Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

Introducing new student plans from YouTube

Today, we’re introducing new student plans for YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, giving eligible university and college students discounted access to a world of music, original series and movies — all ad-free and at a wallet-friendly price.

 Looking for some classical music to concentrate while studying for finals or a crowd-pleaser playlist for that end-of-semester party? Need a great binge-worthy series for winter break like Cobra Kai or Origin? Could you use a physics boost from astrophysicist and former MIT professor Walter Lewin? We’ve got you covered!

Last year, we introduced the new YouTube Music and YouTube Premium subscription plans to help users get more from their YouTube experience. YouTube Music is a new music streaming service with official albums, playlists and singles, as well as a vast catalog of music videos, remixes, live performances, covers and more — all with ad-free, background and offline access. YouTube Premium extends that ad-free experience across all of YouTube, and includes access to YouTube Originals.

Student plans are available for YouTube Music Premium for $4.99 and YouTube Premium for $6.99. 

How to Watch, Listen and Stream 
Student plans are currently available to all full-time students at an accredited college or university in Canada. Click here to learn more about eligibility requirements.


Stadia: a new way to play

For 20 years, Google has worked to put the world’s information at your fingertips. Instant delivery of that information is made possible through our data centre and network capabilities, and now we're using that technology to change how you access and enjoy video games.

Stadia is a new video game platform, delivering instant access to your favourite games on any type of screen—whether it’s a TV, laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone. Our goal is to make those games available in resolutions up to 4K and 60 frames per second with HDR and surround sound. We’ll be launching later this year in select countries including the U.S., Canada, U.K. and much of Europe.

To build Stadia, we’ve thought deeply about what it means to be a gamer and worked to converge two distinct worlds: people who play video games and people who love watching them. Stadia will lift restrictions on the games we create and play—and the communities who enjoy them.

Advanced game streaming 

Using our globally connected network of Google data centres, Stadia will free players from the limitations of traditional consoles and PCs.

When players use Stadia, they'll be able to access their games at all times, and on virtually any screen. And developers will have access to nearly unlimited resources to create the games they’ve always dreamed of. It’s a powerful hardware stack combining server class GPU, CPU, memory and storage, and with the power of Google’s data center infrastructure, Stadia can evolve as quickly as the imagination of game creators.

Data centres make Stadia possible, but what sets the system apart is how it works with other Google services. In a world where there are more than 200 million people watching game-related content daily on YouTube, Stadia makes many of those games playable with the press of a button. If you watch one of your favourite creators playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, simply click the “play now” button. Seconds later, you’ll be running around ancient Greece in your own game/on your own adventure—no downloads, no updates, no patches and no installs.

But what’s a gaming platform without its own dedicated controller? Enter the Stadia controller*.

When we designed the Stadia controller, we listened to gamers about what they wanted in a controller. First, we made sure to develop a direct connection from the Stadia controller to our data centre through Wi-Fi for the best possible gaming performance. The controller also includes a button for instant capture, saving and sharing gameplay in up to 4k of stunning resolution. And it comes equipped with a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone.

Using Google’s vast experience, reach and decades of investment we’re making Stadia a powerful gaming platform for players, developers and YouTube content creators— of all sizes. We’re building a playground for every imagination.

*This device is a prototype unit and cannot be marketed, sold, leased, or distributed until it complies with applicable essential requirements and obtains required legal authorizations.

Call Screen beta comes to Pixel phones in Canada

You may have been in a situation where you see an incoming call but you don’t recognize the number. If you’re like me, I pretty much don’t answer these any more as I worry they will be spam. However, that also means you can miss legitimate callers like your kid’s daycare, realtor, or your bank.

Starting today, Canadians with a Pixel can now opt in to the Call Screen beta, a new feature that gives you help from the Google Assistant to find out who's calling and why.

To use Call Screen, when you get an incoming call, just hit the “Screen call” button and the Google Assistant will help you get answers to specific questions like who's calling, why and more. You'll see a transcript of the caller's responses in real-time, and then you can decide whether to pick up, respond by tapping quick replies like “I’ll call you back later,” hang up, or mark the call as spam.

Call Screen is a feature on Pixel devices powered by the Google Assistant to make life easier and simpler. Like many AI-powered features on Pixel, including camera features and our music feature Now Playing which helps your discover new music playing around you, Call Screen processes call details on-device, which means these experiences are fast, private to you, and use up less battery.

Select Canadian Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 owners will receive an email today with instructions on how to opt in to the Call Screen beta. All Pixel users can opt in to the beta here. Call Screen is currently available in English only.

Plan your March Break with events in Search

If you’re on the hunt for activities to fill your winter - or March Break - calendar, 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 “concerts” in Canada, you’ll not only find a list of events from a variety of sites, but also key information about the event, right on Search!

Tap on 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. Save events or share them with others and plan as you go.

To discover events based on your interests, you can tap the “For You” tab to get personalized ideas for things to do near you. You’ll see trending and popular events in your area to keep you in the loop on the hottest happenings. And you’ll find events from across the web--from meetup and concert sites to individual event listings from organizations and brands you love.

If you’re an event provider, follow these guidelines to mark up your event listings to appear in this experience and ensure your events are discoverable.

Try it out today to find the perfect dog meetup, local festival or must-see event to keep the kids busy over March Break!

Google Canada’s #YearInSearch: 2018

We searched to cheer. We searched to celebrate. We searched to give back.

In 2018, Canadians searched for updates from half a world away as Tessa and Scott skated into Canadian hearts and the Olympic record books in Pyeongchang. We asked Google "How to make a fascinator?" as we watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. We wanted to know "How to donate?" when the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy shook the nation. Through the highs and the lows, people came to Search in 2018 to learn more, and to understand.

You can check out the complete lists from Canada and around the globe at And here are the top 10 Google Searches in Canada for 2018:
1. World Cup
2. Winter Olympic Games
3. Humboldt Broncos
4. Anthony Bourdain
5. Kate Spade
6. Mac Miller
7. Winnipeg Jets
8. Black Panther
9. Avicii
10. Demi Lovato

Sports dominated Canada’s Year in Search in 2018. Global competitions brought the world - and Canada together - as we turned to Google for updates on the World Cup and the Winter Olympics. Canada’s enduring love of all things hockey was reflected as searches for the Winnipeg Jets spiked across the country during their playoff run. And the will he? / won’t he? contract saga of William Nylander helped land the young Toronto Maple Leafs among the top trending athletes of the year.

In entertainment, Black Panther pounced on the box office and Google search activity, while the release of Bohemian Rhapsody sent Canadians searching for footage of 1985’s Live Aid concert and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Meanwhile, the top trending Canadian in this year’s list of musicians was Quebecois singer Hubert Lenoir who was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize.

From the heartbreak of losing Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade to the heroes of the cave rescue in Thailand, the 2018 Year in Search reflects back to Canadians another eventful twelve months through the lens of Google Search. So, before we jump into another year, take a moment to look back at the searches that captured our attention and our hearts in 2018.

Posted by Tatiana Gianini, Google Trends Expert

Surprise, baby – it’s YouTube Rewind 2018!

This year, we danced our hearts out to Drake, yodeled in Walmart, and played a lot of Fortnite. As we prepare to head into 2019, it's time for our annual look back at the year that was on YouTube.

 2018 was marked by surprising celebrity moments. In February, Kylie Jenner surprised the world with To Our Daughter, an 11-minute film detailing her pregnancy and the birth of baby Stormi, which was watched over 53 million times on its way to becoming YouTube's global #1 Top Trending Video of 2018. Will Smith vlogged all over the world. Oh, and he also jumped out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon on a dare. Rihanna started her own makeup tutorial series. And of course, Beyoncé's livestream from Coachella gave fans a front-row seat for #Beychella.

Canadian creators were front and centre on our list of the Top Trending Videos in Canada - AsapSCIENCE once again solved the internet’s latest mystery -- seriously, is it Yanny or Laurel?, Ryan Reynolds took a DIY approach to marketing Deadpool 2, and the EhBee Family showed off some serious Fortnite dance moves.

We cried along with YouTube’s “Brad and Angelina” as Liza Koshy and David Dobrik shared the news of their breakup, we celebrated with Meghan and Harry on their wedding day, and we cheered on Rocket Man as he blasted into space.

Here are the moments that had Canada watching, commenting and sharing in 2018:

Canada’s Top Trending Videos 

On the music side, the year mostly belonged to two artists. One gave away nearly $1M in his video, the other got down in living colour with Bruno Mars. That’s right - Drake and Cardi B ruled Canada’s earbuds in 2018, both appearing on our list of the top videos multiple times.

Canada’s Top Music Videos

 Check out the Rewind site to get to know the creators and artists who shaped popular culture in 2018!

 posted by 

Live from the North Pole: what’s new at Santa’s Village

It’s the 15th year of Santa’s Village, an interactive holiday hub where you can play games to learn coding skills, create original artwork, exercise your geographic chops, and more. Here’s what’s new this year:

Entertain yours-elf with a new game🧝

With our Elf Maker, you can customize an elf from head to toe to make sure they’re stylin’ for all of the holiday shindigs happening on the North Pole this year. Choose an outfit, accessories, hairstyle, and even facial hair to add some flair to your little friend.

Giving you a better way to follow Santa 📍
One of the hardest parts about being married to Santa is that he always forgets to let me know where he is. This year, I’ve enlisted our elite team of cartographelves to let everyone know where he is as soon as he takes off from the North Pole. In the days leading up to Christmas, Santa will share his location with you on Google Maps so you can see his travels as he moves across the map. Follow along with him there or on our Santa Tracker dashboard on December 24—so you don’t miss his visit.

Going global for the holiday season 🌎
From beaches to blizzards, you can get a better glimpse into how people all over the world are spending the holidays. You’ll see holiday photos from Local Guides and you can test your knowledge of holiday traditions with a festive quiz powered by Google Earth and Street View. Curious about how to say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy New Year” in other languages? Check out our Translations game to take your snowmenclature to new heights.

These and other educational games, lesson plans, PDFs and instructional videos can be found in Santa’s Village starting today. If you want more holiday fun, make sure to tell the Google Assistant to tell you a holiday story or starting December 23, ask, “Hey Google, where’s Santa?”. And make sure to keep things festive with new Gboard holiday stickers found on iOS and Android, and in the Santa Tracker Android App.

From the Claus family to yours, have a very happy holiday. And remember: you’re sleighing it. 👊

Posted by Mrs. Claus, VP of Product, Santa's Village and Santa Tracker

Introducing new Google Assistant experiences for families

Whether at home on a snowy day or getting together with the family over the holidays, your Google Assistant provides an easy way to learn and have fun as a family. Today, we’re introducing new experiences, designed specifically for families with kids so they can learn, play and imagine together.

The Wiggles - Choose your own adventure with Emma 
Families will be able to join The Wiggles, from the hit TV show on Treehouse, for a choose your own adventure, a new custom Wiggles experience commissioned by Google exclusively for the Assistant. Follow Emma on a fun, Wiggly adventure as she travels through town to find friends to bring to her concert. Along the journey, kids can dance, play games and listen to fun songs with The Wiggles. You can go on the Wiggly adventure simply by saying “Hey Google, talk to the Wiggles” on any Google Home, Google Home Mini or compatible smartphone. Available in English only. 

CBC Kids News 
Now, you can listen to the latest news stories relevant to Canadian kids brought to you by the CBC Kids News team. Just say "Hey Google, Play CBC Kids News," for daily local, national, and international stories that are relevant to Canadian kids with a focus on media literacy. Available in English only. 

Boukili Audio 
Boukili Audio, from TFO, is an interactive activity that tests listening and comprehension of stories on animals, nutrition, music, travels and a ton of other captivating subjects, all in French. After listening to stories, Boukili Audio puts your child's skills to the test with a series of multiple choice questions to evaluate their French language comprehension and their memory, all while having fun. Just say “Ok Google, Parler avec Boukili Audio” to choose from over 120 interactive books, over 70 of which are exclusive to the Assistant. Available in French only. 

Call Santa
Just in time for the holidays, your Google Assistant can connect families to the North Pole, where Santa is busy rehearsing for a musical concert. Just say “Hey Google, call Santa,” to get in touch with St. Nick himself. Available in English only. 

Hatchimals Character Alarms - coming in 2019! 
Coming soon, from Spin Master, families can ask the Assistant on their Google Home to set a Hatchimals alarm and bring a dose of EGGcitement to their daily routine! The alarms feature Hatchimals music along with fun facts, jokes, challenges, and words of inspiration from Penguala, Draggle, Cheetree, and Puppit,- the heroes of “Adventures in Hatchtopia,” a new short-form animated series available on YouTube Kids! Just say “Hey Google, set a Hatchimals alarm.” Available in English only.

Below are additional experiences for families—just start with “Hey Google.” 
Play 👯

  • "Play Lucky Trivia for Families” 
  • “Play Musical Chairs” 
  • “Play Freeze Dance” 
  • “Let’s play a game” 
Learn 📖 

  • “Tell me a story” 
  •  “Help me with my homework” 
  • “Tell me a fun fact” 
  •  “How do you say “Let’s have crêpes for breakfast” in French?” 
  • “What does a whale sound like?” (try other animals!) 
  • “What does a guitar sound like?” (try other instruments!) 
Entertain 🌟

  • “Give me a random challenge” 
  • “Sing a song for me” 
  • “Give me a tongue twister” 
  • “Tell me a joke” 
Perfect for the Holidays 🎄 

  • “Tell me a Santa joke” 
  • “What's your favourite Christmas cookie?” 
  • “Tell me a holiday fact” 
 With their parent's permission, children under 13 can also have their own personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link (Not available in Quebec). Family Link helps parents manage their child’s Google Account while they explore. And with Voice Match, your family can train the Assistant to recognize up to six voices.

So round up your family and say the magic words— “Hey Google, I want to do something fun.”

See the light with Night Sight

Pixel’s camera is designed to help you capture life’s best moments effortlessly. With features like HDR+, Portrait mode, Top Shot, and Super Res Zoom, Pixel 3 uses computational photography and machine learning to help you capture stunning, creative and even professional photos. All you need to do is press the shutter button.

Because life’s best moments aren’t always perfectly lit, we developed Night Sight, a new feature for the Pixel camera that helps you capture vibrant and detailed low-light photos without a flash or tripod. Over the next few days, Night Sight will be coming to the front and rear cameras on all three generations of Pixel phones.

iPhone XS with SmartHDR (left), and Pixel 3 with Night Sight (right).

Why photography is difficult at night

The key ingredient for a photo is light. When it’s dark, cameras compensate by spending more time capturing light and increasing their sensitivity to light, often adding unwanted motion blur and noise to your photo.

Flash helps by adding light to the scene, but it awkwardly blinds your friends and can annoy others around you. Not to mention, it usually creates unflattering photos and isn’t even allowed in many places where photography is permitted. Flash only brightens nearby subjects and isn’t useful for landscapes or faraway objects.

Tripods stabilize the camera, allowing it to capture more light, but they’re bulky and impractical for everyday use. By enabling longer captures, tripods may also introduce unwanted motion blur from moving objects.

How Night Sight works

Night Sight constantly adapts to you and the environment, whether you’re holding Pixel or propping it on a steady surface. Before you press the shutter button, Night Sight measures your natural hand shake, as well as how much motion is in the scene. If Pixel is stable and the scene is still, Night Sight will spend more time capturing light to minimize noise; if Pixel is moving or there’s significant scene motion, Night Sight will use shorter exposures, capturing less light to minimize motion blur.

Night Sight can capture more light when Pixel and the scene are still. Photo by Narayan Hegde (Pixel 3, Night Sight). 

If your subject moves during the capture, Night Sight can adapt to prevent a modest amount of motion from ruining the shot. Instead of capturing one bright and blurry photo, Night Sight captures an equal amount of light over a burst of many photos that are dark but sharp. By merging this burst, Night Sight prevents motion blur and brightens the photo, giving you a bright and sharp photo.

Night Sight is robust to moderate levels of hand shake and scene motion. It merges many dark but sharp photos into one bright photo 

Night Sight is designed to capture true-to-life photos, adapting to the various lighting conditions you’ll see at night. Using machine learning, Night Sight balances the colour of your photo, so that objects show their natural colour at night.

Night Sight uses a neural network to balance colours. 

For more details on how Night Sight helps you capture vibrant and detailed low-light photos, head over to the Google AI blog.

How and when to use Night Sight 

If you’re taking a photo in low light, Pixel will suggest using Night Sight. You can enter Night Sight by tapping this suggestion or manually navigating to the mode. After you tap the shutter button, try to hold still until Night Sight finishes capturing the photo.

Night Sight on Pixel 3 XL While Night Sight was designed to excel in dimly lit conditions, it won’t work in complete darkness. You don't need much light—but you'll still need some.

Here are some tips for taking great low-light photos:

  • Hold the camera steady. If you can, try propping it against a stable surface. 
  • If you’re taking a photo of someone, ask them to hold still for a few seconds before and after you press the shutter button. 
  • Try tapping on a bright edge to help your camera focus when taking photos in very dark conditions. 
  • Make sure the camera lens is clean. It can accumulate oil from fingerprints, creating blurry and soft photos. 
  • Avoid pointing your camera at bright light sources, which may cause unwanted reflections in your photo. 
Night Sight will be rolling out over the next few days with an update to the Google Camera app. Share your photos using #teampixel and #nightsight, and check out some Night Sight photos in this Google Photos shared album.

Making it easier to control your data, directly in Google products

We’re always working on making it easier for you to understand and control your data so you can make privacy choices that are right for you. Earlier this year, we launched a new Google Account experience that puts your privacy and security front and center, and we updated our Privacy Policy with videos and clearer language to better describe the information we collect, why we collect it, and how you can control it. 

Today, we’re making it easier for you to make decisions about your data directly within the Google products you use every day, starting with Search. Without ever leaving Search, you can now review and delete your recent Search activity, get quick access to the most relevant privacy controls in your Google Account, and learn more about how Search works with your data. 

Control your data, directly in the Google products you use every day
When you use Google products, you generate data about your activity. For Search, this data includes the terms you search for, links you interact with and other information like your current location when you search. 

Before today, if you were searching on Google and wanted to review or manage this data, the best way for you to do that would have been to visit your Google Account. Now, we’re bringing these controls to you – from directly within Search, you can review or delete your Search activity and quickly get back to finding what you were searching for.

We’re also providing quick access to the privacy controls in your Google Account that are most relevant as you use Search. For example, to control the ads you see when you search, we give you access to your Ad Settings. Additionally, you can access your Activity Controls to decide what information Google saves to your account and uses to make Search and other Google services faster, smarter and more useful.
If you want to learn more about what data is being generated as you use Google services and how we use data to improve your experience, you can now find a short video that helps explain this information.

We’re launching this improvement in Google Search on desktop and mobile web today, and in the Google app for iOS and Android in the coming weeks. Next year, we’ll expand this to Maps, followed by many other Google products. Having access to relevant and actionable privacy controls directly from the Google products you use every day is just one way that we are continuously working to build privacy that works for everyone. 

Posted by Eric Miraglia, Director of Product Management, Privacy and Data Protection Office