Category Archives: Australia Blog

News and notes from Google down under

Explore new dimensions of film at Adelaide Fringe Festival, with a wave of your smartphone

Falling in love is often described as a temporary madness. We feel time stop, lose our words, and find our head over our heels. Through a new interactive film, Love at Fifth Site, audiences are invited to explore the joy and the jungle of love, with the wave of a smartphone.

Our Creative Lab team and Grumpy Sailor Creative are presenting Love at Fifth Site, premiering at the Adelaide Fringe Festival from 17 February to 19 March 19, with a cast of young Australian talent, including Susie Youssef, Shannon Murphy and Rarriwuy Hick. Love at Fifth Site allows the audience to ‘shine a light’ onto the inner monologue of the film’s protagonists across a series of serendipitous and sometimes awkward encounters.

 

Through an installation of ‘mini-sets’ across Adelaide Fringe’s Digital Arcade space, the audience watch Sam and Tina over 20 years as they almost get together, and are exposed to their fears and insecurities and sometimes the bad luck that comes between them.

Using the mobile browser’s device orientation API and Chromebooks, the technology transforms any smartphone into a remote control for a nearby display. The smartphone’s gyroscope then responds to interaction and movement, allowing audiences to delve into different dimensions of the story.



Love at Fifth Site builds on previous work by the Creative Lab to explore how technology can help artists create new and engaging experiences for their audiences. The work forms part of an ongoing exploration of how technology can help artists push the boundaries of traditional storytelling. Check it out if you are heading to Adelaide Fringe!

Keep track of your favorite places and share them with friends

Is your bucket list etched in your memory, or scribbled on a dozen post-it notes scattered around your home? Have you ever promised out-of-town guests an email full of your favorite spots, only to never get around to clicking send? Starting today, you can create lists of places, share your lists with others, and follow the lists your friends and family share with you—without ever leaving the Google Maps app (Android, iOS).


Getting started is easy. Simply open the Google Maps app and find that Dim Sum spot you’ve been wanting to try. Tapping on the place name and then the “Save” icon adds the place to one of several pre-set lists like “Want to Go” or “Favorites.” You can also add the restaurant to a new list that you name yourself, like “Finger Lickin’ Dumplings.” To recall the lists you’ve created, go to Your Places (in the side menu) and then open the saved tab. Icons for the places you’ve saved to lists will appear on the map itself, so you’ll always know whether one of your must-try spots is nearby.


Because sharing is caring, we made it easy to share lists like “Best Views in Sydney” via text, email, social networks and popular messaging apps. Whenever friends and family come to town, tap the share button to get a link and start flexing your local knowledge muscles. Once you send a link to your out-of-towners, they can tap “Follow” to pull up the list from Your Places whenever they need it. Here’s how it all works in real life:





The lists you follow are with you wherever you take Google Maps and are viewable on mobile and desktop—and even offline. Next time you're on a trip, download offline maps of the area in advance and you'll be able to see all the places you’ve added to lists on the map itself.


With the millions of landmarks, businesses and other points of interest in Google Maps, there’s no shortage of places to try. Now that we’ve got the world mapped, it’s your turn to map your world with Lists—from local hotspots to bucket list destinations worlds away.

Zach Maier, Product Manager, Google Maps










Mobile Live Streaming + Super Chat = Live (Streaming) the Dream

Cross-posted from the global YouTube blog

A huge focus for us here at YouTube is to find new ways to let creators and viewers interact with each other and the videos they watch. And that's why we’ve supported live streaming since, well, before Beyoncé even had a baby – way back in 2011! And in 2016, we witnessed the most-viewed political live streams of all time – the 2016 U.S. presidential debates – and we launched the world’s first 360-degree live streaming support with full 4K video, at scale and for free.

So what’s next? The roll out of our new mobile live streaming feature to every creator with more than 10,000 subscribers (the rest of you will have it soon!). It’s a launch that’ll put the power of live streaming in the hands of hundreds of thousands of talented creators, giving them a more intimate and spontaneous way to share their thoughts, lives, and creativity.


Mobile live streaming has been built directly into the YouTube mobile app. All you have to do to start streaming is open YouTube, hit the capture button, and you’re live! Streamed videos will have all the same features as regular YouTube videos. They can be searched for, found via recommendations or playlists, and protected from unauthorized use. Our mobile live streaming uses YouTube’s rock-solid infrastructure, meaning it’ll be fast and reliable, just the YouTube you know and love. And we’ve been working hand-in-hand with hundreds of creators to refine the mobile streaming experience while they stream from a boat or take live calls from their fans. Based on their feedback, we did things like slowing down live chat (it turns out receiving 2,000 messages per second is a little too fast!) and pushing for better streaming quality across devices.

Show me the money

To help creators earn revenue from live streaming, we’re also excited to launch Super Chat, a new live stream monetization tool available to creators in more than 20 countries (and viewers in more than 40 countries). Super Chat is like paying for that front-row seat in the digital age: it lets any fan watching a live stream stand out from the crowd and get a creator’s attention by purchasing chat messages that are highlighted in bright colors and stay pinned to the top of the chat window for up to five hours. Super Chat gives viewers a chance to add a little visual flair to their chats and gives creators a new way to keep connected to their fans while earning a little money on the side, let’s say for example, while shopping at Target or playing video games :)



Posted by Product Managers Barbara Macdonald, recently streamed a horror game, and Kurt Wilms, recently watched "Bored at Target."

Working around the clock to protect your privacy and security

There are plenty of things we can all do to be safer and more secure online. Having a strong and unique password on different accounts is a good start - who hasn’t recycled the same combination of your pet’s name and the numbers ‘1-2-3’? We’ve all been guilty of that at one stage or another.

Other measures include exchanging personal information only on encrypted sites, and keeping your software up to date with the latest patches - these tried-and-true tips have never been more important and effective. Take our two-minute Security Checkup to protect your account and adjust your security settings, and learn more about other ways to keep your Google Account secure at privacy.google.com.

But this Safer Internet Day, we wanted to give some insight into how our systems protect you automatically - on Google and beyond. No switches to flip or buttons to click, just the stuff that happens in the background that keeps you protected around the clock while you go about your day.

Outsmarting phishing to protect your Google Account
Spam emails take advantage of your trust in friends and businesses to try and steal your username and password
An email may look like it came from someone trustworthy, but it might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This spammy message is trying to phish you—trick you into giving away your personal information—and then give its authors access to your account.

Luckily, we’ve built lots of smart armour into Gmail that helps to block dodgy messages before you ever see them. Our systems anonymously examine thousands of signals on Gmail - where a message originated, to whom it’s addressed, what’s contained in the message, how often the sender has contacted the recipient in the past - to determine which messages are safe, and which ones aren’t. We then filter the vast majority of this nasty stuff out; the average Gmail inbox contains less than 0.1 percent spam.

Even that’s not enough, though, because the bad guys can be pretty clever. For example, a fraudster could steal your username and password because you accidentally shared them on an especially deceptive scam site. But even if attackers have your credentials, our systems are still able to block them and keep your account safe - something we did hundreds of millions of times in 2016. That's because we aren’t just making sure you’ve typed the right password.

We also look for subtler signals to confirm the sign-in is you and not someone else: Are you using the same device that you usually use? Are you in a familiar location, or somewhere far away that you haven’t been to before?

Scammers leave behind a trail of clues that help us inspect each log-in attempt and compare it with the picture of a safe log-in that our systems have painted based on billions and billions of other log-ins. If something looks fishy, we’ll require more verifications designed to thwart bad guys, send notifications to your phone, or email you so you can quickly act on anything that looks unfamiliar.
On the web, on Android: we've got you covered

We use similar security tools to help make the web and a huge variety of Android apps and devices safer, too. For example, have you ever clicked a link and seen a red warning, like this one below?

A Safe Browsing warning: red means stop!

That’s Safe Browsing at work, strongly suggesting you should avoid visiting a site because it probably contains “badness,” like malware or a phishing trap. Similar to the way we crawl the web to deliver search results, Safe Browsing crawls for bad stuff that might be harmful to you or your device. It’s always hard at work: We show tens of millions of Safe Browsing warnings every week on more than 2 billion devices, across a variety of web browsers.

For our Android users, we developed an “app analyzer” that builds on Safe Browsing’s technology to specifically hunt for dangerous Android apps, wherever they may be, and warn you before you install one. If an app doesn’t pass the app analyzer test, it’s not be allowed in Google Play.

Detecting the obvious badness — sites well-known for phishing scams, ransomware that locks your device until you pay a fraudster — is relatively easy. But the stealthier badness is only detectable by measuring billions of signals across sites and apps. If this sounds similar to the way we approach spam protections on Gmail or suspicious logins into Google, that’s because it is! The ability to understand badness on a large scale enables us to find the clues bad guys didn’t even know they were leaving behind.

We have a responsibility to keep you safe on Google, and help make the web more secure as well. We’re constantly improving our automatic protections, but we want to give you the controls to adjust your security settings as well.
Be the change - unite for a better Internet
There’s one more thing we do that helps to keep you protected, and that’s working with others who share the same concern for your safety. We are honoured to work with some amazing organisations who are making a real impact in forging a better Internet for all of us to participate in. For example:
  • We helped Generation Next reach new audiences both within Australia and internationally through the launch of a YouTube channel highlighting content from their acclaimed national seminar series. Topics include understanding anxiety in young people, the best child safety curriculum, and cultivating strong self esteem in children.
  • The Alannah and Madeline Foundation launched their eSmart Digital Licence with support from Google; teaching children aged 10-13 about how to use digital devices safely, social networking and gaming, protecting privacy, communicating safely online, searching and researching, friends and strangers, creating and sharing, and managing money and online credits.
  • ReachOut launched a new online resource for parents and carers of teenagers which assists them in having difficult conversations about issues such as peer pressure and bullying.
We’re also collaborating with Project Rockit on an exciting new project, stay tuned for more! If you need a refresher on the broader range of tools that Google makes available within our products to experience the Internet safely, take a look around the Google Safety Centre.

Don't forget to take our Security Checkup and learn more about other ways to keep your Google Account secure at privacy.google.com, and happy Safer Internet Day!

Did someone say homework? Online safety tips for back-to-school week

From Sydney to Ceduna, thousands of students across Australia are heading back to school this week. Along with new books and uniforms, many students will be getting new devices and exploring new things online. It’s an exciting time for students, but parents and carers might be looking for some tips on encouraging responsible online behaviours - in and out of the classroom.

Managing privacy and security 
The new year and the lead up to Safer Internet Day is a great time to check in with the privacy and security settings on your account (or your child’s). My Account gives you quick access to settings and tools that let you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide how your information can make Google services work better for you. You can update your password, check out your personal information and change your account preferences.

eSmart digital licence 
The internet presents great opportunities for children to explore and learn, but it can be tricky working out how to best stay safe online. The Alannah and Madeline Foundation have developed an eSmart Digital Licence, aimed at ten-year-olds and above, that leads children through an interactive course on how to be smart, safe and responsible digital citizens. We’re proud to support the Foundation and encourage parents to start talking about these issues with children from an early age. 

More parental controls 
So the kids are home from school and ready to relax… many Australian families are already enjoying the YouTube Kids app, and now you can have more control over what your kids watch in the app. A new parental control feature gives parents the tools to decide what content is right for their family and the option to block videos or channels. Because you’re logged in, the videos and channels you block in YouTube Kids will remain blocked across all your devices. You can also tailor the experience for based on age and set a timer to limit screen time for your kids, so the app alerts you when time is up.



Google in the classroom 
Our back-to-school update wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share some updates about Google for Education tools, which more than 70 million students and teachers around the world use every day. We’ve introduced a new generation of Chromebooks, launching later this year, with new features such as stylus, world facing camera and easy access to Android apps, and our education team is working with schools around Australia to support ‘bring-your-own-device’ programs. Google Classroom has been upgraded to make it easier for teachers to give individual attention to students. Stay tuned for more updates on this…

So, a bit of homework (completely optional, of course)! Hope these tips help you and your kids to stay safe and make the most of the web as the school term begins.

A remedy for your health-related questions: Google Search launches health info in the Knowledge Graph

Think of the last time you searched on Google for health information. Maybe you heard a news story about gluten-free diets and Googled, "What is celiac disease?." Maybe you were planning a trip to Bali, so you looked up “Zika virus” so you could take precaution. Or perhaps you were worried about a loved one, and searched to better understand their condition and prognosis.

Starting today in Australia, Google search results will show information for over 900 commonly searched for health conditions. The new health feature will include an outline of the condition, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevalence according to age at the top of search results. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.

This feature has been developed as more people turn to Google to help with their health queries. In fact, 1 in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. That’s why we’ve surfaced trusted, quality health information right in Google Search. We hope this will help people find the information they need more quickly and easily.
We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this information. All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web. Each fact has been checked by a panel of at least ten medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice. We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. What we present is intended for informational purposes only — and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.

We hope this information will empower you in your health decisions – so the next time you need information on measles or treatments for tennis elbow, Google will be a better place to start.

Explore Australia’s big blue backyard with today’s Google Doodle

                                                                                         Photograph captured by The Ocean Agency
Today holds different meanings for Australians around the country. For some it’s a celebration, for others it’s a time of sombre reflection – and for many it’s just another sticky summer’s day.  



As the world’s only island continent, what binds us together – physically and culturally – is the ocean. It frames us, hugs us and shapes us. Wherever we’re from, we’ve all had those salty, sandy moments catching wild waves, leapfrogging rock pools, or feeling that silent serenity gliding through underwater galaxies.



Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Australia’s big blue backyard and treasured natural World Heritage Site, the Great Barrier Reef. With help from The Ocean Agency, we chose to honour the precious creatures and coral in this underwater world  – featuring protected species such as the Green Turtle, Pipefish, Barramundi Cod, Potato Cod, Maori Wrasse, Giant Clam and Staghorn Coral.  


We’ve been working over recent years with The Ocean Agency to put our oceans on the map, capturing their beauty and allowing people to explore them from anywhere in the world. Millions of people are lucky enough to visit the reef every year, to dive or snorkel in this majestic underwater world, but many more aren’t as fortunate – and time is not on their side. According to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef has declined by 50% in the past 30 years. Naturalist Sir David Attenborough says the reef is in grave danger.



More than ever, we’re compelled to look beneath the surface.



Australians are increasingly showing their curiosity and care for this intricate, fragile ecosystem. Google Searches for “Great Barrier Reef” and “biodiversity” landed among the top Google searches in of 2016, while related searches for the Great Barrier Reef and "Coral Bleaching" increased by +250% compared to 2015.*  



Whether you’re spending today in the bush, on a boat or in your mate’s backyard, we invite you to click on the link below today’s Google Doodle to dive into the reef with Street View. Click the < and > buttons to venture into Norman Reef, Knife Reef, Myrmidon Reef, Ribbon Reef 10, St Crispins, The Cod Hole and Tijou Reef (all captured by The Ocean Agency).  

*Google Trends

Posted by Alan Noble, Director of Engineering, Google Australia and New Zealand

Introducing Toontastic 3D: a playful storytelling app for kids

[Cross-posted from the global blog]


Today’s digital devices and tools offer amazing opportunities for kids to imagine, invent and explore with technology—and perhaps most important of all, have fun! Over the years, we’ve worked closely with educators to build programs for kids to create through code, doodle their dreams, explore exotic locales with virtual reality, and even tour the Himalayas with a very friendly Yeti named Verne. Today, we’re unveiling our latest project for kids—one that will give voice to their imaginations and transform their devices into playful and powerful tools for learning creative skills. It’s called Toontastic 3D.



With Toontastic 3D, kids can draw, animate and narrate their own adventures, news stories, school reports, and anything else they might dream up. All they need to do is move characters around on the screen and tell their story. It’s like a digital puppet theater… but with enormous interactive 3D worlds, dozens of customizable characters, 3D drawing tools, and an idea lab with sample stories to inspire new creations.

Like the original Toontastic (released in 2011 and widely praised by educators, kids, and parents around the globe), Toontastic 3D enables kids to build whatever they like—including book or science reports for school, design pitches, short stories and cartoons.

Toontastic 3D is available and free to download today for phones, tablets and select Chromebooks, on both the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. We hope the app will empower kids to imagine, invent and explore while developing skills for the creative jobs of tomorrow—whether they dream of becoming a filmmaker, a teacher, a designer, a cartoonist, or just want to explore the boundaries of their imaginations.


Posted by Thushan Amarasiriwardena, Product Manager

Google Play Music Australia reveals its ‘Artists to Watch’ in 2017

Female musicians, led by Melbourne’s Tash Sultana, are destined for big things this year



Today, Google Play Music Australia reveals its ‘Artists to Watch’ in 2017. These head-turning artists are expected to make a big splash this year in music.

The top 10 are:

  1. Tash Sultana (independent)
  2. Bebe Rexha (Warner Music)
  3. Golden Features (Warner Music)
  4. Sampha (Remote Control Records)
  5. Jess Kent (EMI)
  6. Rag'n'Bone Man (Sony Music)
  7. Cloves (Universal Music)
  8. Alex Lahey (Caroline/Universal Music)
  9. Manu Crook$ (independent)

Our ‘Artists to Watch’ are compiled using a range of factors including track performance on Google Play Music Australia’s new-music playlists, popularity on Google Trends and YouTube, as well as specialist Google Play Music Australia editors’ recommendations.

Topping the list is Melbourne’s very own Tash Sultana, who made a stellar debut in September with her ‘Notion’ EP and its breakout track ‘Jungle’. She has already sold out shows from London to LA on her coming world tour. “I’m stoked to be Google Play’s Artist to Watch for 2017,” Sultana says.

There are three more female Australian artists on the ‘Artists to Watch’ list. These include Jess Kent, who recently opened for Coldplay on the British band’s stadium tour of Australia, and Cloves, whose track ‘Don’t Forget About Me’ last year enjoyed a high-profile feature on a major film soundtrack (‘Me Before You’).

As for overseas talent, Google Play has its eye on Bebe Rexha and Maggie Rogers from the US, and Brits Sampha and Rag’n’Bone Man, as rising stars.

This past November, Google launched a new look for Google Play Music — a fresh take on our music streaming service that is smarter, easier to use and much more assistive. Google Play Music uses machine learning to figure out what music you like and then mixes in signals such as location, activity and the weather, along with hand-picked playlists, to personalise music for wherever you are and whenever you want tunes.
All of the Top 10 Ones to Watch in Australia, as well as the longer list of suggested artists, feature in Google Play Music’s Artists to Watch 2017 playlist.

Posted by Sophie Hirst, Product Marketing Manager, Google Play Australia

A career in tech starts with a plugged-in teacher

Computer science education provides students with lifelong skills that enable them to solve problems and develop critical analysis skills.
Computer science (CS) is more available in classrooms across Australia than ever, thanks to the Digital Technologies curriculum, and so equipping teachers with the everything they need to teach CS and computational thinking has never been more important.
“A lot of students come out of school able to push the right buttons, but don’t know how to approach real-world problem solving. We need to teach students how to tackle problems that seem unsolvable,” says Leanne Cameron, lecturer of educational studies at Australian Catholic University.
 It also helps them prepare for the careers of the future that will certainly involve digital skills and combining computer science with other disciplines like health, science, agriculture, art and more to solve complex challenges and design innovation solutions for the world.
With their CS4HS grant in 2015, Australian Catholic University responded to Australia’s newly introduced Digital Technologies curriculum by creating a compulsory course that will help all pre-service teachers in their Bachelor of Education programs learn how to teach CS and CT.
More than 2,000 pre-service teachers have completed the course to date. This course has also been open-sourced so that other universities can use the content to prepare future teachers in this important skill.
Other CS4HS recipients have delivered hands on practical workshops to teachers all around Australia to equip them with both the knowledge and the skills to engage and excite students in the opportunities that computer science can lead to. And with our free online courses through Adelaide University we’ve seen thousands of teachers inspired and equipped to implement this new curriculum.
Applications are now open for our 2016 CS4HS program in Australia and New Zealand, and will remain open until 19 March 2016.
If you want to know where computer science can take today’s students, check out Careers with Code. In the future, young Australians will use computer science to do great things, and it will all start with a great teacher with a passion for the topic.