April 26, 2015

Responding to the Nepal earthquake

Last night, Nepal experienced the worst earthquake in more than 80 years, registering 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Our team is doing a few things to try to aid the response.

The first is Person Finder, which we launched in English, Nepali and Hindi, with other languages coming soon, just after the quake hit. Person Finder gives people a way to post and search for family or friends affected by the disaster. If you’re worried about someone, click on “I’m looking for someone” and type in their name. If you want to let people know you’re safe or have heard from someone in the area, then click on “I have information about someone” and put in their names and details. 

We’ve also made the Search function of Person Finder available through SMS. In India and the U.S., simply text “search ” to +91.977.330.0000 in India or +1.650.800.3978 in the U.S.



The Person Finder tool can also be embedded on any website using the following HTML code:
<iframe src="http://google.org/personfinder/2015-nepal-earthquake/?ui=small" width=400 height=300 frameborder=0style="border: dashed 2px #77c"></iframe>

We are also working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the recovery effort by, among other things, identifying impacted areas and evacuation routes, which we’ll update here. And Google.org is committing $1 million to the response, with up to an additional $250,000 in employee gift-matching from Google.

Sadly, we also lost one of our own to this tragedy, Dan Fredinburg, who was on his way to try to summit Everest.  He was a long-time member of our Privacy team and an all around just amazing person. Our thoughts are with the people of Nepal, and with Dan’s family and friends during this terrible time.

Posted by Payal Patel, Product Manager, Google Crisis Response

April 22, 2015

Ranking change to help you find mobile-friendly sites rolling out today

[Cross posted from the Official Inside Search Blog]

We’ve all been there: you’re on your phone and click through to a website, only to find it’s hard to read or burdensome to navigate because it isn’t formatted for a mobile screen. With mobile phones increasingly becoming the primary way for people to search the Internet, we want to ensure that when you search on Google you find content that is not just relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens.

A lack of mobile friendliness is also a problem for web publishers: visitors abandon websites that aren’t mobile friendly at higher rates. And research shows 74% of users say they are more likely to return to a mobile-friendly site.

That’s why we’ve been encouraging webmasters to create sites that avoid the pitfalls of small text and hard to navigate formatting in order to provide a great experience for mobile visitors to their pages. Back in November, we introduced a “mobile-friendly badge” to notify users when a link in search results led to a mobile friendly-page, and provided resources to help webmasters become mobile-friendly. And today we’re starting to roll out a change that we announced two months ago to take into account whether a site is mobile-friendly when we rank search results on mobile phones.

Note that this is just one of over 200 signals we use to evaluate the best results. Non-mobile-friendly sites won’t disappear from mobile Search results—they may still rank high if they hold great content the user wants.

If you use Google search on your mobile phone, you can now more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling. In just the two months since we announced this change, we’ve seen a 4.7 percentage point uptick in the proportion of sites that are mobile friendly, and we hope to see even more in the coming months.

Our mobile ranking will now use mobile-friendliness as a signal that weighs in favor of pages that are formatted for mobile phones, like the image on the right.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming: it could be as simple as adjusting website settings or picking out a design you like. Even if you opt to fully redesign your site, a small business website with 10-20 pages could be completed in a day or so.

Webmasters can check if their site is mobile-friendly by examining individual pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test or checking the status of the entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. Once a site becomes mobile-friendly, we will automatically re-process those pages (and webmasters can expedite the process by using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index).

Posted by Cody Kwok, Principal Software Engineer

April 1, 2015

More Chromebooks, for everyone

[Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog]

“Get more done and worry less.” That’s what teachers, businesses, and everyday people have told us they can do, thanks to Chromebooks. Since we introduced them four years ago, Chromebooks have made computers faster, simpler, and more secure, while eliminating everyday hassles like waiting for your computer to boot up, having to constantly charge it, and remembering to install software updates. And a lot of people love them—Chromebooks were the best selling laptops on Amazon last holiday season, and teachers and students made them the #1 device in schools last year.

Quality and affordability

You shouldn't have to choose between a computer that performs well and one that you can afford. Today we're introducing two new devices that meet both criteria: the Haier Chromebook 11 (available at Amazon) and the Hisense Chromebook (available at Walmart). These new Chromebooks are fast, lightweight, have long-life batteries and are available for pre-order today for $149. 

They join new partners like TRUE, XOLO, and Nexian and our existing range of Chrome devices —ranging from 11.6” Chromebooks for $199 to 15” Chromebooks for $499 rolling out over the next few months from partners like Acer, AOPEN, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG.


A Chromebook you’ll flip for

We’re also excited about the ASUS Chromebook Flip. A premium, all-metal convertible, it’s ultra-portable—just 15mm thin and weighing less than two pounds. The Chromebook Flip has a great keyboard and a touch screen for immersive experiences like gaming and educational apps. It will be available later this spring for $249.


A little bit more...

This summer, ASUS will launch a new type of Chrome device: the Chromebit. Smaller than a candy bar, the Chromebit is a full computer that will be available for less than $100. By simply plugging this device into any display, you can turn it into a computer. It’s the perfect upgrade for an existing desktop and will be really useful for schools and businesses.


So whether you’re looking for a smaller Chrome device that packs a big punch or a laptop that can do back bends, there’s a Chromebook for you...and for everyone else, too.

Posted by Katie Roberts-Hoffman, Engineer and ARM Wrestler

March 18, 2015

#PoweredByTheSun: Solar Impulse flies to Varanasi today

Solar Impulse has taken off on the third leg of its historic flight around the world - from Ahmedabad to Varanasi.


The aircraft, Si2, has already set a provisional world record for the longest solar-powered flight. It’s on track to be the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe on solar power only.


André Borschberg, co-founder, will be in the pilot seat for the flight. From Varanasi, the SI-2 will fly to Mandalay in Myanmar.


You can follow the aircraft’s progress at the Solar Impulse website.


Posted by Samit Malkani, Brand Lead, Google India.

March 17, 2015

Zoom with a view: visit India’s stunning monuments online

[Cross posted from the Official Google APAC Blog]

Since last year, we’ve partnered with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and other institutions to bring a comprehensive range of India’s heritage sites online, including national icons like the Taj Mahal, Safdarjung Tomb, and the Ellora Caves.  Starting today, history lovers and online explorers alike can now find new panoramic views of 31 Indian archaeological sites and monuments on Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute. Here’s a virtual walk through of some of these stunning monuments, made possible by Street View technology:

Begin your journey at the Gateway of India, a popular starting point for tourists who wish to explore bustling Mumbai, one of India's largest cities. Pan through the imagery for a closer look at the yellow basalt stone arch, covered with intricate Gujarati-influenced latticework.



From there, hop over to the Sun Temple at Konârk, one of India’s Seven Wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a glimpse of the chariot-shaped temple and its elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls.



For a flavour of India’s royal legacy, visit the Mysore Palace next, one of the country’s grandest royal palaces. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the Palace hosts the Mysore Dasara, which celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010 and attracts visitors  from around the world.



Next, wander through the remains of ancient India’s highest seat of education - the Nalanda University. Learn more about the amazing discoveries uncovered during its excavation through the Archaeological Survey of India’s virtual exhibit, “Nalanda: from Mound to Monument", on the Google Cultural Institute.


Following that, roam through Karnataka’s largest temple complex: the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, an impressive series of nine Hindu temples and a Jain sanctuary. This World Heritage Site celebrates the Chalukya dynasty, narrating stories of their bravery and valour in the battlefield.


You can also head further down south to the state of Tamil Nadu for a look at Thanjavur Temple on Street View, a fine example of Tamil architecture created during India’s Chola dynasty. The temple, dedicated to Chola emperor Rajaraja, is entirely built out of granite.


That’s just a quick tour of some of the 31 sites we’ve brought onto Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute today by working with the ASI, as well as the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, Karnataka Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation. We hope exploring the new panoramic views of these important sites will help people in India and around the world discover, explore, and learn more about India’s rich heritage.

Posted by Chetan Krishnaswamy, Country Head, Public Policy at Google

March 11, 2015

#PoweredByTheSun: Solar Impulse lands in India

Solar Impulse, the solar-powered aircraft that’s on a round-the-world flight to raise awareness for clean, renewable energy, landed in Ahmedabad yesterday from Oman.
Our privately-financed Swiss aircraft hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power.
Payerne, Switzerland: Today,Solar Impulse 2, the second single-seater solar aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg designed to take up the challenge of the first round-the-world solar flight, without any fuel in 2015, carried out its eighteenth  test flight out of the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland. The plane flew at a high altitude. There will be several other test flights taking place in the coming months in order for this experimental machine to attain certification. They will be followed by training flights of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg later in the season still from Payerne airfield. The attempt to make the first round-the-world solar-powered flight is scheduled to start in March 2015 from Gulf area. Solar Impulse will fly, in order, over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Europe or North Africa before closing the loop by returning to the departure point. Landings will be made every few days to change pilots and organize public events for governments, schools and universities.
The aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, is extremely impressive. Its wingspan is only slightly less than that of an Airbus A380, but it weighs only as much as a modern car. 17,248 photovoltaic cells charge its 4 lithium-ion batteries, which in turn power 4 electronic motors. The aircraft cruises at 27,900 feet, at a speed of 90 km/h; its maximum speed is an impressive 140 km/h.
Payerne, Switzerland: Today,Solar Impulse 2, the second single-seater solar aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg designed to take up the challenge of the first round-the-world solar flight, without any fuel in 2015, carried out its first flight out of the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland. There will be several other test flights taking place in the coming months in order for this experimental machine to attain certification. They will be followed by training flights of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg later in the season still from Payerne airfield. The attempt to make the first round-the-world solar-powered flight is scheduled to start in March 2015 from Gulf area. Solar Impulse will fly, in order, over the Arabian Sea, India, Burma, China, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Europe or North Africa before closing the loop by
returning to the departure point. Landings will be made every few days to change pilots and organize public events for governments, schools and universities.
Flying by day and night, we intend to complete our historic journey in a little over 2 months.
Solar Impulse has collaborated with Google to keep us, the pilots, connected to the world all through our flight. You can follow our progress on our Google+ Page; watch exclusive content on our YouTube Channel; and join stunning Google Hangouts with us, live from mid-air.
20100921_ SwissFlight_JeanRevillard-0052.jpg
After a few days interacting with students, teachers, the government and the private sector in Ahmedabad, we will fly 1,075 km to Varanasi. We’d like to invite you to follow the launch LIVE on the Google India blog, and join an exclusive mid-air Google Hangout with us.
Thank you very much for your support. You can read more about the Solar Impulse project here.
Written by: Bertrand Piccard, Andre Borschberg, Co-Founders & Pilots, Solar Impulse


February 26, 2015

Android is ready for work

[Cross posted from the Official Android Blog]

Over a billion people today carry Android smartphones—devices that are more powerful than the computers we used just a few years ago.

For many, these phones have become essential tools to help us complete important work tasks like checking email, editing documents, reviewing sales pipelines and approving deals. But for the majority of workers, smartphones and tablets are underutilized in the workplace. Their business and innovation potential remain largely untapped.

Today we're announcing the Android for Work program to tap into that potential. With a group of partners, we're helping businesses bring more devices to work by securing, managing and innovating on the Android platform.

Android for Work features four key technology components:

  • Work profiles – We’ve built on the default encryption, enhanced SELinux security enforcement and multi-user support in Android 5.0, Lollipop to create a dedicated work profile that isolates and protects work data. IT can deploy approved work apps right alongside their users' personal apps knowing their sensitive data remains secured. People can use their personal apps knowing their employer only manages work data and won’t erase or view their personal content.
  • Android for Work app – For devices running Ice Cream Sandwich through Kitkat, or that don’t run work profiles natively, we’ve created the Android for Work app. The app, which delivers secure mail, calendar, contacts, documents, browsing and access to approved work apps, can be completely managed by IT.
  • Google Play for Work – Google Play for Work allows businesses to securely deploy and manage apps across all users running Android for Work, simplifying the process of distributing apps to employees and ensuring that IT approves every deployed app.
  • Built-in productivity tools – For everyday business tasks, we’ve created a suite of business apps for email, contacts and calendar, which supports both Exchange and Notes and provides document editing capabilities for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

We’re joined by a number of partners as part of the Android for Work program, including many familiar names within the Android ecosystem:


Our partners bring IT:
  • Consistent management – Enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers integrate with standardized management APIs to create a simple way to manage all Android devices, new and old, from one dashboard. All Android for Work capabilities are delivered through EMM partners, with more providers available soon.
  • Secure business apps – Software vendors and developers can create a single version of any Google Play app that can be securely deployed to any Android device without alterations or wrapping. And they can create standard management configurations that allow IT to apply policies per app.
  • Innovative devices – Android smartphone and tablet makers are a key part of the Android for Work program, as they create devices and experiences that add additional value for customers.

Together with a wide range of management, application and device makers, we believe the Android for Work program provides businesses and workers with the choice and flexibility they need to get things done at work.

Learn more by visiting google.com/work/android.

Posted by Rajen Sheth, Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Work