Thursday, September 30, 2010

A galaxy of your own

Last December, we wrote about our immersive Google Earth environment, Liquid Galaxy: eight 55-inch LCD screens showing Google Earth in a unified, surround view.

Liquid Galaxy at TED 2010

Since then, we’ve taken it to a lot of conferences, built Liquid Galaxies in Google offices all over the world and even put one in the Tech Museum in San Jose, Calif. We love watching people try it for the first time. Almost everybody wants to see their own house first; but then they start to explore, and we can never guess where they’ll choose to go next.

But we just couldn’t bring it to enough people—we could only go to so many conferences, and only friends and family of Googlers could try out the Liquid Galaxies in our offices.

So we decided to put the features that make Liquid Galaxy possible into the latest release of Google Earth, and open-source all the supporting work, from our Ubuntu sysadmin scripts to the mechanical design of our custom frames.


Not everyone will have the know-how to network computers together and get view synchronization working, but we tried to make it as easy as possible. If you think you’re up to the challenge, check out our Quick Start page. You can also contact our supplier End Point if you’d rather buy than build (or just need some professional assistance). Here’s a video they made that shows Liquid Galaxy in action:



Liquid Galaxies don’t have to be made from eight big LCD screens; the view sync features scale just fine from two to dozens of screens. And they can run more than just Google Earth; we’ve had success playing video in sync in our Liquid Galaxies, and even modified a Free Software video game for after-hours fun. We’ve daydreamed about making panoramic movies, head tracking or even real-time video from distant panoramic cameras. Read more on the Liquid Galaxy page at earth.google.com, and show off your creations in the liquid-galaxy discussion group. We’re excited to see what you come up with!

Explore the world with Street View, now on all seven continents

(Cross-posted with the Google Lat Long Blog)

Update 12:01PM: To clarify, the Street View imagery for Antarctica includes panoramas of an area called Half Moon Island—such as this view of penguins and this one of the landscape. The blue dots you see throughout the continent when dragging the pegman are user-contributed photos.

We introduced Street View back in May 2007, enabling people to explore street-level imagery in five U.S. cities. We were excited to share a virtual reflection of the real world to enable armchair exploration. Since then, we’ve expanded our 360-degree panoramic views to many more places, allowing you to check out a restaurant before dining there, to explore a neighborhood before moving there and to find landmarks along the route of your driving directions.

Three years later, we’re happy to announce that you can now explore Street View imagery on all seven continents, with the addition today of Brazil, Ireland and Antarctica. You can now see images from around the world spanning from the beaches of Brazil, to the moors of Ireland, to the icy terrain in Antarctica.

We often consider Street View to be the last zoom layer on the map, and a way to show you what a place looks like as if you were there in person—whether you’re checking out a coffee shop across town or planning a vacation across the globe. We hope this new imagery will help people in Ireland, Brazil, and even the penguins of Antarctica to navigate nearby, as well as enable people around the world to learn more about these areas.

For example, as summer winds down here in Mountain View, Calif., the famous beaches of Copacabana, Brazil are an enticing virtual travel destination.


The Ring of Kerry in Ireland, with its picturesque rolling landscape, is another favorite new place in Street View.


Speaking of travel, my wife BethEllyn and I embarked on the Minerva for an expedition to Antarctica in late January. We enjoyed stunning vistas, and I found that any minute not spent on deck was a spectacular view missed. Fortunately, we’d planned to take some Street View photos, and are now able to share with you the incredible visuals from Half Moon Island, Antarctica.

Here is a group of Chinstrap penguins we saw on the island.


And this is one of my favorite views. You can see part of the crescent shape that gives the island its name.


I’m very proud of the worldwide Street View team and thrilled that everyone can now see places from all seven continents, including the amazing landscapes and natural beauty I saw in Antarctica, through the street-level images in Google Maps and Google Earth. To see more highlights from Street View around the world, visit the Street View gallery and start exploring!

Veni, Vidi, Verba Verti

Update on 10/1/2010: Confused? Learn more on the Google Translate Blog.

Ut munimenta linguarum convellamus et scientiam mundi patentem utilemque faciamus, instrumenta convertendi multarum nationum linguas creavimus. Hodie nuntiamus primum instrumentum convertendi linguam qua nulli nativi nunc utuntur: Latinam. Cum pauci cotidie Latine loquantur, quotannis amplius centum milia discipuli Americani Domesticam Latinam Probationem suscipiunt. Praeterea plures ex omnibus mundi populis Latinae student.

Hoc instrumentum convertendi Latinam rare usurum ut convertat nuntios electronicos vel epigrammata effigierum YouTubis intellegamus. Multi autem vetusti libri de philosophia, de physicis et de mathematica lingua Latina scripti sunt. Libri enim vero multi milia in Libris Googlis sunt qui praeclaros locos Latinos habent.

Convertere instrumentis computatoriis ex Latina difficile est et intellegamus grammatica nostra non sine culpa esse. Autem Latina singularis est quia plurimi libri lingua Latina iampridem scripti erant et pauci novi posthac erunt. Multi in alias linguas conversi sunt et his conversis utamur ut nostra instrumenta convertendi edoceamus. Cum hoc instrumentum facile convertat libros similes his ex quibus edidicit, nostra virtus convertendi libros celebratos (ut Commentarios de Bello Gallico Caesaris) iam bona est.

Proximo tempore locum Latinum invenies vel auxilio tibi opus eris cum litteris Latinis, conare hunc.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yabba Dabba doodle!

As a young kid, I drew a lot of dinosaurs. My dad would bring home reams of dot matrix printer paper from work, which I'd take, fold into stapled booklets, and then fill with dinosaurs doing what dinosaurs did—eating, leaping about, facing off in epic combat on top of spewing volcanoes. What I didn't know was that dinosaurs were also quite handy. A brontosaurus tail made an excellent water slide, you could walk up a row of plates on a stegosaurus' back like a flight of stairs and the triceratops’ horns were actually cutting-edge can openers. For these paleontological insights into Stone Aged innovation, I have the Flintstones to thank.

The Flintstones may have lived in the prehistoric town of Bedrock, but their technology was on par with much of what we use today. Everyone drove human-powered vehicles (zero emissions!), composted scraps in a dinosaur under the kitchen sink, and even wore solar powered watches—that is, if you count sundials. In short, Bedrock was the modern city of the past... and I wanted to live in it! Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out, but to be able to pay tribute to one of my favorite childhood TV shows in the form of a Google doodle is easily the next best thing.


On the 50th anniversary of its first airing, we gladly salute “The Flintstones” for inspiring our imaginations and encouraging us to think outside of the box, even if it means taking a look back now and then. I hope you’ll join the rest of us here at Google in a little nostalgia to mark this fun occasion!

Oh, and if you know any saber-toothed tigers looking for an internship as a hole puncher, give me a buzz.

Fly through your Instant search results with keyboard nav

Our aim with Google Instant is to make search faster and easier, and this week we’re rolling out two enhancements to take that a step further. First, we’ve introduced keyboard navigation to help you explore your Instant search results using just your keyboard, with no need for a mouse or touchpad. We’re also making Instant available within many of the search features in the left panel of the results page including Videos, News, Books, Blogs, Updates and Discussions.

Check out our quick video to learn how to use these new features:



Google Instant is already available in domains for seven countries and today we’re excited to announce that it’s rolling out in the domains for 12 new countries, for signed-in users in Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine. We’ll keep improving your search experience and make Instant available in more places internationally in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What does the future of display advertising look like?

This afternoon, we gave a keynote address at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference in New York, entitled “Display 2015: Smart and Sexy.”

As you know by now, we’re investing significantly to make display advertising better for users, advertisers and publishers. Display advertising really is at the heart of what we’re doing at Google these days. 99 percent of our top 1,000 clients are now running campaigns on the Google Display Network. And last year, they increased their spending on display advertising by over 75 percent.

Today, we explained why we think display advertising is about to go through the biggest and most important revolution in its history. We made seven predictions about where display advertising will be in 2015:
  • 50 percent of ad campaigns will include video ads bought on a cost-per-view basis (that means that the user will choose whether to watch the ad or not, and the advertiser will only pay if the user watches). That’s up from very little today.
  • Today, advertisers are starting to deliver ads that are tailored to particular audiences. Many are using real-time bidding technology, so that they can bid on the ad space that they think is most valuable. In 2015, 50 percent of these ads will be bought using this real-time technology.
  • With smartphone growth skyrocketing, mobile is going be the number one screen through which users engage with advertisers’ digital brands.
  • Today, the “click” is the most important way that advertisers measure their display ad campaigns, but it’s not always the best measure—especially if an ad campaign is designed to boost things like brand awareness or recall. With new measurement technologies emerging, in five years, there will be five metrics that advertisers commonly regard as more important than the click.
  • Just like most news articles on the web today can be commented on, shared, discussed, subscribed to and recommended, in 2015, 75 percent of ads on the web will be “social” in nature—across dozens of formats, sites and social communities.
  • Rich media formats work. They enable great creativity and interaction between users and advertisers, but today they only represent about 6 percent of total display ad impressions. That will increase to 50 percent, for brand-building ad campaigns.
  • All the investments that are making display advertising smarter and sexier will help publishers increase their revenues. Display advertising is going to grow to a $50 billion industry in five years.
We also wanted to visualize the face of the display advertising revolution, so we demonstrated four exciting new technologies:
  • We demonstrated some new video ad formats we’ve been testing on YouTube that we’re calling “TrueView.” These will roll out later this year. These ad formats give people the option to skip an ad if they don’t want to watch, or to choose from multiple ads the one they want to watch. Importantly, advertisers only pay if the user chooses to watch their ad.
  • We showed some of the things that are becoming possible with our new Teracent technology. This technology can dynamically alter the creative elements of an ad in real-time to make it more relevant and effective, depending on factors like geographic location, language, the content of the website and the time of day.
  • You might be familiar with Google Goggles, a way to search the web on mobile devices just by taking a picture. We gave a preview of some experimental uses of Google Goggles that could one day enable advertisers to deliver great display ads to users. Imagine pointing your phone’s camera at an ad for a car in a magazine, and having the car appear in 3D in your mobile device. Or pointing at a movie poster and having the movie trailer play in the device, right in your hand. No QR codes, no downloads!
  • We even showed a fun example of what rich media can do—our speech was broadcast live in a number of expandable ad units across the web, and was updated with tweets in real time.
We think that display advertising has a pretty exciting future and we’ll continue our work to make it even better. Thanks to everyone who came along to watch in New York, or who tuned in online. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, our speech will be available here later today.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding your hidden treasure: international campaigns with AdWords

(Cross-posted on the Google Small Business Blog)

In 2000, Antoine Assi founded Middle Eastern export website www.aldoukan.com—it was one of the first e-commerce businesses in the Middle East. He was just 20 years old and he made time to develop the business in between computer science classes at his university. He needed a way to advertise his website from the comfort of his own dorm room, so he decided to test out Google AdWords.

His friends didn’t believe him when Antoine said he was going to sell and advertise traditional Middle Eastern foods and goods online. However, by 2004, his business had grown so rapidly that he decided to take leave from school to run it full-time. He then started his second company, www.mosaicmarble.com, which sells handcut decorative tiles online internationally.

Antoine believed there was a gap in the mosaic market and he wanted to share these artistic and historic decorations abroad. He knew there was a market for these tiles internationally—he just didn’t quite know where the opportunity existed. To identify these international growth opportunities, Antoine built on his knowledge of AdWords: He ran several AdWords campaigns, each targeted at the location and language of the test country.


From there, Antoine measured sales and percentage of website traffic from each country and campaign. He ended campaigns for countries with low sales volume and invested in campaigns for countries with higher sales volume and greater return on investment. Where he saw steady product sales, Antoine even had the company website translated into the language of the successful host country. As you can imagine, translating the site to the language of a country in which he’d already seen success only further promoted sales in that location.

Antoine refers to his AdWords campaigns as his hidden treasure, telling us that “the second month we started advertising on Google, we started feeling overwhelmed by the orders and the inquiries... We had to hire new employees on a weekly basis.”

Mosaic Marble quickly grew from two employees and eight artists to more than 40 employees and 120 artists. And the company’s website is now available in seven languages: Arabic, English, Finnish, German, Italian, Portuguese and French.


In addition to helping him expand his business, these international campaigns helped Antoine and his colleagues share these cultural icons with a larger part of the world. There are now homes and public spaces adorned with these ancient Greek creations in more than 50 countries worldwide. “Due to Google,” says Antoine, “we have customers such as the President of Congo, the Dubai Minister of Internal Affairs, the Princess of Jordan, and the Royal Music Academy of London.”

Google Apps highlights – 9/24/2010

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.

This week, our updates include a better Gmail experience for Android devices, an option for businesses and schools to strengthen their security, and dozens of new applications for customers from third-party developers and from all across Google. We also reached a big new milestone: more than 3 million businesses are now using Google Apps!

Updated Gmail app for Android
On Tuesday we rolled out an improved Gmail app for Android devices, now available in the Android Market for devices running Froyo (Android version 2.2). The new Gmail app keeps the most common actions like replying and starring handy at the top of the screen, even if you scroll down through a long message. You can view content from earlier messages more easily with embedded links to “Show quoted text,” and bring a limited version of Priority Inbox with you on the go with an “Important” label for messages flagged as important.


New fonts in Google Docs
Also on Tuesday, we added many new fonts to Google Docs for you to customize the look and feel of your documents. Thanks to the Google Web Font API, Google Docs can now take advantage of fonts hosted on the web, not just the limited set of fonts that most people have installed on their computers. Give Droid Serif, Droid Sans, Calibri, Cambria, Consolas and Corsiva a try, and keep an eye out for our next batch of new fonts!


Added security with two-step verification
Google Apps Premier, Education, and Government Edition customers can now boost the security of Google Apps by letting users take advantage of two-step verification. With this feature, signing in requires a password (something you know) and a one-time verification code provided by a mobile phone (something you have). In the coming months, we’ll be bringing the option for two-step verification to Google Apps Standard Edition users as well as hundreds of millions of individual Google users.


App Tuesday: 12 new additions to the Apps Marketplace
With the help of third-party software developers around the world, we were able to continue to increase the number of applications available in the Google Apps Marketplace. This month, we added 12 new applications to the now more than 200 installable apps available, making the Apps Marketplace an even more useful resource for organizations using Google Apps to find new functionality that complements what we offer our customers ourselves.

More apps for Google Apps accounts
Speaking of new applications for our customers, we’re making good on our commitment to allow dozens of additional Google applications to work with Google Apps accounts. This means that businesses, schools and organizations can start using services like Google Voice, Picasa, Blogger, Google Reader and much more. Most Google Apps customers can begin transitioning their organization’s Google Apps accounts immediately, and those who don’t meet the current eligibility requirements will be able to start converting soon, too.


Who’s gone Google?
This week we hit some big customer milestones: more than 3 million businesses—and 30 million people within those businesses and other organizations—are using Google Apps to communicate and collaborate with Gmail and our other web-based tools.

Newcomers include Baird & Warner, allnurses.com, MSaven.com, StraighterLine, St. Thomas University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Mallone University. Our largest new customer is Ahold, an international food retailer that’s bringing more than 55,000 employees into the cloud with Google Apps. Welcome to all!

We hope these updates help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

$10 million for Project 10^100 winners

Two years ago today, we began Project 10^100 by asking you to share your ideas for changing the world by helping as many people as possible. Your spirit and participation surpassed even our most optimistic expectations. People from more than 170 countries submitted more than 150,000 ideas. We selected 16 big ideas and asked the public to vote for their favorites. The five ideas that received the most votes are the winners of Project 10^100. Over the past 12 months, we’ve reviewed concrete proposals to tackle these ideas, and today we’re pleased to give a total of $10 million to five inspiring organizations working on solutions to each of these global challenges:

Idea: Make educational content available online for free
Project funded: The Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization that provides high-quality, free education to anyone, anywhere via an online library of more than 1,600 teaching videos. We are providing $2 million to support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate their core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages.

Idea: Enhance science and engineering education
Project funded: FIRST is a non-profit organization that promotes science and math education around the world through team competition. Its mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by giving them real world experience working with professional engineers and scientists. We are providing $3 million to develop and jump start new student-driven robotics team fundraising programs that will empower more student teams to participate in FIRST.

Idea: Make government more transparent
Project funded: Public.Resource.Org is a non-profit organization focused on enabling online access to public government documents in the United States. We are providing $2 million to Public.Resource.Org to support the Law.Gov initiative, which aims to make all primary legal materials in the United States available to all.

Idea: Drive innovation in public transport
Project funded: Shweeb is a concept for short to medium distance, urban personal transport, using human-powered vehicles on a monorail. We are providing $1 million to fund research and development to test Shweeb’s technology for an urban setting.

Idea: Provide quality education to African students
Project funded: The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a center for math and science education and research in Cape Town, South Africa. AIMS’ primary focus is a one-year bridge program for recent university graduates that helps build skills and knowledge prior to master's and Ph.D. study. We are providing $2 million to fund the opening of additional AIMS centers to promote graduate level math and science study in Africa.

Here’s a short video celebrating the inspiring work of these organizations:



We’ve learned that it takes quite a bit of effort and time to move from 150,000 ideas to five funded projects, but are excited about the potential of the ideas and projects you helped us choose. We’re happy to conclude Project 10^100 with today’s announcement of five winning ideas and encourage you to follow the progress of these projects on the organizations’ websites.

Discussing innovation and democracy in 2010

Over the past few U.S. election cycles, Google and YouTube have have become catalysts for a more engaging, meaningful dialogue between citizens and government leaders. From asking questions of candidates to finding your polling place, our tools are helping to make elections and politics more personal and more democratic, and have opened up Washington, D.C. in exciting new ways.

With less than six weeks until the midterm elections, we wanted to hear from some of politics’ most creative minds about what innovation and democracy mean in 2010. So on Monday we’re joining forces with POLITICO to host an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where we’ll discuss the increasing contributions of technology to democracy and the political process.

As part of the event David Axelrod and Ed Gillespie will answer questions and offer thoughts and predictions about the upcoming elections. Arianna Huffington will then moderate a panel about innovation in media, and will be joined by Becki Donatelli, Stephen Hayes, Nate Silver and Amy Walter. We’ll also demonstrate tools built for citizens and government officials using YouTube and Google Maps, and will be joined by our friends on the politics team at Facebook.

The panelists want to hear from you, so if you’d like to submit a question for any of them, you can do so at youtube.com/citizentube. You’ll also be able to watch the entire event live on YouTube on Monday.



As we approach the election homestretch, we’ll continue to develop useful ways for voters and campaigns to engage one another around the important issues in 2010.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One place to find everything new from Google

If it seems to you like every day Google releases a new product or feature, well, it seems like that to us too. The central place we tell you about most of these is through the official Google Blog Network, where you’ll find more than 100 blogs covering all kinds of products, policy issues, technical projects and much more.

But if you want to keep up just with what’s new (or even just what Google does besides search), you’ll want to know about Google New. A few of us had a 20 percent project idea: create a single destination called Google New where people could find the latest product and feature launches from Google. It’s designed to pull in just those posts from various blogs. We hope it helps you find something useful you’ve never tried before.



Update December 13, 2011: Thanks for trying out Google New. After some thought, we've decided to stop maintaining the site. Instead, you can get your Google news from our blogs, Google+ pages or Twitter accounts, or just get an overview of all our products at google.com/about. - Ed.

Google News turns eight

(Cross-posted from the Google News blog)

Today we celebrate the eighth birthday of Google News. Not long after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we started building and testing Google News with the aim of helping you find current events from a wide variety of global and political perspectives. On September 22, 2002, Google News rolled out to all English-language readers, with a dedicated News tab on Google.com.


Over the years we’ve made thousands of changes to deliver more news to more users—faster, and with enhanced customization, sharing and serendipity. We’ve added video, local news, custom sections, scanned newspaper archives and a redesigned homepage. We’ve grown from 4,000 sources to more than 50,000, and from one English edition to 72 editions in 30 languages.


We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal users and the news publishers working hard to keep you informed. Thousands of stories are made more discoverable through Google News each day. Based on the number of articles indexed by Google News, here are the largest news stories from each of the last eight years:
The 2008 election of President Obama takes the cake as the biggest news story since Google News was born.

This year, as we blow out our candles we’ll make one wish: that we serve you—our users and publishing partners—better than ever before in the years to come.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking rogue pharmacies to court

We work very hard to make sure that ads shown on Google provide useful information for our users. But sometimes we need to take action against ads that violate our policies, as when we block malware ads, or when we filed suit last year against “Google Money” scammers. This is especially true when it comes to advertising for products such as pharmaceuticals, which can be dangerous without the right prescription.

Like many online services, we have struggled with this problem for years. It’s been an ongoing, escalating cat-and-mouse game—as we and others build new safeguards and guidelines, rogue online pharmacies always try new tactics to get around those protections and illegally sell drugs on the web. In recent years, we have noticed a marked increase in the number of rogue pharmacies, as well an increasing sophistication in their methods. This has meant that despite our best efforts—from extensive verification procedures, to automated keyword blocking, to changing our ads policies—a small percentage of pharma ads from these rogue companies is still appearing on Google.

So this morning we filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against advertisers we believe have deliberately broken our rules. Litigation of this kind should act as a serious deterrent to anyone thinking about circumventing our policies to advertise illegally on Google. As we identify additional bad actors, we will add them to the lawsuit. Rogue pharmacies are bad for our users, for legitimate online pharmacies and for the entire e-commerce industry—so we are going to keep investing time and money to stop these kinds of harmful practices.

Your questions on the future of Iraq

(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

There is perhaps no other country in the world that has undergone more change or been under more scrutiny in the past decade than Iraq. The draw-down of U.S. troops and a recent election that has yet to produce a formal government have left Iraq in a state of flux. The country’s destiny has implications not just for the Arab world, but for the world at large.

That’s why, in partnership with the Arabic-language television network, Al Arabiya, we’re launching “Iraq Looks Forward,” a series of interviews on YouTube in which Iraqi leaders answer your questions about the future of the country. This is your chance to engage directly with top Iraqi officials, so visit youtube.com/alarabiya to submit your questions and vote on which you think should be asked.



A selection of the top-voted questions will be posted to sitting Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Barham Salih, and others.

The deadline for submitting questions is Monday, September 27.

Shades of red, shades of blue: mapping midterm election ratings

With the midterm elections in the U.S. just six weeks away, everyone is wondering how the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats will shake out after November 2. Although more than 500 seats will be decided in House, Senate, and Governor races, the current tallies are so close that individual races are receiving great scrutiny: you’ll find several sources providing estimations for how each race is leaning.

To make tracking the blues and reds a little easier for armchair pundits, we’ve partnered with some of the most respected names in politics—Cook, Rothenberg, CQ-Roll Call and RealClearPolitics—to put their ratings in the same place and on the same map. You can find it at maps.google.com/elections2010.


The map initially shows loads with states shaded according to one of the sources’ ratings of the Senate race; click the links on the left to switch to House or Governor races, or to switch sources. To compare the ratings head-to-head, click a given state or district, and you’ll see ratings from each source displayed. We refresh the data daily based on the latest ratings, so come back as the races develop. If you would like to put this map in your own website, you can embed it as a gadget and grab the code here.

This gadget is powered by the highly flexible yet simple-to-build-on Fusion Tables, which directly integrates into Google Maps API v3. Even if you’re not a programmer, there's a lot that you can do with Fusion Tables to manipulate and visualize data, and in the spirit of the season, check out our new tutorial that demonstrates how to analyze Census data by congressional district and share what you’ve come up with.

Along with other initiatives, including the Election Center with our Public Sector team and You Choose at YouTube, this map gadget is an important way that we’re working to improve communication, discourse and understanding of the political process.

A more fontastic Google Docs

(Cross-posted from the Google Docs Blog)

Documents without font choices are like photographs without colors. Just as shades of color can add depth to a picture, smart font choices give your text another dimension.

For a long time, the set of fonts that you’ve seen when you browsed the web has been quite limited. That’s because you could only use a font that’s already been installed on your computer. So if a website designer wanted all her visitors to see the same thing, she could only use fonts that are so ubiquitous that the chances are very high that every computer will have them. And there are only a handful of fonts that fit that bill.

Thankfully, that situation is changing. All modern browsers now support the ability to download web fonts. A web font doesn’t need to be installed on your local computer—it can be read directly from a web server and used immediately on the webpage that you’re loading. In May, we launched the Google Font API, which makes it easy for website developers to include any one of an ever-growing list of web fonts on their pages. We’re already using the new API for the latest themes in Google forms.

As of today, Google documents supports web fonts (using the Google Font API) and we’re excited to announce six new fonts.

Droid Serif and Droid Sans
Android fans will already be familiar with the Droid family of fonts. Droid Serif and Droid Sans both feature strong vertical lines and a neutral, yet friendly appearance. They’re designed specifically for reading on small screens.


Calibri and Cambria
Every day we have many people import documents from Microsoft Word into Google Docs. Today we’re making import fidelity better by adding two of the most popular Microsoft Word fonts. Calibri is a beautiful sans serif font characterized by curves and soft edges. It’s designed to be high impact. Cambria is built with strong vertical serifs and subtle horizontal ones. It’s very legible when printed at small sizes.


Consolas and Corsiva
Consolas joins Courier New as the second monospaced font in Google Docs. It’s a modern monospaced font with character proportions that are similar to normal text. Finally, Corsiva is our first italic font with embellished characters and an elegant style.


Right now our font support covers most Latin and Western European character sets. However, we’ll be adding web fonts for other languages (like Hebrew and Greek) soon. If you don’t see the new fonts in your documents, check that web fonts are supported in your language and that the document language is set correctly from the File -> Language menu.


This is just the beginning of fonts in Google Docs. We added six new fonts today and we’re already testing our next batch. You’ll see many more new fonts over the next few months. And because Google Docs uses web fonts, you’ll never need to install a new font: when you load your document, the latest set of fonts will always be there, ready to use.

Finally, adding web fonts is just one of the challenges that the Google Docs team has been working on. If you’re interested in learning more about the challenges of building a collaborative application, check out the first post of a three-part series on collaboration posted on the Google Docs Blog.

Our Clinton Global Initiative commitment to Pakistan

At the opening ceremony of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) this morning, President Clinton discussed the urgent need to help the people of Pakistan recover from widespread floods which have affected more people than the 2004 South Asia tsunami, the 2005 South Asia earthquake, and the Haiti earthquake combined. The floods have put one-fifth of the land underwater, impacting more than 20 million people, damaging or destroying 1.9 million homes, putting 3.5 million children at risk of waterborne diseases, and wiping out livestock and crops.

Unfortunately the global response has been anemic. While U.S. corporations, foundations and individuals responded admirably to the earthquake in Haiti by donating $900 million in the first five weeks after the disaster, that same group donated $25 million to Pakistan in the first five week weeks after the floods hit. In an interview with citizens hosted by YouTube, President Clinton called for a dramatically increased global response.

As part of our CGI commitment this year, Google is providing $1 million in charitable grants, as well as technology support to help the people of Pakistan recover from these floods. Roughly one-third of our grants support organizations providing clean water, shelter, medical care and other immediate needs, while two-thirds will be focused on longer-term rebuilding efforts. Partners for the first round of support include: A.S. Edhi International Foundation, Architecture for Humanity, CARE, The Citizens Foundation, Naya Jeevan for Kids, Real Medicine Foundation, SIUT North America, Sungi Development Foundation and UM Healthcare Trust.

Amazing work is already being done by these organizations. SIUT, for example, has already established seven medical relief camps and three field hospitals in different parts of the country. Their doctors and paramedics have treated more than 100,000 people, many of whom are suffering from gastroenteritis, malaria and skin diseases.

In remarks during the opening plenary today, Eric Schmidt noted the importance of bringing 21st century technology solutions to disaster relief work. In collaboration with numerous NGOs, for example, Google developed Person Finder, an application that allows individuals to check on the status of friends and loved ones affected by a disaster, a few days after the Haiti earthquake. We developed Resource Finder, an experimental tool that aggregates information on health facilities to help first responders, and shared our MapMaker data with the U.N. We’ve published sites linked from our homepage to provide updated maps and imagery, videos, news and ways to donate in the wake of recent natural disasters in Haiti, Chile, China, Pakistan and the Gulf oil spill.

We’re excited to be at CGI this week to learn about innovative ways to use technology to assist with health, development and disaster response. We encourage non-profits to visit our newly updated Google for NonProfits site to learn how Google’s free tools can help expand the impact of each organization.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tools to visualize access to information

When Google’s services are blocked or filtered, we can’t serve our users effectively. That’s why we act every day to maximize free expression and access to information. To promote transparency around this flow of information, we’ve built an interactive online Transparency Report with tools that allow people to see where governments are demanding that we remove content and where Google services are being blocked. We believe that this kind of transparency can be a deterrent to censorship.

Like all companies, Google’s services occasionally experience traffic disruptions. Our new traffic tracking tool helps us and others track whether these interruptions are related to mechanical outages or are government-induced. Each traffic graph shows historic traffic patterns for a given country and service. Graphs are updated as data is collected, then normalized and scaled in units of 0 to 100. This new tool—which is global and includes China—will replace the Mainland China service availability chart, which showed product access for China alone. By showing outages, the traffic graphs visualize disruptions in the free flow of information, whether it's a government blocking information or a cable being cut. For example, the graphs show that YouTube has been inaccessible in Iran since June 12, 2009, following the disputed presidential election.


In April we also created a website that shows the number of government inquiries for information about users and requests for Google to take down or censor content. Today we’re updating this interactive Government Requests map with data from the first six months of 2010. We’ve also updated our analysis of the trends we saw across the data over the past six months. The new data for 2010 now includes the number of individual items asked to be removed, per country (for example, there may be many URLs per a single request.) You can learn more about trends in the data here. We view this as a concrete step that, we hope, will encourage both companies and governments to be similarly transparent.

Free expression is one of our core values. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual. Free expression is, of course, also at the heart of Google’s business. Our products are specifically designed to help people create, communicate, share opinions and find information across the globe. We hope this step toward greater transparency—and these tools—will help in ongoing discussions about the free flow of information.

Update Jan 11, 2011: The Transparency Report is now available in each of the 6 U.N. languages—Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Russian, Spanish and English.

Show me the honey

Since we installed four beehives on campus this spring, the area around the hives has been, well, a hive of activity. Many Googlers took the beekeeping plunge, donning bee suits and diving into regular beekeeping activities such as regular checks for diseases and parasites. Today, we have more than 80 employees signed up to care for the bees. We’re happy to report that the bees have prospered at Google (must be all the free food) and the hives have grown from their original one-story “campus,” the Hiveplex, to five stories.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a ton of anticipation on campus as the hives filled with honey and harvest time drew closer. Each beekeeping team is assigned to one of the four colored hives, and some teams were spotted peeking into other hives to see which was ahead in terms of honey production.

The actual harvest, last week, was a fun-filled event with both traditional and modern methods of honey extraction. Under the helpful guidance of Bill Tomaszewski of Marin Bee Company, Googlers took turns uncapping the honey (removing the protective wax that bees use to cover a cell once it’s filled with honey), hand-cranking the honey extraction machinery to spin the honey out of the honey comb and pouring the honey through filters to remove the bits of wax and other particles that came from the hive.

The end result was beyond any of our expectations—approximately 405lbs of raw, natural honey. (We were so eager to taste the harvest that we neglected to use the scales that had been set up!) We also determined it was more or less a dead heat for which hive was the most productive. Even with such a harvest, we made sure we left enough honey behind to allow the bees to get comfortably through the winter months.

The honey is being put to good use—everyone who participated in the extraction got a jar to take home, while the rest of the honey will be used in the cafes and for cooking classes organized by Marc Rasic, an executive chef at Google and one of the people behind the beekeeping initiative.

We’re also relieved that none of the hives have succumbed to Colony Collapse Disorder, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on them over the winter months to ensure that they stay happy, healthy and ready to start work again in the spring. We're already looking forward to next year!



Three million businesses have gone Google: celebrating growth, innovation and security

Today we’re hosting more than 300 CIOs and IT professionals from around the world in Paris at Google Atmosphere, our annual European event dedicated to cloud computing—web-based applications that are built on shared infrastructure and delivered through the browser. This year, the discussion at Atmosphere is focused on how companies can benefit from the breakthroughs in productivity and security that cloud-based applications are uniquely capable of delivering.

This event also marks some major milestones:
  • As of today, more than 3 million businesses have gone Google, and over 30 million users within businesses, schools and organizations now depend on our messaging and collaboration tools.
  • We’re launching new cloud-powered capabilities: two-step verification to help enhance security and soon, mobile editing in Google Docs on Android and the iPad™.
First, Google Apps Premier, Education and Government Edition administrators can now have users sign in with the combination of their password (something they know) and a one-time verification code provided by a mobile phone (something they have). Users can continue to access Google Apps from Internet-connected devices, but with stronger protections to help fend off risks like phishing scams and password reuse. For the first time, we’re making this technology accessible to organizations large and small without the costs and complexities that have historically limited two-step verification to large enterprises with deep pockets. Furthermore, in the coming months, Standard Edition and hundreds of millions of individual Google users will be able to enjoy this feature as well.


Second, today we demonstrated new mobile editing capabilities for Google Docs on the Android platform and the iPad. In the next few weeks, co-workers around the world will soon be able to co-edit files simultaneously from an even wider array of devices.

Only cloud computing is able to deliver the whole package of productivity-enhancing collaboration, superior reliability and virtually unlimited scale at a price that’s affordable for any size organization. Our Atmosphere event is a nice opportunity to step back and fully appreciate the power of the cloud with customers and future customers alike.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

125 video shortlist announced today for YouTube Play

(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

The Guggenheim has spoken: the shortlist for YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video is now going in front of the jury, and is available to view at youtube.com/play.

It’s been a busy summer. More than 23,000 videos, from 91 countries across the world, were submitted for YouTube Play, and the Guggenheim has picked 125 to make up the shortlist.



In there you’ll find submissions from students, video artists, photographers, filmmakers, composers, video game programmers, an American Women’s Chess Champion, a comedy improv group, a Swedish rock band, a South African hip-hop group, an Australian electronic music producer—and a lot more.

It’s now down to the YouTube Play jury to pick up to 20 videos for a special presentation at the Guggenheim Museum on October 21. Here is one of the jurors, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, to explain why he thinks YouTube is important in the art world today:



The videos selected by the jury will be on view to the public from October 22 through 24 in the Tower 2 Gallery of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, at kiosks at the Guggenheim Museums in Bilbao, Berlin and Venice, and available to a worldwide audience on the YouTube Play channel.

Update 9/21: Added/fixed link to one of the videos.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This week in search 9/17/10

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.

From the latest blockbuster films to your favorite TV shows, we recently launched some useful enhancements when you're searching for media. And if you're looking to remember where to go on your next vacation, we've also got you covered.

Here are some of our recent updates:

Director and cast links in movie search results
Have you ever searched for a movie and then wondered who directed or starred in it? This week, we made this process one step faster. Now, you'll see information about the director and starring cast of movies in search results, along with other information like ratings and links to relevant content. The result also gives you the opportunity to click through to a site to get more info about a person with just one click.


This feature is currently available in English and Japanese. Over time, we'll roll this change out in more languages.

New results for TV episodes
As more TV networks begin publishing their shows on sites like fox.com, we’ve noticed that people often turn to Google to find their favorites, whether old episodes of Lost or the latest episode of Glee. Today we’re making it easier than ever to find your favorite television shows by episode or season right on google.com. With our new feature, when you search for a television show, you’ll sometimes see a new section in the search results page called “Episodes for” with videos of the three newest programs we can find. We hope these changes make it easier to find your favorite television shows online, whether to catch up on last night’s episode or to kill some time with an old favorite season.

Example search: [glee] or [family guy]

Stars extended to places in local results
In March we introduced stars in search so that you could mark results and rediscover them later. This week we extended the feature to local results, so now you can star places and get to them later—through a search, on Google Maps or on your phone. For example, if you're planning a trip to Tucson, you might want to go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum—so you would star the result from your desktop computer. When you arrive in Arizona, you can access the starred item again from the Local tab of google.com using your phone browser or in the Google Maps for mobile application. Since you're signed in with the same account on your desktop computer and phone, the starred items sync automatically. Phone number, address and directions information are just a few clicks away.

Example search: [tucson museum]





This week in search... queries
What are people searching for on Google? We recently introduced a series of videos about U.S. search trends. Check out this week's the Google Beat, for the latest glimpse into the pulse of Google searches.

We hope you find these new updates and enhancements useful. Stay tuned for more next week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Google Health update

Google Health launched a bit over two years ago, and since then we’ve been listening to our users, analyzing feedback and conducting research. We’ve learned a lot from you! You’ve confirmed that having a central place online to store and share medical data with whomever you want is important and a step in the right direction. And we’ve added a number of features based on what you’ve asked for so far. But you’ve also told us that it’s not enough; that you’re also looking for tools that will help you act on all your health and wellness concerns. We’ve heard you ask for easier data tracking, more personalization and the ability to set and track progress toward your health goals. We’ve listened, and today we’re announcing a new design and new features for Google Health.


So what’s new? Well, we’ve developed an easier-to-use dashboard that brings together even more of your health and wellness information in one place and makes it easier for you to organize and act on that information. We’ve also heard from you that focusing on wellness, and wellness goals, is a big part of the solution, and that it’s important to record your daily experience and set goals.


So our new re-design better organizes your medical information, while creating a more welcoming place to set goals for yourself and check in daily on your progress. For example, you might want to set a goal around walking more each day or to lower your cholesterol over time. With our new design, you can easily monitor your path to success with a visual graph that shows your progress towards your personalized goal. You can even create custom trackers for other things that you want to monitor like daily sleep, exercise, pregnancy or even how many cups of coffee you drink a day.

We’ve also integrated with several new partners to make it easier for you to collect the data you need to track your progress, including Fitbit, maker of a wearable device that captures health and wellness data such as steps taken, calories burned and sleep quality; and CardioTrainer, one of the top mobile apps for tracking fitness activity and weight loss. In the two weeks since CardioTrainer’s integration went live, CardioTrainer developer WorkSmart Labs reports that users have already uploaded more than 150,000 workouts to Google Health, where they can more easily view, track and set goals around their workouts and monitor them along with other health and wellness information.

Besides tracking progress toward your health goals, our new design also gives you the ability to take notes or keep a journal on your progress for each health condition or medication you’re taking. The new design also delivers information that is more personalized to your particular set of medical conditions or specific medications. You can access improved content links for each medical condition, medication or lab result you have in your Google Health profile. And we’ve made the Google Health profile easier to read and customize, with the ability to hide past items or sections that are outdated or no longer relevant. All of this helps you keep your dashboard up-to-date with current, relevant information, while still letting you maintain a complete health history.

In addition to redesigning the product and forming new partnerships with device and mobile apps developers, we’ve continued to expand our more traditional integrations with hospitals and other healthcare data providers. Three recent highlights include Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Sharp HealthCare.

With this update, we’ve made Google Health an even more powerful tool for organizing all your health information online, and also for achieving your health and wellness goals. We think you’ll find that organized, measurable and engaging information helps make it easier to achieve better health and wellness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

App Tuesday: Happy half-birthday Google Apps Marketplace & 12 new apps

Over the last six months, the Google Apps Marketplace has offered a variety of third party applications to extend Google Apps functionality and make businesses more efficient. Now, more than 4 million Google Apps users have installed applications from our storefront, which is packed with a quickly-growing set of more than 200 apps, including the 12 new apps we’re introducing today.

As the Marketplace grows, Google Apps users can access integrated apps that address more and more new areas, like marketing, accounting and project management. They can fluidly navigate between native Google Apps and third party solutions through our universal navigation bar at the top of Gmail, Docs and other Google apps. And Marketplace integrations give users a range of features, from having relevant customer data from a customer relationship management application populate in-line within an email to auto-syncing due dates between a project management application and Google Calendar.

We strive to bring solutions that address every one of a business’s unique needs. In that spirit, we welcome a few “firsts” among today’s 12 new apps:
  • Elance - a talent acquisition and management tool
  • Grockit - the first education app in the Marketplace for students
  • ERPLY - a specialized enterprise resource planning tool to manage retail points of sale.
Find out more about this App Tuesday launch on the Google Enterprise Blog, or by visiting the Apps Marketplace directly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hood to Coast 2010

At Google we like things fast and fun. That's why we launch enhancements to search like Google Instant and Caffeine, and why 11 speedy Googlers set out from the top of Mount Hood, 6,000 feet above sea level, to run Hood to Coast, nicknamed the "Mother of All Relays."

As our first runner zipped down the mountain with the sun setting over the hills and our cheers spurring him on, it was hard to believe we had 197 miles to cover—not to mention dozens of pop tarts and energy drinks to consume—before reaching the sandy finish line the next afternoon in Seaside, Oregon.

Most members of team Google One, comprised of members of AdSense, AdWords, business analytics, business operations, consumer operations, engineering and legal groups, had run Hood to Coast or similar distance relays before, such as The Relay and Ragnar Relay New York. Most of us knew the drill. Each runner runs three separate legs, one leg typically at some ungodly hour of the morning with a headlamp. When not running, you either wildly cheer on your teammates or try to catch an hour of sleep in one of the two vans—if you're lucky.

As usual, we used a number of Google products during our journey. We posted "essential" status updates (e.g., “Stopped in Portland for pizza around 1 AM”) on a Blogger blog, so co-workers and friends could keep track of our progress. Followers were also able to check the Google Latitude gadget, embedded on our blog, to keep tabs on our current location and to ensure we didn't pull a Rosie Ruiz. We even inputted each of our typical 10K road race times into a Google spreadsheet and used a formula which factored in leg difficulty and distance to help us determine our projected exchange points.

There was one unexpected hurdle—due to unforeseen circumstances, we were short a runner and a few Googlers had to run four legs over the course of the night instead of three, covering nearly a marathon total each.

In the end, this didn't seem to hurt us. In fact, when our last runner crossed the finish line, we had averaged a little over six minute miles, capturing first place corporate team for the first time and seventh overall (PDF). We beat our projected arrival time by 15 minutes, allowing us to join the bustling beach party a little earlier than expected. More importantly, Hood to Coast exceeded its projected fundraising goal, raising over $500,000 for the American Cancer Society.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Responding to the fires in San Bruno

Update at 6:27pm: We now have updated satellite imagery (from GeoEye) of the area. You can download it here and view it in Google Earth.
Update on Sep 11: These before and after images show the extent of damage in one area of San Bruno.

Before

After

Like many friends in the Bay Area and across the country, I’ve been stunned by the images of raging fires in San Bruno. Nearly 40 structures have been destroyed and 120 damaged, with several fatalities and multiple injuries after the explosion of a gas line. More than 100 people have been evacuated to nearby shelters.

This disaster strikes close to home; our YouTube offices are about two miles away from the main gas explosion. We’re thankful that no Google employee was hurt, but remain concerned for the well-being of our neighbors in the area.

We are donating an initial amount of $50,000 to the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter to help with relief efforts. We’re directing Googlers to the local blood drives today and will be hosting blood drives in our San Bruno, Mountain View and San Francisco offices early next week.

We’ve created this map to show the location of the explosion and highlight nearby shelters and resources. The map is open for collaboration and welcomes additional useful information. We encourage you to embed it in your website or blog. We are also exploring the possibility of obtaining updated imagery of the area to help responders visualize the scope of the disaster.


View San Bruno Gas Explosion in a larger map

Our hearts go out to our neighbors who have been affected by the explosion. We thank the firefighters and first responders who have been working tirelessly to contain the fires and help the residents of San Bruno. You can donate to help here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Google Instant, behind the scenes

Yesterday we introduced Google Instant, a change to make search fast and interactive by showing you results instantly as you type. With Instant we’ve turned search from a static HTML page into an AJAX application, just as we did with Google Maps and Gmail. You can learn more about Google Instant in yesterday’s blog post, but we also wanted to share a peek behind the scenes into some of the engineering challenges we faced in design and infrastructure.

The design challenge: relevant, not distracting
Our key design challenge was to make sure people would notice relevant results without being distracted. We knew it would take extensive testing to find the right design, so we ran through a sequence of prototypes, usability studies (testing with people from the community), dogfooding (testing with Google employees) and search experiments (testing with a small percentage of Google users). Some of our early prototypes weren’t perfect. For example, we tried a prototype where we waited for someone to stop typing before showing results, which did not work. We realized the experience needed to be fast to work well. We also considered other interfaces which essentially clustered results for a variety of queries based on probability. Here are a couple examples:

Grouped results prototype


Blended results prototype

In the end, our grouped and blended interfaces seemed too difficult to scan while typing, so we pursued a model based on a single search. We hit upon two features that worked well together: first, a query prediction in the search box in gray text and second, results for the top prediction that update continuously while the user types. In user studies, people quickly found a new way to interact with Google: type until the gray text matches your intention and then move your eyes to the results. We were actually surprised at how well this worked—most people in our studies didn’t even notice that anything had changed. Google was just faster.

The infrastructure challenge: 5-7X more results pages for typical searches
We’ve been optimizing performance and speed for more than 10 years, and we’ve found that every second counts. When we came to the infrastructure team and said, “we’re going to be serving five to seven times as many results pages for each query performed in Google Instant,” first they threw a fit, then they figured out how to get us there! Even before Instant, Google was serving more than a billion searches per day, and our systems were optimized to ensure those searches happen as quickly as possible (usually less than a quarter second). How could we serve so many more searches without breaking or slowing down our systems?

One solution would have been to simply invest in a tremendous increase in server capacity, but we wanted to find smarter ways to solve the problem. We did increase our back-end capacity, but we also pursued a variety of strategies to efficiently address the incredible demand from Google Instant. Some of these are quite technical, but here are some examples:
  • We deployed new caches that can handle high request rates while keeping results fresh as we continuously crawl and re-index the web.
  • We introduced user-state data into our back-ends to keep track of the results pages already shown to a given user—this way we don’t re-fetch the same results repeatedly.
  • We optimized page-rendering JavaScript code to help ensure web browsers could keep up with the rest of the system.
In total, these efforts enabled us to release Google Instant while maintaining the speed people have come to expect from Google.

The engineering team at work
As Google Instant neared completion, we packed the core teams into two large rooms on our main campus. We began having daily stand stand-up meetings (more than 50 people). With all that hard work behind us, we’re thrilled to see Google Instant out in the wild! But, in some ways, this is just the beginning of a new kind of “conversational” search interaction. We will continue to experiment, as we always have—and with the help of your feedback, we hope to make Instant even better over time! While it’s a big change, I personally believe that we’ll look back and wonder how search was ever any other way.

Members of the Google Instant team watching the launch announcement