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Power down with Google Fit

I recently took up running to improve my overall health and wellbeing. And let me tell you, it's harder than it looks. I've learned that it's not just about building my mileage every week, but it's also about making bigger lifestyle changes like getting more sleep and building healthier habits.The Google Fit app already tracks my Heart Points and Move Minutes, and I've been monitoring my sleep through apps that I connect to Google Fit so I can make sure I’m well rested for my daily routine. At Google Fit, we understand that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more than just tracking what you do on the go. It’s also about resting up and powering down. So today, we’re bringing improved sleep insights and dark theme to our Google Fit app.Catch some ZZZ’s You can now track your sleep patterns alongside all the other activities you do throughout the day. Connect your favorite sleep app to Google Fit and you’ll see charts that show you your sleep patterns over time. You’ll also be able to add, edit or access your sleep history through the journal.Paint it blackNow you can enable dark theme to help you wind down at the right time and get a better night’s sleep. Even better, dark theme can be gentler on the eyes and help save your battery life. All you need to do is turn on the feature in your settings.Now on iOS: See your routeOn Android, Google Fit captures a summary of your workouts along with a map of your route, whether you ran, hiked or biked. Now we’re bringing the same useful map routes into the iPhone app for workouts actively tracked on your Wear OS by Google smartwatch, Apple Watch or other connected apps.We’ll be rolling out these updates on your phone over the next week. If you’re new to Google Fit, try the app out on your Android phone or iPhone.

An update on Android for search providers in Europe

Earlier this year, we presented Android users with an option to download additional search and browser apps in Google Play. This follows the changes we made to comply with the European Commission’s decision on Android. Next year, we'll introduce a new way for Android users to select a search provider to power a search box on their home screen and as the default in Chrome (if installed). Search providers can apply to be part of the new choice screen, which will appear when someone is setting up a new Android smartphone or tablet in Europe.An illustrative version of the choice screen. Providers will vary by country.As always, people can continue to customize and personalize their devices at any time after set up. This includes selecting which apps to download, changing how apps are arranged on the screen, and switching the default search provider in apps like Google Chrome. The application process for search providers opens today and the new choice screen will be introduced to new Android phones in Europe in early 2020. If you are a search provider who would like to participate, please click here to learn more.

With a tap on your phone, get help in an emergency

A quick, informative conversation with an operator during an emergency call is critical, but in some cases, people are unable to verbally communicate, whether they’re injured, in a dangerous situation or have a speech impairment.Soon, you'll be able to share information about the assistance you require, along with your location, to the emergency operator without speaking. This feature will be available in the Phone app on Pixel and select Android devices.Tapping on the “Medical,” “Fire” or “Police” buttons during an emergency call will convey the type of emergency to the operator through an automated voice service. That service works on device, which means the information stays between you and emergency services, and the service functions whether or not you have a data connection. After you activate the service, you can always speak directly to the operator as well.Your location, which comes from your phone’s GPS, is often already shared with the operator when you make a 911 call. This new feature provides similar location information through the automated voice service, along with the caller’s plus code, which is another reliable way to help emergency services accurately locate them. Like the rest of the content shared with the operator using this feature, your  location stays between them and emergency services. This feature will become available in the U.S. over the coming months, starting with Pixel phones. We’ve been collecting feedback from public safety organizations, including the National Emergency Number Association, to make this feature as helpful as possible, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the emergency services community to make people safer.

Finding fresh, helpful information through featured snippets

Sometimes when you use Google, you’re seeking information when timeliness matters, even if your query doesn’t spell that out. For example, when you search for something like “income brackets,” it’s likely that you’re looking for this year’s tax information, not last year’s.U.S. income brackets were updated for 2019, so recent information is most helpful.On the other hand, for many queries, the most useful information isn’t necessarily found among the most recent web results. For instance, if you ask “Why is the sky red at sunset,” the underlying explanation doesn’t change over time, and the clearest description is often found on an older page. Prioritizing fresh content wouldn’t necessarily yield better results. At the core of Search is language understanding, and our systems don’t understand language the same way humans do. This is why we’re constantly developing new ways to better understand your searches and provide relevant results, especially in cases where there is useful context that is implied, like whether freshness matters.As part of our ongoing efforts to make Search work better for you, a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly. This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for. For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.  Here are some examples where fresh featured snippets are especially helpful. You might be looking for information that is updated on a regular basis, like the next full moon, the winner of a reality TV show, or upcoming holidays. Other information gets more accurate over time. For example, as an event approaches, we learn more specific details. A fresher page about an upcoming TV premiere might have more specific information and other useful content, like trailers, that you can click through to view.Sometimes a query is related to current events, so fresh sources are particularly important. If you’re searching for a food recall, for example, you probably want to find the most recent information with guidance for that specific issue.Above: Before launch, a snippet pointing to less recent information. Bottom: After launch, information about the most recent recall.Content on the web is always changing—sometimes at rapid speed, depending on the topic—so our results for any given query can change along with it. (In fact, that’s why you may not currently see some of the results above.) We strive to always update  our systems to keep our results relevant and useful. Some of the changes we make may not always be obvious, but we hope we are always able to help you find the fresh information you’re looking for.

Flutter Create's big winner is a self-taught "beginner"

When Zebiao Hu found out he won the $10,000 Flutter Create grand prize, he didn't even tell his own wife. She learned about it through his posts on social media. He says he didn’t boast about his big win because he still sees himself as a beginner: He taught himself Flutter just weeks before the deadline, and created a compass app that won him the big prize. Flutter is Google's toolkit for building beautiful apps that run on your mobile phone, laptop and web browser from the same code (instead of having to write a different app for each device, as is common today). When Google announced Flutter Create, the contest attracted attention from developers all over the world. We received nearly a thousand submissions from 60+ countries and regions, including entries from both first-time coders and Flutter experts. The contest challenged developers to build something interesting, inspiring, and beautiful with Flutter using five kilobytes or less of Dart code. That’s a tiny amount of space: to put it into perspective, that’s less than half a second of a typical digital music file.Highlights from the hundreds of submissions we received.As a coder working in Shenzhen, China, Zebiao decided to learn about mobile development, because the industry was heading in a “mobile-first direction.” He bought books about Flutter and Dart in Chinese, and started to learn during the spring of 2019. Flutter Create was less than one month away.Zebiao is no stranger to teaching himself how to code, though. In high school, he spent days and nights in the computer room, taking up coding because of his love of video games. After becoming an accomplished player, he began to wonder, "How are these games developed? Could I make one myself?"Zebiao in the park where he usually jogs.But, at that time, information about programming was hard to get and, for a high school student, difficult to learn. Luckily, Zebiao discovered a box of CDs, with one called “Programming.” His hobby turned into a career. As an early adopter, he became well known in local software circles, and was often approached to collaborate on projects. Customers became frequent customers, and then friends, bringing even more projects to him. Eventually, Zebiao got married and became the father of two children. Every day, he sends his children to school, and goes home to work. In the evening, he ends his work day and picks the kids up.He says when he’s not working, he’s “running, drinking tea, and spending the weekend with my children at the amusement park.” And he’ll still take time to play the video games he played 15 or 20 years ago. The compass app did not feature a globe at first. When he set out to build his compass app, Zebiao found useful materials on Flutter’s official  website, Flutter’s Youtube channel and from Flutter Chinese online communities. He didn’t aim for the prize because he hadn’t been using Flutter for long, but instead entered to test his knowledge. He started the new project on March 15, only three weeks from April 7, the final submission date for Flutter Create. After the first version of the app was completed, the code was less than 5KB, but Zebiao was not satisfied, because it lacked an interesting visual. "It was boring to read the latitude and longitude in text form," he says. So he decided to upgrade the design to display the data using an interactive globe.There was only one small problem: he had never programmed an animation before.“Honestly, I learned everything from scratch,” Zebiao says. “After all, I had never used these tools before.” Finally, two days before the deadline, Zebiao successfully submitted his compass application. Zebiao learned how to make his app from scratch. Zebiao says he doesn’t want to give advice to Flutter beginners, because he sees himself as a beginner, too. But he urged people to keep learning, even if their projects don’t use Flutter yet, and to find their own community of developers to share resources. And he says it’s important to stay open to whenever an idea strikes. “Keep a notebook with you,” he says. “Write down your thoughts, ideas or problems whenever possible. And try to solve them later.”

100 million people free up phone space with the Files app

Every month, 100 million people around the world use the Files app to free up space and manage the content on their phones. Files was built for peoplewith low phone storage, many of whom live in places like India, Nigeria and Brazil and often run out of space on a daily basis. However, in the past two years, we’ve seen people everywhere use Files. The app reduces the stress of managing stuff on your phone and helps you get things done faster—whether that means finding your favorite photo, sharing files without using data, or removing old files to make your phone feel like new.Globally, Files frees up 8 GB of space every second—that’s equivalent to 2,200 photos!Forwarded messages can cause duplicate files and memes to quickly eat up phone storage. Around the world, Files helps people delete more than 300 duplicates and 150 memes every second—the app is able to quickly find and suggest files for removal using Google’s mobile vision technology. Here are two new features that make Files even more helpful:Preserve your battery and reduce eye strain with a new all-black dark theme option.Switch to dark theme to preserve battery life and reduce eye strainListen to music or watch videos offline with new controls like Skip, Rewind or Fast-forward.New audio player features give you more controlThese features will be available to everyone over the next few days. Get the app at g.co/getfiles to free up space, and make your phone feel like new.

A new way to unify app and website measurement in Google Analytics

People expect to interact with businesses when and how they like, such as browsing a brand's website to research a product and then purchasing it later using the brand's app. Getting insight into these cross-platform journeys is critical for businesses to predict customer needs and provide great experiences—but it can be very challenging.Currently, many businesses measure app engagement with Google Analytics for Firebase and website engagement with Google Analytics. While each of these products separately offer powerful insights, getting a more unified picture of engagement across your app and website can be a manual and painstaking process. To make this simpler, we’re announcing a new way to measure apps and websites together for the first time in Google Analytics.Unified app and web analytics  First, we’re introducing a new property type, App + Web, that allows you to combine app and web data for unified reporting and analysis. Measure your app and website together in Google AnalyticsReports for this new property use a single set of consistent metrics and dimensions, making it possible to see integrated reporting across app and web like never before. Now you can answer questions like: Which marketing channel is responsible for acquiring the most new users across your different platforms? How many total unique users do you have, regardless of which platform they use? How many conversions have occurred on your app and website in the last week—and which platform is driving most of these conversions?See combined metrics across your app and websiteYou can also go deeper to understand the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns across platforms. For example, you can see how many users started on your app then visited your website to make a purchase.Flexible event measurementUnderstanding how people engage with your app and website means that you need to measure a diverse range of user interactions like clicks, page views, app opens, and more. We’re making it easier to measure those actions on all of your platforms in a consistent way. The new property type utilizes a more flexible event-based model for collecting the unique interactions that users have with your content, allowing you to measure any custom event that you set up. This event-based model also allows you to automate the manual work of tagging some of the events on your site with no additional coding required. In addition to page views, enhanced measurement allows you to measure many common web events like scrolls, downloads, video views and more with the flip of a toggle in the admin settings for your property.Enhanced measurement helps you measure events with the flip of a toggleCross-platform analysisGiven the many different ways people interact with your brand between app and web, you need flexible tools to make sense of your data and discover insights unique to your business. The new Analysis module enables you to examine your data in ways that are not limited by pre-defined reports.There are a number of techniques you can use including: Exploration: Conduct ad-hoc analysis by dragging and dropping multiple variables—the different segments, dimensions, and metrics you use to measure your business—onto a canvas to see instant visualizations of yourdata.The Exploration technique allows you to visualize your data with drag and drop easeFunnels: Identify important steps to conversion and understand how users navigate among them—where they enter the funnel, as well as where they drop off—with both open and closed funnel options. Understand how users engage with a sequence of key events on your app and website using the Funnels techniquePath analysis: Understand the actions users take between the steps within a funnel to help explain why users did or did not convert.Visualize actions taken on the users’ path to conversion with the Path analysis techniqueOnce you’ve surfaced insights from your analysis, you can use the results to create audiences and use those audiences to deliver more relevant marketing experiences to your customers. Start measuring across platformsThe first version of this new app and web experience—including the new event model and new analysis capabilities—will be available to all Analytics and Analytics 360 accounts in beta in the coming weeks. If you use Google Tag Manager or the global site tag for Google Analytics today, there’s no re-tagging required for your website. To include your app data, you’ll need the Firebase SDK implemented in your app. See how to get started in Google Analytics, or if you’re an existing Firebase customer, here’s how to upgrade.If your business has both an app and website, and is looking for a more complete view of how your customers engage across both, we encourage you to participate in this beta and share your feedback. We are working to make Google Analytics the best possible solution for helping you understand the customer journey and create great customer experiences across platforms. Your partnership is essential to help us get there.

Get help from the Google Assistant on your DISH Hopper

Surfing through the list of TV shows or movies for a night at home is often time consuming. You can try typing out titles from the on screen keyboard, but that can be equally frustrating. Now, the DISH Hopper family of receivers can help you find content faster with the Google Assistant, which can be accessed with the new DISH voice remote.With the DISH voice remote and the Google Assistant, you can use your voice to search for content based on channel, title, actor or genre. Plus you'll get all the usual help from the Assistant.Here are a few things you can do:Enjoy entertainmentUse the Google Assistant to play, pause, fast forward, rewind and search for content across DISH’s library of live TV and on-demand content, plus your favorite movies, shows, and YouTube videos. Just press the mic button on the voice remote and say, “Show me sci-fi movies,” “Change the channel to Food Network,” or “Turn on closed captions.” Control your homePress the mic button on your voice remote and ask your Assistant to adjust the temperature, lighting, and other smart home devices connected in your home. Give these a try: “Dim the living room lights” or “Set the thermostat to 72 degrees.”Manage tasksAsk your Assistant “Tell me about my day” to see your calendar, ask “how's traffic to work” before you head out the door, or “add popcorn to the shopping list” to prep for your  next movie night. Get answersAsk your Assistant questions and see the answers on your TV screen with DISH. Get answers related to what you're watching, favorite shows, characters, and actors. You can also get information on local businesses, flight details, and game scores. For example, “What pizzerias near me are open now?” or “What’s the score of the baseball game?” DISH customers with a voice remote and a broadband-connected Hopper (all generations), Joey (all models) or Wally can access the Google Assistant once they receive the software update. New customers and existing DISH customers without a voice remote can visit mydish.com/voice-remote to check their eligibility for the new voice remote at no extra cost. From the comfort of your own couch, you now have all the capabilities of the Google Assistant right from the remote control.

New innovations to grow your app business with ads

App developers around the world are pushing the limits of innovation to meet consumers' high expectations. In an increasingly competitive global market, it’s more important than ever for app developers to find better ways to build and grow their businesses.Today at Think Games at ChinaJoy, we are sharing innovations that help you find more users and grow your revenue with Google’s latest solutions.Reach more users when they’re looking for something new Connecting with the right people at the right time is key to building a strong user base. Google App campaigns make it easy for you to find app-happy users across Google Search, Play, YouTube and over 3 million sites and apps in our network. Here are some new ways App campaigns can help you expand your global reach.Discover (formerly known as the Google feed) helps over 800 million monthly active users uncover fresh and interesting content related to the things they care about—like global news and topics of interest like sports, music, and mobile games. Now, you can access Discover inventory through App campaigns to make a strong impression on more users with relevant and visually engaging ads.                Ad for the Headspace app in DiscoverApp campaigns running in the United States will now automatically reach more potential users on Discover who are open to exploring your app. And in the coming months, your app ads on Discover will also serve in Malaysia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Indonesia. We aim to bring app ads in Discover to all available markets before the end of this year. In addition to Discover⁠, we’re introducing new reach opportunities on two more platforms:App ads on YouTube Search: Your app promotion ads are now eligible to show in the top slot of YouTube’s mobile search results. Combining YouTube’s global audience with rich intent signals helps you deliver relevant and useful ads to more prospective app users.           App ad for Tap Titans 2 in YouTube SearchIn-stream video ads in our display network: Display in-stream video ads are skippable video ads that play before, during, or after a video a user is watching. Starting next month, you can reach more people with your ads while they're viewing video content on mobile apps and sites in our network.Grow revenue and deliver a better user experienceFinding the right users is important, but developers need to think about growing overall revenue in order to build sustainable businesses. By integrating ads during natural break points in your app you can build a new revenue stream and deliver a better user experience.Our new app open ad format allows you to show ads to your users as they wait for your app to load. Designed to seamlessly integrate with your app’s branding, this format gives you new ways to earn revenue while creating a good user experience. Reach out to your account manager to get started with this format in alpha.  In addition to the new app open ads, here are two more ways we are helping you grow revenue while delivering better ad experiences for your users:Smart segmentation is now available for rewarded ad units. This feature, announced earlier this year for interstitial ads units, only shows ads to users unlikely to make purchases in your app. This protects the user experience of your purchasers while growing your ads revenue.AdMob Insights: Our new Insights feature provides alerts to your AdMob dashboard when our system detects abnormal changes to your key metrics like eCPM, impressions and revenue. This new beta lets you know instantly if changes in your app are impacting user experience.To learn more about how our new solutions can help you connect with the right users and scale your business, join our livestream at 1:40 pm SST during the Think Games event at ChinaJoy in Shanghai, China on August 1st, 2019.

Upgrade your drive with Android Auto

As you hit the road this summer, Android Auto is sporting a new look with features that make driving more simple, personal and helpful. So grab your sunglasses and fill up your tank—here’s what you can expect.Come on, get app-yWith the new app launcher, you can find all your favorite apps with fewer taps. The bottom left button will open the app launcher, where you'll find the familiar app icons laid out with your most commonly used apps automatically featured in the top row. Just a couple of taps and you can dive into your favorite podcast, rock out to a new song or send a message to Mom.Tap and talk for moreYou'll notice several of the icons have the Google Assistant badge. By tapping the icon, your Assistant will tell you about your calendar, give you the weather report, read you the news or set a reminder for you.Pick up where you left off Whether you’re jamming to the greatest hits or deep into an interesting podcast, Android Auto will automatically start playing where you left off. Make sure you check out the many auto-enabled media apps available in Google Play.This is the fastest route, despite the usual trafficNever get lost again with your favorite navigation app easily accessible on your display right when you connect Android Auto. Tap on a suggested location or use the Assistant to start navigating. And if you already have a route queued up on your phone, Android Auto will automatically populate the directions and begin routing you to your destination on your display.Don’t miss a beat... or a turnThe new navigation bar sits at the bottom of your display, and allows you to manage multiple apps, more easily. So if you’re listening to music, you won’t miss your next turn; or if you’re following directions, you can still easily pause or skip a song. You can also jump straight to your app running in the background with one tap.Missed calls and unread messagesOn the bottom right corner, a new notification button houses all of your recent calls, messages and alerts. You can also keep in touch with friends and family, while keeping your eyes on the road. Just long press the mic button on the steering wheel, tap on the mic button on your display or say “Hey Google” to have the Google Assistant help make calls, send messages and read your notifications.That new car smellAndroid Auto is flexible and can morph itself to fit widescreen displays in cars that support it—giving you extra space for step-by-step navigation, media playback and ongoing call controls (dependent on vehicle support). Plus, the new Android Auto improves visibility with easier to read fonts as well as a new dark theme and colorful accents that match your car’s interior.If your car has Android Auto support, you’ll start to see the new design over the next few weeks. These updates will not be reflected in Android Auto for your phone screen. We will be evolving the phone screen experience from Android Auto to the Assistant’s new driving mode in the future.Stay tuned for this new update!

8 tips for a stress-free summer road trip

Growing up, I always looked forward to summer and the road trips I’d take with family and friends. It didn’t matter if we were trekking from Chicago to Florida or taking a scenic journey to camp at Boulder Lake in Wisconsin. We’d always make a summer jams soundtrack (on cassette), pack the car full of snacks, and stick our heads out the window to feel the cool breeze. These days, road trips feature my wife and son, as we explore all that California has to offer, but those old habits have remained the same.For many people like myself, road trips will always will be quintessential part of summer. If you’re planning to hit the road for an adventure of your own, here are eight ways the Google Assistant can help you safely get things done when you’re behind the wheel (or in the back seat):Check the weather at your destination by saying “Hey Google, what’s the weather like in Yellowstone this weekend?”"Hey Google, how's traffic to downtown Charlotte?" will give you the quickest route to your destination.Give your friends an update on your arrival time by saying, “Hey Google, share my ETA with Ari.” Stay in touch while you’re on the road by asking, “Hey Google, call Dad.” “Hey Google, find the nearest gas station” will help you when you need to make a pit stop. Or ask your Assistant, “Hey Google, where’s the nearest coffee shop?” when you need to get your caffeine fix. Avoid boredom with a podcast or audiobook while you're driving through remote locations. Just say, “Hey Google, play Planet Money.”Play, pause or skip through your favorite songs from services like YouTube Music, Pandora, and Spotify. Send text messages with your voice so you can keep your eyes on the road. Just ask the Assistant, “Hey Google, send a text to Jake” or “Hey Google, read my messages.”And it’s really easy to get started. You can access the Assistant in a variety of places, whether you’re using Google Maps for Android and iOS, Waze for Android, Android Auto, or through the new car accessory, Anker Roav Bolt. Later this year, we’re introducing the Assistant’s new driving mode, a voice-forward dashboard for Android that brings your most relevant activities—like navigation, messaging, calling, and media—front and center. Bonus tip: When you get home from your trip, you can always pull up specific pictures from your journey from Google Photos by asking the Assistant on your Smart Display. Give it a go by saying, “Hey Google, show me my pictures from Yosemite.”Buckle up and and remember to take plenty of pictures of your trip!

Students changing the world—this year’s Science Fair winners

When Google Science Fair launched last fall, we challenged students to channel their curiosity and ingenuity to invent, code or build a solution to a problem they’re passionate about. Thousands of students participated, and this weekend we welcomed our 24 finalists—from 14 countries around the world—to explore Google’s headquarters to reveal the winners.GSF2019_Fionn_Celestine.jpgLeft: The Google Science Fair Grand Prize winner, Fionn Ferreira, is from Ireland. He found a novel approach to removing microplastics from water. Right: From Indonesia, Celestine Wenardy is this year’s winner of the Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award for her new approach to creating a low-cost, non-invasive glucose meter.GSF2019_AU Aman_Tuan.jpgLeft: A U Nachiketh Kumar, Aman K A, from India, won the National Geographic Explorer Award. Their project uses fruit to make environmentally-safe rubber. Right: Tuan Dolmen, from Turkey, is the winner of the Scientific American Innovator Award. His project explores how to harvest power from tree vibrations.GSF2019_Daniel.JPGDaniel Kazantsev, from Russia, is the Lego Education Award winner. His project is about finding a new way for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to communicate.GSF2019_Dilnaz_Dana_Faria.jpgLeft: Dana Yerlanova and Dilnaz Kamalova, a Google Science Fair team from Kazakhstan, are using technology to help the elderly manage their health. Right: Faria Zubair (pictured) and her Google Science Fair partner Zain Samdani are from Saudi Arabia. Their project is about using exoskeletons to retrain the brains of stroke patients.GSF2019_Jonathan_Shreya.JPGLeft: What can spider webs teach us about water reuse? That was the driving question behind Jonathan Chan’s project. He came all the way from New Zealand for the Google Science Fair! Right: Shreya Ramachandran, from California, investigates how soapnut grey water from laundry can be used for irrigation.These changemakers tackled issues across sustainability, healthcare, and accessibility. We saw impressive entries that used a variety of STEM disciplines—from using AI to help detect disease in plants to finding new ways to diagnose heart disease.Ready to find out who the winners are?Grand Prize: Fionn Ferreira—a West Cork, Ireland resident who wants to help save the oceans by extracting harmful microplastics from wastewater.Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award: Celestine Wenardy— a student from Indonesia who set out to find affordable, non-invasive ways for members of her community to test their blood sugar levelsScientific American Innovator Award: Tuan Dolmen—a Turkish science enthusiast who found a way to harness energy from tree vibrations.National Geographic Explorer Award: Aman KA and AU Nachiketh—two young scientists from India who found an eco-friendly way to coagulate rubber.Lego Education Builder Award: Daniel Kazanstev—a Russian student who wanted to find a better way to help those with impaired hearing communicate with the world around them.We were joined by a panel of judges, including our partners: Lego Education, Scientific American, Virgin Galactic and National Geographic. Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief of Scientific American and the chief judge for this year’s competition praised Fionn for his “tenacity and dedication to solving an important environmental problem embodies the spirit of exploration.” A big thanks to Mariette and the other judges for lending their expertise across science and engineering to help us to find the next generation of problem solvers.Behind every ambitious student are parents and teachers (hats off to you!) who cheer them on, and push them to keep learning. And to the students, you rock. We can’t wait to see what you do next..

Local Guides made me see my hometown in a whole new way

I’m a proud and lifelong New Yorker. I’ve seen and done a lot in New York City through all my years of living here, but one of the beauties of living here is that you’re always able to see and do something new. The possibilities are endless. With the help and recommendations of Google Local Guides, I had the opportunity to explore my city in a new way. Local Guides are the people who share reviews, photos and more on Google Maps to help you uncover the best parts of your city. Through the recommendations they’ve shared on what to eat, see and do, I discovered everything from the best bagels to the best free activity in town. Hands-down, my favorite part of this experience was checking out the best view of Manhattan at Cantor Roof Garden Bar on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Local Guides recommended this for an awesome view that isn’t swarming with tourists. There’s nothing like taking in the New York City skyline with an ice-cold drink in hand, surrounded by a beautiful garden and sculptures.The roof of the Metropolitan Museum of ArtTaking in the scenery from the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Best Bagels & Coffee NYCThe spread at Best Bagel and Coffee.Fishs EddyA very New York shopping experience at Fishs Eddy.Staten Island Ferry viewMy view from the Staten Island Ferry.I also got to check out some unique, quirky and decidedly non-touristy souvenirs at Fishs Eddy, where local artists are behind many of the designs. And of course, I ate some of the most delicious food New York City has to offer, including the classic matzo ball soup from Russ & Daughters Cafe and an unlimited table-side service of pasta at Becco in Times Square. It was refreshing to see my city with a new perspective. I assumed I'd seen it all, but I learned I needed to open my mind to new experiences. Being a tourist in my own city gave me a new appreciation for the things I walk past every day. If you want to see all the spots I visited while taking in New York City, you can watch the video and follow this Google Maps list full of Local Guides’ recommendations. That way you can experience New York like a local, even if you’re not one.

(Don’t) hold the phone: new features coming to Pixel 4

As we shared last month, Pixel 4 is in the works1. Today we’re giving you an early look at the technology behind two new features coming to Pixel 4 that make your phone more helpful and represent a next step in our vision for ambient computing. Motion SenseFor the past five years, our Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) has been working on Soli, a motion-sensing radar. Radar, of course, is the same technology that has been used for decades to detect planes and other large objects. We've developed a miniature version located at the top of Pixel 4 that senses small motions around the phone, combining unique software algorithms with the advanced hardware sensor, so it can recognize gestures and detect when you’re nearby. Pixel 4 will be the first device with Soli, powering our new Motion Sense features to allow you to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls, just by waving your hand. These capabilities are just the start, and just as Pixels get better over time, Motion Sense will evolve as well. Motion Sense will be available in select Pixel countries. The sensors and cameras enabling Motion Sense and face unlock in Pixel 4Face unlockUnlocking your phone should be easy, fast, and secure. Your device should be able to recognize you—and only you—without any fuss. Face unlock may be a familiar feature for smartphones, but we’re engineering it differently. Other phones require you to lift the device all the way up, pose in a certain way, wait for it to unlock, and then swipe to get to the homescreen. Pixel 4 does all of that in a much more streamlined way. As you reach for Pixel 4, Soli proactively turns on the face unlock sensors, recognizing that you may want to unlock your phone. If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion. Better yet, face unlock works in almost any orientation—even if you're holding it upside down—and you can use it for secure payments and app authentication too.Keeping your data safe with Pixel Security and privacy are core principles for Pixel. Face unlock uses facial recognition technology that is processed on your device, so that image data never leaves your phone. The images used for face unlock are never saved or shared with other Google services. To protect your privacy and security, your face data is securely stored in Pixel's Titan M security chip. Similarly, Soli sensor data is also processed on your phone, and it’s never saved or shared with other Google services.We’re busy building these features for Pixel 4 and look forward to sharing more with you and the entire #teampixel later this year. 1.This device may not be sold or otherwise distributed until required legal authorizations have been obtained.

In the key of G: Meet June Wu, Googler and concert pianist

June Wu loved classical music from an early age. A very early age. “There are home videos of me as a baby, conducting to big symphonies as my dad was playing them on the stereo,” she says. Her love of music has lasted to this day, as she flies around the world as a concert pianist—all while working in a totally different field at Google’s offices in Redwood City, CA. Living in both worlds is what makes June happiest—and it took her a while to figure that out. When June was a kid, her mother decided to learn how to play the piano. June and her sister would tiptoe downstairs after bedtime to listen to their mom play, and they would sneak a few plinks of the piano keys while she was trying to practice. Eventually, June’s mother got so frustrated she signed her kids up for lessons. June ended up taking piano very seriously, competing at the state, national and international level while in middle and high school. June was, and still is, drawn to the emotions you can channel through piano, whether you’re playing or just listening. “For me,  music is a way to explore deeper emotions and access some of what you may not yet have the words to articulate,” she says. “You can do that through music, and you can also move others through that.”By her senior year of high school, she was ready to pursue piano professionally, and even got accepted to Juilliard, her dream school. But something gave her pause: She worried she’d have to choose music and music alone, leaving behind other academic interests, if she went to Juilliard. The students she met there had a laser-focus on their art, leaving very little free time for other interests.  “I had always been intellectually stimulated by both worlds, both music and non-music,” she says. June passed on Juilliard and ended up at Harvard, but had a tough time leaving music behind. She didn’t touch a piano for six years and didn’t share her previous passion with her college friends. “Piano was so intertwined with my sense of self and identity,” she says. “I felt ashamed that I had given up on my childhood dream without even trying. I threw myself into other things in college and didn’t play at all.”June Wu playing pianoAfter she graduated, she worked as a journalist and then moved to management consulting. While staffed in Paris, she had a chance encounter that led her to pick up piano again. A friend asked if she could sub in for her during a concert, and at first June demurred, saying she had likely lost her ability to perform at a professional level. But the concert was two months away, so she had time to prepare. “I decided to say yes, because I didn’t know anyone in Paris, so what’s the worst that could happen?” June says. “In the beginning it was tough—my fingers weren’t able to do what my mind wanted to do, because I hadn’t been playing for so long. But the technique came back so quickly.” She also noticed that even though she’d stopped playing, she had still grown as a person and as an artist. She brought a new perspective to her music now. The concert reignited her passion for music. Next, she entered an international amateur competition for pianists—and won. That led to invitations to perform with professional orchestras, concerts she had to balance with a full-time career and then business school. After business school, she sought out a company that would help her with that balance. “I thought that working at a place like Google, which is very supportive of outside interests, would be a great fit for me,” June says. “I’d continue to work on exciting problems and build a great career in addition to playing and performing when I can.”Now, June works as chief of staff and a strategy lead for Google Customer Solutions, which helps small and medium businesses grow using Google Ads products. She practices piano nearly every day and recently got a Steinway grand piano in her San Francisco apartment. “It’s amazing for me, but my neighbors hate it,” she jokes. She aims for two major performances a year, most recently performing Chopin and Tchaikovsky piano concertos as the featured soloist with the Penn Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in South Africa. (She even performed at a gala event at an offsite meeting for her leadership team at Google.) Next, she aims to revamp her solo repertoire and prepare a full recital. June says her job at Google and her love for music go hand-in-hand. “Music exercises a different part of my brain, so I think it makes me more well-rounded,” she says. “It’s a way for me to get inspiration from a different part of my life and bring that to my work at Google.”

Making our tech spill-proof, crash-proof—thank you, IT

They keep our laptops humming and our work flowing, and they’re often the first people we contact when there’s a problem: I’m talking about tech support. At Google, these folks offer a range of services to help us handle damage control for issues—troubleshooting the simplest to the most complex of problems every day—just like at your jobs. When we need help, we turn to our tech support service called Techstop.To commemorate SysAdmin Appreciation Day (That’s today, by the way.), we stopped by our San Francisco Techstop office to say thank you to our own tech support folks, and to ask them a few questions. Much to their surprise, they didn’t have to fix an issue for us. What’s one thing you wish people would do before they came to IT?Emma: Basic troubleshooting, like restarting a machine. You’d be surprised how many problems are resolved with a simple reboot.Charles: Another tip would be to clear your cache and cookies before stopping by. This can help if you force a shutdown while a program is trying to update. If the program closes before it saves whatever it was doing, it can cause issues—clearing cache can help sometimes.If you could wave a wand and eliminate a recurring problem that you deal with, what would it be?Emma: The blue screen of death when machines don’t run on a modern OS. It causes disruption and takes entirely too long to remediate. I wish it would just go away.Charles: Resetting passwords or sign-in credentials, in general. I’d love it if we didn’t have to do this, but I understand that people forget. What’s your favorite Google product hack or tip?Emma: If you type “chrome://restart” into your Chrome browser, it’ll restart your browser and re-open tabs. I use this if my connection is slow or if my browser doesn’t load properly.  Charles: I like to save time with Gmail shortcuts. If you want to learn what shortcuts are available, click Shift + ? and you’ll see a list of shortcuts appear on your screen. Just make sure to enable keyboard shortcuts in your Gmail settings first! If you’re working on a Chromebook with Chrome OS, you can click CTRL + ALT + ? and they’ll appear.What's the weirdest or funniest laptop mishap you've encountered at Google?Emma: I once had someone come in with a clicking noise on their laptop. I opened the bottom case of their computer and found a piece of a plastic arm from a toy stuck within the base. The person laughed and said, “oh kids…”Charles: Do you know those little silicon packets that come in packaging or new clothing items? We’ve had dozens of people come into Techstop because their headphone ports stop working. Apparently, these packets get left within backpacks, the beads burst and they jam headphone jacks. Look out for those pesky things.If you could describe working in IT in just 3 words, what would they be? (Feel free to make them fun!)Emma: Unpredictable. Exciting. Gratifying.Charles: Fluid. Inquisical. Magical.What do you think your job will look like in 5 years? Emma: In five years, almost all of our IT systems will be cloud-based. Since troubleshooting systems will be a thing of the past, I think we’ll work tighter with product and data analytics teams to suggest and test new systems and environments. Charles: We help thousands of employees fix IT issues, and we're able to do this efficiently by focusing on how to address problems that happen over and over again. We call this "root reduction.” Root reduction helps us scale our IT services, and it also frees up our schedules so that we can focus on more strategic work. In five years, I think we’ll use the time we save through root reduction to become internal IT consultants for teams. We’ll embed with individual departments to help them solve trickier problems or workflows specific to their needs. From resetting our passwords to debugging and fixing a system crash, we salute you “IT guy” (or gal!). Thanks for keeping us online, even when we drown our computers in coffee.

For individuals with paralysis, Google Nest gives help at home

Editor’s note: Today's post comes from Garrison Redd, who shares how his Google Home Mini helped him regain independence, and how it can improve the lives of people living with paralysis.It’s been nearly 20 years since my life changed—that’s two decades of learning to navigate life in a wheelchair. There are many obstacles for people living with paralysis, so I have to find creative ways to get things done. While I’m more independent than most, there have been times when I couldn’t join my friends for a drink because the bar had steep steps. Or I’ve been on a date where there wasn’t space between tables so everyone had to get up and cause a commotion. But some of the greatest challenges and hurdles I face are at home. When you’re paralyzed, your home goes from being a place of comfort and security to a reminder of what you’ve lost. Light switches and thermostats are usually too high up on the wall and, if my phone falls on the floor, I may not be able to call a friend or family member if I need help. These may seem like simple annoyances but, to members of the paralysis community, they reinforce the lack of control and limitations we often face.This changed when the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Google Nest started a project to understand how technology can benefit people living with paralysis. Google Nest is providing up to 100,000 Google Home Minis to help them. I’ve been using mine for a few months, and it’s helped me control my environment, gain more independence, and have a little fun—all with my voice. If you’re not familiar with Mini, it’s a small and mighty smart speaker that gives you help when you need it. The first thing I did was connect Mini to my Nest Thermostat (the one that’s a tad too high). "Hey Google, turn down the thermostat" is especially useful these days in the summer heat. I’m training for the 2020 Paralympic Games as a powerlifter for Team USA, so I use my Mini to set alarms, manage my training schedule, and even make grocery lists. Music is a huge motivator for me, and with Mini, I listen to Spotify playlists and get pumped up before a workout. I can have fun with my Mini, too. I’ve tried my hand at trivia by saying, “Hey Google, let’s play lucky trivia.” I’ve dropped a beat with “Hey Google, beat box,” and I enjoy listening to my Google Play audiobooks. And, on a serious note, I know that if I need help but cannot reach my phone, I can use my Mini to call my mom or cousin using only my voice. 29 years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act passed landmark legislation making public spaces more accessible for everyone. Unfortunately, the world isn’t flat and there are still many obstacles for people living with paralysis. I'm hopeful that Google Nest can help more people make their homes that much easier to navigate, just as it has for me. Individuals living with paralysis and their caregivers can sign up to get a little help around the home with a Google Home Mini—here’s how you can find out if you’re eligible. If you’d like to help through a donation, you can ask your Assistant, “Hey Google, donate to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.” Through your voice, you can offer a little bit of help that will go a long way.

Android Enterprise earns key security certifications

Data security and privacy are critical aspects to any enterprise mobility effort. With Android Enterprise, we’ve built features that give IT teams flexible tools and policies to keep corporate and personal data secure.These efforts were recently validated by the ISO 27001 certification. This means that Android Enterprise information security practices and procedures for Android Management API, zero-touch enrollment and managed Google Play meet strict industry standards for security and privacy. Sound privacy, data security, organizational policy and practices are essential to gaining user trust. The ISO 27001 certification and SOC 2 and 3 reports confirm Google’s information security practices so that IT admins, users and other stakeholders have confidence about Android Enterprise security practices.Granted by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO 27001 outlines the requirements for an information security management system. It specifies best practices and details a list of security controls regarding information risk management.The SOC 2 and 3 reports are based on American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Trust Services principles and criteria. To earn this, auditors assess an organization’s information systems relevant to security, availability, processing integrity and confidentiality or privacy.To earn these certifications, an independent assessor performed a thorough audit to ensure compatibility with the established principles. The entire methodology of documentation and procedures for data management are reviewed during such audits, and must be made available for regular compliance review.Android is invested in a wide range of protections and management tools to help companies secure their data. This external validation, together with our ongoing efforts, is a testament to how Android Enterprise meets the highest privacy and security needs of today’s businesses.

Oversight frameworks for content-sharing platforms

A range of governments, tech platforms, and civil society are focused on how best to deal with illegal and problematic online content. There’s broad agreement on letting people create, communicate, and find information online, while preventing people from misusing content-sharing platforms like social networks and video-sharing sites.We’ve been working on this challenge for years, using both computer science tools and human reviewers to identify and stop a range of online abuse, from“get rich quick” schemes to disinformation to child sexual abuse material. We respond promptly to valid notices of specific illegal content, and we prohibit other types of content on various different services. A mix of people and technology helps us identify inappropriate content and enforce our policies, and we continue to improve our practices. Earlier this year we issued anin-depth review of how we combat disinformation, and YouTube continues to regularly update its Community Guidelines Enforcement Report.Tackling this problem is a shared responsibility. Many laws, covering everything from consumer protection to defamation to privacy, already govern online content. Safe harbors and Good Samaritan laws for online platforms support the free flow of information, innovation, and economic growth, while giving platforms the legal certainty they need to combat problematic content. Over the internet’s history, many countries have not only established criteria to qualify for safe harbors, but also developed codes of practice (like the European Union’s Code of Conduct On Countering Illegal Hate Speech and Code of Practice on Disinformation). And companies have worked together, as with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a coalition sharing information on curbing online terrorism. Approaches continue to evolve—for instance, earlier this month we joined other companies and countries in signing the Christchurch Call to Action To Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online.We’ve previously shared our experiences in order to promote smart regulation in areas like privacy, artificial intelligence, and government surveillance, and I recently wrote about specific legal frameworks for combating illegal content online. In that spirit, we are offering some ideas for approaching oversight of content-sharing platforms:Clarity - Content-sharing platforms are working to develop and enforce responsible content policies that establish baseline expectations for users and articulate a clear basis for removal of content as well as for suspension or closure of accounts. But it’s also important for governments to draw clear lines between legal and illegal speech, based on evidence of harm and consistent with norms of democratic accountability and international human rights. Without clear definitions, there is a risk of arbitrary or opaque enforcement that limits access to legitimate information.Suitability - It’s important for oversight frameworks to recognize the different purposes and functions of different services. Rules that make sense for social networks, video-sharing platforms, and other services primarily designed to help people share content with a broad audience may not be appropriate for search engines, enterprise services, file storage, communication tools, or other online services, where users have fundamentally different expectations and applications. Different types of content may likewise call for different approaches.Transparency - Meaningful transparency promotes accountability. We launched our first Transparency Report more than eight years ago, and we continue to extend our transparency efforts over time. Done thoughtfully, transparency can promote best practices, facilitate research, and encourage innovation, without enabling abuse of processes.Flexibility - We and other tech companies have pushed the boundaries of computer science in identifying and removing problematic content at scale. These technical advances require flexible legal frameworks, not static or one-size-fits-all mandates. Likewise, legal approaches should recognize the varying needs and capabilities of startups and smaller companies.Overall quality - The scope and complexity of modern platforms requires a data-driven approach that focuses on overall results rather than anecdotes. While we will never eliminate all problematic content, we should recognize progress in making that content less prominent. Reviews under the European Union’s codes on hate speech and disinformation offer a useful example of assessing overall progress against a complex set of goals.Cooperation - International coordination should strive to align on broad principles and practices. While there is broad international consensus on issues like child sexual abuse imagery, in other areas individual countries will make their own choices about the limits of permissible speech, and one country should not be able to impose its content restrictions on another.The recent Christchurch Call is a powerful reminder of what we can do when a range of stakeholders work together to address the challenges of online content. The internet has expanded access to information, bringing incredible benefits to people around the world. And as with any new information technology, societies and cultures are developing new social norms, institutions, and laws to address new challenges and opportunities. We look forward to contributing to that extraordinarily important project.

More time for feedback with improved planning and grading tools

Editor’s Note: Next week, we’re joining thousands of educators and students at ISTE in Philadelphia. Visit us at booth 2200, where you can demo the latest Chromebook devices and classroom technology from Google and our partners.  Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.Google for Education’s mission is to help improve learning outcomes for students around the world. We do this by giving teachers tools that make their day to day more efficient and collaboration with students more effective, so students can get the feedback and attention they need to grow.Teachers have told us they want to make grading easier, so they can spend less time on rote grading tasks and more time helping their students. So to kick off ISTE 2019, we’re announcing new product features that do just that. Here’s how we’re updating our tools with learning outcomes in mind:Better planning, preparation and transparency with rubricsUsing rubrics helps teachers set expectations for students, and gives them a consistent framework to provide actionable feedback. This process is designed to help students perform better, but can also be time-consuming. Now, teachers can create and grade rubrics in both Classroom and Course Kit through a beta. Instructors enrolled in the beta program can create a rubric and attach it to an assignment, giving students full visibility into how their work will be evaluated. Instructors can then use rubrics while grading to select rating levels and give consistent and efficient feedback. Alongside comments in Google Docs, rubrics allow educators to provide personalized insights that go beyond an overall grade. You can learn more and help us shape the future of this feature by enrolling in the beta program today.Better assessments with locked mode and question import in Google FormsEducators can enablelocked mode in Quizzes in Google Forms on managed Chromebooks. This mode prevents students from navigating away from their assessments until they submit their answers, which helps them focus during quizzes and encourages academic integrity. Thousands of educators used locked mode in beta, and this August locked mode will be available to all G Suite for Education users on managed Chromebooks. We’ve also worked with partners like Texthelp and Don Johnston to integrate accessibility features so that, even when taking a quiz in locked mode, students can use these helpful extensions.Educators often use questions from previous Forms they’ve created or Forms shared for editing by fellow educators. Soon, we'll add a feature that lets teachers import questions they’ve previously used into new Forms. So instead of spending time on recreating assessments for students, teachers can spend time providing specific comments and feedback to those same students once assessments are completed. Forms will also soon get a fresh new design—consistent with the updated looks of other apps in G Suite—with more space at the top of your Form and better ways to design the look and feel of your Form headers.Use Gradebook and sync grades to your student information systemLast November, we released an early access beta program for Gradebook in Google Classroom. Participating teachers are using Gradebook to get a holistic view of student performance over time, so they can gain a deeper understanding of where students have mastered a subject or where they still need more opportunities to improve. Over the next few days, Gradebook will be rolling out to all Classroom users. Teachers will also be able to customize how grades are calculated in their classes (weighted average or total points-based), set up grade categories for assignments, and share an overall grade with students through a host of new class settings.We’re also launching an early access beta program that allows educators to sync grades from Classroom to their school information system (SIS) of record. Once enabled by an admin, educators can visit Gradebook to sync grades to their SIS, eliminating the need to enter grades in two different locations. Aside from helping educators avoid data errors, this beta program will allow educators to spend more time providing quality instruction, through more regular feedback to students about their grades—all without leaving Google Classroom. The early access beta program will be available to schools later this summer, with Infinite Campus and Capita SIMS participating as initial partners, and more SIS partners to follow. For schools that wish to have both grades and rosters connected to their SIS, there are several complete solutions for this today.We’re excited to see how these tools empower teachers to provide even more feedback and helpful assessments to their students, all while saving them time.