Chillax, it’s National Relaxation Day!

Even though the calendar says it’s only Tuesday, we say it’s time to kick back and relax. After all, National Relaxation Day comes but once a year! And if you’re like the 44% of Americans who feel more stressed than they did five years ago, you may be in need of a break. To help you unwind, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to calm down, free up your mind, and release the stress.

Starting off in Google Search, we have some go-to guides to help you chill out. First, try typing “breathing exercises” into Google, and you’ll see a nice guided exercise right at the top of search results. Cue exhale...and inhale! For the established (or aspiring) yogis out there, you may also want to check out some of the yoga positions that are just a tap away. And don’t worry, if you’re not up for the Chakrasana, Bālāsana still counts. Namaste.

Relaxation Day.png

More of a video viewer? You’re not alone. Guided meditation videos on YouTube are on the rise, with an 84% increase in views since last year. Some popular picks include Blissful Deep Relaxation by The Honest Guys and Guided Meditation for Sleep... Floating Amongst the Stars by Jason Stephenson. Oooohhhmmmmm.

youtube relax

If you want to pamper yourself on National Relaxation Day, head over to Google Maps. You can now book appointments at spas and salons across the U.S. To get started, do a quick look for a nearby salon, barbershop or spa and look for the “book” button on the business listing. You can also visit the Reserve with Google site to browse recommendations or find serene spots you never knew existed.

beauty

This is just a sample of the serenity that awaits. And if you’re stuck at  your computer, here’s a pro tip: take a breather with the Mindful Break Chrome extension that gives you tips and guides you through some short breathing exercises. Ready, set, chillax!  

Source: Search


Meet a teacher helping indigenous women in Mexico get online

Schools in Latin America and around the world are searching for ways to take student impact beyond the classroom. In Mexico, we wanted to explore how teachers and students are using technology to empower a rising generation of innovative changemakers—and this week, we’re sharing some of the stories we found. Tune into the hashtag #innovarparami to see how education leaders in Latin America are thinking about innovation.

Miroslava Silva is a teacher, social scientist and activist who has dedicated much of her career to studying the digital literacy gap and its ramifications. Across cultures, women often lack access to technology and digital education—and in Miroslava’s native Mexico, communities of indigenous women are the most affected by the digital literacy gap. Determined to change this, she founded a technology class specifically for Otomí women at the University of Querétaro.

The teacher helping indigenous women in Mexico get online #innovarparami

Since the class’s inception two years ago, Miroslava’s students have engaged in activities that range from learning to search for information, to building slide decks and documents, to designing personal websites. Miroslava’s only rule? All content must be relevant and useful in her students’ unique contexts and lives. To this end, she enlists her students to help craft their own curricula, and the class looks different for every student as a result. Some of her students are working on launching sites for their businesses. Others are conducting individual research projects on topics that interest them. And some even co-founded a movement to digitize and preserve the indigenous language Otomí.

Angélica Ruiz, who has taken Miroslava’s digital literacy class for two years, had never used a computer before enrolling. Now, she has launched and manages her own website to promote her handmade doll business, connect other women to education technology resources, and foment interest in the Otomí language. Recently, she built an online campaign to raise awareness about violence against women.

Pursuing a digital education has been no small feat for Angélica. A mother of five, she travels two hours from her home to the University of Querétaro each week, but says that the sheer empowerment she feels makes her efforts worth it. Indeed, the ability to design websites and to use the internet for social activism is the tip of the iceberg when Angélica thinks about what she gets out of the class. What she values most is being able to serve as a role model for other women striving to overcome institutional barriers and access education. Dozens of Otomí women have begun to pursue the digital literacy classes, following her lead.

I want every other woman to know that if I can do it, so can you. If somebody’s cut your wings off, put them back on so they can keep growing. Angélica Miroslava’s student

For Miroslava and her student Angélica, innovation means breaking down barriers and forging the path for others to do the same. We’d love to hear what innovation means to you—tell us with the hashtag #innovarparami.

Source: Education


Daydream brings you inside Vogue Supermodel Closets

Everyone has items of clothing that hold sentimental value. For Kendall Jenner, it could be that pair of boots that Kanye got for her or the matching snuggies that the Jenner/Kardashian clan wore on Christmas morning. Supermodels, they’re just like us! (Minus the boots gifted by Kanye part).

In partnership with Condé Nast Entertainment and Vogue, we created a VR series to give you a peek into the closets of models and hear about the stories (and sentimental value) behind their favorite articles of clothing. “Supermodel Closets” was created to celebrate Vogue’s 125th anniversary and their upcoming September issue. In the first of five episodes, you’ll hear from Kendall Jenner and see the Christmas snuggies for yourself.

This is one of the first productions to use YI HALO cameras, which are the next generation of Jump cameras for high quality, professional VR capture. You can look around (and even up!) thanks to the up camera and immersive 4k stereoscopic capture. Julina Tatlock, executive producer for 30 Ninjas, was able to easily use Jump even in tight spaces in each closet. Combined with unique graphics and post-production elements, this brings you even closer to the clothes.

VogueBTS

If you’ve got Cardboard or Daydream View at home, check out the first episode of Supermodel Closet Secrets on Vogue’s YouTube channel, with more episodes available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more Daydream and Jump productions coming this fall.

Code Jam 2017 wraps up with the World Finals in Dublin

The results from this year's Code Jam, Google's largest and toughest programming competition, are in! The contest wrapped up with a two-day World Finals event from August 10-11. After a record-breaking season with more than 60,000 registrants, finalists representing 16 countries traveled to Dublin, Ireland to compete for cash prizes and the title of 2017 World Champion.

The event kicked off with Distributed Code Jam, in which contestants are required to program in a distributed environment (much like the day-to-day of a Google software engineer). While our returning 2015 and 2016 champion, bmerry (Bruce Merry), endeavored to hold onto his spot for another year, the other top 20 Distributed finalists, including Code Jam's reigning three-year champion Gennady.Korotkevich (Gennady Korotkevich), battled for a chance at the $10,000 grand prize. The contest was so tough that no contestant submitted more than six out of the eight possible datasets. In a scintillating finale with numerous close scores, ecnerwala (Andrew He) of the United States swooped in to steal first place, becoming our second-ever Distributed Code Jam Champion.

The action continued the next day with Gennady.Korotkevich and 25 other Code Jammers competing for a $15,000 grand prize and the coveted title of Code Jam Champion. Finalists approached the problem set using techniques such as max flow, dynamic programming, and randomized algorithms; the problems required challenging original insights in addition to algorithmic knowledge, and two of them were so difficult that no contestant solved them completely. After four hours of ferocious coding, during which the leader on the scoreboard changed several times, Gennady.Korotkevich stole the show and took the World Championship for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year in a row! Once the official results were announced, fans of Gennady (or "tourist" as he is known in other programming contests) enthusiastically took to social media to celebrate this record-breaking moment in Code Jam history. You can learn more about this year's problems and analyses, and see other past contests, on our website.

In addition to exclusive competition coverage and features with Code Jam Googlers, the live stream showcased the diversity of teams and people at Google working to make great products across the globe. Whether you've been following since the Qualification Round in April, or are a newcomer to the arena, we hope you'll check out the full recording of the World Finals live stream. We also hope to see you in the 2018 Code Jam and Distributed Code Jam competitions; it's never too early to start practicing for next year!

Source: Education


Bringing the Dandi March to life in an all-new Google Earth Voyager story

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/vZefiIWSAZhCFRAVJRtB9Bgu0ALmQQlB_l-Ig_hcHk_tCJcTB-x5Wuj3adFoKBZfKkwkHqCh0d1mOytA1dhidHKrT5nnFlM3xAsFpQP0LOef5hTm8RQF5bpi1HTKLZljGMKW4O5R
87 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi embarked on a seminal journey with 78 of his followers -- one that would eventually help turn the tide in India’s freedom movement. Back then, nobody on that long road would imagine a reality where future generations could retrace their very steps.


Thanks to the all-new Dandi March story in Google Earth's Voyager, which features map data, compelling storytelling and archival photographs (many of which have never been released) users can now experience the emotion felt on that long trek toward independence.




This Voyager story takes you through a journey retracing the steps of Mahatma Gandhi's Salt March from Sabarmati to Dandi in his campaign for India's freedom. The story is told in the words of Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, based on his family knowledge and his own retracing of the march in 2005, on its 75th anniversary. This full story has never been told before.


Told over 22 slides, this Google Earth experience relates each key stage of Gandhi’s journey to specific locations along the way, recounting what happened at that location along with a photograph taken at the time. From their first stop at the Gujarat Vidhyapeeth University, learn about the thatched hut built by the townspeople of Vasana, and the heartwarming incident of a boat owner who ferried almost 400 volunteers and villagers across the Narmada river free of charge.


As you click through the story, the map dynamically shifts and ‘flies’ to each location, where at any time you can zoom in, and pan around the scene.


Go ahead -- immerse yourself into a slice of history that is so central to the freedom we enjoy today.


Happy independence day.


“I know the path. It is straight and narrow. It is like the edge of a sword. I rejoice to walk on it”
— M K Gandhi

Posted by Gopal Shah, Product Manager, Google Earth

Stable Channel Update for Desktop

The stable channel has been updated to 60.0.3112.101 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, which will roll out over the coming days/weeks.

A list of changes is available in the log. Interested in switching release channels? Find out how.  If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.  The community help forum is also a great place to reach out for help or learn about common issues.


Richard Bustamante
Google Chrome

Hamilton App Takes the Stage

Posted by David DeRemer (from Posse)

Whether it's opening night for a Broadway musical or launch day for your app, both are thrilling times for everyone involved. Our agency, Posse, collaborated with Hamilton to design, build, and launch the official Hamilton app... in only three short months.

We decided to use Firebase, Google's mobile development platform, for our backend and infrastructure, while we used Flutter, a new UI toolkit for iOS and Android, for our front-end. In this post, we share how we did it.

The Cloud Where It Happens

We love to spend time designing beautiful UIs, testing new interactions, and iterating with clients, and we don't want to be distracted by setting up and maintaining servers. To stay focused on the app and our users, we implemented a full serverless architecture and made heavy use of Firebase.

A key feature of the app is the ticket lottery, which offers fans a chance to get tickets to the constantly sold-out Hamilton show. We used Cloud Functions for Firebase, and a data flow architecture we learned about at Google I/O, to coordinate the lottery workflow between the mobile app, custom business logic, and partner services.

For example, when someone enters the lottery, the app first writes data to specific nodes in Realtime Database and the database's security rules help to ensure that the data is valid. The write triggers a Cloud Function, which runs business logic and stores its result to a new node in the Realtime Database. The newly written result data is then pushed automatically to the app.

What'd I miss?

Because of Hamilton's intense fan following, we wanted to make sure that app users could get news the instant it was published. So we built a custom, web-based Content Management System (CMS) for the Hamilton team that used Firebase Realtime Database to store and retrieve data. The Realtime Database eliminated the need for a "pull to refresh" feature of the app. When new content is published via the CMS, the update is stored in Firebase Realtime Database and every app user automatically sees the update. No refresh, reload, or pull required!

Cloud Functions Left Us Satisfied

Besides powering our lottery integration, Cloud Functions was also extremely valuable in the creation of user profiles, sending push notifications, and our #HamCam — a custom Hamilton selfie and photo-taking experience. Cloud Functions resized the images, saved them in Cloud Storage, and then updated the database. By taking care of the infrastructure work of storing and managing the photos, Firebase freed us up to focus on making the camera fun and full of Hamilton style.

Developing UI? Don't Wait For It.

With only three months to design and deliver the app, we knew we needed to iterate quickly on the UX and UI. Flutter's hot reload development cycle meant we could make a change in our UI code and, in about a second, see the change reflected on our simulators and phones. No rebuilding, recompiling, or multi-second pauses required! Even the state of the app was preserved between hot reloads, making it very fast for us to iterate on the UI with our designers.

We used Flutter's reactive UI framework to implement Hamilton's iconic brand with custom UI elements. Flutter's "everything is a widget" approach made it easy for us to compose custom UIs from a rich set of building blocks provided by the framework. And, because Flutter runs on both iOS and Android, we were able to spend our time creating beautiful designs instead of porting the UI.

The FlutterFireproject helped us access Firebase Analytics, Firebase Authentication, and Realtime Database from the app code. And because Flutter is open source, and easy to extend, we even built a custom router library that helped us organize the app's UI code.

What comes next?

We enjoyed building the Hamilton app in a way that allowed us to focus on our users and experiment with new app ideas and experiences. And based on our experience, we'd happily recommend serverless architectures with Firebase and customized UI designs with Flutter as powerful ways for you to save time building your app.

For us, we already have plans how to continue and develop Hamilton app in new ways, and can't wait to release those soon!

If you want to learn more about Firebase or Flutter, we recommend the Firebase docs, the Firebase channel on YouTube, and the Flutter website.

It must be nice to have Hamilton on your phone

HAMILTON fans got a treat last Friday when the team behind the broadway hit released … Wait for It … an app! Available on Android and iOS, the app lets you enter the #Ham4Ham lottery more easily and has fun features for the biggest HAMILTON fans out there. It was also one of the first apps to be built with Firebase, Google’s mobile development platform to handle the backend and infrastructure, as well as Flutter, a new UI toolkit to make it easy and fast to build high-performance, modern, beautiful apps for iOS and Android.

To learn more about how the app was built, and why the HAMILTON team chose to use Flutter and Firebase, we sat down fan to fan with Mike Karns, HAMILTON’s director of social media, and David DeRemer from POSSE, who helped build the HAMILTON app.

Seth: What made you decide to build and launch a mobile app?

Mike: We’re always looking for opportunities to create a unique experience for the HAMILTON community, whether or not they’re able to be in the theatre each night. This app expands our presence in digital space and brings fans closer to HAMILTON.

How did you decide which features to include?

Mike: It started as a way for people to enter the HAMILTON lottery, and we brainstormed more ideas from there. Because HAMILTON has broken the confines of normal Broadway scope and audience, we’ve been able to build a really diverse fanbase in terms of age, location, etc. So all of our ideas served the purpose of giving those fans ways to connect with HAMILTON in more real ways.

David: It was all about providing access. HAMILTON is in such high demand, yet so many people love it and it’s so important from a historical and artistic perspective. How do make sure the HAMILTON community doesn’t feel like an exclusive club that requires thousands of dollars to be in? That’s ultimately what the lottery is for, and we’re improving the experience. Before you had to go the website every day and re-enter your info—now you can get a reminder and then enter in one tap.

Then there are the other features like shareable stickers with lyrics and HAMILTON emojis, #HamCams (HAMILTON-themed photo filters), a merch store, and exclusive content from cast members that make it even more fun. We wanted to go beyond the lottery and keep things interesting for someone who might have tickets to see the show a year from now. And we’ve got a lot of ideas for more features to make sure it’s still compelling even in five or seven years.

Hamilton App.png

How did you decide to use Flutter to build and manage your app?

Mike: We knew we’d have to build this app quickly, while also making sure that HAMILTON was accessible to everyone. To democratize the brand, there was never any question that we’d have to build an app that was available on both Android and iOS.

David: That’s why we decided to use Flutter, a new modern, reactive UI toolkit that is portable across iOS and Android. Flutter allows us to have a less complicated codebase, which means we can be more efficient and keep parity between platforms.

Because Flutter is new, this was also a unique opportunity to collaborate with Google to improve the Flutter SDK. We provided a lot of feedback and bug reports throughout the development process! The result is something really unique—I don't think there are many other apps that use this technology yet. And not too many companies would have had the willingness to work with us and take a risk like that. It really ties into the HAMILTON idea of not throwing away your shot! By the way, developers can even find some HAMILTON easter eggs in the Flutter documentation.

And what about Firebase?

David: Firebase was also a critical component building a great app for our fans. With Firebase, we didn’t have to worry about setting up and maintaining servers. Instead, we were able to spend more time designing beautiful UIs and testing new interactions. In addition, a key feature of the app is the ticket lottery, which offers fans a chance to get tickets to the constantly sold-out HAMILTON show. We used Cloud Functions for Firebase to help coordinate the lottery workflow between the mobile app, custom business logic, and partner services.

What does success look like for you?

David: The lottery is the number one feature, so if the lottery works better, that will be a success. Success is also determined by the percentage of people have an issue and how many bugs are there, and if it scales. And I just hope that it helps fans connect to HAMILTON.

Mike: Lin-Manuel Miranda frequently says to his fans, "Here, I made this for you...". We’ll feel that we've accomplished our goal when fans everywhere are using this app to share their passion for the show in a different ways.

Finally, we couldn’t let you go without asking. What is your favorite HAMILTON character, song or quote?

David: One of my favorite characters is the King of England, he he cracks me up. I know it’s a weird choice, but the way they portray him is incredibly clever and funny. His “awesome, wow” line is my favorite.

Mike: Aaron Burr's line "I am inimitable, I am an original," most exemplifies the work my team and I try to do every day with HAMILTON. Our challenge is to create content and products that live up to the level of what Lin has created.

Code Health: Eliminate YAGNI Smells

This is another post in our Code Health series. A version of this post originally appeared in Google bathrooms worldwide as a Google Testing on the Toilet episode. You can download a printer-friendly version to display in your office.

By Marc Eaddy

The majority of software development costs are due to maintenance. One way to reduce maintenance costs is to implement something only when you actually need it, a.k.a. the “You Aren't Gonna Need It” (YAGNI) design principle. How do you spot unnecessary code? Follow your nose!

A code smell is a code pattern that usually indicates a design flaw. For example, creating a base class or interface with only one subclass may indicate a speculation that more subclasses will be needed in the future. Instead, practice incremental development and design: don't add the second subclass until it is actually needed.

The following C++ code has many YAGNI smells:
class Mammal { ...
virtual Status Sleep(bool hibernate) = 0;
};
class Human : public Mammal { ...
virtual Status Sleep(bool hibernate) {
age += hibernate ? kSevenMonths : kSevenHours;
return OK;
}
};

Maintainers are burdened with understanding, documenting, and testing both classes when only one is really needed. Code must handle the case when hibernate is true, even though all callers pass false, as well as the case when Sleep returns an error, even though that never happens. This results in unnecessary code that never executes. Eliminating those smells simplifies the code:

class Human { ...
void Sleep() { age += kSevenHours; }
};

Here are some other YAGNI smells:
  • Code that has never been executed other than by tests (a.k.a. code that is dead on arrival)
  • Classes designed to be subclassed (have virtual methods and/or protected members) that are not actually subclassed
  • Public or protected methods or fields that could be private
  • Parameters, variables, or flags that always have the same value
Thankfully, YAGNI smells, and code smells in general, are often easy to spot by looking for simple patterns and are easy to eliminate using simple refactorings.

Are you thinking of adding code that won't be used today? Trust me, you aren't gonna need it!


Propel your mobile app growth with Universal App Campaigns

Throughout the day, when people want to go somewhere, watch something, or buy something, they reach for their mobile phones for help. And it's often a mobile app that delivers what they need — whether it's a new pair of running shoes or puzzle game to pass the time during a flight delay.

We launched Universal App Campaigns (UAC) two years ago to make it easier for you to grow your app business. UAC uses Google’s unique machine learning technology to help find the customers that matter most to you, based on your business goals — across Google Play, Google.com, YouTube and the millions of sites and apps in the Display Network.

Since then, UAC has delivered unprecedented growth and app engagement for developers and marketers. Advertisers that optimize for in-app actions with UAC, on average, drive 140% more conversions per dollar than other Google app promotion products.1

To help more advertisers take advantage of these benefits, we'll be focusing our efforts and moving all AdWords app install campaigns to UAC later this year. Starting on October 16th, all new app install campaigns created in AdWords will run on UAC. Existing Search, Display and YouTube app promo campaigns will stop running on November 15th, so it’s important to start upgrading to UAC as soon as possible.


Three easy steps to help you move your campaigns to UAC

  1. Review your current AdWords app promotion campaigns: log into AdWords > click the Ads tab and identify your top performing text, banner and video ads.
  2. Create a new UAC and set the right performance goal: build a new UAC by clicking the +Campaign drop-down menu from the "Campaigns" tab > select Universal app. Copy and paste any top performing creatives, especially images and videos, into your new UAC.
    • Set up AdWords conversion tracking through Google Analytics for Firebase, Google Play or one of our third-party App Attribution Partners to find more of your high-value users. Learn more
    • Then, choose the bidding option that best supports your business or campaign goals:

  1. Set the right bids: calculate the average CPI, CPA or ROAS of your existing campaigns as the starting point for your UAC performance goal. Then, monitor your new UAC and adjust bids over time to meet your goal, as there may be some natural changes in performance as you transition between campaign types.


Check out more Best Practices here.


How UAC helps you find more of the right app users

UAC uses machine learning to make the smartest decision for each ad, analyzing hundreds of millions of potential signal combinations in real time — like where people are engaging with your ads and which creatives and keywords perform best.
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For example, we may learn that active PayPal users tend to search on Google Play for apps to transfer money to their friends. So, we’ll show more ads on those types of queries and related content.

Over the coming months, we'll deep dive into new features and continue to share best practices to help you get the most out of UAC.



1. Google Internal Data, July 2017

Source: Inside AdWords