Monthly Archives: November 2015

The new Google Maps SDK for iOS includes bitcode support, new events and more

Today we are launching the Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.11, which includes bitcode support, new events and some features previously available only in the Android SDK.

Bitcode is an intermediate representation of your app that is uploaded to the Apple Store. With this abstraction, Apple can optimize for specific target devices at provisioning time.

The Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.11 also introduces two new events: didLongPressInfoWindowOfMarker and didCloseInfoWindowOfMarker. The long press event takes advantage of iOS long-touch as another way for users to interact with Maps SDK for iOS enabled apps. The close event is particularly useful if you wish to programmatically zoom back out on the map after the user has looked at the detail associated with a particular marker.

We have also added start and finish rendering events to the GMSMapViewDelegate and GMSPanoramaViewDelegate protocols. The start rendering events are triggered when tiles have just been requested or labels have just started rendering. The finish events are triggered on rendering completion for tiles and StreetView panoramas, respectively.

Finish events can be used in conjunction with an activity indicator to accurately represent when a map has finished rendering. The sample code below shows how to include this functionality. (We’ve also included SVProgressHUD in the sample below to improve the user experience, but it is not required)

import UIKit
import GoogleMaps

class MapRenderingViewController: UIViewController {
  @IBOutlet var mapView: GMSMapView!

  override func viewDidLoad() {
    super.viewDidLoad()
    mapView.delegate = self
  }

  // MARK: - GMSMapViewDelegate

  func mapViewDidStartTileRendering(mapView: GMSMapView!) {
    SVProgressHUD.showWithStatus("Loading tiles")
  }

  func mapViewDidFinishTileRendering(mapView: GMSMapView!) {
    SVProgressHUD.dismiss()
  }
}
Lastly, the Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.11 offers new features & bugfixes we think you'll find useful, including:

  • Setting ground overlay opacity with an alpha value
  • Polygon hole support
  • Increased camera tilt range at high zoom
  • Additional Places autocomplete functionality

Take a look at our release notes and update to Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.11 today.

Posted by Megan Boundey, Product Manager, Google Maps Mobile APIs

Containerizing in the real world . . . of Minecraft

Containers are all the rage right now. There are scores of best practices papers and tutorials out there, and "Intro to Containers" sessions at just about every conference even tangentially related to cloud computing. You may have read through the Docker docs, launched an NGINX Docker container, and read through Miles Ward’s Introduction to containers and Kubernetes piece. Still, containers can be a hard concept to internalize, especially if you have an existing application that you’re considering containerizing.

To help you through this conceptual hurdle, I’ve written a four-part series of blog posts that gives you a hands-on introduction to building, updating, and using containers for something familiar: running a Minecraft server. You can check them out here:


In the first part of the series, you’ll learn how to create a container image that includes everything a Minecraft server needs, use that image on Google Compute Engine to run the server, and make it accessible from your Minecraft client. You’ll use the Docker command-line tools to build, test, and run the container, as well as to push the image up into the Google Container Registry for use with a container-optimized instance.


Next, you'll work through the steps needed to separate out storage from the container and learn how to make regular backups of your game. If you’ve ever made a mistake in Minecraft, you know how critical being able to restore world state can be! As Minecraft is always more fun when it’s customized, you'll also learn how to update the container image with modifications you make to the server.properties file.

Finally, you’ll take the skills that you’ve learned and apply them to making something fun and slightly absurd: Minecraft Roulette. This application allows you to randomly connect to one of several different Minecraft worlds using a single IP as your entry point. As you work through this tutorial, you’ll learn the basics of Kubernetes, an open source container orchestrator.

By the end of the series, you’ll have grasped the basics of containers and Kubernetes, and will be set to go out and containerize your own application. Plus, you’ll have had the excuse to play a little Minecraft. Enjoy!

This blog post is not approved by or associated with Mojang or Minecraft.

Posted by Julia Ferraioli, Senior Developer Advocate, Google Cloud Platform

Easily get back to the images you’ve found on Google

The perfect image of your next big adventure, knitting project or style-changing haircut is bound to exist somewhere out there. But what happens once you find the image? Take a screenshot? Maybe try to save the webpage? Starting today there is an easier option: you can now star and bookmark images directly from Google’s image search in your mobile browser.

Let’s say you’re searching for “bob hairstyles” on Google and an image catches your eye. Simply select it and tap the star. Next time you’re at the stylist, you can easily access the picture without having to dig around or do another search.
Once you’ve starred a few images, you can keep them organized in folders: to add an image to a folder of similar items, tap the pencil shaped edit icon. Create a grouping such as “haircuts for the winter” or “snowman ideas” and your image will be added to a folder with similar ones.  
This feature is currently available in the US when you search for images on mobile, across all major browsers on both Android and iOS. To try it out, make sure you’re logged into your browser with your Google Account; then you can start image searching and planning that next adventure.

Posted by Diego Accame, Software Engineer

Source: Inside Search


Mobile Bootcamp Part I: Get your app into shape for the holiday season

During the 37 hours per month typically spent in apps, people look to their mobile devices for information and entertainment.

This comes as no surprise, however, to our DoubleClick customers. You already see most of your audience is mobile: more than half the queries on our platform today come from mobile devices, across mobile web and apps. This holiday season will bring increased traffic and even greater potential to grow revenue, peaking in January. Mobile app installs are expected to increase by 150% on Christmas Day compared to an average day in December.

To help you take advantage of the surge in user activity on mobile, and particularly in apps, we’ve gathered our most actionable research and best practices. Make the most of the holiday app frenzy with this four-day mobile bootcamp on reaching, engaging, and monetizing your app audiences.

Grow your app’s audience

Of the five hours per day that US consumers spend on smartphones, 54% of digital media time is spent in apps. How can you ensure your app is one of those? Cheney Tsai, our Mobile Solutions Consultant at Google, recommends five steps to help you connect with your audience everywhere.

  1. Get people talking about your app: 52% of users learn about an app from friends, family, or colleagues, proving yet again word-of-mouth is a reliable promotion method. Cheney suggests using App Invites, a beta feature for iOS and Android, which allows users to invite Google contacts to your app via email and SMS. As explained by Cheney, "First impressions matter! App Invites allow you to reach new users with a warm welcome, which could be game-changing for the long term value of your user. You can even reward the sender/receiver with a custom deal just for them."

  2. Make it easy for your existing users to find you, everywhere: By expanding your house ad campaigns to cross-promote on existing properties, you can target desktop users in addition to those on Android and iOS. Use App Indexing to redirect your SEO based traffic to your app; users who have the app are redirected into it while those without the app are prompted to install. Also, make sure your Google Play Store badge is prominently displayed on your website. Users are 47% more likely to trust and download apps upon seeing the Google Play badge!

  3. Optimize your creatives to pique users’ interests in stores: Your app’s presentation in app stores directly impacts downloads. Since the icon is the first impression, make it polished and descriptive with a featured image demonstrative of your app’s uniqueness. Experiment with the Play Store’s A/B testing features for different versions of graphic assets, titles, and descriptions. Cheney recommends playing up keywords with which users are most likely to find your app!

  4. Identify high performing channels and optimize with better analytics: Pinpoint your most successful app install campaigns and creatives to create an effective promotion strategy. For both iOS and Android, you can use Google Analytics to understand your user drop off points. Dive even deeper with app install tracking and custom campaigns to identify your top app referrers!

  5. Listen to your users and address their concerns: User comments may offer constructive feedback, so it’s integral to have a plan in place to respond and make changes. In Google Play Developer Console, you can reply to reviews to help users overcome a problem or communicate relevant information. According to developers like James Jerlecki at Text Plus, “The Reply to Reviews feature has essentially given me that direct line [to users] that I didn’t have before.”Just remember your reply is publicly visible, so ensure you have the right person in your organization replying.

With over 3.1 million apps across the Google Play and Apple stores, your app needs to be present whenever users are looking to discover new apps and stand out from the crowd when they find your app. Check out this blog tomorrow for recommendations from Jason Rosenblum, Mobile Solutions Consultant at Google, for engaging your users.

Danielle Landress
Associate Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Marketing

Digital Analytics Association San Francisco Symposium: ‘Tis the Season for Data

The fourth annual Digital Analytics Association (DAA) San Francisco Symposium is coming up! Join us on Tuesday, December 8th as we host the symposium at Google’s San Francisco office. This year’s event is focused on how all businesses use data to optimize, personalize, and succeed through the holidays. 


Our lineup of great speakers includes:
  • Jim Sterne, Target Marketing and the DAA
  • Kristina Bergman, Ignition Partners
  • Adam Singer, Analytics Advocate, Google
  • Prolet Miteva, Senior Manager Web Analytics Infrastructure, Autodesk
  • Joshua Anderson, Senior Manager Analytics, BlueShield
  • Michele Kiss, Senior Partner, Analytics Demystified
  • David Meyers, Co-Founder/CEO, AdoptAPet
  • and other great speakers

Theme: Optimization, personalization, and how to succeed through the holidays
When: Tuesday, December 8th, 2015. Registration starts at 12:30. Program runs from 1:00 to 5:30, followed by a networking reception. 
Where: Google San Francisco, 345 Spear Street, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105
Cost: $25 for DAA members/$75 for non-members
Event website and registration: register here

Space is limited so register early!

San Francisco locals, this Symposium is organized by local DAA members and volunteers. We encourage you to become a member of the DAA and join our local efforts. Become a member and reach out to one of the local chapter leaders, Krista, Charles or Feras.

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Krista Seiden, Google Analytics Advocate

Meet AdSense Publisher BuildEazy

Les Kenny was around 50 years old when he first used a computer. BuildEazy was his first website, designed to show people how to make everyday things out of wood. Every BuildEazy project, whether it’s a guinea pig hutch or a picnic table, comes with detailed plans, material lists, tool lists and step-by-step instructions, so anyone can give it a try.

What began as a hobby soon became a source of income as Les began dabbling with AdSense on the site. By experimenting with the position of ads, he went from earning a few dollars a day to a steady income.

Eventually Les was able to give up his day job as a building contractor and host BuildEazy full time, giving him the freedom to do what he loves (and hang out with the grandkids). He’s still authoring projects and BuildEazy is going from strength to strength.

Almost two million people are using AdSense right now. Learn more about how to start turning your passion into profit today.

Not yet an AdSense user? Sign up now!



Posted by Stacey Garcia
AdSense Marketing Manager

Source: Inside AdSense


From hoverboards to adult onesies: the gifts we’re searching for this holiday

If your holiday shopping plan this season involves grabbing a spare minute on your phone to hunt for presents while you’re standing in line or on the train to work, you’re not alone. More than half of holiday shoppers say they plan to use their smartphones in free moments throughout the day to get their holiday list done. As we wake up to what has become the day for online deal hunting—Cyber Monday—we took a look at the top gifts trending on Google Search to help you shop smarter in those spare moments. Here’s a look at online shopping search trends across the U.S., to give you ideas of what your loved ones might like to find under the tree.
Source: Google Shopping Data, U.S., Oct 2015 vs. Oct 2014

Drones are now toys: Drones are no longer expensive playthings for the tech-savvy. Search for “toy drone” and you’ll find countless inexpensive, easy-to-use devices available from department stores and toy stores. And they’re popular—nationwide, shopping searches for drones are up 80% over the past year, and they’re highest in California.

Hoverboards are real, and they’re trending: While we’re on the topic of electronic toys, hoverboards are so popular this year they’ve even overtaken searches for drones. They may not be exactly like the boards from Back to the Future or the Lexus commercial, but these two-wheeled boards have become a hot toy this season. Searches for “hoverboards” started trending in the summer and are up more than 500% since July.
Source: Google Shopping Data, U.S., Oct 2015 vs. Oct 2014

Holiday onesies are the new “ugly Christmas sweaters”: Last year “ugly Christmas sweaters” were all the rage. This year we’re seeing holiday onesies are the new kitsch partywear of choice, as searches for “adult onesies” are trending even faster than searches for “ugly Christmas sweater.” (Hey—we don’t try to explain these trends. We just report them. -Ed.)

Your 90s wardrobe is BACK: Bomber jackets. Levi jeans. Adidas Superstars. Looking at this year’s top-trending apparel list you’ll be forgiven for thinking we’ve gone back to the 90s. Not only have we seen searches for these 90s fashion trends more than double over the past year, each city has their own 90s fashion item of choice—shoppers in Chicago are more interested in Levis while shoppers in New York are on the hunt for Adidas Superstar shoes.
Source: Google Shopping Data, U.S., Oct 2015 vs. Oct 2014

“Smart” devices top electronics searches: With more models on the market than ever, both smart watches and smart TVs topped our list of trending electronics this year—with “smart watch” searches seeing a particularly phenomenal growth, up nearly 300% compared to last year. But as smart devices get more popular, retro electronics are also making a comeback: searches for instant cameras like “Polaroid Camera” and “Fujifilm Instax” have been rising steadily in popularity each holiday season.

So there you have it. Ready to start shopping? To help you search for these gifts quickly and easily while on-the-go, we recently redesigned Google Shopping on mobile. And for more insights behind this season’s trends, check out the Shopping Insights tool. Happy deal-hunting!







Creating a collaborative learning environment across Texas schools



Editor's note: We're going across the U.S. to shine light on the great things schools are doing with technology at the statewide level. Texas is up next. There we asked educators and administrators to reflect on how technology has changed what it means to teach and learn. From group projects to collaborative lesson plans, technology has improved the teaching and learning experience across the state. And we’re happy to announce that 100% of Texas’ online standardized tests can be administered on Chromebooks, giving educators an easy, secure way to manage the testing process. To learn more about Google solutions for Education, watch this recent webinar with Arlington Independent School District.

When students want to learn and collaborate with classmates, they no longer have to travel to the library after school or schedule time to work at another student’s house. With teachers and administrators in Texas integrating technology – including Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks – into their curricula, students can learn and work on assignments when they’re not in the classroom. Teachers are preparing students for college and future careers while staying under budget and saving time managing thousands of devices. Inspired by how schools are innovating with technology across the region, we’re highlighting a few of the successes we’ve heard about directly from Texas schools:

Leveling the playing field 

Google Apps for Education isn’t just a way to share information – it’s the learning hub at Arlington Independent School District (case study) in North Texas. Students and teachers at Arlington ISD create more than 50,000 documents in Google Docs during any given week, and students can access this bounty of information when they aren’t in the classroom. For example, physical education students used heart monitors to measure their heart rates during different activities. As a homework assignment, they analyzed the data in Google Sheets and shared their findings with their peers. With the affordability of Chromebooks, more students have access to devices. When students leave the classroom, they can sign onto Chromebooks on loan through the 1:1 program and access Google Apps for Education to continue learning, regardless of their technology options at home.

Collaborating beyond the classroom walls 

North East Independent School District uses technology to create a collaborative approach across schools, so students on its 70 campuses can share their work with peers and teachers. They’re creating a global learning environment by sharing assignments in Google Docs with students at international schools and with subject matter experts to get real-world feedback. For example, a sophomore history class shared its Middle Ages project with students in Denmark. “These devices have captured student’s excitement to learn, collaborate and think creatively,” says Tom Johnson, senior director of technology at North East ISD.

Introducing affordable devices for 21st century learning 

McAllen Independent School District is introducing 12,500 Chromebooks this winter to give students 24/7 access to technology as part of its new initiative: Transforming Learning in the Classroom, Campus and Community. Students, teachers and parents provided their input on the devices they wanted, and the technology team evaluated the costs. “As we move toward a 1:1 model, we had to consider the cost of providing devices for students, the ability to manage 12,500 devices and the cost of fixing and replacing devices,” says Ann Vega, director of instructional technology at McAllen ISD. After the rollout, more students will have access to tools that will equip them with 21st century skills.

Schools continue to expand what it means to go to school by incorporating digital learning into their curricula. Technology inspires students to think beyond their lesson plans, whether they’re in study hall, waiting for soccer practice or on a family vacation. Check out the schools’ stories and watch Arlington's webinar to learn more.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ll head next. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.

Creating a collaborative learning environment across Texas schools




Editor's note: We're going across the U.S. to shine light on the great things schools are doing with technology at the statewide level. Texas is up next. There we asked educators and administrators to reflect on how technology has changed what it means to teach and learn. From group projects to collaborative lesson plans, technology has improved the teaching and learning experience across the state. And we’re happy to announce that 100% of Texas’ online standardized tests can be administered on Chromebooks, giving educators an easy, secure way to manage the testing process. To learn more about Google solutions for Education, watch this recent webinar with Arlington Independent School District.

When students want to learn and collaborate with classmates, they no longer have to travel to the library after school or schedule time to work at another student’s house. With teachers and administrators in Texas integrating technology – including Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks – into their curricula, students can learn and work on assignments when they’re not in the classroom. Teachers are preparing students for college and future careers while staying under budget and saving time managing thousands of devices. Inspired by how schools are innovating with technology across the region, we’re highlighting a few of the successes we’ve heard about directly from Texas schools:

Leveling the playing field 

Google Apps for Education isn’t just a way to share information – it’s the learning hub at Arlington Independent School District (case study) in North Texas. Students and teachers at Arlington ISD create more than 50,000 documents in Google Docs during any given week, and students can access this bounty of information when they aren’t in the classroom. For example, physical education students used heart monitors to measure their heart rates during different activities. As a homework assignment, they analyzed the data in Google Sheets and shared their findings with their peers.

With the affordability of Chromebooks, more students have access to devices. When students leave the classroom, they can sign onto Chromebooks on loan through the 1:1 program and access Google Apps for Education to continue learning, regardless of their technology options at home.

Collaborating beyond the classroom walls 

North East Independent School District uses technology to create a collaborative approach across schools, so students on its 70 campuses can share their work with peers and teachers. They’re creating a global learning environment by sharing assignments in Google Docs with students at international schools and with subject matter experts to get real-world feedback. For example, a sophomore history class shared its Middle Ages project with students in Denmark. “These devices have captured student’s excitement to learn, collaborate and think creatively,” says Tom Johnson, senior director of technology at North East ISD.

Introducing affordable devices for 21st century learning 

McAllen Independent School District is introducing 12,500 Chromebooks this winter to give students 24/7 access to technology as part of its new initiative: Transforming Learning in the Classroom, Campus and Community. Students, teachers and parents provided their input on the devices they wanted, and the technology team evaluated the costs. “As we move toward a 1:1 model, we had to consider the cost of providing devices for students, the ability to manage 12,500 devices and the cost of fixing and replacing devices,” says Ann Vega, director of instructional technology at McAllen ISD. After the rollout, more students will have access to tools that will equip them with 21st century skills.

Schools continue to expand what it means to go to school by incorporating digital learning into their curricula. Technology inspires students to think beyond their lesson plans, whether they’re in study hall, waiting for soccer practice or on a family vacation. Check out the schools’ stories and watch Arlington's webinar to learn more.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ll head next. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.


Street View gives you a window into climate change

From polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, to communities in the Brazilian Amazon, to blue oak trees in Central California, the impacts of climate change is being felt by plants, animals and people across the planet. As world leaders gather for the COP21 conference in Paris this week to discuss our changing climate, we want to take this opportunity to show you how to explore its impact yourself. With Street View, you can get a window into some of our world’s changing ecosystems, and learn how nonprofit and other organizations are working to keep our planet healthy.

Polar bears are in trouble because of the melting sea ice, on which they depend to survive. That’s why Polar Bears International (PBI) borrowed the Street View Trekker to map polar bears in their fragile sea ice habitat around Churchill, Manitoba, to share the remote ecosystem with people all over the world. And to educate classrooms, PBI created a lesson plan and activity for schools to do their own exploration of this precious habitat.

PBI.png
Polar bear on the edge of Hudson Bay, waiting for the sea ice to freeze (see more here)

Ever wonder how plants are faring in a changing climate? Scientists at the Nature Conservancy-California do, too. To help them learn more, they borrowed the Trekker earlier this year to monitor the health of blue oak trees in Central California, which have declined due to stress from changing temperatures. Scientists predict that blue oaks may lose up to 41% of their population by 2100 because of climate change, so they plan to capture Street View imagery again in the future so they can keep a digital record, log their changes, and design conservation strategies to protect the life of these blue oak trees.

TNC-CA.png

Experts agree that one way to slow climate change is to protect the standing forests that we have now, as these trees remove and stock carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. The Brazilian nonprofit Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) borrowed the Trekker to show people exactly what the Amazon forest looks like on the ground and put isolated local communities on the map. They captured imagery from three different reserves in the Brazilian Amazon, including hundreds of kilometers walking through pristine forests and floating down Amazon river tributaries. The nonprofit is using the imagery to educate the world about rainforest protection and sustainable ecosystem management.

FAS.png
Pristine Amazon rainforest in Juma Sustainable Development Reserve (see more here)

Street View is great for visualizing the impacts of climate change, but we’re also using our Street View platform to measure climate data, which can be used by scientists, policymakers, businesses and citizens to drive better decisions.

For the past few years, Google Earth Outreach has worked with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to map thousands of methane leaks from natural gas lines under select U.S. city streets using Street View cars equipped with methane analyzers. Recently, one of the largest U.S. utilities, PSE&G announced that they will use data and maps from our Street View mapping effort to prioritize the replacement of hundreds of miles of gas mains and thousands of service lines for their newly approved multi-million dollar pipeline replacement program.

Google Earth Outreach has also partnered with Aclima to measure many more pollutants with Street View cars, including particulate matter, black carbon, and carbon dioxide—pollutants that are harmful to both our climate and our health. Essentially, we’re turning Street View cars into environmental sensing platforms, and plan to map California communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley, and LA regions through 2016.

We hope this post has opened your eyes to the ways the world is being impacted by climate change. If you’re interested in getting involved, consider submitting an application to the Trekker Loan Program, which allows nonprofit and other organizations to borrow the Trekker to capture 360-degree imagery of the places they care about on our changing planet.

Posted by Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Google Earth Outreach Program Manager

Source: Google LatLong