Tag Archives: New Zealand

Get Google Play Apps, Music and More by Answering Surveys

Want to trade your opinion for the new Broods single?  Maybe you want to fill your armour slots on Minecraft, but would rather pay with your time instead of your money for new gear?  Answer quick surveys from researchers and earn Google Play credit with Google Opinion Rewards, an Android app now available on Google Play (goo.gl/BW2p4j) for users located in New Zealand.  

To get started, download the app from Google Play (goo.gl/BW2p4j). About once a week, you'll get a notification on your phone that a short and relevant survey is ready for you. Questions will range from “Which logo is best?” and “Which promotion is most compelling?” to “When do you plan on traveling next?”. After setting up their account, users will receive Google Play credit for completing surveys and earn up to $1.50 NZD for every survey they take.

How do I install Google Opinion Rewards?
+ Open the Google Play store
+ Search for “Google Opinion Rewards”
+ Click install

Introducing Family Link to New Zealand

Young Kiwis, just like their counterparts in other countries, are highly connected.  The typical New Zealand household now owns an average of 10 connected devices*, with younger members likely to use them on a daily basis to watch videos, study for a school report, play games, and more.

Managing our children’s use of these devices, however, can be tricky.  Just as we want to look after our children in the physical world, we’re also concerned about stuff like the apps they’re using and how much time they’re spending on their devices. There’s always a balance to strike between giving our kids the freedom to explore the internet and helping guide their experience.  Starting this week, it will be easier for Kiwi parents to help manage their kid’s Android device and Google account with the launch of Family Link, which recently launched broadly in the US.  

Here’s how it works: First, your child will need a new or factory reset Android device (see which devices work with Family Link). When you're setting up your child's device, Google asks you to create an account. Enter your kid’s birthday, and if they’re under 13, you’ll be asked to provide consent to create the account. Enter your child’s birthday, and if they’re under 13, we’ll help you set up an account for them. Once that's done, Family Link will automatically be downloaded to your child's device, and you can choose the apps and settings that you want for them. After setting up your child’s device, download Family Link onto your device, and you can use it to do things like:

Manage the apps your child can use

Approve or block the apps your child wants to download from the Google Play Store.

Keep an eye on screen time

See how much time your child spends on their favorite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device.

Set device bedtime

Remotely lock your child’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.

As we continue to develop Family Link, we’d love to hear feedback from Kiwi kids and parents on how we can make the Family Link experience even better. If you have questions about setting up an account for your kid or using Family Link, check out our Help Center. To help your kid make smart choices when using their device, check out our tips for families, or information from our local partner Netsafe.

Charles Zaffaroni, Product Manager, Kids and Families

*Based on New Zealand census data

Working together to combat terrorists online

Last week Google hosted a regional event in Jakarta exploring how ‘counter narratives’ can be used to prevent extremism. Counter narratives can be described as responses to extremist ideas or propaganda and can take many forms. The discussions extended to far right extremism and experiences using counter narratives within this community as well as the definition of extremism.
At the event there was strong representation from Australia and New Zealand with YouTube content creators, civil society groups, academics and policy makers joining the conversation. There was an unanimous agreement that none of us can address this challenge on our own - we need to come together in fora such as the one in Jakarta to share information and ideas; and explore opportunities where we can actively collaborate or support each other’s activities. We look forward to continuing these conversations over the coming months, including within the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism that Kent Walker, our Global General Counsel, describes below.

[Editor’s note: This is a revised and abbreviated version of a speech Kent delivered at the United Nations in New York City, NY, on behalf of the members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.]
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism is a group of four technology companies—Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube—that are committed to working together and with governments and civil society to address the problem of online terrorist content.
For our companies, terrorism isn’t just a business concern or a technical challenge. These are deeply personal threats. We are citizens of London, Paris, Jakarta, and New York. And in the wake of each terrorist attack we too frantically check in on our families and co-workers to make sure they are safe. We’ve all had to do this far too often.
The products that our companies build lower barriers to innovation and empower billions of people around the world. But we recognize that the internet and other tools have also been abused by terrorists in their efforts to recruit, fundraise, and organize. And we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our platforms aren't used to distribute terrorist material.
The Forum’s efforts are focused on three areas: leveraging technology, conducting research on patterns of radicalization and misuse of online platforms, and sharing best practices to accelerate our joint efforts against dangerous radicalization. Let me say more about each pillar.
First, when it comes to technology, you should know that our companies are putting our best talent and technology against the task of getting terrorist content off our services. There is no silver bullet when it comes to finding and removing this content, but we’re getting much better.
One early success in collaboration has been our “hash sharing” database, which allows a company that discovers terrorist content on one of their sites to create a digital fingerprint and share it with the other companies in the coalition, who can then more easily detect and review similar content for removal.
We have to deal with these problems at tremendous scale. The haystacks are unimaginably large and the needles are both very small and constantly changing. People upload over 400 hours of content to YouTube every minute. Our software engineers have spent years developing technology that can spot certain telltale cues and markers. In recent months we have more than doubled the number of videos we've removed for violent extremism and have located these videos twice as fast. And what’s more, 75 percent of the violent extremism videos we’ve removed in recent months were found using technology before they received a single human flag.
These efforts are working. Between August 2015 and June 2017, Twitter suspended more than 935,000 accounts for the promotion of terrorism. During the first half of 2017, over 95 percent of the accounts it removed were detected using its in-house technology. Facebook is using new advances in artificial intelligence to root out "terrorist clusters" by mapping out the pages, posts, and profiles with terrorist material and then shutting them down.
Despite this recent progress, machines are simply not at the stage where they can replace human judgment. For example, portions of a terrorist video in a news broadcast might be entirely legitimate, but a computer program will have difficulty distinguishing documentary coverage from incitement.
The Forum’s second pillar is focused on conducting and sharing research about how terrorists use the internet to influence their audiences so that we can stay one step ahead.
Today, the members of the Forum are pleased to announce that we are making a multi-million dollar commitment to support research on terrorist abuse of the internet and how governments, tech companies, and civil society can fight back against online radicalization.
The Forum has also set a goal of working with 50 smaller tech companies to help them better tackle terrorist content on their platforms. On Monday, we hosted dozens of companies for a workshop with our partners under the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. There will be a workshop in Brussels in December and another in Indonesia in the coming months. And we are also working to expand the hash-sharing database to smaller companies.
The Forum’s final pillar is working together to find powerful messages and avenues to reach out to those at greatest risk of radicalization.
Members of the forum are doing a better job of sharing breakthroughs with each other. One success we’ve seen is with the Redirect Method developed at Alphabet’s Jigsaw group. Redirect uses targeted advertising to reach people searching for terrorist content and presents videos that undermine extremist recruiting efforts. During a recent eight-week study more than 300,000 users clicked on our targeted ads and watched more than 500,000 minutes of video. This past April, Microsoft started a similar program on Bing. And Jigsaw and Bing are now exploring a partnership to share best practices and expertise.
At the same time, we’re elevating the voices that are most credible in speaking out against terrorism, hate, and violence. YouTube’s Creators for Change program highlights online stars taking a stand against xenophobia and extremism. And Facebook's P2P program has brought together more than 5,000 students from 68 countries to create campaigns to combat hate speech. And together the companies have participated in hundreds of meetings and trainings to counter violent extremism including events in Beirut, Bosnia, and Brussels and summits at the White House, here at the United Nations, London, and Sydney to empower credible non-governmental voices against violent extremism.
There is no magic computer program that will eliminate online terrorist content, but we are committed to working with everyone in this room as we continue to ramp up our own efforts to stop terrorists’ abuse of our services. This forum is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to working with national and local governments, and civil society, to prevent extremist ideology from spreading in communities and online.
- Kent Walker, Global General Counsel, Google

Headphones optimized for your Aussie Google Assistant

Your Assistant is already available to help on phones, Google Home and more. But sometimes you need something a bit more personal, just for you, on your headphones. Like when you’re commuting on the train and want some time to yourself. Or reading at home and looking for some peace and quiet.

To help with those “in between” moments, together with Bose, we’re announcing headphones that are optimized for the Assistant, starting with the QC35. So now, you can keep up to date on your messages, music and more—using your eligible Android phone or iPhone.

To get started, connect your QC 35 II headphones to your phone via Bluetooth, open your Google Assistant and follow the instructions. From there, your Assistant is just a button away—push (and hold) the Action button to easily and quickly talk to your Assistant.

  • Stay connected to what matters: Hear your incoming messages, events and more, automatically, right from your headphones. So if you’re listening to your favorite song and you get a text, your Assistant can read it to you, no extra steps.
  • Listen to news and more: Now it’s easy to keep up with news while you walk to the bus, hop on the train or go for a run. Just ask your Assistant to “play the news” and you’ll get a read-out of the current hot topics. You can choose from a variety of news sources, like ABC News, The Australian and more.
  • Keep in touch with friends: With your Assistant on headphones, you can make a call with just a few simple words—“Call dad”—take the call from your headphones and continue on your way. No stopping or dialing, just talking.

We’ve worked together with Bose to create a great Assistant experience on the QC35 II—whether you’re on a crowded street or squished on a train, Bose’s active noise cancellation will help eliminate unwanted sounds around you, so you’re able to hear your Assistant, your music and more. The Assistant on the QC35 II will be available in English to all Aussies as well as in the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Germany and France.

We’ll continue to add features, apps and more to your Assistant on headphones over the coming weeks.

At New Zealand schools, Chromebooks top the list of learning tools

New Zealand educators are changing their approach to teaching, building personalised learning pathways for every student. Technology plays a key part in this approach. New Zealand has joined the list of countries including Sweden and the United States where Chromebooks are the number one device used in schools, according to analysts at International Data Corporation (IDC).

“Chromebooks continue to be a top choice for schools,” says Arunachalam Muthiah, Senior Market Analyst, IDC NZ. “After Chromebooks’ strong performance in 2016, we see a similar trend in the first half of 2017 with Chromebooks gaining a total shipment market share of 46 percent, continuing to hold their position as the number-one selling device in schools across New Zealand.”

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Bombay School students learning about conductivity, electrical circuits and constructing a tune.

Technology is transforming education across the globe, and in New Zealand schools are using digital tools to help students learn, in the classroom and beyond.

At Bombay School, located in the rural foothills south of Auckland, students could only get an hour a week of computer access. Bombay School’s principal and board decided on a 1:1 “bring your own device” program with Chromebooks, along with secure device management using a Chrome Education license.

Teachers quickly realised that since each student was empowered with a Chromebook, access to learning opportunities increased daily, inspiring students to chart new learning paths. “Technology overcomes constraints,” says Paul Petersen, principal of Bombay School. “If I don’t understand multiplication today, I can learn about it online. I can look for help. I can practice at my own pace, anywhere I am.”

In 2014 Bombay School seniors collectively scored in the 78th percentile for reading; in 2016, they reached nearly the 90th percentile.

Students at Point England School take a digital license quiz to learn about online behavior.

In the Manaiakalani Community of Learning in East Auckland, some students start school with lower achievement levels than students in other school regions. Manaiakalani chose Chromebooks to support its education program goals and manage budget challenges. By bringing Chromebooks to the Manaiakalani schools, “we broke apart the barriers of the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day,” says Dorothy Burt, head of the Manaiakalani Education Program and Digital Learning Coordinator, based at Point England School. Using G Suite for Education tools on their Chromebooks, students can work with other students, teachers, and parents on their lessons in the classroom, the library, or at home.

Dorothy Burt says “we’re seeing not only engagement, but actual literacy outcomes improve—it’s made a huge difference to the opportunities students will have in the future.”

We look forward to supporting more countries and schools as they redefine teaching and make learning even more accessible for every student, anywhere.

Kiwis, meet Google Wifi

From binge-watching your favourite TV shows, to searching for cookie dough recipes, to playing your favourite video game, having strong and reliable Wi-Fi at home is the key to staying connected.

Starting today, Kiwis can get their hands on Google Wifi. It’s a new kind of home Wi-Fi solution that gives you strong, reliable coverage, in every room.

Traditional Wi-Fi routers aren’t always built to support the increasing number of devices we use or the high bandwidth activities like gaming or watching videos. Google Wifi is different. It’s a connected system that replaces your current router and works with your modem and internet provider. It brings everything you love about Google -- smarts, security and simplicity -- to home Wi-Fi.
Strong, reliable coverage
Google Wifi uses a technology called mesh Wi-Fi. Within our mesh network, each Google Wifi point creates a high-powered connection, and the different Wifi points work together to determine the best path for your data. The result is Wi-Fi coverage in every corner of your house, not just right next to the router.

Keeps itself fast
None of us want to spend lots of time tweaking complex settings or managing our Wi-Fi network. Google Wifi is smart, and automatically places your devices on the clearest channel and optimal Wi-Fi band, so your family, friends or flatmates can keep doing what they love without missing a beat. And as you move around your house, our built-in Network Assist software will seamlessly transition your device between the Google Wifi points in real time, to help you avoid dead spots and delays. Google Wifi is an expandable system, so if you have a larger home, you can simply add more Google Wifi points. They connect to one another to spread a strong consistent network signal to every room.
A simple way to control your network

To make sure you’re always in control, Google Wifi is managed by the Google Wifi app, available on Android and iOS. The app helps keep your network safe and secure, and let’s you do things like pause Wi-Fi on kids’ devices, or create recurring pauses for dinner or homework with scheduled pause. It also shows you which devices are connected and how much bandwidth they’re using. You can even prioritise devices within your network so you can stream that latest TV episode without interruptions.

24/7 customer support

And if you ever need help with your Google Wifi system, we’re here for you. Google support agents are available to lend a hand by phone or live chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Google Wifi will be available in New Zealand starting Thursday, July 20 as a 1-pack for $229 and a 3-pack for $599 from Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi. You can find out more about Google Wifi here.

Turbocharging digital skills in Tauranga

A power company, costume rental, students and electric bikes.... No, it’s not the set of an amateur theatre recital - these were just some of the businesses that came together to learn new digital skills in Tauranga last week.

More than 80 local business owners and operators attended a series of workshops delivered by Google and Venture Centre New Zealand at the Base Station Coworking and Collaboration Space on Thursday 13 July.

Todd Muller, MP for the Bay of Plenty joined the event and spoke about the importance of local businesses getting online to reach new customers and grow.

Bay of Plenty MP, Todd Muller, Venture Centre’s Jo Allum and Google’s Jean Magalhaes (photo credit - Richard Robinson Photography)

Jo Allum from Venture Centre said there was strong demand for digital skills training in the Western Bay region, with research suggesting about 40 per cent of business owners in Tauranga and Western Bay didn’t feel they had the skills needed to make the most of technology.

Participants had the chance to ask questions and share their experiences about building and managing a website, e-commerce, digital advertising and how to be found online. The workshop covered a range of tools and tips, including how businesses can claim their listing on Google My Business.

NZ businesses have much to gain from getting online and many are already doing great things.

A recent report by Oxford Economics looked at how the internet is fueling small business exports in New Zealand. Research found that if every small business in NZ with five or more staff went online, there would be an extra 2,200 businesses exporting and generating more sales.

We want everyone to have the opportunity to get the skills they need to succeed online. Got a question about getting your business online? Get in touch with our Small Business Team!

Four steps we’re taking today to fight online terror

Editor’s Note: This post appeared as an op-ed in the Financial Times earlier today.

Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google and YouTube are committed to being part of the solution. We are working with government, law enforcement and civil society groups to tackle the problem of violent extremism online. There should be no place for terrorist content on our services.

While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now.

We have thousands of people around the world who review and counter abuse of our platforms. Our engineers have developed technology to prevent re-uploads of known terrorist content using image-matching technology. We have invested in systems that use content-based signals to help identify new videos for removal. And we have developed partnerships with expert groups, counter-extremism agencies, and the other technology companies to help inform and strengthen our efforts.

Today, we are pledging to take four additional steps.

First, we are increasing our use of technology to help identify extremist and terrorism-related videos. This can be challenging: a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting if broadcast by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user. We have used video analysis models to find and assess more than 50 per cent of the terrorism-related content we have removed over the past six months. We will now devote more engineering resources to apply our most advanced machine learning research to train new “content classifiers” to help us more quickly identify and remove extremist and terrorism-related content.

Second, because technology alone is not a silver bullet, we will greatly increase the number of independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger programme. Machines can help identify problematic videos, but human experts still play a role in nuanced decisions about the line between violent propaganda and religious or newsworthy speech. While many user flags can be inaccurate, Trusted Flagger reports are accurate over 90 per cent of the time and help us scale our efforts and identify emerging areas of concern. We will expand this programme by adding 50 expert NGOs to the 63 organisations who are already part of the programme, and we will support them with operational grants. This allows us to benefit from the expertise of specialised organisations working on issues like hate speech, self-harm, and terrorism. We will also expand our work with counter-extremist groups to help identify content that may be being used to radicalise and recruit extremists.

Third, we will be taking a tougher stance on videos that do not clearly violate our policies — for example, videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content. In future these will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetised, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements. That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find. We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints.

Finally, YouTube will expand its role in counter-radicalisation efforts. Building on our successful Creators for Change programme promoting YouTube voices against hate and radicalisation, we are working with Jigsaw to implement the “Redirect Method” more broadly across Europe. This promising approach harnesses the power of targeted online advertising to reach potential Isis recruits, and redirects them towards anti-terrorist videos that can change their minds about joining. In previous deployments of this system, potential recruits have clicked through on the ads at an unusually high rate, and watched over half a million minutes of video content that debunks terrorist recruiting messages.

We have also recently committed to working with industry colleagues—including Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter—to establish an international forum to share and develop technology and support smaller companies and accelerate our joint efforts to tackle terrorism online.
Collectively, these changes will make a difference. And we’ll keep working on the problem until we get the balance right. Extremists and terrorists seek to attack and erode not just our security, but also our values; the very things that make our societies open and free. We must not let them. Together, we can build lasting solutions that address the threats to our security and our freedoms. It is a sweeping and complex challenge. We are committed to playing our part.

Google Flights has landed in New Zealand

Pack your bags! Whether you’re traveling from Auckland to Asia, or Kerikeri to Queenstown, Google Flights will give you travel inspiration and surface the best available flight options. Starting today, you can search on Google for flights to a destination by searching for things like “Flights to Wellington” or “Flights to Australia”. Or, you can go directly to google.co.nz/flights to quickly and easily compare and book flights in $NZD — from your mobile device, tablet or desktop.

Still daydreaming about your next trip? Try using Explore to get ideas on where to go based on popular destinations. If you want to get away for a holiday next month just choose “July” and a trip duration like “2 weeks” to see the dates with the lowest prices to visit each place.

Once you select your departure and return dates, you’ll be presented with a list of ‘Best flights’; which represents the best tradeoff of convenience and price. Before you select a specific flight, you may see a notification bar with tips on how to find the best price for this route. Tips can include things like recommendations for alternate airports, suggest the cheapest dates to fly, or tell you about an expected price jump based on historic prices for that route.

If you’re not ready to book yet, you can choose to track a flight and receive email notifications when prices are expected to change or when the price actually does increase or decrease significantly.

Whether you’re ticking off your bucket list or taking a quick business trip, our goal is to help you find the best flight with confidence so you can plan, book and take off in a couple of clicks.

Helping NZ students stay safe online

Ever wondered how you can keep your children safe online? It’s a question more and more parents are asking, as eight out of ten people in New Zealand own a smartphone or tablet, and 88% use social media every month. Today families have another tool to help children to be smart, safe and responsible online with the launch of a new program for Year Eight and Nine students in New Zealand.

The Digital Licence is an interactive online quiz providing cyber safety for kids; educating them on what to do if they are exposed to unwanted, inappropriate and offensive content or cyber bullying; and the consequences of putting their privacy at risk when interacting online.

The Digital Licence was developed by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to keeping children safe from violence and bullying and Google is proud to help make the program available free of charge to all Year Eight and Nine students.

The licence was launched today with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation at Point England School in Auckland today, a School recognised as a leader in successfully integrating technology into its teaching and learning.

Point England School Principal, Russell Burt said the Digital Licence will be a valuable addition to the skills his students are being taught.

“This is an excellent new tool for NZ teachers and parents to have in the toolkit, to grow Cyber Smart values in that tricky Year 7 to Year 10 age group. Well done to the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and Google for making this available to NZ schools and families.”

We know that the internet is empowering Kiwi students to learn and grow their ambitions. Now, with this program, we can help to make sure that time spent online is positive, constructive and enjoyable.

Find out more about the Digital Licence here.