations are making a direct impact on people around the world, every day.

One of our grants will go to Feeding America. Each year, billions of pounds of surplus food are sent to landfills, while 49 million Americans (including one in five children) go hungry. Our grant will help support their newest food rescue initiative called the Online Marketplace, a program that connects local retail and foodservice businesses who have excess food to those in need. Feeding America serves 3.3 billion meals annually and the Online Marketplace is projected to lead to the recovery of an additional 740 million meals, significantly reducing food waste while giving more families access to food.

Two of our other grantees are working on the front lines to help ensure lives aren't lost to preventable diseases. Nexleaf Analytics works to get life-saving vaccines to children in India and Mozambique by preserving these vaccines before they spoil by installing low-cost refrigerator sensors in clinics. Malaria No More is fighting to save lives by better understanding the spread of malaria using newly available mobile data to map malaria cases and how they are being treated.

To learn more about additional nonprofits we're supporting through these grants, and to see how you can get involved with their efforts, visit g.co/happyholidays and see our slideshow below:





These are only part of our annual philanthropic efforts. Over the course of the year, we strive to make the world a little bit better through our technology and giving programs, including more than $100 million in grants, $1 billion in technology resources, and 80,000+ volunteer hours donated to causes around the world.

We're inspired by all the people out there who are working to make a difference-whether it's one of these organizations or simply one person doing a good deed for another. We're glad to do our part spreading some love this holiday season, and look forward to seeing more world-changing work in 2015.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google.org

19 Dec 2014 3:30pm GMT

16 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

A Year in Search: the moments that defined 2014

Every year, we reflect on the moments that made us laugh, smile from ear to ear, or stay gripped to our screens in our annual Year in Search. In 2014, we were struck by the death of a beloved comedian, and watched news unfold about a horrific plane crash and a terrifying disease. We were captivated by the beautiful game, and had fun with birds, a bucket of ice, and a frozen princess.

Watch our video to rediscover the events, people and topics that defined 2014:


Wishing the genie goodbye
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." The passing of beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams shook the world, bringing many people online to search for more information and to remember-and putting Williams in the #1 spot on our global trends charts. There was even an uptick in searches related to depression tests and mental health in the days following his death. We revisited his iconic roles in movies like Aladdin and Dead Poets Society and found solace in gifs and memes that captured Williams' spirit.

All the world's a stage
Nothing brings people together like sports, and 2014 had one of the biggest athletic events in recent memory. The World Cup in Brazil had its fair share of unforgettable moments and had everyone glued to their TVs and mobile devices all summer. From Luis Suarez's bite heard around the world, to Tim Howard's superman performance vs. Belgium, to Germany's incredible run to their fourth title, the competition certainly lived up to its reputation and topped the charts.

While sports brought people together, so did a good cause. This year, awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, reached an all-time high around the world due to the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. As celebrities and everyday people alike braved a bucket of ice cold water for a cause, donations to help find a cure for the illness hit almost $100 million.

Into the unknown
How could a plane just vanish into thin air? In the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, that question propelled the mystery to the global trends charts. As the investigation continued on the ground and online, people stayed hopeful for a happy ending despite the dim odds: searches for "mh370 found" outnumbered searches for "mh370 lost."

Here's the full list of our top 10 global trending searches:

You can find more on these top searches and more at google.com/2014


Explore the stories from the year, one chapter at a time
On our Year in Search site, you can take an in-depth look at the stories that made 2014 unforgettable. From the rise of the selfie, to understanding if we search for "how" more than "why," each chapter shares a glimpse into the people and events that drove this year forward.

We've also made it easier to find the trending topics of the year directly from Google Search. For the first time, a simple search for [google 2014] will give you a peek at what made the top trending lists from around the world. And you can follow more insights from the year with #YearInSearch. So take a moment to appreciate what this year had to offer. It'll be 2015 before you know it.

Posted by +Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President, Search

16 Dec 2014 8:00am GMT

12 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

Through the Google lens: search trends December 6-11

From The Colbert Report to astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, here's a look at this week's search stars.

The presidency is just my day job
Being the President of the United State is no easy task, but Barack Obama may have just faced his toughest test yet...a seat on The Colbert Report. This is the Commander-in-Chief's third time on the show, but it's still no cakewalk with every topic up for grabs-including Obama's less than ideal approval ratings and his graying hair. Obama proved himself up for the challenge, though, kicking Colbert off his segment and making it his own.

Not only does Obama moonlight as a comedian-it turns out he can also code. At a White House event with 30 middle school students, the President kicked off Hour of Code, a program that encourages young people to develop their computer and software programming skills. With a little help from one of the kids, Obama wrote a single line of JavaScript, "moveForward(100)," to move the tutorial's character 100 pixels to the right, and in the process becoming the first U.S. president to write a computer program.

Winners and losers
Competition on The Voice is heating up; the three finalists were revealed this week. But there's a twist in the show's seventh season: to spice things up, its creators introduced a new wildcard spot, bringing the total number of potential finalists to four. Now the nine remaining contestants who didn't make it to the top three will duke it out for that fourth spot and a shot at singing glory.

While The Voice contestants still have a chance to take home the grand prize, other stars were left out in the cold this week when the Golden Globe nominations included several snubs. Names left off the selection sheet were Angelina Jolie and her upcoming film Unbroken, Christopher Nolan and his much-hyped Interstellar, and Bradley Cooper, who gained 40 pounds to portray Chris Kyle in the biopic film American Sniper. Oh well-there's still the Oscars. Meanwhile, movies Birdman and Boyhood snapped up seven and five nominations, respectively-and the TV category is staying interesting with nods for several Netflix original series, Amazon's first appearance with Transparent, and two surprise nominations for the CW's quirky Jane the Virgin.

The sky above
This week, searchers spent a good chunk of their time looking up. The weather was top of mind as the Pineapple Express-no, not the film-hit the San Francisco Bay Area, causing flooding and power outages. The phenomenon gets its name from its origins in the waters near Hawaii, a.k.a. the Pineapple State, where it develops before heading towards the U.S Pacific Coast.

Even for those of us trapped indoors, searchers got a chance to look at the stars...on our homepage at least. Searchers looked for more information about astronomer Annie Jump Cannon after a Google doodle marked her 151st birthday. Cannon-who was deaf for most of her adult life, and often overshadowed by her colleague Edward C. Pickering-was instrumental in the development of the Harvard Classification system, which categorizes stars by their temperature (whether or not they were nominated for a Golden Globe).


Tip of the week
Need to find something in the apps on your Android phone? Now you can ask your Google app for help-even if it's in another app. Just say "Ok Google" and then "search YouTube for holiday decorating ideas" or "search Tumblr for Taylor Swift" and jump straight to those results within the other app (if you have it installed).

And come back next week for Google's Year in Search-a review of the people, moments, and events that captured the world's attention.

Posted by Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched for [comedian-in-chief] and [team adam].

12 Dec 2014 9:53pm GMT

10 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

Android dress code: wear what you want

Deciding what to wear is a really personal thing-it's one of the ways you show people what you're about. Wearable technology is no different, so Android Wear offers a wide selection of apps and watches to suit your taste. It's about expressing who you are, however you want, right on your wrist.

Today there's even more ways to show your style with Android Wear, including dozens of new watch faces (powered by an official Watch Face API), a full collection of devices on Google Play, and lots of other improvements based on your feedback. So try 'em on for size, and let us know what you think.

Watch faces for whatever you're into
Starting today you can download watch faces from Google Play, just like you do with apps. We've got dozens of examples to get you started-from the unpredictable Minions in Despicable Me to the X-Ray artistry of Hugh Turvey. And because the new Watch Face API is available to all developers, you can expect even more choices in the weeks and months ahead.

We've also updated the Android Wear app on your phone to make browsing, downloading, and switching watch faces really easy. So pick the one you like the best, or pick a new one every day.

(Both updates are rolling out over the next week, so don't worry if you don't see them yet.)



Examples of Android Wear watch faces


A family of watches to choose from
In only a few short months, the Android Wear collection has grown to include six unique watches-the ASUS ZenWatch, the LG G Watch, the LG G Watch R, the Moto 360, the Samsung Gear Live, and the Sony SmartWatch 3. Some are circular, others are square. Some are traditional, others are sporty. And that's exactly the point. With different shapes and styles, it's really easy to make your watch your own.

So by all means: wear what you want.

Posted by David Singleton, Director of Engineering, Android Wear

10 Dec 2014 5:59pm GMT

09 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

#YouTubeRewind 2014: Celebrating what you created, watched and shared

2014 was chock full of YouTube moments that vaulted into pop culture. We got pranked by a spider dog in Poland, learned what it's like to walk the street for 10 hours as a woman in NYC, and watched total strangers share a first kiss. We laughed, we cried, and yes, we sang along to "Let It Go" roughly a bajillion times.

In celebration of the people, memes and moments that made up an epic year, more than 100 YouTube creators gathered together for our annual Rewind video: a giant, global mashup looking back at the best of 2014 on YouTube. With creators from Japan, Germany, Israel, Mexico, France and beyond, it's the biggest and most international Rewind video yet.


And here are the top trending videos for 2014, based on views, shares, comments, likes and more. This year, the list represents the amazing variety of creativity brought to YouTube each day, which can include social commentaries, pranks, advertisements, and thrilling moments from traditional media and big names on YouTube. Collectively these 10 videos have hundreds of millions of views from creators, with more than 21 million cumulative subscribers.

1. Mutant Giant Spider Dog (SA Wardega) by SA Wardega
2. Nike Football: Winner Stays. ft. Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Rooney, Ibrahimović, Iniesta & more by Nike Football
3. FIRST KISS by Tatia PIlieva
4. The Voice IT | Serie 2 | Blind 2 | Suor Cristina Scuccia - #TEAMJ-AX by TheVoiceOf Italy
5. iPhone 6 Plus Bend Test by Unbox Therapy
6. Bars & Melody - Simon Cowell's Golden Buzzer act | Britain's Got Talent 2014 by Britain's Got Talent
7. Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial -- "Puppy Love" by Budweiser
8. Devil Baby Attack by DevilsDueNYC
9. Goku vs Superman. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 3. by ERB
10. 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman by Street HarassmentVideo

When it comes to music, it was a year of powerful female artists, as you can see from our list of top music videos: Women artists took eight of the top 10 spots (Shakira took two!). 2014's top 10 music videos were collectively played billions of times from channels with 55+ million subscribers.

1. Katy Perry - Dark Horse (Official) ft. Juicy J
2. Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (Español) ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente De Zona
3. Shakira - Can't Remember to Forget You ft. Rihanna
4. Shakira - La La La (Brazil 2014) ft. Carlinhos Brown
5. Jason Derulo - "Wiggle" feat. Snoop Dogg (Official HD Music Video)
6. Iggy Azalea - Fancy (Explicit) ft. Charli XCX
7. Sia - Chandelier (Official Video)
8. Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
9. Meghan Trainor - All About That Bass
10. Nicki Minaj - Anaconda
...and check out even more top music videos.

Check out our YouTube Rewind channel for more top videos of the year from around the world, and our YouTube Brand channel to see a mashup of the top branded videos of the year and a list of the top ads on YouTube for the year. You can also visit google.com/2014 next week for Google's annual look at the people, places and events that captured the world's attention.

Posted by Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture & Trends

09 Dec 2014 6:00pm GMT

05 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

Through the Google lens: search trends November 28-December 5

The end of the year is almost upon us, but just like the rest of your life, search isn't slowing down. Here's a look at what was trending this week on Google:

Signs of the season
Now that the turkey's been carved, and even the leftovers have been gobbled (pun intended) up in the form of sandwiches and soup, the holiday season is officially underway. People shopped Cyber Monday sales, and others were excited to learn that USPS would be delivering packages seven days a week in some cities.

Plus, holiday movies and songs are trending as people get into the spirit. And even if you didn't watch Love Actually (for the 14th time) this week, chances are you heard a peep of Mariah Carey's now-classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You," which the singer performed live at Rockefeller Center's tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday. Unfortunately, Mimi missed a few notes, leading searches for her to spike as a result.

Citizens speak out
On Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, who died in July after being placed in a choke hold. Across the country, people spoke out and demonstrated against the decision, which came just days after nationwide riots and protests about what happened in Ferguson, Mo.

Digital dough
Good news for Thin Mint fans: you no longer have to wait with bated breath for the day your co-worker shows up with an order form, or for that card table stacked with colorful boxes to show up outside your grocery store. Girl Scout Cookies have gone digital. Scouts will have personal cookie webpages where people can place orders online; the idea is that girls will learn more about online marketing and e-commerce while satisfying the sweet teeth of the rest of us. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "Internet cookies."

Astronomical views
If you weren't at the mall last weekend, then chances are you were on YouTube, watching the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The first teaser for the J.J. Abrams-helmed "Episode 7" has racked up tens of millions of views since it came out a week ago and people are saying it could become the most viewed trailer ever. Fans have intensely scrutinized and discussed each one of the trailer's 88 seconds in detail; and there are already spoofs and recreations galore, including Wes Anderson and LEGO versions. The movie won't be out until December 2015, so you have plenty of time to build your crossguard lightsaber for the premiere.

But even after two years, there's no video in the YouTube galaxy that's quite like "Gangnam Style." It's the first video to ever get more than 2 billion views, and this week, its view count crossed 2,147,483,647. That happens to be the highest number that can be represented by a 32-bit integer, and also-until recently-the highest number that the YouTube view counter could display. Luckily, our friends at YouTube saw this one coming: They upgraded the view counter to use a 64-bit integer, capable of representing numbers up to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Yup, that's 9 quintillion. Consider this gauntlet thrown.

Tip of the week
Between holiday parties, gift shopping and the end-of-year scramble at work, it's no wonder some errands start to slip your mind. Let Google help keep track-just say "Ok Google, remind me to pick up ribbon when I'm at Target" or "Ok Google, remind me to chill the champagne when I get home" to get a reminder.

Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [sweet tooth plural] and [what was the name of the monkey in aladdin]

05 Dec 2014 11:41pm GMT

02 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

This year the holidays are Made with Code

Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog

Carol-singing, hot chocolate, latkes and ice skating are all things that get us into the spirit of the holidays. But now there's a new way to deck the halls: with code.

Earlier this year, we introduced a program called Made with Code to inspire millions of girls to try coding, and help them understand the creative things they can do with computer science. Starting today on madewithcode.com, girls can use the introductory programming language Blockly to animate the lights of the state and territory trees that will decorate President's Park, one of America's 401 national parks and home to the White House, through the holiday season.

The programmed lights will debut at the 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, which will be livestreamed by the White House on Thursday and air on PBS nationally throughout December in partnership with the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. The tradition of the tree lighting ceremony dates back to 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge lit the first fir tree outside the White House, and this is the first year kids from across the country will be in control of the state and territory holiday tree lights!


As the mom of two girls, I know that technology is a pathway for their future success. Still, even as coding becomes more important, less than 1% of high school girls say they're interested in pursuing computer sciences in college. But I'm also an engineer, so I've seen firsthand how exciting CS can be. I fell in love with code early-my dad was an engineer and he encouraged me to enter a programming competition in the seventh grade. I gave it a shot, and I've never looked back. Ever since that day, I've known that when I program something, I'm creating something totally new for the world.

That's what Made with Code is about: discovering that creating something new and exciting-whether it's a holiday tree, a video game or a driverless car-can be accomplished with the power of code.

But it's also about building an ecosystem of support for girls through parents and teachers, and to show girls other women who are using CS to achieve their dreams. This challenge also kicks off Google's commitment to CSEdWeek, a week dedicated to inspiring students to get interested in computer science that's become one of the biggest education initiatives online. Over the coming week, thousands of Googlers will join the hour of code, and announce a few other special projects that we will fund through the holiday season and coming year.

I'm heading to Washington, D.C. this week to be a part of the ceremony, and I'm looking forward to watching the designs from girls across the country lighting up the nation's capital-and inspiring my daughters and so many others with the power of code.

Posted by Pavni Diwanji, Vice President, Engineering

02 Dec 2014 3:03pm GMT

01 Dec 2014

feedThe Official Google Blog

Race with Rudolph and skydive with Santa in the countdown to December 24

December may mean snow days in Denver, Colo. or beach days in Sydney, Australia, but in Santa's Village, it means the countdown to Santa's big night. Starting today, the elves are back on the clock in the North Pole-and throughout the month of December, you can join the elves as they unlock a new project or game each day in preparation for Santa's annual journey around the world.

The elves have a busy month ahead of them-the reindeers need training and the presents need packing. They're studying up on Santa's upcoming stops with candy cane cartography, holiday tradition tests, and even jolly JavaScript courses.

Throughout the holiday celebration, our own developer elves here at Google have also been hard at work getting the sleigh tracking algorithm ready for prime time. They've been adding finishing touches to the Santa Tracker App for Android so Santa's just a tap away on phones, tablets, and TVs. The developer elves have been busy, so check out the chrome extension and keep a watch out for Santa surprises throughout the month.

Whether you're wearing snow goggles or sunnies this December, come back to
www.google.com/santatracker each day to join in on present parachute practice and reindeer races, or to send a call to friends from Santa. There's only 23 days to go, so follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter in the countdown to #tracksanta!

Mappy holidays!

Posted by Sandy Russell, Santa Launch Strategist

01 Dec 2014 6:00pm GMT

01 Nov 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Grow a moustache and fight cancer!

For my next 30 day challenge, I'll be growing a mustache to raise awareness and money for men's health issues, and specifically prostate cancer research. Men of search and SEO, please join our team. You can raise awareness, or raise cash. And it's super simple: just don't shave your moustache for 30 days. The name [...]

01 Nov 2011 6:16pm GMT

31 Oct 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Halloween costume: stickman from xkcd

For Halloween this year I asked people on Google+ what I should be for Halloween, and someone suggested going as the blackhat stick man from xkcd. You know, this guy: That sounded like a good challenge. I finished the costume and taped a video, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time to get the video [...]

31 Oct 2011 5:16pm GMT

24 Oct 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Halloween Pumpkin: Portal Turret!

I made a Portal turret for my Halloween pumpkin! I was trying to think of things to carve: vampire Android? R2-D2? Zoidberg? Then I thought: I could do a character from Portal 2! I was going to carve something like GLaDOS or Wheatley, but then I realized that a portal turret would be perfect: To [...]

24 Oct 2011 3:26pm GMT

02 Oct 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

New 30 day challenge: going vegan!

Okay, I'm starting up a new 30 day challenge: I'm going to eat vegan for the next 30 days. That means no meat, dairy, or eggs. I'm curious to see how it will go.

02 Oct 2011 5:58am GMT

20 Sep 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

What cool new websearch ideas should Google launch in 2012?

Even though this year is nowhere near finished, a lot of people at Google are already thinking about things to launch next year. So I wanted to put the question out: what cool things would you like to see Google launch in 2012? For example, in 2011, we launched hundreds of search quality changes that [...]

20 Sep 2011 2:40pm GMT

Busy few weeks

I've been out of town (hiking in Yosemite and traveling to the East Coast) for two out of the last three weeks, so things are a bit crazy. Besides the usual email overload, there's a project at work-not related to webspam-that will need some attention for the next 4-5 weeks. I'm triaging email as best [...]

20 Sep 2011 1:55pm GMT

26 Aug 2011

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

The Emperor's Garden

The Emperor instructed the gardener to set up the new court's garden. "I want you to plant five trees growing the Crataan fruit," the Emperor said, "Because we asked people what fruit they like best, and most named the Crataan fruit!" The gardener replied, "Emperor, that is excellent thinking! But let me make some suggestions: First, how about we make one of the five trees bear the Muran fruit. Only one out of ten citizens loves it, but those peculiar citizens tend to love multiple times as much!" "Second," the gardener continued, "How about we make one of the five trees bear the Dratean fruit. No one loves it, but that's because no one knows it yet!" "Third," the gardener said, "How about we leave one spot in the garden empty. Who knows what new type of tree we'll discover that we can put there in the fut ...

26 Aug 2011 12:12pm GMT

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Traveling for a week

For the next week or so, I'm going to be hiking in the back country of Yosemite. That's assuming that my legs hold up: after finishing the San Francisco Marathon at the end of July, my knees and ankles have been a little creaky recently. I've been trying to get my email under control in [...]

26 Aug 2011 6:15am GMT

15 Aug 2011

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

Color Sound Machine (and what else I've been doing lately)

For those of you who've been wondering whether I had turned to stone, fallen into a bottomless pit, or been climbing the Himalaya... no, none of that is true, even though you probably did notice I'm not actively blogging about Google here anymore*! Just now, a new iPad app I've been working on called Color Sound Machine went live, and this -- and all the other apps and games at Versus Pad** -- are actually what I am doing while not blogoscoping. *I've drafted unpublished posts explaining much more about past, present and future of Blogoscoped, and the history of Google news reporting, but ... oh, for now le ...

15 Aug 2011 4:00pm GMT

11 Jul 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Submit video topics for mid-2011

This submission round is now closed-thanks! Sometime soon I'm planning to record some new webmaster videos. I created a Google Moderator page where you can post video suggestions and vote topics up and down. Instead of short 1-2 minute video answers to quick questions, I'd like to try something new this time. I'd like to [...]

11 Jul 2011 10:21pm GMT

27 Jun 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Good Books for Summer Reading?

It's summertime, so I'm looking for a bunch of fun books to read. I just ordered two books by John Scalzi (Fuzzy Nation and The God Engines), two books by Dean Karnazes because I'm training to run a marathon (Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss and Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner), plus [...]

27 Jun 2011 3:54pm GMT

23 Jun 2011

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Goal: getting email under control

Each year I try to settle on a small set of big goals for the year. Last year my big goal was to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. This year, I settled on 2-3 goals I wanted to achieve: 1. Go skydiving. I was with a group of ~15 people in January and we realized that no [...]

23 Jun 2011 7:08am GMT

25 Feb 2011

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

Google drops reverse phone number lookup

One of the earliest specialist services provided by Google was reverse phone number lookup. If you used the "phonebook:" or "rphonebook:" operators together with a 10-digit US phone number, Google would show you the owner of that phone number, unless the number was unlisted. Google no longer provides that service. Not surprisingly, there was no press release marking the closure, but Google employee Daniel Russell has acknowledged the closure of the service in his blog. He hints at the possible pressures leading to the shuttering of the service: "As you can imagine, this was an endless source of hassles for people (who were surprised to see themselves searchable on Google) and for Google (who had to constantly de ...

25 Feb 2011 11:23am GMT

16 Dec 2010

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

Idea: Topical Chat

This website would take the top headlines from a tech or political site for that day -- at first just from Reddit (you gotta start somewhere), but later, from other sites too, in aggregated form, similar to Techmeme, but across different topics you can navigate to from the frontpage (entertainment, politics, technology etc.). It would present them in some sort of list of headlines with a link to the discussion source. Below every headline on the frontpage there's an expandable chat box window. You log-in once into the site and then you can expand any one of these chat boxes, and see who's in there, and read the chat log, and join yourself with remarks by typing them in a box, similar to IRC and others. The chat wouldn't be a replacement of the discussion going on at the other site, but an addition to it. One benefit: a discus ...

16 Dec 2010 2:55pm GMT

Idea: CrowdChat

Two groups have a text chat using a web interface, arguing about a certain topic. For Group B to reply to what Group A says, each member of Group B proposes a sentence. Then, each member of Group B quickly votes on which sentence of another member of their group they like best. (You don't have to propose a sentence, and you don't have to vote on one; both proposing a sentence as well as voting on one are time-limited to just a certain amount of seconds, though.) Then, the highest-voted sentence will be shown to Crowd A as answer. Crowd A now goes through the same process to formulate a reply directed at Crowd B, and so on. To join, you can pick any of the two crowds based on reading the chat log, provided this group hasn't reach its limit of X members (beyond just group size that limit may also depend on how active current me ...

16 Dec 2010 7:26am GMT

Google Body Browser

If you're using the Google Chrome developer channel (or Firefox 4 Beta) have a look at the new Body Browser to explore a body in 3D. [Via Google OS.]

16 Dec 2010 2:17am GMT

10 Dec 2010

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Pictures of the Cr-48

MBegin in the forum writes: I ran home for lunch today and was VERY pleasantly surprised to find a Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook at my doorstep!! -Thanks Google! I took a few quick pics and I'll post more about my experiences later... Feel free to bug MBegin with questions in this post's comments, just in case he finds time to get around answering them!

10 Dec 2010 5:23am GMT

09 Dec 2010

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Chromedroidpad

Using open source technologies from Google, could someone create a tablet that would let you add both Chrome Web Store apps/ web apps in general, as well as Android Market place apps, and you as user wouldn't even need to bother much about which comes from where as you'd only see a single merged Store, and apps would all be added to a nice homescreen with icons like on the iPad, and apps would always open full-screen no matter if the app maker made it that way or not, and Flash would work too? And would anyone want that thing?

09 Dec 2010 12:40pm GMT

08 Dec 2010

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Device Evolution

Watching evolution is fun, especially when it happens right around you, and happens so fast. A mutation we saw yesterday was a new animal scientists gave the name "Chrome OS Notebook", but it's surrounded by other smart animals of all kinds and shapes. What do they fight for? Their nature are our offices, living rooms, cafes and parks; their food are our individual interests. Computing devices: the more we have, the less we notice them. Sneaky things, changing the color of their skin on different backgrounds... we don't even know they're computers anymore! The sneakier they fade in, the more likely they'll hunt down our interest when it appears. You're in your room, and you just had the idea of going to a cafe to read a newspaper, and perhaps chat with some friends. You can now hear small leafs crack, the surroundin ...

08 Dec 2010 5:17am GMT

17 Nov 2010

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How to Disable Google Instant Previews

If you find Google's Instant Previews feature as useless as I do -- you know, those images popping up near search results, often similarly unwanted (when triggered by a wrong click) as Snap site previews -- maybe this User script is for you. I use several machines and browsers, though, so always installing add-ons when Google rolls out something unwanted is suboptimal in the long run (opening links in a new window is something else I don't like, for instance, and whenever I disable it -- even if I would do so across browsers and machines -- it'll come back the next time I empty my cache, because Google thinks that's best for people located in China; another feature which I practically never use is the left-hand side bar... perhaps one day we'll need a Simple Google add-on to get r ...

17 Nov 2010 3:08am GMT

16 Nov 2010

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Google's Newest Q&A Service: "baraza"

Google's newest Question and Answer service is Google baraza beta, launched on 25 October 2010. Baraza is offered in English and French, although Google's links to the French questions aren't working for me. Baraza operates on a Points basis. You get 20 points for signing up, and 4 points each day you log in. If you are already logged into your Google account, there isn't actually any signup process. Your name and photo from your Google profile are automatically used, although you can change your username and avatar if you like. Asking a question costs 5 points, and you earn 5 points for choosing a "best answer" for your question, so you can use the service on an ongoing ...

16 Nov 2010 4:20am GMT

15 Nov 2010

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Taped an iPhone to my remote-controlled car and hit the Record button

15 Nov 2010 8:26am GMT

12 Nov 2010

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Playable JavaScript app of my new iPad game Knights vs Knightesses (Google Chrome/ Safari needed)

Here's a fully playable web demo of my new free iPad two-player game Knights vs Knightesses... it runs in Google Chrome and Safari. Note the graphics load much slower than the iPad app because it's online. If you're interested, the full source is viewable. It's all JavaScript because I'm using the PhoneGap wrapper for this one.

12 Nov 2010 7:00am GMT

04 Nov 2010

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Which of your websites, deleted or lost years ago (or on a backup in a box you can't seem to find), would you most like to get back?

The release of a massive but not complete Geocities archive made me wonder about all the past stuff we probably can't recover anymore (and the usage of stylesheets over time makes design changes so easy that they're also easily undocumented) -- so my question: Which of your lost websites would you most love to get back?

04 Nov 2010 2:58am GMT

24 Oct 2010

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See a Random Street View Location

Click the MapCrunch Go button and you'll be transported to a random (Google Street View covered) place in the world. [Via Reddit.]

24 Oct 2010 6:42am GMT