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Work productivity and security score a 10 with Android 10

Android 10 is officially available, and it delivers a wealth of helpful features to employees and more security and control for IT. This release not only marks the 10th version of Android, but also highlights our strong, sustained investment in enterprise features going back to Android 5.0 with the introduction of the work profile and many other management tools.While we’ve accomplished a lot since then to make Android even more secure and powerful for businesses, we know our work is never done. In Android 10, we’ve focused on being even more helpful and useful for employees, enabling them to work smarter on their terms. And we’ve worked on giving IT more trust and assurance for whatever use case suits their business needs.More privacy for employeesWe’re providing employees more flexibility and privacy when using a corporate-owned device. Organizations can now provision company-owned devices into work profile mode using zero-touch enrollment or other enrollment methods, so employees can enjoy even more privacy when using their work device for personal reasons and IT admins have one consistent way of managing across company-owned and BYOD devices.Corporate-owned devices can now be provisioned with a work profile through zero-touch enrollment or QR code.Android 10 also offers a new privacy section in settings, so employees can see all their web, app, and ad setting controls in one place. There are also more fine-grained controls for location data so employees can give an app access to location only when the app is in use. Making work easier for employees...The newest version of Android provides even more tools to make everyday tasks easier, like the expansion of smart replies in all app notifications so any business application can offer default suggestions for replies and actions. With Live Caption, a new system-level tool that captions any video on your device, employees can follow along with video conference calls and live business presentations without missing a word.  Smart Reply can suggest actions based on notification content.Employees on a work profile device can also choose their favorite input method for their personal profile while IT can still mandate a specific keyboard for the work profile. Compatible calendar apps can also show work events alongside personal events so employees can see everything in one view. With Focus mode, currently in beta, employees have a great tool to tune out distractions and concentrate on getting work done. This is a great companion to Turn Off Work, for disconnecting from work apps on nights, weekends or holidays. ...And for ITWe previously gave organizations the ability to freeze device updatesfor up to 90 days. In Android 10, admins can now push system updates manually from a file, so they can schedule them when devices are idle or to save network bandwidth. There’s also a new feedback channel for apps, so admins can see the status of managed configurations and get confirmation that settings have been applied.New for Android 10, Project Mainline makes it easier to update core OS components in a way that's similar to how apps are updated: through Google Play. With this approach, selected Android components are updated faster without needing a full over-the-air update from the device manufacturer. As a result, IT organizations enjoy more seamless security and privacy fixes and consistency improvements across their device fleets without a lot of extra work. Raising the bar on securityAndroid 10 features more than 50 security and privacy improvements that benefit both IT organizations and employees. Some of the enterprise features include the ability to block the installation of apps on the personal side via unknown sources on devices with a work profile, to reduce the risk of malware. IT can also set a private DNS server on a fully managed device and require DNS over TLS to avoid leaking URL queries.With the deprecation of Device Admin for enterprise use in Android 10, apps will get new tools to check the quality of screen lock credentials. For example, an email app can query the complexity level of the device screen lock and direct users to create a stronger password if the security policy isn’t met. Apps requiring a lock-screen can now check the quality of the password.Other improvements include enabling TLS 1.3, a more secure and private networking protocol, by default and additional platform hardening efforts to make any vulnerabilities much more difficult to exploit. For more information on Android 10 security improvements check out the Google security blog. Get started with 10Android 10 is available starting today on Pixel phones and we’re working with a number of partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 10 this year.


Google Ad Manager’s API delivers control, connectivity and customization

Google Ad Manager has the flexibility to manage your entire digital ads business, including the ability to connect with other technology solutions. In order to do this, many partners employ the Google Ad Manager API to connect the data dots—and help make their businesses more effective and efficient. Ad Manager’s API capabilities allow publishers to build applications that interact directly with their platform accounts, and many publishers are already using them in a variety of ways. For example, automating common workflows can save time and resources so that you don’t have to make changes manually. Or you can programmatically access your data, giving you the flexibility to populate custom dashboards or interfaces. And if you use the API to optimize your inventory based on the most up-to-date data, you can increase efficiency and help you get the most out of the ads you serve.Here are five ways you can put the Ad Manager API to work to improve your business:Automate data pulls for your external analytics toolsWith the Ad Manager API, you can run reports that return a machine readable data file. This means that you can write an application that fetches your network’s reporting data, then feed that data into any analytics tools your business uses for up-to-date and actionable insights. Many publishers have built reporting applications that run on a regular schedule so their data pipeline always has the most recent data. An example pipeline might be one that fetches Ad Manager reporting data via the API and writes the results to a database. Your business intelligence software can then read the data, combine it with your other business data, perform some analysis, and send out a summary email to interested parties.Report and manage your key-values in bulk to optimize ad offeringsKey-values can give you more control over how you configure ads on your site. You can use them to identify pages, specific parts of a page, or other ad inventory. In order to report on key-values, each key-value must be added to your Ad Manager network and be marked as reportable. Using the API to keep these key-values updated can save a lot of time over entering them all manually.Run inventory experiments with flexible forecastingMonitoring your historical performance through reporting is only half of your optimization story. With the Ad Manager API, you can also evaluate future performance by running forecasts on existing and hypothetical line items. For example, you can run forecast simulations on a number of different line items that serve on different days and with different targeting configurations to compare how they stack up against each other.Take a snapshot of your ad networkSometimes it’s useful to have a local snapshot of your network’s orders, line items, etc. You can use this snapshot for quicker analyses since you can keep your data where your analytics are running, whether that’s on your in-house servers or in the cloud. Use the API to fetch only the most recently updated entities so that your snapshot stays as fresh as you need it.Build a custom interface for your business Perhaps you have an internal process that you’d like to streamline with a custom user interface or you have intelligence and analytics you’d like to sell to others. The Ad Manager API can connect your own network data or the data from other networks that grant your application access to a custom interface you build. The API offers read and write access to just about any entity you can access in the Ad Manager dashboard, giving you a range of configuration possibilities.If you’re interested in building an Ad Manager API integration, you’ll find many resources on our developer documentation. We offer libraries to make getting started easy with support for Java, Python, PHP, .NET, and Ruby. And if you have a development team that’s working on Ad Manager API integrations already, we host several Ad Manager Developer Workshops to take your integration to the next level. The next opportunity will be our London event on September 26, 2019.


The Googler whose art springs from “useless” objects

When Jeff Sundheim first moved to New York in 1996, he went running in his neighborhood every morning. He always ran by the same dumpster, which was packed full of oddly shaped pieces of wood. The nearby store, which built new and refurbished antique billiard tables, considered the wood pieces to be trash, but Jeff didn’t. He returned to his apartment after each run with armfuls full of material. That’s how Jeff started making art. “Untitled,” wood, paper, and synthetic fiber (2011)“Untitled,” wood, paper, and synthetic fiber (2011)“Riis Park,” wood and paper (2011)“Riis Park,” wood and paper (2011)“Untitled,” mylar, graphite and acrylic on paper (2006)“Untitled,” mylar, graphite and acrylic on paper (2006)“Edgar,” wood (2011)“Edgar,” wood (2011)Jeff is in his 13th year at Google, working with advertisers and publishers on creative campaigns and helping companies find ways to appeal to wider audiences. And he says his love of sculpture perfectly complements his work at Google. “There isn’t a dichotomy between my life and work life and creative life,” he says. “It’s all pretty fluid.” For example, he works with advertisers all the time, and the ad industry’s bold fonts and company logos frequently inspire his art. His artwork is varied, including colorful compositions made of discarded cardboard boxes and phone book listings. Recently, he’s been playing with steel, working outdoors and on a larger scale.Jeff at work at the Art Students League in New York.His latest work is in New York’s Riverside Park, right next to the Hudson River. Jeff noticed the park lacked seating, so he created a sculpture that invites passersby to take a rest. The piece, named “Wavehenge,” features a wave of steel towers acting as a sundial over four benches of wood. And it contains a secret: Four times a year, at a specific time, the shadows of the steel wave perfectly align with each of the benches. He says he’s loved seeing how people interact with his piece of art. Kids even bring chalk up to it, creating their own art on his sculpture.“Wavehenge” acts as a sundial, facing New York City’s Hudson River. Jeff says a new perspective can bring welcome change to everything from a piece of wood to a sculpture or a park. He’s also recently pursued a change himself, undertaking a rotation at Google, spending several months in a new role in Mountain View. There, he worked as an evangelist on a wide range of topics with visiting executives from Google’s largest clients. “It’s an extraordinary way to learn about the company, get a bird’s-eye view and meet incredibly interesting people,” Jeff says. While working out at the gym on campus, he ran into an accessibility researcher and invited him to present on multiple occasions to Google visitors.  Making something beautiful after it’s no longer useful endows an object with new purpose, Jeff says. In his work and his art, he’s drawn to projects that require him to imagine a new future for information or objects that are often taken for granted. “So much of what we do at Google is making things useful,” Jeff says. “I love taking materials I’ve found that have been cast off and giving them a new life, transforming them.”


If you give a student a Chromebook

We created Chromebooks to help people, students included, achieve anything. These shareable, versatile devices connect people to the internet, to each other and to quality apps and extensions. Give a student a Chromebook and you give them endless access to information and resources. By learning to find answers to their questions, collaborate with others and work independently and effectively, students build digital skills that will help them succeed throughout school and for the rest of their lives. So, give a student a Chromebook and they will… Find answers and solve problemsChromebook apps can help students navigate the online world with confidence while improving digital literacy and comprehension skills. These apps have recently been updated for back to school: Epic!, the world’s largest digital reading platform for kids, has a massive library of books, audiobooks, videos and quizzes to help children develop a love of reading and learning. Teachers can now log in with Google single sign-on, add students with Google Classroom and download student reports into Google Sheets.CK-12 offers a free, personalized learning platform spanning K-12 math, science and more. Their customizable FlexBook® Courses foster interactivity and continuous feedback, and now include new reports showing class level insights for Google Classroom assignments. DOGO media teaches literacy, reading fluency and global awareness through current events, books and movies. They’ve also launched Spanish-language resources that integrate with Google Classroom. TIP: Head to the Chromebook App Hub, where you can find educator and admin preferred apps, hear from app developers directly for up-to-date information, and get real classroom inspiration from teachers. Educators interested in apps on the App Hub should connect with their IT admins who can evaluate purchasing options. Learn alongside peers Thanks to built-in accessibility features and an array of assistive apps, students with learning differences can develop new strategies. Check out these apps with recently updated features and new integrations: Capti Voice is a reading support tool. Its new Classroom integration allows teachers to accommodate different learning needs and make tests accessible to more students. Texthelp offers assistive technology for reading, writing and language learning. With a new WriQ Classroom integration, educators can view dashboards with writing metrics by class and monitor student progress.Don Johnston’s curriculum, learning and evaluation tools are designed to support all types of learning styles and abilities. For tools that integrate with G Suite/Classroom and support dyslexia and dysgraphia, check out the Snap&Read and Co:Writer extensions.ViewSonic’s myViewBoard is an interactive, cloud-based whiteboard teachers can use to engage students. And it now integrates with Classroom and Drive.BeeLine's reading tool is a Chrome extension that improves reading fluency and reading comprehension by displaying text using a color gradient that draws the reader’s eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.TIP: Once settings on a Chromebook are customized for a student, they’re applied every time they log in on any managed Chrome OS device. Bookmark this handy guide about Google’s accessibility tools for the classroom. Connect and collaborate in new waysVirtual communication and collaboration are skills that students will use throughout their lives. With Chromebooks, they can cement these skills as they collaborate with peers in apps and sites or built-in ones like Docs, Sheets and Slides. Here are a few recently-updated apps that teachers can use to engage students while fostering communication and collaboration:Remind, a communication app designed to connect parents, guardians, educators and others who matter to student success, has integrated connected accounts in Classroom and Drive. Kami, a PDF and document annotation app that fosters collaboration, now integrates with the Classroom grading page. Kami assignments are categorized to support Classroom’s topics.Nearpod, a platform for creating engaging lessons or using existing ones, now lets you embed and edit activities directly within Google Slides.TIP: Different devices work for different types of students. A rugged laptop, for example, can work well for young students. Touchscreen tablets with stylus compatibility and cameras in the front and back, on the other hand, work for students conducting science experiments or creating artistic masterpieces. With different options, you can customize the outside as much as you customize the inside. Schools pick Chromebooks because they are versatile, affordable and easy to manage. When you give an admin a fleet of Chromebooks with the Chrome Education Upgrade, they can easily and securely deploy and manage any number of devices from one cloud-based console. And they no longer need to worry about updating devices. Chromebooks update automatically and have multi-layered security, so—like students—they continue to improve over time. Read more about why admins love Chromebooks, and explore Chromebooks built for education and a range of apps that transform them into learning devices.


Join our effort to help Americans find local job training

Pathways is part of our Grow with Google initiative to bring economic opportunity to all Americans. For job seekers looking to acquire new skills or pivot to a new career, information about relevant training programs can be difficult to find. This new feature in Search is designed to help people across America develop new skills and find local programs that prepare them for in-demand jobs in their communities. In the early stages, we worked with partners like the State of Virginia, the Virginia Community College System, and local employers to pilot Pathways. Here’s more about how the feature works in two communities in Virginia, and new ways for training programs to get involved when Pathways becomes available more broadly. Pathways in VirginiaNow in Hampton Roads and Richmond, Virginia, when people search for things like “ jobs near me” or “job training” on Google, they’re able to find jobs that are in demand in their area and discover local training programs to prepare them for those jobs. They can then easily compare program costs and outcomes and learn how to enroll. The Pathways pilot feature includes information about training programs across industries like healthcare, information technology and machining. And you can find out about occupations like nursing, medical technicians, software developers, and welding. We’re focusing on programs that can help people develop marketable skills and get into the workforce: these are full-time degree or certificate programs of up to two years in length, or longer if they include paid training, like an apprenticeship.Expanding the impact of PathwaysHow long will it take me to complete a program? How much does it cost? How much might I make when I finish, and how might that compare with another occupation? These are all questions prospective students often think about when considering a new training program, but the answers aren’t always easy to find online, making it difficult to find the right program to match their career aspirations. To reach the goal of making Pathways available nationwide, we’re asking organizations to structure their program data to ensure their programs can be easily discovered not only on their websites, but also on Google Search. Learn more about eligibility and how to structure your data to help Americans find a path to their next job.


How The Baltimore Sun is growing digital subscriptions

Editor’s note: Throughout the month of August, the GNI Subscriptions Lab hosted workshops with 10 U.S. and Canadian news publishers, including The Baltimore Sun, to explore new opportunities for digital subscriptions growth. Last week, we co-published a report with the Local Media Association (LMA) and FTI Consulting to share what we’ve learned.  Just today, as I write this post, we at The Baltimore Sun launched a new tactic: Some non-subscribers will be prominently asked to enroll in a free newsletter before reading their first free article of the month. The test was born out of the GNI Subscriptions Lab. Here’s how we used data and collaboration to come up with the idea.Our digital subscriptions team at Tribune Publishing is always seeking new ideas to boost subscriber relationships and digital revenue to help fund our journalism. In this pursuit, we have attended conferences, participated in webinars and devoured research papers on the topic. So, when the Google News Initiative, FTI Consulting and LMA started the GNI Subscriptions Lab earlier this year to help news publishers accelerate their approaches to digital subscriptions, we eagerly joined with one of our storied brands, The Baltimore Sun. Job one in the Lab was measuring the health of our digital subscriptions business. We deployed our data analysts to collect 27 months of observations across 300 variables that contribute to our subscriptions model. After compiling our insights across the entire Lab, we had over 80,000 data points to compare and contrast with our fellow participants. This is where the power of the Lab first emerged. We focused on 10 of the most critical performance metrics for a digital subscriptions business, such as visits per unique reader, engagement with the paywall (Meter Stop Rate) and effectiveness in monetizing subscribers (Average Revenue Per Unit). We saw which news organizations had best-in-class metrics, and heard directly from those participants about how they achieved success. For example, The Baltimore Sun had one of the highest paywall conversion rates in the group. My team shared how our promotional calendar for subscriptions is thoughtfully constructed; we focus our best offers at the end of each month, which is when most readers finish their monthly free-article allotments and hit our paywall. Conversely, comparing our metrics to our fellow publishers, we saw that we should work to increase the number of times each unique reader visits our site. So, we are now prioritizing desktop alerts as an immediate, peer-recommended method for growing visitor frequency. With this aerial view of where we’ve been and, more importantly, where we need to go next, The Baltimore Sun is focused on projects to improve soft spots in our subscriptions metrics.We selected email capture as our first bulls-eye. We have email addresses for about two percent of our unique users, which is below the Lab's target level of five percent. After brainstorming with the group about how we could improve that metric, we developed our first experiment: a free newsletter offer for some readers before their first metered article. Our goal is to generate more email-sourced subscribers and drive greater newsletter engagement through this approach. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to further collaboration among expert organizers and supportive peer-participants in the Subscriptions Lab. As our expectations rise and new challenges emerge, we must seek (or create!) cooperative environments like this to learn and thrive together as an industry.


Simplifying our content policies for publishers

One of our top priorities is to sustain a healthy digital advertising ecosystem, one that works for everyone: users, advertisers and publishers. On a daily basis, teams of Google engineers, policy experts, and product managers combat and stop bad actors. Just last year, we removed 734,000 publishers and app developers from our ad network and ads from nearly 28 million pages that violated our publisher policies. But we’re not just stopping bad actors. Just as critical to our mission is the work we do every day to help good publishers in our network succeed. One consistent piece of feedback we’ve heard from our publishers is that they want us to further simplify our policies, across products, so they are easier to understand and follow. That’s why we'll be simplifying the way our content policies are presented to publishers, and standardizing content policies across our publisher products.A simplified publisher experienceIn September, we’ll update the way our publisher content policies are presented with a clear outline of the types of content where advertising is not allowed or will be restricted. Our Google Publisher Policies will outline the types of content that are not allowed to show ads through any of our publisher products. This includes policies against illegal content, dangerous or derogatory content, and sexually explicit content, among others. Our Google Publisher Restrictions will detail the types of content, such as alcohol or tobacco, that don’t violate policy, but that may not be appealing for all advertisers. Publishers will not receive a policy violation for trying to monetize this content, but only some advertisers and advertising products—the ones that choose this kind of content—will bid on it. As a result, Google Ads will not appear on this content and this content will receive less advertising than non-restricted content will.  The Google Publisher Policies and Google Publisher Restrictions will apply to all publishers, regardless of the products they use—AdSense, AdMob or Ad Manager.These changes are the next step in our ongoing efforts to make it easier for publishers to navigate our policies so their businesses can continue to thrive with the help of our publisher products.


Android’s zero-touch enrollment momentum builds with new partners

Android zero-touch enrollment simplifies mobile deployment of corporate-owned Android devices, making large-scale rollouts faster, simpler and more secure. With zero-touch enrollment, administrators can configure devices online and ship them with management, apps, and specific configurations already in place—so employees can open the box and get started right away.Our partners are an important part of how we grow zero-touch worldwide. We’ve added more than 100 new partnerships this year, empowering their customers with the benefits of a streamlined and secure mobile rollout. Customers are able to deliver large scale roll-outs quickly, with less friction and greater security for organizations, IT and employees. With zero-touch, users see an intuitive onboarding that requires just a few steps with the Setup Wizard. In addition, partners have greater flexibility in device support, with capabilities for Wifi-only, dedicated devices and tablets.We’re seeing tremendous growth with partners, most recently in the Asia-Pacific region. Today, we’re pleased to welcome partners from Australia: Skywire, Vodafone Hutchison Australia, JB Hifi, Multimedia Technology, Optus; Singapore: M1; The Philippines: Smart Communications, Globe Telecom ; Thailand: A2 Network, DTAC; Japan: KDDI Corporation, NTT Docomo; Hong Kong: 1010 Corporate Solutions; Indonesia: Telkomsel, Malifax, Indosat; PT. Satya Amarta Prima; Taiwan: FarEasTone, Cipherlab, Chungwa; Malaysia: Maxis; New Zealand: Sato, PB Technologies; China: RugGear, Lenovo; India: Appobile Labs. Zero-touch enrollment is a key feature in how companies around the world are using Android to mobilize their teams. Recent Gartner research validates this trend, with businesses in particular embracing devices that meet the elevated standards of Android Enterprise Recommended.Learn more about zero-touch enrollment and explore our partnerships in the Enterprise Solutions Directory.


Travel your first and last mile with Google Maps

Google Maps has always helped you get from place to place, whether you’re driving, walking, biking or taking public transit. And we know that transit journeys can be complex–often involving multiple modes of transportation to help you get around town. Today, we’re making it easy to pair transit directions with biking and ridesharing options so you can travel that first or last mile with ease. Say you’re taking the subway home from a friend’s house, but your apartment is a bit too far from the station to get to on foot. Catching a ridesharing vehicle can help you travel that short distance quickly. Or, you’re headed to work at the peak of the busy back-to-school season so you need to ride your bike to the nearest bus stop to make that important 9 a.m. meeting on time. Here’s how it works:Enter your destination in the search box, tap on “Directions” and then on the transit tab. From there, you’ll automatically see routes that feature ridesharing and cycling options paired with transit directions. If you’re taking a ridesharing vehicle, you’ll see helpful information about each leg of your trip: how much your ride will cost, how long the wait is, if there’s traffic on your ride, and when your bus or train departs. You can also choose your favorite rideshare provider and other available ride options like pool or economy. If you’re biking, then you’ll see routes tailored for cyclists along with everything you need to know about the transit portion of your journey. All of this information is automatically factored into your total travel time and ETA so you can know exactly when you’ll get to your destination. Transit directions paired with biking and ridesharing will start rolling out in the coming weeks on Android and iOS in 30 countries around the globe, with more coming soon.


Ask a Techspert: What is machine learning?

Editor’s Note: Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? Try being a tech novice and talking to an engineer at a place like Google. Ask a Techspert is a series on the Keyword asking Googler experts to explain complicated technology for the rest of us. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but just enough to make you sound smart at a dinner party. Imagine you’re going to the grocery store to buy ice cream. If you’re an ice cream lover like me, this probably happens regularly. Normally, I go to the store closest to my home, but every so often I opt to go to a different one, in search of my ice-cream white whale: raspberry chocolate chip. When you’re in a new store searching for your favorite-but-hard-to-find flavor of ice cream, you might not know exactly where it is, but you’ll probably know that you should head toward the refrigerators, it’s in the aisle labeled frozen foods and that it’s probably not in the same section as the frozen pizza.My ability to find ice cream in a new store is not instinctive, even though it feels like it. It is the result of years of memories navigating the many sections and aisles of different grocery stores, using visual cues like refrigerators or aisle signs to figure out if I am on the right track. Today, when we hear about “machine learning,” we’re actually talking about how Google teaches computers to use existing information to answer questions like: Where is the ice cream? Or, can you tell me if my package has arrived on my doorstep? For this edition of Ask a Techspert, I spoke with Rosie Buchanan, who is a senior software engineer working on Machine Perception within Google Nest. She not only helped explain how machine learning works, she also told me that starting today, Nest Aware subscribers can receive a notification when their Nest Hello, using machine learning, detects that a package has been delivered. What is machine learning? I’ll admit: Rosie came up with the food metaphor. She told me that when you’re looking for something to eat, you have a model in your head. “You learn what to eat by seeing, smelling, touching and by using your prior experience with similar things,” she says. “With machine learning, we’re teaching the computer how to do something, often with better accuracy than a person, based on past understanding.” How do you get a machine to learn? Rosie and her team teach machines through supervised learning. To help Nest cameras identify packages, they use data that they know contains the “right answers,” which in this case are photos of packages. They then input these data sets to the computer so that it can create an algorithmic model based on the images they provided. This is called a training job, and it requires hundreds of thousands of images. “Over time, the computer is able to independently identify a delivered package without assistance,” Rosie says. How do you figure out what to make a machine learn? Rosie told me that package detection was one of the most requested features from Nest Hello users. “In particular, we’re trying to solve problems based on what users want,” she says. “Home safety and security is a huge area for our users.” By bringing package delivery notifications to Nest Aware, Rosie and her team have found a use for machine learning that eliminates the tedious task of waiting around for your delivery. Do you need a massive supercomputer to do machine learning? That depends on whether you’re creating a machine learning model or using it. If you’re a developer like Rosie, you’ll need some powerful computers. But if you want to see whether there’s a package on your doorstep, you don’t need more than a video doorbell. "When engineers develop a machine learning model, it can take a ton of computing power to teach it what it needs to know,” Rosie says. “But once it's trained, a machine learning model doesn't necessarily take up a lot of space, so it can run basically anywhere, like in your smart doorbell."Can machines understand some things that we humans can’t? According to Rosie, yes. “We can often describe the things we’re learning,” she says, “but there are things we can’t describe, and machines are good at understanding these observations.” It’s called black box learning: We can tell the model is learning something but we can’t quite tell what it is. A great example of this is when a package arrives at your doorstep. Rosie’s team shows the network lots of pictures of packages, and lots of pictures of other things (trees, dogs, bananas, you name it). They tell the network which images are packages and which ones are not. The network is made up of different nodes, each trying to learn how to identify a package on its own. One node might learn that many packages are brown, and another might notice that many are rectangular. “These nodes work together to start putting together a concept of what a package is, eventually coming up with a concept of ‘packageness’ that we as humans might not even understand,” Rosie says. “At the end, we don't actually know exactly what the network learned as its definition of ‘packageness,’ whether it's looking for a brown box, a white bag or something else.” With machine learning, teams can show a network a new picture and it may tell us there’s a package in it, but we can’t fully know exactly how it made that decision. What’s the best part about working on machine learning? Rosie, who’s been at Google for over five years, says it’s all about working on the unknown. “We get to work on problems that we don’t know are actually solvable,” she says. “It’s exciting to get started on something while knowing that it might not be feasible.” So will machine learning be able to identify that raspberry chocolate chip is the best flavor of ice cream ever created? Probably not. We’ll still need human knowledge to confirm that. But machine learning will help us in other ways, like waiting around for a package to be delivered so you can take that precious time to peruse the frozen foods section.


Backing Asia Pacific’s emerging newsroom leaders

Across Asia Pacific, a new generation of journalists is telling the region’s stories and tackling the challenges facing the news industry. The Google News Initiative (GNI) Newsroom Leadership Program, a collaboration between GNI and the Columbia School of Journalism, was established to develop the business and product expertise of these emerging newsroom leaders. Today we’re announcing the 2019-2020 Program fellows and sharing more about their projects.  The projects they chose are as diverse as their backgrounds. These journalists hail from Pakistan to Japan, India to Australia. They’ll be looking at how digital tools can make great storytelling even better, championing socially-conscious reporting and investigating new approaches to political polling. And they’ll explore new membership and revenue models for news, helping fund the future of journalism in their countries. As they work on their projects, the fellows will take part in seminars and develop professional networks across the region. To find out more, we spoke to Raju Narisetti, the Director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia, who helped develop the program. What are the skills you think emerging newsroom leaders need to be successful today?The most critical skill is an understanding of the business of journalism and the forces shaping the industry. They also need to hone the ability to think of content as a product, and the willingness to let data inform their decisions. These “hard” skills need to be coupled with “power skills” like developing diverse teams, leading with purpose and managing relentless change.How do you think the GNI Newsroom Leadership Program addresses this?The fellows will experience a mix of theory and practice in seminars during their in-residence weeks at Columbia School of Journalism.  Practitioners as well as academics will deliver the sessions, which are specifically designed for the media industry. Topics will range from revenue streams and media sustainability to building video, audience and analytics frameworks and teams for the next decade. They’ll also get hands-on workshops on developing leadership and “managing up.”What words of advice do you have for the fellows as they prepare to go through the program?Be really present during the in-residency classroom weeks, because your day job will still be waiting for you. Think of the other participants as a learning and sharing opportunity that can become a professional support network during the year and beyond. And have strong beliefs (about your project or the news business), but hold them loosely, so you can embrace new ideas and solutions.Caption: Our 2019-2020 Fellows, as pictured from left to right, starting from the top left: Gyanu Adhikari, Phillip O’Sullivan, Akane Imamura, Betina Hughes, Danielle Cronin, Marium Chaudhry, Nitya Thirumalai, Hyuntaek Lee, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Yusuf Wijanarko, Anisa Menur Maulani, and Lynn D’Cruz.


Our top Nest Cam tips for pup parents

I don’t know where I’d be without my rescue mutt, Ted, who my husband and I adopted when Ted was eight weeks old. Since then we’ve watched his personality unfold, we’ve (kind of) trained him, and he’s taught me all about patience, unconditional love and friendship. With his wagging tail and watchful little eyes, Ted never fails to cheer me up and make me feel safe. And science backs this up: studies have shown that dogs lower our stress levels and improve our health. But despite all we know about dogs, one thing remains a mystery: what do they do all day while we’re away from home? It’s easy to check in on your pup with an indoor camera like the Nest Cam Indoor or Nest Cam IQ Indoor, which show you a video feed of your dog in action. The cameras even let you talk and listen to them—plus, with a Nest Aware subscription you can record and replay cute clips, then save and share them. It’s National Dog Day, so we’ve compiled our top six Nest Cam tips (some require a Nest Aware subscription). Barking at you, pup parents.Keep up with training.Thanks to the two-way talk feature on Nest Cam Indoor and IQ Indoor, you can position your camera to keep an eye on a forbidden piece of furniture and will receive a notification if Fluffy is up to no good. Simply speak into the Nest app to tell them to get off the couch, or to give positive reinforcement.Soothe your dog’s anxiety. Nest Cams monitor for conspicuous sounds like a boom, crash, or barking and howling, so if your dog is stressed and making noises, your camera can let you know (and next time you can leave a soothing toy before heading out to work). Avoid dumpster diving. With Nest Aware, set an Activity Zone in the Nest App around an area your pup tends to get into (like the garbage bin) and receive a notification if they linger near it.Capture candid clips.Glance through your video history and watch highlights in Sightline (your camera’s timeline in the Nest app). You might catch Bella doing downward dog, or Buster having a case of the zoomies.Know when your dog walker arrives. With Nest Aware, you’ll get a familiar faces notification when your walker enters the view of your Nest Cam IQ or Nest Hello—but make sure you have your walker’s permission first (familiar face alerts are not available on Nest Cams used in Illinois).Share highlights with your friends and family. With Nest Aware, create a mini timelapse of your favorite clips to melt the hearts of your loved ones, and even post videos and photos to your social channels.Have a paw-some day!


Pixel 3a helped me see my vacation through a new Lens

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me on every birthday she wanted me to have a big goal in life: Travel to as many countries as my years on Earth. And though I'm far from that ambitious target, my mom did instill a major travel bug in me. Settling in at the Casa Oaxaca hotel. But no matter where I travel, I struggle with the same issues many people face: pricey phone bills, subpar photos, a language barrier and, well, getting extremely lost.So when I traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico last month, I sought out ways to combat these typical tourist problems. And thanks to my Pixel 3a, I was able to make real progress for the next time I visit more countries on my bucket list. Here’s how I did it. Navigating on Maps without pricey data feesEven when I’m traveling, I like to be able to use my phone the same way I would at home. (Meaning, a lot.) For this trip, I decided to set my phone up with Google Fi so I could have unlimited international usage and great coverage. At the end of my trip, my phone bill netted out to be a fraction of my typical charge when I travel internationally.Thanks to my cheaper data plan, I was also able to navigate with help from Maps. I’d never admit it myself, but some people might say I’m bad at directions. (Okay, a lot of people might say that.) In any case, I really leaned into using Live View in Google Maps, a tool that literally has a big blue arrow staring at me on my screen, pointing me exactly in the direction I should go. Even when in rural areas, outside of cell service, I was grateful to be able to use Google Maps in offline mode—like when I visited the Monte Alban ruins.Taking in the beauty of Monte Alban with friends.When ordering a juice from a mercado stand, I was able to use Translate in Lens to decipher many of the blends, opting for a juice that promised benefits for my skin. A new way to break down the language barrier I’m ashamed to say my Spanish isn’t great, so I put the Pixel 3a to the test. Could it magically help me speak a new language? Within the camera app, there’s a nifty feature in Google Lens that allows you to hover over text in another language for real-time translations. This came in handy in bustling markets, local restaurants and juice stands that only had menus in Spanish. Even if you don’t have a Pixel phone, you can download the Google Lens app on other Android or iOS devices to try it out yourself.  The Google Assistant also came in handy when I needed language help. It was easy to ask the Assistant questions like, “Hey Google, how do you say ‘where is the bathroom’ in Spanish?” and get help converting costs from pesos to dollars.Taking my vacation photos to the next levelIn a city as beautiful as Oaxaca, I knew I’d be leaning heavily on the camera quality of the Pixel 3a. I snapped photos throughout a cooking demo making tortillas from scratch, and used features like portrait mode and Night Sight to make the most out of my vacation pics. Here are just a few highlights: Making tortillasLearning to make tortillas from start to finish.Vida Nueva women’s weaving collectiveA group of amazing women I met at the Vida Nueva women’s weaving collective, who were able to earn a living so they could flee abusive home environments.Night Sight in OaxacaI tested Night Sight when dining on the rooftop of Casa Oaxaca Restaurant and fireworks unexpectedly appeared in the skyline. I also used it during night walks around the Santo Domingo church. My Pixel 3a was the ultimate tour guideI know, I know, it’s just a phone, but I have to say I feel indebted to my Pixel 3a for showing me such a special time in Oaxaca. I think I’ll take it to my next dream travel destination: Japan.


Accelerating Europe’s clean energy transition

Europe has long been a leader in renewable energy. Last year, policymakers passed an ambitious set of reforms to take things to the next level, setting a new goal of meeting 32 percent of Europe’s energy needs from renewables by 2030. Google fully supports this ambitious target, and is committed to helping the continent reach its energy and climate goals. One way we can do so is to share successful strategies that we have used to purchase renewable energy for our own operations in Europe. The European Commission has published a new case study on Google’s renewable energy purchasing. It describes the motivations, principles and methods behind our purchasing in Europe, where we have signed 14 power purchase agreements (PPAs) to purchase electricity from 900 megawatts of wind and solar projects, enabling €1.2 billion in investment across the continent.As the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world and the second largest in Europe, we believe corporate PPAs can play a significant role in helping Europe reach its clean energy goals. As the study shows, renewables not only are an important part of solving for climate change, but also make business sense. In an increasing number of geographic areas, renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy available. Competitive and stable renewable energy prices allow us to reduce our costs and hedge against price increases in the future, which helps us plan the growth of our business.The case study also provides policy recommendations to encourage more corporate renewable energy purchasing. They include revising policies to drive down the cost of renewables, ensuring that corporate renewable energy buyers receive certification (known as “Guarantees of Origin”) for the electricity that they procure and encouraging cross-border PPAs so that competitive renewable electricity produced in one country can be easily purchased in another.  Google’s work with the European Commission builds on our broader commitment to helping all companies secure a clear and easy path to purchase renewable energy. Last year, we helped launch the RE-Source Platform, a broad coalition of companies and NGOs working to accelerate corporate purchasing of renewables in Europe. This year is an important one for renewables in Europe, as member state governments create national plans to accelerate their energy transition over the next decade. We’re grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the European Commission to help expand corporate renewable energy sourcing. We hope this case study can help policymakers recognize the important contribution of corporate PPAs to their climate and energy goals, and encourage more companies to explore how cost-effective renewable energy can meet their business needs.


Maintaining the integrity of our platforms

Protecting our users and the integrity of our platforms is essential to Google’s mission. My team works with others across Google to detect phishing and hacking attempts, identify influence operations and protect users from digital attacks.When identifying and preventing threats, we exchange information with industry partners and law enforcement, and also apply our own internal investigative tools as well as intelligence from third parties.Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.Separately, we are continuing our work to protect users against online security threats. This week, Google announced that we have taken action to protect users in Kazakhstan after credible reports that its citizens were required to download and install a government-issued certificate on all devices and in every browser. This certificate enabled the government to decrypt and read anything a user types or posts, including intercepting their account information and passwords.These actions are part of our continuing efforts to protect the integrity of our platforms and the security and privacy of our users. Each month, our Threat Analysis Group sends more than 4,000 warnings to our users about attempts by government-backed attackers or other illicit actors to infiltrate their accounts. This is the warning we send if we detect such an attempt:In addition to identifying and detecting the source of threats, we also integrate the most advanced security measures into all of our products so that users are protected automatically. To that end, this month we announced an expansion of the Advanced Protection Program to Chrome to provide extra security for that program’s users when they’re downloading files online. We also just introduced that program as a beta for enterprise customers. Our ​improving ​technology has also enabled ​us to ​significantly ​decrease ​the ​volume ​of ​phishing ​email, and we've rolled out significant protections in Gmail that detect and block over 99.8 percent of attachment malware.Our teams will continue to identify bad actors, terminate their accounts, and share relevant information with law enforcement and others in the industry.


The mobile challenge, and how to measure it

Does your mobile website have a lower conversion rate than your desktop version? As some people are spending up to 70% of their time on mobile, imagine how much additional revenue you could gain if the conversion rate levels were the same. A recent report showed that mobile conversion rates are 47 percent of the levels achieved on desktop. As more and more of your customers are using mobile devices, you need to ensure your mobile conversion rate is keeping up, and maintain your revenue.One way you can monitor your mobile website performance is by reviewing your Relative Mobile Conversion Rate (Rel mCvR), which is calculated by dividing the mobile conversion rate with the desktop conversion rate.The high traffic share for mobile, with lower conversion rates, will show your stakeholders that there is a gap the company will need to bridge by improving the mobile site.Mobile and desktop conversion rates are influenced by two main parameters. The first is traffic influencers—this can be things like channel mix, marketing campaign, seasonality. The second is the performance of the website, for example UX and site speed. Any of these can cause your mobile or desktop conversion rate to go up or down.The benefit of using Rel mCvR to evaluate your mobile performance is that traffic influencers tend to not impact the metric. Why? Because the same campaigns and seasonalities will reach both mobile and desktop versions of your website, a good marketing campaign will make both the mobile and desktop conversion rate go up but leave Rel mCvR stable. When you evaluate the metric over time, it will show us if we have improved our mobile website.Things to keep in mind when evaluating Rel mCvR: Always keep an eye on your desktop conversion rate. If Rel mCvR has an abnormal peak, check if it’s due to the desktop having a technical problem that made the desktop conversion rate decrease. Track your Rel mCvR weekly. Because the metric is based on your entire website’s performance, driving improvement will take time. Reviewing your data daily can be too volatile, look for the large movements over time instead.Be mindful of that companies with physical stores may never reach 100 percent in Rel mCvR, as mobile is often used for doing research before or while visiting a store. 70 percent is a good target to start with.How to improve your mobile site and Rel mCvRA better user experience on your mobile site leads to increased revenue and better Rel mCvR. To get there, I recommend you start A/B testing on your mobile site to improve your mobile conversion rate. It’s through A/B tests that you become guided by your customers and provide what they need. Start with these three steps: Review the process of conversion optimization in the Optimize Resource Hub. Get inspired by what other companies have done.Set up your first test–for free–in Google Optimize. When you’re focused on improving your mobile site with conversion optimization and A/B tests—your Rel mCvR will start to show your progress.


The Assistant turns your Smart Clock into a digital photo frame

The Lenovo Smart Clock comes with the Google Assistant, so it can help you better manage your morning and evening routines. When you’re not using your Lenovo Smart Clock, the screen can now turn into a digital photo album, displaying pictures from your Google Photos account or featured photos provided by Google. But that’s not all. There’s now an optional setting for Continued Conversation that lets you have a natural back-and-forth conversation with the Assistant (starting in English). After you initially trigger the Assistant with a request, the Assistant will stay active for long enough to respond to follow up questions so you don't have to say “Hey Google” as often. The Lenovo Smart Clock also works with most cameras that work with the Assistant, so you can always see on the device who is outside your front door when your hands are full. You’ll be getting all of these new features as part of an automatic software update rolling out this week. The Lenovo Smart Clock is now available for sale in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Australia, and Japan, and will be coming soon to India and other countries.


Next steps to ensure transparency, choice and control in digital advertising

Ads play a major role in sustaining the free and open web. They underwrite the great content and services that people enjoy and support a diverse universe of creators and publishers. But the ad-supported web is at risk if digital advertising practices don’t evolve to reflect people’s changing expectations around how data is collected and used. The mission is clear: we need to ensure that people all around the world can continue to access ad supported content on the web while also feeling confident that their privacy is protected. As we shared in May, we believe the path to making this happen is also clear: increase transparency into how digital advertising works, offer users additional controls, and ensure that people’s choices about the use of their data are respected. Working together across the ecosystemThe web ecosystem is complex—it includes users, publishers, advertisers, technology and service providers, advocacy groups, regulatory bodies and more. We’ve seen that approaches that don’t account for the whole ecosystem—or that aren’t supported by the whole ecosystem—will not succeed. For example, efforts by individual browsers to block cookies used for ads personalization without suitable, broadly accepted alternatives have fallen down on two accounts. First, blocking cookies materially reduces publisher revenue. Based on an analysis of a randomly selected fraction of traffic on each of the 500 largest Google Ad Manager publishers globally over the last three months, we evaluated how the presence of a cookie affected programmatic revenue. Traffic for which there was no cookie present yielded an average of 52 percent less revenue for the publisher than traffic for which there was a cookie present. Lower revenue for traffic without a cookie was consistent for publishers across verticals—and was especially notable for publishers in the news vertical. For the news publishers in the studied group, traffic for which there was no cookie present yielded an average of 62 percent less revenue than traffic for which there was a cookie present.1Second, broad cookie restrictions have led some industry participants to use workarounds like fingerprinting, an opaque tracking technique that bypasses user choice and doesn’t allow reasonable transparency or control. Adoption of such workarounds represents a step back for user privacy, not a step forward.Exploring new privacy-forward standards for the webToday, Chrome shared an update on their efforts to explore new foundational technologies for the web that will deliver on the vision laid out above—widespread access to free content and strong privacy for users. Chrome has offered a number of preliminary proposals to the web standards community in areas such as conversion measurement, fraud protection and audience selection. The goal of these proposals is to promote a dialog on ways browsers could advance user privacy, while still ensuring publishers can earn what they need to fund great content and user experiences, and advertisers can deliver relevant ads to the right people and measure their impact.Getting the web standards community to work on developing a new set of technologies is a tall order, but it’s not unprecedented. The community has worked together on a number of similar challenges over the years—such as gaining consensus to phase out browser plug-ins and reaching agreement to move away from Flash. We expect this will take years, not months, and we don’t anticipate any near-term changes to how our ads products work on Chrome. But this is important work and we support the effort. Pursuing a new level of ads transparency and user controlWhile Chrome explores new technologies for the web, we’re also acting on the commitment we made in May of this year to increase the transparency of digital ads and offer users more control. Over the past few months, we’ve been listening to feedback from users and partners, and have arrived at an initial proposal to give people more visibility into and control of the data used for advertising. We’ve begun sharing this proposal for discussion to key industry and stakeholder groups and we’re eager to hear and incorporate feedback.Whether it’s working with the standards community to explore a new set of technologies, or getting feedback from participants across the digital ads industry on a proposal to increase transparency and offer users more control, Google is committed to partnering with others to raise the bar for how data is collected and used. Only by working together can we define and implement new practices that result in better, more privacy-focused experiences for users while addressing the requirements of publishers and advertisers that fund and ensure access to free content on the web.1.  Google Ad Manager data; n=500 global publishers; Analysis based on an A/B experiment where cookies are disabled on a randomly selected fraction of each publisher's traffic; May-August 2019


A pop of color and more: updates to Android’s brand

Over the last decade, Android's open platform has created a thriving community of manufacturers and developers that reach a global audience with their devices and apps. This has expanded beyond phones to tablets, cars, watches, TVs and more—with more than 2.5 billion active devices around the world. As we continue to build Android for everyone in the community, our brand should be as inclusive and accessible as possible—and we think we can do better in a few ways.Android Q is Android 10First, we’re changing the way we name our releases. Our engineering team has always used internal code names for each version, based off of tasty treats, or desserts, in alphabetical order. This naming tradition has become a fun part of the release each year externally, too. But we’ve heard feedback over the years that the names weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community. For example, L and R are not distinguishable when spoken in some languages. So when some people heard us say Android Lollipop out loud, it wasn’t intuitively clear that it referred to the version after KitKat. It’s even harder for new Android users, who are unfamiliar with the naming convention, to understand if their phone is running the latest version. We also know that pies are not a dessert in some places, and that marshmallows, while delicious, are not a popular treat in many parts of the world. As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world. So, this next release of Android will simply use the version number and be called Android 10. We think this change helps make release names simpler and more intuitive for our global community. And while there were many tempting “Q” desserts out there, we think that at version 10 and 2.5 billion active devices, it was time to make this change. A refreshed look for the brandThe Android brand has evolved over time. Back in 2014, we updated our logo and brand color, and this year, we’re introducing a more modern, accessible look.The design of the logo draws inspiration from the most recognizable non-human member of the community, the Android robot. The robot belongs to everyone in the community, and has long been a symbol of the fun and curiosity at the heart of Android. Now, it has a special place in our logo. We also changed the logo from green to black. It’s a small change, but we found the green was hard to read, especially for people with visual impairments. The logo is often paired with colors that can make it hard to see—so we came up with a new set of color combinations that improve contrast.  Video explaining new logo and brand identityThe next evolution of AndroidWe’ll officially start using the updated logo in the coming weeks with the final release of Android 10. Thank you to the community for supporting Android and inspiring us over the years.


Building a more private web

Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do. So today, we are announcing a new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. We’re calling this a Privacy Sandbox. Technology that publishers and advertisers use to make advertising even more relevant to people is now being used far beyond its original design intent - to a point where some data practices don’t match up to user expectations for privacy. Recently, some other browsers have attempted to address this problem, but without an agreed upon set of standards, attempts to improve user privacy are having unintended consequences.First, large scale blocking of cookies undermine people’s privacy by encouraging opaque techniques such as fingerprinting. With fingerprinting, developers have found ways to use tiny bits of information that vary between users, such as what device they have or what fonts they have installed to generate a unique identifier which can then be used to match a user across websites. Unlike cookies, users cannot clear their fingerprint, and therefore cannot control how their information is collected. We think this subverts user choice and is wrong.Second, blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant web. Many publishers have been able to continue to invest in freely accessible content because they can be confident that their advertising will fund their costs. If this funding is cut, we are concerned that we will see much less accessible content for everyone. Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52% on average1.So we are doing something different. We want to find a solution that both really protects user privacy and also helps content remain freely accessible on the web. At I/O, we announced a plan to improve the classification of cookies, give clarity and visibility to cookie settings, as well as plans to more aggressively block fingerprinting. We are making progress on this, and today we are providing more details on our plans to restrict fingerprinting. Collectively we believe all these changes will improve transparency, choice, and control. But, we can go further. Starting with today’s announcements, we will work with the web community to develop new standards that advance privacy, while continuing to support free access to content. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve started sharing our preliminary ideas for a Privacy Sandbox - a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy. Some ideas include new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only. Our goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users’ expectations of privacy.We are following the web standards process and seeking industry feedback on our initial ideas for the Privacy Sandbox. While Chrome can take action quickly in some areas (for instance, restrictions on fingerprinting) developing web standards is a complex process, and we know from experience that ecosystem changes of this scope take time. They require significant thought, debate, and input from many stakeholders, and generally take multiple years. To move things forward as quickly as possible, we have documented the specific problems we are trying to solve together, and we are sharing a series of explainers with the web community. We have also summarized these ideas today on the Chromium blog.We look forward to getting feedback on this approach from the web platform community, including other browsers, publishers, and their advertising partners. Thank you in advance for your help and input on this process - we believe that we must solve these problems together to ensure that the incredible benefits of the open, accessible web continue into the next generation of the internet.1 Google Ad Manager data; n=500 global publishers; Analysis based on an A/B experiment where cookies are disabled on a randomly selected fraction of each publisher's traffic; May-August 2019. More information available on the Google ads blog.