Monthly Archives: May 2016

Google Cloud Messaging and Firebase

Posted by Laurence Moroney, Developer Advocate

With the announced expansion of Firebase at Google I/O recently, we also introduced Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) and Firebase Notifications (FN). As a developer, there are lots of updates that you might be able to take advantage of.

Despite the switch to FCM, we’ll continue to support Google Cloud Messaging on Android, iOS and the Web because we know that you have applications using the previous SDKs to handle notifications. However, all new client side features will be added to FCM SDKs moving forward. As such, we strongly recommend that you upgrade to the FCM SDKs. You can learn more about them here.

FCM supports everything that you’ve come to know with Google Cloud Messaging including addressing single devices, groups of devices or topics.

The FCM SDK simplifies client development. For example, you no longer need to write your own registration or subscription retry logic. When it comes to your server (if you still want to use one), updates to the endpoints and protocol don’t incur breaking changes, so as to maintain backwards compatibility. The updated details are available in the FCM Server documentation.

We’re investing heavily in making Firebase our unified mobile platform. We’re also continuing to expand our messaging platform beyond Android, including iOS and the Web. Firebase is well known for it’s cross-platform capabilities, so FCM is a natural fit for the ongoing Firebase releases. If you want to learn how to migrate your current app from Google Cloud Messaging to FCM, we’ve provided guides here for Android and iOS.

We think that Google Cloud Messaging will be even more useful to you when integrated into Firebase, including the new Firebase Notifications console. With that you’ll be able to send messages to apps directly from the console -- without you needing to build a messaging server.

To upgrade from Google Cloud Messaging to FCM or to learn more, see our guides for Android and iOS apps.

Beta Channel Update for Chrome OS

The Beta channel has been updated to 51.0.2704.64 (Platform version: 8172.45.0) for all Chrome OS devices except those listed below. This build contains a number of bug fixes, security updates and feature enhancements.

If you find new issues, please let us know by visiting our forum or filing a bug. Interested in switching channels? Find out how. You can submit feedback using ‘Report an issue...’ in the Chrome menu (3 horizontal bars in the upper right corner of the browser).

Bernie Thompson 
Google Chrome

Systems missing in this release:
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • Some Acer C7 Chromebooks
  • Lenovo Thinkpad X131e Chromebook
  • Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook
  • AOpen Chromebox Commercial
  • Acer Chromebook R11
  • Acer Chromebook 14

Dev Channel Update


The dev channel has been updated to 52.0.2743.19 for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

A partial list of changes is available in the log. Interested in switching release channels? Find out how. If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug. The community help forum is also a great place to reach out for help or learn about common issues.

Anantha Keesara

Google Chrome

Top 10 GCP sessions from Google I/O 2016



In-between daydreaming about virtual reality and saying Allo to Duo, there were some fantastic Google Cloud Platform sessions and demos at Google I/O this year. In case you weren’t able to attend the show, here are the recordings.

In One Lap Around Google Cloud Platform, senior developer advocate Mandy Waite, and Brad Abrams walk through the process of building a Node.js backend for an iOS and Android based game. Easily the best bit of the session is a demo that uses Kubernetes and GCP Container Registry to deploy a Docker container to App Engine Flexible Environment, Google Container Engine and an AWS EC2 instance. It’s a simple demo of portability across clouds, a key differentiator for GCP.

Speaking of multi-cloud environments, developer advocate Aja Hammerly presented a great session on Stackdriver, called Just Enough Stackdriver To Sleep Well At Night, which will be music to the ears for any of you who have to carry a pager to support your site or application. In a nutshell, Aja shows how Stackdriver unifies a bunch of different monitoring and management tools into a single solution.

If you’ve made the leap to containers or are thinking about it, you’ll want to check Carter Morgan's session: Best practices for orchestrating the cloud with Kubernetes. This session includes the basics of modern day applications and how containers work. It also covers packaging and distributing apps using Docker and how to up your game by running applications on Kubernetes.
Did you know Kubernetes has seen 5,000 commits and over 50% from unique contributors since January 2015?
Next, IoT ideas are a dime a dozen, but bringing them to life is another story. In Making sense of IoT data with the cloud, developer advocate Ian Lewis shows how you can manage a large number of devices on GCP and how to ingest, store and analyze the data from those devices.

In Supercharging Firebase with Google Cloud Platform developer advocates Sandeep Dinesh and Bret McGowen use Firebase to build a real-time game that interacts with virtual machines, big data and machine learning APIs on GCP. The coolest part of the demo involves the audience in the room and on the livestream interacting with the game via Speech API, all yelling instructions at the same time to move a dot through a maze. The hallmark of Firebase  real-time data synchronization across connected devices in milliseconds  is on display here and fun to see. For more Firebase tips and tricks check out Creating interactive multiplayer experiences with Firebase, from developer advocate Mark Mandel.

Switching gears to big data and the upcoming U.S. presidential election, developer advocate Felipe Hoffa and software engineer Jordan Tigani, demo the power of Google BigQuery to uncover some intriguing campaign insights in Election 2016: The Big Data Showdown. You'll learn which candidate is spending the most money and how efficient that spending is relative to their mentions on TV, by mashing together various different public datasets in BigQuery. Felipe and Jordan do a nice job showing us how BigQuery can separate the signal from the noise to figure out what it all means.

Figuring out the right storage for each application in your business can be a daunting task on the cloud. Dominic Preuss, group product manager, explains how in Scaling your data from concept to petabytes.
And of course, no event that includes Cloud Platform is complete without demos from developer advocates Kaz Sato on How to build a smart RasPi bot with Cloud Vision and Speech API, and another crowd-pleaser, Google Cloud Spin: Stopping time with the power of Cloud, from Francesc Campoy Flores.

To find more tutorials, talks and demos on GCP beyond the sessions at I/O this year, check out our GCP YouTube channel and weekly podcast, and follow @GoogleCloud on Twitter for all the latest news and product announcements from the Cloud Platform team.

Search at I/O 16 Recap: Eight things you don’t want to miss

Posted by Posted by Fabian Schlup, Software Engineer

Two weeks ago, over 7,000 developers descended upon Mountain View for this year’s Google I/O, with a takeaway that it’s truly an exciting time for Search. People come to Google billions of times per day to fulfill their daily information needs. We’re focused on creating features and tools that we believe will help users and publishers make the most of Search in today’s world. As Google continues to evolve and expand to new interfaces, such as the Google assistant and Google Home, we want to make it easy for publishers to integrate and grow with Google.

In case you didn’t have a chance to attend all our sessions, we put together a recap of all the Search happenings at I/O.

1: Introducing rich cards

We announced rich cards, a new Search result format building on rich snippets, that uses schema.org markup to display content in an even more engaging and visual format. Rich cards are available in English for recipes and movies and we’re excited to roll out for more content categories soon. To learn more, browse the new gallery with screenshots and code samples of each markup type or watch our rich cards devByte.

2: New Search Console reports

We want to make it easy for webmasters and developers to track and measure their performance in search results. We launched a new report in Search Console to help developers confirm that their rich card markup is valid. In the report we highlight “enhanceable cards,” which are cards that can benefit from marking up more fields. The new Search Appearance filter also makes it easy for webmasters to filter their traffic by AMP and rich cards.

3: Real-time indexing

Users are searching for more than recipes and movies: they’re often coming to Search to find fresh information about what’s happening right now. This insight kickstarted our efforts to use real-time indexing to connect users searching for real-time events with fresh content. Instead of waiting for content to be crawled and indexed, publishers will be able to use the Google Indexing API to trigger the indexing of their content in real time. It’s still in its early days, but we’re excited to launch a pilot later this summer.

3: Getting up to speed with Accelerated Mobile Pages

We provided an update on our use of AMP, an open source effort to speed up the mobile web. Google Search uses AMP to enable instant-loading content. Speed is important---over 40% of users abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load. We announced that we’re bringing AMPed news carousels to the iOS and Android Google apps, as well as experimenting with combining AMP and rich cards. Stay tuned for more via our blog and github page.

In addition to the sessions, attendees could talk directly with Googlers at the Search & AMP sandbox.

5: A new and improved Structured Data Testing Tool

We updated the popular Structured Data Testing tool. The tool is now tightly integrated with the DevSite Search Gallery and the new Search Preview service, which lets you preview how your rich cards will look on the search results page.

6: App Indexing got a new home (and new features)

We announced App Indexing’s migration to Firebase, Google’s unified developer platform. Watch the session to learn how to grow your app with Firebase App Indexing.

7: App streaming

App streaming is a new way for Android users to try out games without having to download and install the app -- and it’s already available in Google Search. Check out the session to learn more.

8. Revamped documentation

We also revamped our developer documentation, organizing our docs around topical guides to make it easier to follow.

Thanks to all who came to I/O -- it’s always great to talk directly with developers and hear about experiences first-hand. And whether you came in person or tuned in from afar, let’s continue the conversation on the webmaster forum or during our office hours, hosted weekly via hangouts-on-air.

Removing account owner name from the Google bar

In the past year, we’ve made some changes to the Google bar that is displayed across the top of most Google apps. For instance, if a user has a picture associated with their account, they’ll see that picture in the Google bar; if they don’t have a picture, they’ll see their initial.

Because these changes have made it easier for account owners to identify the account they’re currently signed into and using, there’s no longer a need to display their name in the Google bar as well. With that in mind, starting today, account owner names will disappear from the space next to the app launcher in the Google bar in any Google apps where they previously appeared.


Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)

Impact:
All end users

Action:
Change management suggested/FYI

Note: all launches are applicable to all Google Apps editions unless otherwise noted

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After busy M&A activity, AOL unifies with Google Apps



Editor's note: Today we hear from Steve Coulbourne, technical director at AOL, a global digital media and technology company focused on “Culture and Code.”


I’ve been part of the AOL team for more than 15 years. In that time I’ve seen the technology we use evolve immensely. When I first started, the company had standard desktops and a legacy IT system. Since then, we’ve shifted from clunky hardware and software to “lightweight enterprise” — prioritizing convenient, immediate access and ease of use.

Our CEO, Tim Armstrong, believes that if you keep doing things the same way, you’ll continue to get the same results. We take this philosophy seriously when it comes to our technology. Our global Chief Technology Officer, William Pence, provided clear vision for modern, cloud-based, and forward looking technologies, which propelled our investment and focus in this space. When we decided to start using Google Apps, we were most interested in unifying and improving how we work together across teams — especially between AOL’s different entities.

In recent years, we’ve completed many acquisitions (think Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and the integration of Verizon’s Digital Media Services to name a few). Having Google Apps during the period of potential confusion and chaos has helped us perform due diligence activities even quicker.

We started exploring Google Apps in 2010 and chose it over Office 365 because Microsoft required us to staff a whole team to manage SharePoint and its infrastructure. We also realized that adoption of Google Apps would be easier and more cost effective because of Google’s reputation for ease of use and the familiarity many of our employees already had with its tools.

Over the course of six months, we unified 13 domains into one with help from a third-party integrator to move from Microsoft Exchange to Google. From a set-up perspective, it took about two to three weeks to get everyone up and running with local peer (i.e., collaboration champions) and IT helpdesk support. Employees immediately started sharing their favorite Apps “hacks” with colleagues (for example, we use Google Forms for invite submissions, which alerts employees when events are filled and creates a culture of excitement and inclusion).

As a result, we were able to decommission 18 of our 22 globally distributed Messaging servers (more than 80 percent), eliminating 130 terabytes (TB) of drive space needs. We’re also migrating on-premise file shares into Google Apps, which will allow us to reallocate another 120 TB of file storage.

I led the initiative for company-wide adoption of Google Drive, Docs and Hangouts, and the entire company has been fully migrated since February 2015. With recent acquisitions, we've quickly integrated our collaboration tools to maintain focus on business value and production.

In terms of security (such as granting and denying access to data as needed), we’ve reduced costs. When you’re working in the cloud, there’s no need to bring on a third-party vendor to ensure data is secure. Moving away from premise-based solutions has provided us the flexibility to decrease our acquisition integration timeline from a messaging and collaboration perspective. We’re now able to offer the services of companies we acquire the same day that a deal is signed.

In certain instances, the collaboration capabilities of Google Apps enabled quicker time to market for our products. For example, the content and assets for each morning’s AOL homepage is queued up in real time on Drive. Also, our Business Communications team can edit articles at the same time — greatly reducing time to publication.

With multiple brands under the AOL umbrella, Apps also allows us to be more transparent and give everyone access to files and documents. With Apps, our employees are productive from anywhere — whether it’s on AOL’s campus or on the network — and connected as a unified team.

Our commitment to fighting illegal hate speech online

In the offline world, it’s usually clear what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Those boundaries are just as important online, which is why today, together with the European Commission, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter we signed a Code of Conduct which will help combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.

We’re committed to tackling this important issue. We have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms, and we have Community Guidelines that set the rules of the road on YouTube, including prohibitions on hate speech, terrorist recruitment and incitement to violence.

Jourova.jpg
European Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová (center) signed the Code of Conduct, as did representatives from (l to r) Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Google

We’ve built efficient systems to review the majority of valid notifications in less than 24 hours, and to remove illegal content. We also cooperate with legal process so that governments are able to do their investigatory work and request removal of information that may violate local law. Beyond review processes, we also support NGOs working on counterspeech initiatives.

We welcome the Commission’s commitment to developing self-regulatory approaches to fighting hate speech online. We look forward to working with them and civil society groups to fight illegal content online, improve the experience online for our users, and ensure that there is no space on our platforms for hateful content.

Our commitment to fighting illegal hate speech online

In the offline world, it’s usually clear what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Those boundaries are just as important online, which is why today, together with the European Commission, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter we signed a Code of Conduct which will help combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.

We’re committed to tackling this important issue. We have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms, and we have Community Guidelines that set the rules of the road on YouTube, including prohibitions on hate speech, terrorist recruitment and incitement to violence.





We’ve built efficient systems to review the majority of valid notifications in less than 24 hours, and to remove illegal content. We also cooperate with legal process so that governments are able to do their investigatory work and request removal of information that may violate local law. Beyond review processes, we also support NGOs working on counterspeech initiatives.

We welcome the Commission’s commitment to developing self-regulatory approaches to fighting hate speech online. We look forward to working with them and civil society groups to fight illegal content online, improve the experience online for our users, and ensure that there is no space on our platforms for hateful content.