Monthly Archives: August 2015

Spotlight on a Young Scientist: Alexey Tarasov

Editor's note: We're celebrating this year's impressive 20 Google Science Fair finalist projects over 20 days in our Spotlight on a Young Scientist series. Learn more about each of these inspiring young people and hear what inspires them in their own words.






Name: Alexey Tarasov (Алексей Тарасов)

Home: Moscow, Russia

Age Category: 13-15

Project title: Using ternary logic on current electronics








Alexey had always been a computer science fan, but it was fixing a computer that really sparked his curiosity. He wondered why all modern day computers ran on binary logic, and if there might be a benefit to using ternary logic. Once he found out that a vintage USSR computer did, in fact, rely on ternary logic, he knew he wanted to test this logic on current electronics. Alexey’s model successfully used ternary logic, and he’s excited to create new ternary logic elements for integrated circuits and computer systems. 

What was the inspiration behind your project? 

I was inspired by the old Soviet project called "Setun."

When and why did you become interested in science? 

All my life I was interested in engineering. I was very interested in the structure of different devices and desired to create. This is what pushed me to study technologies.

What words of advice would you share with other young scientists? 

It's not enough to just discover something new. You need to make it useful for mankind. Good luck!

Announcing Google’s 2015 Global PhD Fellows



In 2009, Google created the PhD Fellowship program to recognize and support outstanding graduate students doing exceptional research in Computer Science and related disciplines. Now in its seventh year, our fellowship programs have collectively supported over 200 graduate students in Australia, China and East Asia, India, North America, Europe and the Middle East who seek to shape and influence the future of technology.

Reflecting our continuing commitment to building mutually beneficial relationships with the academic community, we are excited to announce the 44 students from around the globe who are recipients of the award. We offer our sincere congratulations to Google’s 2015 Class of PhD Fellows!

Australia

  • Bahar Salehi, Natural Language Processing (University of Melbourne)
  • Siqi Liu, Computational Neuroscience (University of Sydney)
  • Qian Ge, Systems (University of New South Wales)

China and East Asia

  • Bo Xin, Artificial Intelligence (Peking University)
  • Xingyu Zeng, Computer Vision (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
  • Suining He, Mobile Computing (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
  • Zhenzhe Zheng, Mobile Networking (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)
  • Jinpeng Wang, Natural Language Processing (Peking University)
  • Zijia Lin, Search and Information Retrieval (Tsinghua University)
  • Shinae Woo, Networking and Distributed Systems (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)
  • Jungdam Won, Robotics (Seoul National University)

India

  • Palash Dey, Algorithms (Indian Institute of Science)
  • Avisek Lahiri, Machine Perception (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur)
  • Malavika Samak, Programming Languages and Software Engineering (Indian Institute of Science)

Europe and the Middle East

  • Heike Adel, Natural Language Processing (University of Munich)
  • Thang Bui, Speech Technology (University of Cambridge)
  • Victoria Caparrós Cabezas, Distributed Systems (ETH Zurich)
  • Nadav Cohen, Machine Learning (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Josip Djolonga, Probabilistic Inference (ETH Zurich)
  • Jakob Julian Engel, Computer Vision (Technische Universität München)
  • Nikola Gvozdiev, Computer Networking (University College London)
  • Felix Hill, Language Understanding (University of Cambridge)
  • Durk Kingma, Deep Learning (University of Amsterdam)
  • Massimo Nicosia, Statistical Natural Language Processing (University of Trento)
  • George Prekas, Operating Systems (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  • Roman Prutkin, Graph Algorithms (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
  • Siva Reddy, Multilingual Semantic Parsing (The University of Edinburgh)
  • Immanuel Trummer, Structured Data Analysis (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  • Margarita Vald, Security (Tel Aviv University)

North America

  • Waleed Ammar, Natural Language Processing (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Justin Meza, Systems Reliability (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Nick Arnosti, Market Algorithms (Stanford University)
  • Osbert Bastani, Programming Languages (Stanford University)
  • Saurabh Gupta, Computer Vision (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Masoud Moshref Javadi, Computer Networking (University of Southern California)
  • Muhammad Naveed, Security (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Aaron Parks, Mobile Networking (University of Washington)
  • Kyle Rector, Human Computer Interaction (University of Washington)
  • Riley Spahn, Privacy (Columbia University)
  • Yun Teng, Computer Graphics (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Carl Vondrick, Machine Perception, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Xiaolan Wang, Structured Data (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Tan Zhang, Mobile Systems (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Wojciech Zaremba, Machine Learning (New York University)

Introducing AdWords Express home service ads for the San Francisco Bay Area

From unclogging the bathroom sink to getting back into a locked apartment, there are moments throughout the day when people need a quick solution to a big problem. In fact, there are millions of searches every day on Google for plumbers, locksmiths, and other home services.

To help your business connect with customers when they need you the most, we’re introducing AdWords Express home service ads  available today in beta for plumbers, locksmiths, house cleaners, and handymen in select cities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you’re a small plumbing company or a one-person locksmith shop, home service ads help your business show up prominently on Google.com and reach customers who are searching for you.

As a local business servicing the San Francisco Bay Area, GreenKeys Locksmith uses home service ads to promote their commitment to customer service, attention to detail, and 5-star service.


“I treat every customer like they're family, and every lock and key like they're my own. With home service ads, I've been able to reach more customers across the Bay Area and share with them my passion for locksmithing. I'm incredibly excited about what home service ads can do for my business," said Ben Pearson, owner and operator of GreenKeys Locksmith.

Here's how home service ads work: Let's say you own a home cleaning business in San Jose. Simply tell us about your business, get qualified, and we’ll take care of the rest. Google will organize the information you give us into a polished profile page for your business, which includes a professional photo. When someone in your service area searches for “house cleaners” or other related terms, we’ll show your profile within an expandable listing at the top of Google search results.

HSA UX Blog Post Mock.png

Customers can read detailed reviews, submit a service request, or call your business directly for more information. And to help ensure that you and your customers receive the best experience possible, home service ads are only available to businesses that have been screened and qualified.

To learn more about how you can become a home service advertiser on Google, visit google.com/homeserviceads.

Posted by Aileen Tang, Senior Product Managers and Xuefu Wang, Software Engineer for AdWords Express home service ads

All aboard for a tour through the latest treasures from India on Google Cultural Institute

[Cross posted from Official Google APAC Blog]

Yoga is the Sanskrit word for “union”. It’s also a handy metaphor for the 2,000 digital images and 70 online exhibits from cultural organizations across India that we’re bringing to the Google Cultural Institute today. From ancient artifacts to centuries-old arts and crafts and more contemporary yoga exhibits, join me on a short tour of this eclectic new imagery! 

Just like in yoga, let’s begin in a comfortable sitting pose in the legendary Palace on Wheels. Rivaling Europe’s Orient Express, its splendid royal carriage, called the Jodphur Saloon, carried Indian royalty across Rajasthan. Thanks to 360 degree Street View indoor imagery, you can step inside and move around to explore the luxuriously decorated cabins.


Jodphur Saloon on the "Palace on Wheels" train, 1930 (Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon) Built in 1930 and in operation for over 60 years, the Jodhpur Saloon brings together many examples of India’s venerable tradition of craftsmanship — take a closer look at the embellished ceiling, the beautiful wooden flooring, and finely carved wooden furnishings.

Many of India’s traditional craft techniques are slowly disappearing, which makes wider access to these cultural legacies all the more important in contemporary India. Our exhibit from the National Museum in New Delhi spotlights over 170 applied arts and crafts treasures. Just one example is this century old head ornament, which was treated as more than just a functional tool, and used as a canvas for intricate design work.


Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.58.32 PM.png
South Indian head ornaments (suryan and chandran) (1900-1930), gold, diamonds, rubies, pearls (collection: National Museum, Delhi)

There’s plenty to discover from modern day India, too. We’re pleased to feature the complete Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 installation and works from the cutting-edge Devi Art Foundation.


Our last stop takes us full circle. The ancient tradition of yoga is widely acknowledged as “India’s gift to the world”. Learn more about the life and times of one of India’s leading gurus, B.K. Iyengar, in the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute exhibit.

Iyengar: a Yoga's Life (collection: Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute

Beyond welcoming 10 new partners to the Cultural Institute, we are pleased to be working with Dastkari Haat Samiti, Devi Art Foundation, Heritage Transport Museum and Kalakriti Archives on launching mobile apps that will make their exhibits even more accessible. These apps are just one example of the infinite opportunities that technology can create to preserve and expand the reach of art and culture.

Historic maps are more accessible to mobile users thanks to the Kalakriti Archives app built with Cultural Institute technology

We hope you’ll enjoy this visual feast!

Posted by Simon Rein, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute

Spotlight on a Young Scientist: Eliott Sarrey

Editor's note: We're celebrating this year's impressive 20 Google Science Fair finalist projects over 20 days in our Spotlight on a Young Scientist series. Learn more about each of these inspiring young people and hear what inspires them in their own words.



Name: Eliott Sarrey

Home: Lorraine, France

Age Category: 13-15

Project: Bot2Karot: gardening through a smartphone-activated robot





Eliott loved the idea of gardens, but not the time commitment needed to tend them. He wondered whether he could apply his knowledge and passion for video games and video programming towards growing vegetables. With help from his father, he built a rolling robot controlled by a smartphone app he created. Since the manufactured Bot2Karot can use its manufactured arms and tool holders to hoe, water and transplant, Elliot’s extremely excited about the possibilities with his own robot. He believes he can broaden his initial aim to help people with limited mobility and access. 


What was the inspiration behind your project?

People I know spend a lot of time on gardening simulators (games). On the other hand, my family’s actual garden requires a lot of real work and attention. After careful observation, I wondered whether I could mix the idea of the gardening game with the fun of having real vegetables to eat. What if we could create a robot to take on cumbersome gardening tasks using our smartphones, so that gardening becomes a smartphone game?

When and why did you become interested in science? 

When I was quite young, I spent a lot of time in my father’s small workshop. I also liked to play Legos, and with this experience, I could dig into subjects like mechanics and physics. Three years ago, together with friends, I created a computer science club and a robotic club at my high school. That’s where I learned how to program. At home, I created small robots and robotic arms, which became the real inspiration for my project.

What words of advice would you share with other young scientists?

First of all, be curious! That’s how you come up with ideas. Seek solutions and always ask yourself how to improve on them. Once you have found your idea, do some research, persevere, investigate other solutions and keep optimizing your solution.

My sweet adventures with Sugar Labs and Google Code-in

Today we have a guest post from Sam Parkinson, a 15 year-old Google Code-in 2014 grand prize winner. Sam worked with Sugar Labs for two instances of Google Code-in and tells us more about his journey navigating the world of free and open source software. We hope this is only the beginning of Sam’s contributions.
Ever since I was young, naive and enjoying my first tastes of Linux, I've wanted to contribute to the FOSS community. For me, Google Code-in (GCI) made that dream come true. I was lucky enough to be able to participate for the last two years with the mentoring organization Sugar Labs.

Sugar Labs is a “desktop environment without a desktop” that uses Python. Officially, Sugar Labs is the core component of a worldwide effort to provide every child with an equal opportunity for a quality education. Available in 25 languages, Sugar Labs activities are used every school day by nearly 3 million children in more than 40 countries.

I started my FOSS journey in GCI 2013 by completing the simple task of changing a ValueError to a logged exception. At first, my confidence level went from "yeah, I know some cool Python tricks" to "omg! how do I code?". I discovered new (and sometimes confusing) things like PEP8, git-branch and mailing lists. However, having the GCI and Sugar Labs communities as a support system made my dream of contributing to FOSS manageable by breaking it up into small, manageable tasks.

I worked on some pretty cool features, like adding a nutcracker-style mode in a Speak activity, where users could insert a picture of a face and have it talk to them.
I also worked on some not-so-fun tasks, like fixing bugs caused by GTK updates while trying not to break compatibility with ancient versions. But by the end of GCI 2014, I had learned how to pass code reviews and even completed some of my own. Hopefully I’ve programmed something that has made somebody smile.

In 2014, I was lucky enough to be chosen as a GCI winner. The grand prize trip was the cherry on top of the proverbial cake. I got to meet the amazing people I'd been hacking with, plus some pretty inspiring people from Google and other FOSS projects. I found it mind blowing to actually talk with people about programming face to face, and even better to sit around laughing about the programming culture. A highlight of the trip was meeting Walter Bender, one of the Sugar Labs mentors. Together we hacked on a project improving the Sugar Labs website. It’s not done, but it’s in better shape than it was before, and I can claim that I did some coding during the trip.

GCI was truly something that changed my life. I went from being an open source newbie to being able to contribute to really cool projects, thanks to the amazing GCI and Sugar Labs communities. It's something that I would recommend any young programmer consider doing. Participating in GCI is something that can make dreams come true.

By Sam Parkinson, Google Code-in grand prize winner

Beautiful new designs for full-screen in-app ads

Nearly 60% of smartphone users expect their favorite apps to look visually appealing1. We’ve always believed that in-app ads can enhance an app’s overall experience by being well designed. So today we’re announcing a completely new look for our interstitial in-app ad formats - also known as full-screen ads - that run on apps in the AdMob network and DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Inspired by Material Design, the new app install interstitial comes with a beautiful cover photo, a round install button, and matching color schemes. Technology called “color extraction” makes the ads more consistent with the brand's look and feel -- we extract a dominant color either from the cover photo or app icon and apply it to the footer and install button. We found that having a greater variety of designs and colors can improve conversion rate.

Other features include the app’s rating, and a screenshot gallery which appears when a user taps ‘More images’, so users can learn more about the app without leaving the ad.

The previous design for our app install ads on the left, and our new version on the right.

Different examples of color matching.

Our app install formats have driven more than a billion downloads across Android and iOS. You can use these new designs automatically when you run a mobile app install campaign on the AdMob network in AdWords. That’s right, no extra work required!

Next, our new text-based ads are easier to read, and contain a larger headline and a round call-to-action button that clicks through to a website.

On the left, the previous text ad interstitial design, and the new version on the right.

As with other ad format innovations, our ads UI team test multiple designs - ten in this case over the course of a year - to find final versions that increase clicks and conversions for advertisers, and a positive experience for users. Both app install and text ad formats appear within the app and can be closed easily, so users can return to what they were doing with a single tap.

As we announced at Google I/O this year, the volume of interstitial impressions has more than doubled across AdMob since last July, so now’s a great time to get your business in front of more app users.

If you’re a developer looking to learn more about earning with in-app interstitial ads in your app, visit AdMob now. These new designs will also be available to developers monetizing their apps with DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Posted by Pasha Nahass
Product Manager

1. Mobile App Marketing Insights: How Consumers Really Find and Use Your Apps, Google & Ipsos Media CT, May 2015

Announcing the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit

Posted by Josh Gordon, Developer Advocate

Today we’re releasing the Desktop Head Unit (DHU), a new testing tool for Android Auto developers. The DHU enables your workstation to act as an Android Auto head unit that emulates the in-car experience for testing purposes. Once you’ve installed the DHU, you can test your Android Auto apps by connecting your phone and workstation via USB. Your phone will behave as if it’s connected to a car. Your app is displayed on the workstation, the same as it’s displayed on a car.

The DHU runs on your workstation. Your phone runs the Android Auto companion app.

Now you can test pre-released versions of your app in a production-like environment, without having to work from your car. With the release of the DHU, the previous simulators are deprecated, but will be supported for a short period prior to being officially removed.

Getting started

You’ll need an Android phone running Lollipop or higher, with the Android Auto companion app installed. Compile your Auto app and install it on your phone.

Install the DHU

Install the DHU on your workstation by opening the SDK Manager and downloading it from Extras > Android Auto Desktop Head Unit emulator. The DHU will be installed in the <sdk>/extras/google/auto/ directory.

Running the DHU

Be sure your phone and workstation are connected via USB.

  1. Enable Android Auto developer mode by starting the Android Auto companion app and tapping on the header image 10 times. This is a one-time step.
  2. Start the head unit server in the companion app by clicking on the context menu, and selecting “Start head unit server”. This option only appears after developer mode is enabled. A notification appears to show the server is running.
  3. Start the head unit server in the Android Auto companion app before starting the DHU on your workstation. You’ll see a notification when the head unit server is running.

  4. On your workstation, set up port forwarding using ADB to allow the DHU to connect to the head unit server running on your phone. Open a terminal and type adb forward tcp:5277 tcp:5277. Don’t forget this step!
  5. Start the DHU.   cd <sdk>/extras/google/auto/   On Linux or OSX: ./desktop-head-unit   On Windows, desktop-head-unit.exe

At this point the DHU will launch on your workstation, and your phone will enter Android Auto mode. Check out the developer guide for more info. We hope you enjoy using the DHU!

Beautiful New Designs for Full-Screen In-App Ads

Nearly 60% of smartphone users expect their favorite apps to look visually appealing. We’ve always believed that in-app ads can enhance an app’s overall experience by being well designed. So today we’re announcing a completely new look for our interstitial in-app ad formats - also known as full-screen ads - that run on apps in the AdMob network and DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Inspired by Material Design, the new app install interstitial comes with a beautiful cover photo, a round install button, and matching color schemes. Technology called “color extraction” makes the ads more consistent with the brand's look and feel -- we extract a dominant color either from the cover photo or app icon and apply it to the footer and install button. We found that having a greater variety of designs and colors can improve conversion rate.

Other features include the app’s rating, and a screenshot gallery which appears when a user taps ‘More images’, so users can learn more about the app without leaving the ad.
New Version of Full-Screen In-App Ads
The previous design of our app install ads on the left, and our new version on the right.
Different Examples of Color Matching for Full-Screen In-App Ads
Different examples of color matching.             
Our app install formats have driven more than a billion downloads across Android and iOS. You can use these new designs automatically when you run a mobile app install campaign on the AdMob network in AdWords. That’s right, no extra work required!

Next, our new text-based ads are easier to read, and contain a larger headline and a round call-to-action button that clicks through to a website.
prev_wayfair.png               new_wayfair.png


On the left, the previous text ad interstitial design, and the new version on the right. 

As with other ad format innovations, our ads UI team test multiple designs - ten in this case over the course of a year - to find final versions that increase clicks and conversions for advertisers, and a positive experience for users. Both app install and text ad formats appear within the app and can be closed easily, so users can return to what they were doing with a single tap.

As we announced at Google I/O this year, the volume of interstitial impressions has more than doubled across AdMob since last July, so now’s a great time to get your business in front of more app users.

If you’re a developer looking to learn more about earning with in-app interstitial ads in your app, visit AdMob now. These new designs will also be available to developers monetizing their apps with DoubleClick Ad Exchange.















Posted by Pasha Nahass, Product Manager

____________________________
1) Mobile App Marketing Insights: How Consumers Really Find and Use Your Apps, Google & Ipsos Media CT, May 2015

Source: Inside AdMob


Building better apps with Runtime Permissions

Posted by Ian Lake, Developer Advocate

Android devices do a lot, whether it is taking pictures, getting directions or making phone calls. With all of this functionality comes a large amount of very sensitive user data including contacts, calendar appointments, current location, and more. This sensitive information is protected by permissions, which each app must have before being able to access the data. Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduces one of the largest changes to the permissions model with the addition of runtime permissions, a new permission model that replaces the existing install time permissions model when you target API 23 and the app is running on an Android 6.0+ device.

Runtime permissions give your app the ability to control when and with what context you’ll ask for permissions. This means that users installing your app from Google Play will not be required to accept a list of permissions before installing your app, making it easy for users to get directly into your app. It also means that if your app adds new permissions, app updates will not be blocked until the user accepts the new permissions. Instead, your app can ask for the newly added runtime permissions as needed.

Finding the right time to ask for runtime permissions has an important impact on your app’s user experience. We’ve gathered a number of design patterns in our new Permission design guidelines including best practices around when to request permissions, how to explain why permissions are needed, and how to handle permissions being denied.

Ask up front for permissions that are obvious

In many cases, you can avoid permissions altogether by using the existing intents system to utilize other existing specialized apps rather than building a full experience within your app. An example of this is using ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE to start an existing camera app the user is familiar with rather than building your own camera experience. Learn more about permissions versus intents.

However, if you do need a runtime permission, there’s a number of tools to help you. Checking for whether your app has a permission is possible with ContextCompat.checkSelfPermission() (available as part of revision 23 of the support-v4 library for backward compatibility) and requesting permissions can be done with requestPermissions(), bringing up the system controlled permissions dialog to allow the user to grant you the requested permission(s) if you don’t already have them. Keep in mind that users can revoke permissions at any time through the system settings so you should always check permissions every time.

A special note should be made around shouldShowRequestPermissionRationale(). This method returns true if the user has denied your permission request at least once yet have not selected the ‘Don’t ask again’ option (which appears the second or later time the permission dialog appears). This gives you an opportunity to provide additional education around the feature and why you need the given permission. Learn more about explaining why the app needs permissions.

Read through the design guidelines and our developer guide for all of the details in getting your app ready for Android 6.0 and runtime permissions. Making it easy to install your app and providing context around accessing user’s sensitive data are key changes you can make to build better apps.