News and notes from Google Down Under
Privacy Awareness Week 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
Today is the start of Privacy Awareness Week,
an annual event across Asia Pacific to remind everyone to take steps to protect their privacy and safeguard personal information online.
we take our users’ privacy and security very seriously. We build transparency, choice and security into our products, starting with the earliest stages of product design. In fact, w
e have a team of more than 300 world-class engineers and product managers who spend all day, every day, thinking about this. You can read more about our approach to privacy
Privacy Awareness Week is a great opportunity for
to learn more about the security features and privacy tools we offer. Here are a few to get you started.
This is a tool that offers signed-in users
a simple view of the data associated with their Google Account. F
rom this one central location, you can easily change your privacy settings for any Google services you use, from Blogger to Gmail, from search to YouTube.
This feature helps protect your Google Account from threats like password compromise and identity theft. To sign into your account, you’ll enter your normal username and password, and then you’ll be asked to enter a 6-digit code, which will be sent to your phone.
Ads Preferences Manager
From this one place, you can view and edit the information Google uses to show ads on Google search and Gmail, and interest-based ads on websites in Google’s ad network. You can add or edit information to affect how ads are selected, or opt-out of seeing customised ads altogether.
These are just a few in a range of
and measures you can take to ensure you have meaningful control of your privacy. For more information about Privacy Awareness Week, visit the
Posted by Ishtar Vij, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Australia and New Zealand
Rent thousands of full-length Aussie and global films on Google Play and YouTube
Friday, April 27, 2012
Australia has a long and rich history of cinema, with one of the world’s first studios, the Limelight Department, opening in Melbourne in 1897. Flash forward a century, and Australia is an indispensible part of the global film industry, represented by world famous directors such as Baz Luhrmann and Peter Weir as well as an almost endless list of actors, such as Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman.
This great tradition makes us excited to announce today that we have launched Movies on Google Play (
a brand new Movies page on YouTube for Australia (
), where you can rent thousands of films from both Hollywood and local Aussie studios. You can see films from The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Village Roadshow Pictures and Lionsgate, as well as from
local distributors such as Roadshow Films, Icon Film Distribution, Madman Entertainment, Hopscotch and Transmission Films.
Sit back and watch recent releases such as Oscar-award winning
Midnight in Paris
The Iron Lady
as well as picks from a big library of all-time classics such as
Toy Story 3
The Bourne Ultimatum
. If you are feeling in the mood for something local, check out break-out hits like 2011 release
or other Australian classics such as
On the web, you can rent and watch movies from Google Play and on YouTube. On Android phones and tablets, you can rent films from the Google Play store app and start watching them instantly on the
Google Play Movies
Movies can also be downloaded to the device so they’re available for viewing during the rental period without an internet connection.
And if you are signed in using your Google Account, you can watch the same movies across both Google Play and YouTube.
Movies are available at competitive pricing, with new releases available at $5.99 for standard definition and $6.99 for high definition and library titles at $3.99 for standard definition and $4.99 for high definition. For most movies, viewers will have 30 days to begin watching their rental, and, once started, 48 hours to finish.
We will be adding many more recent and classic films over the course of the year so keep checking back to Google Play and YouTube to see what’s new.
Posted by Felicity Mcvay, Manager, Content Partnerships.
Built in Sydney: Google Drive
Thursday, April 26, 2012
For the last few years, many of us in Google’s Sydney office have been working on the latest new features for Google Docs. But a lot of them have been “under the hood” type pieces of engineering -- hard to explain to friends and family, or any non-technical crowd. Until today.
launch of Google Drive
is special to our team because many of our contributions are central to this evolution of Google Docs. These contributions include things like rendering files of many types in a browser, using optical character recognition (OCR) and other technologies to enable search across those files, social commenting, and the Drive app for Android.
The Google Docs team in the cloud — above Penrith!
Since late 2010, we’ve enabled users to
upload any kind of file
to Google Docs. Drive builds on that capability but adds technology to view and organise those files on the web. Also new in Drive: we’ve created visual thumbnails for all your files, which can be seen in the brand new “grid view” in Drive. Processing all these files for so many users requires massive computing power. This is a pretty cool challenge for any engineer and one of the reasons we enjoy working at Google.
Google Drive also better incorporates the optical character recognition technology that we developed in Sydney and originally
in 2010. We’ve now extended this technology to search, so that the text in all the files you upload into Drive becomes searchable: not just file names, but all the text, even in images and scanned PDFs. Imagine if you’re a small business with thousands of documents stuffed into cardboard boxes and filing cabinets — now you can scan those documents, upload them to Drive, and search across them in seconds. The capability to search text across PDFs, image files, and other types of files is unique to Google Drive.
On top of that, the Sydney team has started to integrate the technology from Google Image Search and Google Goggles into Drive so you can search across your files for images related to a certain keyword — even if that keyword is not in the image’s title. For example, if you want to find a great photo you took of the Sydney Opera House, but you’ve not changed the file name from AUS5_009.jpg, you can find your photo simply by searching for “Sydney Opera House” or even “Australia”. We’re pretty proud of this feature, as we believe it’s an example of something only Google can do: bringing the power of cloud computing and web search technology together to create a magical and delightful way to find what you’re looking for, even within your personal files.
We’re also proud that the Android app for Google Drive — which lets you access your most important Docs on the go — was also developed in Sydney, as well as the social commenting feature that lets you discuss any Drive file you’ve shared with others.
Give Google Drive a go and let us know on the Google Australia Google+ page what you think — and what you think we should work on next!
Posted by Ken Hoetmer, Product Manager, on behalf of the Sydney Google Docs Engineers.
Introducing Google Drive... yes, really
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
This is a cross-post from the
Official Google Blog
Just like the
Loch Ness Monster
, you may have heard the rumours about Google Drive. It turns out, one of the two actually does exist.
Today, we’re introducing Google Drive—a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond.
With Google Drive, you can:
Create and collaborate.
Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, so you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Once you choose to share content with others, you can add and reply to comments on
(PDF, image, video file, etc.) and receive notifications when other people comment on shared items.
Store everything safely and access it anywhere (especially while on the go).
All your stuff is just...
. You can access your stuff from anywhere—on the web, in your home, at the office, while running errands and from all of your devices. You can install Drive on your Mac or PC and can download the
to your Android phone or tablet. We’re also working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices. And regardless of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.
Search by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Drive can even recognise text in scanned documents using
Optical Character Recognition
(OCR) technology. Let’s say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article. We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up. This
is still in its early stages, and we expect it to get better over time.
You can get started with 5GB of storage for free—that’s enough to store the high-res photos of your trip to the Mt. Everest, scanned copies of your grandparents’ love letters or a career’s worth of business proposals, and still have space for the novel you’re working on. You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB.
Drive is built to work seamlessly with your
overall Google experience
. You can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+, and soon you’ll be able to attach stuff from Drive directly to emails in Gmail. Drive is also an open platform, so we’re working with many third-party developers so you can do things like
create website mockups
directly from Drive. To install these apps, visit the
Chrome Web Store
—and look out for even more useful apps in the future.
This is just the beginning for Google Drive; there’s a lot more to come.
Get started with Drive today at
—and keep looking for Nessie...
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Chrome & Apps
Girl Guides Go Google
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Today’s guest post is by Wendy Lewis, CEO of Girl Guides Victoria. The Girl Guides is a global movement, and in Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that supports girls from five years of age, equipping them with skills, confidence and friendships to help them to succeed throughout their lives.
Girl Guides Victoria celebrated its centenary anniversary last year, a significant milestone appreciated by over so many women who have been Girl Guides since 1911. The growth of the organisation continues and today, Girl Guides Victoria has 1,200 members and volunteers, 400 supporters and 5000 girls involved in programs right across the state.
Our centenary has also prompted us to reflect on how to ensure that the next 100 years are just as successful and part of staying relevant and up-to-date means being equipped with the right technology that can future-proof us as we move forward. We wanted to keep our connection to the grassroots of the organisation while still allowing advanced functionality and productivity in our administration. Going Google was the first step in streamlining our operations and creating a more efficient communication platform across the organisation.
So far, we’ve transitioned 100 Girl Guide leaders to
in locations across our 79 Victorian districts. With an older demographic of volunteers, it was essential that we had a solution that was intuitive to learn and easy to use. After a little bit of instruction we were all using it proficiently and since then discovering a new trick always proves exciting.
We use Google Apps as an email service as well as for sharing and collaborating on
that help run the organisation across the state. It has transformed the way our geographically disparate organisation can share education programs and essential safety information. For example, we use
for instant communication. This means that our volunteers are able to access information or contact details for a girl’s family in the event of an emergency, or keep up to date with planned activities and contingency plans instantly. The fact that they can access this information from any of their personal devices like phones and tablets is vital for their roles which are often in the field, literally!
For Girl Guides Victoria, the girls are our top priority, so having the best technology to support what we do seamlessly has been most beneficial for us. We are now looking to expand on our initial success with Google Apps, finding simple and cost effective ways to extend what we do, for example, by offering online learning and promoting the involvement of parents through online portals.
Going Google has given us the tools to strengthen our commitment to push, challenge and grow the girls in our program.
Posted by Wendy Lewis, CEO of Girl Guides Victoria.
Helping more businesses online with COSBOA
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Last month, we
the first birthday of
Getting Aussie Business Online
--as well as the news that more than 50% of Australia’s small businesses are now online. That’s something to cheer about, but it still leaves nearly half of Australia’s 1 million SMBs sitting on the sidelines of the digital economy.
That’s why we’re pleased that
Council of Small Business of Australia
they’ve joined the party by becoming an official supporter of the movement. Their support will enable the program to reach small businesses in COSBOA’s network of organisations and educate them about the importance of being online.
Small businesses are a vital part of our economy and communities. Together with MYOB, we’re looking forward to working with COSBOA to help businesses across Australia make the most of the web.
Posted by Claire Hatton, Head of Local Business
GoMo Australia: Helping businesses create a mobile friendly website
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
When it comes to mobile, your customers are moving faster than you know: according to our research, 60% of Australians expect the websites they visit on their phones to be as easy to navigate and access as on a desktop PC. That’s why last month, we
, which helps you figure out whether or not your business is prepared for the mobile revolution by showing you what your website looks like on mobile. Now, we’re adding even more resources to help you go mobile (or “Go Mo,” as we like to say).
For starters, we’ve added a list of best practices for mobile sites, as well as research data to help you understand consumer behaviour on mobile devices. You can also download an advertiser guidebook with extensive tools and resources that can help your business to Go Mobile. Finally, we’ve added list of Aussie web developers who can help you take your site mobile.
So if you are ready to Go Mo, head to
and get started!
Mobile Product Marketing Manager.
Google Currents goes international
Friday, April 13, 2012
We strive to give you beautiful and simple ways to experience all the content the web has to offer, such as sharing photos on Google+ and watching YouTube videos. Today we’re expanding our content offering in Australia with the introduction of Google Currents, an app for Android and iOS devices that lets you explore online magazines and other content with the swipe of a finger.
With Google Currents, you can browse and read full length articles from top international publishers in a format optimised for smartphones and tablets, allowing you to navigate intuitively between words, pictures and video on large and small screens alike, even if you’re offline.
, the top features readers requested were to make the app available internationally and to allow content to sync in the background. We’ve heard you, and in addition to making Google Currents available around the world, we’ve added a new dynamic sync feature, improving your reading experience with fresh content wherever you are.
Read in more places
With this update, we’ve made Google Currents available globally, wherever apps are available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. International publishers, using Google Currents Producer, can now begin adding local content, choosing whether to make it available globally and whether to enable auto-translation. For example
Financial Times Deutschland
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
in India have already started publishing editions with local content. You can also add your favorite local blogs which are instantly converted into Currents editions.
In Australia we’ve worked with more than a dozen local publishing partners to offer editions with full-length articles from publications including ABC News, Gizmodo Australia, mUmbrella, and Gizmag. We’re also offering a
to make content available on Google Currents, giving Australian publishers the flexibility to design, brand and customise their web content.
Read in your favorite language
To help you enjoy content in your preferred language, we’ve also integrated
into Google Currents. Just press the globe icon while reading an edition, and you can automatically translate that edition to one of 38 supported languages. So it’s easier than ever to keep up with Italian sports (
Corriere dello Sport
) or German sport (
Read fresh content, automatically
With our new dynamic sync feature, you’ll always have fresh content to read. As you open each edition, new content is dynamically delivered, using a minimum of your phone or tablet's battery and storage. Those of you who travel on planes and trains can choose which editions you would like fully packaged for offline reading, including images.
Learn more about what’s new in Currents
Google Currents is now available for
on Google Play (for devices running Android 2.2 and above) and in the Apple App Store, wherever apps are available. Whether you’re a reader or a publisher, we hope that Google Currents helps you easily experience the best content on the web, now in even more languages.
launched in the U.S
. in December. We’re pleased at how many readers and publishers have begun using it there -- nearly 400
and over 14,000 self-produced editions are now available, and publishers can now choose to make these editions available worldwide.
Posted by Mussie Shore, Product Manager
Everything is possible. Now.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
This blog post was first published on
I spent the last few days at The Circus Festival in Sydney, which, for someone new to the city has been an insight into the energy, creativity and passion for ideas that is bubbling over here. I kind of knew all this anyway... but it was great to have it confirmed emphatically.
It was a panoply, too many bright battlers to pull out individual big thinkers, and interesting to see dominant themes revolve less around advertising and technology than the principles of story-telling, going beyond advertising, some philosophical musings on the nature of our world, and how to let brands simply do good all in a world where communication tools are becoming more rich, more complex, and overwhelmingly digital. Something that resonated strongly with my own beliefs. It was an impressive range of vision. For me three trends stand out:
New toys, old stories
We have tools now that are destroying our understanding of what we do. That’s a challenge. The rise of digital platforms, new ways of connecting and talking to our customers and to each other create far less controllable, multi-authored experiences which have enormous potential to define and augment your brand within a market, but which are also more troubling and harder to control; everything from early experiments like iSnack 2.0, via crowd-sourced movies like YouTube’s Life in a Day or the Tate Movie Project, to user-led campaigns like Old Spice, Pepsi Refresh or Skittles’ Mega Super Updater. The festival had a level of anecdotal encouragement that was reminiscent of schoolboys on a high diving board, exhorting each other to experiment and explore, to push the boundaries and reap the rewards. The speed of technological innovation will almost certainly accelerate, and there was a lot of discussion about how brands become part of the conversation, become a platform, or a utility, rather than simply decoration. The potential of the latest hottest technology is never the story, the really interesting things happen when mass adoption occurs.
We are all geeks
We all want technology to work seamlessly, and perhaps we have reached a point where digital technology and the internet have become so ever-present, so fundamental to our lives that we simply expect a digital experience from our institutions and brands. Furthermore, if my generation doesn’t quite think high-speed internet is a human right, well there is a generation below who think the internet has always existed and they are now in their late teens. Behind that generation are some very young people, mini power-users, who consider magazines to be broken, because the touch-screen doesn’t work.
Unfortunately we will not be able to simply tell them that they are wrong. We need to plan around our audience, not ourselves. This is post digital. How many times a day do you stop, and think, "computers are amazing!" (they are by the way).
Digital is prevalent in every aspect of our lives, for better or worse, from a mother of two using her smartphone to compare prices in a supermarket, to her parents planning retirement holidays on their ipad, to her children using an interactive Shakespeare app for homework. We do not feel awed by this day to day, we use the technology that we are comfortable with, when we are ready. And we appear to be ready.
The new celebrities of the web will be surfacers
One hour of content hits YouTube every second, the world is creating more than it can consume in photos, blogs, updates, videos. And the model for finding this new content and for valuing it, and for extracting value from it is in flux too. It feels that those adding the most value will be the creatives and the producers, the makers, the designers, the editors, the stylists, the critics, and then the surfacers, the curators, the collectors who share that content. Discoverability, filter bubbles, surfacing, curators, trusted guides - these are words we will probably hear a lot more of as the content explosion continues.
The desire to lean back, do nothing, and passively consume is a powerful driving force. At least with me, so I would like someone to create packages of great content online that I can just stop thinking and watch.
There is a market for curated bundles of content that appeal to niche interests, whether it’s aggregated, syndicated or just links - that has value, either for the channel owner or sponsors. A trusted guide to follow for entertainment, or for culture, or for politics - a curator who embodies your values. It’s a wide open market.
So what is the most exciting thing the future holds for creatives? Well despite the speed and the complexity, I think it is the fact that everything is possible, especially as the mainstream truly embrace digital tools. You can still, more than ever, turn the world upside down with a well executed idea. That doesn’t happen to industries very often. While it may feel to some like it has always been this way, and however much we may yearn, nostalgically, for the simpler days of broadcast media, this is a moment, a window, that should be grasped and explored while we can.
Posted by Tom Uglow, Google Creative Lab APAC
Australian Art Goes Global
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Last year, we launched the
Google Art Project,
which brought artworks from some of the world's most famous galleries within reach of Australians who would otherwise have to spend thousands of dollars and dozens of hours on a plane.
6 of Australia’s leading galleries have now joined more than 151 cultural institutions in 40 countries in the Art Project. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can now explore more than 1400 artworks from the
National Gallery of Australia
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Gallery of Victoria
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Griffith University Rock Art Research Centre
You can now view more than 30,000 photos of artworks and exhibits in high resolution, and you can easily search across the entire collection, whether you’re looking for a particular artwork (e.g. “Sunflowers”) or browsing and comparing pieces in groups (e.g. all Rembrandts, or all etchings). You can also consult additional reading material or videos as you’re viewing a piece by clicking the “Details” button next to it.
The Art Project also includes 46 ‘gigapixel’ super high resolution images that reveal brushwork details beyond what is visible to the naked eye. This level of detail often leads to a very different experience with the artwork. One striking example is Arthur Streeton’s “
”, a famous evocation of Australian heat and sunlight. At high-levels of zoom, you can see in much sharper focus the human drama surrounding the death of a railway worker in an explosion.
You can also take a virtual tour through 46 galleries using Google’s Street View technology. Using the same technology that enables you to wander through city streets, you can stroll through the halls of The Met and the Musee D’Orsay. The Google Art Project also includes a “My Galleries” feature where you can collect your own favourites from across the site, leave comments, upload related YouTube videos, and share your collection with your friends, fellow students, or teachers.
You can find a wide range of art types in the Art Project, from paintings and sculptures to architecture and aboriginal art. Whether you’re a student, an aspiring artist or a casual museum-goer, we hope that the Art Project gives you a fun and innovative way to interact with art—and hopefully inspires you to visit the real thing!
Posted by Amanda Scott,
Google Street Roo - exploring the outback one bounce at a time
Sunday, April 1, 2012
After announcing tens of thousands of 360-degree panorama pictures of the
Great Barrier Reef
in Google Maps earlier this year and launching Street View imagery for the
last week, one of the final frontiers we have yet to bring to your favourite co
mputing device has been the Australian outback. One of our top requests from our users is the ability to roam the vast Australian continent. Unfortunately, the remoteness of the outback has posed a challenge for our traditional Street View cars and trikes.
Today, we’re happy to announce that Google has found an innovative way to capture a special collection of images from the back of beyond to include in G
oogle Street View.
Over the next four weeks, more than a thousand Big Red k
angaroos will be equipped with a 360-degree head camera that will automatically capture images when the marsupial is on the move during daylight hours.
What’s up, Skippy?
The cameras on our
collection team will be powered by solar panels stitched into the back pocket of custom-made roo
Images will be wired to Google in real-time. A GPS tracker embedded into the jacket will match the location of the kangaroo to ensure the image is accurately uploaded onto the new Street View layer.
To ensure a seamless experience - and to avoid motion sickness - we have also developed software that will smooth over the bouncing
effect experienced with the raw data. Users will be able to move backwards or forwards in Google Street Roo as they would use Street View, like this:
(original picture by
Leading marsupial specialists undertook extensive research to ensure that the image capture activity would not interfere with the roo’s grazing, sleeping or breeding activities. The cropped jackets that the kangaroos will wear have been designed to keep the pouch area completely accessible for the joey at all times.
The deployment of the ‘roo force’ will begin today and we believe 98% of the Australian outback will be captured on Google Maps within three years.
Posted by Andrew Foster, Product Manager, Google Maps
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