News and notes from Google Down Under
A new way for the whole family to play
Friday, May 29, 2015
[Cross-posted from the
Android Official Blog
Whether you’re trying to entertain a toddler on a crowded plane, encourage your child’s newfound love of reading or simply find a movie for the whole family to enjoy, finding the right content should be just a tap or two away. Parents want the best for their kids, but when it comes to digital entertainment, it can be difficult to know what to look for.
Starting today, we’re making it easier to find great family-friendly content on Google Play. Parents can now find family destinations across the Play store, with new features for browsing by age and interests. We’re also providing more useful information about apps and content on Google Play and improved tools so you can decide what’s right for your family.
Follow the family star
Movies & TV
homepages, you can now tap the Family button to browse our new family-friendly experiences. On the
homepage, tap the Children’s Books button. Since toddlers and tweens have different interests and abilities, these pages let you browse by age range to find content that’s the best fit for your family. Whether your child is still
learning shapes and colors
, or is getting into
more scrapes than Judy Moody
, you’ll find inspiring ideas for every age. What’s more -- top charts, recommendations, and even searches from family homepages are filtered to our family-friendly catalog.
Play with your favorite characters
For many of us, childhood memories include at least one favorite character: a plucky personality from a book, the superhero from a movie or a beloved stuffed animal. Characters are just as relevant today, and Lego, Barbie and other kids and family brands are some of the most popular searches on Google Play. To help you browse Google Play content around a favorite character, we’ve created special pages featuring dozens of top characters from across the globe, like PBS KIDS, Pororo and Peppa Pig. From the Play store app, take a tour through all of our popular characters to find apps, movies, books and more from your family’s favorites.
When it comes to finding content on Google Play, our goal is to empower parents by giving them practical information and better tools for making decisions. Our new family star badges convey the specific age range that an app, movie or book was designed for. On our app detail pages, you’ll now find a new label telling you when family apps are ad-supported and new locally relevant content maturity ratings. Finally, Google Play has updated parental controls, so you can restrict downloads, purchases or streaming of mature content.
We’re rolling out the new family discovery experience over the next couple weeks, and many of the best-known brands in family entertainment are celebrating along with us. Check out our
of new and exclusive content, including Legacy Games’
Thomas’s Musical Day for Percy
, The Jim Henson Company’s
Doozers-Play Along Stories
, and more -- just a tap or two away.
Posted by Eunice Kim, on behalf of the Google Play team
You say you want a mobile revolution...
Friday, May 29, 2015
This morning, more than 6,000 developers descended on San Francisco’s Moscone Center to burn through 1,500 gallons of coffee and join millions of others via live stream for our 8th annual Google I/O—a time to fill people in on what we’ve been building recently, and how we’re tackling the future.
Android growth and momentum
In just a short number of years, mobile technology has completely changed the way we find information and entertainment, communicate with friends and family, and get things done. Having a supercomputer in our pocket is now second nature; today more searches on Google come from mobile than from desktop computers, and by
there are more mobile devices than there are people on the planet. For evidence of the mobile revolution, look no further than the growth of Android. There are now more than one billion Android users worldwide—a long way from when we launched the first Android phone back in 2008. And there are 4,000 unique Android devices on the market, from more than 400 manufacturers and over 500 carriers.
The devices themselves have changed a lot, too. In today’s multi-screen world, you can now use Android on your phone, your tablet, your wrist, in your car and in your living room, and move seamlessly between each. Many of these new form factors have arrived just in the last year. You can now choose from seven different Android Wear watches, not to mention bands, styles, and more than 1,500 watch faces built by developers.
By the end of this year, 35 car models will offer Android Auto, helping you access Search, Maps, music and other information through your car’s controls. And the first sets running Android TV have now arrived.
With all of these new places and devices for people to use Android, developers have even more opportunities to build the apps that people use for education and engagement and entertainment. So today we talked about the new tools and features we’re giving them to build more powerful experiences on the Android platform.
M is for more performance and an improved user experience
Android M is the most powerful Android release yet, with
of improvements made to the platform. Among the highlights, we’ve improved battery life and streamlined permissions for apps to make it easier for you to decide what information the apps on your phone can use. We previewed
, which lets you pay for things with your phone, without even opening an app. And we’re making it much easier to find information in apps, as well as making some important updates to Google Now (more on that below!).
Organizing the world’s information, better
Your mobile phone packs a lot of information, but it’s not always easy to find that nugget of information when you need it—as you know if you’ve ever tried to navigate your email, organize hundreds of photos across devices, or search for restaurant reviews when you’re chatting about dinner plans with friends. Luckily, finding and organizing information is something Google is good at (some might even call it our
So as part of M release, we’re
expanding Google Now
to give people on-demand assistance in the moment they need it—like seeing if there’s an open table at a new restaurant or when and where “Pitch Perfect 2” is playing—no matter where you are on your phone. We’re also making it much easier to
find new apps and in-app content
—which is good news for both users and developers.
We’ve also put our years of research into machine learning to work in other ways, making Search more useful and your
inbox more insightful
. And now it’s also helping you make sense of all your photos. Today we launched a
new Photos app
that gives you a single place for all your photos and videos, and helps you sort through them more quickly, bring them to life in cool new ways, and share them however you choose.
A new platform for the Internet of Things
We’re surrounded by devices, but they often exist independently of each other. Our day-to-day lives will be much simpler when these technologies can talk to each other—if our recipe app, for example, could communicate with our smart oven to turn the temperature to exactly the right setting. Or outside the home—from transportation systems that notify commuters of schedule changes, to farms where harvesters and irrigation systems are controlled from phones.
But many roadblocks remain—the user experience is inconsistent and confusing, manufacturers often redo their work for every device, devices don’t interoperate, and developers often have no way to create great experiences across devices.
, a new platform derived from Android that lets developers and manufacturers build connected devices. As part of Brillo, we’re introducing a communications protocol (Weave) developed in partnership with Nest, a set of developer APIs, a core set of schemas and a certification program to ensure device and app interoperability.
Although it will launch later this year, we previewed Brillo today because we’re committed to fostering a vibrant ecosystem in which we all work together to move the industry forward.
New mobile experiences
Mobile has evolved so much in the past few years, with connected screens for different experiences depending on your needs. But we are just at the start of what will prove to be a much more immersive mobile experience. At last year’s I/O we introduced
, which lets you turn your phone into a virtual reality experience. Now there are more than 500
for film, games, tours and learning, and more than 1 million Cardboard viewers have been shipped. Today we announced iOS support for developers and debuted
, which lets students take virtual trips with Cardboard to places like the moon and underwater. We also shared a preview of
, which lets you capture the world in video that you can step inside of.
The next billion users
The first billion users of the Internet came online through desktops. The next billion are taking a different path to computing—coming online through mobile and smartphones—and present a unique set of opportunities and challenges. We’re working hard on ensure these people have a great experience across our products.
In addition to making devices more affordable with
(now in seven countries), we’re making changes to ensure that our software works even where there aren’t great Internet connections. We’ve launched a
streamlined version of our Search results page
in 13 countries, and 73 million people now use
data saver mode
in Chrome to browse the web more efficiently. Finally, we previewed the new offline maps—that’s right, and it’s as simple as it sounds—maps that you can take offline, even with turn-by-turn directions.
Solving complex problems for a mobile world
From our earliest days in Search, our aim has always been to build products for everyone, applying unique technical insight to tackle big problems. That’s just as relevant in today’s mobile-centric world—from finding the information scattered across apps, to helping someone organize and share the photos of their kids; from taking people on a virtual trip to the Pyramids to helping the next billion people come online.
And by providing a platform on top of which any developer can innovate, we can reach people around the world and put the power of the Internet in their hands—no matter what device they use, where they live or who they are.
So here’s to the mobile revolution. We can’t wait to see what comes next.
Posted by Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President, Products
Pursuing transformative technology with the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Cross-posted from the
Official Google Blog
When Laura Palmaro was 10 years old, she woke one morning to find that the central vision in her left eye had all but disappeared. She was not ill and had no genetic issues—it was completely out of the blue. When she was 14, the same rare condition struck her right eye, and she began her freshman year of high school legally blind. Suddenly she was forced to depend on other people to read everything aloud, from school assignments to menus. The toughest part, according to Laura, was losing her sense of independence—and not knowing when or how she would get it back.
Laura has since adopted technological solutions to her vision challenges, using a combination of screen-readers and magnification software to read, work and more. Now a program manager at Google, she is following her passion, helping Chrome and Chrome OS teams make their products more accessible. “Technology has truly transformed my life,” she says. “Assistive technology can tear down boundaries, and empower people to find their independence and fulfill their dreams.”
We agree with Laura about the power of technology to change lives. And in order to support more people like her—people who see obstacles as opportunities—we’re launching the
Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities
. We’re putting $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities, and today we’re issuing an open call to identify new areas of opportunity at
We’re kicking things off with support for two remarkable organizations. Each of these organizations is using technology to dramatically reduce the cost of and access to prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, respectively—which could be transformative for hundreds of millions of people.
connects people who want prosthetics with volunteers who use 3D printers to design, print, assemble, and fit them, for free. This dramatically cuts costs, increases speed of distribution, and meets unmet needs. We’ll support the Enable Community Foundation's efforts with a $600,000 grant to advance the design, distribution and delivery of open-source 3D-printed upper-limb prosthetics.
Diagnosing auditory challenges can be a struggle in low income communities—the equipment is expensive, bulky and unrealistic, particularly in the developing world. With our support, and a $500,000 grant,
World Wide Hearing
will develop, prototype and test an extremely low cost tool kit for hearing loss using smartphone technology that’s widely available—and affordable—in the developing world.
The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious “what ifs” for the disabled community. We will choose the best of these ideas and help them to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying our people and by mobilizing our resources in support of their missions.
But of course, we realize there’s always room to improve our products as well. We have a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and we provide engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well. For example, Liftware is a stabilizing utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, and self-driving cars could one day transform mobility for everyone.
Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change. Thanks to groups like Enable and World Wide Hearing, and with tools like Liftware, we’re starting to see the potential for technologies that can profoundly and affordably impact millions. But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort—which is why we’re launching Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities today. Together, we can create a better world, faster.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google.org
Helping you get smarter with your data
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
It’s National Consumer Fraud Week and this year’s theme is
Get Smarter with your Data
. But as many of us are realising as we hear more about identify theft and its impact, security-awareness should be a year-round activity.
Google protects your data by providing encryption
when you’re signed into Gmail, Search, Drive and many other Google services. This stops others from snooping on your activity while you’re on an open network, like when you use your laptop at a cafe or access the web through a public WiFi connection.
However, this is useful only if the bad guys don’t have access into your accounts. That’s why we encourage you to secure your account with a
2-step verification process
. This means that even if your password gets stolen, a thief cannot gain access to your account. The extra layer of protection is free to anyone with a Google Account.
We also make the web safer from phishing and malware every day with our
warnings in Chrome. Each day we find more than 7,500 unsafe sites, so when you use Google Search, or surf across to an unsafe page using your Chrome browser, we’ll display a warning and encourage you to go elsewhere. We also provide this intel to the
coalition, so other service providers can make the web safer, too.
There are also some things you can do to help us keep your data safe and secure. For example, we recommend you take a quick
this week to review your current Google account settings. Some of the important items included in the checkup include;
: Adding a phone number can help us get in touch if you’re locked out of your account. We’ll only use your phone number to
protect your account
, unless you say otherwise.
: This is a quick overview of your recent sign-ins to Google. If you see any activity from a location or device you don’t recognise, change your password immediately.
: These are the apps, websites and devices connected to your Google account. Take a look and make sure you trust—and actually use—all of them. You might want to remove an old phone, or that dusty app you never use.
Getting smarter with your data can be as simple as using the tools already available to you - not just during National Consumer Fraud Week, but all year round.
Posted by Samantha Yorke, Public Policy and Government Affairs Counsel for Google Australia
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