Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture
Santa’s sleigh is ready for lift-off
December 24, 2013
The countdown is over. Santa and his elves have been preparing around the clock for the big day, opening up new pieces of
throughout the month. Santa’s been
, the elves
, and Santa even sent
custom voice messages
to friends and family.
The elves are now reporting that the sleigh is ready for takeoff!
Join Santa as he delivers presents around the globe. Whether you’re in Sydney or South Dakota, hop in the driver’s seat by checking out
Santa’s Dash(er) Board
. See where Santa’s been, where he’s going, and his real-time jolly status ("mmm, those cookies were delicious!”). Don’t forget to check out the photos and local info for places he visits on the route.
For the next 24 hours, tune in on your desktop, tablet, or phone to the
website. Still worried you’ll miss a minute of Santa’s big day? The developer elves have been hard at work so you can:
Stay updated on Santa’s real-time location with the
Santa Tracker app for Android
Light up your TV by
casting from the Android app
Keep tabs on Santa across the web with the
Santa Tracker Chrome extension
View the journey in 3D in the Tour Guide feature of
Google Earth mobile
And follow Google Maps on
to get up-to-the-minute details on Santa’s journey around the world.
With more than 300,000 kilometers to go, Santa’s got a lot of the map to cover. So set out those cookies and a glass of milk and get ready to
Posted by Brian McClendon, Vice President, Google Maps
Transparency Report: Government removal requests continue to rise
December 19, 2013
in 2010 to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affect access to information online. Today, for the eighth time, we’re releasing new numbers showing
requests from governments to remove content
from our services. From January to June 2013, we received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content—a 68 percent increase over the second half of 2012.
Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes. These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims.
You can read more about these requests in the
section of the Transparency Report. In addition, we saw a significant increase in the number of requests we received from two countries in the first half of 2013:
There was a sharp increase in requests from
. We received 1,673 requests from Turkish authorities to remove content from our platforms, nearly a tenfold increase over the second half of last year. About two-thirds of the total requests—1,126 to be exact—called for the removal of 1,345 pieces of content related to alleged violations of
Another place where we saw an increase was
, where there has been an uptick in requests since a
took effect last fall. We received 257 removal requests during this reporting period, which is more than double the number of requests we received throughout 2012.
While the information we present in our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests. As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world.
Posted by Susan Infantino, Legal Director
2013 in Search: Heroes, tragedies and the Harlem Shake
December 17, 2013
Every day, around the world, we search. We want to find out more about our heroes, explore far-away destinations, or settle a dinner table dispute between friends. And sometimes we just search to find out how many calories are in an avocado.
In our annual
(“spirit of the times”), we reflect on the people, places, and moments that captured the world’s attention throughout the year. This year marks our most global Zeitgeist to date—with 1,000+ top 10 lists across categories like Trending People, Most-Searched Events and Top Trending Searches from 72 countries.
As we get ready to turn the page to 2014, we invite you to take a global journey through the biggest moments from the past 12 months in our
Year in Review video
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the #1 trending search of 2013 was an international symbol of strength and peace:
. Global search interest in the former President of South Africa was already high this year, and after his passing, people from around the world turned to Google to learn more about Madiba and his legacy.
Tragedies like the
, the 6th trending term globally, and
, #2 on our global events list, also captured the world’s attention. And our human desire to help came through, with [
donate to the Philippines
] ranking highly around the world.
2013 also had moments that made us move. People uploaded more than 1.7 million video versions of the Harlem Shake to YouTube, propelling it to the
on our global list; it was also the
second most trending video on YouTube
. And unashamedly, we all wanted to learn about twerking, which topped this year’s "what is…" list of search terms (although I’m still not sure I understand that one!).
Here’s a full look at our top 10 global trending searches of 2013:
Samsung Galaxy s4
You can also explore more global trends this year—directly from our
. Check out the top 100 trending searches of 2013, and simply click one to dig deeper on Google Trends. Or if you’d rather be nostalgic, you can take a look back at each year's Zeitgeist from
Finally, we've made an interactive
3D global map
showcasing the top search trends of 2013 by day in cities around the world. You can easily spin the globe, select a city and explore the topics that brought people to search on any day of the year—from local sports games to international news stories.
As I reflect on the year behind us, I’m excited about what’s to come in the year ahead. What will you be searching for?
, Senior Vice President and Google Fellow
Remembering Nelson Mandela
December 12, 2013
Nelson Mandela devoted his life to promoting democracy and equality, and he leaves behind a legacy of peaceful change. In advance of Mandela’s funeral service on Sunday in Qunu, South Africa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Mpho Tutu, the first female Irish president, Mary Robinson, and Sir Richard Branson will come together for a digital eulogy using Google+ Hangouts.
Join them tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. EST. The conversation will be hosted by
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
, and moderated by CNN’s
Share your questions for the participants with #MandelaTribute.
to celebrate the life of an individual who changed the world.
Posted by the Google Blog Team
‘Tis the season to give back
December 12, 2013
The holidays are here, and that means eggnog lattes, festive lights and spending time with the people you love. It’s also the season to give back and help make the world brighter for those in need. Today we’re unveiling six new
Global Impact Awards
—totaling $11.5 million in grants—to innovators using technology to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.
This year, we’re inviting you to get in the giving groove with
12 Days of Giving
—an interactive holiday calendar where you can explore a Google-backed cause, donate to what inspires you and unwrap a surprise each day—such as meeting Pamela the polar bear or experiencing how far people walk to reach clean water. To spread cheer throughout the year, download
for a daily reminder to give back.
The 12 Days of Giving include our six newest Global Impact Awardees. Join me in celebrating these tech-fueled initiatives:
: Advanced crowdsourced research hub that allows anyone, anywhere to help create scientific breakthroughs as a citizen scientist.
: Finance lab that enables anyone to provide affordable loans to entrepreneurs, students and farmers in poor countries, to support people left out of traditional finance.
Landesa and FrontlineSMS
: Mobile system that transforms the inefficient and confusing process to establish land rights into an accessible, efficient way for poor farmers to get title to their land.
: Online platform that provides free college prep for underserved students by aggregating resources on scholarships, tests and applications, and setting personal reminders for staying on track.
: Platform to train data workers in developing countries and provide jobs.
: Comprehensive data initiative to empower more young people to lead and share powerful and effective social impact campaigns.
In 2013, we donated more than $100 million in grants, $1 billion in free ads and apps and 60,000 volunteer hours to nonprofits around the globe.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org
Conquer the Lonely Mountain in Chrome
December 12, 2013
In “The Hobbit,” a company of Dwarves tries to reclaim the lost kingdom of Erebor from Smaug the Terrible, a fire-breathing Dragon. While the Dwarves’ quest is fraught with danger, your journey to Erebor is just a click away in “
A Journey Through Middle-earth
,” the Chrome Experiment
released a few weeks ago
from Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM).
You can now follow the Dwarves’ journey to
and try to
on your desktop, mobile phone or tablet. But it might be wise to first pay a little visit to the folks who live in nearby
—locations that recently became accessible in this Chrome Experiment—just in case you need their help against the mighty Dragon.
To best equip you on your journey, you may want to
stop by Google Play
. There you'll find all sorts of Hobbit-related apps, games, books, music and films*. Together with the recent recording of a
with director Peter Jackson and actors Evangeline Lilly and Richard Armitage, these can also help you get up to speed for the upcoming release in theaters of “
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
And for those of you more interested in web development than Dragon-slaying, check out the
second technical case study
on “A Journey Through Middle-earth” (the first one is
already available on HTML5 Rocks
). You can also watch a Hangout with
, the team of designers and hackers who built it, on December 18. We'll be posting more updates for the developer community on
+Google Chrome Developers
Posted by Adrian Soghoian, Product Marketing Manager & a Fool of a Took
*Available content and promotions vary by country.
New Google Sheets: faster, more powerful, and works offline
December 11, 2013
Whether you’re crunching big data or tracking your family budget, you don’t want to waste time waiting for files to load or re-doing edits that were lost because your Internet connection dropped. You can now get more done by
the new version of Google Sheets. It’s faster, supports larger spreadsheets, has a number of new features, and works offline.
Bigger, faster spreadsheets
The new Sheets supports millions of cells and kicks many of the old size and complexity limits to the curb. Scrolling, loading and calculation are all snappier, even in more complex spreadsheets.
New features based on your feedback and requests
is a new feature unique to Google Sheets that lets you quickly name, save and share different views of your data. This comes in handy when you’re collaborating so you can sort a spreadsheet without affecting how others see it.
Whether you’re new to formulas or a whiz at running complex functions, it’s now easier to set up and perform calculations. New
and examples guide you as you type, and error highlighting and coloring make it easy to spot and fix mistakes.
As another time-saving improvement,
text now automatically flows
into empty adjacent cells—no manual merge needed.
With the improved
, you can add rules to change the colors and styles of cells in your spreadsheet based on custom formulas.
No Internet connection? Work offline with Chrome
You shouldn’t have to think about whether you have a WiFi connection when you want to work. So just like Google Docs and Slides, you can now make edits to Sheets offline. When you reconnect to the Internet, your edits will automatically sync. If you've edited Docs or Slides offline in the past, then you’re already set up to edit Sheets offline. If not, follow these
for setting up offline in Chrome.
Ready to try it out?
Turn on the new Sheets by checking the “Try the new Google Sheets” box in
Google Drive settings
. From then on, all new spreadsheets you create will work offline and include these new features. We’ll be adding a small list of
in the coming months, so if you rely on any of them, you may want to wait a little longer before opting in.
We hope you enjoy these and the many other updates that come along with the new Google Sheets, including
colored sheet tabs
custom number formatting
and more. Let us know what you think on our
Posted by Zach Lloyd, Software Engineer
YouTube Rewind: What you watched in 2013
December 11, 2013
A Norwegian Army Dance Troupe. An Epic Split. The Fox. And a Rap Battle with an 18th century Austrian composer.
As 2013 comes to a close, these are some of the videos, channels and moments that shaped our year. While each annual list is unpredictable (what's up, Mr. Miley Cyrus impersonator), trending videos just get bigger each year. And with 80 percent of all views on YouTube coming from outside the U.S., the global community is driving pop culture unlike ever before.
You watched The Fox more than 275 million times, making it the top trending video of 2013. You also made it a
top searched Halloween costume
, and you’ll maybe even read it as
a children’s book
. You turned out in
to see PSY’s post-"Gangnam Style" performance. You even made more “Harlem Shake” videos than there are people in Manhattan (1.7 million videos if you’re counting).
To celebrate all these moments, more than 60 top creators on YouTube got together and made a little video for everyone:
Here are the top trending and music videos for 2013:
Top Trending Videos for 2013
Ylvis - "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)"
"Harlem Shake (original army edition)"
"How Animals Eat Their Food" | MisterEpicMann
"Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)"
"baby&me / the new evian film"
Volvo Trucks - "The Epic Split feat. Van Damme"
"YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)"
"Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise"
"THE NFL : A Bad Lip Reading"
"Mozart vs Skrillex. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 2"
Top Music Videos for 2013
PSY - "GENTLEMAN M/V"
Miley Cyrus - "Wrecking Ball"
Miley Cyrus - "We Can't Stop"
Katy Perry - "Roar (Official)"
P!nk - "Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess"
Robin Thicke - "Blurred Lines ft. T.I., Pharrell"
Rihanna - "Stay ft. Mikky Ekko"
Naughty Boy - "La La La ft. Sam Smith"
Selena Gomez - "Come & Get It"
Avicii - "Wake Me Up (Official Video)"
even more top music videos
Check out the
YouTube Rewind 2013 channel
for even more top lists of the year from around the world, and stay tuned at
next week for Google's annual look at the people, places and events that captured the world's attention this year.
Posted by Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture and Trends
youtube and video
Feast your eyes on new works added today to the Cultural Institute
December 10, 2013
we’ve been taking a break from our holiday shopping to feast our eyes on a different kind of gift—the gift of ingenious art that plays tricks on our eyes.
, which means “fool the eye” in French, these techniques require complete control over every detail of size, color, light and gradation of color so that a two-dimensional work appears to be three-dimensional. You can see several examples amongst the
new content being launched by 34 global partners
today on the Cultural Institute and across our entire collection of more than
Enter the wonderful world of Adriana Varejão—or not, it’s hard to tell. Varejão’s
Trompe l'oeil has been used on things as large as a ceiling—like this fresco at the National Archaeological Museum of Ferrara which uses clever architectural form to momentarily confuse:
Don’t drop that lute!
Treasure Room Fresco
, 1503-1506 (National Archaeological Museum of Ferrara, Italy)
And as small as a vase:
Manufacture royale de Sèvres:
Vase "ferré" en première grandeur
, Vers 1765-1770 (Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa & Gardens, Italy)
Sometimes the trickery lies in the deft organization of the elements in the picture, like this one. Can you find the secret image lurking within this seemingly innocent painting of a young man and woman?
Bernardino Montañés Pérez:
, 1891 (Museo de Huesca, Spain)
Other new works exhibit a similar visual trickery. This relic from the Qing dynasty comes from the National Palace Museum of Taiwan—does the cabbage look good enough to eat?
, Qing Dynasty (National Palace Museum, Taiwan)
Or take a look at the
of its unusual history, and then c
ompare the details of the former station to the indoor Street View imagery of today's modern museum:
The station d'Orsay in its heyday
d’Orsay on Street View
, there’s a lot to discover in the latest collection, which comes from all over the world. Enjoyed the visual trickery? See what else can you spot and tell us your favorite examples on our
Posted by Simon Rein, Program Manager, Cultural Institute
Join Santa and his elves in the countdown to Christmas Eve
December 4, 2013
After 11 months soaking up the sun in the tropics, Santa and his elves are back at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas Eve. In addition to making toys, they need to clear the snow off 23 elf homes, candy factories and command centers in
Santa's jet-skiing all the way to the North Pole from his tropical vacation
To join in the flurry of preparations for Christmas Eve, visit the Village every day through December 24. You'll have the chance to join the elves as they catapult presents and
race with reindeer
—and you'll be able to send holiday wishes to friends and family from Santa himself. The elves make a little more progress each day, so be sure to stop by the Village to see the latest.
Come back to Santa's Village every day to see the newest games and scenes
Meanwhile, a team of Google engineers are working hard to track Santa’s sleigh with the most advanced maps and holiday technology available. On December 24, grab some cookies and apple cider and settle down in front of your computer, phone or TV to follow the big guy across the globe with our Santa Tracker. See where Santa’s going, the number of presents he’s delivered, and what he’s thinking throughout the evening.
Keep up the holiday cheer across all of your screens. Once the elves approve, we’ll launch the Google Santa Tracker app for Android in mid-December. Use your phone for on-the-go flight practice with the elves or cozy up near the fireplace with your tablet to follow Santa around the world as he delivers presents Christmas Eve. If you have Chromecast, cast from the Santa Tracker Android app to explore the Village or track his route right from your TV. Or, worried you’ll forget the big day? Download the
to count down to Santa’s takeoff while browsing the web for holiday gifts.
Help the elves get ready across all your devices
Download the Chrome extension for easy Santa tracking from your browser
Be sure to come back to Santa’s Village each day to find new ways to celebrate—and from all of us at Google, happy holidays!
Posted by Sandy Russell, Elf Creative Director
(Cross-posted from the
Lat Long Blog
Give back with the first-ever donatable Hangout-a-thon on Google+
December 2, 2013
As the holidays approach and our calendars become full, it can be hard to find time to give back to the causes you care about most. Tomorrow, on
—an annual one-day event that encourages people to make donations to their favorite charities—we’re making it easier for you to connect with a worthy cause through the first-ever “Hangout-a-thon” on Google+.
Starting at 9 a.m. EST tomorrow on the Giving Tuesday
, you can join nonprofit organizations working to improve clean water access, eliminate bullying, and provide disaster relief in the Philippines. Learn more about their work, ask questions and connect directly to the people they’re helping. Celebrities such as Jennifer Garner, Chris Daughtry and Sophia Bush will stop by to join in on the fun, and you can also donate to the charity of your choice while watching the Hangout.
Here’s a preview of what you can do:
Connect with people engaging in relief efforts on the ground in the Philippines through Save the Children and UNICEF
Join conversations with the founders of Warby Parker and TOMS about gifts that give back, moderated by our partner Mashable
Get inspired during a morning yoga tutorial with the Africa Yoga Project in Kenya
Hear how the Malala Fund is working to promote education as a peace-building tool in developing nations
Participate in a quick coding lesson from Code.org, Girls Who Code and Code2040 and learn what you can do to support digital literacy
We hope you’ll participate by
watching the Hangout-a-thon
, donating to a cause you care about and posting about the event with #givingtuesday on Google+. And to keep the giving going throughout the holiday season, download
, our Android app that lets you donate to a different nonprofit every day.
Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Head of Politics and Causes for Google+
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