News and notes from Google Down Under
Street View update coming to Australia
Friday, October 30, 2009
Back in August last year, we brought
Google Maps in Australia
- helping Aussie Internet users to view and navigate 360 degree street-level imagery of our beautiful country's cities, towns, regions and remote areas.
Since then, Street View has been one of our most used and talked about Google Maps features - having been integrated with real estate sites, appeared in news stories, and used to help both Australians and visitors plan their trips around the country.
But Street View is most useful useful when the imagery is up-to-date and reflective of what you'd see if you visited an area in person ... which is why we're sending the Street View fleet back out on the road.
Starting from next month in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and parts of Tasmania, we'll be doing our best to cover as many of Australia's public roads as we can during this summer. So if you're in the right place at the right time, you might spot one of our clearly marked Street View cars (like the one below) in your neighbourhood.
We also work hard to improve our products as much as we can, and so the images we're collecting this time will be crisper than before - making Street View even more useful when using it to find that restaurant you've forgotten the name of, or when reading street signs on Street View when following driving directions in Google Maps. It will also make our face-blurring technology even more accurate, because faces and license plates will be easier for our blurring technology to recognise.
You can see an example of what we're talking about by checking out the latest Street View imagery collected in Canada ... look at the remarkable
fine detail of the stonework
on the beautiful Basilique Notre-Dame.
View Larger Map
The new Australian imagery will be available sometime within the next year, and while we don't have a more specific timetable to share right now, we'll be sure to keep you updated on this blog. And in case you were wondering ... unfortunately we can't let you know
when we'll be in your street, because it's such a large project and would be too challenging to coordinate. You'll just need to keep the lawn mowed for the next few months! However, you can see what general areas we're in at
If you're ever uncomfortable with an image that appears in Street View, whether in the existing imagery or in the new imagery once it launches, it's a simple matter to have it blurred or removed - simply click 'Report a Problem' at the bottom of any image, and follow the easy steps.
We do have one more Street View update to share, and that's in relation to our policy around storage of Street View images. We retain Street View images on our databases so we can do things like improve our blurring technology, and check our maps against the images so that we don't give you bad driving directions - for example, checking to see if a street has 'no entry' signs.
We announced earlier this month
that we will permanently blur images that we retain for internal use within one year of their publication on Street View. This means that, long term, the only copy we keep will be the one in which faces and license plates are blurred. We think one year strikes a good balance between protecting people's privacy and our ability to reduce mistakes in blurring, as well as use the data we have collected to build better maps products.
Stay tuned for more updates over the coming months, and in the meantime, why not use Street View to find a great location for your upcoming summer holiday? I think
will do me just fine ...
Posted by Andrew Foster, product manager
More, more, more real estate in Google Maps
Friday, October 30, 2009
Since we announced a
real estate search feature
on Google Maps in Australia back in July, we've been working steadily to make it even easier for Australian home buyers and renters to use. At the same time,
has continued to evolve and improve, and become an even more useful tool for online real estate searching. Here are a couple of things you can look out for next time you visit Maps.
First up, we've made it easier to find real estate listings. Now, you can simply click "Real Estate" from the 'More' button on the top right of any map on Google Maps to discover listings. From there, it's a simple matter to refine your search using the left hand panel - price, bedrooms, bathrooms, and so on. Of course, you can still pan the map and it'll automatically update with more listings.
You'll also notice that Google Maps is now showing
even more information about an area
as you pan around and zoom in. There are small icons on the map showing the names and location of businesses and prominent features of the neighbourhood. This means that during your home search, you'll be able to tell at a glance just exactly what shops can be found down the road from where you're looking, all without typing!
Finally, we've made it easier to layer your searches over each other. If you're looking for a new place near a primary school, start by searching for "primary school". Then click More, Real Estate to see all available properties nearby overlaid on the same map. Refine your search, and find that perfect 3 bedroom apartment in walking distance of a school.
Of course, these aren't the only resources available for your new home search. You can use
on Google Maps to check out the neighbourhood before driving to an open home; use
to find out exactly how to get there; and
information to work out what your new commute might be if you went ahead and moved house.
We've also been working with a number of organisations across the real estate industry to make even more current real estate listings searchable on Google Maps. You can now find listings for rent and sale from many of the major real estate franchise groups including Ray White, LJ Hooker, First National, Harcourts and Raine & Horne.
Good luck compiling your open home lists today - here's to a fruitful weekend of real estate searching!
Posted by Andrew Foster, product manager
Make your vote count for Doodle 4 Google!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
We've already received thousands of votes for
Doodle 4 Google 2009
, but if you haven't voted yet, you'd better be quick - voting closes this Friday, 30 October.
Doodle 4 Google asked Australian students from Years 1 through 10 to transform the Google logo to reflect their 'wish for Australia'. We've seen everything from alternative power, to continuing sporting success, to more friendship in schools - it's been incredible to see what young Aussies hope for our country, and the standard of entries has been truly high.
From the thousands of entries received, we picked a long list of 320 entries, from which our judges, Ken Done, Anne Geddes, and Hugh Evans, selected the top 32 to go up for public vote. After voting closes this week, we'll be flying all 32 finalists to Sydney for the grand final event on 10 November, when we'll celebrate the achievements of our top 32, announce our age group winners, and invite Google's original Doodler Dennis Hwang to select the overall winner whose doodle will feature on the
homepage on Australia Day in 2010, to be seen by millions of people around the world.
We'll post all of the details here so make sure you check back to find out which doodles Australians have voted their favourite. But first we want your vote! Head to www.google.com.au/doodle4google to have your say...
Posted by Katharina Friedrich, Doodle 4 Google team
Promote your videos on YouTube and across the Web
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
There are now 20 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, which means it's no easy task to find the right audience for your video. How does a new band build a fan base and get buzz for their new single? Or how can a top brand test the effectiveness of new ad creative on YouTube? Not every business or video creator can rely on the word-of-mouth that turned Nike's video of
Kobe Bryant jumping over an Aston Martin
into a worldwide sensation. Sometimes people need a little help discovering what's new and relevant to them.
Today we're launching Promoted Videos, a way to place your video on related pages on YouTube and across the web. It's an advertising program that anyone - from an everyday user to a major brand advertiser - can use to help people discover their video. Promoted Videos will help you find a relevant audience wherever they are on the web, whether it's searching or watching videos on YouTube or browsing across Google's network of publisher sites.
Like Google AdWords, Promoted Video campaigns are targeted by keyword and priced on a cost-per-click basis. Starting today, you can also buy Promoted Videos directly in AdWords, which means it's easier than ever to run your campaigns and drive traffic to your videos. You can place your bids, select where you'd like your videos to appear (on relevant YouTube search results pages, video watch pages, and Google's publisher network), and set daily spending budgets all within the AdWords interface. Our aim is to provide a single destination for your overall Google ad buy, as well as give YouTube advertisers new to AdWords access to additional campaign tools.
We know that many of you want your viewers to visit your website after watching your video, so we've built Call-to-Action overlays into Promoted Videos. Advertisers will be able to add a clickable overlay to their Promoted Videos, allowing them to drive viewers to a website off YouTube. This means you can track the performance of your video and whether your viewers are converting into customers.
We hope that Australian partners of all sizes will take full advantage of this opportunity to grow their audience here and around the world.
to get started today or
sign up for a webinar
to learn more.
Jay Akkad & Matthew Liu, YouTube Product Managers
Unleashing creativity through AWARD School
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I'm excited we
announced a partnership
with Google and AWARD School. Google is the new principal sponsor of AWARD School Australia and New Zealand, a 12 week course which teaches copywriters and art directors how to create big advertising ideas.
At Google, we're great believers in the power of technology to empower creativity. There's fantastic creative talent in Australia and New Zealand and the opportunities for this community on the web are vast. I'm delighted to work with AWARD School which has such a long history of nurturing the generation of creative ideas.
Back in August this year, we started exploring what happens when technology meets creativity at
Creative Sandbox in Sydney
. We're seeing agencies like
push the boundaries of creativity to deliver awesome results for
Harley Davidson on YouTube
I look forward to seeing what the next generation of creative talent in Australia and New Zealand surprises us with.
AWARD School applications open in January 2010. To register and for further information visit
Posted by Guy Gibbs, Head of Agency Relations
Guest post: Australia's Mortgage Choice goes Google
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Editor's Note: We're pleased to welcome guest blogger Peter Herrmann, solution architect, Information Technology Department, at Mortgage Choice Limited. Peter led the development of the business case to switch Mortgage Choice to Google, and is project manager and tech lead for the organization-wide deployment of Google Apps. Peter has been working with Mortgage Choice for eight years and has been involved with IT strategy, consulting to internal business units, implementation, migrations, integration and lifecycle for many systems at Mortgage Choice.
Peter has a background in messaging and collaboration technologies and still remembers his delight in getting messages to flow (in 1992) between islands of Lotus Notes, cc:Mail, MS Mail (Windows & Mac), Memo (a mainframe based email system) and MHS (from Novell) during a proof of concept integration he did for a large multinational.
, Australia's largest independently-owned mortgage broker, was established in 1992 and operates a franchise-based business model. We have over 1,000 users operating from around 350 locations across Australia.
The Australian mortgage broking industry has undergone a period of significant change and consolidation. In this challenging environment, the ability to scale both up and out while improving our business systems and resources, along with keeping a steady cost base, is critical to growing and strengthening our business.
In IT, we are constantly challenged by the ongoing overhead of installing, upgrading, storing, supporting and maintaining installed software across a geographically dispersed environment.
Prior to our transition to
, we diligently kept our users' software up-to-date and met system and service SLAs, but simply meeting our service obligations does not necessarily add value! At the end of the day, after buying, running and maintaining our infrastructure and software, our capacity to really add value through innovation was constrained by resource limitations.
By late 2008, with a newly reinvigorated IT strategy taking shape, the Google Apps platform was right in focus. We developed a business case for Google Apps, focusing on the benefits of simplicity (no installed software), choice (access anywhere anytime from any Internet connected device), scalability (growth with a variable cost base) and user happiness (great user experience from modern apps evolved from massive consumer driven input).
During mid-2009, Mortgage Choice ran an initial deployment of Google Apps (Mail, Calendar and Chat) for some 70 users across the country. We used Google Sites for FAQs, feedback forums and spreadsheet forms for polls to get regular user feedback. This was used to continuously improve our change management, communication, migration and support processes and collateral.
At completion of the initial deployment, 91% of users recommended we roll-out Google Apps to the entire organisation. The results also reinforced our IT strategy imperatives to "provide the business with a technology environment that is scalable, flexible, simple to use, leverages modern and emerging technologies and provides users with choice".
Even now, as we roll out to the rest of the organization, we're seeing immediate benefits outside the original project focus of Mail, Calendar and Chat. Users are adopting other Google Apps, such as Google Docs, for collaboration in real time with co-workers and business partners. They're building forms based workflows for their business processes, and have used Google Sites and Google Video to deliver specific on-demand training websites and online manuals. This innovation is taking place organically at the initiative of users and without the requirement for traditional IT involvement or assistance. Furthermore, it has come at no additional cost and at a pace chosen by the initiators.
, we are seeing tangible benefits from adopting Google Apps across the organisation and we expect this to increase as our people - an increasingly mobile workforce - leverage the platform further in future.
Posted by Peter Herrmann, solution architect, Information Technology Department, Mortgage Choice Limited
Australia is going Google ... along with millions of businesses around the world
Monday, October 19, 2009
Each day, thousands of companies around the world choose to
— that is, switch to Google Apps. More than two million businesses and 20 million users in over 100 countries and more than 40 languages have adopted
Apps for their workplace
, and we're happy to welcome companies around the world such as Konica Minolta, Rentokil Initial and TOTO that have just decided to go Google. These companies no longer have to deal with the hassles of managing email servers or rolling out software updates, and their employees now enjoy the convenience of shared documents and calendars, Gmail and more.
In Australia and New Zealand, organisations small and large, from technology companies like
and successful SMEs like De Bortoli wines, to state managed enterprises like
New Zealand Postal Services Group
have made the switch... and well over 1.5 million students in
schools across Australia and New Zealand
have already 'gone'.
Today, we're excited to support this global momentum with the expansion of the "Gone Google" initiative to additional countries including the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, Australia and Singapore. We hope our messages — in train stations such as Paddington, La Défense and Shinagawa, at airports Toronto, Dallas and beyond, and in certain spots around Sydney — help companies, schools and other organisations learn all about the benefits of going Google with our enterprise products. Here's a sneak peek at what you can expect around the world:
If you've already gone Google, you can
share your company's Gone Google story
with us, or use some of our tools to help
spread the word
about switching to Google Apps. We hope you'll be part of the story.
Posted by Deepak Ramanathan, Google Enterprise team
Our commitment to privacy
Sunday, October 18, 2009
We get asked about privacy a lot. We recently held a roundtable in Australia to discuss Google's approach to privacy. Here is a summary of what we discussed.
Privacy is a pretty modern concept. There was no such thing as privacy when we humans were all living in the same cave. In the post industrial revolution society, a fairly recent phenomenon in human history, each new information and communications technology - such as cameras, newspapers, radio, TV - has brought convenience and great services, and challenged and changed our notions of privacy.
The Internet has given millions of people access to vast amounts of information and created useful tools and services, and it also presents new challenges for protecting people's 'personal information'.
The concept of privacy is subjective and there is no one size fits all privacy standard. For example, people's attitudes towards sharing personal information about themselves online on social networking sites is more relaxed than in a direct face-to-face environment. Moreover, the privacy expectations of a 21 year old university student will be different from those of an 80 year old grandfather.
Online, companies are supremely accountable to their customers. Competition is one click away, and there is more transparency and accountability than ever. We're exposed to intense scrutiny, and that's a good thing.
Google's mission is to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. We pursue innovative ideas and push the limits of existing technology to provide increased access to information. We recognise our responsibility to protect your privacy. We live and die by your trust. We believe it is possible to deliver leading-edge services and to give you control over your personal information.
Google's approach to privacy is founded on transparency, choice and security. We tell you what information we collect and what we do with it, and we build innovative tools and features that put you in control of your information.
We don't hold data hostage
. We protect your personal information and use it responsibly. We don't sell it, we don't collect it without permission, and we don't use it to serve ads without permission. Education is also important. The
Google Privacy Centre
, with a wealth of information and videos on each product, is linked directly from the Google home page.
Many Google services, including Search, can be used anonymously - without providing any personally identifying information at all. For products which you use with more personal information such as Gmail, Docs and Picasa, you need to have a Google Account and to log in. Signing in to your Google Account unlocks a personalised experience such as
to give you personalised search results based on your activity when you're signed in. We also give you the ability to share information between the services you use in a way that's transparent to you, such as accessing your Gmail contacts from your Google Calendar or adding an event mentioned in an email to your Google Calendar.
We use information in aggregate form in our server logs to work out how people are using Google and to make overall improvements. We don't need personal information to do this. For example, we use our
aggregated server logs
to figure out when something's not working properly or crashes, what website layouts are the fastest to load in your browser, how many users clicked on a particular ad or search result, or how many search results people click on before they find what they're looking for, as well as to
and viruses. There's more detail in
this blog post
from Hal Varian on how Google uses data.
Finally, we believe that the best privacy protection is in
good product design
. As the web evolves and our notions of privacy with it, Google will continue to innovate around privacy and build privacy protections into our products from the ground up, as we are doing today with Google Wave.
Posted by Iarla Flynn, Policy Team
Transit directions for Cairns in Google Maps
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Whether you're a resident of Cairns, or planning a visit to beautiful northern Queensland, getting around town just got easier with the launch of Transit information on
for the city. Using information from
Transit Australia Group (TAG)
, you can easily see information like the nearest bus stop, timetables at different times of the week, and look up directions using only public transport options.
You could use the new service to visit the interestingly named
, at the first headland north of Cairns harbour, or to get to the
, which sounds like an incredible tourist experience. Don't forget you can also check out updated map and satellite imagery of the islands, reefs, cays and rocks of the
Great Barrier Reef in Google Maps
- another great tool for planning a trip to the winter-less north.
TAG are the first Queensland public transit agency to launch Google Transit, and they'll be kicking it off in Cairns before rolling it out to other towns like Townsville, Rockhampton and Magnetic Island. It's great to see such a tourism-focused region putting the latest technology in place to help visitors get around easily and safely via public transport - and while making it easy for residents to choose 'green' commuting options.
We're excited to see Google Transit come to more and more Australian cities, and look forward to working with other transit agencies to make that happen.
Posted by Bryan Landsiedel, senior technical account manager, Google Australia
OpenAustralia Hackfest in Google Sydney
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
We're delighted to host the
OpenAustralia Hackfest - The MashupAustralia Edition
on 7-8 November in Google's office in Sydney. It's a free all-weekend hacking competition where you get to build cool applications using data from
, with the chance to win prizes, including a $10,000 first prize.
for ages about the benefits of freeing public sector information such as public transport data and making it accessible to all. Information is more powerful when it's set free and PSI is publicly funded, intended for public consumption and of great benefit to society.
I'm particularly excited about what Open Australia is doing to make our democracy more accountable by making Parliamentary records more accessible to Australians. There's no better way to show the value of opening up government data than by creating a practical demonstration and I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Posted by Alan Noble, Head of Engineering
Google Chrome now with Australian artist themes
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
We're always keen to share updates about our browser
. This past month, we launched a
new stable release
with speed improvements and updates to key features, as well as a little something extra to make your browser pop: themes. Today, we're excited to build on this initial splash of color. We've invited leading artists, architects, musicians, illustrators, filmmakers and fashion and interior designers from around the world to create artwork for an unusual canvas: the modern web browser.
Artist themes for Google Chrome
, a fusion of art and technology, with a hundred artist themes that we hope will enrich and personalise your web browsing experience.
We're honoured to have had the opportunity to work on this project with two of Australia's most celebrated designers -
. We'd like to thank Akira and Carla for lending their vision, imagination and hard work to this collaboration, and we think you'll enjoy the beautiful Chrome themes they developed for us.
Further afield, we've been lucky enough to collaborate with artists including Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Karim Rashid, Jonathan Adler, Oscar de la Renta, Anita Kunz, Tom Sachs, Kate Spade, Donna Karan, Kid Robot, Casey Reas, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Graves, Todd Oldham, Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Mariah Carey.
If you haven't tried Google Chrome recently,
download the latest version
and give the artist themes a whirl. If you're already using Google Chrome, check out the
and try on your favorite Artist Themes.
Posted by Jason Chuck, head of marketing for Google Australia and New Zealand
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