News and notes from Google Down Under
Explore historic sites in Australia and around the world with the World Wonders Project
Thursday, May 31, 2012
I’ve always been fascinated by famous historic and cultural sites from around the world. When I was a child, flipping through encyclopedias while researching for school projects, the thought of exploring these sites was a distant dream. With the new Google
World Wonders Project
, that dream is now a little closer for students and others around the globe.
The World Wonders Project enables you to discover 132 historic sites from 18 countries, including
, the archaeological areas of
and the ancient
. In addition to man-made sites, you can explore natural places: wander the sandy dunes of Australia’s
or gaze up at the rock domes of
Yosemite National Park
Two other Aussies treasures are included on the site: You can drive through the natural beauty of
Kakadu National Park
or walk around Melbourne’s
Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
World Wonders uses Street View technology to take you on a virtual trip to each iconic site. Most could not be filmed by car, so we used camera-carrying trikes to pedal our way close enough. The site also includes 3D models and YouTube videos of the historical places, so you can dig in and get more information and a broader view of each site. We also partnered with several prestigious organisations, including
World Monuments Fund
, who provided official information and photographs for many of the sites.
We hope World Wonders will prove to be a valuable educational resource for students and scholars. A selection of educational packages are available to download for classroom use; you can also share the site content with friends.
World Wonders is part of our commitment to preserving culture online and making it accessible to everyone. Under the auspices of the
Google Cultural Institute
, we’re publishing high resolution images of the
Dead Sea Scrolls
, digitising the archives of famous figures such as
and presenting thousands of artworks through the
Find out more about the project on the World Wonders
, and start exploring at
Posted by Melanie Blaschke, Product Marketing Manager, World Wonders Project
Catch Up On the First Google Start-Up Do
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Our week at Google Australia kicked off with our
call for Sydney to build a Silicon Beach
, and last night we brought over 200 aspiring Aussie entrepreneurs together at the first Google Sudo event near our offices in Pyrmont. We also streamed the event over a Google+ Hangout On Air, taking questions from a virtual audience that even included one entrepreneur from regional Queensland! You can catch up on the video of the event on YouTube
a few weeks ago, Google Sudo is a new initiative that we hope will help create a robust and supportive ecosystem for start-ups and provide access to the insights, advice, and contacts that entrepreneurs need to succeed.
Last night’s event focused on incubation and venture capital, led by e
ntrepreneurs Mike Fox & Mike Knapp from
Shoes of Prey
(and former Googlers); angel investor
from Sydney Angels; and VC
from Southern Cross Venture Partners.
The conversation was as lively as we expected, covering such topics as:
Staying in Australia vs going to Silicon Valley.
Our panelists were in favour of staying put, for reasons ranging from the benefits of having your personal network nearby and easily accessible; to taking the time to prove your product and build the foundations of your business before making the jump; to the sizeable grants that the Australian government provides to young businesses.
The importance of a great idea.
A theme throughout the conversation was the challenge of finding the truly unique idea -- the “
”. Our panelists advised the audience that the hardest part is figuring out a problem that really needs solving, and observed that many successful start-ups are founded by someone who has really deep expertise in a particular area and can see what really should be done better.
Other questions included what trends investors are seeing in what’s being pitched to them, advice for “start-up fanboys” who are thinking about making the leap, what questions you should ask a potential investor, and what red flags investors look for in a fledgling team.
This is just the start of Google Sudo -- and we’d love to hear from you on what you’d like to see in future events and Hangouts. Watch last night’s video and then leave us your feedback
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia and New Zealand
Local —now with a dash of Zagat and a sprinkle of Google+
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Finding the best places to go is an essential part of our lives, as are the people and resources that help us make those decisions. In fact, the opinions of friends, family or other trusted sources are often the first we seek when looking for the perfect restaurant for date night or the cafe that makes the best latte.
Today, we’re rolling out
a simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+. Google+ Local helps people like my husband turn a wish —“Hey, let’s celebrate with a cocktail” — into a night out: “Perfect, there’s a bar with great reviews just two blocks from here. Let’s go!” It’s integrated into Search, Maps and mobile and available as a new tab in Google+—creating one simple experience across Google.
Local information integrated across Google
From the new “Local” tab on the left-hand side of Google+, you can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood. If you click on a restaurant, or a museum (or whatever), you’ll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, summaries, reviews from people you know, and other useful information like address and opening hours.
Google+ Local is also integrated across other products you already use every day. If you’re looking for a place on Search or Maps, you get the same great local information there too. You can also take it on the go with Google Maps for mobile on your Android device, and soon on iOS devices.
Better decisions with Zagat
Zagat launched its first Australian survey
and Zagat reviews will begin appearing in Google+ Local. Each place you see in Google+ Local will now be scored using Zagat’s 30-point scale, which tells you all about the various aspects of a place so you can make the best decisions. For example, a restaurant that has great food but not great decor might be 4 stars, but with Zagat you’d see a 26 in Food and an 8 in Decor, and know that it might not be the best place for date night.
Zagat joined the Google family
last year, our teams have been working together to improve the way you find great local information. Zagat has offered high-quality reviews, based on user-written submissions and surveys, of tens of thousands of places for more than three decades.
Recommendations and reviews from people you know and trust
Your friends know what you like, and they probably like the same things you do. That’s why the opinions of people in your circles are front and centre. If you search for [italian] on Google+ Local, your results might include a friend’s rave review of the Tuscan-style pizza place nearby. Then, when you’re searching on Google or Google Maps for a great place to buy a gift for that same friend, your results might include a review from her about a boutique she shops at all the time.
You can also share your opinions and upload photos. These reviews and photos will help your friends when they’re checking out a place, and are also integrated into the aggregate score that other people see. The more you contribute, the more helpful Google+ Local will be for your friends, family and everyone else.
Whether it’s a suburb you’ve lived in for years or a city you’ve never been to before, we hope Google+ Local helps you discover new gems.
Today is just the first step, and you’ll see more updates in the coming months. If you’re a business owner, you can continue to manage your local listing information via
Google Places for Business
. Soon we’ll make it even easier for business owners to manage their listings on Google and to take full advantage of the social features provided by local Google+ pages. Get more information on our
Google and Your business Blog
Posted by Avni Shah, Director of Product Management
Building Sydney’s Silicon Beach
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Last night I participated in a panel at the City of Sydney’s CityTalk event on how to inspire and nurture innovation in Sydney. It’s an important topic; we have the ability to be one of those cities that everyone around the world dreams of moving to someday, but we have a bit of work to do to get there.
My fellow panelists included Hael Kobayashi, Chair of Digital Sydney, Ann Mossop of the Sydney Opera House, Mark Scott of the ABC, David Vandenberg of the Fishburners co-working communities, and Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP.
The conversation ranged from the importance of proximity and physical spaces in bringing great people and ideas together; to how we can encourage a culture in Australia that’s more comfortable with failure and experimentation; to the role that digital platforms play in not only giving us access to the world but in driving us to interact more in person at our city’s amazing public spaces, cultural institutions, events, and festivals.
We need to get Sydney on the “hot list” of cities that are building the future by making Sydney a world capital of digital innovation. Sydney is full of creativity and technology but we need to connect the two better. We already have the key ingredients: top talent, world-class educational institutions, ambitious people and potent investors. We’re investing in the high speed broadband infrastructure that powers global reach. We’re big enough to accomplish big things on the world stage, but we’re also small enough that even a couple of people with a great idea can have a big impact.
But we need to work on a couple of things to become that world capital and to be able to proudly promote it to the world. One is creating the “Silicon Beach” -- where not only are technology entrepreneurs building new global businesses, but our talented creative community is leveraging new technology platforms to reach the world. The other area is investing in our people -- not just in education and training, but in a new cultural mindset that’s built for the new reality of a globally connected, fast-moving economy.
For more, you can read my op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald
Posted by Nick Leeder, Managing Director, Google Australia & New Zealand
KinCare goes Google: Elderly care with the cloud
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Today’s guest post is by Jason Howie, CEO of Australian aged care services organisation,
. KinCare employs over 2,000 staff across Australia, most of whom care for the elderly and disabled.
At KinCare, we believe that every person has the right to age with dignity, an affirmation which has guided our business caring for the elderly in their own homes, for over 20 years. With this sentiment, we have grown from an organisation with one nurse and 15 clients, to employing over 2000 people in 13 offices right across Australia.
Historically, our IT solution had been a frustrating patchwork of different systems, which were slow and didn’t talk to each other. While they served a purpose once upon a time, we needed a unified system that had easy sharing and that could accommodate our ever-expanding team. In the end, a cloud-based solution was the natural choice.
With so many staff directly in the field that need access to vital client information, using a totally reliable and mobile system was a top priority for us. With Google partner
, the KinCare team made the transition to
in just three weeks. The roll-out was simple and feedback from staff has been that the Google Apps platform is easy and intuitive to use, so we didn’t need to provide intensive training. Having a system that just works is absolutely essential because we don’t have the time for people to travel to fix basic IT problems, like email issues. In fact, moving to Google Apps has allowed us to reassign our IT staff to more strategic (and interesting!) projects.
The Google collaboration apps,
chat, and video has allowed KinCare staff to come to one place for collaboration. With Cloud Assist,
Google App Engine
we were able to develop a portal and mobile application (myKinCare app) that provides the field team with access to relevant information on-time, anytime. Information is centralised and secured. The systems have a single sign-on which is particularly good for those who suffer from password fatigue!
As an added bonus, all information is changed and updated in real time, meaning we share and get client updates instantaneously. When there’s no lag, there is no gap in knowledge. We’re even looking at devising a new intranet portal on
so we can continue to improve on our internal information sharing. When carers know their schedules, are aware of any last minute changes to appointments and have access to the latest health information about their clients, it helps us maintain a high level of informed care and improved patient safety.
Posted by Jason Howie, CEO of Australian aged care services organisation,
Zagat: the “burgundy bible” comes to Australia
Monday, May 21, 2012
The Zagat guide was started more than three decades ago on the simple idea that the combined opinions of restaurant diners are inherently more accurate than reviews from a few critics. Each review contained the most accurate and up-to-date information through curating comments from real customers — making Zagat an early pioneer in what we now call “user generated content.”
Australian foodies may have used Zagat overseas, but they’ve not been able to rate their local spots. That all changes today as we open the voting period for our first-ever Zagat survey of Sydney. Locals are invited to voice their opinions about the
they’ve visited over the past year.
To better ensure the ratings reflect a customer’s full experience, we want diners to separately rate the food, decor, and service on a 0-3 scale and then estimate the cost of a meal. After reading your ratings and comments, Zagat’s editors will curate this feedback and create accurate reviews that represent the combined experiences of local diners. This process ensures that readers are provided with reliable, structured information that doesn’t require going through dozens of comments before making a decision on where to eat.
An example of a Zagat entry
Although Zagat is well-known for restaurant and bar reviews, it’s not just dinner and drinks we want to hear about. With the Sydney survey, we want to hear what you think of all attractions, including Taronga Zoo, Paddington Markets, and Cockatoo Island. In July Zagat will survey Sydney Nightlife and Shopping as well as Melbourne Restaurants and Attractions. A survey of Melbourne Shopping will take place in November.
As we open the survey, we are also setting up special Zagat lounges across Sydney where you’ll be able to write your reviews, find out more about Zagat, and have the chance to win some great prizes.
Here are the locations and schedules:
Westfield Pitt Street Mall
22 May - 26 May
Westfield Bondi Junction
28 May - 2 June
Sydney Film Festival
6 June - 17 June
Good Food and Wine Show
22 June - 25 June
We’ve all got that favourite restaurant we recommend to visitors of our harbour city, and we love to rave to mates about that tucked-away store that stocks our favourite hard-to-find items. Whether we’re foodies, shoppers, travellers, or just enjoy the finer things in life, we hope you find that Zagat makes it easier to share their experiences with your fellow Sydneysiders and the world.
Posted by Anna Kricker, Sydney Community Manager, Google Australia
Good to Know: in Australia and in your language
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Over the past few months, we’ve introduced a consumer education campaign called
Good to Know
in the U.K., Germany and the U.S. Good to Know shares easy, actionable tips for protecting and understanding your online information.
Everyone wants to stay safe online, so we’re making our Good to Know site (google.com.au/goodtoknow) available in dozens more languages -- about 30 today, and an additional 30 in the coming weeks. (To change languages, just scroll to the toolbar at the bottom of the page). In addition to making our
Good to Know
site available in Australia, we’re also incorporating relevant local information into the
Google Family Safety Center
website, which includes tips for keeping your family safe online from Google and others. By
partnering with Australian organisations like Kids Helpline and The Australian Communications and Media Authority,
we hope to help Australians increase their web savvy.
You’ll be able to learn about how to protect yourself online, gain insight into how your data is used on Google and around the web, and get tips on managing your family’s online experience. For example, you can find out how to choose a strong password, recognise a phishing scam and double your account security with 2-step verification.
We all have a friend who uses the same password for every web service, leaves his mobile phone screen unlocked and thinks that a conversation about spam and cookies must be someone planning an unconventional meal. As digital literacy becomes increasingly important, we hope you’ll take the time to learn more about staying safe online and spread the word to your friends who look to you for tech help!
to see a list of available languages and find out more.
Posted by Ishtar Vij,
Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Australia and New Zealand
The smartphone revolution isn’t coming - it’s already here
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
As the number of smartphones in Australia continues to grow, finding data that helps businesses understand mobile is more important than ever. That’s why last year, we
with Ipsos Research to learn more about how Aussies use their smartphones and what that means for the businesses that serve them. Today we’re making a new and up-to-date version of that research available at
In addition to some fun facts (1 in 4 Australian smartphone owners would sooner give up TV than their mobile device), our research revealed four trends every advertiser, marketer, and business in Australia should pay attention to:
Your customers have gone mobile...so should you:
It’s safe to say that Australia’s mobile revolution isn’t coming - it’s already here. More than half of the Australian population now owns a smartphone, which means that more than half your customers do too. Businesses need a strategy that addresses mobile consumers.
Smarter phones make smarter shoppers, so be ready:
The overwhelming majority of Aussies we surveyed (94%) have researched a product or service on their smartphone device, which means a mobile-friendly website is now essential to your bottom line: 61% said they wouldn’t return to a website that wouldn’t load on their phone.
If you’re local, they’re looking for you:
86% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 88% take direct action as a result, such as visiting or contacting the business. That’s almost double what our research found last year, making it doubly important for small businesses to be ready with a mobile website that clearly displays information like location and trading hours.
Multi-tasking with media:
Australian smartphone owners are multi-screen masters, creating extra opportunities for advertisers to reach them as they multi-task. For example, 80% use their phone while doing other things like watching TV (48%), and 57% have searched from mobile after seeing an ad on TV. Businesses should complement their online and offline ad campaigns with mobile ads to reach their audience on all screens.
As before, we’re making this research available in full. So if you’re an advertiser, developer, or business that wants to know more about the Australian mobile consumer, head over to
and have a look.
Posted by Jason Pellegrino, Head of Mobile Ads, Google Australia
A picture is worth a thousands words
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
What do hammocks, teapots, baby swings and vegan sandals have in common? They are all items you can buy online directly from Australian retailers today. We’re buying more products online than ever - new research from Nielsen shows that more than 8 in 10 Australians have purchased online in the last 6 months, with 29% of us spending more than $1,000.
At Google, we’ve noticed that online shopaholics want one thing above all - and that’s pictures. We launched
last year to help you shop faster by comparing product images, and today we’ve started showing images in ads called Product Listing Ads.
For example, if you’re a new parent who is hoping a baby swing might finally get you some peace and quiet, our new Product Listing Ads make it easier to find, compare and choose the perfect sanity-saver, even at 2am at night:
You can expect to start seeing more of these images show up on the right of the search results page in the coming weeks - just in time for Mother’s Day. Happy shopping!
Posted by Kate Conroy, AdWords Product Specialist, Google Australia
Google Apps Vault Brings Information Governance to Google Apps in Australia
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Today we’re announcing the availability of Google Apps Vault (Vault) for Google Apps for Business customers. Vault is an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution for managing information critical to your business and preserving important data. It can reduce the costs of litigation, regulatory investigation and compliance actions.
Businesses of all sizes need to be prepared for the unexpected. In today’s environment, using Vault to manage, archive and preserve your data can help protect your business. Litigation costs can really take a toll on a business when minor lawsuits can run up to many thousands of dollars, and larger lawsuits can cost even more. Significant litigation costs come from having to search and find relevant data, which is also known as electronic discovery (eDiscovery).
E-discovery can be part of virtually any litigation and requires you to search, find and preserve your electronic information such as email. Vault helps protect your business with easy-to-use search so you can quickly find and preserve data to respond to unexpected customer claims, lawsuits or investigations. With an instant-on functionality and availability of your data a few clicks away, Vault provides access to all of your Gmail and on-the-record chats and can provide significant savings to your business over the traditional costs of litigation and eDiscovery.
Additionally, Vault gives Google Apps customers the extended management and information governance capabilities to proactively archive, retain and preserve Gmail and on-the-record chats. With the ability to search and manage data based on terms, dates, senders, recipients and labels, Vault helps you find the information you need, when you need it. Vault gives management, IT, legal and compliance users a systemised, repeatable and defensible platform that will reduce the costs and risks of doing business. With just a few clicks, the business can access a service designed for security and providing auditable access to critical information.
Vault is built on the same modern, 100% web-based architecture as Google Apps. Unlike traditional solutions, it does not require a complex and costly IT environment, and can be deployed in a matter of minutes. Vault brings the security, ease-of-use and reliability of Google Apps to information governance. It can help meet the sophisticated requirements of large organisations and makes these advanced capabilities available to business of all sizes.
Google Apps Vault
can be added to your Google Apps account for an additional $5 per user per month starting today, so
contact our sales
team or a Google Apps reseller if you are interested in signing up for Google Apps and Vault.
We hope that Vault, together with Google Apps, will make a difference to your business and provide the right solution to reducing risk and cost so you can focus on growing your business.
Posted by Jack Halprin, Head of eDiscovery, Google
Google+ Hangouts On Air: broadcast your conversation to the world
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Last year we introduced
Hangouts On Air
to a limited number of broadcasters, enabling them to go live with friends and fans, for all the world to see. Since then, this small community has grown the feature in lots of creative ways. And they’ve made one thing crystal clear: when groups of passionate individuals can broadcast live, together, the results are truly remarkable:
Today we're excited to launch Hangouts On Air to Google+ users in Australia and around the
. So if you have something to say
as an aspiring artist, a global celebrity, or a concerned citizen
you can now go live in front of a global audience. With just a few clicks, you’ll be able to:
. By checking "Enable Hangouts On Air," you can broadcast your live hangout
from the Google+ stream, your YouTube channel or your website
to the entire world.
See how many viewers you’ve got
. During your broadcast, you can look inside the hangout to see how many people are watching live.
Record and re-share
. Once you're off the air, we’ll upload a public recording to your YouTube channel, and to your original Google+ post. This way it's easy to share and discuss your broadcast after it's over.
In Australia, we’ve already seeing some great uses of Hangouts. Radio station
recently launched the
Digital Red Room
, which connects the hottest stars like Canadian songbird Carly Rae Jepsen with fans across the country via Hangouts. And viewers of hit TV show
can also connect face-to-face with their favourite lifeguard after each show.
Of course, launching millions of live stations takes some doing, so we're rolling out Hangouts On Air gradually, over the next few weeks. In the meantime you can save the date for an upcoming hangout...
: May 8th at 10:30pm ET
on Food Revolution Day: May 19th, 8:00pm ET
Global Poverty Project
: May 10th, 7:00pm ET
A special series from
The New York Times
’ Opinion department
… sign in to Google+ to see what’s
live right now
, or find inspiration in the many broadcasts that have already aired.
peek at the ocean floor via Underwater Hangouts with the Aussie based
+Catlin Seaview Survey
. They hope to
show the world
the Great Barrier Reef in order to draw awareness to the issues arising from warmer sea temperatures.
Town halls with today’s leaders
, UN Secretary-General
, and many others have connected with citizens via hangout.
Live concerts from your living room.
Musical artists like +
perform live for those inside the hangout, and for everyone else tuning in.
Classes anyone can attend
share their cooking, climate change and fashion expertise, respectively, via hangout.
Roundtables about any topic
and celebrity trend spotter
talk about the issues they find interesting.
Face-to-face meetups with all of your favorites.
+Geek & Sundry
have all enjoyed meet-and-greets with their fans.
We can’t wait to see what you’ll share with the world.
, Engineering Director
Introducing Google Start-Up “Do”
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
At last year’s
Google Developer Day
in Sydney, a session we held on
entrepreneurship was jam-packed with more than 100 people hoping to one day create the next “big thing”.
What struck me about these budding entrepreneurs was that although they were overflowing with ideas and technical know-how, they were hungry for advice on things like how to attract funding, find business partners and market their idea or product. And thousands of kilometers from Silicon Valley, connecting with the right people with the knowledge and capital can be difficult.
So to help fill this gap for start-up wisdom, today we’re announcing Google
, a new initiative for entrepreneurs and others interested in the Aussie startup community. Google Sudo is about helping aspiring Aussie entrepreneurs become
entrepreneurs. It’s a start up “do" - a shindig - that will blend interesting talks, panels and ample networking time.
(Software engineers and systems administrators around the world know and love the “sudo” Unix command which grants them superuser privileges. So think of a Google Sudo as something that grants entrepreneurs to some of the secrets of access).
Over the next few months, we’ll be hosting free tutorials, events and Hangouts on Google+ that bring together successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs and others who will share their stories and be generous with insights and advice to the Aussie startup community.
The first event on Wednesday, May 30, will be an interactive session that will cover incubation and venture capital and more.
Entrepreneurs Mike Fox & Mike Knapp from
Shoes of Prey
(and former Googlers),
, from Sydney Angels, and
, from Southern Cross Venture Partners
Due to limited space we won’t be able to accommodate everyone, but please register your interest
. We will email you an invitation if your registration is successful.
There’s no shortage of budding Aussie entrepreneurs wanting to give startup life a go. Everyone benefits from a robust entrepreneurial eco-system and we think companies like Google can play a role in fostering the enormous talent we have downunder.
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia and New Zealand
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