Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture
What's a rich media ad, anyway?
April 30, 2009
Since last year's DoubleClick acquisition, we've increased our focus on helping marketers and agencies use Google tools for all of their display advertising needs. DoubleClick Rich Media is the part of DoubleClick that provides the technology for the most technically advanced and engaging of these display ads, which are typically created by creative agencies for their brand-focused clients. To help make this process even easier and efficient, today we're launching
, our new rich media production and development tool.
To describe rich media, it helps to think about other ad formats that we're all familiar with, starting with the simplest: text ads. With just a few keystrokes, anyone can create simple messages in a standardized format, and place them on a site like Google.com in minutes. Then we have standard display ads, ads that usually include text with a visual such as a logo or a graphic. These can be in formats we're all familiar with like .jpg, .gif, .swf and more. Standard display ads can either be static or animated with tools like Flash. They typically have only one interaction, meaning that when you click on them, you'll be taken to a destination site. And then at the most complex level, from a design and interaction perspective, we have rich media ads. With rich media, you can have ads that expand when users click or roll over, for example, and there are extensive possibilities for interactive content, such as HD video or even the ability to click to make a phone call.
But making a rich media ad possible requires much more complex technology to ensure that all of the ad behaviors function properly, that all of the interactions can be measured, and to serve the ads onto web pages. Every piece of the canvas, from the video play button to the button that allows for expansion, requires coding in Flash that's made possible by a rich media technology provider like DoubleClick Rich Media. With all of this complexity, there's also a lot of room for error. So in addition to enabling the development of the ads, tools like DoubleClick Studio provide quality analysis and preview functionalities to make sure that the ads work the way they should.
Here is a graphic that represents some of the differences between types of online ads:
With DoubleClick Studio, we hope to make it easier for our existing users to produce rich media ads, and to expand the number of advertisers that can make these useful formats part of their marketing strategy. This is also a good thing for Internet users; rich media capabilities make advertising even more useful, letting a viewer interact with an ad and learn about a brand without having to leave the page they're on. And, advertisers have an expanded creative canvas within the ad itself, allowing for deeper, higher-quality content in the ad itself. At Google, we believe that ads at their best are useful information.
To read more about DoubleClick Studio, visit the
Posted by Shamim Samadi and Ari Paparo, DoubleClick Rich Media Team
11 short films about a browser
April 29, 2009
(Cross-posted from the
Google Chrome Blog
For those of us who live and work on the web, the browser is an unsung hero. It's become the most important piece of software on our computer, but rarely is it given proper recognition, let alone fêted.
We invited some creative friends to make short movies about our own browser,
, and then watched as they came back with dozens of interesting ways to portray the browser. After finishing his
, artist and illustrator
wrote to us about his approach:
"Instead of thinking of what I wanted to show, I tried to think about what I did NOT want to show. I realized that when I use a computer or browse the web these days, the one thing I do NOT think about is... a computer.
There was a time when I knew the meaning of every single item in my system folder and had to wisely allocate RAM to an application before burdening it with a complex task. Dealing with a computer has become much simpler these days (if everything works), but much more difficult and complex (especially if it doesn't behave) — almost like dealing with a living creature.
I wanted to find a simple metaphor that explains what a browser does, without showing a screen, a keyboard, the letters WWW, pixels, zeroes or ones.
Initially I thought of my mom (the browser) who brings me (the user) a plate of spaghetti bolognese (the Internet). But since spaghetti bolognese is not a rewarding thing to draw, let alone animate, I went for the next best metaphor, which can be seen in the animation."
Along with Christoph's video, there are great shorts by
Lifelong Friendship Society
. You can view the individual Chrome Shorts on our
as well as a quick compilation below.
We're really excited about the imagination and range of their ideas, and we hope you enjoy them.
Posted by Ji Lee, Creative Lab
Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico
April 29, 2009
(Cross-posted on the
In November 2008, we launched
Google Flu Trends
after finding a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Google Flu Trends may be able to detect influenza outbreaks earlier than other systems because it estimates flu activity in near real time.
In response to recent inquiries from public health officials, we've been attempting to use Google search activity in Mexico to help track human swine flu levels.
Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico
is, as you might have guessed, very experimental. But the system has detected increases in flu-related searches in Mexico City (Distrito Federal) and a few other Mexican states in recent days, beginning early in the week of April 19-25.
In the United States, we were able to validate our estimates using data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have not verified our data for Mexico in the same manner, but we've seen that Google users in Mexico (and around the world) also search for many flu-related topics when they have flu-like symptoms. Given the tremendous recent attention to swine flu, our model tries to filter out search queries that are more likely associated with topical searches rather than searches by those who may be experiencing symptoms.
While we would prefer to validate this data and improve its accuracy, we decided to release an early version today so that it might help public health officials and concerned individuals get an up-to-date picture of the ongoing swine flu outbreak. As with our existing Flu Trends system, estimates are provided across many of Mexico's states and updated every day. Our current estimates of flu activity in the U.S. are still generally low as would be expected given the relatively low confirmed swine flu case count. However, we'll be keeping an eye on the data to look for any spike in activity.
We're keenly aware of the trust our users place in us and our responsibility to protect their privacy. Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico -- like Google Flu Trends -- cannot be used to identify individual users. The patterns we observe are only meaningful across large populations of Google searchers. We hope that this experimental release provides useful information.
For updates on swine flu and information on how to stay healthy during a disease outbreak, visit the
CDC's swine flu site
Posted by Jeremy Ginsberg and Matt Mohebbi, Software Engineers
Live stream on YouTube: the President's First 100 Days News Conference
April 29, 2009
(Cross-posted from the
The first three months of the Obama Administration have brought the new American President unprecedented challenges. Back in November, when he was elected, everyone knew the economy and the Middle East would be critical issues for Obama to attack early on. But like every president before him, he's had to deal with the unexpected as well: who could have predicted pirates off the Somali Coast or swine flu?
As citizens and pundits from all political perspectives analyze the President's first 100 days in office today, Obama himself will address the nation tonight on the 100-day anniversary of his inauguration -- and we're going to carry a live stream of the conference from the
White House YouTube channel
. Be sure to tune in at 8pm EDT to watch it live.
We're also featuring commentary and analysis from top news organizations on our homepage today.
Hear Karl Rove
grade the President on Fox News. Get
from Al-Jazeera on what Obama has accomplished in his opening act. Watch the Washington Post
talk with Americans
in DC about their early impressions of the new President.
You can join in the conversation by making a video: How is the Obama Administration doing, and what advice would you give the President moving forward? Upload your thoughts to YouTube and add them as a video response to this
, and we'll feature some of them on our News page tomorrow.
Finally, don't forget to come to
at 8pm EDT to watch President Obama address the nation.
Posted by Steve Grove, YouTube News & Politics
youtube and video
Adding search power to public data
April 28, 2009
Earthquakes are not the only thing that can shake Silicon Valley. After the dot-com bubble burst back in 2000 the unemployment rate of
Santa Clara county
went up to 9.1%. During the last couple of months, it has gone up again:
We just launched a new search feature that makes it easy to find and compare public data. So for example, when comparing Santa Clara county data to the national unemployment rate, it becomes clear not only that Santa Clara's peak during 2002-2003 was really dramatic, but also that the recent increase is a bit more drastic than the national rate:
If you go to Google.com and type in [unemployment rate] or [population] followed by a U.S. state or county, you will see the most recent estimates:
Once you click the link, you'll go to
an interactive chart
that lets you add and remove data for different geographical areas.
Here's a video showing how it works:
The data we're including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers' salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on. Reliable information about these kinds of things exists thanks to the hard work of data collectors gathering countless survey forms, and of careful statisticians estimating meaningful indicators that make hidden patterns of the world visible to the eye. All the data we've used in this first launch are produced and published by the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division
. They did the hard work! We just made the data a bit easier to find and use.
acquisition of Trendalyzer
two years ago, we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today's launch is a first step in that direction. We hope people will find this search feature helpful, whether it's used in the classroom, the boardroom or around the kitchen table. We also hope that this will pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations.
This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more.
Posted by Ola Rosling, Product Manager
Business in the cloud
April 28, 2009
There's a lot of interest in understanding cloud computing these days, so we thought we'd share some thoughts. If you're interested in hearing what we talk about when we talk about the role of cloud computing in business, check out our
on the Google Enterprise Blog.
Posted by Rajen Sheth, Senior Product Manager, Google Apps
google for work
Listening to Google Health users
April 27, 2009
At Google, we believe that consumers should have convenient and secure access to all their health data so that they can be better informed and be more involved in their care. Recently, a data-savvy patient known as e-Patient Dave
about data that was imported into his Google Health Account from his hospital in Boston,
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
. Once he saw his data in Google Health, he saw diagnoses that were both alarming and wrong. Where did they come from?
It turns out that they came from the billing codes and associated descriptions used by the hospital to bill the patient's insurance company. These descriptions, from the
International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9)
, often do not accurately describe a patient because the right ICD-9 code may not exist. So the doctor or hospital administrator chooses something that is "close enough" for billing purposes. In other cases, the assigned code is precisely what the doctor is trying to rule out, and if the patient turns out not to have that often scary diagnosis, it is still associated with their record. Google Health faithfully displayed the data we received on Dave's behalf. We and Beth Israel knew that this type of administrative data has its limitations but felt that patients would find it a good starting point. Too often, this is wrong.
At Google, we are constantly learning important lessons from our users. Two days after we learned about this issue, I met with Beth Israel
CIO John Halamka
, the patient's physician
Dr. Danny Sands
, and e-Patient Dave himself. We agreed on a reasonable plan: Beth Israel will stop sending ICD-9 billing codes and will instead only send to Google Health the free text descriptions entered by doctors. Beth Israel is also working with the
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
to associate those free text descriptions with a more clinically useful coding system called
, so that we can offer patients useful services like automatic drug interaction checking. The result will be more accurate and useful information in patients' Google Health profiles.
This week, all four of us were also at a conference called
in Boston. Dave's story, and the lessons we all learned, were the focus of much discussion. We are grateful to Dave for his openness and passion for making things right. We're also glad this happened because we and many others now better understand the limitations of certain types of health data and we are working with partners to improve the quality of the data before it gets to Google Health and our users. We look forward to sharing what we learn with the broader community. We also learned that the patient community is surprisingly interested in understanding these data issues. Dave and his doctor Danny Sands collaborated on an
about different data vocabularies used in different aspects of healthcare. The patient-controlled "data liquidity" that Google Health supports is clearly an important part of the future of health care. We are more committed than ever to putting consumers in charge of their own health information.
Posted by Roni Zeiger, M.D., Product Manager, Google Health
Coming soon to YouTube: Besson's and Bertrand's environmental film project
April 27, 2009
Today we're pleased to share an exciting new project that taps into the power of YouTube and Google Maps to spread the word about the state of our planet.
's 90 minute full-length film "Home" will exclusively be available online on YouTube for English, French, Spanish and German–speaking countries beginning June 5 — just in time for the 37th
World Environment Day
Through stunning displays of aerial camerawork, the film will give people from all corners of the world a glimpse of our planet like never before and visually demonstrate the urgency for preservation efforts. In addition to its Internet premiere, "Home" will be shown in movie theaters and outdoors on big screens at key locations around the globe. It will also air on TV stations around the world. Using this unique distribution model, one with a massive online and offline effort, the film creators are able to reach the widest audience possible. So whether you'd prefer to head to the theaters, watch it under the stars, or just stay put on the couch — the way you view "Home" is up to you.
And starting today, YouTube channels in English, French, Spanish and German will feature behind-the-scenes looks from the making of the film, as well as interviews, and extras. To add even more dimension, Google Maps is featuring specially created layers that shed more light on some of the material covered in the movie. You can also use Maps to find a theater location near you.
To get a preview of what you can expect on June 5, check out some of the spectacular footage in the
Home YouTube channel
, like the video below of the Arctic world and its wild terrain that's essential to preserve. Or
of Los Angeles exclusively seen from the sky, giving us a new perspective of the cityscape at night. And please respond and react to the film via video responses, comments, and ratings and share links via email with your friends.
Posted by Mats Carduner, Head of Google France and Southern Europe
youtube and video
Engineering a healthier diet
April 24, 2009
Back in 2007, the cafes at our Mountain View campus started color-coding menu items according to healthfulness. The healthiest items are colored green ("go ahead, pile it on!"), foods you should portion-control are yellow, and foods you should eat sparingly -- in the words of my favorite
, "sometimes foods" -- are red.
While the whole point of the color-coding was to encourage healthy eating, and Google certainly makes it very easy for one to do that, I quickly realized that all of my favorite food items were colored red on the menus. Since all of the cafe menus are posted to separate pages of our intranet, it took too long to look through them to find the one or two items that would hook me into eating at a particular cafe for the day. So I decided to write a script that scans all the pages and creates a single unified menu of just the "heart-stoppingly good" food in all of the Mountain View cafes. (The nutritionist at Google at the time called them "least healthy" rather than "heart-stoppingly good.")
It took only a few minutes to write the script for the menus as they existed on the first day I ran it, but there were complications as each following day's menus started rolling in. Not all the chefs were using the same programs to create HTML menus, so the colors were all marked up differently in each. Every morning, I found I needed to add special cases to handle the various HTML variations to the original
script that I'd started with. Every chef had a different idea of which color should be used for red items, green items and yellow items (the favored color for "yellow" text on white background is actually orange), so I ended up having to write a formula to perceptually classify the colors (by hue angle). Plus, I started to learn how hard things must be for someone who is blind or colorblind when reading web pages. To solve that problem, I had the program generate well-structured HTML with CSS classes applied to each menu item to handle things in a consistent way that was easy to filter by
After I finished the script, I sent a link to the new web page to an internal food discussion mailing list, and soon enough I was receiving fan mail. What I'd intended to be a tool for my own personal use proved so popular that, early this year, the chefs at Google asked if I could expand the tool to include support for historical statistics. They wanted to keep track of which cafes had the greenest menus over time. The result is a tool that tracks the healthiness of all menu items at Google cafes around the world. You can see every color menu item in a single menu and toggle colors on and off as desired, depending on how you want to browse the menus. So I can look only at red items if I'm in the mood for pepperoni pizza or roasted garlic mashed potatoes. And if I want leafy greens, I can limit the menu to show only the healthiest dishes. It has other uses, too: a cafe in Switzerland, for example, could use the stats page (filled with graphs generated using the
Google Chart API
) to compete with a cafe in Mountain View for the title of "healthiest cafe." In fact, all the Google cafes worldwide are now in a heated competition now for this very title.
If you suspect I've gone "green," and if my mom is reading this: I have. I'm eating healthier, I've had my cholesterol checked, and I walk at least three miles every day. For everyone else, don't worry -- after I produced the healthiest cafe statistics page, I also made another set of graphs that ranks by red items. If you see me eating red items at Google, please don't tell my mom.
Posted by Nathan Laredo, Software Engineer
googlers and culture
Project Spectrum: recognizing the talents of children with autism
April 24, 2009
A couple of years ago, the
team began hearing from a new group of users -- people on the autism spectrum. After consulting with some experts, we learned the connection between autism and SketchUp isn't particularly surprising. Many people on the autism spectrum have visual and spatial strengths, and 3D design software plays to them. With this in mind, we started a program called
As part of
Autism Awareness Month
in April, we've launched a new
showcasing some great SketchUp artists (Rachel, Jeremy, JP and others). We've also created a
Getting Started with Google SketchUp video
for anyone who wants to learn the basic tools to start modeling. More of the Project Spectrum models can be seen in the Google 3D Warehouse
. Watch the video below to hear the story behind Project Spectrum and meet some of the kids involved:
Googlers around the world are working with the autism community to introduce kids, teachers, parents and adults to SketchUp, and we've been inspired by the results. We hope you take the time to look at Project Spectrum and share it with others in your community. For more detail, check out the
Google SketchUp blog
Posted by Tom Wyman and Chris Cronin, Project Spectrum Team
Try out new features in Google Toolbar Labs
April 23, 2009
One of the best things about working on the Google Toolbar team is that when someone says "Wouldn't it be great if Toolbar could...," our answer is usually "Yes! Let's build it!" And then it's just a question of when. To test these ideas more easily, today we're introducing
Google Toolbar Labs
. Just as
are playgrounds for new ideas, Toolbar Labs was built to get ideas out there quickly to see how you like them.
And now we're ready to roll out our first two Labs versions of Toolbar. Drum roll, please...
Google Toolbar with My Location
Back in September, the Mobile team launched
Mobile Search with My Location
. Looking at this, we wanted to figure our how we could bring the same convenience of typing fewer words to computer users. With Toolbar with My Location, both Google Maps and the included Maps gadget automatically center on your current location. Similarly, you can just do a search like [thai food], and you will receive a list of nearby restaurants and more local Google search results. This feature is similar to
IP-based local search results
announced earlier this month, except Google Toolbar with My Location can determine a more accurate location by using nearby Wi-Fi access points. This is done without associating location information with a user's Google Account. Google Toolbar with My Location is only available in the U.S.
Google Simplified Chinese Toolbar
We recognize that due to differences in local language structures, users who speak other languages may have specific needs for browsing the web. To address this, our team in China developed a slightly different Toolbar concept called the Google Simplified Chinese Toolbar (Google工具栏简体中文版). We updated the user interface to use the space more effectively, and users will be able to translate pages with a single click and manage bookmarks with a new sidebar. This toolbar is only available in Simplified Chinese.
A few things to keep in mind as you check out Toolbar Labs: It's a forum to test out new ideas, so some of these ideas will make it into the standard Toolbar, but others may not. Also, Labs versions are not as well-tested as beta versions, so they may be slightly more unstable. And Toolbar Labs is currently available for Internet Explorer only.
We hope to bring you the next batch soon. Meanwhile, we look forward to
hearing your feedback
two new toolbars
Posted by Aseem Sood and Susan Taing, Toolbar Product Team
Congratulations to NSF CLuE Grant awardees
April 23, 2009
(Cross-posted from the
Google Research Blog
The first goal of the
Academic Cluster Computing Initiative
was to familiarize the academic community with the methods necessary to run very large datasets on massive distributed computer networks. By
expanding that program
to include research grants through the National Science Foundation's Cluster Exploratory (CLuE) program, we're also hoping to enable new and better approaches to data-intensive research across a range of disciplines.
Now that the NSF has
announced the 2009 CLuE grants
in addition to some previous
Small Grant for Exploratory Research
(SGER) grants, we're excited to congratulate the recipient researchers and wish them the best as they bring new projects online and continue to run existing SGER projects on the Google/IBM cluster.
The NSF selected projects based on their potential to advance computer science as well as to benefit society as a whole, and researchers at 14 institutions are tackling ambitious problems in everything from computer science to bioinformatics. The institutions receiving CLuE grants are Purdue, UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington, University of Massachussetts-Amherst, UC San Diego, University of Virginia, Yale, MIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carnegie-Mellon, University of Maryland- College Park, University of Utah and UC Irvine. Florida International University, Carnegie-Mellon and University of Maryland will continue other projects with exiting SGER grants. These grantees will run their projects on a Google/IBM-provided cluster running an open source implementation of Google's
We're excited to help foster new approaches to difficult, data-intensive problems across a range of fields, and we can't wait to see more students and researchers come up with creative applications for massive, highly distributed computing.
Posted by Jeff Walz, Head of University Relations, and Andrea Held, Program Manager
Smarter shopping on smartphones
April 23, 2009
This weekend my wife and I went shopping for a birthday present for our 5-year-old nephew, and as usual we were looking for a gift at the last minute. We found ourselves in the toy aisle of a local store, unsure what to buy or how much these toys should cost. It could have been a stressful experience, but luckily I was able to reach into my pocket and use Google Product Search on my G1 to quickly see that the price of a building set was reasonable and that the reviews for a DVD were generally positive.
I'm happy to announce that as of today, when you type a product query on Google.com in your iPhone or Android browser, you'll get Google Product Search results nicely formatted for your phone. You can see online ratings, reviews, prices, and product details if you're out and about, or just do some mobile web surfing from your couch. Whether you're trying to decide between two digital cameras while you're in a store or checking out prices for a new product that you've just seen on TV, we hope Google Product Search for mobile helps you to make better-informed shopping choices.
Below, you can see Rob, one of our engineers, go on a shopping adventure at our Mountain View headquarters.
Google Mobile Blog
to learn more. Or try it out by going to Google.com on your Android or iPhone device, type in a shopping query and then select the 'Shopping results' link. (Note that the experience is enabled for U.S. and U.K. users only.)
Posted by Yury Pinsky, Product Manager, Google Mobile team
Happy Earth Day, Earthlings
April 22, 2009
Googlers around the world are celebrating
today by participating in events from green-themed film screenings in Singapore and Hyderabad, to a local food event in Kirkland, WA and Bike to Work Day in London. At our Mountain View campus, we're holding an environmental fair and hosting talks all week long as part of our Green@Google speaker series.
We're also giving employees in most of our offices around the world next-generation, super-efficient
light bulbs to encourage energy efficiency. (LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and 50% less energy than a
.) In the average U.S. home, lighting accounts for about 20% of the electricity bill. If every Googler changes out one incandescent light bulb for one of these LEDs, the combined impact would be the equivalent of taking over 4,000 cars off the road for one year!
Of course, installing efficient light bulbs is just one way to cut down on energy consumption and costs. Just in time for Earth Day, the
Climate Savers Computing Initiative
Power Down for the Planet
pledge campaign aimed at colleges and universities wrapped up last week. More than 17,000 students took
to support more efficient computing. The
University of Maine at Farmington
won the challenge, beating out 18 other schools with more than 24% of their campus community taking the pledge. You too can help save energy by enabling
on your computer and buying
more efficient computers
As you take a moment today to think about how you can make our lovely patch of blue and green a little more healthy, we encourage you to explore a
of Google Earth layers we compiled to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. With the power of Google Earth, we have the ability to visualize geo-spatial information and help us better understand the true impact humankind has on the planet. For example, you can visualize the
changes in glaciers over the years
rising sea levels
climatic change and rising temperature
from the feature KMLs in our Gallery.
others have said
before us, we like to think that every day is Earth Day. But on this 39th anniversary of the official Earth Day, we're showing Mother Earth a little extra love and care, and hope that you'll be doing the same.
Posted by Lacy Caruthers, Green Business and Operations Strategy
Search for "me" on Google
April 21, 2009
It's no secret that from time to time many of us have searched on Google for our name or someone else's. When searching for yourself to see what others would find, results can be varied and aren't always what you want people to see — whether it's someone else with your name, or the finishing time from that 5K you ran back in 2002. We want to make that better and give you more of a voice.
To give you greater control over what people find when they search for your name, we've begun to show Google profile results at the bottom of U.S. name-query search pages. These results offer abbreviated information from user-created Google profiles and a link to the full profiles. We've also added links so it's easy to search for the same name on MySpace, Facebook, Classmates and LinkedIn.
Don't have a Google profile? Just search for [
] and follow the instructions at the top of the page to create one. In just a few minutes, you can create a public profile that represents you and that appears when people search for your name on Google. Check out
to learn more.
Posted by Brian Stoler, Software Engineer
GSA contest results are in
April 21, 2009
Back in February we
a contest to discover how "findable" the
Google Search Appliance (GSA)
is in offices across the U.S. The GSA gives businesses of all shapes and sizes the power of universal search. In order to discover exactly how the GSA is helping businesses, we asked our customers to submit photos of their shiny yellow box with an explanation of how enterprise search has made their job easier.
The results are in and we have chosen two grand prize winners who will attend an all-expenses paid trip to the
Google IO Conference
in May. Check out one of the winning photos below from
WellStar Health Systems
, one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the Southeast, based in the Atlanta area. You can read their story and more on the
Keeping "operations" running smoothly
Posted by Dave Kim, Associate Product Marketing Manager
google for work
Hard at play in Google Labs with Similar Images and Google News Timeline
April 20, 2009
At Google, we are constantly researching, designing, and brainstorming about the next big idea, and when we think we've found something compelling, we often use our "
" to build a working version. Back in 2002, we created
to give these budding experiments a home where users could try them and share their thoughts with us. Some of our most popular products began this way, including Google Maps, iGoogle, and Google News.
In keeping with our long-standing tradition of bringing new ideas to our users early in the development process, we're proud to welcome two new innovations to Google Labs:
Google News Timeline
Image Search is a tool you can use to find just about any kind of image, but it can sometimes be difficult to find the right image if you can't describe it in words. The new Similar Images feature was developed with just this in mind. Using it you can now find images that look like an existing result simply by clicking on a link. Using visual similarity, you don't have to refine the text of your search, instead, you can just click on the link of an image you like. For example, if you search for [
], you can use the "Similar images" link to quickly narrow your search.
Image Search results will vary for the query [
With one click, we can help you find more pictures of the [
Or more pictures of the brand of [
You might try exploring the pyramids of
or discovering the
. Or you might go shopping for an elegant
or that perfect pair of
. So if you see an image you like, but you're stumped on how to describe it, just click the "Similar images" link to see more like it.
Interested in learning more? Check out this video tour.
Google News Timeline
Google News Timeline organizes information chronologically by presenting results from Google News and other data sources on a zoomable, graphical timeline. You can navigate through time by dragging the timeline, setting the time scale to days, weeks, months, years, or decades, or just including a time period in your query (i.e., "1977"). To see this in action, check out the results viewed by month in the
summer of 2006
Google News Timeline can present results from lots of different sources, including both recent and archival news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, and sports scores and media like music and movies. You can view multiple sources simultaneously, allowing each source to lend context to the others. Try out some of our favorite queries like [
jack nicholson movies
barack obama quotes
], and [
baseball news photos
]. To read more, check out our post on the
Google News Blog
Google Labs reloaded
These are just two examples of Google's innovation at play, with plenty more to come. In order to keep up with our engineers, we decided it was time to remodel Google Labs to make room for more — you guessed it — innovation! We started with the foundation: we rebuilt the service from scratch using
Google App Engine
, and we moved it to a new home at
. We also redesigned the website to make it easy and fun to discover new experiments as they arrive and to follow them as they evolve. We even added an
to make it easier to stay up to date.
When you visit the site, you can also hear from the innovators themselves and share your thoughts, helping us shape your favorite experiments into future Google products. So come early and come often and bring your adventurous spirit — after all, we're building these experimental products and features for you!
Posted by Chuck Rosenberg, Similar Images, Andy Hertzfeld, Google News Timeline, and Michael Cohen, Google Labs
Introducing the Google Lime Scholarship
April 15, 2009
Today, we're pleased to announce the most recent addition to our scholarship programs, the Google Lime Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. We're partnering with
to offer scholarships to students with disabilities who are pursuing university degrees in the field of computer science in Canada or the U.S. Lime is a not-for-profit organization that brings together global corporations and people with disabilities, bringing to light an untapped source of talent. Scholarships will be granted for the 2009–2010 academic year, and recipients will be invited to attend an all-expenses-paid retreat at the Googleplex in Mountain View in 2010.
We hope that this program will increase opportunities for students with disabilities and encourage them to pursue careers in computer science. We also hope to foster long-lasting relationships through which these students can support each other over the course of their academic studies.
The deadline to apply for this year's Lime Scholarship is June 1, 2009. For complete details, visit
Posted by Meghan O'Farrell, Talent and Outreach Programs Specialist
YouTube Symphony Orchestra: from idea to reality
April 15, 2009
(Cross-posted from the
Today represents the final culmination of an idea many months in the making: a first-class global orchestra brought together by YouTube. This week, over 90 musicians from around the world -- including a Spanish guitarist, a Dutch harpist and a Lithuanian birbyne player — have gathered in New York City in preparation for tonight's historic YouTube Symphony Orchestra performance at Carnegie Hall. And today on YouTube's homepage, we are proud to present the world premiere of Tan Dun's composition "Internet Symphony, Eroica," as selected and mashed up from nearly 3,000 video submissions from around the globe.
Maestro — the mash-up, please!
Along with the "Eroica" premiere, we're also posting exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the preparation leading up to tonight's performance. Learn more about the
YouTube Symphony Orchestra
by watching candid vlogs, early rehearsals with conductor and creative director
Michael Tilson Thomas
, and meet-and-greets between the musicians lucky enough to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event. Many thanks to our "Vlog Squad" team of classical musicians (
), and to
, who are currently putting together a full-length documentary on the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.
And for those of you who can't make it to New York in time for the big show, don't fret. We'll be posting the full performance from Carnegie Hall on YouTube tomorrow at
Posted by Michele Flannery, YouTube Music
youtube and video
An ARIA for Google Moderator
April 13, 2009
From time to time, our own
shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.
Google-AxsJAX was launched in late 2007 as a library for access-enabling Web-2.0 applications. Since then, we have released accessibility enhancements for many Web-2.0 applications via the
as early experiments that have eventually graduated into full-fledged products. Just recently we
about using the AxsJAX library to provide ARIA enhancements for Google Calendar, Google Finance and Google News. Now we are happy to share an early AxsJAX extension for
that enables fluent eyes-free use of the tool.
For details about AxsJAX enhancements, see the
. Briefly, you need Firefox 3.0 and a screenreader that supports W3C ARIA to take advantage of these enhancements. Users who do not have a screenreader installed can most easily experience the results by installing
, a freely available self-voicing extension for Firefox.
You can activate the AxsJAX enhancement for Google Moderator either by clicking on the link that says "Click here for ARIA enhanced Google Moderator" or by
accessing the ARIA-enhanced version directly
. After enabling the enhancement, you can use Google Moderator via the keyboard, with all user interaction producing spoken feedback via W3C ARIA.
Here is a brief overview of the experience:
1. The user interface is divided into logical panes — one listing topic areas, and the other listing questions on a given topic. At times (e.g., before a meeting), you may find an additional
pane that shows a randomly selected question that you can vote on.
2. Users can ask new questions under a given topic, or give a thumbs-up/thumbs-down to questions that have already been asked.
3. Use the
arrow keys to switch between the two panes. You hear the title of the selected pane as you switch.
arrows to navigate among the items in the selected pane. As you navigate, you hear the current item.
to select the current item.
6. The current item can be magnified by repeatedly pressing the
) key. To reduce magnification, press the
7. When navigating the questions in a given topic, hit
to vote a question up or down.
8. When navigating items in the topic pane, hit
to ask a question. Once you confirm your request to post the question, it will show up in the list of questions for that topic so that others can vote that question up or down.
Please visit the
Google Group for accessibility
to provide feedback. This AxsJAX extension is still a work in progress, so we'd love to hear from you as we continue to work out the kinks.
Update on 4/14:
Clarified in the second and third paragraphs that you do not need to install this enhancement. You can access it directly from Google Moderator.
Posted by Posted by T. V. Raman, Research Scientist, and Charles L. Chen, Software Engineer
Will it lens?
April 10, 2009
Not long ago, a bunch of us in our
Santa Monica office
pooled together the money to buy a four-foot by three-foot
. We've since been spending our lunch hours out in the sun playing with it.
A normal lens this big would be several feet thick and weigh a proverbial ton (the right-hand image below). However, it's possible to remove much of the inside of a lens and collapse down the shape without introducing too much distortion (the left-hand image):
Fresnel (pronounced "freh-NELL") lenses are used in overhead projectors and lighthouses. We've been using ours, however, to see what happens when you focus 1,000 watts of sunlight onto a single point. It's like when you were a kid and tried to burn ants with a pocket magnifying glass — but 400 times stronger. We built a wooden frame to keep the lens flat and focused, and a stand to hold it steady:
The light in the focal point is so bright that you can't look directly at it without welding goggles.
The lens maker claimed you could melt a penny with it, so that was the first thing we tried:
Modern pennies are made of zinc with a copper coating. The bottom row shows what happens when you put a penny in the focal point of the lens: the inside melts away and the coating stays intact (zinc melts at 693
, copper melts at 1,356 K). But if you heat it just enough, the metals mix and you make brass (the gold-colored penny in the middle). Older pennies (those minted before 1982) are almost entirely copper, so they didn't melt (top row).
We also had an aluminum can:
The water we poured in boiled quickly, while the can itself became so brittle that we poked holes through it with nothing more than sunlight.
Then we tried cooking. Popcorn did both what you'd expect and not quite what you'd expect: when you really focus the light on it, it kinda pops but mostly burns. However, if you don't put it directly in the focal point, so the light is spread over a larger area and doesn't heat it up as quickly, you can get a whole bunch of kernels to pop without burning too much.
The steam/smoke coming up from the kernels really highlighted the spectra from the lens beautifully. Our yield was very low (lots of unpopped kernels for each popped one), but at least we had real popcorn!
When we tried to cook bacon, about a third ended up well done, a third was burnt, and a third was uncooked. Cooking with the lens is difficult because it heats stuff up too hot too fast. But the well-cooked parts tasted great, so we added an egg:
(We didn't lens the spoon; we used it to eat the egg afterwards.)
It's been fun experimenting with different lensing techniques and items and we've learned a lot (including where the nearest fire extinguisher is!). These are just the highlights — we've lensed gourds, soap, gummy bears, CDs — you name it. Next on our list: marshmallows!
We've got more details and more pictures of our results on
Alan's personal blog
. If you have ideas of other things we should try lensing, we'd love to hear suggestions.
Posted by Alan Davidson and Dustin Boswell, Software Engineers
googlers and culture
Mosaic: bringing diverse perspectives together
April 10, 2009
This is the next post in our
, which takes a look at valuing people's similarities and differences in the workplace. For more information on how Google fosters an inclusive work environment, visit
Life at Google
on our Jobs site. – Ed.
Since joining Mosaic, our diversity initiatives group in the
, we've seen firsthand how even a small group of Googlers dedicated to a cause can make a real difference. Mosaic was created in 2007 when a few Boston Googlers were talking informally over lunch about how to increase the diversity in our rapidly growing office. Since then, we've made great strides in growing our membership and highlighting the creativity and varied experiences of our colleagues. The idea even spread to other Google offices, with several Mosaic chapters opening across the U.S.
Over the past year, Mosaic Boston has participated in Google's university recruitment efforts by holding three open houses to encourage traditionally underrepresented students from the Boston area to apply for careers at Google. This past summer, we hosted two enthusiastic interns as part of
(Building Opportunities for Leadership & Development) diversity internship program to explore opportunities in the technology industry. We watched their leadership skills grow as they organized events such as a career panel and product demos for high school students through Mosaic.
Most recently, we co-hosted a lunch-and-learn with esteemed Harvard Business School professor
, co-author of "Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America." Down-to-earth and engaging, Professor Thomas presented his findings about minorities and women who had "made it" in corporate America, stressing the need to build wide networks of support, find strong mentors and develop a niche within a company that meshes with one's personal values. His message reminded us of how important it is for Mosaic to provide these opportunities for our own community here at Google. You can
watch the video
from his visit on the Authors@Google YouTube channel.
As both Googlers and members of Mosaic, we feel empowered and excited to live out our values in our workplace. To us, this means anything from inviting authors to speak and training non-profits on how to use Google Apps, to throwing a Brazilian Carnaval-themed edition of our weekly company meeting complete with
, caipirinhas, and authentic Brazilian food. We're excited about what Mosaic has accomplished so far and can't wait to see what's next. In the meantime, we continue to be committed to providing personal and professional growth for the members of our diversity group, as well as doing our part to keep Google an inclusive place to work.
Boston Mosaic team with capoeira performers
Posted by Priti Sanghani and Mariam Shaikh, AdWords Account Associates
Send a video message with Google Latitude
April 9, 2009
If you're like us, you never tire of finding fun ways to send a simple message (what's the challenge, after all, in just flipping open your phone?). Here's our latest idea: spell out the words with Google Latitude.
After you watch the video, feel free to send your own Latitude message by creating
a custom video
for a friend. You can also check out the
Google Mobile Blog
to learn about some of the other creative ways people are using Latitude.
Posted by Heaven Kim, Product Marketing Manager
Designing lean, green, energy-saving machines
April 9, 2009
Last week Google hosted a
Data Center Efficiency Summit
, bringing together approximately 160 industry leaders to share insights and best practices. Since it was April Fool's Day, we threw in a few jokes to keep the atmosphere fun (
oil-cooled data center
, anyone?), but the topic is serious: How can the IT industry keep growing while also exercising good environmental stewardship?
We disclosed for the first time details about the design of our
ultra-efficient data centers
. We also provided a first-ever video tour of a Google
container data center
as well as a
water treatment facility
. We detailed how we measure data center efficiency and discussed how we reduced our facility energy use by up to 85%. The engineers who developed our efficient battery backup solution even brought an actual
to the event.
By the end of the day, we narrowed in on a recurring theme: Reducing resource use through efficiency efforts is not just good for the environment, it saves money too. And it is this economic advantage which makes efficient data centers not just green, but truly sustainable.
For a tour of a Google container data center check out the video below or watch the entire summit:
Posted by Jimmy Clidaras, Principal Engineer
Click-to-Buy expands to 8 new countries
April 8, 2009
Whether you come to YouTube to watch a specific video, discover related content, or engage and interact with people and videos from all around the world, our goal is to put you in control of your online video experience. This means making it easier for you to find what you're looking for (like dedicated channels for
videos) and offering you new and innovative ways to engage with that content.
One way we already offer you this kind of deeper experience on YouTube involves music videos on the site:
, our eCommerce platform, helps you find products (like songs and DVDs) related to the videos that you're watching.
A recent study
found that after watching a music video on YouTube, 50% of adult users in the U.K. then go on to purchase music from that artist. And we've seen these results for ourselves — three of the four major music labels are Click-to-Buy partners and are already selling millions of songs a year from these links on YouTube.
We're excited to announce that today we're rolling out Click-to-Buy links on music videos in 8 additional countries: Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden. Now Click-to-Buy partners can offer music downloads to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
We enjoy working with our music partners to provide them with these kinds of opportunities, and we look forward to further expanding the program in the coming months.
Posted by Thai Tran, YouTube Product Manager
youtube and video
Search the rainbow
April 8, 2009
No one likes to take work home, but lately I've been looking forward to it. That's because I've been working on our new color filter in
Google Image Search
, and my daughter and I have been having a great time together looking at all the colorful animals that we've seen in the tide pools. "Papa, do the
green noodle fish
"Papa, now do the
She loves it.
Today, I'm happy to announce that you too can use our color filter in your own image searches. Just search for something the way you normally would, such as [
]. On the results page, click on the "All colors" drop down in the blue bar and choose a color. For example, try restricting your results to [
]. Want to see purple tulips instead? Simply click on the color filter again, select purple, and
— you have pages of beautiful images!
You can also combine the color filter with any other image filter to further refine your search. For example, if you're looking for an image of an orange butterfly, try restricting to
Color is one of the basic visual elements of an image. Whether you're browsing through photos of sea creatures and flowers or searching for the perfect orange butterfly, we hope you like our new color filter. We've been rolling this out gradually, but it will be available to everyone soon.
Posted by Donald Tanguay, Software Engineer
New features and an early look at Java for App Engine
April 7, 2009
Scarcity brings clarity, and many companies are taking important steps to adjust to today's economic climate. At Google, we've started changing the way we build and release products.
In the past six months alone we've launched nearly 50 projects and small products on
Google App Engine
Labs for Google Apps
to internal-facing tools for both our Ads and Web teams. In all cases we found it quicker, easier, and more cost-effective to leave the infrastructure to App Engine, and the actual product-building to our engineering teams.
Running our internal and external apps on App Engine isn't without difficulty, however, and we've learned a lot in the process. Tonight at
we released a new set of features -- based on community and internal feedback -- that helps App Engine interface more easily with businesses' existing technologies:
early look at Java™ language support
includes a Java runtime, integration with the new
Google Web Toolkit 1.6
, and a
Google Plugin for Eclipse
Google Secure Data Connector
enables centrally-managed access to on-premise data from Google Apps
database import tool
makes it easier to move gigabytes of data into App Engine (and export functionality is coming within the month)
can execute scheduled tasks like report generation and DB clean-up at regular intervals
By reducing the administrative headaches that come with scaling and distributing an application, we hope that App Engine will continue to let developers do what they do best: launch services that delight users.
Take a look at videos from tonight's Campfire One below:
To learn more about Google App Engine or today's announcements, feel free to check out the
Google Code Blog
. You can also register for our annual developer conference,
, as the App Engine team will be there to answer any questions you might have, as well as unveil a few surprises.
Java is a trademark or registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.
Update at 10:44 pm PDT:
We've just added the videos from tonight's Campfire One.
Posted by Kevin Gibbs, Tech Lead, Google App Engine
Enhanced Gmail and Calendar web app for iPhone and Android
April 7, 2009
Today we're happy to announce a new and improved experience when you access Gmail and Calendar through the browser of your iPhone and Android-powered devices. What's new? For Gmail, we've improved the user interface to make it easier to message on the go, and we've introduced "Floaty Bar," which makes sure common actions such as archive and delete are only a click away (check out the video tour below). You can also start the application, compose mail, and open recently read messages even when you're offline. With the new Calendar, you can edit or respond to an event and, like Gmail, the app is accessible even without a network connection. To quickly navigate between Gmail, Calendar, and other mobile applications, you can use the classic links that now always appear across the top of the screen. The "more" menu provides easy access to the full list of applications. To read more about what's new, take a look at the
posts on the Mobile blog.
So you may be asking, "Why web apps?" Well, from a product perspective, web apps allow us to iterate quickly, so users benefit because they will see new features appear in the browser without having to download anything. We can experiment rapidly by learning how people use the features and then choose whether to invest further in that direction or move on. Using the browser as a delivery platform also means that users will see new feature releases happening more frequently because we can maximize our engineering efficiency by sharing code across device families. Looking at this release of Gmail, there is 90%+ code share between the Android and iPhone experience. As new devices come on the market with high-end browsers, most of the work is already done. (Hint to OEMs: you provide a world-class browser, we'll make sure Gmail and Calendar for mobile works on your platform.)
To give it a try, visit
in your mobile browser. To access Calendar, click on the Calendar link at the top of the Gmail page. To make it easy to access Gmail and Calendar, we recommend creating a
home screen link
. Please note, these web-based mobile products are only available on iPhone OS 2.2.1 or higher and on all Android-powered devices. We love feedback, so please
let us know what you think
For more technical information on how we implemented these web apps using HTML5, check out the
Google Code blog
, and come visit us at
, our upcoming developer conference (May 27-28 in San Francisco).
Posted by Shyam Sheth, Product Manager, Google Mobile
Google becomes more local
April 6, 2009
If you're like us, you're constantly looking for things in your neighborhood, whether it's [
restaurants in zurich
] or a new [
dentist in houston
]. If you specify your location in your query, we often show your results on a map. But we've noticed that much of the time users make simpler searches, like [
] or [
We like to make search as easy as we can, so we've just finished the worldwide rollout of local search results on a map, which will now appear even when you don't type in a location. When you search on Google, we will guess where you are and show results near you. (Click on the image to view larger.)
How do we guess your location? In most cases, we match your IP address to a broad geographical location. You can also specify your likely location using the "Change location" link on the top right corner, above the map. We try to make our guesses as good as they can be so that whether you're shopping for [
] or [
], or looking for your [
], your [
], or the [
], you can just say what you want, and we'll try to find it right where you are. You can also search for specific stores or street addresses near you, like [cornelia st cafe] in New York, for example.
111 8th ave
] in New York.
We hope this new feature will make it just a little bit easier for you to get where you're going.
Posted by Jenn Taylor and Jim Muller, Software Engineers
India's 15th general election: tools for citizen empowerment
April 6, 2009
(Cross-posted from the
Google India Blog
At Google, we believe information is fundamentally empowering. While all of our technologies demonstrate a commitment to this guiding principle, information is especially important when a society comes together to participate in democratic elections. Beginning ten days from today, more than 700 million eligible voters in India will over the course of four weeks have the opportunity to participate in the
largest democratic event
in human history — India's 15th general election.
Today, along with a
wide range of partners
, we are happy to announce the launch of the
Google India Elections Centre
— available in
People from across India can use the centre to do the following:
Confirm their voter registration status
Discover their polling location
View their constituency on a map
Consume relevant election-related news, blogs, videos, and quotations
Evaluate the status of development in their constituency across a range of indicators
Learn about the background of their Member of Parliament and this year's candidates
With still more features to be added during the election, we hope the site will be an ongoing resource for analysis, governance, and democracy in India after the election.
This project would not have been possible without the shared vision of a broad coalition of partners: the
Association for Democratic Reforms
HT Media Limited
Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy
PRS Legislative Services
. These groups are the true champions of promoting a more transparent democracy, and we're privileged to be able to shine a light on their work on the occasion of India's 15th Lok Sabha polls.
We're hopeful not only that the elections centre will further a culture that seeks access to information, but that it will also yield positive changes in voting patterns during the upcoming polls.
Please visit the
, select your constituency, and get started! Spread the word about what you learn and, of course, don't forget to visit the polls.
Posted by Rishi Jaitly, Senior Policy Analyst, and Sanjay Jain, Product Manager
CVS joins Google Health Rx network: millions can access medication records online
April 6, 2009
When I first started working on Google Health, I was shocked by how hard it is for people to access their own medical records. I wondered why that's the case when it's so easy to access other types of personal information like bank transactions, cell phone records, and utility bills. In many states you can even renew your car registration online with a few clicks. Yet when it comes to something arguably much more important, such as your own medical records or a current list of medications, we have little to no access. It just doesn't seem right.
We're working to solve this problem. With the recent addition of CVS/pharmacy to our network of pharmacy partners, more than 100 million people can now access their prescription history online and import it into a central, secure place — a Google Health Account. In addition to CVS, we're proud to be working with
several other well-known national and regional pharmacy chains
to improve patient safety, reduce medical errors, and increase efficiencies in health care.
Having a list of all your medications all in one place from the pharmacies you shop at helps your doctor, pharmacist and other care providers do a better job of taking care of you. In fact, it's estimated that
1.5 million Americans
are sickened or injured each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and/or taking medications. Some experts suggest that medication errors claim more than 7,000 lives each year. Making your medications known to those who care for you is a simple step to ensure you get the best possible care. Not to mention, imagine how important having immediate access to this information could be during an emergency.
To get started, first
see if your pharmacy is connected with Google Health
. If so, just sign up for an online account at your pharmacy's website, and then you can securely import your data into your Google Health account. Once your medication information is in Google Health, you can use our new
to share it with anyone in your care network, including family members, doctors, and other caregivers.
If you have pharmacy benefits through your employer or your health plan, you may also be able to import your prescription history into Google Health. We are working with two of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the nation,
, so check your wallet to see if you have a prescription drug card from either one of them today (see examples below). If you are a Medco or Caremark member, simply log in to your online Medco or Caremark account (or register for one if you don't already have an account set up) and then link your Google Health profile to it. If you are unsure if Caremark or Medco manages your pharmacy benefits, check your prescription drug card for one of their logos, or call the number on the back of your card.
Posted by Maneesh Arora, Product Manager, Google Health
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