Category Archives: Australia Blog

News and notes from Google down under

At I/O ’19: Building a more helpful Google for everyone

Cross-posted from the global Keyword blog

Today, we welcomed thousands of people to I/O, our annual developer’s conference. It’s one of my favorite events of the year because it gives us a chance to show how we’re bringing Google’s mission to life through new technological breakthroughs and products. Our mission to make information universally accessible and useful hasn’t changed over the past 21 years, but our approach has evolved over time. Google is no longer a company that just helps you find answers. Today, Google products also help you get stuff done, whether it’s finding the right words with Smart Compose in Gmail, or the fastest way home with Maps.

Simply put, our vision is to build a more helpful Google for everyone, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you’re hoping to accomplish. When we say helpful, we mean giving you the tools to increase your knowledge, success, health, and happiness. I’m excited to share some of the products and features we announced today that are bringing us closer to that goal.

Helping you get better answers to your questions 

People turn to Google to ask billions of questions every day. But there’s still more we can do to help you find the information you need. Today, we announced that we’ll bring the popular Full Coverage feature from Google News to Search. Using machine learning, we’ll identify different points of a story—from a timeline of events to the key people involved—and surface a breadth of content including articles, tweets and even podcasts.

Sometimes the best way to understand new information is to see it. New features in Google Search and Google Lens use the camera, computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to provide visual answers to visual questions. And now we’re bringing AR directly into Search. If you’re searching for new shoes online, you can see shoes up close from different angles and even see how they go with your current wardrobe. You can also use Google Lens to get more information about what you’re seeing in the real world. So if you’re at a restaurant and point your camera at the menu, Google Lens will highlight which dishes are popular and show you pictures and reviews from people who have been there before. In GoogleGo, a search app for first-time smartphone users, Google Lens will read out loud the words you see, helping the millions of adults around the world who struggle to read everyday things like street signs or ATM instructions.

Helping to make your day easier

Last year at I/O we introduced our Duplex technology, which can make a restaurant reservation through the Google Assistant by placing a phone call on your behalf. Now, we’re expanding Duplex beyond voice to help you get things done on the web. To start, we’re focusing on two specific tasks: booking rental cars and movie tickets. Using “Duplex on the Web,” the Assistant will automatically enter information, navigate a booking flow, and complete a purchase on your behalf. And with massive advances in deep learning, it’s now possible to bring much more accurate speech and natural language understanding to mobile devices—enabling the Google Assistant to work faster for you.

We continue to believe that the biggest breakthroughs happen at the intersection of AI, software and hardware, and today we announced two Made by Google products: the new Pixel 3a (and 3a XL), and the Google Nest Hub Max. With Pixel 3a, we’re giving people the same features they love on more affordable hardware. Google Nest Hub Max brings the helpfulness of the Assistant to any room in your house, and much more.

Building for everyone

Building a more helpful Google is important, but it’s equally important to us that we are doing this for everyone. From our earliest days, Search has worked the same, whether you’re a professor at Stanford or a student in rural Indonesia. We extend this approach to developing technology responsibly, securely, and in a way that benefits all.

This is especially important in the development of AI. Through a new research approach called TCAV—or testing with concept activation vectors—we’re working to address bias in machine learning and make models more interpretable. For example, TCAV could reveal if a model trained to detect images of “doctors” mistakenly assumed that being male was an important characteristic of being a doctor because there were more images of male doctors in the training data. We’ve open-sourced TCAV so everyone can make their AI systems fairer and more interpretable, and we’ll be releasing more tools and open datasets soon.

Another way we’re building responsibly for everyone is by ensuring that our products are safe and private. We’re making a set of privacy improvements so that people have clear choices around their data. Google Account, which provides a single view of your privacy control settings, will now be easily accessible in more products with one tap. Incognito mode is coming to Maps, which means you can search and navigate without linking this activity with your Google account, and new auto-delete controls let you choose how long to save your data. We’re also making several security improvements on Android Q, and we’re building the protection of a security key right into the phone for two-step verification.

As we look ahead, we’re challenging the notion that products need more data to be more helpful. A new technique called federated learning allows us to train AI models and make products smarter without raw data ever leaving your device. With federated learning, Gboard can learn new words like “zoodles” or “Targaryen” after thousands of people start using them, without us knowing what you’re typing. In the future, AI advancements will provide even more ways to make products more helpful with less data.

Building for everyone also means ensuring that everyone can access and enjoy our products, including people with disabilities. Today we introduced several products with new tools and accessibility features, including Live Caption, which can caption a conversation in a video, a podcast or one that’s happening in your home. In the future, Live Relay and Euphonia will help people who have trouble communicating verbally, whether because of a speech disorder or hearing loss.

Developing products for people with disabilities often leads to advances that improve products for all of our users. This is exactly what we mean when we say we want to build a more helpful Google for everyone. We also want to empower other organizations who are using technology to improve people’s lives. Today, we recognized the winners of the Google AI Impact Challenge, 20 organizations using AI to solve the world’s biggest problems—from creating better air quality monitoring systems to speeding up emergency responses.

Our vision to build a more helpful Google for everyone can’t be realized without our amazing global developer community. Together, we’re working to give everyone the tools to increase their knowledge, success, health and happiness. There’s a lot happening, so make sure to keep up with all the I/O-related news.

Pixel 3a: the helpful (and more affordable) phone by Google

These days, you expect a lot from a smartphone. You want a camera that can take vivid, share-worthy photos wherever you go. You need a tool that connects you to the world with all your favourite apps and also helps out during the day. And you want a phone that has a battery that is reliable for long stretches, while it stays secure and up to date with the latest software. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are all of those things and more, for half the price of other premium phones.

Pixel 3a has a familiar two-tone design like it’s predecessors, fits nicely in your hand, and includes an OLED display for crisp images and bright colours. The phone comes in two colours—Just Black, Clearly White—and two sizes, starting in Australia at $649 for the 5.6-inch display and $799 for the 6-inch model. Eligible customers who activate a Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL by 30/09/19 and redeem by 31/10/19 can get a 3-month trial of YouTube Music Premium on us (restrictions and terms apply).

High-end features: camera, Google Assistant, battery life and security 

Google Pixel 3a delivers what you’d expect from a premium device. Known for its award-winning camera, Pixel 3a lets you take stunning photos with features such as portrait mode and HDR+, or use Night Sight to capture shots in the dark. Google Photos is built in, so you can save all your photos and videos with unlimited storage at high quality.1 The battery provides up to 7 hours of battery life on a 15-minute charge and up to 30 hours on a full charge.2

Squeeze Pixel 3a for the Google Assistant to send texts, get directions and set reminders—simply using your voice.3  We’ll help protect your Pixel 3a against new threats,4 by providing three years of Android security and operating system updates. It also comes with the custom-built Titan M chip to help protect your most sensitive data.5

New features at a more accessible price 

Pixel makes it easy to use Google apps like YouTube, Google Photos and Gmail. And you'll get access to new features first. Pixel 3a and the entire Pixel portfolio will get a preview of AR in Google Maps—the next time you're getting around town, you can see walking directions overlaid on the world itself, rather than looking at a blue dot on a map.6 This helps you know precisely where you are, and exactly which way to start walking (in areas covered on Street View where there’s a good data connection and good lighting).

Time lapse is coming to Google Pixel 3a, so soon you will be able to capture an entire sunset in just a few seconds of video—great for posting on social media or messaging to your friends.

Buy it in-store or online from more places 

Google Pixel 3a is now available in Australia with our exclusive carrier launch partner, Vodafone. Both Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are available at JB HiFi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks and the Google Store. If you’re new to Pixel, you can transfer photos, music, and media quickly with the included Quick Switch Adapter.7 If you need a little extra help, 24/7 support from Google is just a tap away in the tips and support link in the settings menu. You can even share your screen for guided assistance.

Look for Pixel 3a beginning today.

Google Photos offers unlimited online storage for all photos and videos uploaded in high quality. Photos and videos uploaded in high quality may be compressed or resized. Requires Google Account. Data rates may apply.
2 Approximate battery life based on a mix of talk, data, standby, mobile hotspot, and use of other features, with always on display off. An active display or data usage will decrease battery life. Charging rates are based upon use of the included charger. Actual results may vary.
3 Requires internet connection.
4 Android version updates for at least three years from when the device first became available on the Google Store. See for details
5 See for additional security information.
6 Requires published Google Street View imagery, bright outdoor light, and may not be available in all areas
7 Some third party apps and data may not be transferred automatically. Visit for information.

YouTube Stories: How Aussies are learning through video

From life-saving inventions to new ways of teaching, meet three Aussies who are using what they've learned on YouTube to create lasting change. 

When I was in school during the 90s, watching videos in the classroom was a highlight of any week. The teacher would roll in a television on a cart, pop in a VHS tape, and then we’d enjoy whatever scratchy nature documentary my teacher had checked out from the school video library. Sight, sound and motion have always had the power to engage students.
Now, teachers and students are taking it to a whole new level with YouTube. Every day, more and more people are turning to YouTube to learn with educational videos generating hundreds of millions of views. In fact, 81 percent* of Aussies watch videos to learn how to do something and content with 'how-to' in the title generated more than one billion hours of watch time in 2017, up 75 percent since 2015.
Charles, Macinley and Eddie are but three Aussies using YouTube to learn and follow their passions...

Barbering for Change 

After struggling in school and making some poor decisions when he was younger, Charles Lomu wanted to break the cycle and set his life on a new path--so after putting his kids to bed each night, he jumped on YouTube and watched hundreds of hours of content to learn how to become a barber. He discovered everything he needed to start cutting hair, before setting up a barbershop in his Western Sydney garage. But this isn’t your average barbershop, with his clients ranging from former inmates and young men at risk of falling into crime, to suburban blokes who find comfort confiding in him. Extending his dream even further, Charles also runs a barbering class at Granville Boys High School, working with disengaged students. He’s trying to give back to the community, not only through offering haircuts, but as someone to talk to--all with the hope of changing the problems that old world masculinity is causing in his local community. For Charles, it comes back to one simple mantra: “You don’t have to be certified to be educated, but you have to be experienced to be qualified.”

Inventing Armour to Battle Radiation 

18-year-old Macinley Butson is a remarkable young woman. Long interested in science, she started inventing from early childhood and at just 17 years of age created SMART Armour--a shield to reduce excess radiation for breast cancer patients going through treatment. It’s an invention that has the potential to change cancer treatments around the world. To develop the SMART Armour, Macinley relied on YouTube videos from various creators not just to help her better understand scientific journals and research but to learn the art of making scale maille.
Many of these learning stories are also powered by an incredible community of EduTubers like BrainCraft, Draw with Jazza, Tibees or WooTube, whose videos have demonstrated the appeal of content that enriches as well as entertains.

Sharing the Wonder of Mathematics 

Eddie Woo is a passionate mathematics teacher who so ardently believes in the importance of education that when one of his students was diagnosed with cancer and needed to take long periods of time off school, Eddie started recording his classes and uploading them to YouTube so the student wouldn’t miss out. His journey since has been remarkable. He now has over 580,000 subscribers from all around the world, 32 million video views, and is still uploading. Recently he won Local Australian of the Year and was named in the top 10 teachers in the world. But he too is a student of YouTube--turning to channels from around the world to hone his video production and presentation skills to ensure he is producing the best quality content for others. I recently spoke to Eddie and asked why YouTube? He simply responded: “YouTube is the epitome of what schools and teachers try to do. To be with the learner at their point of need. YouTube is there for me, it serves me, not the reverse. I learn because I want to not because someone told me to.”
We may not all become inventors, mathematicians or community champions but we can promise that anyone who wants to learn or teach will have ever greater opportunities to do both on YouTube. You can get started now with YouTube Learning.
*Google/Ipsos ‘Human Stories Quantitative Study’, August 2017, Australia, n=2,529 males/female YouTube users aged 18-54

Celebrate the mums and grans in your life with Google Home Hub

We all love looking back at family photos, but often the process of preserving and sharing our photos isn’t as fun as it is snapping them. If you’re that person who takes hundreds of photos at family gatherings (and sometimes forgets to share them), Google Home Hub can give you a helping hand this Mother’s Day.

Hub doubles as a digital photo frame that is easy to set up, automatically refreshes the photos that are displayed, and with the power of AI, features your best shots. Whether you’re taking photos or curating collections to make mum or gran smile, here are a few ways Google Home Hub can help you celebrate your most treasured memories together:

Automatically organise and share your memories with live albums... 

We take lots of photos and videos with the important people in our lives, but sharing those memories can take time. To help you curate and share your most treasured family memories, live albums with Google Photos lets you see your best and latest shots on Hub automatically. Just choose the people (and pets) you want to see, and Google Photos will automatically add photos of them to your album as you take them (avoiding duplicates and blurry shots).

… and keep mum and gran in the loop 

If your mum or gran loves constant photo updates of what your family gets up to, Hub can help you keep her in the loop. Instead of sending her photos via message every day, you can set up a live album on her Hub device with your Photos account so she can see your special moments as they happen. You still have full control of which photos she can see – only the highlights with certain people, or the ones you’ve selected as favourites. Now you’re off the hook for forgetting to send updates! See how to set up live albums and the photo frame feature here.

Dust off and digitise old prints 

We all have those old albums and boxes of photos, but we don’t take the time to digitise them because it’s time consuming and the result is often of low quality. With PhotoScan you can scan mum or gran’s favourite print photos for free and enjoy them on Hub. PhotoScan detects edges, straightens the image, rotates it to the correct orientation, and removes glare using the power of machine learning. Scanned photos can be saved in one tap to Google Photos to be organised, searchable, shared, and safely backed up at high quality—for free. And ta-da – you could unveil this collection as a surprise on Hub on Mother’s Day!

Search and replay the memories with a simple voice command 

You can finally say goodbye to endless scrolling on your phone to find photos you’re looking for! When you’re at Sunday lunch at home you can gather the family and say “Hey Google, show my photos with mum from last December” or “Show my photos with gran in the Blue Mountains” to bring up some of your favourite memories for everyone to enjoy.

Beyond the magic of Photos, Hub can also give mum the gift of inspiration. It can play her favourite music, guide her through recipes – and give her a yoga class!

Whether you're spending the day at home or out and about, we hope Hub and Google Photos can help add to your celebrations this Mother's Day.

Federal Election 2019: Helping Australians explore trends and fight misinformation

As Australians head to the ballot box in coming weeks, they are searching for information on policies, parties and candidates.

We’re working with newsrooms to help journalists access these trends and explore what voters care about this election.

This isn’t about voting intentions, but it does provide unique insights into what people are searching for and what they care about at a local level.

Here’s how we’re helping journalists to use these trends tools.

Working with newsrooms 
The Google News Initiative is working with newsrooms to provide top searched issues, related searches and questions.

To make it easier for journalists to find this data, we’ve launched Google Trends Australian Federal Election 2019 page, which includes state-level data on the top issues searched in each region, such as the economy, education and healthcare (to name a few).

All the charts from the Google Trends pages are embeddable on any site and will continue to update even after they’re placed on your site.

Fighting misinformation 
Google has also supported First Draft to tackle misinformation at a global level since 2015, and together we’re committed to stemming the flow of misinformation and disinformation by working with news organisations, especially ahead of elections.

With support from the Google News Initiative, First Draft this week launched its first bureau in the Asia-Pacific region to assist journalists and publishers unearth and expose misleading, false and untrue claims.

Led by Anne Kruger, the Bureau will be based at the Centre for Media Transition at the University of Technology Sydney and will train and work with professional journalists and student-reporters across the country to develop the skills and expertise to reveal disinformation.

First Draft will work alongside the Walkley Foundation, which is leading a training effort to educate up to 4,000 journalists and journalism students across Australia and New Zealand in digital skills and verification in 2019.

As the Election draws closer, reporters want to understand what people - right across Australia - care about. We look forward to working with them to surface insights to help tell those stories.

Explore more Google Trends at and learn more about the Google News Initiative at And stay tuned for more updates on the election from Google!

Building robots and more at FIRST Robotics

Building a robot is pretty remarkable, all the more when it’s teams of high school students piecing it together in just 6 weeks to compete at an international competition.

Last month, more than 2,000 students from Australia, China, Vietnam, New Zealand, South Africa, Chinese Taipei, India, Indonesia, USA and Singapore took part in the FIRST Regional Robotics Competition at Sydney Olympic Park.

FIRST Robotics aims to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders, by engaging them in programs that build science, engineering and technology skills. Students work together to build robots that could complete particular challenges.

As part of the program, students receive help from mentors, including industry experts, engineers, school teachers, university students, lecturers, FIRST alumni and others.

survey of past participants shows those that took part are more likely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics at university and over 75 per cent of FIRST alumni are now studying or working in a STEM field - skills that are important for Australia's future workforce (Alphabeta).

Google has long supported FIRST and together with Macquarie University we were pleased to help bring the competition to Australia.

This year, we also hosted a breakfast for Women in FIRST to build connections with mentors and be inspired to continue their STEM journey.

FIRST teaches students the computational skills they will need for the future - whether they end up working in computer science, banking, medicine, agriculture or any number of other fields being transformed by technology.

More than STEM skills, the program also develops leadership, resilience, confidence and teamwork - all vital for building an innovation generation. Find out more here.

Stay in the loop and lock in your line-up with events in Search

On the hunt for activities to fill your autumn calendar? Whether it’s Easter shows, art exhibitions or concerts, we’re making it even easier to find events in Search. 

Starting today, when you search on your phone for things like “events near me” or “free concert,” new features will give Aussies personal recommendations, along with more information about events that may interest you. Whether you’re in Sydney, Hobart or Darwin, you’ll find a list of events from a variety of sites, including Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, Timeout, Concrete Playground – and also key information about the event, right on Search.

Tap any event you’re interested in and you’ll get an overview of things like time, location, ticketing providers and other information that will help you decide whether to attend. If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can follow the links to buy tickets from the provider of your choice. If you’re still deciding, you can head to the event webpages for more information. We also make it easy to save events and share with others, so you can plan as you go.

With these new features, you can easily discover events based on your interests. While browsing events, you can tap the “For You” tab to get personalised ideas for things to do near you. You’ll also see trending and popular events in your area to keep you in the loop on the hottest happenings.

You’ll find events from across the web – from meetup and concert sites to individual event listings from organisations and brands you love. We’ve made it easy for sites to mark up their event listings to appear in this experience, with new listings updated quickly. Event sites can follow these guidelines to ensure events are discoverable.

Try it out today to find the perfect dog meetup, local festival or must-see concert for you.

Google delivers digital skills training to Far North Queensland

Far North Queenslanders had the opportunity to learn new digital skills today, as Grow with Google came to the region for the first time.

More than 300 small businesses, students, community organisations and individuals attended workshops at the Cairns Convention Centre today.

Queensland Member for Cairns, Michael Healy MP formally opened the event and spoke about the importance of digital skills to the jobs of the future in regional communities.

Businesses and individuals learned how to grow their presence online and find new customers, and individuals at all stages of the digital journey picked up new skills.

Grow with Google aims to give all Australians access to digital skills training, both online and in-person, to help them make the most of the web. It includes a new online learning hub accessible from anywhere, on any device, with hundreds of handy training modules.

Front row: Hannah Frank (Google Australia), Michael Healy MP, Richard Flanagan (Google Australia), Anna Fredericks (James Cook University), Debbie-Anne Bender (CEO, Cairns Chamber of Commerce), Nick Loukas (President, Cairns Chamber of Commerce) Thanks to the Tourism and Investment Queensland (TIQ) and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce for working with us to help deliver these important skills for regional communities.

Grow with Google aims to create opportunity for all Australians to grow their skills, careers, and businesses with free tools, training, and events. Find events near you at:

Posted by Richard Flanagan, Head of Grow with Google, Google Australia

Take a walk through Kakadu on Google Street View

In Australia’s Top End, you will find the country’s largest national park: Kakadu National Park. Covering almost 20,000 square kilometers (about half the size of Switzerland) and with terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers and sandstone escarpments, it’s home to the world’s oldest living culture with more than a dozen Indigenous groups. One-third of Australia’s bird species, an estimated 10,000 crocodiles and approximately 2,000 plant species can also be found in the Park.
Today, on its 40th anniversary, we're inviting people across the world to visit Kakadu National Park on Google Street View--to walk through ancient “stone country”, stare at spectacular waterfalls and discover ancient rock art.
Considered a living cultural landscape, Kakadu National Park’s geological history spans more than two billion years. The Park is a place that boasts extraordinary archaeological sites that record the skills and ways of life of the region’s Aboriginal people, whose culture stretches back more than 65,000 years. The Street View journey captures a glimpse of this world, uncovering rock art galleries and stunning vistas across eight sites.
Viewers can journey to Ubirr for incredible 360-degree views, or to take a look at rock art galleries that record animal life in the region going back thousands of years. This includes a painting of a thylacine—or Tasmanian Tiger—depicted before they became extinct on the mainland around 2,000 years ago.
You can also meander through towering sandstone pillars at Bardedjilidji, travel to Nawurlandja for world-class panoramas across Anbangbang Billabong and the Arnhem Land escarpment, and toward Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) where you can view rock art galleries, before cooling off in the pristine plunge pools at Maguk or Gunlom (one of the most popular sites for travellers looking to take a refreshing dip), then diving into Kakadu’s big waterfalls: Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls.
This journey through Kakadu National Park is a continuation of our work with Traditional Owners, Tourism Northern Territory and Parks Australia to record and share sacred sites, and instill greater value and respect for the land—which began in 2017 with Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.
Visit Kakadu National Park, dual-listed by UNESCO World Heritage for both its natural and cultural significance, on Google Street View to learn more about the world’s oldest living culture and their connection with the land.

Google delivers digital skills training in Queensland

Queenslanders had the chance to learn new digital skills today, as Grow with Google workshops kicked off in Brisbane.

More than 400 small businesses, students, job-seekers, non-profits and individuals looking to grow their skills attended the workshops today at Brisbane City Hall and more are expected to join the second day of trainings tomorrow.

Grow with Google gives Australians access to digital skills training, both online and in person, to help them make the most of the web. It includes a new online learning hub accessible by anyone, from anywhere, on any device with hundreds of handy training modules to choose from.

Queensland Innovation Minister, Kate Jones opened the event and spoke about the importance of businesses getting online.

Brisbane cafe, Nodo provided their famous gluten free, ‘baked not fried’ donuts to guests at the event and presented a box to the Minister.

Nodo owner Kate Williams presenting donuts to Minister for Innovation, Kate Jones                                                                                   

We know that some Australians don’t feel they have the skills to make the most of the digital opportunity, that’s why we’re rolling out skills training right across the country, just like this week’s events in Queensland.

Everyone - from business owners, to students, teachers, workers, retirees, job seekers and non-profits - can use Grow with Google to build their skills with training for people at all stages of the digital journey.

Google's John Ball with Minister, Kate Jones                                                                                                                          

Since 2014, Google has trained nearly half a million people across Australia through online and in-person training sessions, as well as curriculum integrated through school and partner programs.

The next Grow with Google event will take place in Cairns on 5 April 2019. Find out more at: