Author Archives: The Official Google Blog

The High Five: Put some R-E-S-P-E-C-T on it

Daydreaming and I’m thinking of Trends. This week, with a little help from the Google News Lab we honor the Queen of Soul, celebrate birthdays, shine some light on the left-handed among us and much more. Here’s a look at this week’s top trends.

Paying respect to a legend

On Thursday, we said goodbye to Aretha “Queen of Soul” Franklin who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer at 76. This musical legend gave the world iconic hits like “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” “Think,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “Chain of Fools,” all of which came in as the most-searched Aretha Franklin songs this week. She never shied away from the opportunity to flaunt her dramatic furs and show-stopping hats, all while reaching octaves and bravados that could make anyone drown in their own tears. Celebrities, world leaders and fans alike took time to pay their respects with folks in D.C., Michigan, Maryland, Georgia and Mississippi continuing to Rock Steady and search for details on the Queen of Soul. May we forever ride the midnight train of soul and take a drive down the Freeway of Love because that’s what Aretha would want us to do.

Dodging traffic in Los Angeles

Traffic is a way of life in Los Angeles and Elon Musk’s Boring Company is looking to make life a little bit easier, at least if you’re going to Dodger Stadium. The company is proposing a 3.6-mile underground tunnel in an effort to curb congestion on L.A. roads and people are intrigued. So much so that search interest in “boring company tunnel” spiked more than 60 percent over the past week in the U.S. Some people had tunnel vision, also searching for the North River Tunnels, Twin Peaks tunnel and Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

Sixty going on thirty

Madonna and Angela Bassett celebrated their sixtieth birthdays this week and people were in utter disbelief. Questions like “How old was Madonna when she had her daughter?” and “How does Angela Bassett stay looking so young?” were trending, as the mystery behind their fountain of youth glow remains unsolved. Washington D.C. was one of the top regions searching for both Madonna and Angela Bassett and the top search question on turning 60 was “What to say to someone turning 60?” Uhhh … Happy Birthday?  

Righty tighty, lefty loosey

Left-handers day was this past Monday and to celebrate, Oreo created a special left handers package and even sent a free package of cookies to all the residents of Left Hand, West Virginia. Lefties and righties alike took to Search to find out, “What percentage of people are left handed,” “Is there a left handers day club,” and “Is LeBron James left handed.” They also wanted to know if there were products and perks made especially for lefties such as “Best pens for lefties” and “Scholarships for lefties.” Looks like this week was the right week to be a left-handed.

Representation matters

Crazy Rich Asians, the first major studio production in 25 years to star an all-Asian cast, opened in theaters this week and is on track to net $30 million dollars by the end of the weekend. The top five states searching for the film include D.C., California, Hawaii, New York and Washington, and people searching for Crazy Rich Asians also searched for Geetha Govindam, Mile 22, and BlacKkKlansman over the past week in the U.S. Double-feature weekend at the theater anyone?

Safety-first AI for autonomous data center cooling and industrial control

Many of society’s most pressing problems have grown increasingly complex, so the search for solutions can feel overwhelming. At DeepMind and Google, we believe that if we can use AI as a tool to discover new knowledge, solutions will be easier to reach.

In 2016, we jointly developed an AI-powered recommendation system to improve the energy efficiency of Google’s already highly-optimized data centers. Our thinking was simple: Even minor improvements would provide significant energy savings and reduce CO2 emissions to help combat climate change.

Now we’re taking this system to the next level: instead of human-implemented recommendations, our AI system is directly controlling data center cooling, while remaining under the expert supervision of our data center operators. This first-of-its-kind cloud-based control system is now safely delivering energy savings in multiple Google data centers.

How it works

Every five minutes, our cloud-based AI pulls a snapshot of the data center cooling system from thousands of sensors and feeds it into our deep neural networks, which predict how different combinations of potential actions will affect future energy consumption. The AI system then identifies which actions will minimize the energy consumption while satisfying a robust set of safety constraints. Those actions are sent back to the data center, where the actions are verified by the local control system and then implemented.

The idea evolved out of feedback from our data center operators who had been using our AI recommendation system. They told us that although the system had taught them some new best practices—such as spreading the cooling load across more, rather than less, equipment—implementing the recommendations required too much operator effort and supervision. Naturally, they wanted to know whether we could achieve similar energy savings without manual implementation.


We’re pleased to say the answer was yes!

We wanted to achieve energy savings with less operator overhead. Automating the system enabled us to implement more granular actions at greater frequency, while making fewer mistakes.
Dan Fuenffinger
Dan Fuenffinger
Data Center Operator, Google

Designed for safety and reliability

Google's data centers contain thousands of servers that power popular services including Google Search, Gmail and YouTube. Ensuring that they run reliably and efficiently is mission-critical. We've designed our AI agents and the underlying control infrastructure from the ground up with safety and reliability in mind, and use eight different mechanisms to ensure the system will behave as intended at all times.

One simple method we’ve implemented is to estimate uncertainty. For every potential action—and there are billions—our AI agent calculates its confidence that this is a good action. Actions with low confidence are eliminated from consideration.

Another method is two-layer verification. Optimal actions computed by the AI are vetted against an internal list of safety constraints defined by our data center operators. Once the instructions are sent from the cloud to the physical data center, the local control system verifies the instructions against its own set of constraints. This redundant check ensures that the system remains within local constraints and operators retain full control of the operating boundaries.

Most importantly, our data center operators are always in control and can choose to exit AI control mode at any time. In these scenarios, the control system will transfer seamlessly from AI control to the on-site rules and heuristics that define the automation industry today.

Find out about the other safety mechanisms we’ve developed below:

DME_DCIQ_v08-05.png

Increasing energy savings over time

Whereas our original recommendation system had operators vetting and implementing actions, our new AI control system directly implements the actions. We’ve purposefully constrained the system’s optimization boundaries to a narrower operating regime to prioritize safety and reliability, meaning there is a risk/reward trade off in terms of energy reductions.

Despite being in place for only a matter of months, the system is already delivering consistent energy savings of around 30 percent on average, with further expected improvements. That’s because these systems get better over time with more data, as the graph below demonstrates. Our optimization boundaries will also be expanded as the technology matures, for even greater reductions.

graph.gif

This graph plots AI performance over time relative to the historical baseline before AI control. Performance is measured by a common industry metric for cooling energy efficiency, kW/ton (or energy input per ton of cooling achieved). Over nine months, our AI control system performance increases from a 12 percent improvement (the initial launch of autonomous control) to around a 30 percent improvement.

Our direct AI control system is finding yet more novel ways to manage cooling that have surprised even the data center operators. Dan Fuenffinger, one of Google’s data center operators who has worked extensively alongside the system, remarked: "It was amazing to see the AI learn to take advantage of winter conditions and produce colder than normal water, which reduces the energy required for cooling within the data center. Rules don’t get better over time, but AI does."

We’re excited that our direct AI control system is operating safely and dependably, while consistently delivering energy savings. However, data centers are just the beginning. In the long term, we think there's potential to apply this technology in other industrial settings, and help tackle climate change on an even grander scale.

Simplifying Data Studio embeds and social sharing

Today we are introducing two new features to make sharing your Data Studio visualizations easier, including enhanced support for embedding your reports across the web, and rich snippets of your reports when you share them on social networks.

Embed with Embed.ly

Data Studio now supports embedding interactive reports on Medium, Reddit and hundreds of other sites that use Embed.ly. To embed your report, simply paste the report URL in your article. Simply embed your report and it will sync in real time, making it possible for you to distribute your interactive reports. Learn more.

Here are some examples of embedded reports:

DS Embed 1

Medium article showing Stack Overflow trends. Link

DS Embed 2

Reddit post showing real time departures for BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Link

Share rich snippets on social

When you share your report link on social platforms or messaging apps, you will now see a rich snippet including the title, thumbnail and description of the report. Your audience will know what to expect from the link and have better visibility to your reports. Rich snippets also help make your content more searchable on social networks.

To generate rich snippets, post the report URL you intend to share.

Here's an example of a rich snippet:

DS Embed 3

Rich snippets work on any social platform or messaging app that supports Open Graph Protocol including Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and apps like Hangouts, iMessage and Slack.

Announcing the 10 startups that will take the stage at Demo Day Asia

After our open call for startups to apply and pitch to top global investors at Demo Day Asia—taking place this September in Shanghai—we received hundreds of submissions. They came from founders from every corner of Asia-Pacific, across industries as diverse as agriculture, entertainment, and healthcare.


While difficult to narrow down this impressive field, after painstaking deliberation, the results are finally in. Out of 305 qualifying applications, the 10 finalists that will take the final stage at Demo Day Asia are... (drum-roll!):


  • DycodeX from Indonesia develops Internet of Things solutions for livestock farming

  • FreightExchange from Australia is an online platform for freight carriers to sell their unused space to shippers.

  • GITAI from Japan specializes in building robots that can help humans conduct scientific experiments in space.

  • Marham from Pakistan is a healthcare platform that helps people search, book appointments, and consult with doctors online.

  • Miotech from China is a fintech startup developing artificial intelligence-based software for financial services firms.

  • OneStockHome from Thailand offers an e-commerce platform for construction materials.

  • Origami Labs from Hong Kong makes smart rings that allow people to hear and send text messages without taking out their phones.

  • SigTuple from India creates AI-based solutions to automate healthcare screening.

  • SkyMagic from Singapore produces drone swarming technology for live entertainment and traffic management systems.

  • Swingvy from Korea provides human resources solutions for businesses.

We’re proud that several of these companies belong to organisations that are a part of the Google for Entrepreneurs partner network, a community of over 35 member spaces globally and programs supporting startups. They include startups from Kibar in Indonesia, Fishburners in Australia, Hubba in Thailand, Found in Singapore and People Squared in China.


Congratulations to these outstanding startups and their founders! They will pitch to a distinguished panel of leaders from Google for Entrepreneurs, Sequoia Capital China, and Venturra Capital on September 20th in Shanghai. The startups that impress could come home with funding from investors and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud Platform credits. Most importantly, we hope these incredible startups blaze a path forward for other founders and continue to improve the lives of others with their innovative products. Good luck in Shanghai!

Upgrading your paid storage with Google One

Since introducing Google Photos, we’ve aspired to be the home for all of your photos, helping you bring together a lifetime of memories in one place.


We offer two options to back up your photos and videos: original quality and high quality. Starting today in the U.S., those of you who back up in original quality and pay for expanded storage will be upgraded to Google One. For the same price or in some cases less, you’ll now have extra space and additional benefits—like 24/7 support from Google experts—to help you get more out of Google. There are no changes to our high quality backup option.

 

Check out what backup plan you’re currently using and, if you’d like to upgrade to Google One, visit the Google One website. Google One is rolling out to more countries over the next few weeks.

Introducing a new transparency report for political ads

We first launched our Transparency Report in 2010 with the goal of fostering important conversations about the relationship between governments, companies, and the free flow of information on the internet.

Over the years, we’ve evolved the report, adding sections about content removed from Google Search due to European privacy laws, adoption of encryption on websites (HTTPS), and more. And today, we’re adding another new section to our Transparency Report: Political Advertising on Google.

Earlier this year, we took important steps to increase transparency in political advertising. We implemented new requirements for any advertiser purchasing election ads on Google in the U.S.—these advertisers now have to provide a government-issued ID and other key information that confirms they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, as required by law. We also required that election ads incorporate a clear “paid for by” disclosure. Now, we’re continuing to roll out new transparency features with the addition of the political advertising report as well as a new political Ad Library.

political advertising transparency report locations

The new political advertising section in our Transparency Report shows how much money is spent across states and congressional districts

The new political advertising report shows who buys federal election ads in the U.S., how much money is spent across states and congressional districts on such ads, and who the top advertisers are overall. We designed this report for anyone interested in transparency—the information is searchable and downloadable, so that you can easily access and sort through the data. We’re updating the report every week, so as we head into election season, anyone can see new ads that get uploaded or new advertisers that decide to run Google ads.

political advertising transparency report top keywords

The new political advertising section in our Transparency Report

Meanwhile, our new, searchable election Ad Library shows things like which ads had the highest views, what the latest election ads running on our platform are, and deep dives into specific advertisers’ campaigns. In addition, the data from the report and Ad Library is publicly available on Google Cloud’s BigQuery. Using BigQuery’s API, anyone can write code and run their own unique queries on this data set. Researchers, political watchdog groups and private citizens can use our data set to develop charts, graphs, tables or other visualizations of political advertising on Google Ads services. Together with the Transparency Report, we hope this provides unprecedented, data-driven insights into election ads on our platform.

Even though the political advertising report and Ad Library provide many new insights, we know there is more work to be done. We’re working with experts in the U.S. and around the world to explore tools that capture a wider range of political ads—including ads about political issues (beyond just candidate ads), state and local election ads, and political ads in other countries. We’re also continuing to share our Protect Your Election tools to safeguard campaigns from digital attacks. As we approach the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S, we’ve introduced new tools to help protect political campaigns, provide voters with accurate information, and increase transparency on our platforms, and we’ll continue to do more.

Search, Trends and fact checking during the Mexican elections

On July 1, more than 88 million Mexican citizens voted for over 16,000 candidates in the largest election in Mexican history. In the lead up to the Mexican national elections, we aimed to help people navigate election information.


In Search, we made it easier for people to find information about the democratic process: our search results helped find their local polling, in partnership with the National Electoral Institute (INE).

i54LbLO18TmhzzZASs38NgSi4_5MDtBBYi0jOwGJJ3lf5tU1xGUs0BP0NifoE1fRdGmBNsysL16oo6M6S1mBgcvkA_OxdpeLXtM60Fs4Lqkw-wdpkO9mG7fm_euvMWZPAh_hq8Lx (1).png

We also made it easier for people to explore the data around Google searches for candidates and key elections issues. The Google Trends team created the Election Trends Hub and partnered with news organizations like Animal Politico, to create election visualizations that helped synthesize and contextualize what people were searching in the lead up to the elections.

trendlecciones-linea-de-tiempo.png

As part of the Google News Initiaitive’s efforts to empower news organizations with technology, we supportedVerificado 2018 a joint effort across over 90 news organizations and NGOs to fact check claims and prevent the spread of misinformation. To assist with the fact checking efforts, over the past year we’ve trained over 1000 journalists across Mexico on  Google verification tools, such as reverse image Search. In three and a half months leading up to the election, the Verificado coalition identified over 180 false stories and reached more than 1.3 million people on their website and social media channels.

Verificado2018-1.JPG

Reporters who participated in Verificado 2018

With presidential elections in Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, 2018 is an important year for politics in Latin America. As voters across the world prepare to vote, we’re building tools and partnerships helps users engage more seamlessly in their democratic processes.

You can learn more about our work at google.com/elections and about the Google News Initiative’s work to support the news industry to fight misinformation atg.co/newsinitiative.


Upgrade to Google One to get more out of Google

Recently, we introduced Google One, a plan that gives you expanded storage and helps you get more out of Google. Over the past few months, people with Google Drive paid plans have been upgraded to Google One. And starting today, people in the U.S. can choose to upgrade to Google One.

More storage for what matters

Google One gives you more storage across Drive, Gmail, and Photos. With plenty of space, your most important memories and files are stored safely in the cloud and available on all your devices. We've improved the price of some of our plans and added new plan options, so you can find one that works for you.

g1 gif

More help when you need it

As a Google One member, you can easily get in touch with a team of Google experts 24/7 to answer your questions—whether you need help recovering a file you accidentally deleted or want to learn how to use Gmail when you're offline.


More benefits for members

With Google One, you’ll also get extra benefits across Google. We’ve started with credits on Google Play and deals on hotels found in Google Search. In the coming months, keep an eye out for Google Store and Google Express benefits and more.


More for your family

You can also share your plan with up to five additional family members. That means simplified storage under one bill, and access to the benefits of Google One.


We're just getting started and will be rolling out to more countries over the next few weeks. If you’re in the U.S. and would like to upgrade, visit the Google One website.

Getting started with Google Analytics for Firebase

With Google Analytics for Firebase, you can understand and measure the impact of your mobile app or apps on your business. And with the Firebase updates announced earlier this year, we’re bringing even more depth and analysis capabilities to Google Analytics for Firebase—including project level reporting and flexible filters.

We continue to build and improve our app measurement solutions, and are showcasing this new feature set with the Firebase Demo Project. If you’ve never played with Firebase before, this is a great place to start in order to get a good idea of what features are available and how they work together.

We’re also releasing our new “Getting Started with Google Analytics for Firebase” mini-course. These videos use the Firebase Demo Project as well as live demos to walk you through getting up and running with Google Analytics for Firebase. We cover everything from creating a Firebase project, to understanding your dashboard metrics and events, to integrating across other areas of Firebase.

Overview of Google Analytics for Firebase
Google Analytics for Firebase Dashboard Walkthrough
Exporting Data to BigQuery and Data Studio

The above videos are just a subset of the content we’re bringing you through this new mini-course. Check out the full playlist—Getting Started with Google Analytics for Firebase—to get a comprehensive overview.

Pump up the jams: New music streaming services now available on Google Home

Cue the music: You can now ask your Google Assistant on Google Home, Mini and Max to play some of your favorite songs with Pandora Premium and Deezer.

Both services are now available on the Google Assistant across supported devices like Google Home, Smart Displays and more. Pandora Premium subscribers can search and play their favorite songs, albums and playlists, just by using their voice. 

Plus, Deezer now allows you to stream music hands-free with access to more than 36 million HiFi tracks from around the world. So if you’ve got a Google Home Max, get ready to turn it all the way up.

To play music from Pandora or Deezer, link your accounts in the Google Home app. Then all you have to do is say, “Hey Google, play my Chill Vibes playlist on Deezer,” or “Hey Google, play my Chill playlist on Pandora.”

If you have a Google Home, you can try Pandora Premium free for 90 days. Deezer on Google Home is available for HiFi and Premium users in the U.S., Canada, Italy, Australia, U.K., France and Germany. Check the Google Home app on Android or visit store.google.com to see if your region is eligible for a special 90-day Deezer Premium trial offer

With the addition of Pandora Premium and Deezer, you have even more choices when it comes to music streaming services. So, next time you’re throwing a party or hanging out with friends, we’ve got the DJ booth covered.