Author Archives: Aaron Canada

Pump up the jams, Canada: Google Home Max is here

Music fans, time to turn up the volume! Our biggest and best sounding Google Home -- the Google Home Max -- is now available in Canada via The Google Store and at Best Buy.
Built for premium sound
Thanks to premium hardware, including two 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers, Max delivers deep, powerful bass. And it’s loud…really loud, so you can fill even the largest room in your home with your favourite music. In fact, Max is 20 times more powerful than Google Home!

Redefine how you listen to music with Smart Sound
Powered by Google AI, Smart Sound means Max can automatically adapt itself to you -- your environment, your moments, your content. Once you’ve set up Max, it will automatically tune itself based on where you’ve placed it in the room. Without lifting a finger, your music will sound just as it was intended when it left the production studio. And all of this is done dynamically, so if you decide to move Max to the other side of the room, it will adapt within seconds. There’s no extra setup or testing required.

Your personal DJ, 24/7
With the Google Assistant built in, Google Home Max is always ready to start your favourite song, pause or turn it up, all with just your voice. Can’t quite remember the name of that favourite summer jam? Your Assistant can find it with just a few small details. Just ask, “Hey Google, play that song about Drake's dad...’”

Google Home Max works with Google Play Music, Spotify Free and Premium and TuneIn, so you can enjoy music in whatever way you like. And Chromecast is built in, meaning you can cast from your phone from many more services. For all of your other music and devices, Max has support for both Bluetooth® and aux-in, so plug in your record player and dust off your vinyl.

Control your smart home
Make Max the centre of your smart home. Google Home Max works with more than 150 home automation brands and more than 1,000 devices—including Nest, Belkin Wemo and Philips Hue. Plus, Google Home Max can complete two tasks at once. If you have a compatible smart plug, try saying, “Hey Google, dim the lights and play a summer time playlist”

Google Home Max is available starting May 16 for $499 from The Google Store and Best Buy Canada.

Looking Forward to Canada’s Innovative Future

Editor’s note: Today’s post is from Catherine Lacavera, Director of IP and Patent Litigation at Google… and proud Canadian.

Canada has a new National Intellectual Property Strategy, and this is very good news. Last month, Minister Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced a new National IP Strategy that makes great strides towards a better future for Canadian industry through a balanced and efficient IP system that protects and fosters Canadian innovation.

The new National IP Strategy is the product of a thoughtful, consultative process that led to a well-informed strategy reflecting the varied needs of different sectors and sized companies, both now, and into our promising future. The IP literacy campaign will help inform industry about how to meaningfully protect IP without wasting resources better spent on development. The efficiency measures and scrutiny of demand letters will help clear the path for innovators to realize value for their IP, while curbing the abuses that plague inefficient IP systems elsewhere around the world. There is much to applaud in the careful thought behind the new strategy.

As a fellow Canadian, I have a vested interest in seeing Canada take its rightful place on the world IP stage. We have long outperformed in innovation, and this new National IP strategy brings that same excellence in policies to our already excellent development programs. Congratulations to all those involved, and to the many varied industries that will be the beneficiaries of this thoughtful, collaborative strategy.

Posted by Catherine Lacavera; Director, Google Legal

Introducing new choices for parents to further customize YouTube Kids

When we launched the YouTube Kids app three years ago, our goal was to give kids around the world a place to access videos that were enriching, engaging and allowed them to explore their endless interests.

Since then, our team has continued to work to improve the app experience for kids and families around the world. One area of focus has been building new features that give parents even more control around the content available in the YouTube Kids app so they can make the right choice for their unique family and for each child within their family. 

We are excited to announce that throughout the year, we will be rolling out three new options in YouTube Kids:
  • Collections by trusted partners and YouTube Kids: Starting this week, our partners and the YouTube Kids team will offer collections of trusted channels on a variety of subjects, from arts & crafts and music to sports, learning, and so much more. This makes it easy for parents to select only the channel collections and topics they want their kids to access. Just go into Profile Settings, and select from available collections such as Sesame Workshop. We will continue to add more partners over time.

  • Parent approved content: Parents know better than anyone what they want their children to watch. For those parents who want even more control over the videos and channels in the YouTube Kids app, we're rolling out a feature later this year that will allow parents to specifically handpick every video and channel available to their child in the app.
  • Improved search-off control for an even more contained experience: Parents have always been able to turn search off within the YouTube Kids app, but starting this week, turning search off will limit the YouTube Kids experience to channels that have been verified by the YouTube Kids team. This means that search off will not include recommendations from the broader YouTube Kids corpus.

For parents who like the current version of YouTube Kids and want a wider selection of content, it's still available. While no system is perfect, we continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more open version of our app. And, as always, we encourage parents to block and flag videos for review that they don't think should be in the YouTube Kids app. This makes YouTube Kids better for everyone.

It is our hope that these additional options will allow every family to have the experience they want in the YouTube Kids app.

Posted by James Beser, Product Director for YouTube Kids

Take your own journey: Experience one of Parks Canada’s breathtaking destinations with new Google Street View imagery

Authored by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Every year, on April 22, people around the world celebrate Earth Day in support of the environment. What better time to launch new Google Street View imagery, featuring some of Parks Canada’s most awe-inspiring places. As a result of the long-term collaboration between two iconic organizations - Google and Parks Canada, virtual visitors can explore mountain-top vistas, meandering ocean-side trails, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Our national parks represent the best that Canada has to offer and are gateways to nature. This new Google Street View imagery introduces you to some of the incredible wonders of Canada’s vast network of protected wilderness and encourages you to discover more. It may even inspire you to visit. I can promise you incredible memories that will last a lifetime if you do.

The new Google Street View imagery is also a reminder that we have a collective responsibility to protect the natural world. As we continue to see the impacts of climate change on our land and water, the need to protect them only increases. Allowing more people to see these treasured places will help build appreciation for them and future stewards to help protect them.

This latest Google Street View release includes stunning images of Nahanni National Park Reserve (Nahʔą Dehé, Northwest Territories). The park touches the Boreal Cordillera Ecozone, is globally renowned for its geological landforms, and its natural heritage is internationally recognized by UNESCO. Virtual visitors anywhere can experience Virginia Falls, also known by the Dene name, Náįlįcho. They can also explore the amazing Rabbitkettle (Gahnîhthah) mineral springs and tufa mound, and rock climbing mecca, the Cirque of the Unclimbables.

Enjoy the rugged backcountry, mountain climbs, and a hot spring of one of our newest (and least-visited) national parks - Nááts'ı̨hch'oh National Park Reserve (Northwest Territories) that have been captured on Google Street View. The park is named after Nááts'ı̨hch'oh the mountain, which is a powerful place for the people of Sahtu, and is located in the traditional lands of Shúhtaot'ine (Mountain Dene). The imagery captured of the park will include highlights of Hamlet of Tulita, a fly-in access only community that is the main base of operations for Nááts'ı̨hch'oh.

Wonders from Banff National Park (Alberta), Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (British Columbia), Terra Nova National Park (Newfoundland), and Glacier and Mount Revelstoke national parks (British Columbia) have also been published as part of this release for you to explore and experience virtually.

Parks Canada preserves the sensitive ecosystems of our national parks, while providing Canadians with unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature. And Parks Canada works with Indigenous peoples to protect these treasured places and shares their stories with the world. I hope that experiencing this new Google Street View imagery will provide a better appreciation and understanding of the importance of our national parks. I encourage you to take the journey with Parks Canada and Google to learn about Canada’s natural, cultural and Indigenous heritage, and start dreaming about your next trip.

 Happy (early) Earth Day!

Local students build robot in Google’s first ever Kitchener-Waterloo Community Space

Editor’s note: Today we’re opening the doors of Google's first ever Community Space in Canada. Located on the ground floor of our Google Kitchener-Waterloo office, the new centre will offer local nonprofits and organizations working in STEM education and diversity free access to host programming and events. As part of today’s opening, we’re also proud to announce $2.1M in new funding for a mix of inspiring Canadian organizations, including: 
  • A $1.5 million re-investment in Actua, Canada’s largest STEM outreach organization, to continue evolving our Codemakers program that offers year-round computer science workshops for kids. This brings our total investment since launching Codemakers to $3 million. 
  • A $200,000 grant to Engineering Science Quest, through the University of Waterloo's Engineering Outreach Program, to create an experiential learning program in the Google Community Space that will help local youth build computational thinking and digital skills and provide parents and teachers access to information and resources. 
  • Lastly, Google Canada is funding $400,000 to the University of Waterloo with the aim of developing a new leadership centre for Women in Computer Science. Our goal is to help close the gender disparity gap in tech -- and we’re starting to do just that by bringing the Technovation Challenge, the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for girls ages 10-18, to Waterloo for the first time. 
This post comes from Shawn Wallace, Googler and founder of Kitchener-Waterloo Youth Robotics. 

Every week this year, a group of 40 students from high schools across Kitchener-Waterloo have met at Google’s new Community Space on Breithaupt Street to brainstorm, design, and build their very own robot. These students are proud members of Team 2702 Rebels, a robotics team run by a non-profit I co-founded called Kitchener-Waterloo Youth Robotics.

This past weekend, we competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition's Western District event, winning the prestigious Engineering Inspiration award, and also qualified for the Provincial Championships. Our success would not have been possible without the support of Google Canada and the early access they provided to their interactive Community Space.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Youth Robotics team and members of Engineering Science Quest in Google's new Kitchener-Waterloo Community Space

Non-profit organizations like ours know that finding affordable spaces where we can convene at and work from are incredibly hard to come by. The new Community Space is a game changer. At nearly 4,000 square feet, it’s flexible enough to host everything from brainstorming sessions and workshops to networking events and seminars. Since January, there have been over fifty events in the space. In true Google fashion, the team even set us up with a robot demo field and our very own workshop where we store our tools. There’s free wifi, a lounge, projector and screen, storage space, tables and chairs and, of course, a foosball table.
Google Canada's Steven Woods joined by Associate Dean for Engineering at the University of Waterloo Dr. Karim, Kitchener City Councillor Sarah Marsh, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic,  President of Actua Jennifer Flanagan, and Director of Women in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, Professor Joanne Atlee

As a Googler, I’m thrilled to see the overwhelming grassroots support from my company for our team and the community as a whole. In addition to opening the Community Space, Google has announced $2.1 million in new funding for a mix of local and national organizations, including Actua, Engineering Science Quest and the University of Waterloo’s Women in Computer Science.

I’m so proud to be able to work together with Google to nurture the next generation of Canada’s technology leaders. Through our newly announced funding and Community Space, Google hopes to engage more than 75,000 Canadians in STEM and digital skills programming over the next year.

If you’re a local non-profit working in STEM education and/or diversity and interested in getting involved with the Google Kitchener-Waterloo Community Space, fill out this form for details on how to apply. Keep in mind, we receive a large number of applications and may be unable to accept every organization.

A Case of the Mystical: The Broadbent Sisters and Pixel 2

Toronto-based art duo, The Broadbent Sisters, bring the magic of fluidity and form to their artwork, whether it’s a telepathic performance, pop-up installation and, now, a collection of Google Live Cases.

Today, Pixel fans from around the globe will be able to customize their own Pixel case by selecting one of 12 special designs that combine the Broadbent Sisters’ mystical artwork with a little bit of Google magic.

We spoke with real-life sisters Joy and Rose Broadbent about where they find their artistic inspiration, advice for new artists on how to integrate technology into art and their collaboration with Google.
Tell us a little more about your art and where you find your inspiration. 
We delve into any medium that feels right, whether it is painting, performance, sculpture or film, to transform everyday objects and spaces into magical and nurturing realms. Our unfolding art practice, ‘Clearing Spaces’ explores themes of ritual, meditation, pop spirituality and ecofeminism. We find collaboration to be an exciting and unique venue for distilling the essence of form and creating complex and relatable work. We find inspiration everywhere we go, from a discarded five dollar bill on the ground that becomes a giant painting, to the vast desert landscape in Arizona that becomes a series of short films.

Tell us a little a bit about the Live Cases. How did you create your designs / select which pieces to turn into Live Cases? 
All of the cases feature elemental imagery, each interwoven with fire, water, earth or air. The images and objects begin to transform and melt into each other, creating hypnotic patterns and forms. Bright colours are used to ignite feelings of sensuality, power and femininity, and have an illuminated quality. There is a sense of alchemy and ritual in each case, creating a mystical mood. All of the cases are digitally rendered - what began as a photo or painting, transforms into glitched technological magic. We actually used the Pixel 2 phone to take photos of our hands performing different actions, as well as capture our original artwork. The final twelve cases reflect themes from our unfolding ‘Clearing Spaces’ practice.

Do you have a favourite Live Case?
Rose: Yes! My favourite case is the vibrant glitched volcano. I can’t wait to have this on my phone! This strong image represents feminine power and sensuality to me. The colours and mesmerizing lines seems to magically vibrate. I loved creating this case, as it was an intuitive and effortless piece. 
Joy: My favourite is the hand holding the matchbook on fire. I like the funny illusion of the hand being the same size are your hand holding the phone. Fire is my Leo element, and I am drawn to its warmth and passion. This image looks faked, but it is truly an original photo of Rose holding a matchbook on fire!

How has technology changed your work as an artist? 
Technology has allowed us to share our work on an international platform. Social media specifically has created a virtual gallery space for us to connect to viewers everywhere.

Technology also grants us opportunity to create more spontaneous work, using the phone as a mobile medium. We were able to take the photos for the Live Cases using the Pixel phone without having to laboriously set anything up. It keeps us agile and allows for uninterrupted, magical moments of flow. We use the computer in a lot of our work to create digital collages that help transform traditional photos into surreal worlds. This technological collaboration between human and device, creates new unique and unfolding forms of art.

What advice would you give to young artists starting out on how to integrate technology into their work?
Technology is the new tool for networking and showcasing your work. If you don’t have gallery representation, use social media as your platform. Make sure to enjoy the playfulness of technology, it seems to have a mind of its own and can add a strange mathematical magic to your work. Documentation is a huge part of the process in art making, make sure to continuously take photos and videos of your process, this becomes valuable in your overall practice.

Now that you’re members of #teampixel, what do you love most about your Pixel 2 smartphones? 
We love the camera quality! The freedom to make good quality work with your phone means you can be in flow and capture moments you might have otherwise missed. We recently created a ‘Telepathic Film’ in two separate locations using the Pixel 2, which will be released this summer!

Get your very own customizable Broadbent Sisters Live Case on the Google Store today, while supplies last. The case is available for $50 (CAD).

For more BroadBent Sisters Live Case updates and surprises, search for #teampixel and #BBSxGooglePixel.

Putting Mario on the Map

We know a true Mario fan when we see one. They hum the Ground Theme on repeat, daydream about collecting gold coins and 1-UPs, and want nothing more than to traverse the Mushroom Kingdom with Luigi, Toad, and Yoshi to rescue Princess Peach from the evil Bowser.

To celebrate our favorite mustachioed plumber-turned-racer on his special day - MAR10 Day - we’ve collaborated with the team at Nintendo to let Mario accompany you on all of your driving adventures on Google Maps this week.
To get started, you’ll need to first update your app from Google Play or the App Store. Next,  simply click on the yellow “?” icon found on the bottom right of your Google Maps app on Android or iOS. You’ll then see a prompt to enable Mario Time!

Once enabled, you’ll see that the navigation arrow has morphed into - who else? - Mario, who will be a constant companion wherever you’re driving this week - to work, to school, or the spaghetti house. Just remember to practice safe driving on the road - we don’t encourage throwing bananas or red shells at other drivers in real life!

Ready to take a drive with Mario? Take a screenshot of your route and share it with @GoogleMaps on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #MarioMaps. Let's-a go!

Cryptography, Cloud and Equality: a Q&A with Google Security expert Maya Kaczorowski

Note from the editor: What do Julie Payette, Indira Samarasekera and Jenni Sidey have in common? They are just some of Canada’s fierce female masterminds who’ve graduated in the field of either science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) and who continue to impact our society. We already have plenty of talent in Canada. However, we are not turning out enough computer science graduates to keep up with demand, especially not enough women. It's never been more critical that we give our young girls the tools they need to become the technology builders of tomorrow. One of the ways we can better equip them, is by exposing young women to how their future studies could directly apply in the real world and make them aware of the exciting career opportunities in STEM. In the hopes of doing just that, we’ve sat down for an interview with one of own trailblazers, Montrealer Maya Kaczorowski, a Product Manager at Google in Security & Privacy. 

Can you tell us about your current role at Google and how you got here? 
Currently, my focus is on securing workloads running in containerized environments – which is a mouthful! To clarify, containers are a relatively new way of running workloads especially in the cloud. Our team uses tools such as Docker and Kubernetes which ultimately make our customer’s applications more portable.

Prior to this, I focused on encryption at rest and encryption key management, and was the Product Manager for Google Cloud Key Management Service (Cloud KMS). Before joining Google, I worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, serving financial, healthcare and insurance customers on a variety of topics, where I discovered my passion for security strategy.
What’s your educational background?
I completed a BA&Sc in Mathematics and Economics at McGill University in Montreal and then pursued a Master in Science in Applicable Mathematics, focusing on cryptography and game theory at the London School of Economics.

Can you tell us what motivated you to pursue a career in science and technology? 
I always liked solving puzzles and when I took a number theory class at McGill, I realized cryptography was a great mesh of puzzles, math, and practical use cases in security. I pursued my interest in cryptography, and ended up doing a Master's degree in the field. It wasn’t a straight path from there to a technical role in the industry, however, by seizing the right opportunities when they arose, I ultimately ended up in role that was meant for me, at Google working with the encryption team. I’m especially excited about working in infrastructure security, which is a huge focus given the uptake of the cloud industry. There’s a lot of opportunity for development, and for innovation in this space.

What challenges did you face as a woman during your studies and then throughout the course of your career?
Being taken seriously has always been difficult. I can remember going to some of my first conferences in security, and people asking me if I was a reporter, or what I ‘really’ worked on, even if I had Google written on my badge. No one will give you the benefit of the doubt, you have to initially prove yourself. I’m lucky that I had the opportunities to do so, and the courage to not let people dismiss me easily.
Why is now a great time for women to pursue careers in tech?
There are two complementary forces at work - it’s a friendlier and more attractive industry for women; and companies are also realizing they need women to be more successful. In general, there are already more women in tech, and more women in leadership roles - mentoring and acting as role models for the next generation of women.

Why are women uniquely qualified to excel in some of these leadership roles? 
Without over-generalizing, women bring different viewpoints to the workplace. Research has shown that more diverse teams lead to better business outcomes, and teams with more women tend to have more individuals actively participating in decision-making processes. In any product, but especially in security, having individuals from a variety of backgrounds leads to building better, more useful products.

What advice would you have for other women considering following a career in science and tech? 
Simply, just go for it. Given how accessible information and tutorials are nowadays, you can teach yourself anything. I often see people falter in their belief that they need to have gone to a particular school, or have a particular degree, or particular life experience, in order to have a particular job. Compared to men, women are less likely to apply to jobs where they don’t meet all the requirements, but there’s really no harm in trying. Ask others in the industry how they got where they are, teach yourself that, ask questions where you don’t understand, and go for it.

Additionally, when I studied mathematics, about half of my class was women - which I know is unusual. We were a headstrong bunch, each taking on leadership roles in student government, research, and other campus activities; and standing up for each other if needed. I would encourage women to support each other and to take on leadership roles either within your program of study, in the community or specific ecosystem they are aiming to persevere in.
What do you think would encourage more women to pursue studies in science and technology? 
I don’t think there’s an easy solution to gender equality in tech, which is why we’re all trying to improve it! I think having more exposure to how your studies are directly applicable in the real world, in the form of internships and co-ops, helps any student get a better idea of whether or not this work interests them, and what’s needed to be successful.

Introducing Family Link to Canada

“Hey Mom, can I get a smartphone?” is a question that most Canadian parents will likely hear at some point in their lives. And it’s no surprise why -- Canada’s Generation Z is highly connected. According to our research, 76% of Canadian kids between the ages of 2-12 now own or share a tablet and 37% own or share a smartphone.

Managing our children’s use of these devices, however, can be tricky. We want them to explore and be inspired as they embark on their digital adventure, but every family feels differently about what their kids should and shouldn't be able to do on their device.

That’s why we’re happy to bring Family Link to Canadian parents starting this week. Family Link helps parents create Google Accounts for their children under 13, and manage their use of Android devices.

Here’s how it works: First, your child will need a compatible Android device (see which devices work with Family Link). Create a Google Account on your child's device, and enter their information. You'll link their new Google Account to yours, and choose the apps and settings that you want for your child. You can then use Family Link to do things like:

Manage the apps your child can use 
Approve or block the apps your child wants to download from the Google Play Store.
Keep an eye on screen time
See how much time your child spends on their favourite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device.
Set device bedtime
Remotely lock your child’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.
Family Link can help parents stay in the loop and set certain ground rules around how children use their devices. As we continue to develop Family Link, we’d love to hear from Canadian parents on how we can make the Family Link experience even better. To share your feedback, select Help and feedback from the menu directly in the Family Link app.

If you have questions about setting up an account for your kid or using Family Link, check out our Help Centre. To help your kid make smart choices when using their device, check out our tips for families.