News and notes from Google Down Under
Go offline with Google Maps for Android
Thursday, June 28, 2012
This is a cross-post from the
Having an Internet connection has always been a key requirement for using Google Maps for Android... until now.
A few weeks ago
we told you that offline Google Maps for Android was coming. Now, you can download the latest version of the
app in Google Play
, then select and save a region of a map from more than 150 countries (including Australia) for use offline. Whether travelling internationally, carrying a WiFi-only device, heading underground on the subway or restricting your mobile data usage, you can now save up to six large metro areas (e.g., Greater London,
, or New York City and surrounding area) and use Google Maps for Android to find your way.
Let’s say you find yourself traveling to London this summer. Before you head off on your trip, simply find the area that you’ll be visiting. Then select “Make available offline” from the menu and verify the area that you would like to save.
Below the map, you’ll see we estimate the file size for you, so you know how much space it will take on your device. Once you confirm your selection the map will immediately start downloading.
Save an area and go to My Places to see all your offline maps
If you have GPS enabled on the device, the blue dot will still work without a data connection so you know where you are, and if your device has a compass you can orient yourself without 3G or WiFi connectivity.
So whether you’re traveling internationally or underground, we hope
will help you get around.
Today we’re also releasing a smoother and faster Compass Mode for Street View within Google Maps for Android. It’s the next best thing to being there, because your device becomes a window into a 360-degree, panoramic view of the outdoor or interior location through
. To experience the improved qualities of this feature you need a device with Google Maps for Android, Android 3.0 or higher and a gyroscope sensor plus version 1.8.1 of
Street View on Google Maps
See inside District wine bar in San Francisco
To learn more about Google Maps for Android features,
Posted by Jiabei Lei, Software Engineer, Google Maps Mobile
Tune in to I/O Live at 2:30 a.m. EST on 28th June
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
This is a cross-post from the
Official Google Blog
Google I/O, our annual developer conference, begins in just two days, and this year, we’re bringing you more than 130 technical sessions, 20 code labs and 155 Sandbox partners. If you’re not here in San Francisco, you can still sign up for one of our 350+
events around the world or tune in to
to watch the live stream from wherever you are.
This year’s conference kicks off on June 28 with the first day’s keynote at 2:30 a.m. EST and the second day’s keynote on June 29 at 3:00 a.m. EST, so tune in early at
to avoid missing the action!
to watch I/O Live from your desktop, or download the
Google I/O mobile app
to access the live stream from your phone or tablet. For the truly entrepreneurial, check our
, which lets you add your commentary and the live video feed from the Google I/O keynotes to your blog.
on Android, Chrome, Google+ and your favorite APIs will be streamed live, and all remaining session videos will be recorded and available shortly after the conference on
Google Developers Live
. Between sessions, we’ll bring you behind-the-scenes footage featuring interviews with Googlers and attendees, tours of the Sandbox and more. The stream will also continue through our After Hours party (June 28 starting at 12:00 p.m. EST), where we've teamed up with top entertainers, inventors, artists, educators and visionaries from all over the world for an amazing evening. (Or lunchtime, if you're in Australia!)
Posted by Mike Winton, Director of Developer Relations
Build: Bringing LEGO bricks to Chrome
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
We love building with LEGO
bricks. We loved it as kids, and we still love it now. Visit any Google office, you’re going to see LEGO bricks all over the place.
So it’s with childish delight that today we can announce
. Over the last few months we’ve been working with LEGO Australia, thinking about what would happen if we brought bricks to the browser. Build is the result: our latest Chrome Experiment which lets you explore and build a new world of LEGO creations together online. With 8 trillion bricks, think of Build as the largest LEGO set you’ve ever seen.
Build may look simple, but this collaborative 3D building experience would not have been possible a couple of years ago. It shows how far browser technology has come and how the web is an amazing platform for creativity. We made the bricks with WebGL, which enables powerful 3D graphics right in the browser and demonstrates the
upper limit of current WebGL graphics performance.
We then mixed in Google Maps (another Aussie invention) so you can put your creation in a LEGO world alongside everyone else’s.
Right now Build is an experiment we’ve been working on in Sydney. We’re launching first in Australia and New Zealand and hope to open up in other countries soon. This year is the 50th anniversary of the LEGO brick in Australia and Build joins the celebration of the LEGO Festival of Play online.
Over the next few weeks and months we hope to see you fill the Build world up with everything from
giant mouse cursors
and even a
Share your creations with us on
and we’ll re-post the most inventive.
You can start building at
Posted by Lockey McGrath, Product Marketing Manager, Google Australia and New Zealand
Emergency Management Roundtable
Monday, June 25, 2012
At Google, recent natural disasters in Australasia have
the growing importance of the internet as more and more people turn online for critical information. The question now is: how can governments, authorities and private companies like Google, help meet this demand?
Last week, we hosted our first Emergency Management Roundtable, which brought together more than 60 of Australia and New Zealand’s leading emergency management practitioners.
The Roundtable was led by members of
’s Crisis Response team and local engineers involved in crisis response work in our region and beyond.
From our perspective, we’re keen to share what we’ve learnt on using technology for disaster preparedness from Google’s responses to recent disasters such as the
earthquakes. But crucially, we also think there’s a need to foster better public/private collaboration between emergency services organisations, government agencies and Internet companies such as Google.
In times of crisis, we see that people use the internet to look for warning alerts, recommended actions, evacuation routes, the state of essential utilities, social services, shelter and access to food. Currently, not all this demand for information online is being met. At the roundtable, we highlighted a few things emergency authorities can do to help share information that will empower citizens during challenging times:
Provide open and interoperable data formats (data should be usable and shareable by anyone)
Provide open licensing or permissions for data (we and others in this space need to be able to republish data)
Provide more data - in times of crisis, we should look at making as much information available as possible.
In Australia Google’s Crisis Response efforts date back to 2009 where our engineers helped map the location of the Victorian Black Saturday
. We’re encouraged by the progress made towards making more information available, but we also know there’s a lot more to do.
Posted by Alan Noble (Director of Engineering, Google Australia) & Nigel Snoad (Product Manager, Google.org Crisis Response)
Meet your clients’ new couch companion: the tablet
Friday, June 22, 2012
We have been saying that smartphones are the next big thing for a few years now, and with
more than half of Australians
now calling a smartphone their own, things are just getting bigger and bigger. While the smartphone revolution is in full effect, another revolution is silently happening in its shade: the growth of the other mobile device called tablet. According to Telsyte 2.6 million Australians already use a touchscreen tablet. By 2016, that number is forecast to grow to 11 million.
Looking at Google search queries, our consumer research, and other external surveys and commentary, we think that we have a pretty good overview of how the new wave of “multi-screen consumers” are using their different devices.
The PC has become the workhorse. When we think PC, we mostly think about admin tasks such as replying to work emails and working on our household budgets. The smartphone on the other hand is our “constant companion.” It gives us access to relevant and immediate information when we need it most: when we are out and about. Of course, it also helps us kill time on the bus.
At Google we like to think of the tablet as the “couch companion.” When we look at the activity on tablets, we see a sharp increase towards the end of the night, peaking very late around 9 pm.
During that time we do things on the tablet that we enjoy while relaxing: listening to music, updating social media, watching video, researching interests and things we want to buy.
Watching TV at home is still the preferred form of entertainment for 64% of Australians, but we tend to be multitasking as more than half use smartphones and tablets while watching TV, following a Deloitte survey of more than 2,000 Australians across four generations. The survey also found that 60% of viewers multitask on electronic devices.
The current prices of tablets mean they are still regarded as a luxury item, rather than an essential one. This also means that the demography of owners are skewed to more affluent households, and this provides an opportunity for advertisers who covet that market. Many businesses see tablet users buy more on their website as well as buy more often.
On the tablet, marketers can reach engaged eyes that are on a device they purchased to research, and use to shop. My message to them: get on tablets now, your clients are already there.
Posted by Alexandre Lamvohee, Mobile Display Lead, Google Australia & New Zealand
Introducing Google Maps Coordinate: Organise teams on the move
Friday, June 22, 2012
This is a cross-post from the
Google LatLong Blog
Imagine you are a call centre operator at an electric utility company. A call comes in reporting a downed powerline in one of the northern suburbs of your city, and an entire neighborhood is without power. You need to quickly dispatch one of your line repairers to the site, which is almost an hour away. To save time and get the power back up quickly, you want to know which line repairers are already in the area and send them the relevant information about the job.
Google Maps Coordinate
comes in, a new tool designed to improve communication between businesses and their employees in the field. As the number of mobile employees continues to grow, so does the need for a location sharing solution that works in real-time. Research firm IDC estimates that there will be over
1.3 billion mobile workers by 2015 (37.2% of the total workforce)
.* Google Maps Coordinate combines the power of Google’s mapping technologies with modern smartphones to help organisations assign jobs and deploy staff more efficiently.
When a business signs up for Google Maps Coordinate, they get access to the Google Maps Coordinate web and mobile apps.
Employees in the field download the mobile app to their phone and then can:
Share real-time location
Google Maps Coordinate is built on Google’s mapping and geolocation infrastructure so the app will send an accurate location, even if you’re indoors (Google Maps Coordinate integrates with
Google Indoor Maps
Mobile teams often need to collect information while out in the field. Google Maps Coordinate allows the admin to customise the fields that the mobile team needs to capture and collect – from measurements to client contact details – directly in the app.
Meanwhile, a designated dispatcher back in the office can:
Add team members to a Google Maps Coordinate team and see their locations in the Google Maps Coordinate web and mobile app. For example, our electric utility company might create a special team for home electricians and another for line repairers.
Easily create jobs, precisely locate the job, assign the job to the nearest team member and notify them instantly. The next time there is a downed powerline, the operator at the utility company will have no problem identifying the closest team member and assigning them to investigate the issue.
View past jobs and locations.
Get the hard data you need to make strong business decisions. With Google Maps Coordinate, businesses can easily visualise the locations of all their jobs and teams, including current and past jobs. Businesses can assess where they should be assigning or hiring more workers and how to optimally place their teams.
Any business can sign up for Google Maps Coordinate. Google Maps Coordinate is built to work seamlessly with the entire
Google Enterprise Maps and Earth
experience, and it comes with an
that can integrate with any of your existing systems.
Contact our sales
team or a Google Enterprise Maps and Earth reseller if
’re interested in signing up for
Google Maps Coordinate. Share your Google Maps Coordinate use cases and feedback on our
Enterprise G+ page
*IDC, Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast, Doc #232073, December 2011
Posted by Daniel Chu, Senior Product Manager
Trip report: green cars
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Just over a year ago, Google Sydney welcomed two Mitsubitshi i-MiEVs to our offices. Not only did we think these would be a great way for us to get around, these electric cars are also a good example of innovation and engineering coming together to help the environment.
But with only two cars for shared use between over 600 staff, we had big questions about the right way to manage these resources. We didn't want the cars to sit in our parking lot, only available to a handful of people to use on occasion. But at the same time, opening them up 'free for all' might have created problems as well.
The answer came from our engineering director Alan Noble who suggested giving 'points' to staff who commuted to work in a sustainable fashion, allowing them to be cashed in for business or personal use of the cars. The idea is by that rewarding environmentally-friendly methods of getting to work, we can amplify the green benefits of having these cars.
Google engineers have use of what’s known as “20% time”, where we can devote one-fifth of our working day or week to a Google-related project of our choosing. Since I have a passion for green technology, I started work on building an in-house booking and management system.
Google Green Credits - or “GoCred” - is built entirely using Google products and technologies that are available to developers around the world, such as
Google Chart API.
Today, the two cars are used and 'booked out' for more than 80% of any given week. Over the last year and a half, the cars have travelled a combined total of about 36,000km, and they are completely powered by accredited
. To relate that to real-world carbon savings, a
produces about 190g/km of carbon. We estimate that we’ve saved almost six tons of carbon emissions since their cars' introduction.
As a sign of their use, our electric cars are frequently dirty, covered in tree seeds, or even scratched and dented. The cars are booked out for business meetings, running errands and have even been used as wedding cars by yours truly!
Google engineers pride ourselves on being able to find technological solutions to real world problems. We hope the cars’ popularity and high usage levels, coupled with the carbon saved is a win for everyone.
Posted by Sam Thorogood, Software Engineer, Google Australia
Weekend Reading: New report underlines the game changing impact of the digital economy for Australia
Friday, June 15, 2012
Yesterday a report about the digital economy released by IBM caught my attention. It cites the great potential that
information and communications technology, enhanced with ubiquitous high-speed broadband, hold for Australia’s future prosperity.
Internet and communication technology is fast becoming a utility, and just as electricity once transformed the world’s economy during the industrial age ICT will do the same.
The report predicts that
by 2050, this new “utility” will generate around $1 trillion in revenue for Australia – almost eight times the $131 billion it generates today. The benefits will touch many industries, from public administration to retail, healthcare, education and, surprisingly, mining.
Australia will shake off its dependence on the export of natural resources over the next half century. Instead, we will become known as an exporter of services such as tourism, business services, health and education services. For example, the value of tourism alone could match the current mineral exports totalling around $175 billion by 2030.
According to the report Australia’s future will be fundamentally transformed by this new utility.
It echoes our belief that the web is quickly rewiring Australia’s economy. This may bring some challenges, but it also delivers great opportunities for us all.
You can download the full report
Posted by Iarla Flynn, Head of Public Policy, Google Australia & New Zealand
Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship
Friday, June 15, 2012
Last year, I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the recipients of the
Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship
. The scholarship, open to women at university in Australia and New Zealand, aims to encourage us to excel in computing and technology. With applications
for this year’s recipients, I wanted to share my experience as a past winner and encourage those eligible to apply.
During high school, I always felt like the odd one out. All I wanted to do was make websites and program, but none of my friends shared the same interests. Even classmates who were studying I.T. (and who were predominantly male) were interested only in the very basics of software development. At university, I was surrounded by more like-minded people, but being a female still made me the odd one out.
One of the biggest benefits of the Anita Borg Scholarship was the chance to meet other passionate women studying and working in the field. All finalists were invited on a retreat to Google Sydney’s engineering centre where we received professional development, career advice and mentoring. We heard from a panel of engineers about career options in industry and academia, tech talks on topics such as web accessibility and Programming Language Design, as well as lots of social activities and sightseeing around Sydney.
At the three-day event, I met so many other girls who were also following their dreams. It made me realise there were so many other people who shared the same aspirations, and that’s strengthened my self-esteem and motivation immensely.
The scholarship has given me incredible insight into the issues faced by women in computing, and helped me realise my own place as a role model for other girls. For me, I know that when someone asks me why I’m studying computer science, I can now point to some of the role models I’ve met from the scholarship and use them as women to look up to.
For further information on this scholarship and how to apply, you can visit
. Be quick because applications close 10 July 2012!
Posted by Sasha Bermeister, 2012 Google Anita Borg Scholarship Recipient.
National Cyber Security Week 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
There are so many things to do and explore online, but just like in the offline world, it’s important to keep yourself safe and secure. Whether you’re a new Internet user or an old hand, it’s good to stay updated on best practices when it comes to browsing the web and sharing your data online. And what better time to take stock than
National Cyber Security Awareness Week
Google is a partner in this week and to mark the event, we'd like to share some of our tips for staying more secure on the web.
are the first line of defence against cyber criminals. It’s important to pick strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts and to change them regularly. For example, try making your password as long as possible, and use a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.
are some more ideas to help create strong passwords.
So you’ve set a strong password - the front door is locked. But imagine how much safer you’d feel if the door was guarded too? If you have a Google Account, you can guard it by switching on 2-step verification. This ensures you’ll have not one, but two security measures to help prevent someone from breaking in.
requires you to have access to your phone, as well as your username and password, when you sign in. This means that if someone steals or guesses your password, the potential hijacker still can’t sign into your account because they don’t have your phone.
Also, as part Google’s involvement in Cyber Security Awareness Week, we’ve also worked with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to include Google+ safety tips on their
Easy Guide to Socialising Online
For more information generally, visit our
Good To Know
website - it’s got heaps of tips and tricks for staying safe and secure on the web. You might also like to download the
cybersafety help button
, which is an Australian Government initiative that provides an online resource hub.
Wishing you a safe and secure journey in your online explorations.
Posted by Ishtar Vij, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Australia and New Zealand
Supporting our future creators
Friday, June 8, 2012
[This is one in a series of blogpost about the need for a greater focus on science and maths education in our schools. For more you can read:
"Australia: from the consumers to the creators of technology"
At the end of my first year of study (back in the distant past of 2004) I was invited to help tutor at a camp for high school students.
The National Computer Science School Summer School
is a week-long intensive course that brings
talented young people to develop their computer programming and website development skills.
Many students who have a passion for computer science are often just part of a small group at their high school. At smaller or regional schools, they may be the only one. This NCSS Summer School aims to help by giving students the opportunity to network at a national level as well as super-charge their skills.
For me, camps like NCSS are an unparalleled opportunity for students. They provide a well-tested framework for building interest and finding like-minded people for them to work with. Over the years of being involved in the camp, I’ve seen students grow their high-school curiosity into studies at university, and then into reaching their career or research ambitions.
Google has a long history of supporting the
and initiatives like the summer school. In addition to financial support we provide significant in-kind support through Google engineers participating as tutors, site visits and more.
In August, the NCSS, in conjunction with the University of Sydney, will hold a programming competition. The
is open to school students across Australia and New Zealand (in fact, you can take part from anywhere).
The five-week Challenge involves being sent instructions to code, but it’s unlike any other programming competition because it’s designed teach students how to program along the way, rather than expecting you to be an expert coder already. Seasoned coders will also be catered for with advanced tasks. Google has been a long time supporter of this initiative and
registrations for the NCSS Challenge are now open. You can sign up
Many engineers at Google have a passion for helping people understand computer science. Initiatives like NCSS are an excellent opportunity for us to share this passion - I only wish I was aware of it when I was in high school!
Posted by Nick Cooper, Engineer, Google Australia and volunteer tutor at the National Computer Science School.
Speed keeps me awake at night
Friday, June 8, 2012
The last two days saw the Australian creative, advertising and media industry flock to the
conference in Sydney’s CBD to talk shop, network and to find out about the latest marketing trends.
After our Head of Mobile Ads Jason Pellegrino joined Wednesday’s “So-Lo-Mo” panel via a live
to discuss all things social, local and mobile, I then had the opportunity to take the stage.
With me on the closing panel chaired by Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes was Aegis Asia Pacific executive chairman Harold Mitchell, Telstra’s corporate marketing director Inese Kingsmill and the new CEO of Photon Group Matt Melhuish.
There were many opinions but we did agree that it’s probably the most exciting time ever to be working in the media and advertising industry. Australia punches above its weight in several aspects. For example, Harold Mitchell pointed out while Australia’s 22 million people account for only 1% of the world’s population, we make up 5% of global ad revenue. When it comes to creativity, Australia has one of the highest number of entries for this year's Cannes Lions international advertising festival, with almost 1,300 in total.
One of the questions for the panel was: what keeps us awake at night? I’ve gotta say: the speed of our changing world keeps me awake at night. It’s just mind boggling how quickly things are changing. Just take the mobile revolution: within two years we have become one of four leading smartphone nations in the world. Already
over half of Australia’s population call a smartphone their own
. The way we consume media, communicate with each other and organise our lives is shifting dramatically.
I’m sometimes worried marketers down under are not fast enough to adapt to this speed. All of us tend to get fascinated and distracted by bright shiny objects, but we have to remember to look at the data to see where the journey is going, and how quickly. For most marketing executives this means the need to embrace mobile and video more than they have. With our latest integration of
mobile display inventory
into AdWords it’s never been more easy and effective.
I still hear from CEOs that they are trying to figure out their “digital marketing.” Today every marketing campaign has to have digital at its core to succeed. The latest campaigns by Commonwealth Bank (“CAN”) and Tourism Australia (“There’s nothing like Australia”) are testament to that.
Harold Mitchell called this “owning tomorrow.” So let’s make sure we understand yesterday and analyse today carefully and without dogmas to be prepared for the exciting times tomorrow.
Posted by Nick Leeder, Managing Director, Google Australia & New Zealand
The never-ending quest for the perfect map
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Cross-posted from the
Lat Long Blog
For the last decade
we’ve obsessed over building great maps for our users—maps that are totally comprehensive (we’re shooting for literally the whole world), ever more accurate and incredibly easy to navigate.
It’s a pretty limited search engine that only draws from a subset of sources. In the same way, it’s not much of a map that leaves you stranded the moment you step off the highway or visit a new country. Over the last few years we’ve been building a comprehensive base map of the entire globe—based on public and commercial data, imagery from every level (satellite, aerial and street level) and the collective knowledge of our millions of users.
Today, we’re taking another step forward with our
Trekker. You’ve seen our cars, trikes, snowmobiles and trolleys—but wheels only get you so far. There’s a whole wilderness out there that is only accessible by foot. Trekker solves that problem by enabling us to photograph beautiful places such as the Grand Canyon so anyone can explore them. All the equipment fits in this one backpack, and we’ve already taken it out on the slopes.
Luc Vincent, engineering director, taking the Street View Trekker for a trial run in Tahoe
The next attribute map makers obsess over is accuracy. We still have a way to go because the world is constantly changing—with new houses, cities and parks appearing all the time—it’s a never ending job. But by cross-checking the data we have, we can significantly improve the accuracy of our maps. Turns out our users are as passionate about the quality of Google Maps as we are, and they give us great feedback on where we can do better. We make thousands of edits a day based on user feedback through our
Report a Problem tool
, which we launched in 2008. Today we’re announcing the expansion of Map Maker to South Africa and Egypt, and to 10 more countries in the next few weeks: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.
The final element of the perfect map is usability. It’s hard to remember what digital maps were like before
went live in 2005, and the huge technological breakthroughs that transformed clicking on arrows and waiting, to simply dragging a map with a mouse and watching it render smoothly and quickly. Plus, we added one single search box. Today we have thousands of data sources that feed into our maps making them a rich and interactive experience on any device—from driving directions to transit and
to restaurant reviews.
People have been asking for the ability to use our maps offline on their mobile phones. So today we’re announcing that offline Google Maps for Android are coming in the next few weeks. Users will be able to take maps offline from more than 100 countries. This means that the next time you are on the subway, or don’t have a data connection, you can still use our maps.
The next dimension
An important next step in improving all of these areas—comprehensiveness, accuracy, and usability of our maps—is the ability to model the world in 3D. Since 2006, we’ve had textured 3D buildings in
, and today we are excited to announce that we will begin adding 3D models to entire metropolitan areas to Google Earth on mobile devices. This is possible thanks to a combination of our new imagery rendering techniques and computer vision that let us automatically create 3D cityscapes, complete with buildings, terrain and even landscaping, from
45-degree aerial imagery
. By the end of the year we aim to have 3D coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300 million people.
I have been working on mapping technology most of my life. We’ve made more progress, more quickly as an industry than I ever imagined possible. And we expect innovation to speed-up even more over the next few years. While we may never create the perfect map … we’re going to get much, much closer than we are today.
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering, Google Maps
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