News and notes from Google Down Under
Guest post from ACCAN: Re-inventing reCAPTCHA
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
I have always had a keen interest in promoting greater adoption of accessible digital formats to make sure the web is available to everyone. As someone who is blind and uses a screen-reader to navigate the web, Google’s reCAPTCHA often created a barrier for me when I was trying to access some websites.
Last year, I started a campaign to raise awareness about the challenges of CAPTCHA technology for people with disabilities. Today, I’m pleased to say that the re-invented reCAPTCHA strikes the balance between keeping websites safe from computer bots, spam and malicious activity, while ensuring that the internet remains accessible for people with vision impairment.
In discussions with Google, I learned that they were working on making reCAPTCHA more usable and human friendly. The new technology uses “advanced risk analysis techniques” to differentiate between human users and bots.
This re-invented reCAPTCHA allows people with vision impairment to more easily access secure websites, while it continues to digitise the world’s printed material at the same time. I can now clearly understand the audio test and I have been able to successfully access websites with reCAPTCHA security.
While there may still be people who have both vision and hearing impairments who will continue to struggle to have full unfettered access to the web, Google has done a good job in turning what was a frustrating and often inaccessible website feature into a user-friendly web security tool.
Posted by Wayne Hawkins, Disability Policy Advisor for ACCAN (Australian Communications & Consumer Action Network)
Android: Be together. Not the same.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Good things happen when everybody’s invited. A few years ago, we had the thought that phones (and stuff that hadn’t even been invented yet like smart watches and tablets) would be way more interesting if everyone could build new things together. So we
Android as an open platform, and put it out there for everyone to imagine, invent, make, or buy whatever they wanted.
Since then, all kinds of people—from companies big and small to folks on Kickstarter, kids in schools, and crazy smart developers—have been innovating faster, together, more than we ever could alone. And the best part is that every time someone new joins in, things get more interesting, unexpected, and wonderful for all of us.
Getting everyone in on the party is the same spirit behind
—an effort recently launched in India (coming to other countries soon) to make great smartphones available to the billions of people around the world who aren’t yet online. It’s also why we’re excited about Lollipop, our newest software release, which is designed to meet the diverse needs of the billion-plus people who already use
Joining the party: Android 5.0 Lollipop
at Google I/O, Lollipop is our largest, most ambitious release on Android with over 5,000 new APIs for developers. Lollipop is designed to be flexible, to work on all your devices and to be customised for you the way you see fit. And just like Android has always been, it’s designed to be shared.
Lollipop is made for a world where moving throughout the day means interacting with a bunch of different screens—from phones and tablets to TVs. With more devices connecting together, your expectation is that things just work. With Lollipop, it’s easier than ever to pick up where you left off, so the songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all the other ones.
As you switch from one screen to another, the experience should feel the same. So Lollipop has a consistent design across devices—an approach we call
. Now content responds to your touch, or even your voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluid.
Lollipop also gives you more control over your device. You can now adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through, for example, when you’re out to dinner or in the middle of an important meeting. And when an important notification does come through, you can see it directly from the lockscreen.
And because we’re using our devices a lot more, there’s a new battery saver feature that extends the life of your device by up to 90 minutes—helpful if you’re far from a power outlet. We’ve enabled multiple user accounts and guest user mode for keeping your personal stuff private. And you can now secure your device with a PIN, password, pattern, or even by pairing your phone to a trusted device like your watch or car with Smart Lock. But this is just a small taste of Lollipop. Learn more on
Meet the Nexus family, now running Lollipop
Advances in computing are driven at the intersection of hardware and software. That's why we’ve always introduced
alongside our platform releases. Rather than creating software in the abstract, we work with hardware partners to build Nexus devices to help push the boundaries of what's possible across the mobile ecosystem. And for Lollipop, we have a few
to share with you.
First, with Motorola, we developed the
. This new phone has a contoured aluminum frame, a 6-inch Quad HD display and a 13 megapixel camera. The large screen is complemented by dual front-facing stereo speakers that deliver high-fidelity sound, making it as great for movies and gaming as it is for doing work. It also comes with a Turbo Charger, so you can get up to six hours of use with only 15 minutes of charge.
Next, a new tablet built in partnership with HTC.
, with brushed metal metal sides and 8.9-inch screen, is small enough to easily carry around in one hand, yet big enough to work on. And since more and more people want to have the same simple experience they have on their tablets when they have to do real work, we designed a keyboard folio that magnetically attaches to the Nexus 9, folds into two different angles and rests securely on your lap like a laptop.
The devices will be available for pre-order in November. Check out
for more details on availability. Android 5.0 Lollipop, which comes on Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, will also be available on Nexus 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.
The party’s just getting started
With this latest release of Android Lollipop, we're excited to continue working with our developer community, hardware partners, and all of you. More ideas and more creators is what gets us all to better ideas faster. And since everyone's invited to the party, we hope you'll join in the fun by creating and sharing an Android character that captures a little bit of who you are—one of a kind. Enjoy!
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps
$3.5 million awarded to 10 nonprofits in the Google Impact Challenge
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Today at Google Australia, 10 nonprofits pitched their ideas to a panel of judges in a bid to secure one of four grants of $500,000. It’s time to share the winners.
Congratulations to the following nonprofits who will each receive $500,000 in funding and support from Google:
AIME, for an online game to inspire young Indigenous students to learn maths and science
Engineers Without Borders Australia, for biodigester toilets to provide sanitation and energy in Cambodian communities
Infoxchange, for an app to connect homeless people with social services
Australia, you have also spoken. With more than a quarter of a million votes cast online over the last fortnight, you’ve selected the nonprofit you feel is most worthy to receive a $500,000 grant.
The winner of the public vote is ...
The Fred Hollows Foundation, for a low-cost mobile camera to detect and prevent blindness caused by diabetes
We were so impressed by the quality of all the finalists’ projects that we decided to also award the other six finalists $250,000 each. Congratulations to these finalists who will each receive $250,000 in funding and support from Google to kick start their projects:
Asthma Foundation NSW, for sensors and a mobile app to access and report real-time air quality data
Alternative Technology association, for solar lighting for remote households in East Timor
Penguin Foundation, for magnetic particle technology to remove oil from contaminated wildlife
University of NSW Aspire, for online educational and career development platform for disadvantaged students
University of Technology Sydney, for sensors to detect and report excessive groundwater depletion in arid regions
Zoo and Aquarium Association, Australasia, for an app to crowdsource data from travelers about the illegal wildlife trade
Thank you to everyone who voted and a huge congratulations to our 10 finalists. We look forward to working alongside you to support your projects and help create a better Australia, faster.
Posted by Maile Carnegie, Managing Director, Google Australia and NZ
Australian nonprofits can now get Google Apps for free
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
For most Aussie charities, the web is becoming a vital platform for improving visibility, raising awareness, and connecting with donors and volunteers. The big challenge is how to make the most of this technology when there are so many competing demands for funding and resources.
We’ve been supporting Australian non-profits for many years with millions of dollars in free Google Ad Grants, YouTube tools for nonprofits and mapping resources through Google Earth Outreach. Today, with the launch of
Google for Nonprofits
, we’re pleased to announce that nonprofits will also get free access to our enterprise-grade Apps suite - which includes everything from Gmail to Google Docs.
Here’s what eligible Australian nonprofits can now sign up for:
Up to $10,000 of Google Ad Grants each month, so they can get their site in front of people who are searching for their services.
Free use of Google Apps, so they can run their email and important documents in the cloud and work collaboratively on documents while dramatically reducing IT costs
Google Earth Outreach, a free license for the pro version of Google Earth so they can visualize their data in map version online
YouTube for Nonprofits, so they can make great campaigns that catch the eye of donors and supporters
10 finalists in the Google Impact Challenge | Australia
have shown how technology can make a big impact. We hope that these new tools for nonprofits will help all Australian nonprofits be as connected and collaborative as possible, so they can continue to do their great work to change the world.
Google for Nonprofits
to learn more about the tools and
join the program
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia
A new guide to Careers with Code in Australia
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Are you interested in a promising career that combines your personal passions with computer science?
You can now start planning your journey with Australia’s first, free guide to computer science degrees, distributed to Australian classrooms and available online.
Careers with Code
guide features a broad list of university degrees for prospective students interested in courses that combine computer science and coding skills with other fields of study.
While Australia has seen a 41 per cent drop in the number of IT graduates since 2001, demand from employers for graduates with computer science skills is at an unprecedented high. This disparity presents a huge opportunity for new computer science graduates to carve out long and rewarding careers.
The Careers with Code guide profiles successful entrepreneurs and provides examples of how computer science skills can make a significant impact - ranging from saving the lives of premature babies to creating interactive maps to helping people stay safe during natural disasters.
You can access
Careers with Code
We hope this guide will inspire young Australians to think big and take up the challenge to solve the world’s biggest problems. By combining Computer Science with your passion, anything is possible.
Posted by Sally-Ann Williams, Engineering Community & Outreach Manager
10 ideas for a better world | Vote in Australia's Google Impact Challenge
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Every year, millions of Australians volunteer their time and money to make Australia and the world a better place - but there are many great ideas out there that go undeveloped because of a lack of funding or resources. Which is why in July, we launched the first Google Impact Challenge in Australia, inviting Aussie non-profits to tell us how they would change the world using technology.
Today, we’re sharing the 10 Google Impact Challenge finalists and asking for you to vote at
for which non-profit should receive a $500,000 grant to help bring their project to life.
Drum roll, please!
The ten finalists are:
Australian Indigenous Mentoring Association (AIME)
Online game to inspire young Indigenous students to learn maths and science
Asthma Foundation NSW
Sensors and a mobile app to access and report real-time air quality data
Alternative Technology Association
Solar lighting for remote households in East Timor
Engineers Without Borders Australia
Biodigester toilets to provide sanitation and energy in Cambodian communities
The Fred Hollows Foundation
Low-cost mobile camera to detect and prevent blindness caused by diabetes
App to connect homeless people with social services
Magnetic particle technology to remove oil from contaminated wildlife
University of New South Wales (ASPIRE)
Online educational and career development platform for disadvantaged students
University of Technology Sydney
Sensors to detect and report excessive groundwater depletion in arid regions
Zoo and Aquarium Association, Australasia
App to crowdsource data from travelers about the illegal wildlife trade
These 10 finalists stood out to us with innovative projects that use technology to make a big impact on important causes - ranging from tackling environmental crises to making education more accessible to helping Australians better manage their own health and assisting people in need. You can find out more about each of the finalists’ projects
We’re now asking Australians to vote for the finalists that inspire you the most. On October 14, we’ll announce the winner of the public vote and three additional winners selected by a judging panel made up of Australian sporting legend Glenn McGrath, community and arts leader Kim Williams, Australian businesswoman and philanthropist Anne Geddes, Google Australia Managing Director Maile Carnegie and Google.org Director Jacquelline Fuller. All four winners will each receive a $500,000 grant as well as mentoring and support from Google employees to help make their project a reality.
You’ve got until Monday 13th October 11:59pm AEDT to
cast your vote
and support Australian non-profits using technology to tackle some of the world’s biggest social challenges.
Posted by Maile Carnegie, Managing Director, Google Australia
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