Tag Archives: News

Hey Google, play me the news

Podcasting and digital audio are booming, but in many ways the audio web is like the text web of the 1990s. When newspapers first came online, their early sites were hard to navigate and search, didn’t link stories together and often published stories on the web after they went to print. Audio is similar today. It’s an evocative, powerful, massively popular and convenient medium—but because the digital experience has lagged, it’s difficult to find things, especially timely, relevant stories that are meaningful to you. 

At Google, we saw an opportunity to help move digital audio forward by focusing on audio news. By analyzing what’s being said within a given audio file, we can apply our understanding around what text articles are about, how news stories evolve, how topics link together and what might be most relevant to a particular user’s interests. 

Today, we’re introducing Your News Update, a smarter way to listen to the news hosted by the Google Assistant. You can try it today by updating your Assistant news settings.

Your News Update settings

How to change your settings to get Your News Update.

When you say, “Hey Google, play me the news” on any Assistant-enabled phone or smart speaker, Your News Update will begin with a mix of short news stories chosen in that moment based on your interests, location, user history and preferences, as well as the top news stories out there.

If you’re a Steelers fan who follows the stock market and lives in Chicago, for example, you might hear a story about the latest “L” construction, an analysis of last Thursday’s Steelers game and a market update, in addition to the latest national headlines. Keep listening and the experience will extend into longer-form content that dives deeper on your interests. In between stories, the Google Assistant serves as your smart news host that introduces which publishers and updates are next. 

In 2016, we launched our initial News on Assistant product, with news briefings from top publishers. In 2018, we enhanced this functionality with the ability to get spoken responses to news queries on your Google Home—like "Hey Google, what’s the latest news about Brexit?" Your News Update expands on that work by creating an experience that’s fresher and more tailored to you.

Collaborations with publishers from around the world over nearly two years have helped us imagine the future of audio news, and have reinforced the importance of building a healthy ecosystem for both listeners and publishers. And of course, the high-quality stories our partners provide are critical to creating a comprehensive yet intimate news experience for listeners. 

Partners for Your News Update

Your News Update is now available in English in the United States, and will expand internationally next year. You can find Your News Update in Assistant settings: Under the You tab, navigate to News and switch your News playlist format. Then say “Hey Google, play me the news” or add news to one of your Assistant Routines. 

Go beyond the headlines with Google News

Last year, we redesigned Google News with one goal in mind: to help people understand the world through quality, trustworthy and enjoyable news. Today, we’re expanding on that mission by surfacing more in-depth content that highlights and explores key issues in our society.

With Beyond the Headlines in Google News, we want to recognize publishers that are investing in diving deeper into the headlines and moving past the who, what and when to explore the why and how. Keeping these stories visible beyond the fast daily news cycle, Beyond the Headlines connects readers with in-depth articles exploring important issues such as healthcare, the environment, education and more.

Whether you’re short on time or ready to dive deep into a topic, Beyond the Headlines will help you manage your time with an estimated read-time feature, letting you know how long it takes to read a story. 

The stories are surfaced and organized using our Google News algorithms. Users can find the feature on the right side of news.google.com, and it is now available on desktop globally in U.S. English. More languages and a mobile version are planned for 2020.

Modern app and game distribution on Google Play

Posted by Kobi Glick, Product Lead, Google Play

Today we’re kicking off Playtime, our annual event series where we host developers from all over the world to discuss features and best practices to help you grow your apps and games businesses. Last month’s Android Dev Summit focused on modern Android development. Here on the Google Play team, we’re focusing on modern app and game distribution — our set of powerful and customizable distribution features and tools that work together to power your success on Google Play.

The future of Android distribution

The Android App Bundle is foundational to modern app and game distribution, replacing the monolithic APK. Since it launched 18 months ago, over 270K apps and games have made the switch, representing over 25% of active installs. Those that switched have seen an average size savings of 20% compared to a universal APK and more efficient releases as a result.

A recent internal analysis revealed that users with storage-constrained devices are much more likely to uninstall apps, so optimizing how much space your app needs is important. Our new metrics on the app size report in the Play Console can show you how many of your active users have little free storage on their devices and if they’re uninstalling more than other users.

New tools to speed up your workflows and engineering velocity

Testing app bundles is now much easier with internal app sharing. Make anyone in your company an uploader without giving them access to the Play Console and they’ll be able to share test builds of your app as easily as they used to share APKs. With internal app sharing, you can be sure that each device is receiving exactly what Play would deliver in the wild. You don’t need to use version codes or the prod signing key, you can upload debuggable artifacts, and you’ll soon be able to get install links for old versions of your app, too.

The app bundle also lets you modularize your app with dynamic feature modules. Modularization speeds up build times and engineering velocity, since different teams can design, build, test, and debug features in parallel rather than working on the same complex code for a monolithic app. Based on your feedback, we’ve made it easier to develop modular apps with tools such as the new Dynamic Feature Navigator library and FakeSplitInstallManager, which lets you test on-demand delivery while offline instead of waiting for the Play Store.

Get more users on your latest release with improved in-app updates

In-app updates let you prompt users to update to the latest version of your app, without them having to leave your app. More than 10% of the top apps and games are already using in-app updates with an average acceptance rate of 24%. Based on your feedback, we’re also giving you more control over how and when you show update prompts:

  • Set an update priority per release to determine whether the user is interrupted with an immediate or flexible update flow or no prompt at all.
  • Get app staleness, the number of days the app on this device has had an update available without upgrading. You can use both priority and staleness as you’d like when determining which update flow to trigger.
  • You can check the download progress of a flexible update so that you can display your own progress bar in your app.
  • Finally, you can now test your in-app update flows using internal app sharing.

Modern game distribution

For some games with rich content, the 150MB app bundle size limit is not enough. Using expansion files or content delivery networks can get around this but could introduce complexity when you’re building and releasing your game, and can result in a poor user experience. That’s why we’re extending the app bundle format to support asset delivery with a new delivery construct called asset packs which can go up to multiple gigabytes.

Asset packs are packaged in the app bundle alongside your binary, so you can publish a single artifact to Play that contains everything your game needs, giving you full control of your asset delivery. Play’s asset delivery will also enable texture compression targeting, so that your users only get the assets suitable for their device with no wasted space or bandwidth. And you can rely on Play to keep your assets up to date, just as it does with your game binary. We’re currently testing this with some early partners and hope to make it more widely available soon.

Here’s to another successful Playtime

Look out for the sessions from this year’s Playtime, which will be added to the Android Developers YouTube channel. We look forward to sharing more tools and services for your apps and games, made possible by the app bundle and our new dynamic framework. And as always, please give us your feedback and let us know what you think.

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Connect with news in multiple languages with Google News

Today, more than 60 percent of people around the world speak and consume news across two or more languages. Finding articles in these languages can be challenging, since it requires you to search for topics across various apps and websites. To help solve this problem, we’ve built a new feature in Google News that will provide access to news articles from multiple languages and countries from around the world, all within one app.

Google News app in multiple languages

With this update, you’ll be able to include content in two languages together within your news app, and benefit from the headlines and stories in each language to learn more about a culture or to catch up on what’s going on elsewhere. For example, this means you can stay up to date on the news in English and Hindi at the same time, and enjoy articles from local news outlets in both languages alongside one another. You’ll be able to connect with any of your favorite publishers and topics from anywhere around the world.

We’ll still apply your previous personalization preferences, giving you the most relevant articles and topics you care about across your language choices, so you’ll never miss a story.

This expanded capability is now available for the Google News app on Android and iOS, across  141 countries and 41 language options. To activate this feature, navigate to your language settings in your Google News app.  

There’s still lots more to do to help connect people with quality and trustworthy news on the issues they care about, but we hope today’s update will make it easier to connect with different cultures and perspectives from the comfort of your device.

Google News has the Champions League all season long

Celebrate every goal and dribble along with your favorite team: The 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League season, Europe’s top-division football club tournament, is underway. The tournament, which has been held annually since 1955, consists of 32 teams that compete in five rounds for the title of best club in European soccer. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the tournament, and it all leads to Turkey. The final will be hosted at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on May 30, 2020.

From September through May, you can follow along with our special experience on Google News. Search for and follow the Champions League topic on both desktop and mobile and get pre-match, live and post-match updates and video highlights of every game. You can also dive deep into club and player news including line-ups, game stats, analysis, injury reports, trade rumors, tweets and much more. With our new wheel format, you can quickly view every upcoming opponent and be prepared for the biggest games.

Champions League in Google News

The experience will be available across Android, iOS and web platforms, so you’ll never miss a minute no matter where you are. Will your club be crowned best in Europe? Follow along now with Google News.  

Android Automotive OS updates for developers

Posted by Madan Ankapura, Product Manager, Android

Google’s vision is to bring a safe and seamless connected experience to every car. Since 2017, we have announced collaborations with vehicle manufacturers like Volvo Car Group, General Motors and others to power infotainment systems with Android Automotive OS, Google’s open-source Android platform, and to enable integration of Google technology and services. Now with the reveal of Volvo’s XC40 Recharge and the previously announced Polestar 2, we are making progress on our vision with these brand new, customized infotainment systems that feature real-time updates to the Google Assistant, Google Maps and automotive apps created by Google, and the global developer community.

Volvo XC40 carVolvo XC40 infotainment unit

Volvo XC40 Recharge & its infotainment unit

With more manufacturers adding Android Automotive OS based infotainment systems to their vehicles, app developers have an opportunity to reach even more users with innovative, and drive optimized experiences.

Concept image from GM on Maps & Media integration

Concept image from GM on Maps & Media integration

Developing & testing media apps on emulator

At Google I/O 2019, we published design guidelines for developing media apps for cars, added wizard support to Android Studio, updated emulator to have car specific controls and the Android Automotive OS emulator system image. These latest features helped Android developers start to design, as well as develop and test their existing media apps to run on Android Automotive OS (review developer documentation here).

Today, we’re announcing that developers can download an updated Android Automotive OS emulator system image that includes the Google Play Store. This means developers no longer have to wait to get their hands on a vehicle, but can design, develop, run apps right within the emulator, and can now test distribution via Play Console by requesting access.

In addition to the apps announced at Google I/O, more media app developers, including Amazon Music, Audioburst and YouTube Music, are adapting their apps for Android Automotive OS. The process of porting existing media apps that support Android Auto to this platform is simple and requires minimal development resources.

Audioburst, Amazon Music and YouTube Music running on the Android Automotive OS emulator

Audioburst, Amazon Music and YouTube Music running on the Android Automotive OS emulator

And if you want to learn more about creating apps for Android Automotive OS — join us at Android Dev Summit 2019. Come talk to us in our sandbox, tune in via livestream on YouTube, or post on the automotive-developers Google Group or Stack Overflow using android-automotive tags.

We hope to see you there!

Why Mahoning Matters is putting local readers first

Today marks the launch of Mahoning Matters, The Compass Experiment’s first digital-only news outlet, which will serve readers in Youngstown, Ohio and the surrounding Mahoning Valley. We chose our name because it reflects what we believe: The people and happenings of the Mahoning Valley matter. And, when properly informed and engaged, the people have the power to affect change. 

Our mission statement is simple: We seek to tell the stories that matter in Mahoning County and empower citizens to engage in their community with a focus on solutions. We will tell the local stories that aren't being told anywhere else in the Mahoning Valley, focusing on the “how” and “why” behind the news.

The Compass Experiment was founded in partnership between McClatchy and the Google News Initiative’s Local Experiments Project to experiment with a variety of revenue models with the goal of creating local news operations that are financially self-sustaining. After we announced our first site would open in Youngstown, we got to work on building a news outlet with the community in mind. 

The first part of the puzzle was hiring a team with deep local ties to the area. The entire Mahoning Matters team joined us from The Vindicator, Youngstown’s daily newspaper that closed in August 2019 after 150 years in business. Our staff lives and works out in the community every day, often holding team meetings in cafes and libraries where they can best interact with readers.

The second way we put the readers first in building Mahoning Matters was by getting out and talking to them. In August, we held a series of community forums in partnership with the Youngstown and Mahoning County Public Library to find out what readers needed and wanted from a local news site. We also had one-on-one discussions with community leaders and other local media.

Mahoning Matters reader suggestions

Community member suggestions about local news. (Photo by Abby Reimer.)


Attendees at our forums said they wanted a clear-eyed look at their community, highlighting its successes as well as problems to be solved. Above all, they were concerned that Mahoning County was going to lose access to the watchdog reporting that The Vindicator had provided for so many years. 

With a small team, we know we can’t afford to do everything. So we are focusing on topics of utmost importance to those living in the region, which includes coverage of government, healthcare, housing and the local economy as well as community-centric features like obituaries, local events and high school sports. 

Mahoning Matters’ revenue model is centered on content sponsorship, digital advertising and a membership component to be added later. Borrowing from our partners at Village Media, we offer local businesses an in-depth and customizable home within our directory, sponsorships of appealing content categories and locally-focused, brand safe display advertising.

We hope to learn quite a bit about how to sustain original local news from the work of Mahoning Matters, lessons which we will continue to share with the broader media community. In fact, we’ve already learned so much from creating this site that will be helpful as we turn our focus to identifying and creating the next Compass site in the months to come. 

How Google invests in news

Every time you search on Google, there are thousands, sometimes millions, of webpages with helpful information. When you’re looking for news, those pages could be from a large traditional news publisher or a new digital outlet. They could be from a local news site, or a small publisher specializing in health or fitness or food or fashion. Our job is to sort through those and connect you with the most relevant information. 


At the same time, we recognize that the internet has changed the way we find and access information, and that publishers are facing challenging business environments as a result. So I’d like to talk about how we connect people with news and how we support news publishers around the world. 


Our approach to search 


People trust Google to help them find useful and authoritative information, from a diverse range of sources. To uphold that trust, search results must be determined by relevance—not by commercial partnerships


That’s why we don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in search results. We sell ads, not search results, and every ad on Google is clearly marked. That’s also why we don’t pay publishers when people click on their links in a search result. 


To operate in any other way would reduce the choice and relevance to our users—and would ultimately result in the loss of their trust in our services.


At the same time, we work closely with the news industry to provide value to publishers and journalists around the world. We do this in many ways—through Google Search and Google News, which help people find and access news content and enables us to send large amounts of traffic to publishers. We’ve also created advertising and subscription tools that help publishers grow new revenue, and our funding of programs and training as part of the Google News Initiative provides benefits to the news industry.


The changing news industry


When I was growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, my local newspaper was, in a sense, the internet of my community. It was where I kept up with local events but also where my dad found my first car, where I found my first job, where my mom found recipes for Sunday dinner and discount coupons for the ingredients. Today the internet has dramatically changed how we do all of those things through the vast array of information and services found there.


This shift has affected the revenue streams that publishers have traditionally relied on. Readers no longer go to newspapers for classified listings of jobs, apartments, or used cars. Instead, they go online to access a new world of options, whether that’s apartment listings, or for the latest food and fashion tips, movie reviews and recipes. Advertisers have followed suit, increasing spending on the websites of thousands of online publishers and service providers; they now have enormous choice in how they reach people online. 


How Google provides value to publishers


Advertising remains a key revenue stream for publishers (along with subscriptions)—but they have also shifted their focus to digital. Publishers want to be found by users so they can then grow revenue through ads or by converting readers into loyal subscribers. And Google helps publishers and journalists by helping people find news content and sending them to news sites.


In the world of print, publishers pay newsstands to display their newspapers and magazines so readers can discover them. Google provides this benefit to publishers at no cost. This creates real value: In Europe alone, people click on the news content Google links to more than 8 billion times a month—that’s 3,000 clicks per second we drive to publishers’ own websites. For large news publishers, a study byDeloitte puts the value of each click between 4-6 euro cents. 


Beyond the traffic we send to publishers, we continue to invest in and provide value to the news industry in other ways. Google’s advertising technologies are used by many websites, including news publishers, where publishers retain the vast majority of the ad revenue. In 2018, Google sent more than 14 billion dollars to publishers around the world. 


Our Google News Initiative is investing $300 million to help news publishers around the world develop new products and business models that fit the different publishing marketplace the Internet has enabled. And we continue to make improvements to connect people with news from our products. 


Giving everyone better access to relevant and authoritative news, from a range of diverse sources, helps them stay informed about the news that matters to them. The news industry is fundamental to the health of our open societies and we’re committed to playing our part in ensuring a successful and sustainable future for news.


Score big and try Google News for the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup on Google News

Grab your flags and jerseys: The 2019 Rugby World Cup, hosted in Japan, is running from September 20 through November 2 this year. The tournament, which began in 1987, is held every four years between the top 20 international teams. They’re competing for the illustrious Webb Ellis Cup, named after William Webb Ellis, the alleged inventor of rugby. This will be the ninth Rugby World Cup and will mark the first time the tournament is held in Asia, and Google News is helping you get access to all the biggest moments. 

When you search and follow the Rugby World Cup on mobile, our interactive tournament wheel will transport you straight into the action. Follow your team through the pool stage, knockouts and finals with live coverage of every match including post-game reactions and analyses, player stats, injury reports, win probabilities and more.

No matter where you are or what device you have, we’ve got you covered. Our experience will be available across iOS and Android platforms across all 50+ languages we cover.

This feature also compliments our efforts across Google, specifically for YouTube, which will feature comprehensive match highlights from World Rugby and official tournament broadcasters, as well as interviews, a daily review show and behind-the-scenes action.

Will your team win? Join in on the scrum and find out with Google News.

Elevating original reporting in Search

Google Search was built to provide everyone access to information on the web—and with tens of thousands of web pages, hundreds of hours of video, thousands of tweets and news stories published every minute of the day, our job is to sift through that content and find the most helpful results possible. With news in particular, we always aim to show a diversity of articles and sources to give users as much context and insight as possible.   

An important element of the coverage we want to provide is original reporting, an endeavor which requires significant time, effort and resources by the publisher. Some stories can also be both critically important in the impact they can have on our world and difficult to put together, requiring reporters to engage in deep investigative pursuits to dig up facts and sources.  These are among the reasons why we aim to support these industry efforts and help people get access to the most authoritative reporting.

Recently, we’ve made ranking updates and published changes to our search rater guidelinesto help us better recognize original reporting, surface it more prominently in Search and ensure it stays there longer. This means readers interested in the latest news can find the story that started it all, and publishers can benefit from having their original reporting more widely seen.

Ranking changes to support original reporting 

In today’s fast-paced world of news, the original reporting on a subject doesn’t always stay in the spotlight for long. Many news articles, investigations, exclusive interviews or other work can be so notable that they generate interest and follow-up coverage from other publications. And in other cases, many stories cover a single news development, with all of them published around the same time. This can make it difficult for users to find the story that kicked everything off.

While we typically show the latest and most comprehensive version of a story in news results, we've made changes to our products globally to highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting. Such articles may stay in a highly visible position longer. This prominence allows users to view the original reporting while also looking at more recent articles alongside it.

There is no absolute definition of original reporting, nor is there an absolute standard for establishing how original a given article is. It can mean different things to different newsrooms and publishers at different times, so our efforts will constantly evolve as we work to understand the life cycle of a story.

Changing our rater guidelines

We use algorithms to sort through everything we find on the web and organize this content in a way that is helpful. Those algorithms are composed of hundreds of different signals that are constantly updated and improved. To tune and validate our algorithms and help our systems understand the authoritativeness of individual pages, we have more than 10,000 raters around the world evaluating our work - their feedback doesn't change the ranking of the specific results they're reviewing; instead it is used to evaluate and improve algorithms in a way that applies to all results. The principles that guide how they operate are mapped out in our search rater guidelines, a public document that allows raters to better understand and assess the unique characteristics of content that appears in Search results. 

In short: these guidelines are the clear description of what we value in content when ranking.  And we’ve just introduced a change to help us gather new feedback so that our automated ranking systems can better surface original content. 

To illustrate the update, in section 5.1 of the guidelines, we instruct raters to use the highest rating, “very high quality,” for original news reporting “that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort.”

In addition to recognizing individual instances of original reporting at the page level, we also ask raters to consider the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting. That update in section 2.6.1 reads: “Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation.”

We hope these updates to elevate original reporting will provide people with a deeper understanding of their changing communities and the conversations going on around them. Giving everyone better access to original journalism across all types of stories—ranging from moviessportsmusic and celebrity scoops to the serious journalism behind #MeToo, the Panama Papers and the opioid crisis—is all about helping people stay informed about the news that matters to them. 

Source: Search