28 May 2020

feedThe Official Google Blog

A live magazine pops up in your home, wherever you are

For the past several years, Pop-Up Magazine has resurrected extinct flowers, analyzed dreams, ventured into the Darien Gap, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and shared ancient songs from Istanbul's Hagia Sofia-all from the comfort of theaters throughout the United States. Three times a year, the "live magazine" hits the road, featuring storytelling performed onstage by journalists, filmmakers, comedians, photographers and musicians, selling out every venue along the way. At every show, the hosts tell the audience the same thing: "After tonight, the show will disappear. You won't find anything online. We made it just for you."

But in recent months, the team behind the experience has had to rethink what it means to go on tour-and how they might bring their offline show online. Last night, in collaboration with Google, Pop-Up Magazine debuted its first digital show on its YouTube channel, free of charge and available around the world. We caught up with Chas Edwards, Pop-Up Magazine's president and cofounder, to hear about how the team made such an extraordinary pivot.

What happened for your team when the world went on lockdown?

It was a little like telling your soccer team they'd made the Olympics, only they'd be competing in water polo. But the day after CDC guidelines changed our plans to go on tour, our producers filled up a 20-page Google Doc with ideas on how we could show up for our audience while sheltering in place. And because Pop-Up Magazine has always been multimedia-we've paired filmmakers with dancers, radio producers with opera singers, tech journalists with shadow puppets-we are highly adaptable.

Tell us about some of the highlights from this week's show.

We took you inside the COVID ward with a newly minted doctor who skipped her residency to help fight the pandemic and go on tour with a varsity mariachi band from Texas. There's also a transporting moment where scientist Rose Bear Don't Walk enacts a Native American dance, first performed during the pandemic of 1918. Plus tips on taking care of your houseplants, of course.

What was the hardest part about pulling it off?

The quarantine didn't just cancel our tour. It prevents us from getting together in one room to rehearse and collaborate. Our band members, for example, are each playing their parts alone in the respective homes, and we had to figure out how to make them feel like a band in the final product.

Pop-Up Spring-Issue-contributors-gif.gif

Some of the Spring Issue contributors

You have a loyal following. How else have you kept them engaged during quarantine?

In addition to the big spring show, we've been delivering stories to our fans by email, social media and at our YouTube channel. One new project is a weekly series called "Here's How," in which Pop-Up Magazine contributors share their skills. We've had magician and crossword puzzle master David Kwong teaching us how to win at board games and poet Hanif Abdurraqib giving us a new approach to creative writing. We've also been adapting favorite stories from the stage to our new video format, like "Mimi & Brownie," the tale of two 100-year-old best friends who met as nurses during World War II.

Best Friends for 74 Years | Pop-Up Magazine

"Mimi & Brownie," the tale of two 100-year-old best friends who met as nurses during World War II, has been adapted from the stage to a new video format.

How has the pandemic changed how we engage with storytelling?

On the one hand, it robs us of being together: the collective experience of laughing and crying in a dark room with 3,000 other people. And we're eager to get back to that, when the time is right. At the same time, this moment highlights our interconnectedness with people halfway around the world, or who have different jobs from ours, or who live in different circumstances. For many people, the pandemic is creating new and deeper empathy, and a greater curiosity to hear the stories of fellow humans they've never met.

And Pop-Up Magazine is adapting to those changes accordingly, it seems.

Our job, as we see it, is to find amazing stories you've never heard, craft them in ways you'll never forget, and hopefully change how we all see the world. Media formats and delivery channels evolve to fit the times, but our fundamental work remains the same.

What did Pop-Up Magazine do to collaborate with Google?

Google and Pop-Up Magazine have been working together for several years. For this show, Google wanted to celebrate parents and teachers who are trying to keep education moving forward while traditional classrooms have been shut down. One part of the collaboration features Tabatha Rosproy, 2020's National Teacher of the Year, who shared some encouraging words for all us beleaguered parents attempting to teach our kids this semester. We also used Google Meet to recreate the experience that normally happens after Pop-Up Magazine shows in the theater lobbies: a chance to meet the contributors and producers and learn how their stories came to be.

The Spring Issue: At Home After Party | Pop-Up Magazine

Pop-Up used Google Meet for The Spring Issue: At Home After Party, a chance to meet the contributors and producers and learn how their stories came to be.

Why is supporting teachers like Tabatha Rosproy important to the Pop-Up Magazine community?

In the past few months, many of us have gained a new appreciation for the work of teachers, as we all try pinch hitting for them. They make it look easy, especially when compared to us amateurs! We're overwhelmed with gratitude and delighted that we can be a part of celebrating the essential workers at the frontlines of education.

Can you tell us about your own favorite teacher?

Mr. Chemerka, my tenth grade history teacher, used to dress up in period garb a few times a year. Never as presidents or generals or famous activists, just as common people from earlier eras. He never took sick days, but he missed school a few times to play extras in Civil War movies.

Lastly, we have to know. What's your favorite Pop-Up Magazine story that has ever been told?

That's like asking me which of my daughters is my favorite!

28 May 2020 5:00pm GMT

Responding to the European Commission’s AI white paper

In January, our CEO Sundar Pichai visited Brussels to talk about artificial intelligence and how Google could help people and businesses succeed in the digital age through partnership. Much has changed since then due to COVID-19, but one thing hasn't-our commitment to the potential of partnership with Europe on AI, especially to tackle the pandemic and help people and the economy recover.

As part of that effort, we earlier today filed our response to the European Commission's Consultation on Artificial Intelligence, giving our feedback on the Commission's initial proposal for how to regulate and accelerate the adoption of AI.

Excellence, skills, trust

Our filing applauds the Commission's focus on building out the European "ecosystem of excellence." European universities already boast renowned leaders in dozens of areas of AI research-Google partners with some of them via our machine learning research hubs in Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and London-and many of their students go on to make important contributions to European businesses.

We support the Commission's plans to help businesses develop the AI skills they need to thrive in the new digital economy. Next month, we'll contribute to those efforts by extending our machine learning check-up tool to 11 European countries to help small businesses implement AI and grow their businesses. Google Cloud already works closely with scores of businesses across Europe to help them innovate using AI.

We also support the Commission's goal of building a framework for AI innovation that will create trust and guide ethical development and use of this widely applicable technology. We appreciate the Commission's proportionate, risk-based approach. It's important that AI applications in sensitive fields-such as medicine or transportation-are held to the appropriate standards.

Based on our experience working with AI, we also offered a couple of suggestions for making future regulation more effective. We want to be a helpful and engaged partner to policymakers, and we have provided more details in our formal response to the consultation.

Definition of high-risk AI applications

AI has a broad range of current and future applications, including some that involve significant benefits and risks. We think any future regulation would benefit from a more carefully nuanced definition of "high-risk" applications of AI. We agree that some uses warrant extra scrutiny and safeguards to address genuine and complex challenges around safety, fairness, explainability, accountability, and human interactions.

Assessment of AI applications

When thinking about how to assess high-risk AI applications, it's important to strike a balance. While AI won't always be perfect, it has great potential to help us improve over the performance of existing systems and processes. But the development process for AI must give people confidence that the AI system they're using is reliable and safe. That's especially true for applications like new medical diagnostic techniques, which potentially allow skilled medical practitioners to offer more accurate diagnoses, earlier interventions, and better patient outcomes. But the requirements need to be proportionate to the risk, and shouldn't unduly limit innovation, adoption, and impact.

This is not an easy needle to thread. The Commission's proposal suggests "ex ante" assessment of AI applications (i.e., upfront assessment, based on forecasted rather than actual use cases). Our contribution recommends having established due diligence and regulatory review processes expand to include the assessment of AI applications. This would avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and likely speed up implementation.

For the (probably) rare instances when high-risk applications of AI are not obviously covered by existing regulations, we would encourage clear guidance on the "due diligence" criteria companies should use in their development processes. This would enable robust upfront self-assessment and documentation of any risks and their mitigations, and could also include further scrutiny after launch.

This approach would give European citizens confidence about the trustworthiness of AI applications, while also fostering innovation across the region. And it would encourage companies-especially smaller ones-to launch a range of valuable new services.

Principles and process

Responsible development of AI presents new challenges and critical questions for all of us. In 2018 we published our own AI Principles to help guide our ethical development and use of AI, and also established internal review processes to help us avoid bias, test rigorously for safety, design with privacy top of mind. Our principles also specify areas where we will not design or deploy AI, such as to support mass surveillance or violate human rights. Look out for an update on our work around these principles in the coming weeks.

AI is an important part of Google's business and our aspirations for the future. We share a common goal with policymakers-a desire to build trust in AI through responsible innovation and thoughtful regulation, so that European citizens can safely enjoy the full social and economic benefits of AI. We hope that our contribution to the consultation is useful, and we look forward to participating in the discussion in coming months.

28 May 2020 4:00pm GMT

No address? No problem. Share your location using Plus Codes

For many of us, it's easy to take addresses for granted. We order products online, and they show up at our doorstep. In an emergency, we give our address to an ambulance or fire truck, and they quickly get to us. But what happens when you don't have an address and you need to direct someone to your current location?

More than 2 billion people on the planet-about 25 percent of us or more -either don't have an address or have an address that isn't easy to locate. To tackle this challenge, we launched Plus Codes in 2015. Plus Codes are simple, easy to use digital addresses derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. They can be used to uniquely identify any location, from a rural home out on a prairie to a small shop stall on a nameless street.

Today we've made it easier for anyone with an Android device to share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. People who use Google Maps might be familiar with the blue dot that represents their current location. Simply tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code for your current location that can be shared with others as easily as giving them a phone number.

Tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code

Plus Codes: free, digital address for anywhere

A Plus Code is a simple alphanumeric code which can be combined with a locality (for example: FWM8+V9, Ibadan, Nigeria). They look like a regular address, but with a short code where a street name or number would be. Beyond using the blue dot, you can also find the Plus Code for a location by tapping and holding the map to drop a pin at a location you want a Plus Code for.

Plus Codes are searchable on Google Maps and even Google Search, meaning everywhere on the planet can now be uniquely identified.

These digital location identifiers are free to use, available offline and can be printed on paper, posters and signs. The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case.

About Plus Codes

A helpful tool for emergency and crisis situations

Plus Codes can be especially helpful for people and organizations in emergency and crisis response scenarios. If you've ever been in an emergency, you know that being able to share your location for help to easily find you is critical. Yet in many places in the world, organizations struggle with this challenge on a daily basis.

With Plus Codes, not only can people share their location quickly even without an address, but they can now do so by simply opening up Google Maps and tapping on the blue dot to view, copy and share their Plus Code location. A Plus Code can then be entered into Google Maps to help locate and navigate to that location.

Digital locations through Plus Codes means that everywhere now has an easily identifiable location, saving time and getting resources there when it really matters. Not having an address should no longer be a barrier to easily sharing your location with service providers, guiding them to you when you most need them.

Download the latest version of the Google Maps Android app over the coming weeks to try out the new update.

28 May 2020 4:00pm GMT

Learn and play together as a family with Chromebook

The last few months have been an adventure for a lot of families like mine that are juggling work, parenting, and school at home. Our family Chromebook has been a huge help. Between video calls with teachers and classmates, virtual "field trips" to the zoo, moviemaking, and book publishing (and that's just the last week!), my kids are spending more time online. With that comes some challenges, and I know I'm not alone. A lot of parents are looking for better tools to help them manage and guide their kids' time spent online.

We hope our new Chrome OS update can help. This update brings two new improvements to Family Link on Chromebook: access to Chrome Web store extensions for kids and per-app time limits for Google Play apps. Family Link is an app that helps parents set digital ground rules and manage screen time across kids' Android phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. Parents can use the Family Link app from their phone to set restrictions on which websites their kids can visit, set device time limits, and approve and install apps from the Google Play Store for their child's account.

Access to thousands of useful extensions

Now, parents can let their children personalize Chrome with thousands of free extensions and themes from theChrome Web Store and be more productive with tools like Zoom and Screencastify. To approve extensions, parents just need to enter their password on the supervised Chromebook.

Parents can now approve extensions from the Chrome Web Store for their kids.

Healthy guardrails for apps on Chromebook

With the latest update, parents can also set per-app time limits for Play Store apps to manage their child's screen time on Chromebooks. This Family Link improvement gives parents more precise control over their kids' app usage, so kids can strike the right balance of time on educational apps like Khan Academy Kids and games like Roblox.


Kids will receive notifications related to per-app time limits set by parents.

Getting started

If you're new to using Family Link on Chromebook, download the app from the Google Play Store and check out this article on our Help Center for set-up instructions.

Here are some other tips for using Chromebook as a family:

  • Visit the revamped "Kids" tab on the Google Play Store to find teacher-approved apps for learning and entertainment.

  • Visit Teach from Home for resources on teaching and learning at home, and more information about the Google for Education tools your kid may be using in school.

  • Help your kid learn the fundamentals of digital citizenship and online safety with Google's Be Internet Awesome family resources and the Interland game.

  • Turn on Digital Wellbeing settings, like Night Light, which changes Chromebook's screen temperature to reduce blue light at night.

We'll be back soon with another highlight reel of recent improvements to Chromebook.

28 May 2020 3:00pm GMT

Ideas from our experts on fighting screen fatigue

I'm a big advocate of stepping away from my laptop and phone after work (I've even beenthatperson who brags about their low screen time stats). But unsurprisingly, those numbers aren't quite so low these days. Between working remotely, video calling my friends and family, scanning social media and the news, live-streaming fitness classes and definitely spending more time than usual binge-watching my favorite shows, my screen time is way, way (way) up. Sometimes, I'm relieved that I'm still able to do so much with my phone or laptop. Other times, I can't help but feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

The reality is that technology is critical. But in trying to find a new sense of balance (or any balance at all), there are a few things we can do to alleviate some of these growing pains. And while I'm not a digital wellbeing expert, I'm lucky to work with a few. I asked some of Google's experts if they had any advice for me and others who are looking to use technology a little more intentionally. Here's what they suggested.

Use your voice.

To avoid getting pulled into your phone, you can use your voice to ask Google Assistant for help completing actions, like setting an alarm, sending a text, playing the latest news, getting answers to questions, help finding recipes or ordering takeout and much more. You can also create custom or ready-made Routines to trigger several actions with a single command. For example, when I say "Hey Google, good morning," Google Assistant turns on my kitchen lights, starts the coffee maker, reads out my calendar and plays the news. - Lilian Rincon, Senior Director of Product Management, Google Assistant

Find active alternatives.

As our days fill up with video calls, try to step away from the screen and add physical activity into your life. Whether you go for a run, a bike ride or a walk during a telephone meeting there are many ways to squeeze movement in. If you have children, you could even exercise with them. As you make progress, use Google Fit to keep track and earn heart points which can help you meet theWorld Health Organization recommendations. That said, don't be discouraged if you fall short. Every little bit of movement adds up and has tremendoushealth benefits including improving mental health and helping you sleep better. - Kapil Parakh MD, MPH, PhD, Medical Lead, Google Fit

Discuss and plan tech use with kids.

If you have kids, chat with them about the content you each prefer and work with them to plan out a schedule for listening, watching, playing and interacting with it. Does the content align with your family's values? Does the experience affect your kids' behavior in ways that help them relax and/or thrive? If not, consider alternatives and discuss your reasoning. Use this guide to get help talking to your kids about finding positive content and other tech topics. - Jennifer Kotler, PhD, UXR Lead, Google Play

Intentionally detach from and reattach to work.

Clearly segmenting work time and non-work time improves one's satisfaction with their wellbeing. Turning off notifications and putting your laptop out of sight reduces the tendency to check work email or hop into a last-minute video meeting. When it's time to get back to work, take a few minutes to think through your goals for that work time before getting started. And create a dedicated workspace to signal to your brain that it's time to focus. - Jessica DiVento, Psy.D., Chief Mental Health Advisor, YouTube

Reduce blue light before bedtime.

Blue light can have a negative impact on our natural sleep cycles by delaying the release of melatonin and increasing our alertness. Putting away screens before bedtime has shown to help people fall asleep easier and sleep better. Start with around 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed, and work your way up to two hours, depending on what works best for you. Try reading a book or listening to an audio program instead so you don't have to engage with a screen. - Alan McLean, Designer, Google Wellbeing Lab

For more digital wellbeing resources, visit wellbeing.google.

28 May 2020 3:00pm GMT

Providing emergency funding for 5,300+ local news organizations

COVID-19 has upended the news industry, hitting local news particularly hard with job losses, furloughs, cutbacks and even closure. To provide some help, last month the Google News Initiative launched the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund. Today we're announcing that more than 5,300 small and medium local newsrooms around the world will receive funding ranging from $5,000 - $30,000. Applications covering a number of publications under one organization will be capped at $85,000. As we await a final funding tally, we expect to spend tens of millions of dollars through the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.

In just two weeks we received more than 12,000 applications from 140 eligible countries, with 90 percent of those applications from newsrooms of less than 26 journalists. We reviewed each application against a set of criteria: publications operating locally, serving a specific geographic community and using the money to continue doing so. More than 300 Googlers joined forces to check the submissions and across the world we held dozens of webinars and office hours to answer questions and guide people through the process.

About 50 percent of the applications didn't meet the publicly established criteria. Reasons varied from not producing core news (i.e., lifestyle or sports news) to employing less than 2 journalists. The goal was to be as inclusive as possible while sticking to the eligibility rules. We still have a small percentage of projects to review but below our teams have provided a snapshot of some of the recipients and how they plan to spend the funding.

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North America:Chris Jansen, Head of U.S. News & Publishing

As we read their stories, we were struck by the number of news organizations in the U.S. and Canada keeping their communities informed with fewer than 10 full-time employees. As small businesses, many applicants are trying to figure out how to keep the lights on, literally and figuratively. They're passionate about providing high-quality journalism, and it's an honor to support them during such a critical point.

  • The Daily Memphian (Memphis, TN, U.S.) will continue to produce 20-30 daily stories focused on issues around COVID-19 and its impact on the poor and on African American communities.

  • Chestnut Hill Local (Northwest Philadelphia, PA, U.S.): will replace their "archaic website" with a new platform to get content online more quickly and more often.

  • The Discourse Cowichan (Canada) serves a rural region on Vancouver Island, B.C., including Cowichan Tribes, the largest First Nation in the region. It will increase reporting capacity to cover the impact of COVID on vulnerable communities.

  • Madison365 (Madison, WI, U.S.) focuses on communities of color in Wisconsin. It will use funds for additional journalists, video content production and server capacity to provide rapid response coverage on issues impacting people of color across the state.

  • WTIP North Shore Community Radio's (Grand Marais, MN, U.S.) emergency response organizations rely on WTIP to broadcast lifesaving information. WTIP will keep its news team employed and on the air, delivering live and local broadcasting throughout the crisis.

Europe, the Middle East, and Africa: Mark Peters, Director, EMEA Partnerships

We received applications from 88 countries, and so far we've offered funding to more than 1550 publishers, each demonstrating the diversity and strength of local communities and the journalists that continue to serve them through the crisis.

  • Mediacités' (France) fact-checking tool "Veracités" has seen a huge increase in questions from local readers but can currently only answer 10 percent of them. The fund will allow them to invest in the tool and answer more peoples' questions.

  • Eco di Bergamo (Italy) Data journalism techniques have helped local communities understand what's happening in the Bergamo area which suffered heavy losses during the crisis. Funding will be used to increase investment in new means of production (video, audio, photo, data) to give readers a deeper more analytical knowledge of what's happening in their territory.

  • Bihoreanul(Romania) intends to provide information necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19, and talk about the consequences of the pandemic to its readers.

  • Rochdale online (UK) will keep their journalists working during the crisis. They'll focus on helping the community understand the latest advice on COVID-19 and promote the work of local businesses, charities and volunteers.

  • Baraka FM (Kenya) will focus on on-air campaigns to encourage listeners to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They'll buy personal protective equipment to keep reporters safe when conducting interviews and give emergency stipends to reporters who've traveled to cover special reports.

Asia Pacific: Rohan Tiwary, Head of Media, News & Entertainment Partnerships, APAC

Asia Pacific has dealt with COVID-19 for longer than any other region-since January, in some places-so we know how urgently this support is needed. When we looked at the more than 2,000 applications, we considered Asia Pacific's enormous diversity-not just across ethnicities, religions and languages, but also in terms of the news landscape. We're supporting more than 800 news organizations in 30 countries and territories, a few examples below.

  • The Murray Pioneer (Australia) will set up two online meeting rooms so they can communicate with remote journalists, local governments and interest groups. Their advertising department will also maintain virtual contact with clients and coordinate campaigns more effectively.

  • Saitama Shimbun (Japan), a 75-year old newspaper covering the Saitama prefecture, plans to detail the impact of the pandemic to preserve a record for future generations.

  • Suara Surabaya (Indonesia) goes beyond being a news portal, allowing readers to submit complaints like a public service hotline and working with stakeholders to find solutions. They will use funding to bridge cash flow impacted by COVID-19.

  • Minnambalam (India), a Tamil language publication from Chennai, will be able to keep their newsroom going, the funding giving them the confidence and financial support needed to carry on with their work.

  • East Mojo (India), a digital-only news organization, plans to allow journalists to go to remote parts of Northern India to shed light on the impact of COVID-19 once the country's lockdown is lifted.

Latin America: Camilo Gomez - Online Partnerships Group Lead, LATAM

The process behind reviewing each of the 2,000+ applications in the region was an opportunity to connect with the amazing journalism and stories that support local communities.

  • Agencia Amazonia(Brazil) will support Project #CoberturaCovid19Amazônia, which investigates the socio-cultural impact of the coronavirus on traditional populations in the Amazon region, giving priority to stories about indigenous, quilombolas and riverside dwellers.

  • El Colombiano (Colombia) will maintain the quality and resources that characterize the journalism of Medellin newspaper (the second most important city in the country).

  • La Discusion (Chile) will help finance an integrated radio-digital platform, developing informative, interpretive and opinion content across a variety of subjects like health, minorities, education, and sports etc that have been affected by COVID-19.

  • El Imparcial (México) will drive their strategic business plan, which includes improving multimedia content, newsroom training and growing their community.

Today's news builds on a number of otherefforts we've recently made in light of the pandemic. The GNI will announce more in the coming weeks and of course continue working to help the industry towards a more sustainable future in an ever increasingly digital world.

28 May 2020 1:00pm GMT

Spot the scam, stop the scammers

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people reported $1.9 billion lost to scams in 2019. Every minute, more than $3,600 disappeared from wallets and bank accounts in response to made-up stories of urgently overdue tax payments, bogus contest winnings, or a smooth-talking online suitor who suddenly needs some gift cards. A high-pressure phone call or exciting message can overcome many people's judgment, especially if they are caught at a vulnerable moment.

As the record-high scam reports keep coming, we're providing support to the Cybercrime Support Network to help people identify scams before they fall victim to them through a new program called Scam Spotter. It simplifies expert advice with three golden rules-remember to refer to these rules when you receive a suspicious phone call or message to figure out if it's a scam:

  • Slow it down: Are they telling you it's urgent? Take your time and ask questions to avoid being rushed into a bad situation.
  • Spot check: Are they claiming to be from a specific institution? Do your own research to double check the details you're getting.
  • Stop! Don't send: Are they asking you to go to the store and get gift cards? If you think a payment feels fishy, it probably is.

Just because COVID-19 has disrupted everyone's life, it doesn't mean the scammers have taken a break. In fact, scammers have exploited the pandemic with alarming speed, taking advantage of fear and uncertainty. More than $40 million in fraud losses have been reported to the FTC related to a myriad of COVID-19 complaints. While the stories are new-invented stimulus packages, phoney charities, romantic interests who now have an uncle in the ICU-the same three golden rules apply equally well:

Scam Free Golden Rules.jpg

While people ages 25-40 are most likely to be scammed, research shows it's seniors who stand to lose the most, with their median losses more than double the average. As one of the architects of the Internet and an executive sponsor of the "Greyglers," an internal group that promotes awareness of age diversity and issues related to age, I feel obligated to try to help my fellow Americans stay safe. It will take a cross-generational effort. Please consider sharing ScamSpotter.org the next time you talk to the seniors in your life. Maybe you can both take the quiz and compare your scores, too.

Scammer Quiz Device.png

If we learn how to spot the bad actors, we can spend our time focusing on those moments that matter. And to the seniors out there, remember: of course the Internet is for us, we invented it!

28 May 2020 10:00am GMT

Learn more about anxiety with a self-assessment on Search

Editor's note: This post is authored by Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of The National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Anxiety disorders affect 48 million adults in the U.S. Anxiety presents itself as a wide range of symptoms, and can be a result of biological factors or triggered by a change in environment or exposure to a stressful event. With COVID-19 introducing new points of stress, communities are seeing a rise in mental health issues and needs. New Census Bureau data released last week shows that a third of Americans are now showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization and we're partnering with Google to provide access to mental health resources. Starting today when people in the U.S. search on Google for information about anxiety, we'll provide access to a clinically-validated questionnaire called the GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7). The GAD-7 will show up in the knowledge panel-the box of information that displays key facts when you search for something-and also has medically-validated information about anxiety, including symptoms and common treatments.

Anxiety self-assessment

This seven-question survey covers many of the same questions a health professional may ask, and your answers are private and secure (Google does not collect or share answers or results from the questionnaire). The GAD-7 helps people understand how their self-reported anxiety symptoms map to anxiety levels of people who completed the same questionnaire. The tool also provides access to resources developed by NAMI so people can learn more and seek help when needed.

Anxiety self-assessment results

The GAD-7 is the third mental health screener available on Google Search. We've previously partnered with Google so that people who search for information on depression and PTSD can access relevant clinically-validated questionnaires that provide more information and links to resources about those conditions. The self-assessments are currently available in the U.S., and Google hopes to make them available in additional countries over time.

Anxiety can show up as a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, and it can take decades for people who first experience symptoms to get treatment. By providing access to authoritative information, and the resources and tools to learn more about anxiety, we hope to empower more people to take action and seek help.

28 May 2020 7:00am GMT

27 May 2020

feedThe Official Google Blog

What's new in Chrome OS

27 May 2020 11:00pm GMT

Updates about government-backed hacking and disinformation

On any given day, Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) is tracking more than 270 targeted or government-backed attacker groups from more than 50 countries. Our team of analysts and security experts is focused on identifying and stopping issues like phishing campaigns, zero-day vulnerabilities and hacking against Google, our products and our users. Today, we're sharing recent findings on government-backed phishing, threats and disinformation, as well as a new bulletin to share information about actions we take against accounts that we attribute to coordinated influence campaigns.

Hacking and phishing attempts

Last month, we sent 1,755 warnings to users whose accounts were targets of government-backed attackers.

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Distribution of the targets of government-backed phishing attempts in April 2020

Generally, 2020 has been dominated by COVID-19. The pandemic has taken center stage in people's everyday lives, in the international news media, and in the world of government-backed hacking. Recently, we shared information on numerous COVID-themed attacks discovered and confirmed by our teams. We continue to see attacks from groups like Charming Kitten on medical and healthcare professionals, including World Health Organization (WHO) employees. And as others have reported, we're seeing a resurgence in COVID-related hacking and phishing attempts from numerous commercial and government-backed attackers.

As one example, we've seen new activity from "hack-for-hire" firms, many based in India, that have been creating Gmail accounts spoofing the WHO. The accounts have largely targeted business leaders in financial services, consulting, and healthcare corporations within numerous countries including, the U.S., Slovenia, Canada, India, Bahrain, Cyprus, and the UK. The lures themselves encourage individuals to sign up for direct notifications from the WHO to stay informed of COVID-19 related announcements, and link to attacker-hosted websites that bear a strong resemblance to the official WHO website. The sites typically feature fake login pages that prompt potential victims to give up their Google account credentials, and occasionally encourage individuals to give up other personal information, such as their phone numbers.

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Example of a spoofed WHO Newsletter sign-up prompt

To help protect users against these kinds of tracks, our Advanced Protection Program (APP) utilizes hardware security keys and provides the strongest protections available against phishing and account hijackings. APP was designed specifically for high-risk accounts.

Coordinated influence operations

Government-backed or state-sponsored groups have different goals in carrying out their attacks: Some are looking to collect intelligence or steal intellectual property; others are targeting dissidents or activists, or attempting to engage in coordinated influence operations and disinformation campaigns. Our products are designed with robust built-in security features, like Gmail protections against phishing and Safe Browsing in Chrome, but we still dedicate significant resources to developing new tools and technology to help identify, track and stop this kind of activity. In addition to our internal investigations, we work with law enforcement, industry partners, and third parties like specialized security firms to assess and share intelligence.

When we find attempts to conduct coordinated influence operations on our platforms, we work with our Trust & Safety teams to swiftly remove such content from our platforms and terminate these actors' accounts. We take steps to prevent possible future attempts by the same actors, and routinely exchange information and share our findings with others in the industry. We've also shared occasional updates about this kind of activity, and today we're introducing a more streamlined way of doing this via a new, quarterly bulletin to share information about actions we take against accounts that we attribute to coordinated influence campaigns (foreign and domestic). Our actions against coordinated influence operations from January, February and March can be found in the Q1 Bulletin.

Since March, we've removed more than a thousand YouTube channels that we believe to be part of a large campaign and that were behaving in a coordinated manner. These channels were mostly uploading spammy, non-political content, but a small subset posted primarily Chinese-language political content similar to the findings of a recent Graphika report. We'll also share additional removal actions from April and May in the Q2 Bulletin.

Our hope is that this new bulletin helps others who are also working to track these groups, such as researchers studying this issue, and we hope these updates can help confirm findings from security firms and others in the industry. We will also continue to share more detailed analysis of vulnerabilities we find, phishing and malware campaigns that we see, and other interesting or noteworthy trends across this space.

27 May 2020 6:00pm GMT

TAG Bulletin: Q1 2020

This bulletin includes coordinated influence operation campaigns terminated on our platforms in Q1 of 2020. It was last updated on May 27, 2020.


We terminated 3 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Iran. The campaign was linked to the Iranian state-sponsored International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) network, and was reproducing IUVM content covering Iran's strikes into Iraq and U.S. policy on oil. We received leads from Graphika that supported us in this investigation.


We terminated 1 advertising account and 82 YouTube channels as part of our actions against a coordinated influence operation linked to Egypt. The campaign was sharing political content in Arabic supportive of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain and critical of Iran and Qatar. We found evidence of this campaign being tied to the digital marketing firm New Waves based in Cairo. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook.


We terminated 3 advertising accounts, 1 AdSense account, and 11 YouTube channels as part of our actions against a coordinated influence operation linked to India. The campaign was sharing messages in English supportive of Qatar. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook.

We banned 1 Play developer and terminated 68 YouTube channels as part of our actions against a coordinated influence operation. The campaign was posting political content in Arabic supportive of Turkey and critical of the UAE and Yemen. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Twitter.

We terminated 1 advertising account, 1 AdSense account, 17 YouTube channels and banned 1 Play developer as part of our actions against a coordinated influence operation linked to Egypt. The campaign was posting political content in Arabic supportive of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain and critical of Iran and Qatar. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Twitter.

We banned 1 Play developer and terminated 78 YouTube channels as part of our actions against a coordinated influence operation linked to Serbia. The domestic campaign was posting pro-Serbian political content. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Twitter.

We terminated 18 YouTube channels as part of our continued investigation into a coordinated influence operation linked to Indonesia. The domestic campaign was targeting the Indonesian provinces Papua and West Papua with messaging in opposition to the Free Papua Movement. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Twitter.

27 May 2020 6:00pm GMT

The big story behind a little Blue Dot

Editor's note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more about Google's mental health resources and tools.

A few years ago, Jenny Fandrianto noticed a sticker on a colleague's laptop that read "ask me about Blue Dot." So, she did.

She learned Blue Dot is a network of Googlers who simply listen to those who reach out to them. It's not therapy, and they don't tell anyone how to fix their problems. They just want to make it OK to talk about mental health. "Having that first conversation was really inspiring and energizing," Jenny says. "I got to connect with someone and say 'this is something that's important to me, too.'"

Blue Dot's mission to destigmatize conversations like the one Jenny had began in 2016, when it was founded by Rachael Bleakley and Jack Kaden (a Googler and a former Googler, respectively). Rachael had recently seen a news segment about a barber with a poster in his shop that read "Feeling down? Chat to us!" "He said it nearly always started some great conversations about mental health with everyone who sat in his chair." She pitched the concept and within days, was on a call with a global group of Googlers putting a plan in motion.

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Why a blue dot? "Blue Dot was for practicality reasons...it's easy to buy blue dot stickers for cheap and anywhere in the world locally, so it made sense to pick something all the local office leads could stock up on themselves if we give them the budget."

While growth wasn't Blue Dot's priority, it quickly took off. "We knew there would be appetite for this but it was so hard to measure in the beginning; the last thing we wanted to be doing was asking Googlers to tell us when they had a 'chat' thanks to Blue Dot!" she says. "We also had to be careful we weren't putting Googlers in potentially difficult situations if they got into a chat that was slightly out of their depth; the expectation is only to listen and not to offer specific advice."

Peter Corcoran took the reins at Blue Dot as it matured from its purely grassroots beginnings into an official employee resource group. "I was in the British Army for 10 years, and it was actually one of the reasons I got involved in Blue Dot, having suffered trauma in my military career," Peter says. Becoming a Googler-led mental health resource sponsored by People Ops, he explains, was ultimately the right move. "It gave us access to better resources, better guidance. It created a much better ecosystem." Maja Bilić stepped in around the same time to help Blue Dot's transition. She helped with infrastructure-things like building the website and creating the listener sign-up system.

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"Blue Dot's mission will be accomplished if every Googler knows about their mental health resources, and if people articulate their mental health needs," Peter says. "The aim isn't the success of Blue Dot. It's the success of the mission."

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Prior to the time Maja stepped in, Blue Dot was far more grassroots. "Before that we just had an idea. We had stickers," she says.

A tipping point in this evolution came during a global Google town hall last year, where Blue Dot was mentioned as a resource for Googlers. "I was like, 'we've reached critical mass!'" Peter remembers. "It was kind of like, 'oh, we're grown up!'"

Amy Costello, Blue Dot's acting global lead, discovered Blue Dot in 2018 after working at Google for about six months. "I was looking for a 20 percent project and lo and behold, I learned about this program called Blue Dot." Amy, who lost her father to suicide as a teenager, describes her work with Blue Dot as "something that really hits close to home. If this is an area I can give back in, how wonderfully fulfilling."

Today, Blue Dot has nearly 2,000 allies in its network, but for privacy reasons, doesn't collect data on sessions. Participants go through a self-guided training module on effective listening and what to do if someone needs additional support. "Listening is about devoting your full attention to another human being. It's a time to ignore the IMs, text messages and emails and provide someone with your undivided attention," Amy shares.

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"When you're talking to somebody, sometimes you're thinking 'well what am I going to say next?' But your job is literally to not say anything. You're only supposed to listen to this person and acknowledge what this person is saying."

Jenny has benefited from Listener training even outside of Blue Dot. "While I'm on a video call, I don't have email open, I'm not chatting with other people on Hangouts. In in-person meetings, my laptop is down, and if there are notes I need to take, I take them on paper. My attention is here, with you, right now, because you matter, and the time we spend together is valuable."

"Honestly, when we introduced trainings, people were a little like 'ugh, really?'" Maja laughs. But participants ended up loving it, herself included. "You learn how to actively listen, and active listening is such an important skill."

Recently, Blue Dot pivoted from in-person listening sessions, moving to online only. In March, Blue Dot Sunnyvale began hosting virtual get-togethers. "But then we realized...it's virtual! It doesn't have to be just our campus," Jenny says. "We shared this idea globally with the entire Blue Dot community and now we have this office hours program being replicated in all these different regions. It's become much bigger than what we originally imagined."

The new online office hours may also be more welcoming for some. Googlers can select an appointment time with a Listener from any region that works for them, a system Jenny believes lowers the barrier for anyone who's hesitant to reach out. "Just click and sign up and we're here. I think it's just a little bit more accessible to people who need it," she says.

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Jenny has noticed Blue Dot Listeners are taking on more and more time slots. "I'm seeing people who are making themselves available for office hours all times of the day. We have people signing up for even the holidays," she says. "They're thinking 'you know, there might be people who need someone to talk to on a holiday, so I'm going to make myself available in case somebody needs it."

Support systems are always a steadying force, but perhaps more so when it feels as if the entire world is on shaky ground. "I feel like on a day-to-day basis, my life is very happy, but at the same time, we don't have the same releases right now. We don't have the same kinds of mental breaks," Amy agrees. "I find myself being over-tired, which is something I've heard from my colleagues as well. Having the Blue Dot community available for that outreach, for that friendly face, for people to know you are going to be really open to talking about things like this is so meaningful to the Google community."

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Despite the challenges of sheltering in place, both Amy and Jenny notice it's also inspiring frank conversations about mental health. "During every team meeting now, we start with five minutes of 'How are you doing? What's new? Is there anything I can do to help?" Jenny says. "We're talking about our personal lives a bit more now. It's funny because I feel like we're closer as a team even though we're all virtual. It's because we're genuinely concerned for each other outside of work."

Though Blue Dot has grown, the subtle ways it creates conversations about mental health remain. That little dot disintegrates some of the pressure; "ask me about Blue Dot," for many, is easier to respond to than "ask me about mental health."

Today, in lieu of laptop stickers we can't physically see, Listeners include a blue dot in their email signatures. "So many people have asked 'hey, I see you have this blue circle in your email signature-what's that about?'"

The group is hopeful that someday, we won't need a dot or anything else to openly talk about therapy appointments or depression. "We have no problem going to the doctor for a physical, we have no problem going to the dentist to get our teeth cleaned," Amy says. "Why should we have a problem talking about our mental health, or saying, 'hey, I'm going to the therapist today'? One of the really special things about Google is that those things are OK to say, and I feel like groups like Blue Dot help normalize it."

Blue Dot has helped Jenny feel comfortable being an advocate for mental health, and talking about her own. "I'm much more open about a lot of other things I don't think people talk about. No one really comfortably talks about the struggles of being a woman in tech, or has revealing conversations around fertility challenges like IVF or miscarriages." As she's become more forthcoming, she's felt groups forming-supportive pocket communities that invite, even welcome, these kinds of conversations.

"People are OK being vulnerable, they feel safer," she says. "And that's brought a lot of us so much closer."

27 May 2020 5:00pm GMT

Inspire new customers in their moments of discovery

Last year we introduced Discovery ads as a new way to help people discover and engage with your brand as they scroll through their favorite content. In April, we made Discovery ads generally available for all advertisers globally. For the first time, you can reach up to 2.9 billion people as they explore their interests and look for inspiration across multiple Google surfaces-all with a single, easy-to-use campaign.

Reach more people as they browse their favorite feeds

More consumers are now finding their next favorite brand or product through a growing variety of touchpoints-in fact, 86 percent of online consumers say they're on the lookout for shopping ideas as they watch videos or explore content across the web. With Discovery ads, you can rely on Google's understanding of consumers' intent across our properties to engage these audiences as they scroll through their favorite Google feeds-no search query needed:

  • YouTube: Showcase your products on the Home and Watch Next feeds in YouTube, where over 90 percent of users say they discover new brands or products.

  • Discover:Reach hundreds of millions of consumers in the feed on the Google Search app as they explore and stay up to date on their interests.

  • Gmail:Show timely offers to shoppers as they check their inbox for the latest products and deals on the Promotions and Social tabs.

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Example Discovery ads for lifestyle retailer UGG

Drive interest and action with new audiences

Early adopters like Deckers, iProspect and MandM Direct have seen great results driving customer action with Discovery ads alongside their existing media.

For Deckers' collection of iconic lifestyle brands, inspiring consumers to action through richly visual product experiences is fundamental to its media planning. While Deckers has traditionally relied on social media and video to engage new customers, the company worked with digital agency Jellyfish to expand on its strategy for the UGG brand's 2019 holiday season.

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UGG used Discovery ads to promote its holiday gift guide, connecting with fashion-forward shoppers open to trying new products while scrolling through their favorite Google feeds. The global lifestyle brand repurposed high-quality images from social campaigns, featuring popular products like its Classic Short Boot and Men's Neumel Chukka. As a result, UGG saw a strong increase in the quality of its website traffic and a revenue return ten times its original ad spend. Deckers now plans to implement Discovery ads across the rest of its brand portfolio, including HOKA and Teva.

"We're very pleased with our performance on Discovery ads," says Richard Russell, VP Omnichannel Marketing at Deckers. "They've helped us build on our omnichannel strategy-we're driving action with our ideal customer across even more of their purchase journey."

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Digital marketing agency iProspect has also seen Discovery ads deliver success for several large brands looking to connect with new customers, including global retailers. "Since we first began testing in early 2019, Discovery ads have driven results across a wide range of verticals, from retail to education," says Gareth Cleevely, VP Head of Paid Search at iProspect. "We've seen them deliver positive performance further down the funnel with up to 48 percent lower cost-per-action compared to social ads."

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An example Discovery ad for UK clothing retailer MandM Direct

Get started with Discovery ads

If you're already running media campaigns for social or video, you can get started by bringing your richest creative assets and most engaging messages over to Discovery ads. For help creating your first campaigns, visit the Google Ads Help Center. And be sure to check out our best practices checklist and creative asset guide for more tips on driving better performance with visually inspiring ads.

27 May 2020 5:00pm GMT

Google’s new tools help businesses during COVID-19

Running a business requires a whole lot of ingenuity and perseverance. It's those same qualities that are helping local businesses adapt, and even thrive, in today's new normal. To adjust, business owners are increasingly turning to digital tools. According to a newly released report by the Connected Commerce Council, nearly one in three small business owners said that without digital tools they would have had to close all or parts of their business.

We've rolled out new features to help businesses get the support they need, adapt their operations, and quickly update customers about their latest changes.

Let people know how they can help

We've seen firsthand in Google Search and Maps the impact that COVID-19 has had on small businesses and how they connect with their customers. People across the world are looking for ways to continue supporting corner bookstores, local watering holes, beloved dance studios and other businesses that give their neighborhoods character-even if it's from a distance.

To help local businesses share how their communities can support them during COVID-19, we recently began allowing merchants in six countries to add support links for donations and gift cards to their Business Profiles on Google. Starting today, we're rolling support links out to merchants in an additional 18 countries such as Italy, Spain and Japan. We've partnered with PayPal and GoFundMe for donations. For gift cards, merchants can link directly to the relevant page on their website or to their gift card offerings with one of our eligible partners, which includes Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro.

People around the world are looking to help-with global search interest in "how to help small businesses" reaching an all-time high in March 2020, increasing more than 700 percent since February. To help connect them with nearby businesses in need, we've made it possible for people to look up their favorite local businesses by name to see if they've added donation or gift card links to their Business Profile. And in the coming weeks, people will also be able to use Search and Maps to find all of the nearby businesses that are asking for support.

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People can now look up their favorite local businesses to see if they have donation or gift card links on their Business Profile

Transition to online services with ease

Merchants who normally provided in-person services are now pivoting to connect with their customers virtually-from yoga studios offering online classes to salons hosting virtual hair styling classes. We're making it easier for customers to discover online classes and book virtual appointments with these new features:

  • Get discovered:Merchants who are verified on Google My Business will soon be able to add attributes like "online classes," "online appointments," or "online estimates" to their Business Profiles to let people know how they're operating. Today merchants can add one of these attributes using Google My Business, and in the coming weeks it'll be visible on merchants' Business Profiles in Search and Maps.

  • Online service bookings directly on Google:We're expanding Reserve with Google to help merchants offer easy appointment bookings for online services so customers can quickly find available times, book a slot, and add it to their Google Calendar-all directly from a merchant's Business Profile. Millions of people have already booked in-person appointments with salons, restaurants and other businesses thanks to integrations from over 100 Reserve with Google partners. We're now expanding this to include bookings for online services, starting with partners like Booksy, Regis, WellnessLiving, and Zooty. Merchants working with one of these partners can offer online bookings directly on Google and share details with customers about how to pay and join the meeting using their preferred video platform.

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Merchants can offer easy appointment bookings for online services.

Keep everyone in the know with the latest business information

Sometimes it's not as simple as "open" and "closed." Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've added new tools to help merchants keep customers informed about how and when they're operating.

Across all business verticals, we launched the ability to mark their business as temporarily closed, as well as reopen when they're ready to open their doors. We also added secondary hours and COVID-19 posts so merchants can communicate important information about their operations directly in Google Search and Maps. Since March, we've seen more than 1 million businesses share COVID-19 posts, with millions of clicks to merchants' websites every week as consumers look for more information.

With many people unable to enjoy meals inside their favorite restaurants, demand for food delivery and takeout has skyrocketed. In response, we've added more third-party ordering providers, so people everywhere can order delivery and takeout from an additional 25,000 restaurants directly on Google. To give merchants even more control, we'll soon be making it easier for food merchants to indicate their preferred online ordering partners on their Business Profiles.

Today people are deciding where to grab food not only based on the menu, but also on how easy it is to pick up safely. We added attributes like "curbside pickup," "no contact delivery," and "dine-in" so that restaurants could easily share these important details on their Business Profiles in Search and Maps. Since March, more than 3 million restaurants have added or edited their dining attributes. Some restaurateurs are even ditching dining areas for good. To support all types of food merchants, virtual kitchens can now verify their businesses on Google My Business.

We know that every day during this pandemic can be drastically different-and for small business owners, there can be a lot of uncertainty. While we can't control what each day looks like, our goal is to continue helping businesses communicate the latest with consumers across the world.

27 May 2020 1:00pm GMT

26 May 2020

feedThe Official Google Blog

Working from home and the office

Sundar sent the following email to Google employees earlier today.

Hi Googlers,

As mentioned in our last TGIF, we'll be approaching the return to office with a gradual, phased approach, taking both team and individual needs and preferences into account: we are taking slow, deliberate steps to begin re-opening offices in areas where they still remain largely closed. We're also investing more in your work-from-home setup to make sure you have what you need to be productive and comfortable.

Beginning July 6, assuming external conditions allow, we'll start to open more buildings in more cities. This will give Googlers who need to come back to the office-or, capacity permitting, who want to come back-the opportunity to return on a limited, rotating basis (think: one day every couple of weeks, so roughly 10 percent building occupancy). We'll have rigorous health and safety measures in place to ensure social distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed, so the office will look and feel different than when you left. Our goal is to be fair in the way we allocate time in the office, while limiting the number of people who come in, consistent with safety protocols.

In the September timeframe (again, assuming conditions allow), we will further scale the rotation program, building over time to 30 percent capacity (which would mean most people who want to come in could do so on a limited basis, while still prioritizing those who need to come in).

There are a limited number of Googlers whose roles are needed back in office this calendar year. If this applies to you, your manager will let you know by June 10. For everyone else, returning to the office will be voluntary through the end of the year, and we encourage you to continue to work from home if you can.

While some of you have expressed interest in coming back to the office, others have asked whether it's okay to temporarily relocate to another place to be closer to family while you're working from home. Please talk with your manager if you are considering this, and review the guidelines, which include important information about a number of personal factors you should consider (such as your tax filings and health coverage/eligibility).

Moving ahead, we are looking to develop more overall flexibility in how we work. Our campuses are designed to enable collaboration and community-in fact, some of our greatest innovations were the result of chance encounters in the office-and it's clear this is something many of us don't want to lose. At the same time, we are very familiar with distributed work as we have many offices around the world and open-minded about the lessons we'll learn through this period. We continue to study all the data and feedback you're sharing on your current experience. I believe that ultimately these insights will lead to more flexibility and choice for employees as they consider how to work in the future.

Because we still expect that most Googlers will be largely working from home for the rest of this year, we'll be giving each Googler an allowance of $1,000 USD, or the equivalent value in your country, to expense necessary equipment and office furniture.

Finally, we continue to experiment with sharing more of our in-office experiences virtually, with a focus on health, wellness, and fun. A couple of examples: fitness with gFit instructors, cooking and nutrition lessons from Google chefs, and Kids@Home Storytime.

We'll share more specifics on the return to office plan and answer questions on this topic at upcoming forums. Thank you for everything you are doing to support our users and partners. It's important work that is making a big difference.

Please continue to take good care of yourselves and one another.

26 May 2020 8:30pm GMT

Canada Learning Code moves programs online with digital tools

Founded in 2011, Canada Learning Code hosts in-person technology education classes for people across Canada, focusing on women, girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth and newcomers to Canada. So far, they've reached 35 communities and over 650,000 people. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, they had to quickly transition their education programs to an online method while simultaneously adapting to virtual ways of working. I recently spoke to the team at Canada Learning Code about how they used technology to serve the needs of their communities during COVID-19. Here's what they told us.

How did your organization react when in-person programming was no longer feasible due to COVID-19?

Our programs were not designed to exist online pre COVID-19, so we had to learn by doing. Our main focus was to uphold a safe and inclusive learning environment and to stay true to our values. We built a task force with people from several teams to brainstorm, create, and test these new digital experiences. To make sure classes are interactive, we reduced the size to 15-20 and developed shorter workshops around topics like HTML coding. We also applied different teaching styles based on the age of the learner to keep our virtual experiences engaging for everyone.

What role did technology play in this transition?

As a charity with a presence across the country, it's essential that our teams have tools to stay in constant communication with each other. Prior to COVID-19, we were already using digital tools like Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, to maximize our productivity. Since G Suite was already part of our day-to-day operations, we've been able to quickly transition to remote work and adapt to the circumstances.

This accessibility is critical for Canada Learning Code, as it helps us to continue reaching communities in rural and remote areas. Since Google for Nonprofits provides these tools for free, we are able to bring down our costs significantly. For organizations like us, lowering operational costs helps us to invest and make more of an impact every year.

What tools do you use to reach audiences online?

We've used a lot of digital tools to build our programs over the years. Since June 2014, Google Ad Grants has provided free online advertising, resulting in an additional 5.92 million impressions and over 200,000 more clicks to our website. This would have cost us over $315,000 in five years. By using Google Ad Grants, we've allocated this money to developing and updating our content for our learning experiences. Working with a Google Account Strategist has helped us better target potential learners and volunteers throughout the years, and our click-through rate has increased.

How will this change Canada Learning Code in the future?

In the long term, we're thinking about continuing online learning, in addition to our in-person programs. Our ambitious goal is to deliver 10 million learning experiences by 2027 with a focus on digital literacy. With support from Google, we can focus on our mission and empower individuals to be creators-and not just consumers-of technology.

26 May 2020 4:00pm GMT

21 Oct 2019

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

All the Fitbit activity badges

Fitbit has discontinued their Fitbit One step trackers, which seems like a good opportunity to step back and reflect on wearing one for the last decade or so. I've enjoyed using Fitbit trackers, but the One devices seemed like they broke down way too often. I'm pretty proud that I ended up earning all the […]

21 Oct 2019 3:06am GMT

04 Nov 2018

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Halloween 2018: Crab claws!

Do you need something to cheer you up? You got it: I should explain this costume a little bit. At the US Digital Service, we do a thing called "crab claws." Crab claws is like visual applause-you pinch your fingers up and down to say "great job" or "congratulations" or "way to go." We do […]

04 Nov 2018 8:02pm GMT

08 Mar 2018

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Some terrible personal news

Cindy Cutts, my wife and best friend, passed away earlier this week. While I was traveling for work recently, Cindy went to visit her family in Omaha, Nebraska. On Sunday, while enjoying time with family, Cindy started having trouble breathing. Her family quickly called 911 and paramedics took Cindy to the hospital, but Cindy lost […]

08 Mar 2018 12:17am GMT

22 Jan 2018

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Talking to Mr. Money Mustache about the US Digital Service

Last week, I passed my one year anniversary as head of the US Digital Service (USDS). So when Mr. Money Mustache asked for an interview, I was delighted to talk about some of the work that the USDS does. If you aren't familiar with Mr. Money Mustache, he writes about a philosophy of badassity in […]

22 Jan 2018 6:58pm GMT

01 Apr 2017

feedGoogle Operating System

Google April Fools' Day 2017

April Fools' Day should probably be called Google Fools' Day, since there are so many Google hoaxes.

Google Japan developed a "bubble wrap" version of the Japanese keyboard. "The Google Japanese input bubble wrap version is a keyboard that realizes 'I want to press in my mind, I want to keep pressing'," according to Google Translate.

Another product for your smart home? Meet Google Gnome, "a voice-activated, hands-free tool designed to make backyard living effortless. Need to know what animal is squeaking in your bushes? Stay still and ask Gnome what sound an opossum makes. Running low on birdseed? That's where Gnome comes in. You can even use Gnome's proprietary high-intensity lasers to trim your hedges into whatever shape your heart desires."

The Chrome OS team brings the most popular mobile accessories to the Chromebook, which already blurs the line between mobile and desktop. Chromebook Groupie Stick, Chromebook Cardboard, Chromebook Workout Armband will soon be available in the Google Store. "To take advantage of beautiful, high-resolution displays, as well as great photo editing apps, we've carefully engineered the first Chromebook-sized selfie stick. Never again will you miss the perfect groupie."

Haptic Helpers make VR even more immersive. "We're taking VR to the next level with Haptic Helpers. Using a modest set of everyday tools, these VR virtuosos can simulate more than 10,000 unique experiences, all from the comfort of your own home. Smell the roses. Listen to the ocean. Feel a fluffy dog!"

You can now play the classic arcade game MS. PAC-MAN in Google Maps. "Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Sue as you swerve the streets of real places around the world. But eat the pac-dots fast, because this game will only be around for a little while." Just go to the Google Maps site or open the Google Maps app for Android or iOS and click or tap MS. PAC-MAN at the bottom.

Google Cloud Platform expands to Mars. "By opening a dedicated extraterrestrial cloud region, we're bringing the power of Google's compute, network, and storage to the rest of the solar system, unlocking a plethora of possibilities for astronomy research, exploration of Martian natural resources and interplanetary life sciences. This region will also serve as an important node in an extensive network throughout the solar system. Our first interplanetary data center - affectionately nicknamed 'Ziggy Stardust' - will open in 2018," mentions Google.

Google Netherlands came up with Google Wind, a machine learning technology that controls the weather. "The Netherlands has many windmills, some no longer in use, we can connect to Google Cloud Platform. So we use the existing Dutch infrastructure, machine learning, weather patterns to control the network of windmills when rain is approaching. The first test results are very promising: we seem to be able to provide sun and clear skies for everyone in the Netherlands," mentions Google Netherlands blog.

Google's search app for iOS is now optimized for cats and dogs. "On the Google app for iOS, you can now use 3D Touch on the app icon or head to settings and select I'm Feeling Woof or I'm Feeling Meow to let your dogs and cats get info on topics they care about-whether that means squeaky toys or a bowl of milk!"

Google also launched Google Play for Pets, a new category of Android games designed for cats, dogs and other pets.

Google Translate's Word Lens feature supports a new language: Heptapod B, the alien language from the movie "Arrival". "The challenge with understanding Heptapod B is its nonlinear orthography. Fortunately, Google's neural machine translation system employs an encoder/decoder system that internally represents sentences as high-dimensional vectors. These vectors map well to the non-linear orthography of the Heptapod language and they are really the enabling technical factor in translating Heptapod B."

01 Apr 2017 7:25am GMT

19 Feb 2017

feedGoogle Operating System

Gmail Blocks JavaScript Attachments

If you try to send a JavaScript attachment using Gmail or if you want to download a .js attachment, you'll get a new anti-virus warning: "Blocked for security reasons", "1 attachment contains a virus or blocked file. Downloading this attachment is disabled".

.JS has been added to the long list of file types that are blocked by Gmail for security reasons. The full list: .ADE, .ADP, .BAT, .CHM, .CMD, .COM, .CPL, .EXE, .HTA, .INS, .ISP, .JAR, .JS (NEW), .JSE, .LIB, .LNK, .MDE, .MSC, .MSI, .MSP, .MST, .NSH .PIF, .SCR, .SCT, .SHB, .SYS, .VB, .VBE, .VBS, .VXD, .WSC, .WSF, .WSH. "To prevent against potential viruses, Gmail doesn't allow you to attach certain types of files, including: certain file types (listed above), including their compressed form (like .gz or .bz2 files) or when found within archives (like .zip or .tgz files), documents with malicious macros, archives whose listed file content is password protected, archives whose content includes a password protected archive."

The GSuite Blog informs that "for inbound mail, senders will get a bounce message explaining why the email was blocked. If you still need to send .js files for legitimate reasons, you can use Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage, or other storage solutions to share or send your files."

You can still send JavaScript files using Gmail if you change the extension. What about downloading old .js attachments? Try the workarounds from this post.

19 Feb 2017 10:39am GMT

25 Jan 2017

feedGoogle Operating System

Google Image Search Shows Colorful Suggestions

Google Image Search has a different way to display suggestions: it now shows a long list of colorful boxes with related searches. You can click one or more boxes to dynamically refine search results.

For example, when searching for [sportswear], Google shows suggestions like: [women basketball], [tennis], [badminton], [golf], [volleyball], [nike woman], [alexander wang], [adidas], [fashion], [performance], [vintage], [trendy], [urban], [school], [gym], [90's], [70's], [vogue], [luxe], [avant garde], [korean], [italian], [french] and more. It's interesting to notice that each category of suggestions has a different color.

Here's the old interface, which had fewer suggestions and displayed thumbnails next to suggestions:

25 Jan 2017 9:39pm GMT

19 Jan 2017

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Staying with the US Digital Service

A few months ago, I took a leave of absence from Google to do a stint with the US Digital Service. A lot of people know about the US Digital Service because they helped rescue the healthcare.gov website. But you might not realize that the US Digital Service has helped veterans get their health benefits, […]

19 Jan 2017 3:47am GMT

16 Jan 2017

feedGoogle Operating System

Google Image Search Starts Playing YouTube Videos

Google Image Search's mobile interface tests a new feature that starts playing snippets from a YouTube video at the top of the search results page. It's not disclosed as an ad, there's no sound and you can't stop or hide the video, which continues to play on repeat.

Right now, the experiment seems to be limited to fashion-related queries like [men jackets], [lookbook], [winter outfit], which match videos from YouTube channels like New Look and River Island. "New Look is a South African-owned British global fashion retailer with a chain of high street shops. (...) The chain sells womenswear, menswear, and clothing for teens," according to Wikipedia.

Google only shows labels like: "New Look on YouTube", even though this looks like an experimental ad format. I hope it will never become a regular feature, as it's pretty annoying and it wastes Internet bandwidth.

16 Jan 2017 10:49am GMT

13 Jan 2017

feedGoogle Operating System

YouTube Desktop Notifications, Now For Everyone

It looks like YouTube's notification experiment is now a regular feature and you can no longer disable it by clearing cookies. When sign in to your Google account, YouTube's desktop site no longer shows Google+ notifications in the navigation bar: it replaces them with YouTube notifications.

"Your notifications live here. Subscribe to your favorite channels to get notified about their latest videos," informs the new notification box.

13 Jan 2017 2:08pm GMT

29 Dec 2016

feedGoogle Operating System

YouTube Notifications in the Navigation Bar

YouTube has recently started to experiment with replacing Google+ notifications in the navigation bar with YouTube notifications. You get notifications for recently uploaded videos from your subscribed channels, but only if you've enabled notifications for those channels. For example, you can go to the subscription manager and click the bell icon next to a channel to enable or disable notifications.

The settings button sends you to the Notifications section from YouTube's Settings page and the 3-dot icon next to each notification lets you turn off notifications from the corresponding channel.

If you don't like this experiment, you can always clear cookies for youtube.com in your browser's settings and opt out.

29 Dec 2016 12:24pm GMT

Google's New Mobile UI for Recipe Search

Just in time for New Year's dinner, Google has a new mobile interface for recipe search. I searched for [avocado mayo] and noticed a long list of keywords below the search box and ads: salad, chicken, shrimp, vegan, bacon and more. You can select more than one keyword and this helps you refine the results.

When selecting a related search, you get a completely different interface that only shows recipes: bigger expandable cards, bigger thumbnails, infinite scrolling.

29 Dec 2016 11:09am GMT

08 Dec 2016

feedGoogle Operating System

Google Translate's 5000 Character Limit

For some reason, Google Translate now has a limit of 5000 characters per translation. There's even a character counter at the bottom of the input box. If you happen to paste a long text that has more than 5000 characters, you'll get an error message ("maximum characters exceeded: X characters over 5000 maximum") and a "translate more" option that lets you translate the rest of the text.

I don't understand the purpose of this restriction, considering that Google doesn't impose any limitation when translating web pages. It's worth pointing out that Google Translate's API has a similar limitation: "the maximum size of each text to be translated is 5000 characters, not including any HTML tags". Google's translation card from Google Search has a different limit: about 2800 characters.

08 Dec 2016 6:18pm GMT

Google Tests Movie Ratings

Google's knowledge graph card tests a feature that lets you like or dislike movies and TV shows. For example, when you search for "It's a Wonderful Life", you can click like or dislike and check the percentage of Google users who liked it.

The same buttons show up when you search for a TV show like "Saturday Night Live".

Search Engine Land reports that Google confirmed this experiment, which was first spotted last month.

08 Dec 2016 11:45am GMT

06 Dec 2016

feedGoogle Operating System

Google's Holiday Decorations

When you search Google for [Christmas], [Hanukkah], [Kwanzaa], [Festivus] or other related queries, you'll see some special decorations related to each holiday. Festivus is "a holiday celebrated by those seeking an alternative to the commercialism and pressures of the Christmas holiday season."

Christmas trees, Santa Claus, the Christmas star adorn the Google search page and bring the hoiday spirit.

The Hanukkah menorah and Kwanzaa's Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles) are lighting up Google's search pages.

Here are the decorations from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

06 Dec 2016 2:21pm GMT

New Interface for Google Search

Google's desktop search pages have a new interface for navigating between search results. The search box is bigger, there's a new search icon and Google now only shows 2 or 3 specialized search engines next to "all", down from 4. Apps and shopping seem to be missing from the list of search engines, so you can only pick from image search, video search, Google News, Google Maps, Google Flights and Google Books.

The settings dropdown is now placed below the search box and it includes the option that lets you hide private results. You can still change search settings, languages, turn on or turn off SafeSearch, use advanced search options, open Web History or go to the help center.

Search tools are now simply called tools and they include the same options: search by date and verbatim.

Image search lets you quickly go to the saved images page and change SafeSearch setting.

Google Shopping is broken. While the homepage still loads, when you click a product image or search for something, Google shows an empty page.

Here's the old Google Search interface, via Wikipedia:

06 Dec 2016 1:31pm GMT

17 Oct 2016

feedGoogle Operating System

Random Facts About Animals in Google Search

Did you know that "male lions defend the pride's territory while females do most of the hunting"? Did you know that "the name humpback whale describes the motion it makes as it arches its back out of the water in preparation for a dive"? What about this one: "ostriches have the largest eyes of any land living animal and they measure 50 mm (2 inches) in diameter"?

Google now shows random facts about animals in the "did you know" section of the Knowledge Graph card. They're extracted from various sites and Google actually links to the source.

Some example of queries that return random facts: [cat], [lion], [tiger], [alpaca], [giraffe], [ostrich], [duck], [elk], [raccoon], [shark]. It's worth pointing out that you can get another random fact by reloading the page or searching again for the same animal.

17 Oct 2016 9:00pm GMT

15 Oct 2016

feedGoogle Operating System

Found in Related Searches

Google Knowledge Graph has more than one billion entities and more than 70 billion facts about these entities (people, places, things). It's huge and it brings a different dimension to search: understanding concepts and the relation between them.

Mobile Google Search now has a section called "found in related search", which shows a few entities frequently mentioned in other related searches. For example, I searched for [ethanol molar mass] and Google showed 2 lists of organic and inorganic compounds: one of them was found in the related search [properties of alkanes] and the other was for [polar solvents]. Ethanol is a polar solvent which can be obtained from alkenes, while alkenes can be derived from alkanes, so Google's suggestions are somewhat useful.

This feature is not limited to chemistry, it also works for other topics. Here's a different query: [tour eiffel design], which shows other "towers of the world" and "tourist attractions in France".

15 Oct 2016 7:34am GMT

14 Oct 2016

feedGoogle Operating System

Google Converts Queries Into Questions

I noticed an interesting Google Search experiment in the mobile/tablet interface. When searching for [alcohol with the highest boiling], Google converted my query into a question: "Which alcohol has the highest boiling point?", then it tried to answer the question using a snippet from a web page and then it added a "more results" link. Google's link sent to me to the search results page for the question inferred by Google.

14 Oct 2016 10:29pm GMT

Google's Card for Directions

When you search Google for [directions] or [get directions], you get an error message: "No results for that place. Try entering it below to get suggestions." Google shows a special card for directions with cool features like autocomplete, but the error message is out of place because you haven't typed a location.

Suggestions aren't very smart. For example, I typed "Brisbane, Australia" as the starting point and then I started to type "Mel" as the destination. Google suggested 3 places from California, strictly based on my location, while ignoring that Melbourne is a much better suggestion.

Google shows directions inside the card and you can pick between driving, walking, cycling or using public transportation.

To see the directions, just click the text that describes your favorite route. If there is only one route, pick that one. Another option is to click "directions" and go to the Google Maps site.

14 Oct 2016 9:27pm GMT

Add Home Screen Shortcuts to Google Maps Directions

I'm not sure if this is a new feature, but it must be pretty recent. Google Maps for Android lets you add home screen shortcuts to directions directly from the app. Just search for directions, tap the menu icon and pick "add route to Home screen". This works best when you select the current location, but it's not a requirement.

You may also see this message: "Go here often? Add this route. Tap here to add a Home screen shortcut to this route."

Another option is to add the directions widget, which lets you pick the shortcut name, whether to start turn-by-turn navigation and more.

14 Oct 2016 8:48pm GMT

18 Jun 2016

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

A brief update

Over the last couple years, I've seen more and more people in technology trying to make government work better. They're idealists who are also making a large impact. These are people that I respect-some of them worked to fix healthcare.gov, for example. From talking to many of them, I can tell you that their energy […]

18 Jun 2016 1:57am GMT

03 Feb 2016

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Thanks, Amit

Amit Singhal just announced that he's retiring toward the end of the month. Amit has been a formative part of Google's search team, but he's also a good friend. Last year, after he marked 15 years with Google, I wrote this about Amit's contributions: Amit Singhal, one of the unsung heroes of Google, just celebrated […]

03 Feb 2016 7:49pm GMT

19 Jan 2016

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Solving a Verizon issue (Nexus 5X)

I solved a problem today and figured that I'd document it for the rest of the world. Every time someone left me a voicemail on Verizon, I would get a cryptic text from Verizon at 900080006202 that looked like "//VZWVVM:SYNC:ev=NM;id=1;c=1;t=v;s=1XXXXXXXXXX;dt=18/01/2016 13:40-0900;l=13;dev_t=5" or "//VZWVVM:SYNC:ev=MBU;dev_t=5". Here's what happened. It turns out that Verizon has three kinds of […]

19 Jan 2016 2:00am GMT

31 Oct 2015

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Halloween 2015: USB Drive

I went a little overboard for Halloween last year. And as you can tell from my the Halloween category on my blog, sometimes I get a little too excited about Halloween. So this year I decided to go quick, easy, and lo-fi as a USB drive: To make a thumb drive/USB key, I just took […]

31 Oct 2015 8:02pm GMT

24 Sep 2015

feedMatt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Give Google Contributor a try

Recently I've seen several interesting conversations about ad blocking, and I wanted to remind people about a great offering called Google Contributor. With Google Contributor, you contribute a certain amount of money each month. That subscription means that you see fewer ads on the web, and you support the sites that you visit with your […]

24 Sep 2015 3:09pm 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

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

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped


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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

15 Nov 2010 8:26am GMT

12 Nov 2010

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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

feedGoogle Blogoscoped

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