Category Archives: Official Google Blog

Insights from Googlers into our topics, technology, and the Google culture

Fall into autumn with #teampixel

With autumn in full swing, we’re taking note of the warmer colors being whisked into our feeds. This week, #teampixel wonderfully captures fall’s color palette, from burnt siennas to bright oranges. So grab a cup of tea, cozy up to the fire and flip through our favorite fall finds.

You can also join @verizon and #teampixel as we pass along a Google Pixel 2 from coast to coast on Instagram. Check out some of the stunning photos from the trip—in scenic Athens, NY, historic Paris, TX, and delicious Venice, CA.

Want to get featured on The Keyword and @google? Make sure to tag your photos with #teampixel and you might be next.

Say “yes” to HTTPS: Chrome secures the web, one site at a time

Editor’s note: October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we're celebrating with a series of security announcements this week. See our earlier posts on new security protections tailored for you, our new Advanced Protection Program, and our progress fighting phishing.

Security has always been one of Chrome’s core principles—we constantly work to build the most secure web browser to protect our users. Two recent studies concluded that Chrome was the most secure web browser in multiple aspects of security, with high rates of catching dangerous and deceptive sites, lightning-fast patching of vulnerabilities, and multiple layers of defenses.

About a year ago, we announced that we would begin marking all sites that are not encrypted with HTTPS as “not secure” in Chrome. We wanted to help people understand when the site they're on is not secure, and at the same time, provide motivation to that site's owner to improve the security of their site. We knew this would take some time, and so we started by only marking pages without encryption that collect passwords and credit cards. In the next phase, we began showing the “not secure” warning in two additional situations: when people enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.

http search

It’s only been a year, but HTTPS usage has already made some incredible progress. You can see all of this in our public Transparency Report:


  • 64 percent of Chrome traffic on Android is now protected, up from 42 percent a year ago.

  • Over 75 percent of Chrome traffic on both ChromeOS and Mac is now protected, up from 60 percent on Mac and 67 percent on Chrome OS a year ago

  • 71 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default, up from 37 a year ago

percentage of page loads over HTTPS in Chrome by platform
Percent of page loads over HTTPS in Chrome by platform

We’re also excited to see HTTPS usage increasing around the world. For example, we’ve seen HTTPS usage surge recently in Japan; large sites like Rakuten, Cookpad, Ameblo, and Yahoo Japan all made major headway towards HTTPS in 2017. Because of this, we’ve seen HTTPS in Japan surge from 31 percent to 55 percent in the last year, measured via Chrome on Windows. We see similar upward trends in other regions—HTTPS is up from 50 percent to 66 percent in Brazil, and 59 percent to 73 percent in the U.S.!


Ongoing efforts to bring encryption to everyone


To help site owners migrate (or originally create!) their sites on HTTPS, we want to make sure the process is as simple and cheap as possible. Let’s Encrypt is a free and automated certificate authority that makes securing your website cheap and easy. Google Chrome remains a Platinum sponsor of Let’s Encrypt in 2017, and has committed to continue that support next year.


Google also recently announced managed SSL for Google App Engine, and has started securing entire top-level Google domains like .foo and .dev by default with HSTS. These advances help make HTTPS automatic and painless, to make sure we’re moving towards a web that’s secure by default.


HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. There’s never been a better time to migrate! Developers, check out our set-up guides to get started.

The High Five: this week’s trends have a sweet tooth

A celebrity baby on the way, a sidelined NBA player, and ice cream for dessert: here’s a look at the week’s top-searched trends, with data from the Google News Lab.


Sing us a lullaby, you’re the Piano Man

Search interest in “Billy Joel age” went up nearly 8,000 percent this week after it was announced that the 68-year-old musician and his wife Alexis are expecting a child. Age was top of mind in the other searches as well: people asked “How old is Billy Joel’s wife?” and “How old is Billy Joel’s daughter?” as well as “How many children does Billy Joel have?”


I scream, you scream, we all search for the Museum of Ice Cream

After it it was reported that sprinkles from San Francisco’s Museum of Ice Cream (the interactive, social media-friendly art installation that’s already swept Los Angeles) have been found all around the city, search interest in “Museum of Ice Cream” rose nearly 5,00 percent. People are searching for the scoop: “How much are Museum of Ice Cream tickets?” “Who created the Museum of Ice Cream?” and “How to start something like the Museum of Ice Cream?” (Apparently it takes a lot of sprinkles.) And while we’re dishing out the ice cream trends ... the top-searched types of ice cream this week were “rolled ice cream,” “mochi ice cream,” and “vegan ice cream.”


NBA season tips off

After Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward fell to the floor with a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle on Wednesday (the first night of the NBA season), people searched: “How long will Gordon Hayward be out?” “How long does a fractured ankle take to heal?” and “How long is Gordon Hayward’s contract with the Celtics?” After the injury, search interest in Gordon Hayward shot up nearly 52,000 percent—making him the most searched NBA player on opening night (followed by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry).


Let them eat (10-foot) cake

Rapper Gucci Mane had an extravagant wedding this week, and the highlight was a 10-foot-tall $75,000 cake, prompting people to search: “How much was Gucci Mane’s wedding?” “Where was Gucci Mane’s wedding?” and “Who was at Gucci Mane’s wedding?” (Hopefully enough people to eat all that cake.) While the decadent dessert may have raised questions about the rapper’s fortune, interest in “Gucci Mane wedding” was searched 2.5 times more than “Gucci Mane net worth.”


I’m feeling spooky

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, some have existential questions about the holiday (the top searched question was ”Why do people wear costumes for Halloween?”), while others are focused on finding the perfect costume: “What should I be for Halloween?” “How to make a Halloween costume?” and “What is the most popular Halloween costume?” We’ve got the last question covered—Google’s Frightgeist can tell you what people around the country or in your own hometown are searching for this Halloween.

New Android Management API delivers simple, powerful tools for enterprise

Managing mobile devices and applications can be a challenge for businesses and partners of all sizes.


Today, our Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) partners write their own management app in order to enable management of Android devices; we call this a “device policy controller” (DPC) app. A DPC app is essentially an agent deployed by the EMM, with the real value living in the console and back end, which the app communicates with directly.  


Now, with our newest tool, the Android Management API, customers and EMMs can manage devices using a server-side API and eliminate the need to write a management app. The Android Management API takes on this complexity so partners can focus on what’s important to their customers and not worry about the underlying Android framework.


Now, creating policies for your device fleet is as simple as creating a Google Cloud project and making a couple of REST API calls. The Android Management API is built around policies, rather than discrete transactions; just tell the API how a device should be managed.

Behind the scenes, Google interprets these policies into a specific set of actions for the target device, and executes those requests using the Android Device Policy app, a Google-made managing agent. Because we provides the managing agent, developers don’t need to handle nuances of the framework implementation, such as which APIs are available or what bugs need to be worked around on given versions of Android.
Android devices

We’ve been testing the Android Management API with several early access partners. Mobiltec, which has launched a validated Corporate Owned Single-Use (COSU) solution, found the new API sped up the company’s EMM efforts by easing back on some development needs.


“Android Management API is a powerful Cloud Platform API that allows us to easily integrate Android EMM functions to cloud4mobile, our EMM tool. With this new management API, we can deliver top-of-market EMM solutions to a wide range of devices,” says Paulo Morandi, senior software architect at Mobiltec. “Since we don't need to develop our own DPC (device policy controller), new features can be added in minutes; just some HTTP requests and you are done.”

 

The Android Management API is compatible with any device running Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or above that has Google Play installed. Designed with the needs of businesses in mind, it doesn't matter if an organization's devices come from one or many manufacturers—this new API provides a consistent way to manage a device.


Our first set of APIs focus on purpose-built devices use cases, such as digital signage, ticket printing, or kiosks. Over the coming months, our team of engineers will add more features to cover knowledge worker management use cases, and ultimately all Android enterprise solution sets.


The Android Management API is now available in beta for all partners and developers, whether they are developing EMM software, purpose-built specific applications, or an in-house solution for an organization.


Want to try it out? Using Google’s API Explorer, you can try out the API and provision a device in minutes. All you need is a new or factory reset Android 6.0+ device and a Gmail account. Check out the Quick Start Guide to discover how quickly things can get up and running. We hope this makes development easier for partners and helps them bring the latest Android features to customers faster.

Shields are in, brooms are out: this year’s top Halloween costume trends

What are you dressing up as this year? Every Halloween, people across the United States turn to Google to search for what to wear on the spookiest night of the year. And with our tool Frightgeist, you’ll get a view of Halloween costume trends across the U.S., and you can see the most-searched costumes near you (and avoid those embarrassing Halloween party costume clashes).

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This year, the top 10 costume list reflects everything from movie hits like “Wonder Woman” and “It” to the perennial appeal of the (walking) undead.

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Harley Quinn
  3. Clown
  4. Unicorn
  5. Rabbit
  6. Witch
  7. Mouse
  8. Pirate
  9. Zombie
  10. Dinosaur

If the top 10 isn’t enough, you can explore the top 100 costumes across the country: Click on a costume and you can see how it’s trending, where it’s searched, and how it’s changed over time. In the top 100 list, film characters account for a fifth of costume searches, followed by animals at 12 percent and comic book characters at 11 percent.

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In 2016 Harley Quinn, inspired by “Suicide Squad,” ruled All Hallows Eve—but this year the Princess of the Amazons has dethroned her. We’re also seeing some new entries to the list—these are new additions to the top 100 list since last Halloween:

  1. Moana
  2. IT
  3. Emoji
  4. Stranger Things
  5. Thing 1

To see what people are searching in your hometown or other cities around the country, click on “Costume Map.” (We see you and your elephants, Casper, WY. But no love for the friendly ghost?)


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Just because a costume is in the top 10 doesn’t mean it will stay there. These are the costumes with the biggest drop in rankings over the last year:


1. Maleficent

2. Knight

3. Frankenstein

4. Evil Queen

5. Snow White


And if you still can’t decide what to wear, you should check out the costume wizard. Set the spookiness and originality settings and see what it comes back with.

Expanding access to renewable energy in the EU

Earlier this year, we hosted an event in Brussels that brought business leaders, policy makers and civil society together to discuss ways to ensure EU renewable energy policy meets the changing needs of consumers. Last week, we were back in Brussels to continue the discussion at RE-Source, the largest gathering in the EU to-date of companies committed to buying renewable energy to cover their operations.


With 14 data centers on four continents and offices in 150 cities around the globe, Google consumes a lot of power. And combating climate change requires the world to transition to a clean energy economy. So we’ve made it a top priority not only to become more energy efficient but also to ensure that the energy we purchase comes from clean sources such as renewables. We have also found that purchasing energy from renewable resources also makes good business sense, for two key reasons:

  • The cost to produce and deploy renewable energy technologies like wind and solar has come down precipitously in recent years. In fact, in a growing number of areas, renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy available on the grid.
  • For those of us who manage a global power portfolio like many corporations, renewable energy contracts provide financial certainty and protection against fuel-price volatility.
Gary Demasi at RE SOURCE
Gary Demasi, Global Director of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy, during a fireside chat with Sonja van Renssen, Co-founder, Energy Post, at RE-Source 2017

Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. To date, we’ve signed contracts to purchase 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy. In the EU alone, we have signed 669 MW of deals across 8 projects in Sweden, Norway, and The Netherlands and we are on track to reach 100% renewable energy for our operations in 2017—a major milestone. You can read more about our global sustainability efforts in the 2017 progress update of Google’s Environmental Report.


Despite this progress, many barriers to purchasing renewable energy still exist. The challenge ahead is to drive even more renewable purchasing and grow the size of the market. The EU is currently considering a series of directives on clean energy that provide opportunity to remove many of these barriers.  We look forward to working with EU policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure these efforts maximize the opportunity to scale renewables across Europe. For us, reaching 100% renewable energy purchasing on a global and annual basis is an important milestone but we’re just getting started. We want to help ensure that all energy consumers have a clear and easy path to choosing renewable sources.

10 things you can do with your new Pixel 2

It’s here! Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL hit shelves today in the U.S. Here’s a few things you can do with your Pixel 2, right out of the box.


1. Transfer your stuff from your old phone in less than 10 minutes—photos, videos, music, contacts, calendar events, apps, messages, and more. Just plug in the the cord and follow the simple instructions on the screen to make the switch. If you need help, there’s a team available 24/7 to talk you through it.


2. Say cheese! Pixel 2 has the highest-rated smartphone camera ever, with a DxOMark Mobile score of 98. Take brilliant photos in any light, and play around with new exposure controls and features like Smartburst, which takes a rapid-fire sequence of shots. Get motion photos with every shot. Pixel 2 also comes with incredible video stabilization, thanks to a combination of both optical and electronic image stabilization.

Pixel 2 Video Stabilization

3. Focus. New portrait mode in the Pixel 2 front and rear cameras gives you crisp, beautiful portraits and selfies with a gorgeous background blur (on both Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL). For more on portrait mode, including some tips for how to take the best portraits, see this post.

portrait mode

4. Get unlimited storage for all your memories. All Pixel 2 users get free unlimited storage in the highest resolution for all of the photos and videos taken on your Pixel with Google Photos.


5. Search what you see with Google Lens in Google Photos. With this preview, just for Pixel 2 users, you can learn about the world around you and get things done. Save phone numbers and email addresses right to your contacts; learn more about landmarks, artwork, books, movies, music albums, and video games; or copy and share URLs from posters.

google lens gif

6. Just squeeze the sides of your phone, say “Ok Google,” or long press the Home button to call on your Google Assistant for help finding answers and getting things done. The Google Assistant understands you, so you don’t have to edit the text messages you dictate. Ask to play a song on Google Play Music, YouTube Music, or Spotify. Or control your phone by saying “turn on night light, "do not disturb” or "change my ringtone" and your Google Assistant will make it happen—no need to dig into settings.


7. Get big entertainment wherever you go. Pixel 2 comes with a razor-sharp display and dual front-facing stereo speakers for crystal-clear sound. It also delivers high quality audio through the new USB-C headphone port and through the updated, hi-fi Bluetooth support. With Fast Pair, you can quickly and easily set up compatible wireless headphones with just a tap.


8. See the important stuff at a glance. With Always-On-Display, you can see the time and notifications without waking up your phone.


9. Name that tune. On your Always-On-Display, the Now Playing feature will show you song and artist info for music playing around you. This works entirely on the device, so no audio is sent to Google.


10. Play well with others. Pixel is made to work seamlessly with your other Google devices. Say “Ok Google, play recommended videos on the TV” and your Assistant helps you keep watching on Chromecast without missing a beat. Or ask your Assistant on Google Home to “find my phone” to hear it ring and find its last location. We’re adding new features all the time, and as the rest of our hardware family hits stores this fall, your Pixel will work with those too.

Helping NASA and JPL bring the surface of Mars to your browser

On August 6, 2012, the Curiosity rover landed on Mars. Ever since, it’s been searching for evidence that Mars has ever been suitable for life. It’s also been photographing the Martian terrain in great detail. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab use these photos to create a 3D model of Mars. It’s a one-of-a-kind scientific tool for planning future missions.


Today, we’re putting that same 3D model into an immersive experience for everyone to explore. We call it Access Mars, and it lets you see what the scientists see. Get a real look at Curiosity’s landing site and other mission sites like Pahrump Hills and Murray Buttes. Plus, JPL will continuously update the data so you can see where Curiosity has just been in the past few days or weeks. All along the way, JPL scientist Katie Stack Morgan will be your guide, explaining key points about the rover, the mission, and some of the early findings.


The experience is built using WebVR, a technology that lets you see virtual reality right in your browser, without installing any apps. You can try it on a virtual reality headset, phone, or laptop.


Check it out at g.co/accessmars.


And if you’re an educator, we’ve updated our Mars tour in Google Expeditions with highlights from this experience. To try it with your class or in self-guided mode, download the Expeditions app from Google Play or the App Store.

Delivering better government services at lower costs with Chrome

Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from Vijay Badal, Director of Application Services of DOTComm. Founded in 2003, DOTComm provides centralized IT support and consulting for 70 government agencies in the city of Omaha and Douglas County, NE. DOTComm uses Chrome browser and G Suite to improve employee productivity and mobility and cut IT costs.

At DOTComm, our employees provide technical support for more than 5,000 government workers throughout Omaha and Douglas County. Because these workers are spread across 120 different locations, our employees need access to the tools they need to do their jobs whether they’re in the office or on site with our customers. Several years ago, we realized the legacy systems we were using were getting in the way.

When employees had to travel to provide technical support for the government agencies we serve, they didn’t have mobile access to important documents, or the ability to share and send files back to the office, such as videos that outlined technical issues. In addition, hardware and licensing were costly, and inflexible productivity applications were making it difficult for employees to collaborate or work from the road. Plus, we needed half a dozen employees just to maintain our infrastructure!

To solve these challenges, we turned to Chrome and G Suite. Chrome is fast, secure and gives our staff access to thousands of useful extensions. It’s also allowed us to standardize across our desktop and mobile devices. G Suite has helped us cut hardware costs and improve collaboration and mobility. With Chrome and G Suite, we no longer pay thousands of dollars in annual licensing fees, and we’ve reduced the number of people managing infrastructure from six to one, freeing up the other five people to work on different tasks.

Chrome’s extensions have been big productivity boosters. One extension syncs the staffs’ Google calendars with their Salesforce calendars. Previously, employees had to check two separate apps and cross-reference two separate calendars. Now they only need to check one. Another extension gives staff mobile access to Google Docs and Google Sheets. This means they can work nearly anywhere. When they’re out of the office, or in the field, they can create and share files on any device they need.

As an IT department, we’re particularly pleased with the security and other IT benefits we get with Google. Chrome has built-in malware and phishing protection, and we use the G Suite admin console to ensure all user downloads are stored on the same network drive so they can be checked for malware. The G Suite admin console lets us control Chrome settings for employees, including adding extensions on whitelists so employees can use them, pushing recommended extensions to users, and rolling out Chrome updates on a scheduled timeframe. That’s made our IT administrators’ lives much easier and has been a huge timesaver. And because we centrally manage the rollout of extensions for new employees, individual city and departments no longer need to have a dedicated IT person working on new hire application orientation. So we save time and money with each new hire.

Meanwhile, the number of help tickets for IT support has plummeted, from 30 a day to one or two. For example, we no longer have to deal with local archive files, which means our staff spends less time troubleshooting and the government employees we serve don’t waste time wrestling with unfamiliar technology. Productivity has increased as well. For example, City Police, City Fire, and County Health departments all use shared Google Sheets within their individual precincts for shift change management. This allows them to roll over shift changes swiftly and efficiently, without missing any critical ongoing task assignments.

Chrome browser and G Suite have allowed us to offer more secure and productive IT services to all City of Omaha and Douglas County employees, who are then able to better serve citizens. DOTComm and the City of Omaha were recently honored as one of "Top 10 Cities" by the Center for Digital Government in its Digital Cities Survey 2016, which recognizes cities that use technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency and encourage citizen engagement. This marked the first time the City of Omaha made the list—but I predict it won’t be the last now that we’re using Chrome browser and G Suite.

Google Home Mini has arrived—here’s what you can do with it

A few weeks ago we unveiled Google Home Mini, the newest addition to the Google Home family. About the size of a donut, it has all the smarts of the Google Assistant and gives you hands-free help in any room of your house. Starting today, you can grab it online from the Google Store or online or on shelves of Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other stores.

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Just start with “Hey Google” to get answers from your Google Assistant, tackle your day, enjoy music or TV shows, and control your compatible smart home devices. And with Voice Match, the Assistant can tell your voice from others—up to six people can get personal assistance on each device.

Here are six fun things you can do with your Mini:

  1. Find my phone: When you lose your phone in the couch cushions, your Assistant can find it for you. “Hey Google, find my phone” will ring your Android phone (even if it’s on silent) or your iPhone.
  2. Set a sleep timer: Fall asleep to the sweet sounds of your favorite music or podcast by saying, “Hey Google, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes.”
  3. Play news by voice on your TV: Stay on top of current events with YouTube news playlists from sources like ABC, Fox and NBC. With a Chromecast-connected TV, you can ask say: “Hey Google, play the news on my TV” or “Ok Google, play sports news on my TV.”
  4. Turn the TV on and off: With Google Home, Chromecast, and a compatible TV you can just say “Hey Google, turn off the TV.”
  5. Enable night mode: In night mode, Mini’s lights dim and the volume lowers so that you you don’t disturb others in your household when it’s late (or early).
  6. Set a default TV or speaker: Choose a Chromecast-connected TV to be your default screen, so you don’t need to mention the device's name in your voice command. When you say “Play yoga videos,” they’ll play on the TV you’ve set as the default. It works the same way for speakers connected to Chromecast Audio—you can designate a group of speakers that cover several rooms (“first floor,” for example) as the default. Then say “Hey Google, play workout playlist” and it will automatically start playing on that group of speakers.

You can start using these features today with any Google Home or Google Home Mini—and stay tuned for lots more to come!