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Like everyone else in the U.S. who fills out a bracket for their office pool, I always have a strategy going into the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments. It's a mix of alma mater pride, light research, some guessing and a lot of crossing my fingers. And, like almost everyone, my bracket always gets busted.

With both the Men’s and Women’s Final Four being played out on the hardwood in the United States this weekend, we thought it would be a good time to check in with what American sports fans are searching for around the web.

Almost ever year, an unknown team comes out of nowhere to end up in the Final Four. Back in 2006, that team was [george mason] and last year it was [butler university]. In the men’s bracket this year, there’s not just one, but two “Cinderellas,” in the form of the VCU Rams and the return of the Butler University Bulldogs. These underdogs have captured the attention of the nation’s sports fans; searches for [vcu] have climbed lately and currently outpace searches for each of the other three teams in the Men’s Final Four.


When the women take the court in Indianapolis, Indiana, for their Final Four this weekend, I’ll be rooting on my Notre Dame Fighting Irish in what looks to be an even field of four teams. But in search query volume, there’s a runaway favorite: [uconn] leads the way against the other three teams in the bracket. The Stanford Cardinal are trying to break through this year, having played in the previous three Final Fours, but have to get to the finals first against a tough Notre Dame team. Having both the UConn Men and Women playing in the Final Four is clearly a strong reason for this search volume lead, but so is having arguably the best player in the women’s game!


Great coaches can get their teams to dig deep and come together to succeed in the difficult field of 64. In the women’s tournament, the coaching match-up that hoops fans across the country were hoping for unfortunately won’t take place: we’re not going to be seeing a head-to-head battle between two giants of the coaching profession in UConn’s [geno auriemma] and Tennessee’s [pat summitt], thanks to my Fighting Irish of Notre Dame besting the Lady Volunteers of Tennessee. While Coach Auriemma’s team is still alive, Coach Summitt is winning the search query volume contest off the floor. I’m sure if I were Coach Summitt, I’d rather still have my team playing this weekend—but maybe her lead in search can be some small consolation!


On the men’s side, there’s a nice mix of seasoned veteran coaches as well as two young coaches emerging as rising stars. As we near the end of the tournament, it’s not Coach [jim calhoun] or Coach [john calipari] capturing the attention of U.S. searchers—it’s the young head coach at VCU, [shaka smart], and Butler’s equally young coach [brad stevens] who currently take the top spots in search query volume.


Each year, new stars emerge as the tournaments unfold. In 2010, Duke’s [kyle singler] captured the Final Four MVP, and in 2006 Florida’s [joakim noah] captured the nation’s attention. This year, Butler’s [matt howard] has risen to take the top spot as the most searched player of the tournament.


Finally, I know that I get a little basketball-crazy during this time of year, but looking at some of our data, I discover that I’m not alone. In the state of Indiana—the home of Hoosiers and some of the most vocal hoops fans, home-state [butler bulldogs] have pulled ahead of pop music star [katy perry] in search query volume. Now that’s dedication to basketball!


This tournament is always one of the most unpredictable sporting events in the country, so it’s comforting to know that the tournaments end the same way every year: with the champions cutting down the nets. While we can’t predict which team will be up on the ladder cutting the nylon, the search data does provide a glimpse into what we U.S. sports fans are interested in—and perhaps who we’re cheering for in the waning seconds of the games.

Like you, I’ll be sitting on the edge of my couch this weekend with my busted bracket in hand. Of course, in my case, I’ll be rooting on my alma mater. Go Irish!

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This is the latest in our series of YouTube highlights. Every couple of weeks, we bring you regular updates on new product features, interesting programs to watch and tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

In the past two weeks, we saw online video swing into action in a few very powerful scenarios. Video helped connect people with loved ones affected by tragedy while at the same time, uniting musicians from around the world to create art.

YouTube Person Finder
The YouTube Person Finder (消息情報) channel aggregates video messages from those affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan. You can search for videos within the module or browse videos in Japanese. Our hope is that the power of video and the access to YouTube will help victims and their families find each other and make sure they’re safe.


YouTube Symphony Orchestra dazzles from Sydney
One hundred and one musicians from 33 countries were selected via online auditions to come together as an orchestra and celebrate music, creativity and collaboration. Well-known YouTube stars joined the show in Sydney to collaborate, including Pogo and Ukrainian sand artist Kseniya Simonova. A week of events and seven sold-out concerts captured on youtube.com/symphony culminated in a Grand Finale event on March 20. The event was streamed 33 million times around the world to 189 countries, including an incredible 2.8 million mobile live-streams.



Lights, YouTube—Action
Owning a video camera is no longer a prerequisite to joining the YouTube community. youtube.com/create, just launched in beta, enables anyone to use video creation sites Xtranormal, Stupeflix and GoAnimate to make personal videos using images, music and animations and then share them by posting to YouTube.

If you do own a video camera, we have some good news for you too. Nine months ago we introduced our cloud-based video editor, with basic tools, at www.youtube.com/editor. This week, we’ve made two major enhancements to our video editor—image stabilizer and 3D capabilities. Now, you can smooth unsteady video footage with the click of a button or create a composite of two side-by-side videos to produce your very own 3D action flick—all for free.

Baby, she was “Born this way”
Lady Gaga stopped by Google’s headquarters last week and wowed a packed auditorium of Googlers and YouTubers. Gaga answered questions from fans via Twitter and Moderator as well as the audience, dishing on fashion, her larger-than-life persona and upcoming album. Watch the entire Q&A now on YouTube.



This week in trends
Some quick highlights from YouTube Trends:
  • We're seeing new video coming from Syria, where demonstrations have reportedly escalated. CitizenTube, in partnership with StoryFul, is curating that footage on its channel.
  • We looked at how popular cartoonists in Jordan have reacted to the major events taking place in North Africa and the Middle East.
  • We looked at some of the most popular viral clips from around the world, including a proposal gone wrong, a musically-inclined baby and masked flash mobbers in Korea. Check them out for yourself.
Until our next update, keep up on what’s going in the world of video via the YouTube Blog.

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We offer search on different regional domains, such as google.fr for France and google.dj for Djibouti, in order to provide the most locally-relevant results. We've steadily brought Google to many of the world's domains, and today we announced on our Google Arabia Blog that we're adding two more: google.iq for Iraq and google.tn for Tunisia. This brings the number of local Google search domains worldwide to 184, with 15 domains in Arab countries.

The new domains will help people in Iraq and Tunisia find locally relevant information, faster. For example, a search for [central bank] on the Iraq domain yields results relevant to someone in Iraq, such as the Central Bank of Iraq. On the other hand, the same search on the Tunisia domain returns slightly different results.

The new domains also make it easier for people in Iraq and Tunisia to access search in their preferred languages. In Iraq, people can now easily access Google search in local languages like Arabic and Kurdish; while in Tunisia, people can find the Google interface in Arabic and French. In the past, people in these regions would need to visit the domain for another country to use Google in an interface they were comfortable with. And when they did, the results would be relevant to a different region.

Local domains are a first step towards making the web more accessible and relevant for people around the world. They’re also an integral part of our vision to make all of our products available in the world's top 40 most spoken languages covering 99 percent of Internet users worldwide. We plan to add more domains in the coming months, so stay tuned!

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(Cross-posted from Blogger Buzz)

Today we’re previewing five new dynamic templates in Blogger that you’ll soon be able to customize and use for your blog. These new views use the latest in web technology, including AJAX, HTML5 and CSS3, to deliver a host of benefits to you and your readers:
  • Infinite scrolling: read more posts without having to reload or click to a second page
  • New layouts: different views suited to different types of blogs
  • Speed: download images as you view them, not all at once in advance
  • Interactivity: there are now more ways to experience and engage with blog content



Click on any of these links to take the new dynamic views for a spin on a few of our favorite blogs: Flipcard, Mosaic, Sidebar, Snapshot and Timeslide.

Flipcard

Snapshot

Mosaic

To try these views on your own blog, simply add “/view” to the end of the blog URL—for example, http://buzz.blogspot.com/view. These new views are available on all public Blogger blogs with feeds fully enabled—to learn more, including how to disable these views for your blog if you wish, please see our help center article.

We’re previewing these templates early on so we can incorporate your feedback for a wider launch soon. At that time you’ll be able to customize these templates and select one for your blog. Please let us know what you think!

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(Cross-posted from the Lat Long Blog)

It’s now the third week after the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck northeastern Japan. Aid organizations have been hard at work and cities are starting to show signs of recovery, but the damage is beyond imagination and there are still thousands of people at shelters grappling with daily challenges. As a native of Sendai city, I’m still speechless seeing the destruction and damage that has been done to the places I love and care about.

We’ve been looking for ways we can assist in the relief efforts using Google’s map-related tools. A few days after the quake, we published updated satellite imagery of northeast Japan in Google Maps and Google Earth, which illustrated the massive scale of devastation in the affected areas.

Today, we’ve published imagery of the Sendai region at even higher resolution, which we collected on Sunday and Monday. The new Sendai imagery, along with satellite imagery from throughout the area, is now live in the base imagery layer of Google Earth and will soon be visible in Google Maps. We hope to continue collecting updated images and publishing them as soon as they are ready.

We hope our effort to deliver up-to-date imagery provides the relief organizations and volunteers working around the clock with the data they need to better understand the current conditions on the ground. We also hope these tools help our millions of users—both those in Japan and those closely watching and sending their support from all over the globe—to find useful information about the affected areas.

A riverside neighborhood in Sendai from our newly released imagery

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Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages. That’s why we recently started to include more information from people you know—stuff they’ve shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites—in Google search results.

Today we’re taking that a step further, enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results. It’s called +1—the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results.

The +1 button will appear next to each search result


After pressing the +1 button, you have the option to undo the action immediately

Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, Calif. When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate. And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop.


The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results). For more information about +1, watch this video:



So how do we know which +1’s to show you? Like social search, we use many signals to identify the most useful recommendations, including things like the people you are already connected to through Google (your chat buddies and contacts, for example). Soon we may also incorporate other signals, such as your connections on sites like Twitter, to ensure your recommendations are as relevant as possible. If you want to know who you're connected to, and how, visit the “Social Circle and Content” section of the Google Dashboard.

To get started +1’ing the stuff you like, you’ll need to create a Google profile—or if you already have one, upgrade it. You can use your profile to see all of your +1’s in one place, and delete those you no longer want to recommend. To see +1’s in your Google search results you’ll need to be logged into your Google Account.

We’ll be slowly rolling out +1’s, starting in English on Google.com. If you can’t wait to start seeing +1’s, we’ll soon let you opt-in to the launch by visiting our experimental search site. Initially, +1’s will appear alongside search results and ads, but in the weeks ahead they’ll appear in many more places (including other Google products and sites across the web). If you’re an advertiser and want to learn more about how the +1 button works on search ads and websites, visit our AdWords blog.

We’re confident that +1, combined with all of the social content we’re now including in search, will mean even better, more relevant results than you get today.

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As part of our overall goal to make the web better for users, last year we announced a new project: to provide a community with Internet access more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have today. The response was overwhelming—nearly 1,100 cities felt the need for speed—and we were thrilled by the enthusiasm we saw across the country for better and faster web connections. Thank you to every community and individual that submitted a response, joined a rally, starred in a YouTube video or otherwise participated.

After a careful review, today we’re very happy to announce that we will build our ultra high-speed network in Kansas City, Kansas. We’ve signed a development agreement with the city, and we’ll be working closely with local organizations, businesses and universities to bring a next-generation web experience to the community.

Later this morning we'll join Mayor Reardon at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas, for an event we’ll carry live on the Google YouTube channel—be sure to tune in at 10am PDT to watch.

In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We’ve found this in Kansas City. We’ll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future.

Pending approval from the city’s Board of Commissioners, we plan to offer service beginning in 2012. We’ll also be looking closely at ways to bring ultra high-speed Internet to other cities across the country.

Over the past decade, the jump from dial-up to broadband has led to streaming online video, digital music sales, video conferencing over the web and countless other innovations that have transformed communication and commerce. We can’t wait to see what new products and services will emerge as Kansas City moves from traditional broadband to ultra high-speed fiber optic connections.

Now it’s time to get to work.



Update 4:15PM: We’ve heard from some communities that they’re disappointed not to have been selected for our initial build. So just to reiterate what I've said many times in interviews: we're so thrilled by the interest we've generated—today is the start, not the end the project. And over the coming months, we'll be talking to other interested cities about the possibility of us bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities.

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User trust really matters to Google. That’s why we try to be clear about what data we collect and how we use it—and to give people real control over the information they share with us. For example, Google Dashboard lets you view the data that’s stored in your Google Account and manage your privacy settings for different services. With our Ads Preferences Manager, you can see and edit the data Google uses to tailor ads on our partner websites—or opt out of them entirely. And the Data Liberation Front makes it easy to move your data in and out of Google products. We also recently improved our internal privacy and security procedures.

That said, we don’t always get everything right. The launch of Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control—letting our users and Google down. While we worked quickly to make improvements, regulators—including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission—unsurprisingly wanted more detail about what went wrong and how we could prevent it from happening again. Today, we’ve reached an agreement with the FTC to address their concerns. We’ll receive an independent review of our privacy procedures once every two years, and we’ll ask users to give us affirmative consent before we change how we share their personal information.

We’d like to apologize again for the mistakes we made with Buzz. While today’s announcement thankfully put this incident behind us, we are 100 percent focused on ensuring that our new privacy procedures effectively protect the interests of all our users going forward.

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(Cross-posted on the Lat Long Blog)

We’ve been busy pedaling the Street View trike around the nooks and crannies of storied sites in Europe, including palaces, monuments and castles, so you can explore them in Google Maps with Street View.

Starting today, you can view some of the most historic and architecturally significant landmarks in Italy and France, including UNESCO sites in Rome, the center of Florence and stunning chateaux in the French countryside.

In addition to seeing the exterior of archaeological sites like the Imperial Forum and the Colosseum in Rome, you can now explore inside the Colosseum and imagine yourself viewing naumachiae—simulated sea battles for which the Colosseum was filled with water—or speaking with statesmen inside the Imperial Forum.

Inside the Colosseum, Rome

In few clicks you can navigate through centuries of history. Start at the birthplace of Rome, the Palatine Hill, where the mythical founders of the city, Romulus and Remus were found and saved by a she-wolf, and where the most ancient buildings of the city are located. Follow the Appian Way, a little path that became one of the most strategically important roads of ancient Rome. After the long walk, experience the splendor of Imperial Rome at the Thermae (Baths) of Diocletian—ancient wellness and cultural centers with 33 acres of pools, gymnasiums and public libraries.

Baths of Diocletian

After wandering around Rome, you can fast forward in time to witness the celebrated architectural wonders of the Italian Renaissance, including Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) and Brunelleschi’s Cupola (dome) in Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. While in Florence don’t miss the opportunity to walk through Ponte Vecchio and shop at the famous artisan jewel stores built on top of it!

Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

In France, you can view picturesque chateaux and indulge your fantasies of living like French royalty by taking a virtual stroll around the beautiful Fontainebleau.

Château de Fontainebleau

Start exploring these sites in our Street View gallery, or find your favorite historic spots directly in Google Maps.

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When we first introduced Google Commerce Search—our search solution for e-commerce websites—our focus was on improving search quality and speed to help online shoppers find what they’re looking for. Retailers such as Woodcraft Supply, BabyAge.com and HealthWarehouse.com implemented Google Commerce Search on their respective websites; Woodcraft increased search revenues 34 percent, BabyAge increased site searches 64 percent and HealthWarehouse saw online conversions increase 19 percent—and all have reported an increase in customer satisfaction.

Today we’re building on the capabilities that have proved useful to our retail partners with the third-generation Google Commerce Search (GCS). With this new version, we hope to help create an even more interactive and engaging experience for shoppers and retailers.



Here are some of the cool new features in GCS 3.0:
  • Search as You Type provides instant gratification to shoppers, returning product results with every keystroke, right from the search bar
  • Local Product Availability helps retailers bridge online and offline sales by showing shoppers when a product is also available in a store nearby—in-line with the search results
  • Enhanced Merchandising tools allow retailers to create product promotions that display in banners alongside related search queries, and to easily set query-based landing pages (for example, when a visitor types [shoes], they’re directed to a “shoe” page)
  • Product Recommendations (Labs) helps shoppers make purchase decisions by showing them what others viewed and ultimately bought

Search As You Type on www.babyage.com

With this release we're also welcoming three new retail partners: Forever21, General Nutrition Company (GNC) and L’Occitane. GNC implemented Google Commerce Search in less than a week on their mobile website, while Forever 21 and L’Occitane are currently working to implement various new features of GCS, such as Search as You Type and Local Product Availability. Here’s what Christine Burke, VP of International E-Commerce at cosmetics staple L’Occitane had to say about GCS 3.0:
L’Occitane is unique in that our beauty products center around ingredients—such as lavender, shea butter and verbena. As our customers visit our re-designed website to shop and research our products, we’re excited about the speed and accuracy of on-site search results that will be provided to us through Google Commerce Search. We’re also very excited about the possibility of the new local inventory feature, which can help us connect our customers with their favorite products in one of our 170 U.S. boutiques.
For more information, visit google.com/commercesearch.

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Starting today, we’re accepting applications from students for the 2011 Google Summer of Code. In this global program, now in its seventh year, university students receive a stipend to write code for open source projects, gaining experience in real-world software development and creating more source code which benefits everyone on the web.



To apply, visit the program website, where you can review this year’s 175 accepted projects and submit your proposal. Space in the program is limited, so be sure to consult the Google Summer of Code student manual and read over some tips on crafting the best proposal and suggested dos and don’ts for participating in the program.

You can find more information on the Open Source blog. Applications are due Friday, April 8 at 12pm PDT. Good luck!

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

On March 20, the Grand Finale of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 was held at Sydney Opera House and live-streamed to the world on YouTube During the week-long festival leading up to the finale, 101 musicians from 33 countries joined together for the first time—immersed in new cultural experiences, musical mentorship and performances in one of the world’s most iconic symbols of the arts.

During the three-and-a-half hour Grand Finale—and as people in different timezones awoke to re-broadcasts—the event was streamed 33 million times around the world to 189 countries. This included 2.8 million mobile live-streams—making it one of our biggest ever streaming events to date, on mobile and desktop. That means the event was streamed to nearly one-and-a-half times the entire population of Australia, where the event took place.

One of the goals of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra is to make classical music accessible; the total data transferred by the stream was a whopping 422 terabytes—the equivalent of 145 million MP3 files of classical music being emailed around the world.

The top 10 countries viewing the performance online were:
1. U.S.
2. Germany
3. Italy
4. France
5. Poland
6. Russia
7. Australia
8. U.K.
9. Brazil
10. Taiwan

Enormous thanks go to all our Symphony members who flew to Sydney from around the world and put their hearts and souls into an extraordinary performance. You surprised and moved people and had some fun along the way!

For the rest of you, you can read about the experience of YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 cellist Mathisha Panagoda in a guest post on the YouTube Australia blog. And if you missed the Grand Finale, you can watch the full concert and highlights from the last week anytime at youtube.com/symphony.



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This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label "This week in search" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Time is a precious commodity for most of us. To save you more precious seconds as you search, we’ve introduced Google Instant in Places View and redesigned the Google Search app for iPhone for faster, easier searching—whether you’re on your way out or already on the go.

Instant for Places View
As part of our ongoing effort to give you the Instant experience everywhere on Google, this week we’ve enabled Instant in Places View so you can find where you want to go even more quickly. To get to Places View, click “Places” in the left-hand panel; once you’re there, any search you perform will have place and map results that update as you type. We’ll continue to expand Instant to all views, languages and domains over the next few months.


Google Search app for iPhone
The redesigned Google Search app for iPhone, formerly known as Google Mobile App, improves the Google search experience on iOS mobile devices, giving you intuitive gesture controls. First, when browsing through search results or looking at a webpage, you can swipe down to see the search bar to type in a new query or change your settings.

The redesigned home screen of Google Search app

There’s also a new toolbar that makes it easier for you to filter your results—for example, if you only want to see images or shopping results. You can open this toolbar by swiping from left to right.

The toolbar helps you filter your results

Plus, now it’s easier to pick up searching where you left off. If you leave the app and come back later, you’ll be able to get back to exactly where you were by tapping on the lower part of the page. To use the Google Search app, download or update it in the iTunes App Store.

Search in Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ)
With translation help from the Cherokee Nation staff and community members, we’ve added Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) as an interface language on Google. You can set Cherokee as your default from the Language Tools page (available to the right of the search box). We’ve also included an on-screen Cherokee keyboard—which you can access by clicking the icon at the right side of the search box—for people who don’t have a physical Cherokee keyboard.


Posted:
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.

We’ve been busy over the last few weeks adding better discussion tools to Google Docs, improving collaboration within traditional productivity software and making it faster and easier to work with information in your email inbox. Google Apps administrators can also now view detailed information about how their users are being more productive with our collaboration tools, and control how quickly new features are released to their organizations.

Better discussions in Google documents
Productive discussions can help teams write better documents, and last Wednesday we introduced improvements to how you can converse about documents within Google Docs. Profile pictures and timestamps make it easy to see who made a comment and when, and you can direct a comment to someone using an @mention. You can follow discussions with notifications right in your inbox—and even continue a discussion from your inbox by replying to the notification email. Instead of deleting a discussion when it’s wrapped up to remove clutter, you can now mark discussions as resolved so you can go back later and see how the discussion played out.



Data filtering, new chart options and more in Google spreadsheets
We’ve added a heap of frequently requested features to Google spreadsheets over the last few weeks. First, you can now filter spreadsheet data to hone in on rows that match criteria you set as filter options. For example, a sales manager could choose to view transactions processed by Peter and Phil, but not those managed by Andrew, Cindy and the rest of the sales team.

   

We’ve also improved charting in spreadsheets by making it possible to plot non-contiguous data. Multiple chart ranges help you create great charts without rearranging your data.



In addition, you can now hide cell gridlines or entire sheets in Google spreadsheets—giving your spreadsheets a cleaner look by removing extraneous formatting and data from view until you need it at a later time.

  

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office
As we continue to add functionality to Google Docs, many people are finding that that they no longer need software-based word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. And now we also have an alternative for people who want streamlined collaboration but aren’t quite ready for 100% web productivity tools. Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office brings multi-person editing, automatic backup and complete revision history to Microsoft Word®, Excel® and PowerPoint® in Microsoft Office® 2003, 2007 and 2010. By bringing this functionality to existing versions of Microsoft Office, organizations can work more efficiently with the software that they’ve already paid for and implemented.



Smart Labels in Gmail Labs
Chances are, you get lots of email from newsletters, group mailing lists, account alerts and other automated systems. These messages aren’t spam, but they’re probably not your most important emails either. To help you separate and organize these kinds of messages, we introduced the Smart Labels feature in Gmail Labs. Once you turn on this feature from the Labs tab in Gmail settings, Gmail will automatically categorize incoming Bulk, Forum and Notification messages and label them appropriately, removing clutter in your inbox to help your most important messages stand out.



Improved attachment viewing in Gmail
We’ve also made viewing attachments in Gmail faster, easier, more affordable and more secure by adding browser-based attachment viewing for 12 more file types: .XLS, .XLSX, .PPTX, .PAGES, .AI, .PSD, .DXF, .SVG, .EPS, .PS, .TTF and .XPS. So instead of downloading attachments and then opening files with software you may or may not have for each format, you can just click the “View” link next to the attachment in Gmail. This will instantly display the attachment in your browser—no software required.


Collaboration dashboard for Google Apps customers
To help customers see the productivity benefits of Google Apps at a glance, we recently introduced a new collaboration dashboard. From the Google Apps administrative control panel, IT managers can view insights about how their users are working together with Google Docs. This dashboard offers a new level of transparency that traditional software can’t offer, and we think this kind of information will help businesses invest in technologies that actually get put to use, not software that—according to customers—sometimes sits idle after being installed.


New Google Apps release process
Our customers love Google Apps for lots of reasons, but the ability to rapidly get new features—like the ones described in this post—without having to install complex patches or upgrades rises to the top. Instead of large, disruptive batches of new features that only come every few years, people see a continuous stream of better functionality week after week. Still, some customers with more complex IT environments have asked for a bit more advanced notice so they can prepare for what’s coming. For these organizations, we’ve introduced a new release process for Google Apps features. Customers can choose to get new features immediately when they’re available, or have at least a week to prepare for new features after they’re initially introduced. Along with this new choice, we’ve launched whatsnew.googleapps.com, where customers can learn more about new features in the process of being released.



Who’s gone Google?
The pace of new customers coming onto Google Apps continues to accelerate among schools, businesses and other organizations. In the world of education, we’re happy to welcome the University of Alberta, Anhanguera Educational and thousands of other schools to Google Apps. In fact, over 50 percent of the NCAA® Championship bracket has gone Google!

We also invite you to read how businesses and government agencies including Dominion Enterprises, Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk, Revevol, Mad Genius, Cadillac Fairview, Sun Windows, Hammock and The Standard Agency are saving money and helping workers be more productive with Google Apps, joining more than 3 million other businesses that have gone Google.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Posted:
With the help of Cherokee Nation staff and community members, we’ve added Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) as an interface language on Google, making a small contribution towards preserving one of the world’s endangered languages.

You can now select Cherokee as your default from the Language Tools page (available from the right of the search box), and the entire Google interface will transform into Cherokee:


We’ve also included an on-screen Cherokee keyboard on the search page through the Google Virtual Keyboard API. This makes it easier for people to search web content in Cherokee without a physical Cherokee keyboard. To access the keyboard, simply click the icon at the right side of the search box.


Cherokee is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people. The Cherokee syllabary writing system was developed by Sequoyah in the early 19th century. He realized the power of writing systems, and wanted his people to benefit from that power. Some of the 85 characters he developed for his syllabary were modified from his original handwritten script for a printing press in the 1820s, resulting in characters that resemble Latin and Greek letters. Despite the resemblance, they are pronounced differently. The modified script was quickly adapted for printing Cherokee newspapers, books and pamphlets. The adoption and use of the script enabled the Cherokee people to maintain their language and culture. Today, Cherokee is spoken mostly in the states of Oklahoma and North Carolina. (The Cherokee Nation is the sovereign operating government of the Cherokee people. It is a federally recognized tribe of more than 300,000 Cherokee citizens, with its capital located in Tahlequah, Okla. To learn more, please visit www.cherokee.org.)

We’re honored to have the opportunity to continue this tradition, and we’d like to thank the Cherokee Nation for working with us to translate the interface for Google search into Cherokee.

Search is now available in 146 interface languages—and the list is growing. If you speak an endangered language that you would like us to support, please sign up for Google in Your Language and submit community translations.

Update 10:26 AM: You can find the press release from the Cherokee Nation here.

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This is the latest post in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world—even 35,000 feet above the ground. Read how one engineering director tried Google App Engine for the first time to build an Android app—now used by nearly half a million people—during a 12-hour plane ride to Japan. -Ed.

A 12-hour plane flight may seem daunting to some, but I look at it as uninterrupted time to do what I love—code new products. My bi-monthly trips from London to Tokyo and California are how I spend my 20 percent time—what I consider my “license to innovate.” It was on a flight to Tokyo that I first built what became Chrome to Phone, an Android app and Chrome extension that allows you to instantly send content—like a webpage, map or YouTube video—from your Chrome browser to your Android device.

As an engineering director, I spend the bulk of my time managing software engineers and various projects. As a result, there’s not a lot of time to just sit at my desk and code, and it’s possible for my technical skills to become rusty. So on one of my frequent cross-continent trips, I decided to take the opportunity—and time—to brush up on my engineering skills by exploring device-to-device interaction, an area that has a lot of potential in our increasingly connected world. I’d never written a Chrome extension or used App Engine, a platform that allows developers to build web applications on the same scalable systems that power Google’s own applications and services. But rather than sleeping or reading a book, I spent my flight figuring it out. And somewhere over Belgium on my way to Japan, I had a working prototype of Chrome to Phone.

A few days later, on my trip back to London, I emailed my prototype to Andy Rubin and Linus Upson, who lead the Android and Chrome engineering teams. Before my plane even landed, they’d both given the product their blessing. With a little help from a developer in Mountain View and a user interface designer back in London, we tidied things up and ultimately launched the open source code for Chrome to Phone at Google I/O just two months later.



As an engineering director, I don’t always have the time to get deeply involved in every aspect of a product launch. Chrome to Phone gave me a unique opportunity to be actively involved at the grassroots of product development at Google—from concept to launch—working directly with the legal, internationalization and consumer operations teams. With few restrictions on how I spent my time, I was able to build a prototype and launch it quickly, adding more features based on user feedback. Today, more than 475,000 people use the extension, and that number is still growing.

When you’re leaving your house to go out, you take your phone, keys and wallet. I don’t think it will be long before you just take your phone—it will contain everything that you need—and that’s our motivation to explore device-to-device interaction. In order to get there, we have engineers here in the U.K. and around the world examining the mobile space, both in their full-time roles and as 20 percent projects. There isn’t only one solution, so by encouraging engineers to work on new projects, we hope that ideas will come from all over the world—whether from a Google office or even 35,000 feet above one.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

Google went totally Gaga yesterday, when the indomitable artist otherwise known as Stefani Germanotta clicked onto the Mountain View, Calif. campus in her impossibly tall black boots.

The diminutive superstar wowed a capacity crowd in a venue that was (literally) packed to the rafters with adoring Googlers. In a wide-ranging interview that saw Gaga taking questions from fans via Twitter and Moderator, the musician spoke about everything from bullying to Rebecca Black, the creative process and her upcoming album. She took questions from the audience—hugging several Googlers in the process—and even became a judge when a gaggle of Gaga-alikes flooded the stage.

True to form, the singer was by turns funny, thoughtful and inspiring. But don’t take our word for it—you can watch the entire Q&A now on YouTube.



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(Cross-posted from the Google Students Blog)

We're pleased to announce the winners of the second annual European Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. This scholarship gives recognition to outstanding scientific contributions from students with disabilities who are pursuing university degrees in the field of computer science at a university in the European Union, Switzerland or Israel. It aims to help break barriers that keep students with disabilities from entering computing and encourages them to excel in their studies and become active role models and leaders in creating technology.

Scholarships will be granted for the 2011-2012 academic year, and recipients will be invited to attend an all-expenses-paid retreat at Google’s Engineering Center in Zurich in June 2011. The retreat includes workshops with a series of speakers, panels, breakout sessions and social activities.

This year we received almost double the amount of applications compared to 2010 and have increased the number of scholars from seven to 10.

Congratulations to our scholars!

Aurora Constantin, The University Of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Celine Moret, University Of Geneva, Switzerland
Lewis McLean, Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom
Max Hinne, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
Nicolas Bellm, Heidelberg University, Germany
Peter Gatens, University Of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Peter Weller, Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom
Polina Proutskova Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
Sophie Kershaw, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Thomas Hennigan, University Of Southampton, United Kingdom

For complete details, see www.google.com/studentswithdisabilities-europe. To learn more about scholarships, grants and other opportunities for students in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, visit www.google.com/university/emea.

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Last week, the @Google Talks team uploaded its 1000th video to YouTube. If you’re not familiar with this series, we host talks by authors and commentators at Google, and post videos of their readings and talks on a dedicated YouTube channel.

Authors@Google began in the fall of 2005 when we noticed that some amazing people were passing through the Google hallways. A few scrappy Googlers galvanized to create a more consistent pipeline of requests and a formalized program that kicked off with Malcolm Gladwell and James Surowiecki. As Google and our technology grew, so did the program. “Authors@Google” has blossomed into @Google Talks, a full-fledged speaker series, expanded across distributed offices and found a home on YouTube, so that we can share these conversations outside of the Googleplex.

The @Google Talks series aims to capture the popular and intellectual zeitgeist, as well as ideas that deserve a deeper focus an expert can provide in more than a five-minute soundbite. From the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates to Alice Walker to Michael Pollan to Raphael Saadiq, the program has grown to encompass not just authors, but musicians, innovators, notable women, chefs and more. The team that hosts these events is made up of dedicated and passionate volunteers from all across the company.

Our most viral video was of Conan O'Brien, who stopped by during his "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television" tour for a hilarious hour involving bagpipes, Andy Richter and one lucky Googler who got to touch his hair. We've featured master and apprentice—from Thomas Keller of The French Laundry to Keller protege Corey Lee on the process of opening his new restaurant Benu—and varying viewpoints, exemplified by Christopher Hitchens on "God Is Not Great" and Tim Keller on "The Reason for God." And that’s just the beginning. Other popular visitors include Congressman Ron Paul, President Barack Obama, linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, presentation designer Garr Reynolds, author Elizabeth Gilbert, Randall Munroe of XKCD and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

We’re excited for what lies ahead, and we hope you'll tune in and join us.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Voice Blog)

Over time, we've worked to bring an integrated Google Voice experience to your mobile device by building mobile apps, introducing Google Voice Lite, and most recently Number Porting. But we felt that ultimately, the most simple solution would be to partner with carriers to seamlessly integrate Google Voice with your mobile phone.

Today, we’d like to share that we’ve teamed up with Sprint to do just that.

First, Sprint customers will be able to use their existing Sprint mobile number as their Google Voice number and have it ring multiple other phones simultaneously. So now, calls to your Sprint mobile number can easily be answered from your office or your home phone, or even your computer through Gmail. Calls from Gmail and text messages sent from google.com/voice will also display your Sprint number. This basically gives Sprint customers all the benefits of Google Voice without the need to change or port their number.

Alternatively, Google Voice users can choose to replace their Sprint number with their Google Voice number when placing calls or sending text messages from their Sprint handset. This feature works on all Sprint phones and gives Sprint users all the benefits of Google Voice without the need for an app.

In both cases, Google Voice replaces Sprint voicemail, giving Sprint customers transcribed voicemail messages available online and sent via email and/or text message. International calls made from Google Voice users’ Sprint phones will be connected by Google Voice at our very low rates, and Sprint customers will also have access to the rest of Google Voice’s features, like creating personalized voicemail greetings based on who’s calling, call recording, blocking unwanted callers and more.

To learn more, watch the video below and visit google.com/voice/sprint.



This feature will be available soon to Sprint customers in the United States. Once it is launched, it will be rolled out gradually to all Google Voice users, and can be enabled through the Google Voice website. If you don’t see it right away, don’t worry—you can leave your email address at google.com/voice/sprint and we’ll notify you as soon as this becomes available.

In addition, today we’re introducing the Nexus S 4G for Sprint—which takes advantage of Sprint’s high-speed 4G data network and lets you enable Google Voice directly from the mobile app. Learn more on the Google Mobile Blog.

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We love using our computer science (CS) and engineering skills to solve some of world’s most interesting and important problems. We also know that not enough students are pursuing careers in CS and that the U.S. currently has a 3-to-1 gap for computer and mathematical sciences jobs (that’s three job openings for every job seeker). So this year, for National Engineers Week, Google engineers across the country visited local middle schools and high schools to talk to more than 5,000 students about their own careers in computer science.

Instead of hosting students at Google for National Engineers Week as we’ve done in the past, this year we traveled to local communities to talk to the students on their own turf. Engineers Week fell during spring break in many areas, so we spread our school visits throughout the month of March.

As part of this event, I visited Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington with four other engineers from our Kirkland office. We split up into 16 different classrooms during the day, and talked about the importance of basic programming skills for all the sciences (it’s not just for CS majors!) before moving on to activities related to programming and algorithmic thinking (searching and sorting). It was a lot of fun to interact with the students—and we all left with a greater appreciation for the work that the teachers perform every day.

One of the engineers in our group is Japanese (his friends and family are fortunately all safe) and he gave a particularly resonant example of how CS can have a big impact. After the recent earthquake, geologists used computer models to predict where and when tsunamis were likely to hit coastal regions. This information was used to send warnings and direct resources where they were needed most. The speed and accuracy of these warnings is a credit to the scientists who combined their knowledge of geology with their programming expertise to produce these life-saving programs.

We really care about encouraging students to pursue careers in all the sciences (including computer science). By introducing students to interesting people who work in computer science, we hope we can inspire them to develop their own skills in this area.

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This is the latest in our series of YouTube highlights. Every couple of weeks, we bring you regular updates on new product features, interesting programs to watch and tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

Like many people, we've been struck by the devastation in Japan since last week. So in addition to our regular round-up, we've included some information to help you stay informed about events on the ground in Japan.

Footage from Japan on CitizenTube
In the aftermath of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Japan, we worked with Storyful to make eyewitness footage accessible on CitizenTube, YouTube’s News and Politics channel. We also featured some of the most moving videos, like this footage from inside a grocery store during the quake, in a spotlight on the YouTube homepage. You can find more videos on youtube.jp and the livestream of the Tokyo Broadcasting System’s news coverage.

Hollywood comes to YouTube with Girl Walks Into A Bar
We’ve premiered Hollywood's first feature-length film created specifically for the Internet. Presented by Lexus and now playing in the YouTube Screening Room, Girl Walks Into A Bar is a comedy directed by Sebastian Gutiérrez. The film stars (among others) Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Josh Hartnett and Emmanuelle Chriqui. Watch it in its entirety or in installments via this playlist.



Brave bloggers and more—reporting from Afghanistan
Steve Grove of YouTube News and Politics was recently part of a Google/YouTube delegation that went to Afghanistan. There, they interviewed people who have lost their jobs due to blogging and discovered a country that is hungry for information. Ninety percent of people listen to the radio every day, and even though only 30% of Afghans have electricity, 60% say they watch television daily (using generators or community viewing locations). Learn more about their trip and the state of media in Afghanistan in this blog post.

Full version of Kevin Bacon film on YouTube
Ivan Cobenk—the self-proclaimed No. 1 Kevin Bacon fan in the world—has posted the full version of his latest movie on YouTube. You might be familiar with "Ivan" from advertisements for the Logitech Revue with Google TV—turns out, they were only using clips of a documentary about Ivan, which you can now watch in full on YouTube.

YouTube @ SXSW 2011
A vast array of musicians and filmmakers are in Austin this week for the SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival, and so is YouTube. We showcased several YouTube artists—including Beardyman, Playing for Change, Oh Land and Das Racist—at a party Tuesday night, and other events include artists like The Antlers, The Joy Formidable, Wild Flag, Khaira Arby, The Sway Machinery, tUnE-yArDs, !!!, Ted Leo, Edwyn Collins, James Blake and Colin Stetson. You can find videos of many of these folks on YouTube, and look out for video from some of the events next week.



Apply to the YouTube Creator Institutes's inaugural class
We know there are people out there who have always wanted to express themselves through video, but may be limited by funding, video-making skills or insufficient tools. That’s why YouTube is establishing the YouTube Creator Institute—the first initiative from YouTube Next—to help nurture content creators, existing YouTube partners and the next generation of stellar YouTube talent. For details, visit www.youtube.com/creatorinstitute.



This week's trends: Dr. Seuss, politics and more
Here are a few of the YouTube Trends that have gotten the community talking in the past couple of weeks:



World View interview with John Boehner now online
If you missed the YouTube interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner as part of the YouTube World View program, you can now watch it in full. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews.



We’ll update you again in a few weeks. In the meantime, head over to the YouTube Blog.