October 2, 2014

Announcing Project Verylite

The Internet is a global gathering space of infinite opportunity, where people from around the world can exchange ideas and access humanity’s knowledge. Everyone should have equal access to the internet’s information to improve their everyday lives, regardless of who they are or where they live.  

Increasingly, users in India are accessing the internet through mobile devices such as their smartphones. However, not all of these devices come with fast, cheap connections. Today, Google is launching  a new streamlined version of its search results page in India to help.

Now, we will automatically check to see if a user has a slow wireless connection and deliver a fast loading version of Search.  Fewer bytes means you get your answer faster - and cheaper!  Google's high quality results will remain the same, but elements such as images and maps will only show up when they are an essential part of the result.
This is just another step Google is taking to organize the world’s information and make it accessible to everyone, including those who do not have fast mobile connections.

Posted by Bharat Mediratta, Distinguished Software Engineer - Google

September 30, 2014

Preserving Orkut’s history

[Cross posted from the Official Orkut Blog]

Today, we are bidding farewell to Orkut. But, as we announced at the end of June, while the service may be going away, its history of connections and conversations will live on. For a decade now, millions of people, spread around the world, have been brought together by common interests and lively discussion to form a vast collection of vibrant communities. And, as of today, public content on those communities is being preserved in the Orkut Community Archive: 51 million communities, 120 million topics, and more than 1 billion interactions.

Whatever the topic—from futebol to horror movies—there was a place for you to connect with others who shared your passions. And now you can go back and revisit them anytime. These conversations don’t just represent a history of Orkut, but will serve as an important time capsule of the early history of the social web. Of course, if you don't want your posts or name to be included in the Archive, you can remove Orkut permanently from your Google account at any time.

Orkut Futebol

And, while you won’t be able to access Orkut itself anymore, users can still export their profile data, community posts and photos using Google Takeout (available until September 2016). Please visit our Help Center for further details.

Orkut’s history is a sign of a great future, as the web explodes every day with new and great options for social interaction. We hope that the decades to come will be filled with even more of the connections, communities, and conversations that made Orkut special.

Posted by Paulo Golgher, Engineering Director

September 23, 2014

For those who dream big: Announcing the winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair

[Cross posted from the Official Google Blog]

Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow became interested in addressing the global food crisis after learning about the Horn of Africa famine in 2011. When a gardening project went awry, they discovered a naturally occurring bacteria in soil called Diazotroph. The girls determined that the bacteria could be used to speed up the the germination process of certain crops, like barley and oats, by 50 percent, potentially helping fulfill the rising demand for food worldwide. Oh—and they’re 16 years old.

Today, Ciara, Émer and Sophie were named the Grand Prize Winner and the 15-16 age category winners of our fourth annual Google Science Fair. They are some of thousands of students ages 13-18 who dared to ask tough questions like: How can we stop cyberbullying? How can I help my grandfather who has Alzheimer's from wandering out of bed at night? How can we protect the environment? And then they actually went out and answered them.

From thousands of submissions from 90+ countries, our panel of esteemed judges selected 18 finalists representing nine countries—Australia, Canada, France, India, Russia, U.K., Ukraine and the U.S.—who spent today impressing Googlers and local school students at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. In addition to our Grand Prize Winners, the winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair are:

  • 13-14 age category: Mihir Garimella (Pennsylvania, USA) for his project FlyBot: Mimicking Fruit Fly Response Patterns for Threat Evasion. Like many boys his age, Mihir is fascinated with robots. But he took it to the next level and actually built a flying robot, much like the ones used in search and rescue missions, that was inspired by the way fruit flies detect and respond to threats. Mihir is also the winner of the very first Computer Science award, sponsored by Google.
  • 17-18 age category: Hayley Todesco (Alberta, Canada) for her project Waste to Water: Biodegrading Naphthenic Acids using Novel Sand Bioreactors. Hayley became deeply interested in the environment after watching Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Her project uses a sustainable and efficient method to break down pollutant substances and toxins found in tailing ponds water in her hometown, a hub of the oil sands industry.
  • The Scientific American Science in Action award: Kenneth Shinozuka (Brooklyn, New York) for his wearable sensors project. Kenneth was inspired by his grandfather and hopes to help others around the world dealing with Alzheimer's. The Scientific American award is given to a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge.
  • Voter’s Choice award: Arsh Dilbagi (India) for his project Talk, which enables people with speech difficulties to communicate by simply exhaling.

As the Grand Prize winners, Ciara, Émer and Sophie receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands provided by National Geographic, a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a personalized LEGO prize provided by LEGO Education and the chance to participate in astronaut training at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in the Mojave desert.

Thanks to all of our young finalists and to everyone who participated in this year’s Google Science Fair. We started the Science Fair to inspire scientific exploration among young people and celebrate the next generation of scientist and engineers. And every year we end up amazed by how much you inspire us. So, keep dreaming, creating and asking questions. We look forward to hearing the answers.

Posted by Clare Conway, on behalf of the Google Science Fair team.

September 17, 2014

Read all about it! Magazines and newspaper subscriptions now available in Google Play Newsstand

We’re pleased to announce that Google Play users in India can now subscribe to top Indian newspapers and international magazines through the Google Play Newsstand Android app.

Get the latest headlines from NDTV, catch up with politics in Hindustan Times, get fashion advice from Vogue, and dream about the destination for your weekend with Conde Nast Traveller.

Newsstand brings together your favourite magazines, national newspapers and blogs in one seamless experience. Newsstand puts the news you care about most front and center and presents stories that interest you based on your tastes. The more you read the better it will get. You can subscribe to magazines, newspapers, blogs and news sites and we’ll format and optimise them all for reading on your tablet or phone. With the swipe of a finger, you can browse full length articles, with beautiful images, audio and video right inside the app. You can access these articles even when you’re offline or bookmark them to read later.
It offers thousands of full-length publications (free and paid) that you can subscribe to or follow. Some of these include:

  • News Subscriptions: Full-length content from leading Indian and International news publishers including Financial Times, New York Times, NDTV, Hindustan Times, Dainik Jagran, Mid-day, ABP Live, Mint, TV9, and more.
  • Magazines: Hundreds of HD magazines like India Today, Business Today, GQ, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller, Cosmo, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Health.
  • Blogs: Your favorite blogs like Apartment Therapy, MissMalini, Colossal, Cool Hunting, Flavorpill, Saveur Daily, TMZ and The Verge.
  • Sites: Leading web sites like ESPNCricinfo, Indiatimes, MensXP, iDiva, Luxpresso, and more.
You can download the Google Play Newsstand app for your Android phone or tablet from Google Play. No matter your interests, there’s something for everyone in Newsstand.


Posted by Shiva Kumar, for Google Play Newsstand

September 15, 2014

For the next five billion: Android One


[Cross posted from the Official Asia Pacific Blog]

Knowledge is a game changer. I’ve long been inspired by the Internet and how it opens the doors to opportunity. It provides access to knowledge, no matter who you are or where you are. For instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel Laureate at a world-class research center or a young student at a rural school in Indonesia, with Google Search, you have the same information at your fingertips as anyone else.

If we look at how people are getting online and accessing information today, increasingly it’s through a smartphone. While 1.75 billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world’s population—over five billion more—do not. That means most people are only able to make simple voice calls, rather than connect with family through a live video chat, use mapping apps to find the closest hospital, or simply search the web. We want to bring these experiences to more people.

That’s where Android One comes in. At I/O, we first talked about this initiative to make high-quality smartphones accessible to as many people as possible. And today we’re introducing the first family of Android One phones in India.


Addressing key barriers—hardware, software and connectivity
There are three big reasons why it’s hard for people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines to get their hands on a high-quality smartphone. First, is the hardware itself. Even entry-level smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250). Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.

Android One aims to help tackle these challenges. By working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to share reference designs and select components, we’re making it easier for our partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable. They have lots of processing power, so you can get information quickly. They have high-quality front- and rear-facing cameras. And for all those pictures, along with your apps and videos, Android One phones will have expandable storage. We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio.
To help ensure a consistent experience, Android One devices will receive the latest versions of Android directly from Google. So you’ll get all the latest features, up-to-date security patches, and peace of mind knowing your stuff is always backed up. It also means Android One devices will be some of the first to be updated to the Android L release later this year. For our hardware partners, they’ll be able to create customized experiences and differentiate their devices without having to change the core software.

In an effort to reduce data costs, if you have an Airtel SIM card, you’ll get these software updates for free for the first six months. As part of this same Airtel offer, you’ll also be able to download up to 200MB per month worth of your favorite apps (that’s about 50 apps overall) from Google Play—all without counting toward your mobile data usage.

More to come
This is just the beginning of the Android One journey. The first phones, from our hardware partners Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek, are available starting today in India from leading retailers starting at Rs 6,399. We’re also excited to welcome more partners to the program, including phone manufacturers Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm. We expect to see even more high-quality, affordable devices with different screen sizes, colors, hardware configurations and customized software experiences. Finally, we plan to expand the Android One program to Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) by the end of the year, with more countries to follow in 2015.


Access for access’s sake is not enough. With Android One, we not only want to help people get online, we want to make sure that when they get there, they can tap into the wealth of information and knowledge the web holds for everyone.


Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps, Google

September 12, 2014

Crisis Response Map for Jammu and Kashmir Floods

As the flood waters recede in Jammu and Kashmir, the rescue teams will now be able to reach thousands of stranded people. To aid this rescue process, we’ve created a Crisis map for Jammu and Kashmir with updated satellite imagery.  Our hope is that this will help rescue agencies, volunteers and others involved in rescue operations respond to this crisis by identifying flood zones, evacuation routes and weather conditions.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 15.47.13.png
This image from the Jammu and Kashmir Crisis Map shows a before and after cross section from the city of Srinagar

You can click the “Share” button at the top of the crisis map to embed or share by email or social media. We are also still operating Person Finder, which as of the posting of this blog has a little more than 7000 records.



We hope the crisis map can accelerate the efforts of responding agencies and people affected by the disaster.
We continue to work on providing more relevant tools for rescue agencies, volunteers and non profits.


Posted by Google Crisis Response Team

September 10, 2014

Crisis tools launched for the Jammu and Kashmir floods

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is facing its worst floods in 60 years. Given that the flood has uprooted communication modes making the area almost inaccessible, we have launched several tools, to help gather and relay information about people affected by the devastation.

Here are some of the tools we’ve been working on:

Google Person Finder, a web application that allows individuals to post the details of, and search for the status of, family members or friends affected by the disaster. If you’re worried about someone in the disaster affected area, then click on “I’m Looking for Someone” and type in their name. If you want to let people know you’re safe, or if you have heard from someone in the disaster affected area, then click on “I have information about someone” and put in their names and details. As the number of names and records increases, the tool will make it easier for those who are safe to pass on their status to people worried about them. It is available in both English and Hindi.


The People finder tool can be embedded on any website - here are instructions for embedding person finder:

Use the following HTML code:
<iframe src="http://google.org/personfinder/2014-jammu-kashmir-floods/?ui=small"
   width=400 height=300 frameborder=0
   style="border: dashed 2px #77c"></iframe>

We’ve also made Person Finder available on mobile phones. You can request status via SMS by sending the message “Search”, followed by the person’s name i.e. “Search” <name>, to the number 9773300000 . For example, if you are searching for Rohan Gupta, send the message “Search Rohan Gupta”

To make emergency information available  immediately, we have also launched a Onebox on Google Search in Hindi and English. This provides helpline information of the Army, Home Ministry, and NDRF Control Room, listed below:
Emergency Army Helpline:(+91) 011-23019831
Home Ministry Helpline:(+91) 011-23093054 · (+91) 011-23092763
NDRF Control Room:(+91) 011-26107953 · (+91) 0-9711077372

While on-ground disaster response is being carried out by specialised entities, everyone can do their bit to help by sharing information.


Posted by the Google Crisis Response Team