Author Archives: The Official Google Blog

More ways to find authoritative information in Europe

Providing useful and trusted information online is a complex and important responsibility, especially around elections. Our aim is to build helpful tools that get you to the information you’re looking for. As we get closer to the EU Parliamentary elections, alongside our broader package of support, we’re making it easier to help you access quality content online. We’re also working in partnership with fact checking organizations to support a healthy news ecosystem online, as well as helping voters get the information they need more broadly.

Making quality count in more countries in Europe

On Google Search, we make algorithmic updates every day to ensure we surface authoritative content that’s useful to you. On YouTube, too, we’ve invested in new product features to make authoritative sources more prominent, including launching Top News and Breaking News in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Netherlands and more. These features make it easier for you to find news from verified sources by highlighting videos in the Top News shelf, or showing the Breaking News shelf on the YouTube homepage for key news events.

We’re working on bringing these features to more European countries in the coming weeks and months. We’ll also be launching publisher transparency labels on YouTube in even more countries across Europe, including the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland. These labels will appear on the YouTube videos from channels of news publishers who receive government or public funding. Our goal here is to equip you with more information to help you better understand the sources of news content that you choose to watch on YouTube.

A focus on the EU elections on Google News

For those hungry for EU election-related news, there’s a specific destination in Google News to get you to the top journalism on the election topics you care about, faster. You’ll see a dedicated “2019 European elections” topic for countries where Google News is available in Europe, pulling in the latest election news coverage in your country and across the European Union.

A screenshot of the “2019 European elections” tab in Google News.

Supporting elections news coverage with Google Trends

You can also stay close to the pulse of the EU elections through Google Trends—the tool that helps surface the top questions, issues and most-searched candidates running in the elections. We’re working closely with news partners across Europe to surface Google Trends data and support data-driven stories on the latest topics related to the election. We’ve also created a dedicated Google Trends EU Election hub for Germany, France and the U.K.

New tools for fact checkers

We recently launched two tools to help fact checkers work more efficiently and effectively. When publishers write a fact check article, they can tag the article with information about the fact check—for example, what was the claim being assessed, who made the claim, what was the verdict and more. Adding a tag, or “ClaimReview,” to a fact-check article allows search engines and social media platforms to easily recognize that it’s a fact-checking article, meaning it will show up that way in news and search results.

The Fact Check Markup tool makes the process of tagging fact checking content using the ClaimReview even easier for reporters. Similarly, the new Fact Check Explorer helps journalists find fact checking articles for various topics through a simple search function–it is also available to all interested members of the public. The APIs for these tools are open, so developers can build their own applications to assist fact checkers around the world.

Partnerships and support for fact check organizations

Driving a healthy news ecosystem online and combating misinformation means forging partnerships with industry organizations. We’re working with First Draft, an organization we’ve supported since they were founded in 2015. As part of the Google News Initiative, we’ve supported four verification training events—two-day intensive workshops—for hundreds of journalists in Brussels, Frankfurt, Madrid and Milan. Journalists were provided with training on digital verification techniques and given access to use CrossCheck, a First Draft platform which helps journalists debunk misinformation and share their findings.

We’re also supporting the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to launch FactCheckEU, a collaborative effort with 19 European fact-checking outlets to tackle disinformation and hoaxes. Organizations from 13 countries will share their work ahead of the elections in May, making their analysis publicly available in 10 different languages, with everything repeated in English.

A grid of logos of 19 European news outlets.

19 European media outlets are participating in FactCheck EU.

We’re also providing digital tools and verification workshops across each of the 28 member states. In the last four years, the Google News Lab has trained 65,000 journalists in-person across Europe, and in the last four months alone we’ve supported 4,800 journalists to strengthen their newsgathering and research skills. Workshops have included tips on digital safety and security. For those unable to make the session in-person, the online training center is always available.

People seated in a classroom, in rows and in front of computers.

Journalists attending a Google News Lab workshop in Helsinki, Finland.

This is just a snapshot of our work around the EU Parliamentary elections. By partnering with trusted fact checking organizations, these new tools can help voters get and stay informed, better understand the political advertising they see and scrutinize and understand rival claims throughout the elections.

Six ways your Google Assistant can help you spruce up for spring


Spring is in the air, which also means it’s the season to freshen up your home. If you’re like me, cleaning your house doesn’t top your list of favorite things to do—but it still needs to get done. This year, get a little help from your Google Assistant on your phone, speaker or Smart Display—so you spend less time cleaning, and more time enjoying the outdoors.

As we bid adieu to winter layers and welcome longer, warmer days, here are six ways your Assistant can help with spring cleaning:

  1. You can’t get something done if you don’t remember to do it. Set a friendly reminder to tackle your cleaning projects around the house. Just say, “Hey Google, remind me to clean my closet” or “Hey Google, remind me to store my winter clothes.”

  2. Kickstart your cleaning session by setting up a custom routine so your Assistant automatically gets things done for you—like playing your cleaning playlist (because music makes even the most mundane chores better!), turning on your Whirlpool or Samsung dishwasher, and starting a load of laundry with Whirlpool, LG, GE or Samsung connected appliances. It’s easy to get this set up in your Assistant app for Android or iOS and link smart devices: Just add a custom command like “let’s start cleaning” and then add each action you want your Assistant to take (e.g. start the washer). Once complete, say, “Hey Google, let’s start cleaning,” and watch each action start at the same time.

  3. Who said cleaning was a one-person job? Broadcast a message via the Assistant on your phone or voice-activated speaker (like Google Home) to get some help from your family. Say, “Hey Google, broadcast ‘it’s time to clean!’” to rally your family. They can even reply back to let you know they’re on their way.

  4. Delegate tasks by telling your Assistant exactly which room to clean. If you have an iRobot i7 Roomba, simply say, “Hey Google, vacuum the kitchen” or “Hey Google, vacuum the living room.”

  5. In the middle of a cleaning session and almost out of cleaning supplies? Just ask the Assistant to get more. Give it a go by saying, “Hey Google, order more disinfecting wipes” or “Hey Google, order more paper towels.”

  6. With all of this cleaning, chances are you’ll have clothes or other household items that you want to give away. To find the nearest drop-off, just ask, “Hey Google, where is the nearest donation drop-off?”

While the Assistant can’t do all of the cleaning for you, it can help you streamline the process and make organizing your home more enjoyable.

Finding a place to charge your EV is easy with Google Maps

If you’ve ever driven to an electric vehicle (EV) charging station only to find that all ports are occupied, you know that you could end up waiting in line for anywhere between minutes to hours—which can really put a damper on your day when you have places to go and things to do.


Starting today, you can see the real time availability of charging ports in the U.S. and U.K, right from Google Maps–so you can know if chargers are available before you head to a station. Simply search for “ev charging stations” to see up to date information from networks like Chargemaster, EVgo, SemaConnect and soon, Chargepoint. You’ll then see how many ports are currently available, along with other helpful details, like the business where the station is located, port types and charging speeds. You’ll also see information about the station from other drivers, including photos, ratings, reviews and questions.
realtime

You can search for real time EV charging information on Google Maps on desktop, Android, iOS and on Google Maps for Android Auto. To get started, update your Google Maps app from the App Store or Play Store.


Steps toward a more sustainable future

People perform trillions of searches on Google each year, upload hundreds of hours of videos to YouTube each minute, and receive more than 120 billion emails every week. Making all of these Google services work for everyone requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work, like operating a global network of data centers around the clock and manufacturing products for people around the world.

It’s not only our responsibility to build products and services that are fast and reliable for everyone, but also to make sure we do so with minimal impact to our planet. So this Earth Day, we’re taking inventory of the progress we've made when it comes to sustainability and where we plan to do more.

We’ve scaled up our use of renewable energy.  

  • In 2017, we hit a goal that we set five years earlier and matched 100 percent of the electricity consumption of our operations with purchases of renewable energy. This means that for each unit of energy we used that year, we purchased an equivalent unit of energy from a renewable source, such as wind or solar.

  • When we buy renewable energy, we only do so from projects that are constructed for Google. This helps us bring on new clean energy supply to the grids where we operate our facilities.

  • Today, a Google data center uses 50 percent less energy than a typical data center, while delivering seven times more computing power than we did five years ago.

  • We use AI to help safely run our data center cooling systems—already this has resulted in 30 percent energy savings.

  • We’re weaving circularity into our operations.  In our data centers, we use components from old servers to upgrade machines and build remanufactured machines with refurbished parts.

We build products and services that help others become a part of the solution.  

  • To date, Nest Thermostats have helped people save a total of more than 35 billion kilowatt hours of energy—that’s enough energy to power the city of San Francisco for three years.

  • Researchers and policy makers use our Google Geo platforms to better take care of our planet. Product like Google Earth Engine help people combat overfishingmonitor forest change and protect the freshwater supply.

  • Businesses that switch from locally hosted solutions to G Suite have reported reductions in IT energy use and carbon emissions up to 85 percent.

  • Organizations that move IT infrastructure and collaboration applications, like Gmail and Google Docs, from a self managed data center or colocation facility to Google Cloud reduce the net carbon emissions of their computing to zero.

Our sustainability work isn’t over. When we think long term, we’re working toward directly sourcing carbon-free energy for our operations-—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—in all the places we operate. Already, we’re working with governments and utility companies to chart a course toward making a 24x7 carbon-free grid  a reality so more companies and people can decrease their carbon footprint. We know that it is the right path forward, and we have just begun.  

Along the way we’ll continue to find more ways to protect our planet with our sustainability efforts. Follow along with us in this collection that we’ll be updating all week long in celebration of Earth Day.

Being a mom is hard work. Becoming one is, too.

For seven years, Mother’s Day was the worst day of the year for me. It was an observance that felt completely out of reach, yet commercially and socially it was a reminder that I couldn't escape. I wanted to be a mom, but I was having trouble becoming one. For my husband and I, the inner walls of our bedroom became clinical, timed and invaded by fertility specialists. The outside world didn’t understand what we were going through—they saw us as a couple who decided to "take their time" to start a family. I began doing my own research and found out that 1 in 8 women in America are struggling, too. There are over 7 million of us who want a child but have a disease or other barrier that stands in our way.

Using Google and YouTube, I found support groups, blogs and resources. I wasn’t as alone as I thought—like many, I had been silent about my struggles with infertility. It’s a less-than-tasty casserole of heartache, injections and surgeries, failed adoption placements and financial devastation.

So I learned how to be my own advocate. I’ve spoken out, written articles and—most recently—lent my voice to the video above to raise awareness about the barriers to building a family. I want to better educate people on how to support their friends and family who are struggling with infertility.

As today marks the start of National Infertility Awareness Week, I—along with the other brave women in this video—am dedicated to sparking a bigger conversation, and overcoming the stigmas and barriers that surround infertility. I'm excited Google is using its platform to help put this message out into the world ahead of Mother's Day. I hope that this year, even one more person out there will realize they’re not alone.

Go green with your Google Assistant

It can be hard to know how to chip in and make a difference to protect the environment. You can recycle, take shorter showers, or carpool to work—and now you can lower your carbon footprint just by asking your Google Assistant.

With new advancements in smart home technology, it’s actually pretty easy to incorporate energy and water-saving actions into your daily routine (and save some money while you’re at it). This Earth Day, we’re sharing a few ways the Assistant can help make your home more environmentally-friendly.

Simple ways to save energy and automate

  1. Switch to LEDs. Swapping out just five incandescent bulbs with LED lights can save you up to $75 per year—plus, LEDs also last up to 50 times longer than incandescents, with a total life of at least 35,000 hours. Even better, pairing ENERGY STAR-certified smart bulbs like Philips Hue with the Assistant can help you control the lights with just your voice, or set lighting schedules to use electricity only when you need it.

  2. Choose ENERGY STAR certified appliances. Did you know that appliances contribute to a quarter of your home’s energy use? To optimize how that energy is used, choose an ENERGY STAR-certified brand like LG, GE Appliances, Samsung or Whirlpool, and connect it with Google Assistant to easily control appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and air purifiers. Certain window air conditioning units and ceiling fans also work with the Google Assistant: Just say, “Hey Google, turn off the fan” to a Haiku fan as you leave a room or schedule your LG, Midea or Toshiba AC to turn off at the same time each day.

  3. Upgrade your thermostat. Many utilities offer rebates on smart thermostats because they make saving energy easy. Smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat can save an average of $131 to $145 a year (of course, individual savings are not guaranteed). That’s because Nest thermostats make smart, automatic temperature adjustments to save energy based on your habits. And you can even say “Hey Google, set the thermostat to eco mode” to make your home even more efficient.

  4. Monitor and protect from leaks. According to the EPA, the average family can lose 9,400 gallons of water annually from household leaks alone. To curb this waste, you can use leak detectors like LeakSmart, or install Flo by Moen to immediately get notifications if pipes leak, and use the Assistant to shut off the water.

  5. Curb your outdoor water use: You can still keep your lush lawn looking beautiful while using less water. Smart sprinkler systems like the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller reduce water usage and now work with the Assistant, so you can easily control and monitor these systems with simple voice commands. As part of your Routine, you can also set the sprinklers for early morning or at night to prevent evaporation. We’re also adding support for Rain Bird’s family of Irrigation Controllers in the coming weeks.

How to set up everything with the Assistant

Download the Google Assistant or Google Home app and then click “Add device.” You can get started right away with commands like “Hey Google, turn down the temperature” with your Nest Thermostat. Or set up quick Routines that can help you automate energy savings by controlling multiple devices with a single command.

Our commitment to supporting families and the environment  

There are lots of changes we can make as individuals to combat climate change, but we're taking steps as a company to reduce energy in U.S. households, too. ThePower Project is our pledge to bring one million Nest thermostats to low income families by 2023. Along with a coalition of partners—nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and the National Housing Trust and energy companies like Georgia Power— we’ve installed Nest thermostats in homes over the last year to help families reduce their energy costs. This year, the Power Project is expanding to include partners Philips Hue and Whirlpool. Along with Nest, they’ll donate thousands of energy-saving technology products to Habitat for Humanity in the coming year. You can join us in providing energy-saving technology to those who need it most in your community by donating to nonprofits at nest.com/powerproject.

Making consistent changes to reduce energy consumption in our day-to-day lives is the key to long-term conservation; even the smallest changes add up to measurable impact. With Google Assistant and the right energy-saving technology, these changes are easier to make than ever.


From kids’ music to the tech world, without missing a beat

Matan Ariel’s young nieces and nephew live on the other side of the world, but they keep up with their uncle thanks to his music—and thanks to Google, too. Though they live in Israel and he lives in New York, the three kids love to ask the Google Assistant to play his songs, which have gone double platinum in their country.

Matan, or “Uncle Matani” as they call him, works in sales in Google’s New York office. But he also has another love, children’s music, which brought him a level of success he never expected before he headed to Google.

He first started singing full-time during his three years serving in the Israeli military. He was part of an entertainment unit for the navy, traveling from base to base to perform at various ceremonies, whether they were celebrations or memorials or something in between. “Think about it as a cover band for Israeli pop songs,” he says. “It was a range of different performances.”

It was during his years in the navy that he decided to record children’s music. Some people in his entertainment unit were babysitters on the side, and they lamented the lack of quality songs for kids. Matan took action, setting up time in a recording studio and coming up with a plan to record as Matan Ariel & Friends. They chose classic Hanukkah songs, since they were in the public domain, and recorded the album immediately after their service officially ended.

One of the Hannukah songs from Matan Ariel & Friends.

Matan and his group recorded modern covers of classic Jewish holiday songs, in Hebrew, and they filled an important need for families in Israel. “There were either the classic songs we all knew growing up, but recordings from the ‘50s and ‘60s that hadn’t been digitally enhanced. You could even hear hissing sounds from the original vinyl records,” he says. “Or there were newer albums where people were saying, ‘I’m going to create my own Passover or Purim songs,’ and they just weren’t as good.”

And to Matan’s surprise, the album took off, selling out its initial run in just a few weeks. “I got an email a few weeks later, saying, ‘We sold out of the Hanukkah songs, so can we have more, because Hanukkah is still not here yet? And do you have Passover songs, and something you can sell year-round?’” he says. “I said, Sure, I’ll get you that!’”

A Passover song recorded by Matan Ariel & Friends.

Eventually, the album of Hanukkah songs exceeded Israeli double platinum status. Matan Ariel & Friends recorded 17 albums and five DVDs, about themes like birthdays and animals and around holidays like Passover, Purim and Sukkot. Two of his favorites are an album of Israeli lullabies and an album of Israeli memorial day songs.


After he graduated from college, though, Matan decided to step back from music and focus on the business world. These days, he leads a team of ad sales executives who work with agencies to help small and medium businesses use Google ads. He saves his singing voice for karaoke nights with friends and the occasional Googler cover band. At work, sometimes he’ll hand out CDs to his coworkers with children, but there’s one problem: many of them don’t have CD players anymore, so they just stream his music instead.


Matan says the biggest reward he’s seen from his music has been with his young nieces and nephew, who he doesn’t get to see as often as he’d like. “I wasn’t a stranger to them because [my brother and sister-in-law] would play my albums to the children, and they would show the DVDs to the children. So Uncle Matani was someone the kids knew,” he says. “I would come to Tel Aviv and they would see me, and run to me and hug me. That to me is an impact that goes even beyond the sales.”

Visit the U.S. National Parks in Google Earth

Each spring, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation dedicate a week to celebrating the protected spaces in our communities. Today, we’re bringing the national parks to you in a Google Earth guided tour through 31 different parks around the country.


From the breathtaking vistas of the Shenandoah Valley to the awe-inspiring hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the National Parks allow us to truly experience the natural wonders of our country. Start with the pink granite formations of Otter Cliff in Maine’s Acadia National Park, then head west to explore the ancient Pueblo dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Finally, complete your journey with a peek through the North Window arch in Utah’s Arches National Park.

Once you’ve virtually explored the national parks in Google Earth, we encourage you to put down your phone, put on some sunscreen and get outside to explore the wonders that our parks system has to offer. Start by finding the park closest to you.


Presenting search app and browser options to Android users in Europe

People have always been able to customize their Android devices to suit their preferences. That includes personalizing the design, installing any apps they want and choosing which services to use as defaults in apps like Google Chrome.

Following the changes we made to comply with the European Commission's ruling last year, we’ll start presenting new screens to Android users in Europe with an option to download search apps and browsers.  

These new screens will be displayed the first time a user opens Google Play after receiving an upcoming update. Two screens will surface: one for search apps and another for browsers, each containing a total of five apps, including any that are already installed. Apps that are not already installed on the device will be included based on their popularity and shown in a random order.

Android screen

An illustration of how the screens will look. The apps shown will vary by country.

Users can tap to install as many apps as they want. If an additional search app or browser is installed, the user will be shown an additional screen with instructions on how to set up the new app (e.g., placing app icons and widgets or setting defaults). Where a user downloads a search app from the screen, we’ll also ask them whether they want to change Chrome's default search engine the next time they open Chrome.

Chrome

The prompt in Google Chrome to ask the user whether they want to change their default search engine.

The screens are rolling out over the next few weeks and will apply to both existing and new Android phones in Europe.

These changes are being made in response to feedback from the European Commission. We will be evolving the implementation over time.