At Google, we often get questions about what we're doing in the area of health. I have been interested in the issues of health care and health information for a while. It is now one of my main focuses here, and I've decided to start posting about it. I've been motivated in this field in part by my personal experiences helping to care for my mother, who recently died from cancer after a four-year battle. While the quality of the medical care my mother received was extraordinary, I saw firsthand how challenged the health care system was in supporting caregivers and communicating between different medical organizations. The system didn't fail completely, but struggled with these phases:
  • What was wrong -- it took her doctors nine months to correctly identify an illness which had classic symptoms
  • Who should treat her -- there was no easy way to figure out who were the best local physicians and caregivers, which ones were covered by her insurance, and how we could get them to agree to treat her
  • Once she was treated, she had a chronic illness, and needed ongoing care and coordinated nursing and monitoring, particularly once her illness recurred
Once she had a correct diagnosis and we'd found the right doctor, her treatment was excellent. But before and after treatment, most people with serious illnesses have to live through these other phases and suffer similar problems. She was trying to get help from her caregivers in the family and it was incredibly challenging to get the right information and help her make the right decisions. Often the health care system isn't well set up to address these issues. I believe our industry can help resolve some of these problems and ameliorate others.

In the end, one key part of the solution to these problems is a better educated patient. If patients understand their diseases better -- the symptoms, the treatments, the drugs, and the side effects, they are likely to get better and quicker care -- before, during, and after treatment. We have already launched some improvements to web search that help patients more easily find the health information they are looking for. Using the Google Co-op platform, Google and the health community have labeled sites and pages across the web making it easier for users to refine their health queries and locate the medical information they need. Do a search on Google about a medical issue or treatment like diabetes or Lipitor and you'll see some choices for refining your query, such as "symptoms," "treatments," and so on. If you click on "treatment," your search results are refined and reordered so that sites that have been labeled as being about treatment by trusted health community contributors are boosted in the rankings. Note that how trusted a contributor is -– and thus how much they affect your search results -– is dependent both on Google's algorithms and on who the user decides they trust. For example, if my doctor is a Google Co-op contributor and I indicate to Google that I trust her, then when I search, the sites she has labeled as relevant will show up higher in my search results.

This is just the beginning of what our industry can do. People need the medical information that is out there and available to be organized and made accessible to all. Which happens to be our mission. Health information should be easier to access and organize, especially in ways that make it as simple as possible to find the information that is most relevant to a specific patient's needs.

Patients also need to be able to better coordinate and manage their own health information. We believe that patients should control and own their own health information, and should be able to do so easily. Today it is much too difficult to get access to one's health records, for example, because of the substantial administrative obstacles people have to go through and the many places they have to go to collect it all. Compare this to financial information, which is much more available from the various institutions that help manage your financial "health." We believe our industry should help solve this problem.

As the Internet increasingly helps link communities of people, we also think there is an opportunity to connect people with similar health interests, concerns and problems. Today, people too often don't know that others like them even exist, let alone how to find them. The industry should help there, too.

These are some of the health-related problems we're thinking through at Google. We don't have any products or services to announce yet and may not for quite some time, but we thought we'd share a bit about the problems we're interested in helping out on even before we introduce solutions. As we explore these problems and continue to work on them, we hope to share more about our efforts along the way. Your help is welcome and, of course, if you're an extraordinary engineer with a passion in this field, we'd love to hear from you. Read through our Help Center information and let us hear from you.

Update: New contact link.


Running out for ice cream and cookies at 2 a.m. was just a cliché to me -- until I found myself trying to find an all night grocery store which had these things for my pregnant wife, Marla. Then there were the nights she didn't know what she wanted, but if she didn't get it now, things would get ugly.

How did a Google spreadsheet help with pregnant-lady-cravings? She and I started a list of every food she'd ever craved and when, and, using the sharing and collaboration features, we were able to create a spreadsheet that helped me learn what foods were best to keep on hand in bulk for those midnight feedings. We could even keep an inventory so I'd know to stop off at the grocery store on my way home if we were low on vanilla ice cream, cookies or peanut butter.

My wife isn't the only one making requests at 2 a.m. Lots of you are sending in lots of requests for features at all hours of the day and night. Two new ones launched today are revisions and and publishing. Revisions will enable you to go back to previous versions of your spreadsheet; publishing will give you a URL for your spreadsheets which you can share with anyone -- even as a link on another site or in your blog. The spreadsheet can still be updated from within Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

We've got some other cool new features too, so check them out at,and if you have other "crazy" ideas, feel free to make suggestions, discuss them with others, or visit the Help Center. Whatever you do, please don't ask for ice cream at 2 a.m.!


Google is a company fueled by innovation, which to us means trying lots of new things all the time -- and sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product. Later this week, we will stop accepting new questions in Google Answers, the very first project we worked on here. The project started with a rough idea from Larry Page, and a small 4-person team turned it into reality in less than 4 months. For two new grads, it was a crash course in building a scalable product, responding to customer requests, and discovering what questions are on people's minds.

Google Answers taught us exactly how many tyrannosaurs are in a gallon of gasoline, why flies survive a good microwaving, and why you really shouldn't drink water emitted by your air conditioner. Even closer to home, we learned one afternoon that our building might be on fire.

The people who participated in Google Answers -- more than 800 of them over the years -- are a passionate group committed to helping people find the information they need, and we applaud them for sharing their incredible knowledge with everyone who wrote in.

If you have a chance, we encourage you to browse through the questions posted over the last 4+ years. Although we won't be accepting any new questions, the existing Qs and As are available. We'll stop accepting new Answers to questions by the end of the year.

Google Answers was a great experiment which provided us with a lot of material for developing future products to serve our users. We'll continue to look for new ways to improve the search experience and to connect people to the information they want.


From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

Wikipedia defines 'captcha' as an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart" -- a word which is trademarked by Carnegie Mellon University. Most web users think of captchas as those hard to read distorted letters or images that one often is confronted by when websites attempt to verify that they're indeed talking to a live human. Google Accounts support captchas. Of course, bloggers (no matter which platform they use) can also use them to prevent comment spam.

Captchas were never intended to be purely visual -- however, most initial implementations used fuzzy images, and in attempting to lock out automated agents also inadvertently locked out people unable to see the image. As an alternative to these, this past spring Google Services that require verification began to provide an audio alternative -- people have the option of listening to a sequence of spoken digits that they then type into a form field to verify to the web application that there is indeed a live human at the other end.

To keep the audio captcha as challenging as the visual captcha when confronted by automated agents, we add some distortion to the spoken digits, and we're still experimenting with different distortion techniques to ease the burden on the genuine human user while locking out automated agents. We welcome feedback on the effectiveness of these techniques from you (we automatically collect feedback from those evil automated agents pretending to be human) :-).

You can easily spot the availability of audio captchas by the presence of the well-recognized "wheelchair" icon for accessibility --- the image is tagged with appropriate alt text to help blind users. Incidentally you don’t have to be visually impaired to use the audio captcha; if you are in a situation where you find it hard to view the visual captcha -- either because you're at a non-graphical display, or because the specific visual challenge we offered you turned out to be unusable in a given situation, feel free to give the audio captcha a try. We've worked hard to ensure that the audio captchas work on different hardware/software combinations, and you do not need any special hardware (or software) other than a sound card to be able to use them.


Hundreds of students from more than 20 countries recently brainstormed ideas on combating climate change -- and they did it online using Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The kids had a blast coming up with solutions to address climate change, and we had a blast reading through their ideas and selecting the top 50 to feature on the Google Educators site. Then to top it off we took out out a full-page ad in today's edition of USA Today so the kids' great ideas would get noticed! Global collaboration has never been more fun and, when it comes to global warming, more necessary.

Pick up a copy of USA Today to see the full-page ad that credits the 80+ participating schools or click here to read all the "top 50" ideas. You'll definitely find an idea that you can act on.


You've heard of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when it seems everyone in the U.S. crowds into the malls to get an early start on the annual holiday shopping frenzy. But have you heard of Cyber Monday, the first workday after the long weekend -- in other words, today -- when we all sit down at our desks and start surfing our way to those perfect gifts?

According to a poll we recently commissioned from Harris Interactive, 40 percent of employed U.S. adults say they plan to do at least some of their online holiday shopping from work this year. So we aim to make all that pointing and clicking as fast, safe, and easy as possible. Shopping with Google Checkout means using one user name, password and account to make purchases from thousands of merchants. It means serious protection from online fraud. And this holiday season it also means a nice bonus for your gift-buying budget; as a small holiday gift to all Checkout shoppers, you'll receive $10 off purchases of $30 or more, or $20 off purchases of $50 or more, depending on the merchant.

And just in time for the holidays, we're also happy to announce a growing number of merchants who recently added Checkout to their sites, including Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Golfsmith, Linens 'n Things, PetCo, and J&R Music and Computer World.

So settle in, log on, answer a few work-related emails (so you won't feel too guilty), and jumpstart your shopping season with Checkout. Learn more about Google Checkout holiday offers here.


My previous trips to Southern California have required cars and involved a lot of traffic on the 405. Next time, however, I'll be using Google Transit to plan bus trips with Burbank Bus and the Orange County Transportation Authority. While they can't make the traffic disappear, I can relax as I travel between my favorite beaches or maybe from Bob Hope Airport to beautiful downtown Burbank.

The interest in open sharing and standards for transit data is growing. If you'd like your city to be a part of Google Transit, email us at


As a kid, I was a bit of a fixture at my hometown library. My mom and I would visit frequently and the librarians knew me by name. It's only fitting that now, decades later, I work as an engineer for Google Book Search, Google's project to make the world's books searchable, just like the web.

My latest assignment has been to help develop a better way to browse our digitized books on a computer screen. I've always had an interest in cutting-edge web applications — existing Google products such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets make heavy use of JavaScript and DHTML to create full-featured applications in a web browser that you can use without having to download and install anything.

In an effort to make online book reading easier, we've given our product the same treatment. I'm tremendously excited to announce the first fruits of these efforts. Here's a quick tour of some of the changes:
  • Zoom in on text and images. Here's a cool full-page sketch of a ship from an 1898 book on steam navigation. Looking for something less dated? Perhaps this colorful page of a room from a book on interior design. Want a better look? You can now zoom in and out — just click on the zoom in and zoom out buttons. Play with it until you find a size you like.

  • One book, one web page. No more reloads! In one-page mode (just click the one page button), pages appear one below the other, like a scroll of paper. For full-view books, there's also a two-page mode (two page button) in which pages appear side by side, just like in a physical book (perfect for two-page images). In both modes, you'll be able to use previous page button and next page button to turn pages.

  • Scroll, scroll, scroll your book… using the scrollbar or your mouse wheel, or by dragging (in most browsers, you'll see a hand). You can also use the keyboard (try the spacebar, page up, page down, and the arrow keys). Or you can click on a link in the table of contents or your search results to jump right to that page (like this photo from the 1906 book Geronimo's Story of His Life).

  • This page was made for reading. We've tried to tidy up the clutter to leave as much room as possible for what's important — the book. We've put all the information about the book in a scrollable side menu. Still not enough room? You can put the screen in fullscreen mode with fullscreen button, so you can use the whole window for browsing. Try it with a nice illustrated book of Celtic fairy tales or, for some lighter reading, electromagnetic wave theory.

  • More on this (and other) books. Find other books that interest you. Just click on "About this book" to find more books related to the book you're reading. If the book How to Draw Comic Book Heroes and Villains interests you, you'll probably like Comic Book Artist Collection, Vol. 1. We also revised our "About this book" page to provide better information for in-copyright books, from which you can just see short snippets or a limited preview.

  • Explore citations and references. You can also find other books that refer to your book of interest. If scholarly works from Google Scholar have references to the book, you'll see them too. As an example, see what other works have referred to Aristotle's works or the 1922 book All About Coffee.
So check out the new Google Book Search. We hope it'll help you find new (and old) books that interest you. Try it out, and let us know what you think.


As the product manager for Google News, I meet with news editors and managers around the world. Wherever I go, one thing publishers tell me consistently is that they want greater control and visibility into the process by which their content gets included in Google News. It's been a longtime goal of ours to offer flexibility to publishers as we help them grow their online publications, so I’m pleased to tell you that we're adding Google News support within Google webmaster tools.

Now, English-language publishers who are currently included in Google News will be able to use their existing feeds -- or define a more advanced Sitemap of their current news articles -- to tell us exactly which articles they'd like us to crawl. While they've always been able to use technical solutions such as robots.txt to govern which portions of their sites Google crawls and indexes, this will give publishers more granular tools to tell our crawlers exactly what should be included.

We also want to provide content owners more visibility into which articles are ultimately included in Google News, so we're now offering error reports specific to Google News. These error reports will explain any problems we experienced crawling or extracting news articles from a publisher's site. Although we try to make our crawl and analysis as comprehensive as possible, there are always a small number of sites and articles that we're not able to correctly analyze and include. We hope these new tools will help publishers resolve such issues.

Webmaster tools also offer publishers detailed information on the types of queries that lead visitors to various pages on a website, which can be helpful for understanding user information needs and access patterns.

We plan to extend webmaster tools for Google News to additional languages soon.

There's more information about the new tools on our Webmaster Central blog. We hope you find these new tools helpful, and look forward to your feedback.


When we launched Google Page Creator on Labs earlier this year, we had one overriding goal: take making a website -- traditionally a complex process involving HTML, CSS, FTP, and $$$ -- and make it drop-dead easy. Since then, the feedback we're received has been loud and clear: thank you for making simple web publishing simple; now, go make more powerful things possible.

So we've spent the last six months in our shiny white lab coats (er, T-shirts) working on adding power to Google Page Creator without adding much complexity -- and we've just added three new goodies today:

Image editing (see image): Now you can make a picture look just right in the context of your web page. Once you add a picture, crop, rotate, lighten, darken, and add crazy special effects to it right from within your browser.

Multiple sites: When you first sign in to Google Page Creator, we automatically give you a site with the same name as your Gmail address, so you don't have to worry about choosing a name when you're just trying to get started. But because not every site is a personal site, starting today, you can create up to five sites with different URLs. For example, you can have in addition to

Pages for mobile: This feature has an awesome power-to-complexity ratio: Now, every Google Page Creator site automatically has a mobile edition. So when people visit your site from their mobile browser, they will see it optimized for their particular phone.

Of course, we're only getting started. Let us know how we can make Google Page Creator powerful enough for your web site publishing needs.


From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

Designed for cell phone users, I find the Google web transcoder has become an indispensable tool for me when I'm confronted with complex web pages. In fact when one searches the web using mobile phones, Google search hits often get redirected to go through the transcoder in order to provide the mobile user with a web page that works on small displays.

It turns out that much of the visual complexity that creates stumbling blocks for mobile users also become show-stoppers when it comes to listening to a web page using screenreaders. So the transcoder has become a useful part of my web access arsenal. You can reach it at From there, search for your favorite site. Think of it as the equivalent of your browser's address bar. Once you access a website through the this interface, any links you follow from that page will be automatically transcoded.


On its first anniversary, we're recapping what Google Base has accomplished on the Base blog.


When people write articles about Gmail, they usually focus on the big stuff, like how we offer 2.7+ gigs of free storage. But I've actually found that some of the smallest features we've launched have made just as big of a difference, at least to me and the way I use email.

For starters, Gmail has helped eliminate a bunch of duplicate replies that I used to get in mailing lists. You know how a lot of times someone will email a list and get a bunch of responses from different people that all say roughly the same thing? Last week, we added a feature where if I'm a reading an email conversation, or replying to one, and someone else replies to the same email, a notification pops up telling me there's a new message. Then I just click a link and Gmail adds the message to the conversation. This is also great because it means I don’t end up being embarrassed by responding to a list just as someone else is sending a response that’s way better.

There are a few other gems that have made email just work better for me: viewing attachments in HTML instead of downloading all of them; replying by chat rather than email when I need a quick answer; and the ability to chat with someone even when they're offline, and have those chats show up in their inbox when they sign in again.

These smaller features never get as much attention as the big ones, but I think they deserve it. They've changed the way I email, and made me grateful to the people who spend the time to get the little things right.


Want your very own custom-made robot crafted out of Legos?

These robots are part of the awards package that we're giving our new Google Enterprise Search Superstars. This awards program recognizes companies, and the individuals involved, with innovative enterprise search implementations and a relentless focus on users that yields business results.

Our initial winners used the Google Mini and Google Search Appliance, our website and corporate network search appliances, to create self-service support sites that reduced customer support costs, quickly identify domain experts in their organization, and improve service for international users. Read their stories and find out how to become the next Superstar.


You may have heard that the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) makes AJAX development easier, but now we've made it even easier to dive into AJAX. GWT 1.2 supports development on Mac OS X. While GWT has always supported targeting a wide variety of web browsers and production systems, with today's announcement, GWT fanatics are now free to develop on the operating system of their choice.

So if you or a friend have an ambitious web application in mind -- especially if you're already familiar with Java development -- feel the AJAX love: check out GWT.


Last week, I was trying to buy blue lightbulbs for a party at my house, and I ended up calling ten different stores before I found one that carried them. Now with the new calling feature on Google Maps, I can do this quickly and easily, and never have to lift a finger to dial.

Here's how it works: Search for a business, like a hardware store, on Google Maps, and click the 'call' link next to its phone number. Then, enter your phone number and click 'Connect For free.' Google calls your phone number and automatically connects you to the hardware store.

There are two things that I really like about this. The business's phone number is automatically stored in your caller ID so you can easily call back in the future. And by checking the box to remember your phone number, you can make future calls from Google Maps with just two mouse clicks (and picking up your phone, of course).

We're providing the 'call' link as a free service to all businesses. These aren't ads and don't influence the ranking of businesses in the search results. We foot the bill for calls (local and long distance), but airtime fees or other mobile fees will still apply if you use a mobile phone number. Currently, the calling feature works if you live in the U.S. and are looking for a business located in the U.S.

Learn more about this, and also our privacy policy.

Update: Added link to "hardware store" example.


Last year we published the Sitemap 0.84 XML protocol as a free and easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about URLs on their web sites so that search engines can more effectively crawl them. We released it under the Attribution/Share Alike Creative Commons license in the hopes that other search engines would adopt the protocol too. And today, we're excited to announce that Yahoo! and Microsoft are joining us in officially supporting the Sitemap protocol.

As the web becomes more dynamic, Sitemaps will enable better and fresher search results for everyone who uses the web. For site owners, Sitemaps will help improve website visibility in search results. You can read more about this on our Webmaster Central blog.


After months of hard work, the day is finally here: we've released Google News in Norway and Sweden.

At Google News, we cut to the bone -- er, to the core -- searching to get you the freshest takes. We gather the latest news headlines in your language and present a summary of links to you in one single page, freshly ranked by relevance and popularity. Then you just dash off to the sites to read the news stories that take your fancy.

The two of us worked as summer interns with Google in Trondheim earlier this year, with plenty of help from our Swedish colleague Jonas Yngvesson, who's based in Google's Zurich office. Now after some months of public silence, we can finally tell our friends and you all about our work on Google News Scandinavia. It has kind of become our baby. We've cared for it, looked after it, yelled at it and corrected it, and we've come to love it. We hope you will appreciate it as much as we do.

In addition to taming the news, we've enjoyed free lunches and had a chance to learn from some of the best engineers Trondheim and the rest of the world have to offer. Perhaps best of all, we were trusted to work on release-level code for Norway and Sweden. If like us you want to have a say in the inner workings of the world's biggest search company -- to discuss algorithm problems with the guy who wrote your algorithm textbook at college -- you should know that Google wants interns all over the world. Check out the Google Interns site.

Before we go, we would like to thank all the Googlers who have helped us and encouraged us and cared for us throughout our internship. Bosses, colleagues, recruiters and caterers, thank you! Our summer would not have been the same without your help.


Today we launched a new feature of Google Calendar: "Search public events." It lets you search over public events added by others using Calendar and also events we've added by working with partners to provide movie listings, concerts, and all sorts of other fun events.

There are many reasons we wanted to build this feature, but mainly because some of us on the team moved to New York last year to work in our office there. Needless to say, we wanted to experience everything that the city had to offer but had trouble finding all the fun and fascination that New York has to offer. After Google Calendar launched in April, we saw a surge in the number of public calendars being shared. We thought if we made public events searchable, we could find interesting events with little effort by encouraging people to share interesting events.

So whether you're interested in broadway, movies, art, music, photography, farmer's markets, Knicks basketball (we love 'em in NY) or even good old dumpster diving, we hope you find this new feature useful. If you don't see your favorite event, add it to a public calendar and share it with the world. And while you're finding new and interesting things to do, please send us feedback on other ways we can improve the service.


Every once in a while, our products go through a change that we just can't wait to get out to you. That's the case with Google Desktop 4.5, which introduces a visual refresh of the Sidebar and some Google Gadgets. The cleaner and now transparent Sidebar integrates more seamlessly into your desktop environment while still providing convenient, at-a-glance access to all sorts of personalized information. This version is also compatible with the latest software such as Microsoft Vista, Office 2007, and Mozilla Firefox 2.0. There are more details on the Google Desktop Blog.


When was the last time you visited a website where you couldn't find what you wanted? Happens way too often, doesn't it? Or perhaps you've recently had a bad experience with another piece of technology -- a mobile phone, DVD player, or household appliance that you just couldn't figure out how to use. Well, there is a whole group of people called "user experience professionals" who sit up late at night thinking about naughty technology and how to make it better for you -- and there's even a whole day dedicated to improving technology.

World Usability Day is an annual event that highlights the fact that millions of people around the world encounter technology problems every day, and so promotes the work that user experience professionals do to make technology easier to use. The day starts at midday NZST in New Zealand and ends 32 hours later at 11PM PST in California, with events on every continent (except maybe Antarctica!).

Events focus on a wide range of technologies and users: Not only do we work on travel websites, search engines, and email programs, but we also study how to best support people with special needs (from jet pilots to people with visual impairments) and improve the usability of everything from ATMs to operating rooms.

Google has a sizable team of user experience professionals who are constantly working to improve the usability of our products. We test them in lots of ways, like doing statistical analyses of which of two versions of a webpage gets more clicks and usage. Another one of our favorite techniques is inviting people to come into our labs to give us feedback in person. Sometimes, we ask them to sit in front of an eye tracker so we can follow where they are looking on the screen. We continually take the results of all these study types and make changes in the way our software behaves. For instance, we recently made changes to Google Base and Google Groups specifically to make those products easier to use. But while we pride ourselves on the usability of our products, we know that there's always more to be done. Whenever you have a question or complaint about the usability of one of Google's products, we want to hear about it! Use the "contact us" feedback link within a product's help center, and send us the details.

If you're a user experience professional or student interested in working here, please check out our jobs page and get in touch. And lastly, here are some World Usability Day events which caught our eye:

MakingLifeEasy.Org and Red Balloons on the Streets of Auckland & Wellington (New Zealand)

Navigation in the operating room. An example of a successful design process (Switzerland)

Usability Make-over for Nonprofit Websites (USA)

Access to Books for People with Print Disabilities (USA)

Dia Mundial da Usabilidade em Brasília (Brazil)

Exploring methods for promoting usability testing with elderly people and people with disabilities (Japan)


How do people in your company, school or organization start their day after their morning cup of coffee? It would be pretty great if they could fire up their browser and go to a page where they have everything they need to get their day going -- a summary of their inbox and calendar, company or school news, important links, plus a Google search box. It'd be even better if this page was highly customizable -- by your organization and by your people -- and didn't cost buckets of money to build and maintain.

I've thought a lot about this challenge, and I'm excited to finally tell everyone about what I've been working on: a brand new feature of Google Apps for Your Domain called the "start page." With this, organizations can provide a dynamic and unique-to-you central access point for essential information. Setting it up is quick and easy -- much like setting up a Google Personalized Homepage -- but with custom logos, colors and your organization's own content, in addition to modules from our gadget library. Then each of your users can take your organization's default page and change it up so it's just right for them.

To create a start page for your organization for free, sign up for Google Apps for Your Domain or log in to your existing account. If you think this would be useful but don't make these kinds of decisions for your school, business or organization, point your IT administrators to


This morning was incredibly exciting for me: when I opened up Google Earth, there were 16 of my historic map treasures floating serenely on the Google Earth globe. After months of hard work, the Google Earth team uploaded all the maps this weekend to the Featured Content layer of Google Earth. I was able to explore and fly around the old maps and use the transparency slider to compare the old world and the new; as I did this, I thought to myself that this is the perfect marriage of historic cartographic masterpieces with the innovative contemporary software tools of Google.

It has been a real pleasure for me to work on this project with the Google Earth team, including John Hanke, Rebecca Moore, Wei Luo, Mark Aubin and many others who did the work to make this happen. I have been impressed with the dedication of these people to the power of maps and using the Internet to improve geographic knowledge and literacy -– and now we can add history to that as well.

The cartographers and explorers who made these historical maps hundreds of years ago would be amazed and thrilled to see their maps in Google Earth. For me it is a perfect example of creative reuse of historic materials that the Web, thanks to Google, is making possible. Now anyone using Google Earth can experience the same wonder that I have had as I collected and explored these old maps in my private library –- for me it is really exciting to share this with the world using Google’s tools.

I had a lot of great moments in building my collection of more than 150,000 historic maps over the last 25 years, but this morning waking up to seeing those 16 historic maps in Google Earth will rank as one of the most memorable.


Welcome to Geography Awareness Week 2006.

National Geographic has been exploring and inspiring people to care about the planet for more than a century. But today -- with new geo-technologies such as Google Earth, Google Maps and the National Geographic-ESRI MapMachine — anyone hooked into the web can explore any place on Earth at the click of a mouse. Caring begins with seeing, and there’s no better way to see a place than to be there. So we know these new geographic tools mean better stewardship of our world’s extraordinary places, animals, and cultures.

This year we’re celebrating Africa. My Wonderful World — the National Geographic-led campaign for geographic literacy — has teamed up with Google to create a new Geography Awareness Quiz on Google Earth that lets you test your global IQ as you tour the continent.

All week, we’ll also highlight innovative projects that bring Africa to the rest of the world, such as Michael Fay’s Megaflyover, National Geographic magazine’s coverage of Africa on Google Earth, and the Koobi Fora Research Project -- on our My Wonderful World blog. We hope you’ll join us!


Google Personalized Search now includes Google Maps, which means you'll no longer have to remember searches you do for addresses, businesses, or directions on Maps. Instead, you'll be able to browse, search for, and bookmark them directly from your search history, just as you already can with your web, images, news, Froogle, and video history.

If you already have Personalized Search enabled, you can access your history through the "Search History" link in the upper right corner of Google Maps. Otherwise, you can sign up for Personalized Search, and make sure you're signed in to your Google Account when searching.


We've had lots of success working with the real estate industry to make home listings more easily discoverable on Google. And we're constantly attending real estate industry events and working daily with partners to help connect them with potential home buyers by adding more and more of their listings to Google web search. Over and over again, we hear from you: keep it free and keep it simple and keep it free.

So today, on our first day at the NAR event in New Orleans, we're happy to let you know that we've further simplified the process for real estate providers looking to make listings searchable on Google (and it's free, of course). Regardless of what kind of real estate professional you are, now you can easily go to one page to upload your listings to Google Base so that people can find them through Google. There are even dedicated pages for you --whether you're brokers, agents, MLS , or IDX vendors.

If you're tech-savvy, you can of course continue to send listings to Google Base yourself. But in any case we hope you find the many upload options available to you friendly and easy to use. If you're interested in Google and real estate, do check out all of the tools available to you. And if you happen to be in New Orleans this weekend, stop by our NAR booth.


Ever get lost, or turned around? Found yourself in unfamiliar territory? Or worse, awakened with just one shoe on? Well, we have something for you. No, not a shoe -- we mean GPS-Enabled Google Maps on the Helio Drift.

In a very short time, Google Maps for Mobile has taken a lead in mobile mapping and is available on more than 300 phone models. Now we've taken it to a new level: we're partnering with Helio to bring you GPS integration with Google Maps.

It's hard to enter a starting point if you don't know where you're starting from. We think that integrating GPS capabilities into Google Maps for Mobile will make our phones much smarter -- and you've told us that too.

When you use Google Maps on the Helio Drift you always know where you are. Start Google Maps and a blue dot is placed on the map at your current location. You can even see yourself move on the map as you change location. Say goodbye to sore thumbs from having to constantly type in your location.

Of course, you still get all of the popular Google Maps functionality: real-time traffic, detailed directions, integrated search results, easily movable maps, and satellite imagery. So get yourself a Drift and just get lost! No matter where you end up, we'll show you the quickest way out.


You talkin' to me? I sure hope so. At Google, we like it when people talk with each other. So we figured we should make life a little easier for our friends on orkut, where getting in touch and staying in touch is the name of the game. We noticed that a lot of orkut users have been using a separate instant messaging program to chat, which just seems like unnecessary work -- clicking around, keeping separate buddy lists, etc. This is why we've built Google Talk into orkut, so you can see your friends' availability and chat with them more easily. And, as a special Google Talk bonus, if you want to do more than text chat, you can make voice calls, leave voicemail, and transfer files.

Here's what to look for. If your friends are online and using Google Talk, you'll see a brightly-colored ball by their name. Green means they're available; orange means they're away from their computer; and red means they're busy. But no matter which color, if you see that ball, it means you can chat with or call your friends in just a couple of clicks.

We've put some orkut features into Google Talk too. In addition to chatting, calling, and sending files to your Google Talk buddies, you can also scrap them, receive instant notice when others scrap you, and quickly jump to any of their orkut profiles.

It's easy to enable these features -- sign in to talkify your orkut account and we'll get you going. Haven't been invited to join orkut yet? No problem.


To celebrate the holidays, we're offering merchants free transaction processing using Google Checkout through the end of 2006. Read more here.


You might be thinking most kids are only interested in celebrities and the next cool thing -- but not 15,000 British kids. This lot, between the ages of 4 and 18, ditched celebrity-watching in favour of good old-fashioned historical figures when they sent in their drawings to our Doodle 4 Google competition. (You may recall our informal name for this contest was "Day Off for Dennis.") Given the theme of ‘My Britain’ as their inspiration, school children up and down the UK got creative with the Google logo, hoping to see their entry on the Google homepage. Nearly half (45%) of their entries included monuments and historical figures from Big Ben to the Blackpool tower, and from the Queen to Shakespeare. Everyone at the London Googleplex was really impressed with how passionate the kids were about Britain, not to mention their talent.

And though some of you may laugh about British food, we were proud to see that a quarter of entries featured fish and chips, proving what we all already knew – that you can’t beat traditional British grub!

On Monday and Tuesday, we met thousands of children whose entries made it into the finals at the Science Museum in London. The wrapup gave them a chance to check out each others' designs and talk about their Doodles -- and of course it gave us the exciting job of announcing and congratulating the fantastic winner, 13-year-old Katherine Chisnall, from the South West of England. Aside from her day of fame on the homepage, Katherine and her family will be soon be visiting our world headquarters in Mountain View, California. The whole event was great fun, and who knows? Maybe we've identified some rising stars for Dennis' crew.


The new Gmail for mobile client launching today began life as a challenge: What if we could develop a Gmail application for cell phones that was as powerful and as easy to use as the desktop version? What if it ran on hundreds of different mobile devices -- and made it possible to compose, read, and respond to conversations with a bare minimum of clicking and scrolling? What if it enabled you to do things like search your inbox, view your attachments (including pictures and PDF files), and click to call your Gmail contacts? And what if the app were designed to make the whole experience as fast and as seamless as possible?

Team stalwarts Jimmy Shih, Joanne McKinley, Derek Phillips and others worked hard to answer these questions, and the result is Gmail for mobile devices. It's a small download, but one that might make you look at email on your phone in a different way -- maybe like Gmail did for email when that first appeared. Download it now and decide for yourself!