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Our advertising system is designed to show the right ad to the right person at the right time. Because ads should be just as useful as any other information on the web, we try to make them as relevant as possible for you. Over the coming weeks, we’re making improvements to provide greater transparency and choice regarding the ads you see on Google search and Gmail. Soon, you’ll be able to learn more about these ads by clicking the "Why these ads" link next to ads on Google search results and Gmail.

“Why these ads” gives you transparency
The perfect search ad answers your query and gets you what you’re looking for quickly. When you click the “Why these ads” link, you’ll find information about why you’re seeing a particular ad and how it’s personalized for you. If you’re searching for a local restaurant while you’re on vacation in Hawaii, you would see ads for restaurants that are nearby, rather than restaurants in your hometown. Or if you’re researching flat-panel televisions, and performing a series of similar searches in quick succession, you could see ads based on the query that you just entered, or based on a few recent and related queries within a single browser session. By considering the language you’re using, your geographic location and various other indications, we’re able to show you the best ads possible. We’ve been showing ads in this way for years as a way to help you quickly find what you're looking for.

Ads Preferences Manager gives you choice

You can also go to the Ads Preferences Manager to make changes that improve the ads that you're seeing, including blocking specific advertisers you’re not interested in or turning off ads personalization entirely (of course, you can change your mind at any time). Here’s a video from our lead software engineer, Diane Tang, with more background:



We regularly experiment with new ways to improve our ads to make them more relevant and to help marketers grow their businesses. When we run these experiments, we’ll continue to explain why the ads are showing when you click the “Why these ads” link.

As we’ve done with display ads, we’re committed to giving you notice and control over the ads that you see. We’re always working to deliver the perfect ad, and we know that it’s important to have a choice about the kinds of ads that are shown to you. If you don’t wish to see personalized ads, the choice is yours.

To find out more, visit the Inside AdWords blog and the Help Center.

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On July 24, 2010, thousands of people around the world recorded videos of their lives to take part in Life in a Day, a cinematic experiment to document a single day on earth. From more than 4,500 hours of footage recorded and uploaded to YouTube, Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald and executive producer Ridley Scott created a 90-minute feature film that offers an entertaining, surprising and moving view of life on earth.

After a theatrical release in countries around the world including appearances at the Sundance, Berlin, SXSW and Sydney film festivals, Life in a Day is finally coming home to YouTube—in its entirety, for free.

Starting today you can watch Life in a Day on YouTube, available with subtitles in 25 languages. So if you haven’t seen it yet or want to relive the experience that The Times of London considers “a thrilling piece of cinema” and the Washington Post called “a profound achievement,” now’s your chance.



If you’d like to own Life in a Day, a DVD is also available. You can find more details about this, and the whole project, on the film’s official YouTube channel.



(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

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When I was a little kid, Halloween seemed like the most grown-up holiday of all. For one thrilling night of the year, I got to stay up late trick-or-treating, watch scary movies with my friends, and wield sharp and pointy objects (safety first, of course!) while carving a macabre face into a pumpkin.

Now that I'm older, my perspective on Halloween has shifted a bit. It’s now the holiday that most celebrates a childlike sense of wonder and amazement. Ordinary people and places are temporarily transformed into creepy and whimsical versions of their former selves: a zombie rises with the aid of corn syrup and some red food coloring, your everyday home becomes a haunted house with eerie lights and a spooky soundtrack, and a pumpkin—an otherwise plain-looking squash—is a grinning ghoul, with the help of only a candle, a knife and some elbow grease.



To celebrate Halloween this year, the doodle team wanted to capture that fascinating transformation that takes place when carving a pumpkin. Instead of picking up a few pumpkins from the grocery store, however, we decided to work on six giant pumpkins, specially delivered from nearby Half Moon Bay (some weighing well over 1,000 pounds). What you see is a timelapse video of the approximately eight hours we spent carving in the middle of our Mountain View, Calif. campus.

Googlers got into the Halloween spirit as well—you can see their costumed cameos if you have a quick eye. Many thanks to Slavic Soul Party! and composer Matt Moran for providing a fitting soundtrack for our Halloween hijinks.

For an inside look at how we set up the shoot, watch our behind-the-scenes video:



From all of us at Google, take care, be safe and have fun this Halloween!

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The pumpkins are carved, the spiderwebs are hanging,
Kids and their pets are door-to-door banging,
Witches on their brooms and owls on their perches,
Let’s take a look at some Halloween searches.


Halloween searches are some of our favorite trends to look at all year. Using Insights for Search and some internal data, we took a peek at which costumes and candies are on top in the United States.

This year seems to be about the battle of the birds. Searches for [angry birds costume], based on the game phenomenon that has so many of us addicted, have been steadily rising in 2011, and we’re seeing 10 times more search volume this year than last. But as of mid-October, the Angry Birds were overtaken in search by [black swan costume]. The Darren Aronofsky ballet drama seems poised to be the most popular costume idea by All Hallows Eve, with related searches for everything from [black tutu] to [black corset]. Some are even looking to be the alter ego [white swan].


Meanwhile, search data doesn’t seem to show that anyone is too anxious to be the object of the Angry Birds’ rage—at least not independently from their sworn enemies. Although [angry birds costume] is one of the top 10 fastest-rising searches related to [pig costume] over the last 90 days, another three are focused on a much sweeter piglet, the cartoon favorite Olivia.


Birds aside, this year’s fastest rising costumes in the U.S. overall are inspired by a variety of sources from pop culture over the past year, including TV shows—[pan am], [wilfred]—movies—[smurfette], [tron], [captain america]—pop music—[nicki minaj]—and more [monster high].

In fact, we may have a battle of the pop goddesses on our hands as well as a battle of the birds. During 2009 and 2010, homegrown Lady Gagas were trick-or-treating throughout the country, but while Lady Gaga still rules the music charts, she’s a far less popular costume choice this year than in 2010:


And although overall in 2011 [lady gaga costume] leads [nicki minaj costume] in search volume, right now they’re neck and neck:


We’d be lying if we weren’t hoping that at least a few Minaj fans out there choose to pay tribute to her by dressing up as uberfans eight-year-old Sophia Grace and her cousin, the two little girls who blew away YouTube viewers with their performance of “Super Bass.”

Speaking of YouTube, Halloween doesn’t fall on a Friday this year, but that’s not stopping people from dressing up as Rebecca Black:


Even if you don’t want dress up as a YouTube star, YouTube can still help you create your Halloween costume. Head on over to the YouTube Blog for video tutorials and other inspiration.

Lest you think Halloween is just for humans, take a look at the huge amount of searches for [dog costume]. In terms of get-ups actually intended for canines, ewoks and dinosaurs are the fastest-rising related searches. But two of the top five rising searches in 2011 related to [dog costume] are a little quirkier: at least a few people out there may dress up as the eponymous character from FX’s “Wilfred” show, about a dog, and a man who sees the dog as a man dressed in a dog suit. Kinda meta.


Turning from costumes to the other traditions of this holiday, searches for [haunted house] and [pumpkin patch] are both spiking right now, but there seems to be greater interest in spooky thrills than in finding that perfect pumpkin to carve. Maybe spiderwebs and peeled-grape eyeballs are a less scary proposition than running into the [great pumpkin] (from the classic movie which, incidentally, celebrates its 45th birthday this Halloween).


Everyone has a sweet tooth this time of year, but [candy corn] is remains the undisputed king of people’s cravings. In the last 30 days, search volume is nearly twice as high for [candy corn] than for other candy choices:


Per capita, Alabama is searching the most for [candy corn] this year. Here are the states that searched the most for a few other Halloween sugar staples (and some newcomer treats):
  • Candy apples - Rhode Island
  • Gummy worms - Wisconsin
  • Kosher candy - New York
  • Sugar free candy - Kentucky
  • Gluten free candy - Oregon
  • Candy bars - Utah
  • Organic candy - Colorado
When trick or treating, there’s always that one house that insists on making Halloween healthy—but luckily for us, those are few and far between. Over the last 30 days, there is almost two and a half times more search volume for [candy] than for [apples]. The classic game of bobbing for apples, however, it still going strong, spiking dependably every October.

Whether you’re dressing up as an elegant avian ballerina or a brightly-colored roly-poly bird in a slingshot, we hope you have a spootakular Halloween!



(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

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We think Google+ should get better every time you use it. It’s not enough to obsess over community feedback (which we do); we also need to surprise and delight you with constant improvements (which we also try and do). Today’s no different, so we’re rolling out four new features in four different areas.

What’s Hot on Google+: see what everyone’s talking about
Google+ users share and receive billions of items every day—on a wide range of topics, in nearly every country. Circles give you a personal lens on all this activity, helping you focus on updates from your family or your favorite celebrities. But sometimes you want to know what the world is so excited about. Whether it’s breaking news or beautiful photos, you just don’t want to miss anything. With this in mind, we’re launching “What’s Hot” on Google+, a new place to visit for interesting and unexpected content:



Google+ Ripples: watch how posts get shared
There’s something deeply satisfying about sharing on Google+, then watching the activity unfold. Comments pour in, notifications light up, friends share with friends (who share with their friends), and in no time at all there’s an entire community around your post. We want to help people re-live those conversations—both to rekindle that initial excitement, and to learn how posts flow across the network. That’s why we’re launching Google+ Ripples: a visualization tool for public shares and comments.

To get started, just find a public post that interests you, and select “View Ripples.” From there you can replay its activity, zoom in on certain events, identify top contributors and much more. Google+ Ripples is still experimental, so let us know how we can make it more informative and more awesome:



Google+ Creative Kit: have more fun with your photos
Nothing tells a story like the perfect picture, so it’s only natural to want to make yours really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Unfortunately, photo editing is too often a chore, requiring specialized software and lots of patience. We want to help everyone put their best photo forward, so today we’re introducing the Google+ Creative Kit, a fast and friendly way to make powerful edits to your photos.

Now you can add that vintage feel to your vacation photos. Or sharpen those snapshots from the family barbeque. Or add some text for added personality. With the Creative Kit, all you need is an idea:



Of course: we also think photo editing should be lots of fun. So we’ve added some limited-edition Halloween effects to the Creative Kit, and we’re inviting everyone on Google+ to join a ghoulish (and good-spirited) photo competition.

Through the end of October, simply add some spook to your photos, and share them publicly on Google+ with the hashtag #gplushalloween. We’ll assemble a surprise panel of celebrities, and next Thursday, Nov 3, they’ll announce their favorites. In the meantime, you can see early submissions from community members below. After all: we take our fun very seriously. :-)

From left to right: Larry Page, Sergey Brin (top), Adrian Grenier (bottom), Britney Spears,

… Google Apps customers can now use Google+
You’ve been asking for it. I’ve been talking about it. And today we’re excited to make Google+ available to all Google Apps customers worldwide. Visit the Google Enterprise Blog for more details.

We think Google+ should get better every time you use it, and we hope it feels that way today. If ever it doesn’t, we hope you’ll let us know.

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There’s a universe of amazing daily deals out there, but it's hard to find them all in one place—and even harder to discover the ones that really matter to you.

We’re making improvements to Google Offers that help address this challenge. First, we’re delivering more amazing deals from a bunch of new categories including outdoor adventure sports, luxury experiences, family-friendly events, classes and more. We’re also introducing a personalization quiz to help you find just the deal you want, all in one place.

Google Offers subscribers in the San Francisco Bay Area will have access to these new deals, and the quiz is now available in all cities. We'll gradually roll out an expanded offers inventory to new cities in the months to come.



To make all this happen, we’ve partnered with the best deal providers in the industry including Dealfind, DoodleDeals, Gilt City, GolfNow, HomeRun, Juice in the City, kgbdeals, Mamapedia, Plum District, PopSugar Shop, ReachDeals, Active.com Schwaggle, TIPPR and zozi. Now, with one account you can easily purchase, manage and redeem all your offers in one place.

Visit Google Offers today to purchase this great deal from the leading luxury experience site Gilt City

Our new personalization quiz is a first step towards bringing you more relevant deals. You can tell us what categories you’re interested in and where you hang out so we can send you just the tailored offers that match your interests—all in one email. If you’re not the outdoorsy type or interested in cosmetic treatments, then we won’t send you deals for zipline adventures and laser hair removal. Don’t worry, if your interests change you can always update your preferences.

You can select what categories of deals you’d like to receive with the personalization quiz

You can subscribe to receive deals that match your interests and learn more about Google Offers at google.com/offers. If you’re a deal provider interested in partnering with Google Offers, please submit your application using this form.

Finally, thanks to The Dealmap team that recently joined Google. They definitely helped on this one and we’re looking forward to working with them to develop many new ideas in the months and years to come.



(Cross-posted on the Commerce Blog)

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This time last year, we were tailgating with the USC marching band at the EDUCAUSE conference—an annual gathering of the higher-education IT community. Last week, with more than 15 million people now actively using Google Apps for Education, we ventured to Philadelphia for a few jam-packed days at EDUCAUSE 2011. Our time in the city of brotherly love included a booth with 30+ Googlers and a woodsy backdrop for our fireside chat series; meeting with hundreds of CIOs from universities using and considering Google Apps for Education; a party at the Academy of Natural Sciences; and of course liberty and the lifelong pursuit of the Philly cheesesteak. Here’s a glimpse:



The Campus Computing Project released its annual report at EDUCAUSE, too. This year’s survey named Google as the leading provider of outsourced cloud-based campus email services. According to the survey, 89 percent of higher education institutions are either already using or considering switching to cloud-based solutions. Of four-year colleges and universities (including community colleges) that have already moved to the cloud, more than 56 percent have gone Google—including 64 percent of public universities and 66 percent of private universities.

Last month we shared that 61 of US News and World Report’s top 100 Universities are using Google Apps for Education. That number’s now up to 62, and is still just a snapshot of the thousands of institutions using Apps on campus. Schools that have recently selected Apps for Education as their collaboration platform include Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, Wellesley College, University of Amsterdam, Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of York and University of Bristol.

In addition to these new schools, we’re also bringing some new integrations to Apps:
  • OpenClass: Pearson has developed a free cloud-based Learning Management System that is tightly integrated with Google Apps and provides a new kind of learning environment that stimulates social learning. This is available in the Apps Marketplace
  • SlideRocket EDU: This presentation software integrated for cloud-based collaborative education enables you to unleash the creation, sharing and communication of ideas with an online application that connects with content in Google Apps for Education and is available on any device or browser. This is available in the Apps Marketplace.
  • Blackboard Bboogle: Last year, Northwestern University presented their popular Bboogle (Blackboard + Google) application at our EDUCAUSE booth. Bboogle has now been certified by Blackboard and is available to other universities as a Building Block through Blackboard’s Extensions website. Bboogle enables instructors to link Blackboard course sites directly to Google Docs, Calendars and Sites without requiring a second login. And by automatically setting permissions for editing, it helps encourage and facilitate collaborative instruction.
  • Desire2Learn: Users will soon be able to add widgets to Course Homepages that make it easy to view unread email messages in Gmail, keep track of upcoming events in Calendar, and submit assignments created in Docs.
If you weren’t able to join us in person at this year’s EDUCAUSE conference, you can check out some of our photos, and we’ll hope to see you next year.



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From sharing photos, to collaborating on documents, to enjoying online games, web apps make the web fun, useful and entertaining. Since the beginning, Chrome has been designed to allow apps to do more, faster. Today, changes in Chrome make it even easier to access your favorite apps and discover new favorites.

In the latest stable release of Chrome, we’ve completely redesigned the New Tab page. It’s more streamlined, so it’s easier to access and organize your apps in different sections on the page. Watch the video below for a quick tour.



To add more apps to your New Tab page, click the Chrome Web Store icon. The Web Store also has a new look:


Apps and extensions are now presented in a wall of images that’s updated every time you visit the store. We hope this will help you quickly scan the store and find interesting things to try out. In addition, apps and extensions are easier to install—just hover over an image on the grid and click “Add to Chrome.”


Getting additional information about an app or an extension is just a click away. When you click on an app, extension or theme, you’ll see a panel featuring screenshots, videos and other relevant information neatly organized into separate tabs. The store also includes a brand new reviews interface that links to the Google+ profile of each reviewer. (To protect your privacy, we made sure to anonymize any reviews that you previously submitted.)

Along with the new look, a bunch of new apps have joined the store. I’m personally excited about My Robot Nation™, an app that lets you design your own robot and bring it to life with a 3D printer. There are plenty of new games to play, including The Godfather: Five Families and Fieldrunners. And for those of you still looking for a Halloween costume, check out the brand-new eBay shopping app.

We have many more features on deck, and we’re looking forward to making the app experience in Chrome even better soon.



(Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog)

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How do governments affect access to information on the Internet? To help shed some light on that very question, last year we launched an online, interactive Transparency Report. All too often, policy that affects how information flows on the Internet is created in the absence of empirical data. But by showing traffic patterns and disruptions to our services, and by sharing how many government requests for content removal and user data we receive from around the world, we hope to offer up some metrics to contribute to a public conversation about the laws that influence how people communicate online.

Today we’re updating the Government Requests tool with numbers for requests that we received from January to June 2011. For the first time, we’re not only disclosing the number of requests for user data, but we’re showing the number of users or accounts that are specified in those requests too. We also recently released the raw data behind the requests. Interested developers and researchers can now take this data and revisualize it in different ways, or mash it up with information from other organizations to test and draw up new hypotheses about government behaviors online.

We believe that providing this level of detail highlights the need to modernize laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates government access to user information and was written 25 years ago—long before the average person had ever heard of email. Yet at the end of the day, the information that we’re disclosing offers only a limited snapshot. We hope others join us in the effort to provide more transparency, so we’ll be better able to see the bigger picture of how regulatory environments affect the entire web.

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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.

In the spirit of helping people work better together, over the last few weeks we made big improvements to Google presentations, introduced a version of Google Docs optimized for Android tablets, and enabled more dynamic content in Google Sites. We also celebrated the fact that Silicon Valley has gone Google!

Google presentations reloaded
On Tuesday we launched a completely rebuilt version of our web-based presentations application, so you can build more beautiful presentations together with colleagues and classmates. Google presentations now lets you make great-looking slides with animated builds, advanced slide transitions and better support for drawings, tables and themes. Plus, we made it easier to create presentations with others, without the hassles of attachments. Your whole team can work together in the same version of a presentation at the same time, and you can see who’s doing what, chat with others, and see a full revision history at any moment in time.


Google Docs on Android tablets
We’ve made it faster and easier to work with Google Docs on Android tablets with a new version of the Android application that takes full advantage of larger screen real estate. The three-panel view lets you browse filters and collections, see your document list and view file thumbnails and details simultaneously. You can get the Google Docs Android app for free from the Android Market.


Charts in Google Sites
Charts are often created in spreadsheets, but sometimes you want charts to appear in other places, like your team or project sites. In Google Sites, now you can select “Chart” from the “Insert” menu, and navigate to the Google Spreadsheet where your chart or data is located. You can also choose to have your site’s chart update in real-time when someone updates the underlying spreadsheet.



New look for Google Docs and Sites
We started rolling out a new look in Google Docs a couple months ago, and now this new design is available throughout all our collaboration tools. In addition to a cleaner, simpler design, we’ve made it more clear when your files are being auto-saved and added new icons to help you see at-a-glance who your docs are shared with. You can also customize the overall “density” of screen information, a great feature if you want to fit more onto a smaller display.



Who’s gone Google?
Successful small businesses tend to stay laser-focused on improving their core businesses, without getting distracted by peripheral activities that don’t make them more competitive. For example, most small businesses don’t want to spend time or money developing in-house expertise to run email and other IT systems. Case in point: 97 percent of Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley Startups to Watch” use Google Apps.

More than 5,000 businesses and thousands of other organizations start using Google Apps every single day, and more of our customers have shared their stories recently so you can hear why. A warm welcome goes out to Philz Coffee, Mid-Atlantic Door Group, Bradford & Barthel, LLP and the City of Mesquite, Nevada.

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.

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The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, and it’s appropriate that Tunisia is now leading the way to a full democracy with their landmark free elections scheduled to take place on October 23. To help in this process, we recently partnered with startup news portal Tunisia Live to offer a training workshop in Tunis on Google tools and social media for politicians.

The turnout was fantastic; members from more than 40 parties and independent coalitions attended. The same day, Tunisia Live launched the Tunisia Talks channel on YouTube, channeling the enthusiasm of politicians to leverage social media and engage with voters. In this project, Tunisians are encouraged to submit and vote for top questions to the candidates, and many did so—for a flavor, see this example or this one. So far, more than 400 questions have been submitted.



This outreach is all the more exciting because YouTube was blocked for so many years in Tunisia. But when the regime collapsed last January, the site was unbanned and quickly became popular. Many Tunisian media outlets have set up channels to organize their video libraries on YouTube.

In this weekend’s elections, Tunisians will choose a constitutional council to write a new constitution for the country. Voters will select from lists of party members and independents. The Tunisian electoral committee has set up an official site www.isie.tn and is actively using social media to encourage voter registration—check their channel YouTube.com/isietn.

This is an exciting time in Tunisia. The media landscape—once limited and government-controlled—is now opening up to online platforms. Tunisians finally have access to a free Internet—and it’s playing a key role in building an encompassing political environment.



(Cross-posted on the European Public Policy Blog)

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(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)

Searches can become stories. Some are inspiring, some change the way we see the world and some just put a smile on our face. This is a story of how people can use Google to do something extraordinary. If you have a story, share it. - Ed.

My major league pitching career was anything but perfect. The closest I ever came was a seven-inning outing against Milwaukee while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, in which I gave up only four runs and earned the victory. In baseball, you can be successful without coming close to perfect. Just think about batting average: a .400 average is insanely good, but that means you strike out or get out in some other way more than half the time you're at bat. Hall of Fame pitchers give up an average of more than two runs per game. Seldom does a pitcher throw a shutout. A perfect game—in which a pitcher does not allow a single player on base—is incredibly rare.

In the majors, setting your team up to win involves daily physical workouts, hours of practice and in-depth analysis of the opposing teams’ traits and tendencies. The idea that someone without this training and background could instead go online, gather and process the necessary information and use it to throw a perfect game is unfathomable. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Brian Kingrey.

Brian is a high school music teacher from Hammond, La. and not much of a sports fan. As one of his students put it, “I’ve never heard him say the word baseball.” But Brian is a gamer—so naturally, he was intrigued by the $1 million prize he saw in a TV commercial for a new baseball video game called MLB 2K11. He knew nothing about baseball, had never even played the real game in his life, but encouraged by his wife, he went out, bought the game and started playing. A few weeks later, Brian won the $1 million prize for pitching the first perfect game in MLB 2K11. And he learned how to do it entirely online.



“I had to figure out what baseball was, not just what a perfect game was,” Brian said. He found that everything he needed to know was online: he was able to search about batters, batting averages, the different kinds of pitches. He combined the information to figure out that he had the best odds in a match-up between the Phillies -- with star pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound -- and the Houston Astros. He also researched the weak spots of each player—for instance, the toughest batter Halladay would face was going to be Astro’s infielder Bill Hall. After that, Brian was ready to play.

And play he did. On his third try, Brian pitched the perfect game and became a millionaire. “Once I got past Bill Hall, I knew I had it,” he said. “Without online search, I would’ve been in deep trouble. If I had played like it was in my head, I would’ve done it all wrong.” Perhaps if I’d known that search was the answer when I was playing in the major leagues, I might have come a little closer to perfection more often.

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(Cross-posted on the Lat Long Blog)

From the Amazon to the ancient ruins of Pompeii, Street View technology has put imagery of some of the world’s most interesting and significant sites online for everyone to enjoy. Now, for the first time in Google Maps, we’re hitting the train tracks to capture the majesty of the famous railway lines of the Swiss Alps and the surrounding scenery.



In cooperation with Rhaetian Railway, our Street View team has collected images from one of the world’s most scenic railway routes—the Albula-Bernina line in Switzerland—that will soon be live on Google Maps. The picturesque route through the Swiss Alps is one of most famous in the world, winding its way through wild mountain scenery from Thusis, Switzerland; past the resort town of St. Moritz; to its final stop just over the border in Tirano, Italy.


View Albula-Bernina Line in a larger map

A complex system of tunnels, viaducts and galleries allow the railway line to pass through the narrow valleys and climb almost 2,000 meters in altitude. It’s unique to see technology and architecture like this in a natural landscape, and the route is a popular tourist destination offering amazing photography opportunities.

To capture the stunning scenery for Street View, we mounted our trike—a three-wheel pedicab with a camera system on top—to a flatbed at the front of a train. As the train travelled along the line, cameras facing nine different directions captured still photos of the surrounding areas that we’re now stitching together into 360-degree panoramic views. Soon, we’ll publish the imagery on Google Maps for people around the globe to enjoy and experience themselves. The imagery will provide admirers of this route with completely new perspectives, and also help document and preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos from imagery collection day:



To get the latest on Street View go to maps.google.com/streetview.

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These days, thanks to the movie “Moneyball,” everyone is talking about evaluating baseball through the lens of data and statistics. As the World Series matchup between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals begins, we thought: why not take a look at what the search data says about the players, managers and other aspects of the 2011 baseball postseason?

Let’s start with the teams themselves. The Cardinals are more popular in search than the Rangers. Perhaps that’s because the Redbirds—not your typical underdogs with 10 World Series titles and 18 pennants—were 10 games back from the NL Wild Card in September, and have since overpowered the regular season’s best Phillies, then their division mates the Brewers to win the NLCS last weekend. The Rangers are in the World Series for the second year in a row, still without a title to their name; yet searches were higher in the last months for the team they defeated in the ALCS, the Detroit Tigers, who saw an even steeper increase in search interest than the Cardinals.

The Cards are known first and foremost for their hitting, but Chris Carpenter overtook first baseman Albert Pujols for a period earlier this month after the former pitched a complete game against Philadelphia to advance his team to the NLCS.


Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ breakout star, hometown hero and NLCS MVP David Freese is (as recently as our data goes) an underdog in search—outpaced in the first half of the month not only by Pujols and Carpenter but by other slugging teammates like Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.


On the AL side, searches for the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz were below those for teammates Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton until October 11, when he hit the first-ever postseason walkoff grand slam, took his team to an early lead in the series against Detroit and himself to the lead in searches (for a while) as well as the MVP title.


Matching up the Rangers and Cardinals top players, we find that Albert Pujols is the subject of nearly double as many searches as Josh Hamilton. And as of October 12, Nelson Cruz had double the searches of David Freese—we’re guessing that’s changed a bit since Freese was named MVP on Sunday. We have our eye on the data to see how these player matchups go over the course of the series.

Famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, who had an entire book written about his shrewd game strategy back in 2005, is more searched for than Texas manager Ron Washington, who’s been at the helm since the 2007 season. But neither is as popular in search as Texas owner and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.


As always, there were some twists during this year’s playoffs, starting with the rally squirrel—a big hit in St. Louis. The rally squirrel made two live appearances during the Phillies/Cards series, including one in which he (or she) ran across home plate and distracted Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt. The Cardinals ended up winning, and the rally squirrel’s likeness has since shown up in the stadium on T-shirts, towels and homemade signs. Perhaps the squirrel had a hand in helping the Cardinals overpower the Brewers and their “beast mode,” too.


While the World Series is on our mind, we’re also starting to plan our Halloween costumes. Luckily, we can recycle from last year: Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants—the 2010 MLB champions—is still a hot Halloween costume choice.

Finally, although starting tonight all eyes will be on the Rangers and the Cardinals, neither team appears on the list of most-searched teams in 2011 so far. According to search data, fan favorites this year were the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. The Yankees and Phillies went out in the first round of the playoffs, while the Braves and Sox both failed to claim hold of a wild card spot in waning days of the regular season.

With sunflower seeds in hand, we’ll keep our eyes out over the next few days to see which of these two World Series teams will finally get their chance in the national—and search—spotlight. Having spent summers traveling up to Busch Stadium for games, I know who I’ll be rooting for!




(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

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Mobile search helps people find what they need in a snap. Whether they’re choosing between two restaurants, shopping for a new watch, or buying a movie ticket, people make better decisions when they have access to more information. Search ads are information—answers—and on mobile devices, they’re able to connect people and businesses in new, useful and relevant ways.

Today, we’re unveiling new mobile search ad formats and some new details about the ways many different businesses are benefiting from mobile advertising.

Search ads, meet mobile apps
We’re bringing the worlds of search and apps together with mobile advertising in a few ways:
  • Search ads in mobile apps: Lots of mobile apps give people the ability to search for information—like an app that lets you search for a restaurant nearby. Today we’re announcing Custom Search Ads for these apps. These ads provide useful and relevant answers, for people searching within a mobile app. Custom Search Ads will also help app developers earn more money to fund their apps and grow their businesses on mobile.

    Custom Search Ads in mobile apps

  • Click to Download: Not surprisingly, many people use Google to search for information about mobile apps. This ad format helps consumers right when they're searching for information about an app, linking them directly to the App Store or Android Marketplace to download. We’ve recently enabled app developers to include app icons and information about the app in their ad unit so that people can make more informed decisions about whether they want to download the app.
  • Mobile App Extensions: This new, beta ad unit enables businesses to use mobile search ads to direct someone to a page within a mobile app already installed on their phone. For example, if someone searches for sneakers on a mobile device, they might see an ad that takes them directly into a cool shopping app they’ve installed on their phone.


Local search ads—so hot right now
Building local context into mobile ads makes them more useful both for both consumers and businesses. Here are a few specific examples:
  • Click to Call: We introduced these ads for high-end smartphones less than two years ago and they're now driving millions of calls per week to hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world. Click to call ads have been very effective in generating leads for businesses of all sizes, across many verticals—more people can call an Enterprise Rent-A-Car near them for rentals and more potential customers can connect with ADT Security for alarm system expertise, for example.
  • Hyperlocal search ads: Launched a year ago, these search ads contain useful local information like phone numbers, driving directions, a number to click and call a business directly, and also show people how far they are from specific business locations. Roy’s Restaurants’ efforts with this format led to a 40 percent increase in call volume—and lots more full tables!
  • Proximity as a factor in mobile search ads ranking: The distance between a person and an advertiser’s business location is now a factor in mobile search ads ranking. This means an ad for a business with a physical location close to to a consumer may perform better in AdWords—driving more mobile traffic at a lower cost. The feature will be effective only when consumers opt in to share their device location for mobile searches. It will make our hyperlocal format more useful for businesses and users—advertisers can get started with this by creating Location Extensions for their mobile campaigns. Particularly this holiday season, when consumers are using their mobile phones to find a nearby store for last minute gift purchases, this new feature will help connect customers with storefronts.
  • Circulars: We began testing this new ad format with Best Buy and Macy’s earlier this month. When someone clicks on a search or display ad (on desktop, mobile or tablet devices), they may see these engaging ads which contain photos of relevant products and special offers. With a few simple clicks, people who are at their desk can email that circular to their mobile phones, and later walk into their local store, flash their phone and redeem the offers.

Macy’s Circular ads on mobile

The exciting thing for mobile users and businesses is that the possibilities for mobile search advertising are nearly endless. We’re looking forward to helping businesses and consumers alike take advantage of this brave new (mobile) world.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Mobile blog)

Beaming a video with a single tap or unlocking a device with only a smile sounds like science fiction. Now, you can actually do these things (and more) with a phone that fits in the palm of your hand.

Wednesday morning in Hong Kong—together with Samsung—we unveiled Galaxy Nexus, the first phone designed for the latest release of Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.



With a super slim profile, Galaxy Nexus features a 4.65” Contour Display with true high definition (720p) resolution and a lightning-fast dual core 1.2ghz processor combined with 4G LTE or HSPA+ technology. Galaxy Nexus also features the latest in software: Ice Cream Sandwich makes Android simple and beautiful, and takes the smartphone to beyond smart.

Beauty and simplicity
With Ice Cream Sandwich, our mission was to build a mobile OS that works on both phones and tablets, and to make the power of Android enticing and intuitive. We created a new font that’s optimized for HD displays and eliminated all hardware buttons in favor of adaptable software buttons. We also dramatically improved the keyboard, made notifications more interactive and created resizable widgets.

The desktop-class browser is significantly faster, featuring a refined tab manager and the ability to sync your bookmarks with Google Chrome. Ice Cream Sandwich also features the best mobile Gmail experience to date, with a new design that lets you quickly swipe through your inbox and search messages even when you’re offline. Calendar boasts a clean new look and you can zoom into your schedule with a pinch.

Connect and share
People are at the heart of Ice Cream Sandwich. We rethought how you browse your contacts with the new People app, which combines high-resolution photos and updates from Google+ and other social services. It’s also easier to capture and share your life with family and friends. Galaxy Nexus sports a high-end camera with zero shutter lag, automatic focus, top notch low-light performance and a simple way to capture panoramic pictures. Shoot amazing photos or 1080p video, and then edit and share them directly from your phone.

Beyond smart
Galaxy Nexus isn’t just a smartphone—it’s beyond smart. Ice Cream Sandwich gives you complete control over the amount of mobile data you use by helping you better understand and manage it. We’re also introducing Android Beam, which uses near field communication (NFC) to instantly share webpages, YouTube videos, maps, directions and apps by simply tapping two phones together. Face Unlock uses state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to unlock your phone with nothing more than a smile.

This weekend marks the third birthday of the G1, the first-ever Android phone. Nine releases later, more than 550,000 Android devices are activated daily.

Starting in November, Galaxy Nexus will be available in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Check out the Nexus website for a product tour and more info.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Code blog)

As digital designers, we often think about how to translate traditional media into a virtual space. Recently, we thought about the bookcase. What would it look like if it was designed to hold digital books?

A digital interface needs to be familiar enough to be intuitive, while simultaneously taking advantage of the lack of constraints in a virtual space. In this case, we imagined something that looks like the shelves in your living room, but is also capable of showcasing the huge number of titles available online—many more than fit on a traditional shelf. With this in mind, we designed a digital bookcase that’s an infinite 3D helix. You can spin it side-to-side and up and down with your mouse. It holds 3D models of more than 10,000 titles from Google Books.

The books are organized into 28 subjects. To choose a subject, click the subject button near the top of your screen when viewing the bookcase. The camera then flies to that subject. Clicking on a book pulls it off the shelf and brings it to the front and center of the screen. Click on the high-resolution cover and the book will open to a page with title and author information as well as a short synopsis, provided by the Google Books API. All of the visuals are rendered with WebGL, a technology in Google Chrome and other modern browsers that enables fast, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics right in the browser, without the need for a plug-in.

If you’ve finished your browsing and find a book you want to read, you can click the “Get this book” button on the bottom right of the page, which will send you to that book’s page on books.google.com. Or, you can open the title on your phone or tablet via the QR code that’s in the bottom left corner of the page, using a QR code app like Google Goggles. You can also browse just free books by selecting the “Free Books” subject in the subject viewer.



Bookworms using a modern browser can try the WebGL Bookcase today. We recommend using Google Chrome and a fast computer with a powerful graphics card. Even with new hardware, this interface is experimental and may not work on some machines. For more creative browser experiments, check out Chrome Experiments, a gallery of more than 300 creative projects made by developers and artists from around the world, many utilizing WebGL.

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We’ve worked hard over the past few years to increase our services’ use of an encryption protocol called SSL, as well as encouraging the industry to adopt stronger security standards. For example, we made SSL the default setting in Gmail in January 2010 and introduced an encrypted search service located at https://encrypted.google.com four months later. Other prominent web companies have also added SSL support in recent months.

As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users. Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to https://www.google.com (note the extra “s”) when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page. This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe. You can also navigate to https://www.google.com directly if you’re signed out or if you don’t have a Google Account.

What does this mean for sites that receive clicks from Google search results? When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won't receive information about each individual query. They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools. This information helps webmasters keep more accurate statistics about their user traffic. If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.

As we continue to add more support for SSL across our products and services, we hope to see similar action from other websites. That’s why our researchers publish information about SSL and provide advice to help facilitate broader use of the protocol. We hope that today’s move to increase the privacy and security of your web searches is only the next step in a broader industry effort to employ SSL encryption more widely and effectively.

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A year and a half ago, we released completely new document, spreadsheet and drawing editors. Google Docs has been picking up speed ever since with more than 60 new features and millions of new users. Today we’re rounding out the suite by previewing a new version of presentations with faster collaboration and more features.

A collaborative approach
Presentations are made to be shared—whether it’s presenting your thesis to your professors or inspiring colleagues at a conference. And the best presentations are made together, collaborating with others to build a compelling story that captivates your audience. Creating presentations together is easy because you can:
  • See exactly what others are working on with colorful presence markers
  • Edit with your team members simultaneously from different locations
  • Use revision history to see who made changes or to revert to earlier versions
  • Say hello, start a conversation or share new ideas using built-in chat

More than 50 new features
In the new presentations, we’ve added many of your most requested features, including:
  • Transitions to move between slides with simple fades or spicier 3D effects
  • Animations to add emphasis or to make your slides more playful
  • New themes to create beautiful presentations with distinct visual styles
  • Drawings to build new designs, layouts, and flowcharts within a presentation
  • Rich tables with merged cells and more options for adding style to your data
What’s next
We’re gradually rolling out the new presentations. To get an early start, click on the gear icon in your document list, and select Document settings. Then, from the editing tab, check the box to “Create new presentations using the latest version of the presentation editor.”

Many of the new features were built using technologies that are only available in modern browsers. If you’re using an older browser you’ll be able to view, but not edit, the new presentations.

With today’s launch, the Google Docs suite is now built on a single, solid foundation. Now that the groundwork is in place, you can expect more useful and collaborative features, delivered faster than ever before.

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We’re hearing from people at check-out counters throughout the country that paying with your phone is a little like magic. Just look at the ecstatic reaction on the faces of our friends who made their first Google Wallet purchases last Thursday.



Today, our partners American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, OfficeMax and Toys“R”Us are rolling out an even better Google Wallet experience. For the first time ever in the U.S., at these select stores, you can not only pay but also redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points—all with a single tap of your phone. This is what we call the Google Wallet SingleTap experience.

With Google Wallet in hand, you can walk into a Jamba Juice, American Eagle Outfitters or any other partner store. Once you’ve ordered that Razzmatazz smoothie or found the right color Slim Jean, head straight to the cashier and tap your phone to pay and save—that’s it. You don’t have to shuffle around to find the right coupon to scan or rewards card to stamp because it all happens in the blink of an eye.

The Offers tab in Google Wallet has been updated to include a new "Featured Offers" section with discounts that are exclusive to Google Wallet. Today, these include 15% off at American Eagle Outfitters, 10% off at The Container Store, 15% off at Macy’s and an all-fruit smoothie for $2 at Jamba Juice. There are many more Google Wallet exclusive discounts to come, and you can save your favorites in Google Wallet so they’ll be automatically applied to your bill when you check out.


Organizing loyalty cards in your wallet is getting easier too. Today, Foot Locker, Guess, OfficeMax and American Eagle Outfitters are providing loyalty cards for Google Wallet so you can rack up reward points automatically as you shop. More of these are on the way.

One more thing—in response to user feedback, we’ve improved transaction details for the Google Prepaid Card with real-time transaction information including merchant name, location, dollar value and time of each transaction. Here’s what it looks like:


Finally, a special thanks to Chevron, D’Agostino, Faber News Now, Gristedes Supermarkets and Pinkberry who are now also working to equip their stores to accept Google Wallet.

It’s still early days for Google Wallet, but this is an important step in expanding the ecosystem of participating merchants to make shopping faster and easier in more places. If you’re a merchant and want to work with us to make shopping easier for your customers and connect with them in new ways, please sign up on the Google Wallet site. And if you’re a shopper and want to purchase a Nexus S 4G phone from Sprint with Google Wallet, visit this page.

(Cross-posted on the Commerce blog)

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The second year at the Google Hiveplex was a busy one, and two weeks ago, we harvested a delicious bounty from our wildly productive hives. But the sweetest part about having the four hives on campus is the Googlers from all departments who have gotten into beekeeping or become more aware of honeybees because of their presence on campus.

During the honey harvest, guided by Bill and Debbie Tomaszewski of Marin Bee Company, Googlers from all walks joined in with the Google Beekeepers and local beekeeping friends from the San Francisco Chronicle on the harvesting activities. We pulled frames of honeycomb out of the honey supers (the boxes stacked on the very top of the hives in which the bees store the honey), uncapped comb, worked the extractor and filled jars bound for our cafes and beyond.

We also participated in a tasting featuring nine honeys from around the country, including entries from Google beekeepers’ personal hives, the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban rooftop hive, the Marin Bee Company’s suburban hive and more. The colors, consistencies and flavors varied as much as their origins, and everyone got a chance to note their own impressions of these honeys during a “Silent Tasting” where participants added their guesses about the honeys’ flavors and origins to tasting sheets. Afterward, we revealed the honeys’ “hometowns” (one came from as far away as Illinois) and nectar sources, which ranged from pine and fennel to eucalyptus and mustard flower.

It’s tough to say how our harvest this year compares to last year, as we still haven’t devised an ideal method for weighing the honey harvests, but we did end up with more honey supers on the hives at harvest time this year than we did last year. After the harvest, the supers and their empty frames were returned to the hives to allow the bees to pick every cell clean as they get ready to settle in for a cozy winter.



Everyone who participated in the harvest walked away with a sweet reward and, we hope, a new appreciation for the work our tens of thousands of busy gals put in to make it happen.

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We aspire to build great products that really change people’s lives, products they use two or three times a day. To succeed you need real focus and thought—thought about what you work on and, just as important, what you don’t work on. It’s why we recently decided to shut down some products, and turn others into features of existing products.

Here’s the latest update on what’s happening:
  • Code Search, which was designed to help people search for open source code all over the web, will be shut down along with the Code Search API on January 15, 2012.
  • In a few weeks we’ll shut down Google Buzz and the Buzz API, and focus instead on Google+. While people obviously won't be able to create new posts after that, they will be able to view their existing content on their Google Profile, and download it using Google Takeout.
  • Jaiku, a product we acquired in 2007 that let users send updates to friends, will shut down on January 15, 2012. We’ll be working to enable users to export their data from Jaiku.
  • Several years ago, we gave people the ability to interact socially on iGoogle. With our new focus on Google+, we will remove iGoogle's social features on January 15, 2012. iGoogle itself, and non-social iGoogle applications, will stay as they are.
  • The University Research Program for Google Search, which provides API access to our search results for a small number of approved academic researchers, will close on January 15, 2012.
In addition, later today the Google Labs site will shut down, and as previously announced, Boutiques.com and the former Like.com websites will be replaced by Google Product Search.

Changing the world takes focus on the future, and honesty about the past. We learned a lot from products like Buzz, and are putting that learning to work every day in our vision for products like Google+. Our users expect great things from us; today’s announcements let us focus even more on giving them something truly awesome.

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(Cross-posted on the Mobile Blog and the Translate Blog

Mobile technology and the web have made it easier for people around the world to access information and communicate with each other. But there’s still a daunting obstacle: the language barrier. We’re trying to knock down that barrier so everyone can communicate and connect more easily.

Earlier this year, we launched an update to Google Translate for Android with an experimental feature called Conversation Mode, which enables you to you translate speech back and forth between languages. We began with just English and Spanish, but today we’re expanding to 14 languages, adding Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish.



To use Conversation Mode, speak into your phone’s microphone, and the Translate app will translate what you’ve said and read the translation out loud. The person you’re speaking with can then reply in their language, and Conversation Mode will translate what they said and read it back to you.

This technology is still in alpha, so factors like background noise and regional accents may affect accuracy. But since it depends on examples to learn, the quality will improve as people use it more. We wanted to get this early version out to help start the conversation no matter where you are in the world.

We’ve also added some other features to make it easier to speak and read as you translate. For example, if you wanted to say “Where is the train?” but Google Translate recognizes your speech as “Where is the rain?”, you can now correct the text before you translate it. You can also add unrecognized words to your personal dictionary.

When viewing written translation results, you can tap the magnifying glass icon to view the translated text in full screen mode so you can easily show it to someone nearby, or just pinch to zoom in for a close-up view.

Tap the magnifying glass icon to view translations full screen.

Finally, we’ve also optimized the app for larger screens like your Android tablet.

While we work to expand full Conversation Mode to even more languages, Google Translate for Android still supports text translation among 63 languages, voice input in 17 of those languages, and text-to-speech in 24 of them.

Download the Google Translate app in Android Market—it’s available for tablets and mobile phones running Android 2.2 and up.

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(Cross-posted on the Lat Long Blog)

You’re now one step closer to experiencing and interacting with a 3D mirror of the real world within your browser with Google MapsGL. Google MapsGL takes Google Maps and harnesses the power of Web Graphics Library (WebGL) to create far richer visuals and animations.

WebGL is a new technology that brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser without additional installed software. With WebGL your maps experience is much better with 3D buildings, smoother transitions between imagery and the ability to instantly “swoop” into Street View without a plugin.


Starting today, if you’re using supported browsers (such as Chrome 14+ or Firefox Beta) with compatible video cards, you can opt in to the early beta release. Visit maps.google.com and click “Try it now,” or visit maps.google.com/gl to learn more.

We’ve been using WebGL to create experiences like our Chrome experiments “3 Dreams of Black” and “All is Not Lost,” which happen right in the browser. Previously, such sophisticated 3D graphics have only been possible on traditional desktop applications and have required manual installation. WebGL ushers in a whole new generation of graphics on the web, and with that, we can begin to redefine the expectations of an online map.

Check out Chrome Experiments WebGL for more WebGL-powered applications, and opt in to Google MapsGL to begin using the next generation of mapping today.