News and notes from Google Down Under
Introducing Toontastic 3D: a playful storytelling app for kids
Friday, January 13, 2017
[Cross-posted from the
Today’s digital devices and tools offer amazing opportunities for kids to imagine, invent and explore with technology—and perhaps most important of all, have fun! Over the years, we’ve worked closely with educators to build programs for kids to
create through code
doodle their dreams
explore exotic locales
with virtual reality, and even
tour the Himalayas
with a very friendly Yeti named Verne. Today, we’re unveiling our latest project for kids—one that will give voice to their imaginations and transform their devices into playful and powerful tools for learning creative skills. It’s called
With Toontastic 3D, kids can draw, animate and narrate their own adventures, news stories, school reports, and anything else they might dream up. All they need to do is move characters around on the screen and tell their story. It’s like a digital puppet theater… but with enormous interactive 3D worlds, dozens of customizable characters, 3D drawing tools, and an idea lab with sample stories to inspire new creations.
Like the original
(released in 2011 and
by educators, kids, and parents around the globe), Toontastic 3D enables kids to build whatever they like—including book or science reports for school, design pitches, short stories and cartoons.
Toontastic 3D is available and free to download today for phones, tablets and select Chromebooks, on both the
Google Play Store
iOS App Store
We hope the app will empower kids to imagine, invent and explore while developing skills for the creative jobs of tomorrow—whether they dream of becoming a filmmaker, a teacher, a designer, a cartoonist, or just want to explore the boundaries of their imaginations.
Posted by Thushan Amarasiriwardena, Product Manager
Google Play Music Australia reveals its ‘Artists to Watch’ in 2017
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Female musicians, led by Melbourne’s Tash Sultana,
are destined for big things this year
Google Play Music Australia
reveals its ‘
Artists to Watch
’ in 2017. These head-turning artists are expected to make a big splash this year in music.
The top 10 are:
(Remote Control Records)
Our ‘Artists to Watch’ are compiled using a range of factors including track performance on Google Play Music Australia’s new-music playlists, popularity on Google Trends and YouTube, as well as specialist Google Play Music Australia editors’ recommendations.
Topping the list is Melbourne’s very own Tash Sultana, who made a stellar debut in September with her
and its breakout track ‘Jungle’. She has already sold out shows from London to LA on her coming world tour. “I’m stoked to be Google Play’s Artist to Watch for 2017,” Sultana says.
There are three more female Australian artists on the ‘Artists to Watch’ list. These include Jess Kent, who recently opened for Coldplay on the British band’s stadium tour of Australia, and Cloves, whose track ‘Don’t Forget About Me’ last year enjoyed a high-profile feature on a major film soundtrack (‘Me Before You’).
As for overseas talent, Google Play has its eye on Bebe Rexha and Maggie Rogers from the US, and Brits Sampha and Rag’n’Bone Man, as rising stars.
This past November, Google launched a new look for Google Play Music — a fresh take on our music streaming service that is smarter, easier to use and much more assistive. Google Play Music uses machine learning to figure out what music you like and then mixes in signals such as location, activity and the weather, along with hand-picked playlists, to personalise music for wherever you are and whenever you want tunes.
All of the Top 10 Ones to Watch in Australia, as well as the longer list of suggested artists, feature in Google Play Music’s
Artists to Watch 2017 playlist
Posted by Sophie Hirst, Product Marketing Manager, Google Play Australia
A career in tech starts with a plugged-in teacher
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Computer science education provides students with lifelong skills that enable them to solve problems and develop critical analysis skills.
Computer science (CS) is more available in classrooms across Australia than ever, thanks to the Digital Technologies curriculum, and so equipping teachers with the everything they need to teach CS and computational thinking has never been more important.
“A lot of students come out of school able to push the right buttons, but don’t know how to approach real-world problem solving. We need to teach students how to tackle problems that seem unsolvable,” says Leanne Cameron, lecturer of educational studies at
Australian Catholic University
It also helps them prepare for the careers of the future that will certainly involve digital skills and combining computer science with other disciplines like health, science, agriculture, art and more to solve complex challenges and design innovation solutions for the world.
grant in 2015, Australian Catholic University responded to Australia’s newly introduced Digital Technologies curriculum by creating a compulsory course that will help all pre-service teachers in their Bachelor of Education programs learn how to teach CS and CT.
More than 2,000 pre-service teachers have completed the course to date. This course has also been open-sourced so that other universities can use the content to prepare future teachers in this important skill.
Other CS4HS recipients have delivered hands on practical workshops to teachers all around Australia to equip them with both the knowledge and the skills to engage and excite students in the opportunities that computer science can lead to. And with our
free online courses
through Adelaide University we’ve seen thousands of teachers inspired and equipped to implement this new curriculum.
Applications are now open
for our 2016 CS4HS program in Australia and New Zealand, and will remain open until 19 March 2016.
If you want to know where computer science can take today’s students, check out
Careers with Code
. In the future, young Australians will use computer science to do great things, and it will all start with a great teacher with a passion for the topic.
Posted by Sally-Ann Williams, Engineering Community & Outreach manager
A tiny difference can make all the difference
Friday, December 16, 2016
At Google we often talk about trying to solve the really big problems - connectivity, communication, organising the world’s information. Sometimes we take on ideas so large it could almost seem preposterous - like organising all the information on the internet, or using artificial intelligence to translate languages. Google has engineers in Australia working on all kinds of global problems. We have the largest
team in the world - no surprise given that Google Maps was born in Sydney; we are working to transform the way businesses operate in a digital world; we’re helping people in emerging economies make the most out of the internet in spite of poor bandwidth. We are also in a unique position to help others solve big problems using technology, and through our philanthropic arm
we donate more than US$100 million and a further US$1 billion in products and resources every year to non-profit partners tackling some of the biggest social issues we face.
Google Australia & New Zealand managing director Jason Pellegrino, Infoxchange chief executive David Spriggs and Google.org director Jacquelline Fuller.
One of those partners is
, which is transforming the way society tackles homelessness. It’s hard to believe, but one in 200 people in Australia is homeless. You may also be surprised to know that roughly eight out of ten of those homeless people has a smartphone. For many homeless people their smartphone can play a decisive role in determining their outcome. Infoxchange saw the opportunity to provide people in need with location-based information via their mobile, helping connect them with essential things such as food, counselling, employment services, legal support and a safe place to sleep. Earlier this year it launched
, the world’s first, nationwide mobile website connecting people who are at risk with essential services. Ask Izzy was developed with support from Google, News Corp and REA Group.
It is exactly the kind of problem-solving that motivates people at Google; not only did we fund the development, but a number of Google staff helped develop the technology and assist with user testing. The mobile site was co-designed by those who have experienced homelessness. It’s also free, anonymous, and the data usage costs nothing if you access it via Telstra’s network. The people at Infoxchange have been amazing partners because of their passion for the issue of homelessness, for the partners they’ve been able to bring together to make this project happen, and for their belief in the power of technology to make a real difference in people’s lives. Ask Izzy was launched in January by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and has now been used more 250,000 times - many more times than Infoxchange expected.
Launching Ask Izzy in January, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull spoke with people who consulted on the design of Ask Izzy.
The next step for Infoxchange and Ask Izzy is to create a national database that understands how people are using essential services so that policymakers can ensure they are available where they are needed most. This Christmas if you wish to donate to Infoxchange go to
so they can put pocket-sized mobile phone chargers into the hands of homeless people - for just $15 you can ensure that when they need that little bit of extra charge for their phone, it’s there for them. A single power card will charge their phone for four hours. An extra phone charge in the pockets of people in need can help them find a bed, a shower, a meal, a friend. Even when we’re seeking to make big changes to society, it’s the small things that often matter the most.
Posted by Alan Noble, Director of Engineering, Google Australia
A Year in Search: The Moments that Defined 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Aussies searched for Brexit, Bowie and banana bread
It’s that time of year again, when we look back at the last 12 months, 366 days, 527,040 minutes and reflect on the search trends and moments when we celebrated, mourned and wondered in 2016. It was the year we ‘caught ‘em all,’ grasped extraordinary political change, said goodbye to some greats – and made Harambe a hero.
From breaking news, to breaking Olympic records, and the UK’s break from Europe – the events of this year affected all of us in different ways. We turned to Search in the happy and hard moments to get the details, see the bigger picture and find our way forward. To rediscover the events, people and topics that defined 2016 around the world, watch our
Here's a wrap-up of the five
top topics that caught Aussies' attention and brought us together in Search in 2016:
We love a good game
2016 was a super sporty year, with many historic and unforgettable moments that kept us searching, cheering – and dancing with Michelle Jenneke. We supported our Olympians in Rio de Janeiro, placed our bets for Melbourne Cup and followed the scores for the Australian Open, AFL and Super Rugby. We missed buses and trains, ran into walls (and each other) as we tried to catch ‘em all when the Pokémon Go! craze took Australia and the world by storm.
Politics and personalities
Donald Trump beat Hillary for the second time this year – piping her at the post to take home the title of our most trending person, along with the presidency. Back on home soil, Pauline Hanson took out the title of Australia’s top trending politician, ahead of current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. At times we were lost for words, but we were never short of questions – with many of us still trying to figure out exactly what a plebiscite is.
The oh-no and uh-oh moments
The shock and tragedies of the Dreamworld accident and Brussels attack had Aussies trying to comprehend what, how and why. We looked into the Mitchell Pearce incident, and watched cricketer Chris Gayle try and fail while interviewing with Mel McLaughlin on live TV. We also followed Tara Brown’s imprisonment in Lebanon closely, and fired up our opinions (and our Google searches) about controversial comments from Sonia Kruger. Together, we kept clicking for the Census site and
wondered what was next when the UK voted out.
Saying goodbye to the greats
This year the world mourned three of music’s greatest with the passing of musicians David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. They weren’t the only legends headed for the stars, with Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali and Gene Wilder also passing away this year. Closer to home, we bid farewell to journalist, commentator and broadcaster Rebecca Wilson, who lost her battle with cancer in October.
Calling mother nature
Aussies looked to understand natural events and disasters in 2016, with the total solar eclipse, Hurricane Matthew and the Zika virus landing in the lead Searches. We also discovered an unsung hero, with an outpouring of grief, Searches and a lifetime of memes following the death of Harambe. More broadly, we wondered why the sky is blue, the ocean is salty – and why biodiversity matters.
And that’s just a preview. To dive into the top trending terms of the year, check out Australia's full trending and most searched lists*:
Overall Searches (Trending)
Australian Open 2016
US election results
Total solar eclipse
Global People (Trending)
Sporting events (Trending)
Australian Open 2016
Melbourne Cup 2016
Tour de France 2016
AFL Grand Final 2016
How to…? (Most Searched)
How to tie a tie
How to screenshot on mac
How to make pancakes
How to play Pokemon Go
How to draw
How to write a cover letter
How to get rid of pimples
How to download from YouTube
How to lose weight fast
How to write a resume
What is..? (Most Searched)
What is my IP address
What is a plebiscite
What is Pokemon Go
What is the weather today
What is the time
What is all purpose flour
What is love
What is Brexit
What is gluten
What is the meaning of life
Why is…? (Most Searched)
Why is there a leap day
Why is the sky blue
Why is my internet so slow
Why is my poop green
Why is my computer so slow
Why is Australia in Eurovision
Why is the ocean salty
Why is biodiversity important
Why is my period late
Why is my eye twitching
Recipes (Most Searched)
to explore the rest of the 2016 Year in Search stories and top trending charts from around the world.
* Trending Searches:
What was hot in 2016?
The "trending" queries are the searches that had the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2016 as compared to 2015.
* Most Searched:
What topped Google’s charts?
The "most searched" queries are the most popular terms for 2016—ranked in order by volume of searches.
Posted by Camilla Ibrahim, Communications Manager, Google Australia & Zealand
Bringing amazing teachers together, in Australia and beyond
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
More than 30,000 education professionals around the world joined forces online last week for Google’s
Education on Air
conference: a free, around-the-clock global conference for teachers to share and learn.
Education on Air
brought together leaders in learning, including Google chairman Eric Schmidt; Second Lady of the US, Dr Jill Biden; and the 27th Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the
Global Partnership for Education
, Julia Gillard to discuss curriculum and best practices.
Delivering the opening keynote, Ms Gillard said that teachers unlock the world of learning for our children and good teachers never stop learning themselves. She said
Education on Air
is working to equip teachers with the tools they need to navigate our changing world and that teachers are transforming education with technology in many ways to better engage and enrich their students.
After participating in a panel discussion and leading a breakout session, Anthony Speranza, ICT Learning and Teaching Leader at St Mark’s Primary school in Melbourne said
Education On Air
used technology to deliver innovative Professional Development for the educational community and highlighted best practices for today's students and schools.
Image: students from St Mark's Primary School in Melbourne preparing for a joint Education on Air presentation with teacher Anthony Speranza
If you missed the event, or you want to share it with an educator who might be interested, you can find it
Posted by Fiona Coles, Google for Education, Google Australia
A billion reasons to celebrate music on YouTube
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Last year was a bright one for music—after several tough years of declining revenues, the industry
started growing again
, spurred in large part by the growth of music streaming subscriptions. This year, the industry has even more reasons to be optimistic. Even as music subscriptions have been growing faster than any other subscription type, advertising is another
of revenue. In fact, in the last 12 months, YouTube has paid out over $1 billion to the music industry from advertising alone, demonstrating that multiple experiences and models are succeeding alongside each other.
And this is just the beginning. As more advertising dollars
from TV, radio and print to online services, the music industry will generate even more revenue from ads. In the future, the music business has an opportunity to look a lot like television, where subscriptions and advertising contribute roughly equal amounts of revenue, bolstered by digital and physical sales. To achieve this, there is a lot of work that must be done by YouTube and the industry as a whole, but we are excited to see the momentum.
At a time when there’s never been more competition for attention, fans can’t get enough good music. It is clear that this creative industry has two strong engines of growth -- subscriptions and advertising -- and we are honored to be a part of it.
Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer, recently watched
"The Hamilton Mixtape Performance Live Stream."
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