News and notes from Google Down Under
Teaming up with Infoxchange to help all Australians make the most of the web
Friday, February 26, 2016
Most of us take the benefits of the web entirely for granted - treating it like the water that comes out of the tap, and feeling as comfortable using it as we do driving or cooking.
But for many Australians, issues of access, affordability, and skills are preventing them having the same experience of the web many of us do. This means they’re also missing out on the web benefits we enjoy like saving time, saving money, making better decisions, and accessing critical services.
Organisations working to address this gap describe this issue as one of ‘digital inclusion’, and it has become such an important issue in Australia that 2016 has been dubbed the
National Year of Digital Inclusion
in an effort to put the topic on the national agenda.
Many wonderful organisations around Australia are working to tackle digital inclusion issues, and one of the most impressive is Melbourne-based
, who are dedicated to ‘technology for social justice’. With Australia Post they’ve been running a program called
that aims to dramatically increase the digital skills of vulnerable groups right across Australia.
But when we started speaking with Infoxchange last year, they said there was a particular issue facing Australians living in social and public housing, and they asked if we’d be interested in helping develop a skills program especially for these people.
Today we’re announcing Digi House, a program to help people in social and public housing to ‘get comfy’ with technology.
Infoxchange will develop a range of practical, helpful, digital skills programs to bring technology into people’s lives in relevant and confidence-building ways, and the program will be delivered by community partners working in these communities. Google.org funded the program with $500,000, and we hope that by the end of the year it will have reached 20,000 Australians.
This is just the first step in helping all Aussies make the most of the web. It’s estimated that four million of us are yet to get connected, so we have a long way to go - but in working with great partners like Infoxchange we can make a difference, digi house by digi house.
Posted by Renee Gamble, Country Manager, Google for Work
Share your place of pride this Fair Day
Friday, February 19, 2016
Growing up as a rural Canadian farm boy, I hid my homosexuality for years, fearing that I was the ‘only gay in the village’ and that there was no support from my community. Although I was aware of a massive LGBTQI community in distant Toronto, I thought it was only confined to a tiny spot in the city centre that I rarely got a chance to visit.
When I finally came out in my thirties — in Sydney, no less — I realised these ‘gaybourhoods’ are quite spread out, and that members of the
community dot every street and suburb of the city, and beyond.
In those struggling years, I would have loved to have seen a map that showed this reach of community. A map of “pride” would have given me more confidence, reassuring me that there were heaps of people truly like me, or truly in support of me – not just a distant global chorus from around the world, but potentially in my own rural community.
Everyday people around the world fall in love, share a kiss, or come out of the closet, and the places where these significant moments occur become cherished for the memories that they hold.
That’s why at
Fair Day this Mardi Gras
we’re launching Places of Pride.
Places of Pride
is a custom map that gives the LGBTQI community and supporters, a place to celebrate and remember their pride stories, memories, and moments, by marking their significant locations on the map with a Pride Pin.
A Place of Pride can be anywhere you’ve experienced or felt pride. Whether it’s where you came out to your friends or colleagues, met your partner, or supported provide and diversity in your community, we invite you to mark the places that represent your cherished memories of love, pride, or triumph on the
Places of Pride
Last year at Fair Day, you
helped us create a collaborative love song
to show that love is stronger than hate. This year, we invite you to help us reflect the reach and diversity of love by adding your place of Pride to the map.
If you’re in Sydney, we’d love to see you this Sunday at our
Fair Day booth at Victoria Park
. We’ll have many Googlers with many tablets on hand to help you add your Place of Pride to the map. We look forward to seeing you and marking the map with Pride. Happy Mardi Gras!
Posted by Patrick Hofmann, Google Maps Sydney team
New Chromecast and Chromecast Audio now available in Australia
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Chromecast first launched in Australia in 2014
, Aussies have enjoyed the ease of casting movies, shows and music from their phones straight to their TVs. Today, the new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio are launching downunder.
has a fresh design and is easier to plug into TVs with crowded HDMI ports. It supports the latest Wi-Fi standards and adapts more easily to changing Wi-Fi conditions in your home, so you get higher quality video with less buffering. We added two new colors so you can cast in style while watching content from your favourite entertainment apps including Netflix, Stan, Presto and YouTube.
The new Chromecast will be available from retailers including
The Good Guys
and also on
the Google Store
is a small device that plugs into your existing speakers so you can stream your favourite music, radio and podcasts over Wi-Fi. It works with tons of apps, including Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music. Just like Chromecast, it works from anywhere in your home with your favourite devices, including Android, iOS, and laptops.
Chromecast Audio will be available from
the Google Store
We’ve also updated the
to make it easier for you to find great things to watch or listen to—available through the Cast-enabled apps already installed on your phone. We’ll also suggest more Cast-enabled apps and games that you might like to try out. With thousand of Cast-enabled apps to choose from, we’re sure that you’ll find a new favourite TV series to binge on in no time.
Posted by Mickey Kim, Head of Asia Pacific Partnerships, Chromecast and TV
A safer web, for everyone
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Safer Internet Day
, and to mark the occasion we’re rolling out some new tools, research and useful reminders to help you keep safer online.
1. Keep security settings simple
gives you a quick way to control the security settings for your Google Account. You can add a recovery phone number so we can get in touch if you’re ever locked out of your account, strengthen your password settings, and see which devices are connected to your account.
If you complete the Security Checkup by February 11 you’ll get 2GB of extra Google Drive storage, which can be used across Google Drive, Gmail, and Photos.
Safer Internet Day is a great time to do it, but you can—and should!—take a Security Checkup on a regular basis - start your checkup by visiting
2. Parents, take a moment to chat with your kids
Today the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre is releasing findings from their
Cultivating Digital Capacities
, which shows that parents recognise going online is increasingly important to many aspects of their kids’ life including information seeking, education, play and creative expression. However, parents also acknowledge the risks that come with their child’s online engagements, recognise that navigating risk is an ordinary part of life in the digital age, and that they need to stay attentive to these risks to ensure their child’s digital safety.
It’s important that parents chat regularly with their kids about how to safely use the internet. You don’t need to be an expert to have these conversations and Safer Internet Day is a great excuse to start this ongoing dialogue. You can read more about the research here.
There are also a number of Google tools like SafeSearch, Safety Mode in YouTube, two-factor authentication and the YouTube Kids app that you can set up for your kids to help them stay safer online. In particular, the
app offers family-focused content with a number of parental controls — including a timer, the ability to turn off search, and more — to provide a safer version of YouTube for younger children. To find out more about these tools visit Google’s
Family Safety Centre
We’re also supporting the launch of a
highlighting content from the acclaimed
national seminar series. Topics include understanding anxiety in young people, the best child safety curriculum, and cultivating strong self esteem in children.
3. Year six teachers, enroll your class in a free digital licence
Last year, we
announced a grant of $1.2 million for child safety group The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
to offer a free e-Smart Digital License to every year six student in Australia. More than 100,000 kids from across Australia have already taken the test, and year six teachers can still register their class for free until April 10.
The Digital Licence teaches students about how to use digital devices safely, social networking and gaming, protecting privacy, communicating safely online, searching and researching, friends and strangers, creating and sharing, and managing money and online credits.
Teachers, enroll your class
Posted by Samantha Yorke, Public Policy and Government Relations Counsel, Google Australia
Editions at Play: An experiment in unprintable books
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Editions At Play
is an experiment by
and Google’s Creative Lab to explore the potential of digital books: that is, books that change dynamically on your phone or tablet, using all the attributes of the modern mobile web to do things that printed books never could. Simply put, we wanted to see if we could keep the integrity of reading, but play with the book’s digital form.
And yes, the idea of unprintable books is a bit hard to wrap one’s head around, so we found the idea is best explained in
Along with playing with the form of books, we wanted to find a way to commission and champion this new kind of book - to have well-known authors work with developers and designers to create immersive digital reading experiences. So the
Editions At Play
book store opens today with two new books: Entrances & Exits by Reif Larsen and The Truth About Cats & Dogs by Joe Dunthorne and Sam Riviere. The books are available to preview and buy using Google Play on the
Editions At Play
Future titles include work from Alan Trotter, and a collaboration between Tommy Lee Edwards and I Speak Machine. These will be available in April, with more books planned for later in the year.
Posted by T.L. Uglow, Google Creative Lab, Sydney
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