Sunday, May 30, 2010

This week in search 5/30/10

This is one of a regular series of posts on search experience updates. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Safety, security and privacy are important parts of the search equation for us at Google, particularly as we continue to bring you the best possible search experience on the web. Security in particular can be an important part to your interaction with the Google search box, so we're always looking for ways to make changes and enhancements to that interaction secure. Especially as we all spend more time online, the importance of security has taken center stage. So in addition to this week's secure search enhancement, you can read our latest news and insights at our Online Security Blog.

More secure searches
Years ago we added Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to products ranging from Gmail to Google Docs, as part of our effort to advance the safety and security of our products for you. Now you have a new choice to search more securely using https://www.google.com. When you use this https address, an encrypted session is established between your browser and Google that uses an SSL connection. Just like on an online banking page, the "https" confirms that you are using a more secure connection that will help protect your search terms and your search results from being intercepted by a third party. For more information on this security enhancement, read our announcement.

Example of encrypted search: [flowers]

Whether you're planning a trip by train or scouring the real-time web, this week's roundup also includes two search enhancements that should greatly improve the richness of yor search results -- no matter what you're looking for.

Images in real-time search updates

Ten blue links on a search results page can provide you with a lot of really helpful information, but sometimes you're searching for content that is richer than a textual web page. For instance, what are people saying about Lady Gaga's latest garb? Until now, it's been hard to get this kind of rich visual detail that's really fresh. So this week we began rolling out a feature for images in real-time search. When searching for the latest content across the real-time web, you'll be able to quickly see the images people are talking about right now (based on URLs of those images in their public updates.) To view this new feature, click on "Updates" in the lefthand panel when you complete a search. Then click on "Updates with images."

Example search: [pac-man doodle]

Transit search enhanced
Often when we search, it's to get from point A to point B, such as when the best route is by train. Then it's important to know the specific details of the train station near you, like which lines it serves. Now you can easily get this information in the lefthand panel on Google Maps by searching for the transit station. The lines are colored and grouped by transit type to make it easier to find the line you're looking for. For rail trains, you can see the departure time directly. For other types of transit like subways, buses and commuter trains, you can click on the line name to get the next departure time of each direction—all without having to leave the current page.

Example search: [Broadway-Lafayette St Station]

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned next week for more search news. Search on!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy 1st birthday, Google Wave!

Last week, we opened sign-ups for Google Wave to everyone as part of Google Labs and made it available for all Google Apps domains. Here is the quick (seven minute) update on the state of the product from this year's Google IO conference:



Today, it's been a full year since the Wave team first got on stage at the Moscone Center and demoed a new vision for communication and collaboration to a crowd of developers. In a guest article on the Huffington Post last week, Lars described innovation and working on Google Wave as a rollercoaster—and this year has certainly been a fascinating ride. For the past year, I've had the pleasure and the challenge of explaining why this new technology is useful. Unlike some other products that I have also been lucky enough to work on, Wave is not a more advanced approach to a known application like webmail or the browser. It's actually a new category, which can be kind of hard to wrap your head around.

I work in Wave every day, and we have identified a number of clear use cases for getting things done in groups at businesses and at schools. But people also ask me how I use Wave outside of work to understand how they should start using it themselves. As it turns out, the ways I use Wave aren't revolutionary or groundbreaking—I communicate about everyday things, but it is these incredibly ordinary and important communications that are transformed in unexpected ways when you use Wave.

I wave with my family—with my mom, who is across the country, and with my sister who is a graduate student. We're all on different schedules and very rarely all online at the same time. In one wave, we decided what to wear for a friend's wedding—adding suggestions for each other with links and pictures, updating the wave as we had side conversations and made decisions. My mom and I chatted about my dress choice when we were both online, and then my sister was easily able to catch up later, adding her ideas. It kept all three of us up to speed in one place, rather than having several phone conversations, emails and chats. Sharing these small personal projects in a wave removes the little bits of friction to make the discussions more dynamic and productive.


From talking to other people who use Google Wave, I know I'm not alone. I've been struck by the really personal nature of communicating and working together in Wave, and the emotional response people have to their first uniquely wavey experience, what we call the "Wave a-ha moment." For many people it's the live typing that does it; for others it's the first time they create an in-line reply, embed a YouTube video or edit someone else's text.

You really do have to try it to believe it, though—so if you checked out Google Wave six months ago and found yourself at a bit of a loss, take another look. The product is much faster and more stable and we have templates and tutorials to help you get started. Next time you find yourself taking notes while you are on the phone, do it in a wave and add your colleagues, or pull a couple friends or family members onto a wave for a small project... like going to the movies.

So head to wave.google.com and sign in. You can get more updates on our blog and even share your stories (ordinary or otherwise) with wave.stories@googlewave.com.

Wave on!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We’ve officially acquired AdMob!

Last Friday, we said that mobile advertising was moving fast. So are we! Today, we closed our acquisition of AdMob. Omar Hamoui has built a great team and great products at AdMob and we’re thrilled to officially welcome them to Google.

We’ll now begin the process of bringing our products and teams together in the best way, and building new products and features together. We’re working to make this integration happen as fast and as seamlessly as possible. We’ll actively keep our clients up-to-date as we bring our businesses together — stay tuned!

It’s clear that mobile advertising is becoming a much larger part of our clients’ and partners’ strategies and with this acquisition, it’s now a central part of our own business. In continuing to invest in this highly competitive area, we’ll be bringing together our technology, resources and expertise in search advertising with AdMob’s innovative solutions for advertising on mobile websites and in mobile applications.

Mobile search is central

One of the key ways that people find and access information on their mobile devices, just like on the desktop, is through search. As smart phones have proliferated, we’ve seen dramatic increases in mobile search volume. Over the past two years, Google's mobile search volumes have grown more than fivefold, at an accelerated pace. In the first three months of 2010, people with smartphones with “full” WebKit browsers (such as the iPhones, Android devices and Palm Pre) searched 62 percent more than they did in the previous three months.

Increasingly, people aren’t just typing search queries into their mobile devices. They speak them, they take photos of them and they even translate them from different languages.

In addition to traditional search ads on mobile devices, we’ve worked to develop entirely new search ad formats. “Click-to-call” search ads, for example, have been really popular. They enable advertisers to include a local business or national phone number directly in their ad text that you can click to reach the business directly via phone. This is a really great way for you to easily get information from a relevant business (say, a local restaurant), and a highly effective way for advertisers to connect with interested customers.

With many more advances to come, search advertising will remain the central way that many businesses connect with consumers on mobile devices.

Mobile websites and apps

In addition to search, another key way that people access information is through mobile websites (accessed through a browser) and mobile apps (available through Apple’s App Store, the Android Marketplace and more).

Mobile display and text ads make it easy for publishers and developers to make money from their mobile websites and apps, and enable advertisers to extend the reach of their campaigns to relevant mobile content. In this area, AdMob has been a real pioneer and has innovated at a tremendous pace, building a successful business and working with thousands of advertisers, publishers and developers.

AdMob was one of the first companies to serve ads inside mobile applications on the Android and iPhone platforms. They’ve developed a host of engaging and creative ad units for Android and iPhone apps—for example, interactive video ad units and expandable rich media ads. Google has also been developing new features for in-app ads. For example, last week, we announced that we’ll be making “click-to-call” ad formats available to developers who run AdSense in their mobile apps. With Google and AdMob starting to work together, there’s lots more innovation to come in this area.

The future

It’s clear that mobile advertising is growing incredibly fast with lots of businesses innovating at great speed. Every day, more marketers are looking to take advantage of the mobile-specific capabilities, extended reach, great returns and value that mobile advertising provides. Advertisers are now starting to see mobile as an essential part of their overall campaigns, not just a silo-ed experiment on the side.

We want to unleash agencies’ and advertisers’ creativity on all mobile devices and deliver them better results from their campaigns, drive better returns and more choice for publishers and developers, and help people get better ads and more free mobile content.

We believe that mobile advertising can play a significant role in every single marketing campaign. We’re passionate about the unlimited possibilities in this space. Today, with AdMob, our work to make them a reality begins.



Stock Repurchase
As previously announced, Google intends to repurchase in the open market a number of shares equal to the number of shares issued in the transaction and issuable upon exercise of outstanding options to purchase common stock issued by AdMob. The repurchase program is expected to commence shortly after the completion of the acquisition. The repurchases will be funded from available working capital.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watch efforts to stop the oil spill live and submit your ideas

As millions of gallons of oil pour into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil leak, ideas for stopping the leak and cleaning up the aftermath are needed. Today BP began their “top kill” procedure, which will attempt to send mud and cement into the well to block the flowing oil. You can watch what’s happening through a live stream of the leak on PBS NewsHour’s YouTube channel, the Google Oil Spill crisis response page or below.



You can submit your ideas on the best way to stop and clean up the oil spill via Google Moderator by 2:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 27.

Congratulations to Aadith Moorthy, the 2010 National Geographic Bee Champion

Tswana is a Bantu language spoken by the largest ethnic group in what landlocked country?

The production of yerbe maté, a tea made from an evergreen plant, is important to the economy of Misiones. This province is located in which country that borders Paraguay?

The Øresund Bridge, opened in 2000, connects Copenhagen, Denmark with what Swedish city?


The largest city in northern Haiti was renamed following Haiti’s independence from France. What is the present-day name of this city?


Aadith Moorthy tackled these and other questions to win this year’s National Geographic Bee held today in Washington, D.C. While he missed his first question of the day, he didn’t let that get get in his way. His win is the culmination of many months of preparation and local competitions that began last fall at schools across the country.

Aadith is a 13-year-old 8th grader from Palm Harbor, Florida and attends the Palm Land Middle School. When not studying geography, he is a South Indian classical (Carnatic) music concert singer. At the beginning of the final round, he gave the audience a taste of his talent when Alex Trebek, the host of the Bee, asked him to sing on the spot.

We’re proud that Google is this year’s sponsor of the National Geographic Bee. This contest exemplifies the importance of being geographically literate and showcases just how well these students understand the world around them. This skill-set will be a vital asset as they continue their education and careers. As you can tell from the questions above, it’s not just a matter of memorizing state and country capitals!

I had the great opportunity to speak at both the preliminary and championship rounds of the Bee and was impressed by the dedication of the teachers who made special efforts to train their school finalists and the depth of knowledge of the students. This is contest with important implications for their future lives and careers.

We’re excited to follow all of the 54 finalists to see where in the world they land.



Answers: Botswana, Argentina, Malmö, Cap-Haïtien

The 2010 Doodle 4 Google winner: Makenzie Melton’s Rainforest Habitat

Your millions of online votes helped us pick the winners of this year's Doodle 4 Google competition. Today, we're pleased to announce the results.

Congratulations to Makenzie Melton, a third grader at El Dorado Springs R-2 Schools in El Dorado Springs, Missouri. Her winning design, entitled "Rainforest Habitat,” expressed her concern that "the rainforest is in danger and it is not fair to the plants and animals.” Makenzie’s design triumphed over more than 33,000 student submissions from all over the country. Makenzie’s colored-pencil creation beautifully embodied this year’s theme.


Makenzie received a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook computer and a $25,000 technology grant for a new computer lab at her school. Her doodle will also be featured on the Google.com homepage tomorrow, May 27, for millions of people to enjoy all across the country.

Our congratulations also go out to other three national finalists. They were selected as having the best doodle in their grade groups by the online public vote, and each student will receive a netbook computer:

Grades 4-6
Raymundo Marquez, Grade 6, of Nellie Mae Glass Elementary, Eagle Pass, Texas for his doodle entitled "Save Our Rainforest." The background of Raymundo’s work depicts deforestation and the effects it can have on our land. He says, “we will eventually have less oxygen and clean air. We need to unite to protect not just our lives, but the lives of all the rare and beautiful plants and animals that live there.”

Grades 7-9
Vance Viggiano, Grade 7, Heritage Home School Academy, Long Valley, New Jersey, for his doodle entitled "The Love of Art." Vance says, “If I could do anything, I would... enrich the world with an intense passion for art and the everlasting joy it provides. Art embodies the creator's expression, and offers exquisite exuberance towards both the artist and the viewers, also serving to soothe an ailing soul in distress.”

Grades 10-12
Bevan Schiffli, Grade 11, Highlands School, Highlands, North Carolina, for her doodle entitled "Branch Out." Bevan says, “My doodle expresses my desire to understand other views and cultures. I want to branch out to gain a strong sense of the world; not only in one perspective, but many. My wish is to show people my experiences through a pursuit of art/design in my future career.”

Our four winners were announced at an event today at the Google New York office and were celebrated at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, where we also unveiled an exhibit of the 40 regional winners that will be on view until August 15, 2010. The finalists were treated to a day in New York City, including doodle classes with our doodle team and the opportunity to meet some of this year’s expert jurors who helped judge this year’s final doodles around the theme “If I Could Do Anything, I Would..." Judges at today’s event were well known artists and animators from Disney, the Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and Peanuts gang, Barbie/Matell and the Sesame Street Workshop.

A special thanks to all those who voted and helped us select this year's winner. Thank you to all those creative kids out there who submitted entries — and the teachers and principals who work so hard to get their students recognized. We hope you'll doodle with us next year!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Evolving from beta to stable with a faster version of Chrome

After a bit of evolution and lots of work from the team, we’re thrilled to introduce a new stable version of Chrome for Windows, Mac and Linux. Since last December, we’ve been chipping away at bugs and building in new features to get the Mac and Linux versions caught up with the Windows version, and now we can finally announce that the Mac and Linux versions are ready for prime time.


Google Chrome for Windows



Google Chrome for Mac

Google Chrome for Linux

The performance bar for all three versions keeps getting higher: today’s new stable release for Windows, Mac and Linux is our fastest yet, incorporating one of our most significant speed improvements to date. We’ve improved by 213 percent and 305 percent in Javascript performance by the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks since our very first beta, back in Chrome’s Cretaceous period (September 2008). To mark these speed improvements, we’ve also released a series of three unconventional speed tests for the browser:



(If you’re interested in how we pitted Chrome against the forces of a potato gun, lightning, and the speed of sound, take a look behind-the-scenes in this video, or read the full technical details in the video’s description drop-down in YouTube).

You may also notice that today’s new stable release comes with a few new features, including the ability to synchronize browser preferences across computers, new HTML5 capabilities and a revamped bookmark manager. For more details, read on in the Google Chrome Blog.

If you haven't tried Google Chrome since the stone age, check out this brand new stable release. If you're already using Chrome, you'll be automatically updated to this new version soon. To try it right away, download the latest version at google.com/chrome.



(First dev, then beta, now stable! Many thanks to Christoph Niemann)

Google’s U.S. economic impact

(Cross-posted to the Google Public Policy Blog)

In 1978, people told Douglas Twiddy he was crazy when he started renting out vacation homes in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. More than 30 years later, his son Ross is using our AdWords advertising program to help attract prospective renters — and grow his small business, Twiddy. Thanks in part to AdWords, in just the past two years the company has added 100 new homes to its listings and hired 16 full-time employees, and it brings on another 50 seasonal employees each year.

This week is National Small Business Week, and Ross will be with me on Capitol Hill in Washington today to share his story and help unveil something that means a tremendous amount to me: a new report detailing, for the first time ever, Google’s economic impact in all 50 states.

People think of Google first and foremost as a search engine, but it’s also an engine of economic growth. In our report, we’re announcing that in 2009 we generated a total of $54 billion of economic activity for American businesses, website publishers and non-profits. Over the years people have asked us whether we could quantify our economic impact on a state level, and we’re pleased to do that for the first time with this report, which you can download at google.com/economicimpact.

In a time of tighter budgets and a slow economic recovery, we’re glad to support so many small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country by helping them find new customers more efficiently and monetize their websites through targeted advertising.

Here’s a video from me and our Chief Economist, Hal Varian, with more background on where we get the numbers:



The report is filled with really wonderful stories about the direct economic impact that AdWords, AdSense, Google Grants and our search engine have across the country. These are the stories of entrepreneurs across the country growing their businesses with Google. And this morning Googlers are hosting events in 10 other cities across the country (Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Oakland, Portland (OR), Raleigh and Seattle) to help share those stories. Ladies and gentlemen, start your economic engines!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PAC-MAN rules!

We've been overwhelmed — but not surprised :) — by the success of our 30th anniversary PAC-MAN doodle. Due to popular demand, we’re making the game permanently available at www.google.com/pacman.

Thanks to NAMCO for helping to make this wonderful collaboration happen. Enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Google Special Award Winners @ Intel ISEF 2010

Last Thursday evening, we announced the winners of our Google Special Awards at the Intel ISEF 2010 Special Awards Ceremony. With applications from 17 project fields ranging from behavioral and social sciences to microbiology, judging these great projects was extremely difficult. Submissions like a bio-inspired photonic fuel cell and a new way to treat waste water using fungus showcased the ingenuity and imagination of the world’s next generation of scientists. In fact, we were so blown away by the caliber of the project submissions that hours before the award ceremony, we decided to give some additional awards. In addition to the three $10,000 category prizes, we awarded six runner-up prizes of $1,000 each. And since so many of our applications were in the Secret Change Agent category (an award for the project that has the most potential to positively impact society and make the world a better place), we selected two winners, who each received $10,000!

Please join us in congratulating the 10 finalists and finalist teams who were awarded the Google Special Awards. Their accomplishments represent the bright future of science and technology and we’re thrilled to be along for the ride.

Google Special Award Winners & Runner-ups

Category #1: CS Connect: applying computer science to further scientific inquiry in your field
Runner-ups ($1,000 each)
Ritik Malhotra and Tony Ho (Mechanical Engineering), ages 17, San Jose, CA
Engineering a Novel Genetics-Based Disease Detection Mechanism Designed Using an Ontology-Driven Semantically Annotated Microarray Repository with Thermal Gradient Focusing Mass Spectrometry

Christopher Nielsen (Electrical Engineering), age 16, Alberta, Canada
Robust Displacement Estimation Employing Inexpensive Webcam Based Optical Flow


Winner ($10,000)
Joon Suk Huh (Physics), age 17, South Korea
Finding the Minimum Energy Conformation of Protein-like Heteropolymers by Greedy Neighborhood Search
Category #2: The Future of Energy: contributing to a cleaner, brighter tomorrow
Runner-ups ($1,000 each)
Lyric Gilett (Energy and Transportation), 18, Texas
Novel Method: Detecting High Energies in Sonoluminescense


Max Keller (Energy and Transportation), Age 17, Minnesota
Decomposing Energy

Winner ($10,000)
Dheevesh Arulmani (Energy and Transportation), Age 14, Ontario, Canada
Bio-Inspired Photonic Fuel Cell
Category #3: Secret Change Agent: making our world a better place through innovative change
Runner-ups ($1,000 each)
Xiangbo Meng (Plant Sciences), age 17, Beijing, China
Aqueous Extract of Lemon Leaves as a Novel Powerful Insecticide Against Trialeurodes Vaporariorum (Whitefly)


Sonia Rao (Microbiology), age 17, Missouri
Bacterial Silencing: The Discovery of Quorum Quenching Soil Microbes for the Development of Antimicrobial Compounds


Winners ($10,000 each)
William Lopes (Microbiology), age 20, Brasil
Utilization of the Fungus Aspergillus Niger on Wastewater Treatment II


Karoline Elis Lopes Martins (Environmental Management), age 18, Brasil
Construction of a Continuous Flow SODIS system with PET Bottles Integrated to a Water and Waste-Water Treatment System
For a full listing of the Intel ISEF Grand Award and Special Award winners, visit the Intel ISEF 2010 homepage here.

Keeping up-to-date on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

It is estimated that at least 6 million gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon explosion a month ago. Cleanup efforts are underway, but the oil has spread extensively around the Gulf and along the southern U.S. coastline. Oil has begun washing up on the beaches of Louisiana and the delicate wetlands along the Mississippi River, and can spread to Florida and throughout the Gulf as weather conditions change. This sequence of images, coming from NASA’s MODIS satellites, illustrates the movement and growth of the oil slick over the past few weeks:

April 25, 2010


April 29, 2010


May 9, 2010


May 17, 2010

The last image, taken earlier this week (on May 17), shows the coastal areas currently at risk from the spreading oil, and can help those working on the wide range of relief efforts.


You can view this and other MODIS imagery in Google Earth by downloading this KML. You can also view additional imagery and find other resources and news at our oil spill crisis response page.

Google Apps highlights – 5/21/2010

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

It’s been an active and exciting week on the Google Apps team, including the release of several new features at Google I/O, our annual developers conference.

Google Calendar gets a new look
The Google Calendar team has been doing some spring cleaning. On Wednesday, we revealed Google Calendar’s new cleaner design. We streamlined text that appears in the interface, made the controls more compact and created more space on screen to display information from your calendar.


New themes for forms in Google Docs
We also spruced up forms in Google Docs with the addition of 24 new themes for online surveys that you create. As you’re editing your form, just click the “Theme” button to browse the gallery and change the look and feel of your form.


Drag images into Gmail messages
On Tuesday, we simplified a common action: inserting images in a Gmail message. If you use Google Chrome, now you can drag images files from your computer’s desktop or folders onto the body of a message you’re composing, and Gmail will add the image to your message. You can easily resize the image right in the Gmail compose window before hitting “Send.”


Google Voice open to students
We’ve heard from many students how Google Voice makes it easier to deal with the process of getting a new dorm phone number and moving back and forth between school and home each year. Voicemail transcriptions that students can glance at while in class are also useful. To help more students take advantage of these tools, last Friday we opened up Google Voice for students with .edu email addresses. Try it out!

Google Wave (Labs) open to all
Google Wave is a new team collaboration application that brings discussion and debate right into the context of content people are working on together. For the last year, Google Wave has been available to a limited set of testers and early users, but on Wednesday we moved Wave to Google Labs and now anyone can sign up. If you use Google Apps at your business, school or organization, your IT manager can enable Wave from the Google Apps control panel now, too.



More Google applications coming for Google Apps customers
Speaking of new applications for businesses, schools and organizations, we also just announced that starting this summer, Google Apps customers will be able to sign into Blogger, Picasa Web Albums, Google Reader, AdWords and many more Google services with their Google Apps accounts. If you’re the Google Apps administrator for your organization, read more about how this change will work and sign up to start testing. We welcome your feedback.


Contextual gadgets in Gmail
Gmail can already display previews of documents, videos and photo albums so you don’t have to switch back and forth between windows, and now Google Apps customers can add other contextual gadgets from the Google Apps Marketplace. There are already gadgets for project management, social networking, rich contact profiles and much more, and we hope developers will build their own contextual gadgets with the new Gmail API.



Apps Script
Google Apps Script lets customers automate business processes ranging from expense approvals to time-sheet tracking to ticket management and order fulfillment. On Tuesday we launched Google Apps Script improvements, including Java database connectivity, custom user interfaces for scripts, the ability to invoke scripts from any web page and integrations with more Google services, like Google Maps. To help you get started with scripts, we also released a new set of script templates with pre-built functionality.

Google Calendar Connector for Lotus Notes®
Many companies still using old legacy technologies are looking to make a seamless switch to the cloud, and now Lotus Notes customers can move to Google Apps in phases, at their own pace. Last week we launched the Google Calendar Connector for Lotus Notes®, which allows businesses to switch to Google Apps department by department. Google Apps users in your organization can look up free/busy info for coworkers still on Lotus Notes and vice versa.

Who’s gone Google?
Thousands more businesses and schools have “gone Google” since our last update, including Arista Networks (where Andy Bechtolsheim serves as Chairman) and Smart Furniture. Both of these companies had a common motivation for moving to Google Apps: being able to focus their precious resources on core business challenges by letting technology experts at Google handle the day-to-day operations of running an email system.

Search more securely with encrypted Google web search

Update June 25, 2010: Since we introduced our encrypted search option last month, we’ve been listening closely to user feedback. Many users appreciate the capability to perform searches with better protection against snooping from third parties. We’ve also heard about some challenges faced by various school districts, and today, we want to inform you that we’ve moved encrypted search from https://www.google.com to https://encrypted.google.com. The site functions in the same way. For more information on this change, please read on here.

As people spend more time on the Internet, they want greater control over who has access to their online communications. Many Internet services use what are known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections to encrypt information that travels between your computer and their service. Usually recognized by a web address starting with “https” or a browser lock icon, this technology is regularly used by online banking sites and e-commerce websites. Other sites may also implement SSL in a more limited fashion, for example, to help protect your passwords when you enter your login information.

Years ago Google added SSL encryption to products ranging from Gmail to Google Docs and others, and we continue to enable encryption on more services. Like banking and e-commerce sites, Google’s encryption extends beyond login passwords to the entire service. This session-wide encryption is a significant privacy advantage over systems that only encrypt login pages and credit card information. Early this year, we took an important step forward by making SSL the default setting for all Gmail users. And today we’re gradually rolling out a new choice to search more securely at https://www.google.com.

When you search on https://www.google.com, an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party on your network. The service includes a modified logo to help indicate that you’re searching using SSL and that you may encounter a somewhat different Google search experience, but as always, remember to check the start of the address bar for “https” and your browser lock indicators:

Today’s release comes with a “beta” label for a few reasons. First, it currently covers only the core Google web search product. To help avoid misunderstanding, when you search using SSL, you won’t see links to offerings like Image Search and Maps that, for the most part, don’t support SSL at this time. Also, since SSL connections require additional time to set up the encryption between your browser and the remote web server, your experience with search over SSL might be slightly slower than your regular Google search experience. What won’t change is that you will still get the same great search results.

A few notes to remember: Google will still maintain search data to improve your search quality and to provide better service. Searching over SSL doesn’t reduce the data sent to Google — it only hides that data from third parties who seek it. And clicking on any of the web results, including Google universal search results for unsupported services like Google Images, could take you out of SSL mode. Our hope is that more websites and services will add support for SSL to help create a better and more consistent experience for you.

We think users will appreciate this new option for searching. It’s a helpful addition to users’ online privacy and security, and we’ll continue to add encryption support for more search offerings. To learn more about using the feature, refer to our help article on search over SSL.

Working with AdMob to move mobile advertising forward

Today, the Federal Trade Commission cleared our acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising start up. We’re excited to work with Omar Hamoui and his talented team at AdMob to develop new mobile advertising solutions for marketers, mobile app developers and mobile publishers.

The decision is great news for the mobile advertising ecosystem as a whole. This was reflected in the widespread industry support for our acquisition.

Throughout the FTC’s review process, it’s been clear that mobile advertising is growing rapidly.

As mobile phone usage increases, growth in mobile advertising is only going to accelerate. This benefits mobile developers and publishers who will get better advertising solutions, marketers who will find new ways to reach consumers, and users who will get better ads and more free content.

We’re very excited about the possibilities in this field. As an immediate matter, we’re now moving to close this acquisition in coming weeks. We’ll then start work right away on bringing AdMob’s and Google’s teams and products together. This industry is moving fast, and we’re excited to be part of the race!

Celebrating PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday

When I was growing up, my dad had the best job I could possibly imagine: he was an arcade game and pinball technician. For me, that meant summer trips through Poland’s coastal cities with their seasonal arcade parlors; peeking inside cabinets to learn programming and engineering secrets; and—of course—free games!

One of my favorites was PAC-MAN, whose popularity transcended the geopolitical barriers of that time. During the heyday of space shooters, Tōru Iwatani’s creation stood out as one of the first video games aimed at a broader audience, with a cute story of pizza-shaped character gobbling dots in a maze, colorful (literally!) characters, friendly design, very little violence and everlasting fun.

Today, on PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday, you can rediscover some of your 8-bit memories—or meet PAC-MAN for the first time—through our first-ever playable Google doodle. To play the game, go to google.com during the next 48 hours (because it’s too cool to keep for just one day) and either press the “Insert Coin” button or just wait for a few seconds.

Google doodler Ryan Germick and I made sure to include PAC-MAN’s original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts’ individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs from this 1980’s masterpiece. We also added a little easter egg: if you throw in another coin, Ms. PAC-MAN joins the party and you can play together with someone else (PAC-MAN is controlled with arrow keys or by clicking on the maze, Ms. PAC-MAN using the WASD keys).

PAC-MAN™ & ©1980 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.

PAC-MAN seems like a natural fit for the Google homepage. They’re both deceptively straightforward, carefully hiding their complexity under the hood. There’s a light-hearted, human touch to both of them. And we can only hope you find using Google at least a quarter as enjoyable as eating dots and chasing ghosts. You know, without actually needing any quarters.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Announcing Google TV: TV meets web. Web meets TV.

If there’s one entertainment device that people know and love, it’s the television. In fact, 4 billion people across the world watch TV and the average American spends five hours per day in front of one*. Recently, however, an increasing amount of our entertainment experience is coming from our phones and computers. One reason is that these devices have something that the TV lacks: the web. With the web, finding and accessing interesting content is fast and often as easy as a search. But the web still lacks many of the great features and the high-quality viewing experience that the TV offers.

So that got us thinking...what if we helped people experience the best of TV and the best of the web in one seamless experience? Imagine turning on the TV and getting all the channels and shows you normally watch and all of the websites you browse all day — including your favorite video, music and photo sites. We’re excited to announce that we’ve done just that.

Google TV is a new experience for television that combines the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the Internet. With Google Chrome built in, you can access all of your favorite websites and easily move between television and the web. This opens up your TV from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the web. Your television is also no longer confined to showing just video. With the entire Internet in your living room, your TV becomes more than a TV — it can be a photo slideshow viewer, a gaming console, a music player and much more.

Google TV uses search to give you an easy and fast way to navigate to television channels, websites, apps, shows and movies. For example, already know the channel or program you want to watch? Just type in the name and you’re there. Want to check out that funny YouTube video on your 48” flat screen? It’s just a quick search away. If you know what you want to watch, but you’re not sure where to find it, just type in what you’re looking for and Google TV will help you find it on the web or on one of your many TV channels. If you’d rather browse than search, you can use your standard program guide, your DVR or the Google TV home screen, which provides quick access to all of your favorite entertainment so you’re always within reach of the content you love most.

Because Google TV is built on open platforms like Android and Google Chrome, these features are just a fraction of what Google TV can do. In our announcement today at Google I/O, we challenged web developers to start coming up with the next great web and Android apps designed specifically for the TV experience. Developers can start optimizing their websites for Google TV today. Soon after launch, we’ll release the Google TV SDK and web APIs for TV so that developers can build even richer applications and distribute them through Android Market. We've already started building strategic alliances with a number of companies — like Jinni.com and Rovi — at the leading edge of innovation in TV technology. Jinni.com is a next-generation TV application working to provide semantic search, personalized recommendation and social features for Google TV across all sources of premium content available to the user. Rovi is one of the world's leading guide applications. We’re looking forward to seeing all of the ways developers will use this new platform.

We’re working together with Sony, Logitech and Intel to put Google TV inside of televisions, Blu-ray players and companion boxes. These devices will go on sale this fall, and will be available at Best Buy stores nationwide. You can sign up here to get updates on Google TV availability.

This is an incredibly exciting time — for TV watchers, for developers and for the entire TV ecosystem. By giving people the power to experience what they love on TV and on the web on a single screen, Google TV turns the living room into a new platform for innovation. We're excited about what’s coming. We hope you are too.



*Nielsen, Three Screen Report, Fourth Quarter 2009

Update 2:26PM: Updated to include more information about other developers.
Update on 5/27/2010: Updated to include additional information about partners.
Update on 6/15/2010: Below, we've added a new video that demos Google TV's features.


Android Froyo, with some sprinkles

Since launching the first Android-powered phone with T-Mobile in October 2008, we have worked with operators, handset manufacturers and developers to make Android one of the most useful, innovative mobile platforms available.

We've been thrilled by the adoption of the platform over the past year and a half. Every day, our partners sell more than 100,000 new Android-based handsets, and there are now more than 180,000 active Android developers who have contributed more than 50,000 apps now available in Android Market—up 12,000 since last month alone!

Today at I/O, our annual developer conference, we announced Android 2.2. Codenamed Froyo (for frozen yogurt), this seventh update to the Android platform brings some great new functionality to users (things like making your handset a portable hotspot and support for Adobe Flash within the browser), along with new tools for developers. Read more about the specifics of Froyo on our Android Developer Blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Google I/O 2010 Day 1: A more powerful web in more places

Today at Moscone West in San Francisco, we’re kicking off our largest developer conference of the year, Google I/O. Over two days, 5,000 people from 66 countries will hear from 200 speakers, see 180+ developer demonstrations and participate in more than 90 technical sessions, breakouts and fireside chats to meet engineers from Google and partner companies.

At last year's I/O, we demonstrated the potential of HTML5. Since then, the web has moved from a promising platform to a compelling setting for developers to build apps. This week we’ll celebrate this ongoing evolution of the web and share some of our latest work in moving the web forward and keeping it open.

Today we're announcing Google App Engine for Business, which offers new features that enable companies to build internal applications on the same reliable, scalable and secure infrastructure that we at Google use for our own apps. For greater cloud portability, we’re also teaming up with VMware to make it easier for companies to build rich web apps and deploy them to the cloud of their choice or on-premise. In just one click, users of the new versions of SpringSource Tool Suite and Google Web Toolkit can deploy their application to Google App Engine for Business, a VMware environment or other infrastructure, such as Amazon EC2.

There are already lots of great apps out on the web, but there hasn’t been one destination where you could easily find them. Our new Chrome Web Store is an open marketplace for web apps that helps people find the best web applications across the Internet and allows developers to reach new users. We also joined other web companies in announcing WebM, an open web media format project and open-sourced VP8, a high-quality, web-optimized video codec, that we are contributing to the project under a royalty-free license.

We’re pleased to share some updates to our APIs too. Last year, we announced the Google Maps API v3, which was designed to be faster and optimized for mobile devices. Today this API is graduating from Code Labs and is enterprise-ready as part of Google Maps API Premier. We’re also announcing new ways for publishers to improve the relevance of their AdSense ads, a brand-new version of the Feed API with push updates that make the latest PubSubHubbub-enabled feed data available without requiring visitors to refresh pages, and a library of high-quality open-source web fonts, accessible to everyone through the new Google Font API.

Finally, last year we introduced a new way to communicate and collaborate called Google Wave. Today we’re opening Wave to everyone — no invitation necessary — at wave.google.com, as part of Google Labs. Google Apps administrators can also enable it for their domains and help groups of people work together more productively. To learn more about this, our many new API features and more open-source code for developers, visit the Wave Developer blog.

For lots more about Google I/O 2010, visit http://code.google.com/events/io/ and follow us on the Code Blog, Twitter @googleio (#io2010) and Buzz.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Celebrating Bike to Work Day(s)

Most days, I bike to work. No spandex, no special shoes; just me and my cruiser (and a basket on the back for my laptop). It’s about 4.5 miles door to door. Now, I give mad props to the folks who bike from San Francisco to Google every week. But biking to work is for regular folks, too. It feels great: the exercise, the fresh air and doing something “green”, all while giving my brain time to warm up for — or decompress after — a hectic work day.

So how can we get more people who live right around Google offices to get off their good intentions and on to their bikes? Well, we did recently release biking directions on Google Maps (including on mobile phones!) but in case that wasn’t enough motivation, there’s no better time to try than on Bike to Work Day!

We celebrated Bay Area Bike to Work Day this past Thursday at Google’s HQ (as usual, Northern California’s date was ahead of U.S. National Bike to Work Day). The rest of our offices will take up the bike-commuting cause at the end of this week and into next week, from Bangalore to Zurich. Last year, 42 Google offices participated in Bike to Work Day — and we hope to top that this time around.

To prepare for Bay Area Bike to Work day, our employees hosted a How to Bike to Work tech talk and volunteered time at a free bike repair clinic. Those Googlers repaired over 40 bikes in 2.5 hours — not bad for an all-volunteer outfit. And we had a whole pile of volunteer group ride leaders plan to lead 20 different rides in from all over the Bay, to help folks get to work safely and in style.

Last year, we aimed for 1,000 riders globally, and beat that handily (1,322 riders total). So we decided to raise the stakes and shoot for 1,000 in Northern California alone. And we did it: 1,020 riders to our Mountain View, San Bruno, and San Francisco offices. That’s a new record for Google and almost five percent of our global employee population!

The longest ride was 71 miles...from Palo Alto. (Via Pescadero. That’s what we call taking the loooong route.) The Santa Cruz crew came straight in and went 55 miles one way...and some of them were talking about biking home, too! 172 Googlers came in from San Francisco — but thanks to Google’s extensive shuttle system, most of them can get a lift back home.

The largest turnout came from Mountain View, of course — 272 folks came from right around the ‘plex. Considering more riders came from SF than Mountain View last year, our super-locals had some pride to win back!

For me, the highlights included free massages, furry friends, tiny companions, a skeleton, a unicycle and the Warp Speed Conference Bike team who rode a 400+lb contraption all the way in from Redwood City. (Witness also the classiest bike jersey ever.) Oh, and seeing our smiling CFO check in, who biked in even though it was Shareholder Day on campus! Not to mention a certain founder with his solar-panel backpack.

But the real joy was hearing all the people who said, “You know, I never thought I could do it. But it wasn’t so hard after all! I will definitely do it again.” That’s what Bike to Work Day is all about.

Overall, we had tons of fun spreading the bike-commute love here in Mountain View, and we can’t wait to see what our fellow Googlers get up to all around the world. Maybe we’ll even hit our stretch goal: 2010 riders in 2010! In the meantime, check out our photos from Thursday’s party-on-wheels to get psyched for your own ride to work.



Update May 20: Corrected number of riders. We actually had 1020!

Simplify common tasks with the new Google Apps Script

Last year at our Google I/O Developer Conference, we launched Google Apps Script, a software tool that lets you customize and automate Google Apps. Today, on the verge of our first birthday, we’re releasing significant updates to Google Apps Script, including its integration with other properties like Google Maps and Google Docs as well as third-party services and databases through the new Java Database connectivity.

Check out our new scripts templates to try out some of the common tasks and processes that this new version of Google Apps Script can easily simplify and automate. And to learn more about how organizations can use it, head over to the Google Enterprise blog. Finally, if you’re attending this year’s Google I/O, we’re holding a session on using scripts to automate business processes — maybe we’ll see you there!

Remember to tune in to live-streamed Google I/O keynotes

(Cross-posted from the Google Code Blog)

For those not attending Google I/O, remember to tune in to http://youtube.com/GoogleDevelopers on Wednesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 20, to watch the Google I/O keynote presentations live.

Keynote times:
Wednesday, May 19, 9:00am - 10:30am PDT
Thursday, May 20, 8:30am - 10:00am PDT

To stay up to date on I/O news, follow us on Twitter or Buzz — and to go one level deeper on I/O session content, live wave with us.

Doodle 4 Google, meet the 40 Regional Finalists (we did!)

For the first time ever, as part of this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition, we’re heading straight to classrooms all across the United States. From Gig Harbor, WA to Niceville, FL, Googlers are visiting the schools of our top 40 Regional Finalists to celebrate art and technology with thousands of K-12 students and teachers.

With our top 40 Regional Finalists unveiled, it’s now your turn to vote on the top 40 doodles! Starting at 6:00 a.m. PDT today through May 25 at 5:00 p.m. PDT, you can cast your online votes for your favorite Regional Finalist’s doodle (one from each of the four grade groups). On May 26, we’ll announce the national winner at our awards ceremony in New York City, and the winning design will appear on google.com on Thursday, May 27. The national winner will also receive a $15,000 college scholarship and $25,000 towards a new computer lab for their school.

The Doodle 4 Google contest is all about designing and dreaming big, and this year we asked students to design our Google logo with the theme, “If I Could Do Anything, I Would...” More than 33,000 submissions poured in from all 50 states, and we were absolutely delighted by the creativity and talent of the submissions we saw. How exactly did we get from 33,000 to the top 40? We were lucky to have in our judging process not only Google employees but also 12 Expert Jurors, well-known cartoonists and animators from companies like Disney, Pixar Animation Studios and The Peanuts Gang/Charles Schulz.

In addition to our top 40 Regional Finalists, we’d like to congratulate the 400 State Finalists as well as our Extra Credit Technology Booster award winners.

Doodle 4 Google wouldn’t have been possible without the help and guidance of teachers and administrators who work hard every day to encourage art and creativity in the classroom — it is this sort of creativity that will lead to tomorrow's designers, technologists and engineers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This week in search 5/14/10

This is one of a regular series of posts on search experience updates. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This week, we announced a number of new search enhancements.

Google Translate learns and speaks new languages
This week, we launched 5 new "alpha" languages on Google Translate — Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Georgian and Urdu. We also extended our support for spoken translations to 29 more languages. With these launches, you can now translate text, webpages and documents between 57 languages, and hear translations spoken in 36 languages. For many search queries where you want to translate a word or a phrase, we offer a translation powered by Google Translate directly in our search results. We also recently added romanization to this feature — when translating to or from a foreign language, you can now see the translation written phonetically in roman characters.

Example searches: [translate how are you? to chinese] or [translate обезьяна]

Twenty more languages in Google search get virtual keyboard
Recently, we announced that we've integrated virtual keyboards into Google Search homepages in 35 languages. Virtual keyboard lets you type directly in your local language script in an easy and consistent manner, no matter where you are or what computer you’re using. Feedback is always important to us, and we were excited to get more than three thousand votes for other languages you felt the keyboard should be launched in. Today, we're happy to announce that we are adding Virtual Keyboard to another 20 languages — making it now available in 55 languages.

For those of you who speak a language we don't yet support, we're hard at work adding the virtual keyboard into more languages listed in Google Language Tools page. You can also vote for the languages you'd like us to add next. We always appreciate your feedback as we continue our efforts to help you input text in your desired languages as easily as possible.

Example languages we added this week:
Finding short answers
This week, we introduced a new feature that brings the technology of Google Squared right to your search results. Squared makes it easier to highlight answers for fact-based queries, so you can get more accurate answers, faster. Now, you'll see these answers right at the top of your search results, brought to you from across the web. And, we've also made sure this feature works great on mobile browsers.

Example searches: [timezone in nevada] or [when was jean-jacques rousseau born]

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned next week for more search news.

WiFi data collection: An update

Update June 9, 2010: 

When we announced three weeks ago that we had mistakenly included code in our software that collected samples of payload data from WiFi networks, we said we would ask a third party to review the software at issue, how it worked, and what data it gathered. That report, by the security consulting firm Stroz Friedberg, is now complete and was sent to the interested data protection authorities today. In short, it confirms that Google did indeed collect and store payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks, but not from networks that were encrypted. You can read the report here. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities to respond to their questions and concerns.

Update May 17, 2010:

On Friday May 14 the Irish Data Protection Authority asked us to delete the payload data we collected in error in Ireland. We can confirm that all data identified as being from Ireland was deleted over the weekend in the presence of an independent third party. We are reaching out to Data Protection Authorities in the other relevant countries about how to dispose of the remaining data as quickly as possible.


You can read the letter from the independent third party, confirming deletion, here.


[original post]
Nine days ago the data protection authority (DPA) in Hamburg, Germany asked to audit the WiFi data that our Street View cars collect for use in location-based products like Google Maps for mobile, which enables people to find local restaurants or get directions. His request prompted us to re-examine everything we have been collecting, and during our review we discovered that a statement made in a blog post on April 27 was incorrect.

In that blog post, and in a technical note sent to data protection authorities the same day, we said that while Google did collect publicly broadcast SSID information (the WiFi network name) and MAC addresses (the unique number given to a device like a WiFi router) using Street View cars, we did not collect payload data (information sent over the network). But it’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.

However, we will typically have collected only fragments of payload data because: our cars are on the move; someone would need to be using the network as a car passed by; and our in-car WiFi equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a second. In addition, we did not collect information traveling over secure, password-protected WiFi networks.

So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake. In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data. A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic WiFi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software—although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data.

As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then disconnected to make it inaccessible. We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and are currently reaching out to regulators in the relevant countries about how to quickly dispose of it.

Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short. So we will be:
  • Asking a third party to review the software at issue, how it worked and what data it gathered, as well as to confirm that we deleted the data appropriately; and
  • Internally reviewing our procedures to ensure that our controls are sufficiently robust to address these kinds of problems in the future.
In addition, given the concerns raised, we have decided that it’s best to stop our Street View cars collecting WiFi network data entirely.

This incident highlights just how publicly accessible open, non-password-protected WiFi networks are today. Earlier this year, we encrypted Gmail for all our users, and next week we will start offering an encrypted version of Google Search. For other services users can check that pages are encrypted by looking to see whether the URL begins with “https”, rather than just “http”; browsers will generally show a lock icon when the connection is secure. For more information about how to password-protect your network, read this.

The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust—and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here. We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.

Announcing the Google Model Your Town Competition winner

Back in December 2009, we announced the Google Model Your Town Competition and invited towns to submit 3D models of their community. The public reviewed 3D models, explored the buildings in Google Earth and watched videos from five finalist towns around the world. We’ve tallied the votes and we’d like to congratulate our 2010 winning town: Barranco - Lima, Peru!



Jorge De Albertis Bettocchi, a 38 year-old corporate business attorney, modeled the Barranco District of Lima. He entered the competition to generate pride among his fellow citizens and created his 3D models to serve as a tool for tourism, promotion, investment and preservation of Barranco’s historic architecture.

We’ll be awarding the local school district with US$10,000 and the SketchUp team is planning a visit to Barranco later this summer. Visit the Google Earth Gallery to download a 3D tour of Barranco, Peru.

Thanks to all those who voted to help us find the winning town. And thanks to all the modelers out there who submitted entries — we hope you'll continue to add 3D buildings to Google Earth!