Monthly Archives: April 2019

Announcing the GNI Newsroom Leadership Program with Columbia Journalism School

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As part of our efforts to support the news industry, the Google News Initiative is funding a newsroom leadership program at Columbia Journalism School for journalists in Asia Pacific




Not so long ago, journalists had the luxury of focusing on filling the next day’s paper, radio segment or television broadcast, without needing to think about business models, subscriptions, publishing tools and technology. Today’s newsroom leaders need to understand the business of news in order to be stewards of great journalism. Everyone must also think like a publisher.
To help journalists in the Asia Pacific better manage the transition to the digital age, the Google News Initiative has teamed up with the Columbia School of Journalism to offer a curated program to meet their needs.


The program, which includes four weeks of onsite courses at Columbia University in New York City and Google offices in Silicon Valley and Asia, is for mid-career journalists who have the potential to take on larger roles and run their organizations. Each Fellow will also work on a specific project during the year that is relevant to their newsroom within the main fellowship topics: technology, monetization, and data.


Ten fellows from the Asia-Pacific region will learn how to lead through change in this fast-moving environment and identify opportunities for entrepreneurship within their newsrooms. The program will emphasize:
  • How news companies operate as businesses, and how technology has revolutionized what it means to be a publisher.
  • Ways to evaluate the costs and benefits of introducing technology-driven changes into  newsroom workflows, and how to ensure managers and direct reports support new ways of working.
  • The use of data to create compelling content that will resonate with audiences
  • How to facilitate design-thinking in newsrooms using Google's design sprint methodology, which is used to solve problems and develop products


The deadline to apply is June 26, 2019, but journalists are encouraged to submit applications early, as they are considered on a rolling basis. The Google News Initiative is partnering with news industry and journalist organizations around the Asia-Pacific region to shortlist applicants, including the Walkley Foundation, J-Forum, Journalists Association of Korea, Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, and Splice. Shortlisted applicants are interviewed by the Google News Initiative, and a Columbia University faculty member will select the Fellows from among those who meet all the criteria and are presented by GNI and its vetting partner institutions.   


For more information about the program, curriculum and application instructions, visit the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism website. Submit your application here.

Posted by Irene Jay Liu,  News Lab Lead, APAC

The official Google I/O 2019 app is live

Posted by the Google I/O Team

We’re looking forward to seeing you at I/O! To help you prepare, we’re letting you know that the official Google I/O app is live on Android! iOS will arrive later this week.

Schedule on Android (left) and home page on iOS (right)

Browse conference content

With this year’s app you can browse through the incredible content we have planned for I/O’19. Customize your schedule by favoriting sessions, which will be synced between all of your devices and the I/O website so you can check it anywhere, anytime. Attendees are also able to reserve spots in sessions, office hours, app reviews, and game reviews directly in the app.

New this year: Add individual events to your personal calendar to receive notifications before events are about to begin! Also new: Search through content by sessions, topics, and speakers.

Make I/O your home

Shoreline Amphitheatre will be your home May 7-9. Use the app to keep track of key moments with the agenda and find your way through I/O with the conference map.

New this year: Use the home page to view key conference moments, upcoming events, and receive important announcements. Also new: Explore I/O is a new feature that uses your camera to help you see where to go in augmented reality. To discover events, food, bathrooms, and more around you, scan the I/O maps at Shoreline.

Ask questions now to get them answered at I/O - Q&A Closes April 25th, 11:59PM PST

This year, we’ve created Q&A forms to collect your pre-I/O questions to help direct session content at I/O. Simply sign in to the I/O website or app, click on any session, then click the ‘Q&A’ link and use the ‘+’ icon to submit your questions. Visit Q&A Help to learn more.

Get the #io19 app here!

For 2019, we've partnered with Aira to help I/O attendees who are blind or low vision navigate the event. Aira provides free assistance to I/O attendees from trained professional agents. Download the Aira app on Android or iOS to get assistance while onsite.

We look forward to seeing you very soon!

Android Q Scoped Storage: Best Practices and Updates

Posted by Jeff Sharkey, Software Engineer, and Seb Grubb, Product Manager

Application Sandboxing is a core part of Android’s design, isolating apps from each other. In Android Q, taking the same fundamental principle from Application Sandboxing, we introduced Scoped Storage.

Since the Beta 1 release, you’ve given us a lot of valuable feedback on these changes -- thank you for helping shape Android! Because of your feedback, we've evolved the feature during the course of Android Q Beta. In this post, we'll share options for declaring your app’s support for Scoped Storage on Android Q devices, and best practices for questions we've heard from the community.

Updates to help you adopt Scoped Storage

We expect that Scoped Storage should have minimal impact to apps following current storage best practices. However, we also heard from you that Scoped Storage can be an elaborate change for some apps and you could use more time to assess the impact. Being developers ourselves, we understand you may need some additional time to ensure your app’s compatibility with this change. We want to help.

In the upcoming Beta 3 release, apps that target Android 9 Pie (API level 28) or lower will see no change, by default, to how storage works from previous Android versions. As you update your existing app to work with Scoped Storage, you’ll be able to use a new manifest attribute to enable the new behavior for your app on Android Q devices, even if your app is targeting API level 28 or lower.

The implementation details of these changes will be available with the Beta 3 release, but we wanted to share this update with you early, so you can better prepare your app for Android Q devices. Scoped Storage will be required in next year’s major platform release for all apps, independent of target SDK level, so we recommend you add support to your app well in advance. Please continue letting us know your feedback and how we can better align Scoped Storage with your app’s use cases. You can give us input through this survey, or file bugs and feature requests here.

Best practices for common feedback areas

Your feedback is incredibly valuable and has helped us shape these design decisions. We also want to take a moment to share some best practices for common questions we’ve heard:

  • Storing shared media files. For apps that handle files that users expect to be sharable with other apps (such as photos) and be retained after the app has been uninstalled, use the MediaStore API. There are specific collections for common media files: Audio, Video, and Images. For other file types, you can store them in the new Downloads collection. To access files from the Downloads collection, apps must use the system picker.
  • Storing app-internal files. If your app is designed to handle files not meant to be shared with other apps, store them in your package-specific directories. This helps keep files organized and limit file clutter as the OS will manage cleanup when the app is uninstalled. Calls to Context.getExternalFilesDir() will continue to work.
  • Working with permissions and file ownership. For MediaStore, no permissions are necessary for apps that only access their own files. Your app will need to request permission to access media contributed by other apps. However, if your app is uninstalled and then reinstalled later, you’ll need to request permission from the user in order to be able to access media your app previously contributed.
  • Working with native code or libraries. The recommended pattern is to begin your media file discovery in your Java-based or Kotlin-based code, then pass the file's associated file descriptor into your native code.
  • Working with many files efficiently. If you need to perform bulk file operations in a single transaction, consider using ContentProvider.applyBatch(). Learn more about ContentProvider batch processing here.
  • Integrating with the system file picker.
    • Documents apps, such as a word processor, can use the ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT or ACTION_GET_CONTENT action to open a system file picker. You can learn more about the differences here.
    • File management apps typically work with collections of apps in a directory hierarchy. Use ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT_TREE to let the user pick a directory subtree. The app can further manipulate files available in the returned directory. Through this support, users can access files from any installed DocumentsProvider instance, which can be supported by any cloud-based or locally-backed storage solutions.

We’ve also provided a detailed Scoped Storage developer guide with additional information.

What’s ahead

It’s been amazing to see the community engagement on Android Q Beta so far. As we finalize the release in the next several months, please continue testing and keep the feedback coming. Join us at Google I/O 2019 for more details on Scoped Storage and other Android Q features. We’re giving a ”What’s new on Shared Storage” talk on May 8, and you’ll be able to find the livestream and recorded video on the Google I/O site.

An update on our workplace commitments

Editor’s note: Today, our Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker sent an email to Google employees about progress made to improve our workplace. You can read the note in its entirety below.

It’s been nearly six months since we announced several changes to improve our workplace. I’ve been working on these commitments from day one and I’m pleased to share we’re marking the completion of six of them today.

I recently stepped up to lead Employee Engagement in addition to our diversity, equity and inclusion teams. Making good on these commitments and pushing the company to meet our OKR to progress a representative and inclusive workplace are my top priorities. I care about these issues deeply. I’ve dedicated myself to this work for my entire career, and I’m proud to lead this work at Google.

A big part of my job is to listen to ideas that Googlers have and take feedback on ways we can improve our workplace. We won't implement every idea that our employees (or the outside world) raise, but we always listen, and we consider constructive feedback. For example, earlier this year we announced we will no longer require current and future Google employees to arbitrate employment disputes. We made significant improvements to the standards we require for our temp and vendor workforce.  I will be meeting regularly with Google’s leaders and Alphabet’s Board of Directors to discuss these important issues. And I promise to keep you all updated on our progress. These are all big changes that I hope show our real commitment.


Here’s what we’re announcing today:

  • We’ve simplified and clarified the way employees can raise concerns by bringing multiple channels together on a new dedicated site. We’re also providing a similar site for our temp and vendor workforce, which will be completed by June.
  • We just published (internally) our Investigations Report, the fifth annual summary of employee-related misconduct investigations, including discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, with an expanded section on sexual harassment investigations.
  • After a four-month pilot, we’re expanding our Support Person Program so that Googlers can bring a colleague to harassment and discrimination investigations.
  • We’re rolling out a new Investigations Care Program to provide better care to Googlers during and after an investigation.
  • We’re sharing a new Investigations Practice Guide outlining how concerns are handled within Employee Relations to explain what employees can expect during the investigations process.
  • We are publicly sharing our workplace policies—including our very clear policies on harassment, discrimination, retaliation, standards of conduct, and workplace conduct.

The commitments we made in November aren’t just about changing policies or launching new programs. We want every Googler to walk into a workplace filled with dignity and respect. Thank you all for the feedback and ideas you’ve shared with us.


And the 2019 Google Play Award nominees are…

Posted by Purnima Kochikar, Director, Apps and Games Business Development, Google Play

Drum roll please! To kick off Google I/O this year, the 2019 Google Play Awards will take place on Monday, May 6th. We’re excited to highlight nine categories this year, some familiar and some new, to recognize developers that continue to set the bar for quality apps and games on Google Play.

Building on previous years, we celebrate our fourth year by recognizing some of the best experiences available on Android, with an emphasis on overall quality, strong design, technical performance, and innovation. The nominees were selected by various teams across Google, and meet criteria thresholds covering high star rating, Android vitals, and have had a launch or major update since April 2018.

Congratulations to this year’s nominees below and remember to check them out on Google Play at play.google.com/gpa2019. Stay tuned as we announce the winners of each category at Google I/O.

Standout Well-Being App

Apps empowering people to live the best version of their lives, while demonstrating responsible design and engagement strategies.

Best Accessibility Experience

Apps and games enabling device interaction in an innovative way that serve people with disabilities or special needs.

Best Social Impact

Apps and games that create a positive impact in communities around the world (focusing on health, education, crisis response, refugees, and literacy).

Most Beautiful Game

Games that exemplify artistry or unique visual effects either through creative imagery, and/or utilizing advanced graphics API features.

Best Living Room Experience

Apps that create, enhance, or enable a great living room experience that brings people together.

Most Inventive

Apps and games that display a groundbreaking new use case, like utilize new technologies, cater to a unique audience, or demonstrate an innovative application of mobile technology for users.

Standout Build for Billions Experience

Apps and games with optimized performance, localization and culturalization for emerging markets.

Best Breakthrough App

New apps with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention, and strong growth.

Best Breakthrough Game

New games with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention, and strong growth.

Come back on Monday, May 6th when we announce the winners, and until then, make sure to try out some of these great apps and games on Google Play at play.google.com/gpa2019.

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Why “healthy” materials are key to Google’s new buildings

As a New Yorker, I’m struck by California’s  natural beauty. When I visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, I walk along the sidewalk and exclaim things like, “Is that wild sage?” (My coworkers find it amusing.)The tree-lined scenery of the San Francisco Bay Area gives some much-needed refreshment to my senses, which tend to be dulled by subway cars and honking car horns.

When I’m in the Bay Area, I often wonder how two completely different worlds—one of computer chips and algorithms and another of sprawling shoreline and wildlife—can coexist peacefully in one place. When I spoke with Robin Bass, Sustainability Lead for Google’s Real Estate and Workplace Services team, for our latest She Word interview, she shed light on how Google approaches this question every day, and what we’re doing to make sure we give back to the land we build on.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party?

I usually refer to myself as a recovering architect. I’ve worked in architecture for 20 years and sustainability has always been my focus. At Google, my responsibility is to ensure that our buildings provide healthy spaces for the people in them and that we leave the spaces between the buildings better than we found them.

How did you initially become interested in sustainability?

When I was an architecture student, it was the only direction that made sense to me. In school, the culture was to critique. If you don’t have a strong point of view about why you’re doing things it can come across as “because it’s pretty,” and that’s architecture at its worst. Instead, leading with “this is the way the sun moves across the site,” or “this is the way water moves in and out of the site” is an irrefutable argument. There’s no stronger footing than orienting your buildings for people and nature, so sustainability was my go-to design aesthetic.

Have you found strong female influences or mentors in your career?

Architecture is very male dominated—and I would even go so far as to say it’s white male dominated—but sustainability is different. I was able to find so many female mentors in the industry who shared the same alignment toward the future about the world we wanted to create. It was life-changing for me. Now I’m at a point in my career where I can buoy the next generation, and diversity and inclusion in particular is a huge priority for me. In the same way that landscapes have greater resilience when they are diverse, the community of designers and builders creating those landscapes should be inclusive and diverse as well.

How did these sustainability elements play out in some of your recent projects at Google’s offices, like Charleston East, Bay View and Spruce Goose?

The most sustainable building is the one you don’t build, so at Spruce Goose in the Los Angeles area, using an old airplane hangar rather than building a new office is capitalizing on the carbon that has already been invested there, and anyone who walks in is struck by the magical and unusual space.

At Charleston East and Bay View in Mountain View, our team is pursuing the Living Building Challenge, which stipulates that a building should exist on its site like a flower in a field. It’s all about net positive energy, waste and water, which is radical, aspirational and really hard to accomplish. These two buildings have a common design—both roof structures are unique, which makes the interior spaces remarkable—but they have different sustainability goals because of where they’re located, even though they are just a few miles apart.

Charleston East’s goal is about healthy materials. We’re vetting every product that comes onto the site against a red list of chemicals, and we’re working toward net positive waste, which means integrating waste back into the production of new materials instead of sending it to a landfill after one use. Bay View backs up close to the San Francisco Bay, so we’re pursuing net positive water. The goal is to have no connection to a central plumbing utility or a sewer; all of the water on that site will come from a closed loop.

What is one habit that makes you successful?

I am genuinely curious about people. When I’m sitting across a table from someone who doesn’t share my worldview, I find it’s important to be really curious about who they are, what motivates them and what’s hard for them so we can find common ground. You can turn someone who is not an advocate into your biggest supporter by authentically wanting to know them.

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?

Explore! Don’t be afraid of trying something that you ultimately don’t like. Failure is a really great feedback mechanism, and it’s not about how many times you fail, it’s about getting back up and sharpening all the tools you’re bringing to the table because the world needs you, and it’s never needed you more.

This National Tell a Story Day, take a page from your Assistant

Celebrate National Tell a Story Day with your Google Assistant

National Tell a Story Day is coming up this weekend (April 27th), and my day is already completely booked with plans to curl up on the couch and read with my kids. The Google Assistant is also getting in on the literary action: starting today, Tell Me a Story is available in English on your Android or iOS phone in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and India.

Whether you’re on the way to school drop-off or waiting for soccer practice to start, you can hear stories like “Let’s Be Firefighters!” (Blaze and the Monster Machines), “Robot Rampage” (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and more. To get started, just say, “Hey Google, tell me a story.” If you’re trying to get the kids ready for bed after a long day, try, “Hey Google, tell me a bedtime story.” You’ll need to have the latest version of Google Play Books for Android or iOS installed to listen to all of these great stories.

Families in the U.S. can also make storytime a little more magical with a feature called read along, available on Google Home smart speakers (Home, Mini, Max and Hub). The Assistant brings stories to life with sound effects as you read select Disney Little Golden Books aloud, like “Coco,” “The Three Little Pigs,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” and “Toy Story 3”—my daughter’s personal favorite. To try it out, just grab one of the compatible books and say, "Hey Google, let's read along" and the Assistant will ask you which book you’d like to read. Another great reading option is “Ara the Star Engineer”: Authored by my colleague Komal Singh, the book inspires young children to explore the magic of STEM by highlighting themes like courage, creativity, coding and collaboration. Just say “Hey Google, read along with Ara the Star Engineer.” With their parent's permission, children under 13 can also have their own personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link.

And if you’re looking for more ways to get your family excited about reading together, consider asking your Assistant to read an audiobook on Google Play. Just make sure to log into your Google Play Books account and say, “Hey Google, read Charlotte’s Web,” or any audiobook title, and you’ll hear a free sample if you don’t already own the audiobook. Ready to start listening? Check out some family favorites available for download:

Audiobooks are available on the Assistant in English in the U.S., Australia, Canada and Great Britain, in addition to German and Japanese. You can pause, resume or skip forward or backward in your audiobook just by using your voice. Test it out by saying, “Hey Google, read my book,” to resume your place, or ask, “Hey Google, skip to the next chapter.”

No matter where or how you or your kids choose to read or listen to a book, the Google Assistant can help out at storytime.

Get lost in the new Earth Timelapse, now on mobile

Today we’re introducing several updates to Google Earth Timelapse, a global, zoomable time-lapse video that lets anyone explore the last 35 years of our changing planet’s surface—from the global scale to the local scale. This update adds two additional years of imagery to the time-series visualization, now spanning from 1984 to 2018, along with mobile support and visual upgrades to make exploring more accessible and intuitive.

Desktop and Mobile

Timelapse provides a comprehensive picture of our changing Earth—including stunning phenomena like the sprouting of Dubai’s Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada (seen below).

Scientists, documentarians and journalists have used this dataset to help us better understand the complex dynamics at work on our planet. News outlets have brought their reporting to life with Timelapse imagery, from coverage of the floods in Houston, Texas to population monitoring. Recently, a team of scientists at the University of Ottawa published an article Nature based on the Timelapse dataset which revealed a 6,000 percent increase in landslides on a Canadian Arctic island since 1984. Starting this week, if you’re in the U.K., you can see Timelapse imagery featured in Earth From Space, a new BBC series about the incredible discoveries and perspectives captured from above. 

Zeit

Zeit Online uses Timelapse to show the extent to which jungles are cleared for soy production in Brazil.

Using Google Earth Engine, Google's cloud platform for petabyte-scale geospatial analysis, we combined more than 15 million satellite images (roughly 10 quadrillion pixels) to create the 35 global cloud-free images that make up Timelapse. These images come from the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat and European Sentinel programs. Once again, we joined forces with our friends at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab, whose Time Machine video technology makes Timelapse interactively explorable.

Today's update also adds mobile and tablet support, making it a little easier for you to explore, research or get lost in the imagery—from wherever you are. Up until recently, mobile browsers disabled the ability to autoplay videos, which is critical for Timelapse (since it’s made up of tens of millions of multi-resolution, overlapping videos). Chrome and Firefox reinstated support for autoplay (with sound muted), so we’ve added mobile support with this latest update.

Timelapse Phone

Earth Timelapse, now available on phones and tablets, includes a handy new "Maps Mode" toggle to let you navigate the map using Google Maps.

The design of the new Timelapse interface leverages Material Design with simple, clean lines and clear focal areas, so you can easily navigate the immense dataset. We contributed this new user interface to the open-source Time Machine project, used by Carnegie Mellon and others. Read more about our design approach at Google Design.

We’re committed to creating products like Timelapse with the planet in mind, and hope that making this data easily accessible will ground debates, encourage discovery, and inform the global community’s thinking about how we live on our planet. Get started with Timelapse on the Earth Engine website, or take a mesmerizing tour of the world through YouTube.


Level up on Android with Indie Games Accelerator

Games are a powerful medium of creative expression, and at Google Play we’re inspired by the passion of game developers everywhere. Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play.

Google Play | Indie Games Accelerator 2018

Our team of program mentors coached some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia. Thanks to the positive feedback we received around the program, we are bringing it back in 2019. Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re expanding the program to developers from select countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.


Selected participants will be invited to attend two all-expenses-paid gaming bootcamps at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore. There, they’ll receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.
Indie Games Accelerator journey | MochiBits (Android Developer Story)

Howard Go, the co-founder of Mochibits LLC, talks about how the program helped him improve his game's downloads and ratings.

Head to our website to find out more about our program and apply. Applications are due May 19, 2019.


Chrome for Android Update

Hi, everyone! We've just released Chrome 74 (74.0.3729.112) for Android: it'll become available on Google Play over the next few weeks.

This release contains the following features, as well as stability and performance improvements:
  • Translate any web page instantly by selecting Translate from the menu
You can see a full list of the changes in the Git log. If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.

Krishna Govind
Google Chrome