Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture
Through the Google lens: search trends May 23-29
May 30, 2014
This week we saw searches on everything from surprises on the court to retro reads.
Books in the news
On Wednesday, the beloved author Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. More than 2 million searches have taken place this week as people looked for information about her life and work. Popular queries related to the author this week include [maya angelou quotes], [maya angelou poems] and [still i rise].
Take a look, it’s in a book… on the web? More than 30 years after it first premiered, the beloved PBS show “Reading Rainbow” was in the news this week when former host LeVar Burton formed a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Reading Rainbow literacy program. In less than 24 hours, Burton had met his goal of a million dollars.
The NBA and NHL playoffs continue to dominate sports fans' minds, but this week in addition to the more expected [rangers], [blackhawks], [heat], [spurs], etc. there were a few less common sporting searches. Rapper 50 Cent threw out a first pitch for the Mets on Tuesday, and it was a little, um, off the mark. People headed to Google to look for video and GIFs of the wild pitch. Some might say 50 Cent may want to stay in da club and off the mound.
Meanwhile in tennis, French Open number-one seed Serena Williams was defeated by a lower-ranked young player, Garbine Muguruza, who grew up idolizing Serena’s game. Finally, anticipation for summer soccer is heating up. Late last week we learned that player Landon Donovan would not be included in the United States’ World Cup roster this year. Searches for Donovan immediately spiked to reach a new high for the last year, with related terms [klinsmann] and [landon donovan twitter] rising as well.
Long weekend festivities
This week marked Memorial Day in the U.S., and many Americans celebrated with [parades] and [fireworks] to honor service members, and also hit up the mall for weekend [sales]. Other celebrations took place this weekend too: amidst a host of college students walking across the dais this weekend, there was one grad who's more known for her prowess in a fictional school. Harry Potter star Emma Watson graduated from Brown University (the Hogwarts of Rhode Island) this weekend, and searches for the actress were even higher than when she presented at the Oscars (woo, education!). But no weekend wrapup would be complete without at least a mention of... yes, Kimye. The long-anticipated and not-so-secret nuptials of Kanye West and [kim kardashian] took place in Europe over the weekend, leading hordes of curious searchers to look for dirt on the dress, the rehearsal dinner and more.
Last but—in my book—certainly not least: comedian
showed up unexpectedly at a bachelor party in Charleston, South Carolina, where he gave a toast with some life advice on finding “the one.” Because if anyone knows how hard it can be to find the one, it's
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [yamasho] and [bee dance meaning]
Staying safe this hurricane season
May 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Vivek Maheshwari was heading to the airport after a business trip in Denver when he received a
public alert notification
on his phone telling him there was a tornado heading his way. Luckily, the storm was still a few miles off, so he was able to find an alternate route to the airport and make it home safely.
Easy and timely access to information can make a huge difference in times of crisis—whether to help people like Vivek get out of harm’s way, or to help those affected after a disaster has occurred. The web can help by providing access to official alerts from government organizations, news reports and on-the-ground updates from social media. The key is making sure that all that information can get to those who are affected—as quickly as possible.
That’s one of the things our
Crisis Response Team
focuses on. Since 2010, we’ve been working to make disaster-related information immediately available and useful in a crisis, through tools like
. And since next week marks the start of hurricane season in the North Atlantic, we thought we’d provide a few tips to help you prepare for potential summer disasters—from tropical storms to wildfires to floods.
Make sure you’ll receive Public Alerts
Google Public Alerts
, launched two years ago, is a tool that sends people alerts from authoritative sources like the U.S. National Weather Service or the Japan Meteorological Agency during emergencies. They’re accessible through the
Google search app on your mobile devices
Google Chrome on your computer
, as well as in search results for related queries and on Google Maps when relevant.
People have used Public Alerts to get to safety before a
landslide in Colombia
, set up sandbags before a
thunderstorm in Utah
, and get off the road before an
ice storm in Kentucky
. To make sure you get the information you need to know when you need it,
get Google Now
on your Android device, iOS device, or computer.
Public Alerts are now available in seven countries (U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan) and will continue to roll out to new countries this year.
Install emergency preparedness apps
There are a number of great apps which can help you prepare for or outlast an emergency. For example, a
can be useful if the power goes out and you don’t have access to a regular flashlight (use a regular flashlight if you can to conserve your phone’s battery). The
first-aid and disaster preparedness apps from the Red Cross
have a lot of valuable information. And the official
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) app
has information on how to stay safe during a disaster, the locations of FEMA disaster recovery stations, and more.
And remember, when bad weather is on the way, keep your phone plugged in and follow this
to conserve battery life on Android. If you’re using an iOS device, try
Get helpful gadgets
waterproof phone case
can help protect your phone during floods or heavy rains and a
portable solar-powered charger
will help keep your phone’s battery alive. It may also be a good idea to invest in a
cell phone signal booster
which gives you a greater chance of connecting to an operational cell tower.
Of course, tech can only take you so far, so make sure you have the basics (like a
disaster supplies kit
family emergency plan
) covered too—
is a great resource.
While it’s impossible to predict the weather, we hope these tips help you and your family prepare for the possibility of things going wrong. Stay safe this summer!
Posted by Payal Patel, Google Crisis Response Team
A new learning environment at Mater Dei in Brazil
May 29, 2014
We launched Google Apps for Education because we believed it would help students learn more collaboratively and help educators spend less time on administration and more time on teaching. It’s been thrilling to see how some schools take “
” to the next level and into their own hands—coming up with even more creative ways of incorporating technology in education. Recently we came across one of these schools:
Colégio Mater Dei in Brazil
In 2013, Mater Dei deployed Google Apps for Education as part of a move to incorporate technology into the academic environment. After they started to see early results, they came to Google with a plan: create a space on campus that’s designed from the ground up to be a technology-powered learning center for K-12 students. Last week, that idea became a reality when Mater Dei launched what we’re now calling the Google Learning Space.
Transforming a part of their campus that used to be a traditional library, the school set up a high-performance wireless network in a room full of bright, colorful cushions and chairs where students can brainstorm, meet to discuss projects and talk with their teachers. There are two smart TVs with Chromecast installed, so students can project assignments, presentations and videos easily. There's a library of tablets and Chromebooks that students can use, all featuring Google Play and Google Apps.
High school history students collaborate on tablets in the Google Learning Space
The school’s ultimate goal is to increase collaboration amongst students and encourage them to think more creatively instead of learning by rote memorization. And so far, the results seem to be good—the school is already experimenting with new ways to teach and learn. For example, kindergarten teachers are helping students “visit” countries around the world with Google Earth and the Cultural Institute. Electronics teacher Andre Godoy is using Google Sites and Google Glass to help his students build a formula that can move a robot with a swipe of the finger. And biology teachers have started using the Google Play app Biodigital Human to help bring anatomy to life in 3D; students can add, remove and manipulate each organ of the body using the app, gaining an understanding of various diseases and how treatments are developed. Best of all, students and teachers seem more energized and excited to participate in class.
Grade school students work with interactive biology apps from the Google Play Store
The Google Learning Space is just one example of how bringing technology into the classroom can have a real and immediate impact on both teachers and students. We’re excited to keep working on products that can help kids learn—in Brazil and around the world.
Posted by Milton Larsen Burgese, Google Head of Education, Google Brazil
Getting to work on diversity at Google
May 28, 2014
We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts. So,
here are our numbers
There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities. For example, women
earn roughly 18 percent
of all computer science degrees in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics each make up
under 10 percent of U.S. college grads
and each collect fewer than 10 percent of degrees in CS majors. So we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in education.
Among other things, since 2010 we’ve given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls. And we’ve been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science. For example, this year Google engineer Charles Pratt was in-residence at Howard University, where he revamped the school’s Intro to CS curriculum.
But we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be—and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution. To learn more about our work on diversity—for our workforce, for the web and for the tech leaders of the future—visit
Posted by Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President, People Operations
We updated the language of this post to correct the number of degrees black and Hispanic students earn in CS majors, which are 8 percent and 6 percent respectively, according to the National Science Foundation.
Better data centers through machine learning
May 28, 2014
It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with saving energy. For over a decade we’ve been
designing and building data centers
that use half the energy of a typical data center, and we’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy use even further. In our pursuit of extreme efficiency, we’ve hit upon a new tool: machine learning. Today we’re releasing a
(PDF) on how we’re using
to optimize data center operations and drive our energy use to new lows.
It all started as a 20 percent project, a Google tradition of carving out time for work that falls outside of one’s official job description. Jim Gao, an engineer on our data center team, is well-acquainted with the operational data we gather daily in the course of running our data centers. We calculate
, a measure of energy efficiency, every 30 seconds, and we’re constantly tracking things like total IT load (the amount of energy our servers and networking equipment are using at any time), outside air temperature (which affects how our cooling towers work) and the levels at which we set our mechanical and cooling equipment. Being a smart guy—our affectionate nickname for him is “Boy Genius”—Jim realized that we could be doing more with this data. He studied up on machine learning and started building models to predict—and improve—data center performance.
The mechanical plant at our facility in The Dalles, Ore. The data center team is constantly tracking the performance of the heat exchangers and other mechanical equipment pictured here.
What Jim designed works a lot like other examples of machine learning, like speech recognition: a computer analyzes large amounts of data to recognize patterns and “learn” from them. In a dynamic environment like a data center, it can be difficult for humans to see how all of the variables—IT load, outside air temperature, etc.—interact with each other. One thing computers are good at is seeing the underlying story in the data, so Jim took the information we gather in the course of our daily operations and ran it through a model to help make sense of complex interactions that his team—being mere mortals—may not otherwise have noticed.
A simplified version of what the models do: take a bunch of data, find the hidden interactions, then provide recommendations that optimize for energy efficiency.
After some trial and error, Jim’s models are now 99.6 percent accurate in predicting PUE. This means he can use the models to come up with new ways to squeeze more efficiency out of our operations. For example, a couple months ago we had to take some servers offline for a few days—which would normally make that data center less energy efficient. But we were able to use Jim’s models to change our cooling setup temporarily—reducing the impact of the change on our PUE for that time period. Small tweaks like this, on an ongoing basis, add up to significant savings in both energy and money.
The models can predict PUE with 99.6 percent accuracy.
By pushing the boundaries of data center operations, Jim and his team have opened up a new world of opportunities to improve data center performance and reduce energy consumption. He lays out his approach in the white paper, so other data center operators that dabble in machine learning (or who have a resident genius around who wants to figure it out) can give it a try as well.
Posted by Joe Kava, VP, Data Centers
Just press go: designing a self-driving vehicle
May 27, 2014
Ever since we
started the Google self-driving car project
, we’ve been working toward the goal of vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving. Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.
We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them. Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that's an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people.
It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, “What should be different about this kind of vehicle?” We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on
busy streets with lots of intersections
. And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.
A very early version of our prototype vehicle, and an artistic rendering of our vehicle
We’re planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and later this summer, our safety drivers will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls. If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. We’re going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as we hope, we’ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely.
If you’d like to follow updates about the project and share your thoughts, please join us on our
new Google+ page
. We’re looking forward to learning more about what passengers want in a vehicle where their number one job is to kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Posted by Chris Urmson, Director, Self-Driving Car Project
Through the Google lens: search trends May 16-22
May 23, 2014
This week people searched to learn more about unfamiliar faces and rising stars—on TV, courtside and even on our homepage.
Winner winner, TV dinner
People gave their “w” and “o” keys a workout this week as they turned to search to ask “who won…” in the season finales of reality show competitions “
” and “Dancing with the Stars.” After Josh Kaufman won "The Voice," many
to watch some of Kaufman’s past performances on the show, like [stay with me]. Meanwhile on “Dancing with the Stars,” searches for ice dancer [meryl davis] were
almost as high
this past week as in February, when she won an Olympic medal in Sochi. Fans of Davis looked to find out if she’s dating her “DWTS” partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy: searches for terms like [meryl davis maksim] and [meryl davis boyfriend] have been trending.
Basketball’s surprise star
NBA fans met a fresh face this week at the NBA Draft Lottery. The designated representative of the Milwaukee Bucks was
, the daughter of the team’s new co-owner. And, even though the Bucks slid to the #2 pick (after having the best odds to land #1), it seems Mallory pretty much won the Lottery anyway. And she wasn’t the only one who became an overnight sensation at the NBA’s annual festival of ping pong balls and sealed envelopes: searchers
also looked for information
about [anjali ranadive], the daughter of the Sacramento Kings’ owner, who was also at the draft.
In other sporting news, the [
] raced to the top of the Google charts last weekend with more than 1 million searches, as Kentucky Derby-winning California Chrome won the second of three races on the way to the coveted Triple Crown. Looking ahead to the Belmont Stakes, fans are
for [california chrome belmont] and [california chrome odds].
Inventions and discoveries
The subjects of not one but two Google doodles were on people’s minds this week. On Monday, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the
interactive, 3D doodle
. Presumably after killing a few minutes (or hours) of their workdays trying to solve the vexing puzzle, people searched to learn [how to solve the rubik’s cube] as well as [rubik’s cube record]. Then searchers looked for information on [
], the paleontologist who was depicted uncovering a plesiosaur skeleton on our
on Wednesday. It’s fitting that Anning’s birthday celebration happened this week, since dinosaurs were already trending, thanks to the discovery of a new [
] dinosaur thought to be the biggest ever discovered.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [rei compression sack] and [smokestack sf]
Bright ideas for an even better Bay Area
May 22, 2014
Local nonprofit heroes are making a difference in our community, and we want to do more to support them. As part of that mission, we recently launched a
Bay Area Impact Challenge
with a question: working together, what can we do to make the Bay Area an even better place to live?
Provide training and job opportunities for people with disabilities. Match surplus medical supplies with community clinics. Bring mobile showers and toilets to the homeless. These are just a few of the nearly 1,000 thoughtful and creative proposals we received.
A panel of
—Honorable Aida Alvarez, Secretary Norman Mineta, Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, Reverend Cecil Williams and Barry Zito—joined Googlers to narrow down the pool to the 10 top finalists. Each project was selected for its community impact, ingenuity, scalability and feasibility.
Now we need your help deciding which projects to support. Which one do you think will make the biggest impact in our community?
for the four ideas that inspire you.
Your votes will decide which projects get up and running in a big way—with $500,000 going to each of the top four projects, and $250,000 to the next six. An additional 15 nonprofits that entered the Challenge have already received $100,000 each in support of their work.
by 11:59 p.m. PST on June 2, and join us in celebrating the community spirit that makes the Bay Area a great place to call home.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org
Google+ Stories and Movies: memories made easier
May 20, 2014
A suitcase full of dirty clothes. A sad-looking house plant. And 437 photos and videos on your phone, tablet and camera. This is the typically messy scene after a vacation. And although we can’t do your laundry (thanks but no thanks), or run your errands (well, maybe
), we’d still like to help. Enter Google+ Stories, which can automatically weave your photos, videos and the places you visited into a beautiful travelogue.
No more sifting through photos for your best shots, racking your brain for the sights you saw, or letting your videos collect virtual dust. We’ll just gift you a story after you get home. This way you can relive your favorite moments, share them with others, and remember why you traveled in the first place.
Stories will be available this week on Android and the web, with iOS coming soon. In the meantime you can browse my story below (click to start), or explore a few others by paraglider
Tom de Dorlodot
and Allrecipes photographer
When it’s less about travel, and more about today's events (like a birthday party, or baby’s first steps),
can produce a highlight reel of your photos and videos automatically—including effects, transitions and a soundtrack. Today we’re bringing Movies to Android, iOS and the web, so lots more people will receive these video vignettes.
A movie of my daughter’s first bike ride, created automatically by Google+
To get started with Stories and Movies, simply
your photos and videos to Google+. And that’s it.
will get to work in the background, and you’ll get notified when a story or movie is ready.
In fact: if your photo library is already online, you may already have stories waiting for you. So look for the new app in
, view the full list of improvements
, and enjoy your walks down memory lane.
, Director of Product Management
Bringing the Rubik's Cube to the next generation of problem solvers
May 19, 2014
As a designer, it's always humbling when you encounter a perfect piece of design. Good design attracts our attention with its beauty, doesn’t need a user manual, is universally understood by anyone in the world, and is simple without sacrificing functionality.
In 1974, the world gave us one such piece of perfect design—the
. Budapest-based educator and inventor Ernő Rubik created the puzzle originally to help his students better understand spatial geometry. Released to the public in the 1980s, it quickly became an international obsession, bigger than hairspray and breakdancing combined. But the Rubik’s Cube is more than just a toy; it’s a puzzle waiting to be solved and a question waiting to be answered. Over the past 40 years, the cube has puzzled, frustrated, and fascinated so many of us, and has helped spark an interest in math and problem solving in millions of kids. That’s part of why so many of us at Google
love the cube
, and why we're so excited to celebrate its 40th birthday this year.
As everyone knows (right??), there are
519 quintillion permutations
for the Rubik’s cube, so May 19 seemed like a fine day to celebrate its 40th anniversary. To kick things off, we’re using some of our favorite web technologies (HTML5 and Three.js among others) to bring the cube to the world in the form of
one of our most technically ambitious doodles yet
. You can twist and turn it by dragging along its sides, but with full respect to all the speedcubers out there, we’ve included keyboard shortcuts:
Using the same technology that’s behind the doodle, we built
Chrome Cube Lab
, a series of Chrome Experiments by designers and technologists that reinterpret Rubik’s puzzle with the full power of the web. Create your own music with experiments
; make a custom, shareable cube of your own photos and GIFs with
; or send a scrambly message with the
. You can visit some of these experiments at the Liberty Science Center’s
Beyond Rubik’s Cube
exhibition, and if you'd like to explore the cube even further, consider
borrowing the cube’s source code
to build an experiment of your own.
We hope you enjoy getting to know the cube from a few new angles.
Posted by Richard The, Designer and a child of the ‘80s, Creative Lab New York
Through the Google lens: search trends May 9-15
May 16, 2014
Search is often the first place we turn when something unexpected or unusual happens. This week is no exception, as people looked for news on a celebrity smackdown, an interspecies showdown and everything in between.
When the news is news
A newsroom shuffle at the New York Times put the Grey Lady at the top of headlines around the country. Wednesday, it was announced that
, who served as executive editor since 2011 and was the first woman in that position, would be replaced by Dean Baquet (himself a “first”—no African-American has held the job before now). Searchers scrambled to find information on the story behind the story.
The Finals countdown
Basketball continues to be in the search spotlight as the NBA Finals approach. After a crazy, up-and-down, roller-coaster first round, the second round went more according to plan. Now we’re rewarded with matchups of the top two seeds in each conference finals, leading people to do some searching for the
. While those teams are preparing for their next opponent, some teams are already making changes to prepare for next year; the Golden State Warriors announced a new coach,
, a former player with five championships under his belt. Searchers looked for information on [steve kerr rings] and [steve kerr bulls] (he won three of those rings in Chicago), as well as [steve kerr knicks]—rumor has it that Kerr turned down an offer to coach that team.
What a wonderful web
Legions of loyal cat people felt vindicated this week when a video of a family’s “hero cat” saving a four-year-old boy from a dog attack went viral. Not only were there hundreds of thousands of searches for [
cat saves boy from dog
], but the video now has more than 9 million views on YouTube. I personally vouch that it’s worth your time.
In other viral news,
was photographed wearing a T-shirt showing my own favorite famous person Ryan Gosling wearing a T-shirt of Macaulay Culkin back in his “Home Alone” days. People rushed to the web to see the photos, as well as create their own
images. As the
A.V. Club says
: great job, Internet!
Bey it ain’t so
An elevator surveillance video released by TMZ and showing Solange Knowles in a physical altercation with brother-in-law Jay-Z inspired a frenzy of speculation and
—and you could say it added one more problem to Jay’s list. Monday’s top trending topic—with more than 5 million searches!—was [
], and searches for terms like [solange attacks jay], [jay z fight] and [solange fight] were through the roof. Call it a testament to Bey and Jay’s status as celebrity royalty.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [what to see in valdez ak] and [cite news wikipedia]
Hop on board—and go almost anywhere—with public transit on Google Maps
May 14, 2014
More than 70 percent of the world’s population doesn’t own a car
—a surprising fact for anyone who’s sat for what seems like hours on end in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Millions of people rely on public transit to get around. That’s why, since 2007, we’ve worked to include public transit routes and schedules in Google Maps. In fact, buses, trains, trams and subways included in Google Maps travel 200 million kilometers every day—that’s the equivalent of driving every single road in the world three times!
Today, Google Maps is helping you get around on public transit even more easily with these additions:
every single transit route
to Google Maps—making it easier to get anywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
On the other side of the globe,
looking for sun can now get real-time updates on whether a bus to Kits is faster than one to Third Beach.
, Cubs fans can now zip to and from Wrigley Field, armed with the real-time information they need to hop on a bus and avoid congestion on Lake Shore Drive.
And finally, just in time for the games, we’ve
transit information for every host city in
. Can you say “GOOOAAALLLLL?!”
Our transit data spans six continents, 64 countries and more than 15,000 towns and cities worldwide. And we’re not done yet: Google Maps will continue to improve—serving people the information they need to get around town when and where they need it.
Posted by David Tattersall, Product Manager, Public Transit
This estimate is based on the most recent
World Bank data
on the number of passenger cars per 1,000 people throughout 100 countries and territories. Passenger cars refer to road motor vehicles, other than two-wheelers, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine people (including the driver).
CIA World Factbook
maps and earth
Speak and learn with Spell Up, our latest Chrome Experiment
May 13, 2014
As a student growing up in France, I was always looking for ways to improve my English, often with a heavy French-to-English dictionary in tow. Since then, technology has opened up a world of new educational opportunities, from simple searches to
(and our backpacks have gotten a lot lighter). But it can be hard to find time and the means to practice a new language. So when the Web Speech API made it
possible to speak to our phones, tablets and computers
, I got curious about whether this technology could help people learn a language more easily.
That’s the idea behind
, a new word game and Chrome Experiment that helps you improve your English using your voice—and a modern browser, of course. It’s like a virtual spelling bee, with a twist.
We worked with game designers and teachers to make Spell Up both fun and educational. The goal of the game is to correctly spell the words you hear and stack them to build the highest word tower you can—letter by letter, word by word. The higher the tower gets, the more difficult the word challenges: You’ll be asked to pronounce words correctly, solve word jumbles and guess mystery words. You can earn bonuses and coins to level up faster.
Spell Up works best in Chrome on your
Android phones and tablets
. (It also works on iPhones and iPads, but you’ll need to type rather than talk.) Whether you’re just learning English or you’re already a pro,
check it out
! And if you’re a teacher, we encourage you to try it out in your classroom.
Posted by Xavier Barrade, Creative Lead and Polyglot, Creative Lab London
Through the Google lens: search trends May 2-8
May 9, 2014
Here’s our look back at the stories and searches that made this week, from lightsabers to Lewinsky.
Mint juleps and margaritas
This past week people across the country celebrated several long-held traditions and some newer ones. With the 140th “Run for the Roses” on Saturday, there were more than 2 million searches on the subject of the Kentucky Derby, including research on [kentucky derby time] and [kentucky derby horses]. (We’re partial to
.) Then, on Sunday, nerds everywhere celebrated what’s come to be known as “Star Wars Day,” thus named because the date lends itself to the pun “May the Fourth be with you.” According to search data at least, the unofficial holiday has been
getting bigger every year
. And finally, Monday’s Cinco de Mayo inspired lots of
, jokes, and more than a few people looking up the
of the holiday.
Red carpet moments and capital celebs
At this week’s
, the annual fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and
turned heads and inspired searches. And though searchers were interested in the White House Correspondents Dinner, it was old, not new, Beltway gossip that dominated this week. In a “Vanity Fair” essay,
broke a 10-year media silence to talk about life since the affair that made her a household name. Search interest in Lewinsky subsequently jumped to the
highest point ever
since 2004 (the time period for which data is available) as people looked for more information on the original story as well as [lewinsky now].
On the issues
The phrase “Bring Back our Girls” became a rallying cry to raise awareness about a group of nearly 300 school girls abducted in Nigeria in April. A number of leaders, including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, have raised their voices in support of the campaign.
On a completely different viral note, Jimmy Kimmel hit the streets asking people “what is gluten?” This
now viral YouTube video
has left many people laughing at the responses, as well as looking up the definition of gluten, and related issues such as celiac disease, for themselves.
Giving thanks to teachers and moms
We hope you took time to
thank a teacher
for Teacher Appreciation Week. More than a hundred thousand searches on the topic indicate that people around the country were showing their gratitude. And finally,
is this Sunday, and many people were looking up gifts—from more traditional treats like flower deliveries and chocolate-covered berries, to creative DIY ideas and even poems. For those of you whose moms are teachers as well (like mine), this is an even better time to show them you care.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [rolf and daughters nashville] and [how tall is prince]
Welcome to the Tech Hub Network family, Capital Factory!
May 6, 2014
Austin is home to some of the
best barbecue in the country
a killer live music scene
, and an energy that can match any other city in the world. It’s no coincidence, then, that it’s also home to some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there, which is why we’re pleased to welcome
, an Austin-based incubator and co-working space for startups, to the Google for Entrepreneurs
Tech Hub Network
. The city’s thriving startup community and deep bench of engineering talent, combined with its natural creativity and eclecticism, make it the perfect place to expand.
Capital Factory is the eighth space to join the Network, a group of partner organizations across the U.S. that does everything from hosting accelerator programs for talented developers to providing desks for entrepreneurs. Google for Entrepreneurs provides funding to all the hubs and give them access to mentorship opportunities and Google products.
In just over six months, the Tech Hub Network is already having a dramatic effect on entrepreneurs around North America. Seventy-one percent of startups say their hub is having a significant impact on their growth, and companies from the Network have raised more than $50 million and created 1,200 jobs since becoming members. Just last month, we hosted a Demo Day for these hubs, where 10 startups raised millions of dollars to help grow their businesses.
To give these entrepreneurs an even greater boost going forward, starting today anyone who works in one of the eight tech hubs or Google’s Campus
will be able to work for free from the other member spaces when traveling. This will give startups a home base when they’re on the road, and the chance to spread and exchange ideas from city to city.
Not too long ago, Google was just a small startup in a garage. Now that we’ve grown up a bit, we want to give others a place where they can work on their ideas, and feed off each other’s creativity and ingenuity. Capital Factory is no exception. So, get your boots on, Austin entrepreneurs—we can’t wait to see how your growing startup community plays its part in
keeping Austin weird
Posted by John Lyman, Head of Partnerships, Google for Entrepreneurs
Previewing a new Classroom
May 6, 2014
As a former high school math teacher, I know all too well that teachers spend a ton of valuable time doing things other than teaching—waking up early to grade quizzes, collecting and returning piles of paper assignments, and battling copy machine paper jams. But with today’s technology it doesn’t have to be this way. Many teachers and professors have found ways to use technology to be better educators and avoid busy work. We spent the past year working closely with many educators to understand the systems they use to simplify their workloads, so they can get back to doing what they love—teaching.
Today, in honor of
Teacher Appreciation Day
, we’re announcing a preview of
, a new, free tool in the
Google Apps for Education
suite. It helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease. Classroom is based on the principle that educational tools should be simple and easy to use, and is designed to give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn.
With Classroom, you'll be able to:
Create and collect assignments:
Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
Improve class communications:
Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.
Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.
We know that protecting your students’ privacy is critical. Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom
contains no ads
, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools.
Starting today, teachers and professors can
apply for a preview
of Classroom. Based on the requests we receive, we’ll be inviting a limited number of educators to try Classroom in about a month. By September, Classroom will be available to any school using Google Apps for Education. Since we want to make sure Classroom plays well with others, if you’re a developer or partner,
to learn more about integrating with Classroom.
We’ve been working with more than a dozen pilot schools and universities to try out Classroom and provide feedback—and we can’t thank them enough. We can’t wait to hear your feedback, and to work together to make Classroom even better.
Posted by Zach Yeskel, Product Manager, Classroom
Through the Google lens: search trends April 25-May 1
May 2, 2014
From matters of the heart to matters off the court, join us on a trip to a galaxy far, far away for our look back at this week's search trends.
Searching for romance
It’s the end of George as we know him. Saturday, word got out that longtime bachelor George Clooney was engaged to his girlfriend, Amal Alamuddin. Alamuddin is a respected human rights lawyer in Britain, but she’s not—or wasn’t—a household name, and many people turned to search to learn more about the woman who captured Clooney’s heart. While they were at it, they looked for information on actress Talia Balsam, who was married to George in the early 90’s (for those of you paying attention, that’s pre-
!). In other celebrity couple news, Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas have reportedly broken up. So, if you’re disappointed that George is off the market, there’s still hope for women around the world wishing to marry a royal.
A historic week for the NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver made league history this week when he fined Clippers owner Donald Sterling and banned him from the league for recent comments.
Millions of searches
followed, and terms like [adam silver comments], [adam silver sterling], [adam sterling clippers] immediately climbed more than 1,000 percent.
The fetch is strong with this one
On Wednesday, we wore pink in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls.” The movie that gave us “fetch” was the subject of
so many searches
, quizzes (searches for [mean girls quiz] were up 350 percent) and retrospectives that even Cady Heron might have trouble adding them up. And though rumors of a [mean girls reunion] (up 850 percent) are apparently false, that can’t exactly be said of another movie on searchers’ minds this week: “Star Wars.” A photo revealing the cast of J.J. Abrams’ “Episode VII” showed original stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and more seated alongside new faces like John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver. The new cast members were on the
top of the search charts
quicker than the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run. (Fun fact: searches for [bill weasley] were also on the rise; “Episode VII”’s Domhnall Gleeson played him in the “Harry Potter” movies.).
Actress Emma Stone made headlines this week when she faced off against Late Night’s Jimmy Fallon in an epic lip syncing battle; searches for [emma stone fallon] climbed 2,200 percent. But while we can’t deny Emma’s spoken-word skills, we’ve got a soft spot for two other playful phrases that made the zeitgeist this week. On Saturday, searchers learned that [zonkey] was not an adjective for how you feel after a red-eye, but actually a rare zebra/donkey cross born last week in Mexico. And [
it’s gonna be May
] was trending Wednesday after Organizing for Action’s Barack Obama Facebook page used the meme-y caption on a photo showing POTUS with Justin Timberlake. Just to bring this week full circle, the
Know Your Meme entry
on “It’s gonna be May” includes a reference to… “Mean Girls.”
Happy Friday, and we’ll see you next week.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [derby day history] and [andre movie]
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