Monthly Archives: February 2018

Richer Google Analytics User Management

Today we are introducing more powerful ways to manage access to your Analytics accounts: user groups inside Google Analytics, and enforceable user policies. These new features increase your ability to tightly manage who has access to your data, and amplify the impact of the user management features we launched last year.

User Groups

User groups can now be created from and used within Google Analytics, simplifying user management across teams of people. This is a big time saver if you find yourself repeatedly giving out similar permissions to many people, and simplifies granting permissions as individuals rotate into or out of a team.

To start with user groups, visit either Suite Home or Google Analytics, navigate to the user management section, and click the “+” button. You will then see an option to add new groups, which will walk you through creating a user group, adding people to it, and assigning permissions to the group. Here is a full list of steps to make a user group.

Google Analytics User Management page highlighting the new option to create a user group

Enforced User Policies


Google Analytics 360 Suite user policies let you define which users will have access to your Analytics accounts, and which do not. When a user violates a policy, you will be warned of this through the user management section in Google Analytics or Suite Home and have the option to remove that user from your organization.

We have enhanced these policies so you can choose to block policy-violating users from being added to your Analytics accounts. While policies aren’t enforced by default, you have the option to block violator additions.  When you create or edit your organization’s user policy, you will see a toggle switch like the one below:

User policy setup showcasing the new enforced policy option
User groups and enforced user policies are supported in Google Analytics today, and support for more products is coming, as we continue to plan features that help customers better manage access to their critical business data.

Posted by Matt Matyas, Product Manager Google Analytics 360 Suite

Develop bot integrations with the Hangouts Chat platform and API



You might have seen that we announced new features in G Suite to help teams transform how they work, including Hangouts Chat, a new messaging platform for enterprise collaboration on web and mobile. Perhaps more interesting is that starting today you’ll be able to craft your own bot integrations using the Hangouts Chat developer platform and API.

Now, you can create bots to streamline work—automate manual tasks or give your users new ways to connect with your application, all with commands issued from chat rooms or direct messages (DMs). Here are some ideas you might consider:
  • Create a bot that can complete simple tasks or query for information 
  • Create a bot that can post asynchronous notifications in any room or DM 
  • Use interactive UI cards to bring your message responses to life 
  • Use Google Apps Script to create custom bots for your colleagues or organization 
For example, a bot can take a location from a user, look it up using the Google Maps API, and display the resulting map right within the same message thread in Hangouts Chat. The bot output you see in the image below is generated from the Apps Script bot integration. It returns the JSON payload just below the same image shown on this page in the documentation.


When messages are sent to an Apps Script bot, the onMessage() function is called and passed an event object. The code below extracts the bot name as well as the location requested by the user. The location is then passed to Google Maps to create the static map as well as an openLink URL that takes the user directly to Google Maps if either the map or "Open in Google Maps" link is clicked.

function onMessage(e) {
var bot = e.message.annotations[0].userMention.user.displayName;
var loc = encodeURI(e.message.text.substring(bot.length+2));
var mapClick = {
"openLink": {
"url": "https://google.com/maps/search/?api=1&query=" + loc
}
};

return {
// see JSON payload in the documentation link above
};
}

Finally, this function returns everything Hangouts Chat needs to render a UI card assuming the appropriate links, data and Google Maps API key were added to the response JSON payload. It may be surprising, but this is the entire bot and follows this common formula: get the user request, collate the results and respond back to the user.

When results are returned immediately like this, it's known as a synchronous bot. Using the API isn't necessary because you're just responding to the HTTP request. If your bot requires additional processing time or must execute a workflow out-of-band, return immediately then post an asynchronous response when the background jobs have completed with data to return. Learn more about bot implementation, its workflow, as well as synchronous vs. asynchronous responses.

Developers are not constrained to using Apps Script, although it is perhaps one of the easiest ways to create and deploy bots. Overall, you can write and host bots on a variety of platforms:
No longer are chat rooms just for conversations. With feature-rich, intelligent bots, users can automate tasks, get critical information or do other heavy-lifting with a simple message. We're excited at the possibilities that await both developers and G Suite users on the new Hangouts Chat platform and API.

Google Domains: an easy way to get online

In 2015, we launched Google Domains to help businesses find and buy relevant domains. Here are a few ways we’re helping these companies build, manage and expand their online presence, including a number of key features we recently introduced.

Increased domain name options

Last year, we continued to serve customers by expanding our domain name offerings. Our more than 1.8 million domain registrations now range from traditional, well-known endings like .com, .org, and .net to many newly-released endings including .business, .online, and .design.

Expanded international coverage

At launch, Google Domains was available primarily in the United States. As of today, we are available in 14 countries in addition to the U.S. including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and Vietnam.


One-click integration with G Suite

We recently announced one-click integration with G Suite, allowing businesses to quickly create professional branded email addresses and simultaneously access G Suite’s range of intelligent productivity tools like Docs, Calendar, Google Drive and Hangouts Meet. Benefits also include 30 GB of file storage, and 24/7 customer support. We also introduced simpler domain management settings, allowing for access to be shared among multiple authorized users.


Improved privacy and security

We know privacy is valuable for our users, so, where permitted, we offer WHOIS privacy as the free, default option for new domain registrations. This helps protect against spam and other forms of abuse because personal information is not available publicly.


Additionally, we've invested in making advanced security features easy and accessible to small businesses. For example, all domain registrations are configured with Cloud DNS by default, ensuring the domain name can be accessed quickly by users around the world. DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) is another feature that protects domains from attacks that target users or personal information, and can be enabled for free in just one click.


Going forward, we plan to roll out newer, faster search features and integrate with other Google products to make it easier to access the Google services you know and love.


Get started today at Google Domains, and if you have any questions or feedback, please let us know!


Move projects forward from one place—Hangouts Chat now available

Teams want to be able to get their work done in one place, which is why we introduced the Early Adopter Program of Hangouts Chat to bring teams together. Today, we’re making Chat generally available as a core G Suite service.  

From direct messages to group conversations, Chat helps teams collaborate easily and efficiently. With dedicated, virtual rooms to house projects over time—plus threaded conversations—Chat makes it simple to track progress and follow up tasks. In one place, you can:

  • Easily work with other G Suite apps. Upload items from Drive, collaborate on Docs, Sheets or Slides, join online meetings with Hangouts Meet, or use Google’s powerful search to look up room members, past conversations and shared files.
  • Use artificial intelligence to speed up workflows.When your teams collaborate in Chat, you can speed up manual work, like booking conference rooms, searching for files and more using artificial intelligence.
  • Collaborate with colleagues around the globe.Chat currently supports 28 languages and each room can support up to 8,000 members. It’s available on desktop for Windows and MacOS, as well as iOS and Android so you can easily collaborate on the go.
  • Have peace of mind with embedded security. Chat builds on G Suite’s security-first ecosystem and offers an enterprise-grade solution that’s reliable and compliant. With integrated support for Vault, admins can archive, preserve, search and export Chat-specific data.

Use third-party integrations in Chat to drive team projects

Chat also comes equipped with 25 bots to help speed up workflows, ranging from finance and human resources to CRM, project management and more. There are bots that integrate directly with other G Suite apps, like:

  • The @Google Drive bot which lets you know when files are shared with you, comments are made or when people request access to your docs.
  • The @Meet bot which integrates directly with Calendar to schedule meetings for you.

@Drive bot

Or you can build integrations on top of Chat to incorporate tools you use everyday. Building for Chat is simple. Says Prosperworks’ Chief Product Officer, Jon Aniano, “Hangouts Chat offered a terrific platform for us to build a Prosperworks Bot. We’ve since used the bot to deliver real-time CRM status updates to our sales teams, and they’ve been able to be more responsive to customer needs. Chat has made quick, intelligent collaboration a reality for our teams.”

These popular enterprise application companies have already developed bots for you to try out:

Bot integration partners - Hangouts Chat

In case you’re wondering, Chat is compatible with Hangouts and works with your existing contacts. To get started, go to chat.google.com on the web or download the app on your desktop or mobile devices. Chat will be made available over the next 7 days. Here are some handy resources on Hangouts Chat and Meet to help you get started (or just use this cheat sheet).

Providing more comprehensive results to your questions in Search

Many of us come to Search with questions about intricate topics. When we ask about “heat from the center of the earth,” for example, we could be asking about what causes it or how hot it is. And if we ask about “ears popping on a plane,” we might be looking for the cause or for remedies. To provide more actionable results to nuanced queries like these, today we’re starting to roll out multifaceted featured snippets.

Sometimes the words we use to ask a question are broad and there could be several different interpretations of the question. With multifaceted featured snippets, we’re able to better understand your query and recognize when there could be multiple interpretations of that query. In the example below with the query “garden needs full sun?” we’re able to recognize that it could be interpreted as “what garden plants need full sun?” or “what counts as full sun?” and offer featured snippets for both.

Multifaceted featured snippet

There are several types of nuanced queries where showing more comprehensive results could be helpful. We’re starting first with “multi-intent” queries, which are queries that have several potential intentions or purposes associated. The query “tooth pain after a filling,” for example, could be interpreted as “why does my tooth still hurt after a filling?” or “how long should a tooth hurt after a filling?”

As we shared before, we aim to expand multifaceted featured snippets to cover a broader set of nuanced queries beyond just “multi-intent” queries. For example, guidance-seeking queries like “is it worth fixing my foundation?” have several components that could be important, such as cost, duration, methods and financing. We’ll continue to experiment with multifaceted featured snippets over this year to expand coverage.  

With any new feature we introduce in Search, we work to ensure that we’re providing a helpful experience. In addition to extensive testing to determine whether a change has a positive effect on search quality, we also take into account feedback from you. If you see a result that you have feedback on, we encourage you to submit your thoughts through the feedback link on the search results page.

New ways to help teams work faster and smarter with G Suite

Today’s workplace is vastly different than it was 30 years ago. It used to be that a business could rely on a single team in a single location to get things done. These days, business is more diverse, dynamic and distributed than ever before. Decisions have to be made fast, teams need to align quickly and time can’t be wasted on repetitive, manual tasks. Consequently, companies that rely on decades-old, legacy work systems may find they aren’t agile enough to compete and stay relevant.

Imagine that your team needs to close a major sales deal. Stakeholders in multiple locations have to be consulted on the strategy. Customer needs have to be identified, a winning pitch must be drafted and the entire team must align on the right pricing approach—all before the end of the quarter.

G Suite makes this possible. It transforms the way teams collaborate, with intelligent tools that help them solve problems faster and focus their time on work that matters. Today, we’re announcing new, intelligent updates to G Suite to give businesses even more ways to manage projects—like closing a sales deal or bringing a new product to market—from one place.

Use a new, centralized platform to stay aligned on projects and make decisions quicker.

Available today, Hangouts Chat makes it easy to collaborate efficiently so teams can make faster decisions. With team chat rooms and threaded conversations, powerful search functionality and intelligent bots that connect workflows and speed up tasks (even with 3rd party apps), you can work on projects from one spot—like opening a new store location or launching an advertising campaign. Chat has deep integrations with other G Suite apps like Google Drive, Calendar and Hangouts Meet, and built-in security to meet retention, eDiscovery and regulatory/compliance needs for enterprises. Read more about Hangouts Chat or learn how you can build your own bots.

Spend less time setting up meetings and more time accomplishing goals.

We want to make it simple to manage meetings, which is why we’ve built tools to help you surface conference room information and find times to meet. In the coming months, Calendar will use artificial intelligence to automatically suggest rooms for you to book. And because they’ll be optimized for each attendee based on their building and floor location, previous booking history, audio/video equipment needs and room capacity requirements, you can feel confident that you’re booking the right space for your team to be productive.

ARS - GIF

Solve problems face-to-face with teammates over video, right away.

Sometimes it’s best to jump into an online meeting face-to-face with colleagues so you don’t hold up progress. Now, your team can quickly transition from a conversation in Chat and join a Hangouts Meet video conferencing meeting with just a few clicks.

Spend less time searching for the right documents and more time crafting ideas.

Today, we’re bringing Quick Access to Docs to help teams focus their time on work that matters (similar to Quick Access in Drive). Quick Access uses artificial intelligence to suggest relevant files based on signals like Drive activity and information in your documents, so you can work with the most up-to-date information and create new material quickly. Let’s say your global marketing team needs a central project plan; the team can start a Doc and use Quick Access in the Explore panel to find information from related files and add it into the plan quickly.

Image 3 - Bundle

To stay relevant, businesses must transform how they operate. Try today’s updates in G Suite and empower your teams to work better together.

Fully managed export and import with Cloud Datastore now generally available



If you store information in a database, you know how important it is to have an easy and reliable way to get data in and out — whether you’re making a copy for backup or archival purposes, or you want to restore data after a user “ooops” moment. So today, we're announcing the general availability of managed export and import for Cloud Datastore, our highly scalable NoSQL managed database service.

This feature, in beta since September, replaces the previous Cloud Datastore Admin backup module, and provides a more fully managed database experience. Some of the benefits of managed export and import include:
  • Fully managed by Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and exposed as a simple service 
  • Improved export speed achieved through sharding improvements 
  • A new API in the same form as the Cloud Datastore v1 API 
  • Integration with Cloud IAM 
  • Billing exclusively based on Cloud Datastore entity reads and writes; no longer billing for App Engine instance hours
"Batterii, a consumer insights and collaboration platform, has been using Cloud Datastore for seven years. Previously, our backups took 8-10 hours. With managed export and import, we can now complete those backups in an hour." 
Greg Fairbanks, Senior Software Engineer
Since its beta release in September 2017, early users now perform more than 10,000 exports and imports per week. Now that the new feature is generally available, we'll phase out Datastore Admin backup in 12 months, and starting on February 28th, 2019, it will no longer be available from the Google Cloud Console. To learn more and to get started with managed exports and imports, check out the documentation on exporting and importing entities and scheduling an export.

Improving Stability by Reducing Usage of non-SDK Interfaces

Posted by David Brazdil, Software Engineer

In Android, we're always looking for ways to improve the user and developer experience by making those experiences as stable as possible. In this spirit, we've been working to ensure that apps don't use non-SDK interfaces, since doing so risks crashes for users and emergency rollouts for developers. In Android N, we restricted the set of symbols that C/C++ code could use. This change ensured that apps using C++ rely on stable NDK interfaces rather than incur the incremental crashes caused by reliance on unstable, non-NDK interfaces. Starting in the next release of Android, we will further increase stability by expanding these restrictions to cover the Java language interfaces of the SDK.

What behavior will I see?

Starting in the next release of Android, some non-SDK methods and fields will be restricted so that you cannot access them -- either directly, via reflection, or JNI. If you try, you can see errors such as NoSuchFieldException or NoSuchMethodException.

Initially, this restriction will impact interfaces with low or no usage. It is an explicit goal of our planning and design to respect our developer community and create the absolute minimum of change while addressing app stability issues flagged by our users and device manufacturers. In cases where a migration to SDK methods will be possible but is likely to be technically challenging, we'll allow continued usage until your app is updated to target the latest API level. We plan to broaden these restrictions in future platform versions, giving developers time to migrate with long advance warning, and also giving us time to gather feedback about any needed SDK interfaces. We have always said that using non-SDK interfaces is always risky -- they might change in any release as we refactor code to add features or fix bugs. So if your app currently relies on non-SDK interfaces, you should begin planning a migration to SDK alternatives.

Because the Java language has different features from C++, this restriction will take a slightly different form than the previous symbol restriction. You should not access classes that are not part of our SDK, but you also need to be sure that you are only using the officially documented parts of each class. In particular, this means that you should not plan to access methods or fields that are not listed in the SDK when you interact with a class via semantics such as reflection.

What if there isn't a SDK alternative?

We know that some apps may be using non-SDK interfaces in ways that do not have an SDK alternative. We value your feedback about where and how we need to expand and improve the public APIs for you. If you feel that you'll need the SDK API expanded before you can stop using non-SDK ones, please tell us via our bug tracker. We will be monitoring this list closely and using this valuable feedback to prioritize. It is critical for us to get this feedback in a timely manner so that we can continue to both tune the blacklist to minimize developer impact and also begin developing any needed alternatives for future platforms.

What's coming next?

In the next Android developer preview, you'll be able to run your existing apps and see warnings when you use a non-SDK interface that will be subject to blacklist or greylist in the final release. It's always a best practice to make sure your app runs on the developer preview, but you should pay specific attention to the interface compatibility warnings if you are concerned that you may be impacted.

In conjunction with the next developer preview and the new bug tracker category, we'll be monitoring usage of non-SDK interfaces. In cases where official SDK alternatives already exist, we'll publish official guidance on how to migrate away from commonly used non-SDK interfaces.

Announcing SSL policies for HTTPS and SSL proxy load balancers



Applications in cloud deployments have diverse security needs. When you use a load balancer as an HTTPS or TLS front end, you need to be able to control how it secures connections to clients. In some cases, your security or compliance requirements may restrict the TLS protocols and ciphers that the load balancer can use. For other applications, you may need the load balancer to support older TLS features in order to accommodate legacy clients. Today we’re introducing SSL policies for HTTPS and SSL Proxy load balancers on GCP, giving you the controls you need for this.

Introducing SSL policies


The TLS protocol is at the heart of how we secure the internet, but in the 20+ years since its inception it has by no means remained static. What began as SSL has evolved through several TLS versions, each one adding new cryptographic techniques and enhancing performance. When using TLS, servers and clients negotiate exactly how to speak TLS to one another, including the version of the protocol and the underlying ciphers. With our new SSL policies feature, you can consider both what TLS capabilities your load balancer is willing to negotiate and how you manage those settings over time.

When you create an SSL policy, you specify two things:
  • A minimum TLS version: Setting this to 1.1, for example, means that the load balancer will only negotiate TLS with clients that support TLS version 1.1 or newer.
  • A profile of features: This selects the set of cipher suites that the load balancer can use.
The profile can be either a pre-defined or a custom profile:

To see which TLS features are enabled by each of these profiles, check our SSL policies documentation.

You need only a single gcloud command to create an SSL policy:

gcloud beta compute ssl-policies create web-front-end-app-policy \
       --profile MODERN --min-tls-version 1.1

You can then attach this SSL policy to your load balancer with a second command:

gcloud beta compute target-https-proxies update my_https_lb \
  --ssl-policy my_ssl_policy

Here's a preview of the configuration via the console (available soon):


Keeping up with TLS advances


We’ve designed the pre-defined profiles to satisfy a wide set of security needs. We manage these profiles for you, automatically enabling new features that are broadly implemented by clients and disabling features when they're no longer appropriate. With pre-defined profiles, there’s no need to manually revisit your policy in order to keep your load balancer up-to-date with modern TLS capabilities.

If pre-defined profiles aren’t right for you, use a CUSTOM profile instead. Here's a preview of custom profile configuration via the console (available soon):

With a CUSTOM profile, you can select exactly the TLS features that you want and manage the introduction of new features to keep your SSL policy current.

Try SSL policies today 

Learn more about SSL policies online, and give them a spin. We look forward to your feedback!

Applications for Round 5 of DNI Innovation Fund are now open

Since its introduction in 2015, the Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund has offered more than €90 million to more than 460 ambitious projects in digital journalism, across 29 countries. The fund, our €150 million commitment to supporting innovation in the European news industry, is designed to provide no-strings-attached funding to those in the news industry looking for some room—and budget—to experiment. Today the DNI Innovation Fund is open for a fifth round of applications—the deadline to apply is April 9, 2018.


How the Fund works

The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news startups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in the EU and EFTA countries. There are three categories of funding available: Prototype (up to €50k of funding), Medium (up to €300k of funding) and Large (between €300k and €1 million in funding). For more information on eligible projects, criteria and funding, see our website.


We’re looking for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism, support the development of new business models, or even change the way people consume digital news. Projects can be highly experimental, but must have well-defined goals and have a significant digital component. Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact on the production of original digital journalism and on the long-term sustainability of the news business.


New for Round 5: Diversifying revenue streams

As with Round 4, all Medium and Large track applications will need to demonstrate that they have a monetisation component within the idea to be eligible. This year, we’re also looking for ideas outside of the well-known approaches around paywalls. So in Round 5 we welcome a range of experimental and innovative approaches which diversify revenue streams.


Apply now

See the DNI Innovation Fund website for full details and and application forms. Applications must be made in English by April 9, 2018 at 23.59 CEST. We’ll announce recipients by mid July.


New approaches have never been more needed so it’s time to experiment, innovate and try something new. We’re ready and waiting to help you bring your ideas to reality—submit your applications now!