June 30, 2015

New ways to beat traffic with Google Maps in India

Ever missed your movie at Priya Cinema because you were stuck in Kolkata traffic? Starting today, Google Maps can help you better plan your drive around traffic and save time on the road by showing you real time traffic information directly on the map. Today’s update to Google Maps brings you new traffic information for 12 cities in India —  Kolkata, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Ludhiana, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Kochi, Madurai, Bhopal — as well as a real time look at traffic conditions across all national highways and expressways in India.

Once the Traffic layer is turned on Google Maps for mobile or desktop, you’ll be able to see routes mapped out in different colors, indicating the different speed of traffic on those roads. While green means there are no traffic delays on the road, orange indicates a medium amount of traffic and red alerts to you beware of heavier traffic congestion.

Being able to see what local traffic is typically like at any given day and time can help you plan your drives easier than ever on Google Maps. If you’re already on the road and in Navigation mode, Google Maps will also use real time traffic information to more accurately estimate your time of arrival, and to provide options for alternate routes if there are faster options available.

We hope this new traffic information within Google Maps will help you in planning your way around local streets and expressways. Happy traveling!

Posted by Suren Ruhela, Director, Program Management

June 26, 2015

Computational Thinking for Educators

How can you map the entire human DNA sequence? Is it really possible that William Shakespeare wrote all of the plays that bear his name? Can one design a computer program that creates novel music compositions?

Answering these questions requires computational thinking, a way of problem solving that educators around the world are using across disciplines. Whatever subject you teach — from computer science to the humanities —  computational thinking can be a powerful addition to your classroom activities. By integrating these skills into all subject areas, you can help better prepare your students to contribute new solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Our new online course, Computational Thinking for Educators, is free and intended for educators working with students between the ages of 13 and 18 who are interested in enhancing their teaching with creative thinking and problem solving. We’ll demonstrate how incorporating computational thinking into your classroom simply enhances what you already do, enriching your lessons and student exploration, even without access to technology. Another benefit to computational thinking is that it may help boost students’ confidence and is especially useful when dealing with ambiguous, complex or open-ended problems.

Like all of our other Google Online Courses, participants will engage with course material through a combination of video and text-based lessons, learning from experts in computational thinking as well as collaborating with other participants. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete a final project applying the skills you’ve learned and share with other educators, earning a course certificate.

We believe all students should learn computational thinking, regardless of subject, age or access to technology in the classroom. As computational thinkers and technology creators, our students will be better equipped to participate and position themselves professionally in a global society. They’ll have the creative thinking and problem solving skills to help find solutions for today and tomorrow’s biggest global challenges.

Sound interesting? Register now and join us as well as other educators around the world as we take on Computational Thinking for Educators. This  course will run from July 15 - September 30, 2015.

Posted by by Aida Martinez, Program Manager

June 16, 2015

Google Play prepaid vouchers now available in India

Starting today, you can use Google Play prepaid vouchers to purchase digital content on Google Play.

Over the coming weeks, you will find Google Play prepaid vouchers worth INR 500, INR 1000 and INR 1500 at select stores of Vijay Sales and Spice Hotspot in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata & Jaipur.

Simply ask the cashier at the register for a Google Play prepaid voucher. Pay using cash or any other form of payment accepted by the retail store and receive a redemption code that you can use to purchase digital content on Google Play.

With Google Play, you can buy apps, games, e-books and rent or buy movies, on the device of your choice — be it a computer, Android phone or tablet. All of this entertainment is available across multiple devices — buy an e-book on the web, for example, and it’s instantly available on your phone or tablet through Google Play, and you can start reading right where you left off.

Consumers can access, purchase or rent (in case of movies) this digital content in a variety of ways:

  • On Android devices: Android phone and tablet users can click on the Google Play store app to shop for e-books, movies, apps and games. Digital content purchased can be “pinned” to the device for offline use without a data connection;
  • On the web: Users of Chromebooks, PCs, Macs and all other computers can access their digital content online through the web version of Google Play (play.google.com).

You can use Google Play prepaid vouchers to purchase your favorite apps and digital content, as well as in-app goods in your favorite games. Visit http://play.google.com/redeem to redeem your vouchers.

Posted by Saurabh Agarwal, Head of Retail Partnerships - Google Play Gift Cards, India

June 11, 2015

Faster and lighter mobile web pages in India

No one likes waiting. Whether you’re looking for the latest cricket scores, the next train times, or the phone number for that coffee shop you left your bag at, faster is better. Unfortunately, in India, where network connections are often slow, getting information like this on your phone can be tough, and frustrating.

So we’re exploring some new ways to speed things up. In two weeks, we’ll start to roll out a new feature which we hope will do just that. If you’re in India, with an Android phone and on a slow connection, like 2G, you should start to see pages loading a whole lot faster, while using far less data, via your Chrome or Android browser from Google’s search results. There’s more on how this works on our Webmasters blog.

It’s still early days, but our field test in Indonesia showed us that these new light pages load four times faster and use 80% less data than before. Traffic to webpages increased by more than 50%. Of course, if you’d prefer to see the original page, you can choose that option at the top of your page.

With over 200 million Indians accessing the Internet from a smartphone, we’re working hard to make access faster and more affordable. After all, if each of those Indian smartphone users spends just 1 extra second a day waiting for a page to load, that adds up to more than two and a half years of people waiting, every day.

Posted by Hiroto Tokusei, Product Manager

June 10, 2015

We’re Now in Phase 2 of the PMO App Contest

On 4th March, 2015 MyGov, the citizen engagement platform of the Government of India and Google launched the PMO Mobile App Contest - the first of it’s kind contest to crowdsource and build a mobile app for the Prime Minister’s Office. In Phase 1, the Citizens of India were invited  to submit ideas on what they would like to see in the app. More than 9500 innovative submissions were received.

The App Contest has now entered Phase 2. In this phase, teams can register and submit their wireframes and mockups for the app based on the app blueprint. The blueprint was prepared by MyGov based on the top 20 winning ideas and features already available on the PMO India website. The final app will consist of ideas such as:
  • Profile of the Prime Minister and major initiatives of the Prime Minister
  • PMO functional chart and the ability to contact them
  • Latest news and Social Media updates
  • Latest videos and ‘Mann Ki Baat’ streaming
  • Donation to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund
  • The Prime Minister’s Calendar
  • Merchandise store where the proceeds go to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund

People can register in teams of 3 to 6 on MyGov and submit their mockups by 16th June, 2015. The top 10 shortlisted teams get to present their mockups to a jury set up by MyGov in Delhi, and 5 of them will be selected to build the official PMO Mobile App and be mentored by Google in the process. This a great opportunity for developers, coders, UI/UX designers and students to showcase their talent and skill, and contribute to the country by making a world class app for the PMO.

India is going mobile. More people today are accessing the internet on their phone than ever before. The phone is a person’s window to the outside world, and now it can also be the window to the Prime Minister's Office. We are a step closer to making that a reality.

Posted by Chetan Krishnaswamy, Country Head - Public Policy, Google India.

June 1, 2015

Google for Nonprofits Launches in India

Today, we’re excited to announce that in partnership with TechSoup, Google for Nonprofits is now available for all centrally registered nonprofits in India..

Specified Nonprofit Corporations, Public Interest Corporations, and Social Welfare Corporations can now apply to join the program  which provides access to a suite of free products and tools, including:
  • Google Ad Grants: Free AdWords advertising to promote your website on Google through keyword targeting.
  • Google Apps for Nonprofit: Free version of the Google Apps business productivity suite, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and more.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program: Premium branding capabilities on YouTube channels, and increased uploading capacity.

Many nonprofits throughout the region are already taking advantage of these programs to recruit new volunteers, fundraise and raise awareness about their work.

One such company is CanSupport. Founded in 1996 with the mission to enable people with advanced cancer and their families to make informed choices and decisions and to receive appropriate physical, emotional, social and spiritual support.  CanSupport uses Google Apps as communication and collaboration platform that enables their staff and volunteers to be mobile yet accessible. CanSupport provides free Home Care for patients, Day Care and Counseling Services in Delhi and NCR as well as Training in Palliative Care throughout the country.

"Google Apps enables us to work on the go, while being rest assured about our data security”", said Sindhu George - Head Resource Mobilisation, CanSupport.

Using the momentum that has been established by organizations such as CanSupport, we can’t wait to continue partnering with organizations in India starting with today’s launch.

Posted by Vineeta Dixit, Public Policy, Google India

May 29, 2015

Pursuing transformative technology with the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities

[Cross posted from the Official Google Blog]

When Laura Palmaro was 10 years old, she woke one morning to find that the central vision in her left eye had all but disappeared. She was not ill and had no genetic issues—it was completely out of the blue. When she was 14, the same rare condition struck her right eye, and she began her freshman year of high school legally blind. Suddenly she was forced to depend on other people to read everything aloud, from school assignments to menus. The toughest part, according to Laura, was losing her sense of independence—and not knowing when or how she would get it back.

Laura has since adopted technological solutions to her vision challenges, using a combination of screen-readers and magnification software to read, work and more. Now a program manager at Google, she is following her passion, helping Chrome and Chrome OS teams make their products more accessible. “Technology has truly transformed my life,” she says. “Assistive technology can tear down boundaries, and empower people to find their independence and fulfill their dreams.”

We agree with Laura about the power of technology to change lives. And in order to support more people like her—people who see obstacles as opportunities—we’re launching the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. We’re putting $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities, and today we’re issuing an open call to identify new areas of opportunity at g.co/ImpactChallengeDisability.

We’re kicking things off with support for two remarkable organizations. Each of these organizations is using technology to dramatically reduce the cost of and access to prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, respectively—which could be transformative for hundreds of millions of people.

  • The Enable community connects people who want prosthetics with volunteers who use 3D printers to design, print, assemble, and fit them, for free. This dramatically cuts costs, increases speed of distribution, and meets unmet needs. We’ll support the Enable Community Foundation's efforts with a $600,000 grant to advance the design, distribution and delivery of open-source 3D-printed upper-limb prosthetics.
  • Diagnosing auditory challenges can be a struggle in low income communities—the equipment is expensive, bulky and unrealistic, particularly in the developing world. With our support, and a $500,000 grant, World Wide Hearing will develop, prototype and test an extremely low cost tool kit for hearing loss using smartphone technology that’s widely available—and affordable—in the developing world.

The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious “what ifs” for the disabled community. We will choose the best of these ideas and help them to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying our people and by mobilizing our resources in support of their missions.

But of course, we realize there’s always room to improve our products as well. We have a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and we provide engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well. For example, Liftware is a stabilizing utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, and self-driving cars could one day transform mobility for everyone.

Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change. Thanks to groups like Enable and World Wide Hearing, and with tools like Liftware, we’re starting to see the potential for technologies that can profoundly and affordably impact millions. But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort—which is why we’re launching Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities today. Together, we can create a better world, faster.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google.org