Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

The best hardware, software and AI—together

Today, we introduced our second generation family of consumer hardware products that are coming to Canada, all made by Google: new Pixel phones, Google Home Mini and Max, an all new Pixelbook, Google Pixel Buds, and an updated Daydream View headset. We see tremendous potential for devices to be helpful, make your life easier, and even get better over time when they’re created at the intersection of hardware, software and advanced artificial intelligence (AI). 

Why Google? 
These days many devices—especially smartphones—look and act the same. That means in order to create a meaningful experience for users, we need a different approach. A year ago, Sundar outlined his vision of how AI would change how people would use computers. And in fact, AI is already transforming what Google’s products can do in the real world. For example, swipe typing has been around for a while, but AI lets people use Gboard to swipe-type in two languages at once. Google Maps uses AI to figure out what the parking is like at your destination and suggest alternative spots before you’ve even put your foot on the gas. But, for this wave of computing to reach new breakthroughs, we have to build software and hardware that can bring more of the potential of AI into reality—which is what we’ve set out to do with this year’s new family of products.

Hardware, built from the inside out 
We’ve designed and built our latest hardware products around a few core tenets. First and foremost, we want them to be radically helpful. They’re fast, they’re there when you need them, and they’re simple to use. Second, everything is designed for you, so that the technology doesn’t get in the way and instead blends into your lifestyle. Lastly, by creating hardware with AI at the core, our products can improve over time. They’re constantly getting better and faster through automatic software updates. And they’re designed to learn from you, so you’ll notice features—like the Google Assistant—get smarter and more assistive the more you interact with them.

You’ll see this reflected in our 2017 lineup of new Made by Google products:

  • The Pixel 2 has the best camera of any smartphone, again, along with a gorgeous display and augmented reality capabilities. Pixel owners get unlimited storage for their photos and videos, and an exclusive preview of Google Lens, which uses AI to give you helpful information about the things around you. 
  • Google Home Mini brings the Assistant to more places throughout your home, with a beautiful design that fits anywhere. And Max, which is coming later to Canada, is our biggest and best-sounding Google Home device, powered by the Assistant. And with AI-based Smart Sound, Max has the ability to adapt your audio experience to you—your environment, context, and preferences. 
  • With Pixelbook, we’ve reimagined the laptop as a high-performance Chromebook, with a versatile form factor that works the way you do. It’s the first laptop with the Assistant built in, and the Pixelbook Pen makes the whole experience even smarter. 
  • Our new Pixel Buds combine Google smarts and the best digital sound. You’ll get elegant touch controls that put the Assistant just a tap away, and they’ll even help you communicate in a different language. 
  • The updated Daydream View is the best mobile virtual reality (VR) headset on the market, and the simplest, most comfortable VR experience. 

Assistant, everywhere 
Across all these devices, you can interact with the Google Assistant any way you want—talk to it with your Google Home or your Pixel Buds, squeeze your Pixel 2, or use your Pixelbook’s Assistant key or circle things on your screen with the Pixelbook Pen. Wherever you are, and on any device with the Assistant, you can connect to the information you need and get help with the tasks to get you through your day. No other assistive technology comes close, and it continues to get better every day.

Google’s hardware business is just getting started, and we’re committed to building and investing for the long run. We couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to our second-generation family of products that truly brings together the best of Google software, thoughtfully designed hardware with cutting-edge AI. We hope you enjoy using them as much as we do.

Availability
Here’s some more info on where and when you can get our new hardware in Canada. Visit The Google Store for more info.

  • Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are available for pre-order today, starting at $899, on The Google Store, Bell, Best Buy Canada, Fido, Freedom Mobile, Koodo, Rogers, The Source, TELUS, Tbooth wireless, Walmart, WIRELESSWAVE, Videotron, and Virgin. 
  • Pixel Buds will be available later this year for $219 on The Google Store and Best Buy Canada. 
  • Pixelbook is available in three configurations starting at $1299, so you can choose the processing power, memory and storage you want. The Pixelbook Pen is $129. Both will be available for pre-order today in Canada, with the exception of Quebec, and on sale at The Google Store and select retailers, including Best Buy Canada. We’re working to bring Pixelbook to Quebec in the future. 
  • Google Home Mini is available for pre-order today for $79 on The Google Store, Best Buy Canada and select retailers. 
  • The new Google Daydream View is available for pre-order today for $139 on The Google Store and select retailers. 

Posted by Rick Osterloh, SVP, Hardware

YouTube Pops Up in Montreal!

This week, YouTube opened the doors for our first-ever YouTube Pop-Up Space in Montreal - a temporary incubator that offers creators an opportunity to learn from industry experts, connect with fellow YouTube creators in a collaborative setting and use the latest film equipment to create more ambitious and innovative video content.

Over three days, we’ll host 100+ of the top and rising stars of the local Quebec YouTube community for educational workshops, business development training, networking events and hands-on video production in our fully-stocked studio.


Across Canada, we’re watching more YouTube than ever - in fact, watchtime in Canada has grown 30% over last year. And a recent survey from Ipsos* revealed just how much Quebec in particular loves YouTube, showing that 49% Of Quebec YouTube Users would rather give up alcohol than give up YouTube for a week and 45% of Quebec YouTube Users would rather give up chocolate than give up YouTube for a week!

Quebec is home to a thriving YouTube community, with creators like Emma Verde, Chris Ramsay, PL Cloutier and Lysandre Nadeau growing massive audiences both at home and around the world. Quebecois creators are part of a new generation of Canadian artists who are growing up online and reaching global audiences on YouTube.

YouTube’s open model and global scale dramatically reduce the cost of getting content to international markets. As a result, 90% of views on Canadian channels come from outside of Canada, higher than any other country on the platform. By radically lowering barriers to entry, YouTube has become a powerful platform for creators in Canada to share their voices and their ideas with the world.

YouTube builds interactive communities that allow fans and artists to share, comment and contribute, and our YouTube Spaces are a physical representation of that community phenomenon. We’re committed to helping our Quebec creators continue to grow and thrive as digital entrepreneurs, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll create at YouTube Pop-Up Space Montreal!



*Research conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Google Canada, May 2017

NewsWise — Democracy Demands News Literacy

Editor's note: The below post is guest authored Natalie Turvey, Executive Director of The Canadian Journalism Foundation and Taylor Gunn, President and Chief Election Officer of CIVIX,
The rallying cry of The Canadian Journalism Foundation feels particularly relevant these days:  ‘as journalism goes so goes democracy’.
More than ever, it’s critical that current and future generations understand the role journalism plays in our democracy.  With social media and an abundance of information on numerous platforms, the ways we consume and share news have fundamentally changed.   We need to help Canadians better understand how quality journalism is produced and how to determine which sources of information are reliable.  News literacy skills are essential to this process.
With a $500,000 grant from Google Canada, the CJF is thrilled to be partnering with CIVIX on NewsWise  - a program to provide school aged Canadians with the tools and skills to find and filter accurate information online. The program will reach 1.5 million Canadians (ages 9-19) and the goal is to increase students’ ability to analyze media messages and expand their knowledge about how news is produced.
Canadian students participating in Student Vote programming
NewsWise will be developed by CIVIX, the organization behind Student Vote, and CJF’s network of news leaders, journalists and academics. The program will be a part of the Student Vote activities, rolling out to coincide with the Ontario provincial election in 2018, and other upcoming local and provincial elections, culminating nationally nationally with the 2019 federal election. Student Vote already has programs in 98% of Canadian school boards. CJF will engage Canada’s journalism community in supporting the delivery of the program.
The partnership between the CJF and CIVIX is built on the shared goal that that quality journalism in our country leads to a thriving democracy.
Guest authored by Natalie Turvey Executive Director of The Canadian Journalism Foundation and Taylor Gunn, President and Chief Election Officer of CIVIX

Students, get coding in Montreal!

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Mathieu Perreault and Pierre-Antoine Manzagol, Google Canada software developers and Code MTL advisory board members 

As kids, we both had an early interest in technology. Somehow though, neither of us really got into programming until university. Today, when we visit classrooms to talk about technology, we witness this same interest. Kids don’t simply want to use technology, but are curious about how it all comes together! 


That’s why today, we are proud to help launch Code MTL, a program funded in part by Google Canada that aims to teach Quebec-based students ages 8-12 how to code. Initially, over 3,200 students from 65 schools in the Commission scolaire de Montréal will follow workshops to help them develop their mathematical and coding skills. From drawing blocks in Scratch to debugging computer code, workshops and resources will be available online for all students to access, no matter where they are.

While many kids today have access to all kinds of computers and connected devices, there remains a gap in opportunities for young Canadians to learn how to design and build the technology that is shaping our world. In fact, less than 50 percent of Canadian youth graduate from high school with a senior STEM course, even when 70 percent of today’s jobs require STEM education.

As software developers at Google Canada, we believe that learning these skills will open students’ minds and provide them with the right tools to create and innovate. And it’s not just students who want to work in tech who will benefit! Computer science is a language of creativity, of entrepreneurship, and of potential. Whether you want to be a doctor, an artist, a designer or work in finance, programming skills can help teach you how to think logically and creatively.

To bring this program to life, we worked with La Fondation de la Commission scolaire de Montréal, le Gouvernement du Québec, Ubisoft Montréal, Jeux WB Montréal et Kids Code Jeunesse. The content is available online for everyone today, and students will start the workshops this month.

With Code MTL, we’re invested in supporting future tech innovators grow and work in Quebec. 

Code on, kids!

Feed your need to know (now in Canada!)

As the late, great Dr. Seuss once said, “there is no one alive who is you-er than you.” At Google, we know this statement is truer than true. Sure, we all have many things in common, but none of us has quite the same mix of passions, interests and goals as the next person. And, while we each keep up to date on the things that matter to us in different ways—social media, news apps, talking to friends—it’s hard to find one place to stay in the know about exactly what matters to you. Today that’s changing. People have long turned to Google to get answers, learn about the world, and dig deeper on topics they’re passionate about. Today, we are announcing a new feed experience in the Google app, making it easier than ever to discover, explore and stay connected to what matters to you—even when you don’t have a query in mind. A smart feed that changes with youSince introducing the feed in December, we’ve advanced our machine learning algorithms to better anticipate what’s interesting and important to you. You’ll see cards with things like sports highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more. And now, your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world. The more you use Google, the better your feed will be. As the world and your interests change, your feed will continue to grow and evolve along with you. You’ll notice that your feed will also reflect your interest level for various topics—for example, if you’re a photography enthusiast but just casually interested in fitness, your feed will show that. But if you see something that isn’t up your alley, unfollowing topics is easy too. Just tap on a given card in your feed or visit your Google app settings.
20secs
Follow your favouritesWhile we’ve been getting better at understanding your interests, it hasn’t always been easy for you to choose new topics for your feed. To help you keep up with exactly what you care about, you’ll now be able to follow topics, right from Search results. Look out for a new “Follow” button next to certain types of search results—including movies, sports teams, your favorite bands or music artists, famous people, and more. A quick tap of the the follow button and you’ll start getting updates and stories about that topic in your feed.

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Broader context and deeper exploration

To provide information from diverse perspectives, news stories may have multiple viewpoints from a variety of sources, as well as other related information and articles. And when available, you’ll be able to fact check and see other relevant information to help get a more holistic understanding about the topics in your feed. We’re also making it easier to dive deeper into any of the topics you see in your feed. At the top of every card, you’ll see a header that puts your interests front and center, letting you search that topic on Google with one tap.

How to fix a toilet (and other things you couldn’t do without Search)


Every year, millions come to Google to search for news and information that helps illuminate the world around them. While people often search for breaking news, the latest sports scores, or what's playing at a local movie theater, they also often look for answers on how to fix the more mundane items around them.

Recently, we noticed that “how to…” searches have increased by more than 140% since 2004, and much of that search interest is directed towards how to “fix” things—whether it’s a lightbulb, window, washing machine, or even the toilet. In fact, “How to fix…” is consistently near the top of the list of most common queries, year after year, around the world. That’s why the Google Trends team teamed up with award-winning designer Xaquín González Veira —formerly of “The Guardian”, “National Geographic” and “the New York Times”—to create our latest visual: How to fix a toilet...and other things you couldn’t do without Search.

The first data visualization shows household items people ask Google how to fix, and how those searches vary by country. For instance, in the United States, the top “how to fix" items are doors, followed by windows, toilets, washing machines and refrigerators. While in Japan, the order is:  windows, doors, washing machines, and toilets.

Check out the map of the world below, to see how it shifts:


Xaquin noticed some neat (and weird) patterns in the data. Searches for “how to fix a toilet” and “how to use chopsticks” follow a very similar pattern. Wonder why that is? Just check out the site. You’ll be surprised what tops the list in each country and which places need to fix the same things (washing machines in Russia and Columbia and windows in Brazil and Eritrea).

The visual also showcases data for the top searched “how to’s” around the world. The top ten are:

  1. how to tie a tie
  2. how to kiss
  3. how to get pregnant
  4. how to lose weight
  5. how to draw
  6. how to make money
  7. how to make pancakes
  8. how to write a cover letter
  9. how to make french toast
  10. how to lose belly fat

Check out the interactive guide here, to explore more of this fascinating data.


This data visualization is the latest in the Google News Lab’s series of collaborations with designers, working alongside the University of Miami’s Alberto Cairo to re-examine how news designers can tell stories using new types of data (including new sources of Google data)  and by experimenting with new kinds of data visualizations. You can see some more of the projects we’ve launched so far here.

We’ve loaded the top how-to’s data on our GitHub page for you to download and explore. And if you do, tell us more about you’re using the data at newslabtrends@google.com.

The 90s are back…With a Twist! Google Canada’s Back To School Trends

I won’t tell you my age, but I will tell you that I was very aware of what was happening in the 90s.

And it was awesome.

Now I’m a mom, with a young daughter heading back to school and my focus is: How can we, as a family, make this as painless as possible. Like many Canadians, I’m turning to my phone and to Google Search to get a head start on shopping. With all those searches underway, we now have a good idea of what’s trending for parents and students.

The list of what’s hot for Back to School 2017 fashion looks a lot like my wish list back in the 90s - overalls, hoodies, crop tops and flannel shirts are all rising in search interest. Gucci has set the tone for multiple fashion trends over the past few seasons, and that influence continues, with rising search interest for Gucci belts, sunglasses and slides.

Two ultimate 90s accessories are also back in a big way - the much-maligned fanny pack is cool again, and searches for Birkenstocks are at an all-time high. Interestingly, we see a big uptick in searches for “vegan” and “plastic” Birkenstocks.  

And when it comes to back-to-school searches...

Top searched backpack color in the past week, Canada:
  1. Black
  2. Pink
  3. Blue
  4. White
  5. Red

Top searched school supplies in the past week, Canada:
  1. Backpack
  2. Calculator
  3. Pencil
  4. Glue
  5. Pens

Trending questions on school in the past week, Canada:
  1. Where can I buy school workbooks?
  2. How to do cute hairstyles for middle school?
  3. What day does school start?
  4. When do the kids go back to school?
  5. What school will my child attend?

Trending questions on back to school in the past week, Canada:
  1. When do back to school sales start in Canada?
  2. When is back to school?
  3. When does school start?
  4. Why do school supplies cost so much?
  5. How to decorate your locker?

Trending questions on “where to buy” and school in the past week, Canada:
  1. Where to buy school uniforms near me?
  2. Where to buy cute school supplies?
  3. Where to buy uniforms for Catholic school?
  4. Where to buy school bags?
  5. Where to buy school backpacks?

Wishing you and yours a scrunchy-filled stress-free back-to-school shop!

Nicole Bell is a Canadian Googler, Mom and member of the Communications & Public Affairs team

Introducing Hands-Free Calling & multiple user support on Google Home

Canadians, get ready for an even more personalized experience with your Google Assistant -- we’re starting to roll out support for multiple users and Hands-Free Calling on Google Home in English today, with French coming soon.

The more users, the merrier.

Now, when you ask your Google Assistant for help, it can distinguish your voice from your partners or roommates. You’ll be able to hear your own personal playlists, your own commute time, your own schedule and more. You’re able to add up to six people on your Google Home.

To get started, first make sure that you have the latest Google Home app. Then, look for a card that says ”multi-user is available” when you open the app. If you don’t see a card, click on the icon in the top right to see all of your connected devices. Once you see your Google Home in the list, select “Link your account.” From there, you'll teach your Assistant to understand it’s you, not your partner, family member or roommate—and vice versa, based on who’s speaking. For certain features, like personalized music and commute, you’ll also need to set up your preferences within the app.

You used to call me on my cell phone...

Hi, hello, hey, howdy … no matter how you start a call, your Google Assistant is ready to help! You can already ask your Assistant on your phone to make a call and soon, you'll be able to do the same on Google Home—hands-free—in the U.S. and Canada. Call anyone (at home, on mobile or at work).* It’s easy to use. ☎🎉


Busy in the kitchen and in need of help? Just say “Ok Google, call Dad” to ask about that one last ingredient you always seem to forget (salt? baking powder? who knows!). Because the Assistant on Google Home now recognizes your voice, you’ll reach your dad instead of just any dad!

In addition to Dad, you can also make calls to your own personal contacts, as well as millions of businesses across Canada and the U.S..* Calling the bakery around the corner, ordering flowers from the nearest florist, and wishing grandma a happy birthday, are now as easy as “Hey Google.”

To get started, say “Hey Google, call...” and calls will be made over your Wi-Fi connection. The recipient will see “Unknown” or “No Caller ID”. By the end of the year, we'll make it possible for your own mobile number to be displayed.

So go call your dad, grandma, the bakery, local florist…whomever you’d like! It’s easier than ever.

Learn more about Hands-Free Calling here, and multiple user support here.

*Google Home by default can call businesses and your Google Contacts. Learn more at our Help Centre about how your other contacts stored on your phone can also be used on Google Home. Calls to 911, premium rate numbers as well as international numbers are not supported.

YouTube shines a spotlight on Canada

Today, we’re making it easier than ever for Canadians to find incredible homegrown talent on YouTube, with the launch of YouTube Spotlight Canada. This new hub for Canadian content will showcase Canada’s top stars in both French and English, and offer one more way to discover emerging Canadian talent.




Every month, we’ll highlight the creators and the videos that have got Canada clicking, watching and sharing. We’ll introduce you to new Canadian stories, perspectives and personalities. And we’ll share themed playlists to help you explore new topics and trends.


Our first month on YouTube Spotlight Canada is a celebration of the best of the true north, strong and free. Meet the country’s favourite YouTubers, check out highlights from Canada 150 celebrations, relive moments in Canadian history and dive into an incredible roster of indigenous music artists.


This week, we’re also launching the popular Creator on the Rise feature in Canada. Creator on the Rise will identify Canadian creators who are growing rapidly and showcase their videos in the Trending tab on YouTube, helping them build an even bigger audience. Every week we’ll bring you a new creator to keep your eye on.


Canada’s YouTubers are part of a new generation of Canadian artists growing up online, and finding fans both at home and around the world. YouTube’s open model and global scale reduces the cost of getting content to international markets. As a result, 90% of views on Canadian channels come from outside of Canada, which is higher than any other country on the platform. By lowering barriers to entry, it’s become a powerful platform for creators in Canada to get their voice heard.


We hope that you’ll visit the YouTube Spotlight Canada channel (don’t forget to subscribe!) and get to know the Canadians who are taking the world by storm.

Posted by Marie Josée Lamothe, Managing Director Quebec and Managing Director, Branding

Google Home arrives in Canada

“Ok Google, good morning.”

There’s never a dull moment at home -- from getting the family ready to go in the morning to kicking back after a long day, and everything in between. Wouldn’t it be great to get some extra help? 

Starting today, Canadians can get their hands on Google Home, our voice-activated smart speaker, powered by the Google Assistant in English and French.
With a simple “Ok Google”, you can get results from Google Search, turn up the music, manage your everyday tasks or even adjust your compatible smart lights.

Help from your Google Assistant 
Need to solve a problem? Ask Google Home to translate phrases, do simple math calculations, or share definitions. Want some help in the kitchen? Ask to get nutritional information and unit conversions with flour-covered hands. Too busy to stay on top of the news? Ask and you shall receive the latest Canadian stories from sources such as the CBC, Radio Canada, Global News, Sportsnet, TC Media, The Weather Network / MétéoMédia and more.

Your Assistant can also have fun—it can tell you jokes, play trivia or make animal sounds. Ever wanted to know what a whale sounds like? Now’s your chance to find out.

Enjoy your music
Find the right beat for every occasion, from practicing yoga to hosting a dance-a-thon with your little ones. The Assistant on Google Home lets you enjoy your favourite tunes. Simply say “Ok Google” and you can play songs, playlists, artists and albums from Google Play Music, Spotify, and more.* 

Manage your everyday tasks
Canadians are busy -- and the Assistant on Google Home is now here to help. With your permission, it will give you answers for things like your commute, your daily schedule and more. Just ask “Ok Google, tell me about my day” or say, “Hey Google, how long will it take to get to work?” and you’ll get up to speed on everything you need to know.

Google Home is there to give you an assist around the house, too. All you have to do is ask and it will wake you up in the morning (or let you snooze), set a timer while you’re baking, and more.

Control your smart home 
You can control your lights and switches in your home using compatible smart devices from brands like Nest, Philips, Samsung SmartThings and more.** Just ask, and Google Home will turn off the kitchen light.

If you have a Chromecast, you can also use voice commands to play Netflix and YouTube on your TV or binge watch your favourite show. Simply say, “Ok Google, play ‘Stranger Things’”.***

A speaker designed for any room
Whether you’re hosting a dinner or a solo dance party, Google Home delivers crystal-clear sound, giving you an enjoyable listening experience across all types of music. Plus, we designed Google Home to fit stylishly into any room. And you have the option to customize your Google Home with a choice of interchangeable metallic bases, available in Copper or Carbon.

We know Canadians have been patiently waiting for Google Home to arrive, and we’re working to bring the Assistant to Canadians in English and, for the first time ever, in French. Your Google Home experience will get better over time, as we add more features, partners and more. And of course, we’ve hidden a few Canadian treats for you to discover along the way. Why not try asking your Assistant on Google Home about some of its favourite foods or sports teams?

Google Home is available starting on June 26th from the Google Store, Bell, Best Buy, Fido, Indigo, London Drugs, Rogers, Staples, The Source, Telus, Visions, and Walmart.