Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

It’s time to start sketching, Canada. Doodle 4 Google is back!

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Canadian YouTube stars Mitch and Greg of AsapSCIENCE 
Submissions are now open for Doodle 4 Google!
If you’ve watched our videos, you already know how much we love science... and art! Whenever we visit the Google homepage, we’re always tickled to find a doodle, which combines the best of both. Google doodles are fun illustrations of the Google logo that celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists -- everything from the discovery of water on Mars to Canadian inventor Sandford Fleming’s 190th birthday.

Now with Doodle 4 Google, kids have the chance to see their artwork on the Google homepage for the whole country to enjoy. Doodle 4 Google is a nationwide competition, inviting students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to redesign the Google logo.*

As Canada blows out a whole lot of candles this year for its 150th birthday, what better way to celebrate than by imagining what the next 150 years will look like? That’s why Google is asking students to submit doodles based on the theme: “What I see for Canada’s future is…”.

Creating the top doodle comes with major perks: not only will their artwork adorn the Google.ca homepage for a day, but the winner will receive a $10,000 university scholarship, a $10,000 technology grant for his/her school, and a paid trip to the final Doodle 4 Google event in June. For more details, check out g.co/d4gcanada.

To help judge this year’s competition, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, En Masse co-founder Jason Botkin, president of the National Inuit Youth Council Maatalii Okalik, and Google Doodler Sophie Diao, will join us as your panel of esteemed doodle judges.

When we come up with themes for our videos, we look to cool things in science and tech for inspiration. If you know a young artist that may need a little nudge to get their creative juices flowing, we’ve worked with Google to create classroom activities that will help parents, teachers and students brainstorm, design and submit their doodles.

Participating is easier than ever. This year, students can submit a doodle made from almost any medium….including code! Ladies Learning Code created an online tutorial offering inspiration and a step-by-step guide to coding a Google doodle. Check it out here.

In Toronto in April? All throughout the month of April, parents and kids can visit the Art Gallery of Ontario to get inspired and create a doodle during Family Sundays.

Teachers and parents can download entry forms on the Doodle 4 Google site. Doodles can be uploaded digitally to Google’s site or mailed directly. Submissions are due on May 2nd. There’s no limit to the number of doodles from any one school or family... Just remember, only one doodle per student.

Let’s get our doodle on, Canada!

*Entrants need a parent or legal guardian’s permission (and signature on the entry form) in order to participate. Residents of Quebec must be at least thirteen years of age. Please see full terms and eligibility requirements here: doodles.google.ca/d4g/rules.html

Google announces Montreal region for Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform continues to rapidly expand our global footprint. Today, we announced we will launch a Google Cloud Platform region in Montreal.

Not only are we working hard on bringing you new products and capabilities, but we want our users to access them quickly -- wherever they may be. That’s why we’re announcing Canada’s first Google Cloud Platform region in Montreal. This new region will deliver lower latency for customers in adjacent geographic areas, increased scalability and more disaster recovery options.

By opening a Google Cloud Platform region in Montreal, our goal is to allow our Canadian customers to take advantage of the low latency and high performance afforded by the Google Cloud Platform.

These regions are built upon Google’s networking backbone, capturing Google’s innovation and scale. Google has an extensive worldwide networking presence and you can follow our locations page for updates on the availability of additional services. Also, for more information about how to deploy your resources, visit our zones and regions page.

In the last few years, Google Cloud Platform has grown to serve a diverse set of customers from mobile gaming studios to traditional enterprises, all of whom depend on our infrastructure to reach end-users across Canada and beyond. We look forward to welcoming businesses to a Google Cloud Platform region based here in Canada and we’re excited to see what they build with our platform.

Bold ides for a better world



It’s not every day that you get a chance to make the world a better place. A few months ago we kicked off the first Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada - a nationwide competition to find and fund the most innovative nonprofits that are using technology to tackle tough social problems both in Canada and internationally.

We were bowled over by the response  - more than 900 Canadian nonprofits shared their best ideas with us.

Today, we’re announcing the finalists in the competition and giving Canadians a chance to vote on their favourite project to win a $750,000 grant from Google.org.

The ten projects we have selected are all exciting and innovative applications of technology to solve big problems with the potential to scale. From growing fresh food in the Arctic to providing a bird’s eye view of disaster zones to changing the way we diagnose disease in the developing world, these are bold ideas that highlight both Canada’s talent for innovation and our culture of helping others.

The Finalists:

  • British Columbia Children’s Hospital - Globally, pneumonia is the single largest cause of death among children under 5. The PocketDoc for Pneumonia is a mobile platform to accurately diagnose pneumonia in the developing world and save children’s lives.

  • The Rumie Initiative - Only 40% of students on indigenous reserves graduate from high school, compared to 90% of students in the rest of Canada. The LearnCloud Portal is an offline, tablet-based curriculum to help high school students learn about Indigenous culture, history and language while gaining employment skills and financial literacy.

  • GlobalMedic - In the chaos after an earthquake or a tsunami, every minute counts. The RescUAV project will use Canadian-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to fly over disaster areas, allowing emergency responders to see the terrain they are heading into and help them get aid to where it’s needed most.

  • Food Banks Canada - Each year, close to $31 billion of food is wasted in Canada, yet nearly one in ten Canadian households have to worry about whether they have food on the table. The FoodAccess App divert surplus quality food away from landfill by connecting farmers, manufacturers and restaurants with donation agencies and Canadian dinner tables that might otherwise go empty.

  • World Wide Hearing Foundation International - Globally, 32 million children suffer from significant hearing loss, the majority of whom live in countries where access to hearing care can be a significant barrier. The Teleaudiology Cloud will connect children living in remote communities with audiologists and speech therapists who can assist with remote screening, hearing aid fitting, speech therapy and parent counselling.
  • Arctic Eider Society - With Arctic sea ice declining at over 13% per decade, changing conditions make navigation unpredictable and limits access to traditional foods for Arctic communities. The SIKU platform will provide a set of open-source tools that help Inuit communities map changing sea ice, and build a living archive of Inuit knowledge to help inform decision making for stewardship and sustainable development.

  • Victoria Hand Project - Only 5% of the 40 million people who need prosthetic care can access the resources they need. The Victoria Hand Project will provide affordable 3D-printed prosthetics in low-to-mid income countries.

  • PeaceGeeks Society - It can take up to ten years for the employment rate of recent immigrant cohorts to reach the equivalent rates for  those born in Canada. With information provided in their native language, Services Advisor is an application aimed at welcoming new Canadians to our shores, making it easier for newcomers to access immigrant services like mentorship and employment skills.

  • Growing North - In Nunavut, nearly 70% of adults are food insecure - meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Growing North addresses food insecurity issues by building greenhouses that will provide fresh produce all year round in latitudes above the Arctic Circle at about half of the present cost.

  • Canadian Red Cross - The Register Educate Deliver System (REDS) system will take a pilot project developed in the days following the Fort McMurray Wildfire and scale it so it’s ready for the next big disaster. The program registers those affected, shares critical information about how to respond, and quickly delivers financial assistance into the hands of Canadians when they need it most.

And now it’s YOUR turn to have a say. Head over to g.co/canadachallenge to learn more about the finalists, and to vote for the projects that you care about most.

Voting opens today and you have until March 28 to select your favourite projects. One of our winners will be chosen based on this public vote to receive a $750,000 grant from Google.org. The remaining winners will be selected by our expert panel of judges during a live pitching session on March 30.

We created the Google.org Impact Challenge because we truly believe that technology has the power to transform lives. Together, let’s make a better world, faster.

Posted by Sam Sebastian - VP, Google and Country Director, Canada

Really Blue is really here.

Our Made by Google family is welcoming a new member, Canada.
Making its limited edition debut, the Really Blue Pixel is available for pre-order in Canada exclusively at Rogers starting today. Pixel currently comes in two sizes, 5” or 5.5”, and is available in Quite Black and Very Silver. With Really Blue, we’re offering a fun, third hue for Pixel users looking for a little more playfulness in their devices and daily lives.

On top of being really blue, the Pixel is also a really cool phone.
  • The highest rated smartphone camera. Ever. With a best-ever 89 DxOMark Mobile score, Pixel's camera lets you take brilliant photos in low light, bright light or any light.
  • It’s also the first phone with the Google Assistant built in. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. Your Google Assistant is always ready to answer questions and help you get things done. 
  • The Pixel keeps going all day long. Need a quick charge? You can get up to 7 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes.
Starting today, the limited edition Really Blue Pixel is available for pre-order at Rogers locations in Canada in 5” and 5.5” for 32GB.

We’re thrilled to help Pixel fans beat the winter blues with Really Blue!


1Based on 9/2016 test results from DxOMark Mobile. DxOMark Mobile is a registered trademark of DxO Labs. 
2Battery use statistics are approximate and represent a mixed use of talk, standby, web browsing, and other features, according to an average user profile as defined by Google. Uses that involve an active display or data usage will use battery more quickly, actual results may vary. Charging rates are based on use of the included USB Type-C™ 18W charger

O Canada! Listen to the 2017 JUNO Awards nominees on Google Play Music

There's nothing more powerful than the right song playing at just the right moment. Whether you’re listening to The Strumbellas on a cottage dock, lining up for a KAYTRANADA show in Montreal or dancing to Alessia Cara in your bedroom, music has the ability to move, empower and connect Canadians from coast to coast.

That’s why we’re thrilled that Google Play Music is partnering again with the 2017 JUNO Awards. As Canada celebrates 150 years, we can’t think of a better time to honour our rich and diverse musical history and contributions to the global music stage.

To showcase the best music made this side of the border, we created the 2017 JUNO Awards Nominees playlist that features this year’s JUNO-nominated songs, albums and artists. From maple syrup music legends like The Tragically Hip and Céline Dion to hook-heavy fan favourites Drake and The Weeknd to unique breakthrough artists Jazz Cartier and Ruth B, this year’s incredibly talented list of nominees is diverse and inclusive -- just like Canada.

Not only do we love to celebrate our homegrown talent, we’re also excited to support the next generation of Canadian musicians. Starting today, when you subscribe to Google Play Music using this link, we’ll donate $1 to MusiCounts. Bonus: You’ll get your first 4 months of listening on us! Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, MusiCounts is a charitable organization that provides access to music programming and instruments through local schools and communities across Canada.

We’re incredibly proud of our homegrown talent making waves around the world and the emerging artists who continue to grow Canada’s incredible music ecosystem.

Congratulations to this year’s JUNO Awards nominees! Put on headphones, turn up the volume and get to know their music here before the awards show on Sunday, April 2nd.

How we fought bad ads, sites and scammers in 2016

A free and open web is a vital resource for people and businesses around the world. And ads play a key role in ensuring you have access to accurate, quality information online. But bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone. They promote illegal products and unrealistic offers. They can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself.



We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. And we have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors. Over the years, this commitment has made the web a better place for you—and a worse place for those who seek to abuse advertising systems for their own gain.



In 2016, we took down 1.7 billion ads that violated our advertising policies, more than double the amount of bad ads we took down in 2015. If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish. But our technology is built to work much faster.



Last year, we did two key things to take down more bad ads. First, we expanded our policies to better protect users from misleading and predatory offers. For example, in July we introduced a policy to ban ads for payday loans, which often result in unaffordable payments and high default rates for users. In the six months since launching this policy, we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads. Second, we beefed up our technology so we can spot and disable bad ads even faster. For example, “trick to click" ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” 6X more than in 2015.



Here are a few more examples of bad ads we took action against in 2016:



Ads for illegal products
Some of the most common bad ads we find online are ads promoting illegal activities or products. Although we've long had a policy against bad ads for pharmaceuticals, last year our systems detected an increase online. We disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015.



Similarly, we saw more attempts to advertise gambling-related promotions without proper authorization from regulators in the countries they operate. We took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.
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17M ads removed for illegal gambling violations
Misleading ads
We don't want you to feel misled by ads that we deliver, so we require our advertisers to provide upfront information for people make informed decisions. Some ads try to drive clicks and views by intentionally misleading people with false information like asking, “Are you at risk for this rare, skin-eating disease?” or offering miracle cures like a pill that will help you lose 50 pounds in three days without lifting a finger. In 2016, we took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.
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1,300+ accounts suspended for tabloid cloaking
Bad ads on mobile
If you’ve ever been on your phone and suddenly, without warning, ended up in the app store downloading an app you’ve never heard of, a “self-clicking ad” could be to blame. In 2015, we disabled only a few thousand of these bad ads, but in 2016, our systems detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on our platforms, a huge increase year over year.



Ads trying to game the system
Bad actors know that ads for certain products—like weight-loss supplements or payday loans—aren’t allowed by Google's policies, so they try to trick our systems into letting them through. Last year, we took down almost 7 million bad ads for intentionally attempting to trick our detection systems.



In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.



To fight cloakers, we take down the scammers themselves, and prevent them from advertising with us again. In 2016, we suspended more than 1,300 accounts for tabloid cloaking. Unfortunately, this type of bad ad is gaining in popularity because people are clicking on them. And a handful of scammers can pump out a lot of bad ads: During a single sweep for tabloid cloaking in December 2016, we took down 22 cloakers that were responsible for ads seen more than 20 million times by people online in a single week.



Promoting and profiting from bad sites
When we find ads that violate our policies, we block the ad or the advertiser, depending on the violation. But sometimes we also need to suspend the website promoted in the ad (the site people see after they click on it). So, for example, while we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads last year, we also took action on 8,000 sites promoting payday loans.



Here are some examples of common policy violations we saw among bad sites in 2016:
  • We took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams.
  • We took action on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software and disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.
  • And we suspended around 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, like imitation designer watches.
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6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts removed for attempting to sell counterfeit goods.


Publishers and website owners use our AdSense platform to make money by running ads on their sites and content, so we have strict policies in place to keep Google's content and search networks safe and clean for our advertisers, users and publishers. When a publisher violates our policies, we may stop showing ads on their site, or even terminate their account.



We've had long-standing policies prohibiting AdSense publishers from running ads on sites that help people deceive others, like a site where you buy fake diplomas or plagiarized term papers. In November, we expanded on these policies, introducing a new AdSense misrepresentative content policy, that helps us to take action against website owners misrepresenting who they are and that deceive people with their content. From November to December 2016, we reviewed 550 sites that were suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations.  We took action against 340 of them for violating our policies, both misrepresentation and other offenses, and nearly 200 publishers were kicked out of our network permanently.



In addition to all the above, we support industry efforts like the Coalition for Better Ads to protect people from bad experiences across the web. While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here. As we invest in better detection, the scammers invest in more elaborate attempts to trick our systems. Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.


Posted by Scott Spencer, Director of Product Management, Sustainable Ads

Sharing is Caring! A new way to share your favourite YouTube videos

Just a few weeks ago, Canadians flocked to YouTube to watch as a holiday artichoke dip recipe went terribly wrong. If you’re like me, you just had to share this hilarious video with family and friends. And in Canada, this was a clunky process - you had to copy and paste a link into an email or messaging app to share the moment.

That’s about to change. As of today, we’re making it a whole lot easier for Canadians to share their favourite YouTube videos with friends and family.


A few months ago, we began experimenting with better ways to share on YouTube, starting with a small group of users. And now Canada is the first country to roll out this new YouTube sharing feature. Why Canada? Well, it turns out that Canadians are world leaders when it comes to sharing. On our mobile devices, Canadians share videos 15% more often than other global users.

Starting today, when opening the YouTube mobile app, signed-in users with a channel will see a brand new Shared tab. Tap the tab and you’ll be able to add your friends and family as contacts, so you can share with them. Not only can you share and receive videos in the app, you can also chat about them right on YouTube, reply with another video, invite others to the conversation, and more. We think it’ll make sharing easier, faster and more fun on your phone. And of course, if you want to continue sharing videos through other apps, you can still do that too.
New sharing feature on your YouTube mobile app
Shared videos all live in your Shared tab, making it easier than ever to catch up on videos your friends have shared or to show them a few of your own favourites. The new feature will be available in both Android and iOS.
New Shared tab on your YouTube mobile app
And there’s more great news - this feature will start rolling out today to all YouTube app users in Canada, but as you share videos with your friends and family around the world, they’ll also get to use the new Shared tab themselves.

Start a group, share your favourite new music video with a friend or make sure your mom knows to never substitute sliced oranges in her artichoke dip. Show someone you care today and share!

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

Today, Google Play Music Canada reveals its ‘Artists To Watch’ list, featuring the top 10 emerging artists poised to make it big in Canada in 2017.

Led by two homegrown acts in the Top 3 and an unsigned group of indie-rockers from Alberta, Google Play’s list of up-and-comers gives Canadians a few more reasons to celebrate this year.
Here are Google Play Music Canada’s top 10 ‘Artists to Watch’ in 2017:
  1. Bebe Rexha
  2. James Barker Band
  3. Allan Rayman
  4. Grace VanderWaal
  5. Bishop Briggs
  6. Khalid
  7. Rag'n'Bone Man
  8. Gnash
  9. Fast Romantics
  10. Kehlani

When selecting the list, our Google Play Music editorial team considered everything from track performance on Google Play Music and social media analysis to Google search metrics and, simply, their pure, inalienable gut instinct.
Nabbing the top spot is New York-born pop diva Bebe Rexha, who’s stepping into the spotlight solo after a decade of penning chart-topping hits for everyone from Selena Gomez to Eminem.

Canadian-based acts James Barker Band and Allan Rayman came in at #2 and #3, respectively -- the former having scored the fastest-climbing Country single on Canadian radio in 2016 with “Lawn Chair Crazy,” and the latter, a smoky-voiced soul singer with an indie/alt edge and undeniably intriguing err of mystery.

The other up-and-comers span genres, nationalities and varying levels of success. There’s 12-year-old ukulele darling Grace VanderWaal (hailed by Simon Cowell as “the next Taylor Swift”), the British hip hop bluesman Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (winner of the 2017 Brits Critic’s Choice award, ranking him among the likes of Adele, Sam Smith and Florence & the Machine), and Fast Romantics, the as-of-yet (but not for long) unsigned indie rockers from Alberta.

Check out the top ten, as well as a longer list of suggested artists, in Google Play Music’s Artists to Watch 2017 playlist.

Happy listening!

Introducing Toontastic 3D: a playful storytelling app for kids

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 theatre… 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.

How Canadians are shopping this holiday season

Are you a last-minute shopper? Well, you’re not alone. With only 10 days until the holidays, a new study tells us that Canadians have completed less than half of their holiday shopping!1 But these last-minute shoppers aren’t panicking.


We partnered with Ipsos to survey Canadians on how they’ve used technology to shop this holiday season, and we found that holiday shoppers are using their smartphones, search and online video to be savvier than ever. This year, 34 percent of Canadian shoppers say they always do research or check digital sources before going to the store. Canadians may be last-minute shoppers, but they certainly have a game plan for when they hit the mall.


Today we’re sharing three trends that surfaced during Canada’s peak shopping season:


Smartphones are the ultimate shopping companion

The smartphone is a ubiquitous part of Canada's shopping experience, and when Canadians incorporated smartphone searches into their holiday shopping activities it resulted in a purchase 49 percent of the time. Savvy shoppers are turning to their smartphones to make purchases. Of the transactions that were made online this holiday season, 33 percent were purchased via smartphone.


While more people are willing to buy on mobile, we know that mobile is still used as a personal research assistant in and out of the store. This year, 38 percent of Canadian shoppers that bought in-store used their smartphone to search for products and services, and 74 percent used mobile apps as part of their holiday shopping experience.


Digital research influences purchases

Digital tools like smartphones and online search are friends, not foes, to in-store shopping. Canadian shoppers are conducting online research before they hit the mall to determine what they want to buy, the best products in a given category and which stores to visit to find that they need. We’ve seen mobile searches related to “best” products in the top retail categories grow by more than 44 percent in the last year.2


This year, shoppers are prepared, as one in five Canadian holiday shoppers say they’ve checked prices online before going in store. Almost half (43%), wish retail stores would do a better job of sharing inventory information.


YouTube is the new gift guide

Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake gingerbread cookies, Canadian shoppers look to video in countless moments throughout to the day to help get things done. And this includes shopping. This holiday season, shoppers will turn to devices to learn more, make a decision or purchase a product. This year, 26 percent of holiday shoppers used online video to look at products and services


Whether you’re a last-minute shopper or you’ve checked off your whole list, have a happy holiday!


Posted by Sarah Bradley and Naumi Haque, Research and Market Insights Managers, Google Canada.


1 Google/Ipsos, 2016 Holiday Shopping Study, Nov 17 to Dec 9, 2016, with n=1,387 Canadian shoppers

2 Google internal data, Canada searches related to apparel, home & garden, beauty & personal care, computer & electronics, and gift (excluding terms “best buy,” “best man,” and “best friends”). Jan-March 2015 vs. Jan-March 2016