Author Archives: The Official Google Blog

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.


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.


A new way to find work-from-home (or wherever) opportunities

Whether you’re a parent needing more flexibility or someone looking for the freedom to work wherever you’d like, a work from home job might meet your lifestyle needs. Many people already use Search to find work-from-home roles, and today we’re announcing an improved experience within job search in the U.S. to connect people with quality remote jobs.

Work-from-home Google job search

Now, you can search for jobs that match your skill set, like “customer support jobs” and filter your location to “work from home” to see a list of relevant job listings that meet your criteria. Whether the jobs are listed as “remote,” “work from home” or “telecommute” opportunities, this filter does the work for you, and helps you explore the opportunities available. Unsure what kind of job you want? Try searching “work from home jobs” to explore open roles across industries.


For employers looking to help potential remote workers better discover these opportunities, we’re using new Schema.org markup for job locations and applicant location requirements to indicate work-from-home roles and any related geographic restrictions. Regardless of the specific words employers use to describe remote jobs, those marked up listings will be discoverable through this new feature.


We’re already working with a wide range of job listing sites, including Working Nomads, We Work Remotely and ZipRecruiter, and the number of remote jobs you can find via Google is growing by the day as providers from across the web implement this markup. We’re also making this capability available to any employer or job board to use on their own property through our Cloud Talent Solution.


We hope these tools are useful in finding your next work from home opportunity or finding the right candidates, regardless of where they call home.

From food waste to tasty treats in Google’s kitchens

For Kristen Rainey, a carrot is more than a vegetable. It’s the opportunity to cook “from root to stem” and make anything from salads and juice to ice cream and candy. Cooking this way helps combat food waste, an issue that affects everyone—particularly the 800 million people who suffer from hunger each year.

One third of all food produced for human consumption, or about 1.3 billion pounds of food, is wasted every year. Plus,  wasted food emits potent greenhouse gases when it decomposes. “The situation is a lose-lose-lose,” Kristen says. “When you consider all of the resources that went into making the food that’s ultimately wasted, it becomes clear that we have a problem.”

Kristen, a Procurement & Resource Utilization Manager based in Google’s Portland office, leads strategy to reduce food waste, water and energy in company kitchens and cafes. When it comes to food, they take a “circular economy” approach, meaning that they prioritize reusing ingredients and raw materials rather than buying new ones and tossing leftovers in the trash.

Using these strategies, Google has prevented six million pounds of food waste since 2014. Here are four strategies that made that happen.

1. Use technology to cut back on waste.

A LeanPath setup in a Google kitchen.

A LeanPath setup in a Google kitchen.

Google’s offices partner with LeanPath in 189 cafes in 26 different countries. The system features a camera that takes pictures of the food waste items, a scale that weighs it and a tablet for a team member to enter additional information about the item.

This info then gets uploaded to the cloud, and those numbers allow Google to track and gain insights about food waste. Using this data, chefs are able to make adjustments in the kitchen, such as scaling back the purchasing of ingredients or teaching team members how to trim vegetables in order to utilize a greater percentage of the product.

2. Consider the ingredients.

"Imperfect" produce

So-called “imperfect” produce is often used in Google’s kitchens.

When thinking of ingredients, Google’s chefs make sustainability a priority. For example, many dishes can be made with imperfect-looking produce, meaning fruits and vegetables that might look misshapen or have slight discolorations, but are still just as delicious. They are also focused on finding innovative suppliers like CoffeeCherry, which creates flour from coffee bean byproduct, or Toast, beer brewed with leftover bread.

Chefs at Google also consider using the entire vegetable, from root to stem, and an entire animal when cooking meat. Whether it’s using the skin of a sweet potato or carrot tops in a vegetable dish or using turkey neck and giblets for a stock or gravy, it’s easy to utilize food that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.

3. Get creative in the kitchen.

Chefs prepare vegetables in a Google kitchen

Inevitably, some food is going to be left over, but that doesn’t mean it’s hitting the trash. Scott Giambastiani, Google’s food program manager based in Sunnyvale, California, says chefs in Google kitchens have come up with inventive solutions to repurpose food. They've used trimmings from leafy greens to make smoothies and the stems from those greens and root vegetables to make sauces like pesto and chimichurri. “All of these practices not only reduce food waste but they also enhance the nutritional value of the final dish,” Scott says.

Google chefs also cook in small batches as they go, looking at crowd sizes and estimating how much to cook rather than preparing a large quantity at once. This practice, combined with careful planning of how many ingredients to purchase, prevents a good deal of food waste.

4. Don’t just toss waste in the garbage.

Ingredients in a Google kitchen

If leftovers can’t be repurposed into new dishes, that doesn’t mean they always end up in a landfill. Google cafes make it a point to donate leftovers to local shelters and food banks, and compost whenever possible. They’re also focused on ways to stop food waste before it starts, by encouraging Googlers to be mindful of how much food they put on their plates—and reminding them they can always go back for seconds. 

Step into Childish Gambino’s world with augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) lets you bring digital content into the real world—transforming the way you shop, learn, create and experience what’s around you. For artists and creators, AR can be used as an outlet for artistic expression and a way for fans to explore and interact with their content in a new way.

Earlier this year, we partnered with recording artist Childish Gambino to create an AR version of himself in Playground, a creative mode in the Pixel camera. The Playmoji looks and feels lifelike as it dances and reacts to you in your photos and videos. Today, Childish Gambino fans can try his new multiplayer AR app called PHAROS AR and journey through his universe to the tune of his latest sounds.

The experience begins with the opening of an AR portal. Walk through it to explore an augmented cave where you can find and interact with hidden glyphs while still being able to see out into the real world.

After finding all the hidden glyphs, your journey continues to more worlds throughout Childish Gambino’s universe. You can go on the adventure alone, or share the experience with friends as you view and interact with visual elements simultaneously.

A screenshot of a neon pink walkway within the PHAROS app.

The app is built with ARCore, Google’s developer platform for building AR experiences, and Unity, a real-time 3D development platform. With ARCore, developers can build apps that blend the digital and physical worlds—creating experiences that bring what you see on your phone into your actual surroundings. PHAROS AR uses ARCore’s Cloud Anchors API for the multiplayer experience across Android and iOS, so you can use it along with your friends regardless of your device.

A garden with palm trees and characters within the PHAROS app.

Put on your headphones and download PHAROS AR on Android now (coming soon to iOS) as you step inside Childish Gambino’s world with AR.

Touring Bird takes flight in 200 destinations worldwide

From booking flights to securing hotel rooms, the online travel industry has made the logistics side of travel easier than ever. But the fun part of taking a trip is experiencing and exploring new places, cultures and people—that's the part travelers remember and talk about. Yet finding exciting things to do in a given location is often much more difficult than finding a cheap flight. There are many sources of information, and not all of them are reliable, which means that hours of research can still come up short.

With Touring Bird, a web-based travel app from Google’sArea 120 (a workshop for experimental projects), you can explore, compare and book over 75,000 tours and activities from top providers. Touring Bird is expanding from the initial 20 destinations launched in September 2018 to 200 total destinations, available on desktop and mobile. Our coverage now spans the world, from Anchorage to Zanzibar.

Everything in one place

When you select a destination city in Touring Bird, you'll see top sights,, suggested tours and activities with prices, options for free guided tours, and recommendations from locals and travel experts.

A screenshot scrolling through the top sights, local tours and activities, and local tips in Touring Bird.

Customizable, one-stop shopping

We offer a “build-your-own package” feature for each destination’s top attractions. For example, if you want to explore Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Família church with a guide, visit the church’s towers and also see Gaudí’s whimsical Park Güell, you can find the tour package that meets those criteria. You’ll find offerings from multiple major providers (such as Expedia, GetYourGuide and Viator) without having to comb through endless tour descriptions on each booking agency’s website to determine what’s included or not.

A screenshot showing the flow of creating a package of tours for Barcelona.

The travel experience you want

We also curate hundreds of activities for every interest and type of traveler, whether you’re first-timers looking for iconic experiences in Zurich, travelers seeking more off-the-beaten-path activities in Athens, or families with kids on holiday in Dubai. All offerings can be further filtered by the type of activity that interests you, such as walking tours, classes or performances.

Quick and easy booking

Once you find a tour, ticket or activity that interests you, you can dig deeper and see what’s included—plus availability, prices, cancellation policies and reviews. Then you can filter by your trip dates and, when you’re ready, click straight to the provider’s website to complete the booking.

A variety of Barcelona tours and activities available in the Touring Bird app.

One-of-a-kind experiences

Local Tips arecurated recommendations for unexpected local experiences provided by destination experts. For those looking for something beyond classic guided tours, Touring Bird offers has got you covered. Watch sumo wrestlers train in Tokyo, camp by the beach with wild kangaroos near Sydney or explore the world’s largest historical toilet collection in Kyiv.

A screenshot of local tips in the Touring Bird app.

After today's update, if you’re planning on traveling somewhere, chances are Touring Bird has it covered. Check it out at www.touringbird.com when you're getting ready to plan your next trip.

Google Fit is now on iOS

Being more physically active in your everyday life can help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep and increase overall mental health. When we launched the new Google Fit last year, we translated the science behind physical activity into two simple and smart activity goals: Move Minutes and Heart Points. Now, we're bringing the Google Fit app to more people—starting today, it's available to download on iOS.

Fit HomePage_iPhone.png

Track your Heart Points and Move Minutes earned

Move Minutes and Heart Points help you build smarter, healthier habits throughout your day. The more you move, the more Move Minutes you earn. The more intensely you move, the more Heart Points you earn. And the more Heart Points you earn, the closer you are to reaching AHA and WHO’s recommended amount of weekly physical activity to reap the health benefits. Whether you go biking or pick up your pace while walking to your next meeting to earn more Heart Points, you can check your journal to track progress on these two activity goals and see how small changes can make a big impact to your health.  

Fit Journal_iPhone.png

Connect your apps and devices on Apple Health with Google Fit

Tracking your progress throughout the day should be simple and easy. Regardless of which apps or devices you use to monitor fitness, sleep and general wellbeing, Google Fit has you covered.

Apps you connect to Apple Health, such as Sleep Cycle, Nike Run Club and Headspace, sync with Google Fit to provide a holistic view of your health and show the Heart Points and Move Minutes you earn through other activities. And whether you own an Apple Watch or Wear OS by Google smartwatch, Google Fit keeps track of your workout sessions. With your journal, you’ll get a snapshot of the things that you do to help you get better sleep, be more mindful and get more active.

Visit the App Store and download the new Google Fit app today.