Monthly Archives: October 2022

Improved flow for expiring access controls in Google Drive

What’s changing

You are now able to set expiring access when sharing files in My Drive. This update improves the existing expiring access capabilities by allowing you to add an expiration when sharing, as opposed to after a person already has access to the file. Additionally, you can now add expiring access for editors, as opposed to just for viewers and commenters. 
xpiring Access in My Drive

Who’s impacted

End users 


Why it matters 

This update makes sharing across Google Workspace more secure by making it easier to specify when a given collaborator should lose access to a specific file. This is especially useful in cases where a file creator or editor knows their collaboration with another person is time-bound. With this security feature, you don’t have to clean up a file’s access control list after collaboration has ended. 


Additional details 

You will also be able to set expiring access to files when sharing files in My Drive on Android by the end of November. 


Getting started 

  • Admins: There is no admin control for this feature. 
  • End users: This feature will be ON by default and cannot be turned off. Visit the Help Center to learn more about setting an expiration date for file access

Rollout pace 

Availability 

  • Available to Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, Education Standard, and Nonprofits customers 
  • Not available to Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Education Fundamentals, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, Frontline, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers 
  • Not available to users with personal Google Accounts 

Resources 

Roadmap 

Paul Kinlan shares his passion for web development and how to get involved at DevFest

Posted by Komal Sandhu - Global Program Manager, Google Developer Groups

“The pace of technology is changing so quickly that it’s impossible sometimes to know where to start and how. What are the things I need to focus on? It’s just too hard to work out. I’m motivated to give developers a clear direction that cuts through a lot of this challenge.”

Learn Chrome tools and tips from Chrome Lead, Paul Kinlan, and hear from him first-hand on how to get involved.


Among the many inspiring experts in the Chrome developer community is Paul Kinlan, a Googler who serves as the Lead Chrome & Web Platform Developer Relations team. Read on to see Paul’s outlook on his favorite Chrome tools and the Chrome developers that inspire him.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Paul Kinlan, and I lead the Chrome & Web Platform Developer Relations team. I’m in a very lucky position, in that I get to work with a huge range of people who are passionate about the web and put their whole careers into continuing to help the web thrive for decades to come. If you are interested, you can follow my site: paul.kinlan.me

What is your origin story?

“I grew up on the Wirral in the UK, a peninsula located in North West England and part of Wales. I’ve been surrounded by computers since my earliest childhood memories, like watching my dad fix computers in the house (it's hard to count how many warnings I got to not touch the capacitor at the back of the monitor... but it looked fun).

I also was going to computer clubs and watching the demo and cracking scenes (I might have “loaned” some games from people) and was keen on finding friends in school who were just like me and liked games & computers.”

How did you get started in this space? Why did you get into Web technology specifically?

“When I was a kid, my dad tried to get me to program, but I just didn’t get it. Then, when I was about 12 years old and first saw the Street Fighter arcade game, it clicked. I got the concept of loops, reading joysticks, and getting things on the screen.

At the same time, my grandad was struggling to pick his lottery numbers, and I thought I could help him with some software. I fired up QBasic, read the manual and got started. I almost quit though, when I didn’t realize the US had a different spelling for colour... (I do wonder how life would have been different if I’d stopped there).

Jump forward a couple of years, and the web came about, and I was just tinkering, and I realized that I could build simple sites and applications with a bit of Perl and HTML. I was hooked, started a business, and went from there. Now I’m here, on the Chrome team, hoping that I can offer the same opportunities to developers that I had.”

What are some challenges that you have observed developers being faced with?

“Information overload. The pace of technology is changing so quickly that it’s impossible sometimes to know where to start and how. What are the things I need to focus on? It’s just too hard to work out. I’m motivated to give developers a clear direction that cuts through a lot of this challenge.”

What do you think is the most interesting or useful learning resource for learning more about Chrome & Web? Is there a particular library or codelab that everyone should learn?

“I’m biased, but https://web.dev/learn is a great resource that covers some core fundamentals of web development, and we’re always improving it with the latest guidance on how to do good web development.

I know most people aren’t like me, but I found engrossing myself in programming reference materials (combined with a lot of tinkering) was a great way to start, and if you combine MDN (Mozilla Developer Network) with sites like glitch.com or GitHub, you have the ability to quickly learn and test ideas without having to have any installed software. It’s a really incredible time to be a developer.”

What are some most surprising or inspiring ways developers and technologists are building together using Chrome and Web?

"Oh – amazing question! 

Right now, the intersection of Web and ML is incredibly exciting. People are building sites and apps that do things that we never thought were possible and are then able to give people access to it via a simple URL." 

"I was watching the folks over at Corridor Crew (Visual effects technologists), and they had this challenge to rotoscope a person out of a video, replace the background with a different video, and then put the person back on top - the fastest solution was built in the browser using ML. 🤯

At the same time, I also love that people are bringing Apps to the web that we never thought would be possible on the web, such as Photoshop and Audacity. People are now building full blown video editors on the web, enabling anyone with a browser to become a video producer. It’s amazing.

The web enables so much, and so much that I never thought possible, just at the click of a link. Every day, I see something that excites me, and that’s why I love it.”

What’s a specific use case of Chrome / Web technology that excites you?

“I’m personally very passionate about the Fugu (deep hardware) set of APIs because they enable entire classes of businesses to come to the web for the first time.

I’m also very excited about the new range of CSS and UI related APIs because they make once complex things incredibly simple. The Web is primarily a visual medium; however, the perception of quality has lagged what people get on other platforms (such as Android and iOS apps), and these new primitives and concepts will enable richer and more fluid user interfaces, with less work needed from the developer or designer.”

How can developers be successful building on Chrome & Web?

“It all depends on the stage you're at - if you’re an established site, then I would look to improve the user experience with things like Core Web Vitals.

If you are just starting, just start - there are so many tools that now let you start to prototype in the browser and get something that people can use incredibly quickly. In the past, you used to have to worry about the full-stack (Hosting -> Front-end), now that is getting less of an issue.”

What’s next for Chrome & Web Community? What might the future look like?

“Whatever I say will be wrong 😀 - But I like these questions, so I hope people will humor me.... It looks like it takes about 3-5 years for a feature launched in one browser to become available across Blink, WebKit and Gecko, so with that in mind, the near future probably looks a lot like right now, but more evenly spread (in terms of compatibility) - projects like Interop 202X are making it easier to build sites that work everywhere.

The further future though....? I made a talk years ago about the concept of “The Headless Web” - where I see a lot of opportunities for services or assistants like Siri or Google Assistant to make more sense of a web page and let you interact with it (and not just read it back).

At the same time, there are heaps of other platforms that are changing the definition of what the Web means. Facebook, WeChat, and others - are browsers and platforms in their own right, with hooks back into their own platforms. When I look at the billions of people that have come online in the last couple of years, as the world went mobile (and the billions more still to come online) - will they use the browser as we know it? Or will they use these ‘alternative browser’ platforms...

All I know is that we need to keep making the experience of the web better for everyone.”

What is the focus for Web & Chrome currently and why?

Chrome is still focused on the principles that it set out at its launch: “a web that is Speedy, Simple and Secure.” - when you look at that lensing, so much of our work has been in service of these. Take, for example, “Core Web Vitals” - we worked out a set of metrics that could be used to determine if your site had a great user experience, and I believe it’s fundamentally changed the web. Or, on another axis, you look at technologies like WASM, which are enabling native code (e.g C/C++) to run safely in a sandbox in the browser, at speeds that are getting close to what you would expect an installed application to reach.”

How do Web & Chrome help expand the impact of developers?

Universal access. The link enables this, and we need to fight to keep it open and accessible to all.’

Anything else you would like to share with the community of Google developers around the world?

There is a lot of turmoil right now in the world; spend time listening to people, supporting them, and raising them up. When I got started, the community around me was so supportive and helped me more than I could help it - I use my time now to give people from all backgrounds the opportunities that I was fortunate to have access to. I hope that others can do the same.”

 

Find a Google Developer Group hosting a DevFest near you.

Want to learn more about Google Web Technologies and Google Chrome? Hoping to attend a DevFest or Google Developer Groups (GDG)? Find a GDG hosting a DevFest near you here.

Google funds open source silicon manufacturing shuttles for GlobalFoundries PDK

In August, we released the Process Design Kit (PDK) for the GlobalFoundries 180nm MCU technology platform under the Apache 2.0 license. This open source PDK, resulting from our ongoing pathfinding partnership with GlobalFoundries technology, offers open source silicon designers new capabilities for high volume production, affordability, and more voltage options by including the following standard cells:
  • Digital standard cells' libraries (7-track and 9-track)
  • Low (3.3V), Medium (5V, 6V) and High (10V) voltage devices
  • SRAM macros (64x8, 128x8, 256x8, 512x8)
  • I/O and primitives (Resistors, Capacitors, Transistors, eFuses) cells' libraries
Following the announcement about GlobalFoundries joining Google’s open source silicon initiative, we are now sponsoring a series of no-cost OpenMPW shuttle runs for the GF180MCU PDK in the coming months.


Those shuttles will leverage the existing OpenMPW shuttle infrastructure based on the OpenLane automated design flow with the same Caravel harness and the Efabless platform for project submissions.

Each shuttle run will select 40 projects based on the following criteria:
  • Design sources must be released publicly under an open source license.
  • Projects must be reproducible from design sources and the GF180MCU PDK.
  • Projects must be submitted within the shuttle deadline (projects submitted earlier get additional chances to be selected).
  • Projects must pass the pre-manufacturing checks.
The first shuttle GF-MPW-0 will be a test shuttle, with submissions open from Oct. 31, 2022 to Dec. 5, 2022. It will be used as a way to validate together with the community the integration of the new PDK with the open source silicon toolchain and the Caravel harness; further shuttles will have a longer project application window and improved testing.

We encourage you to re-submit your previous OpenMPW shuttle projects to this shuttle as a way to validate their portability across open source PDKs:
  • Go to developers.google.com/silicon.
  • Navigate to the "Create a new Project" link.
  • Follow the instructions to integrate your project into the last version of the caravel_user_project template.
  • Make sure you select the right variant of the GF180MCU PDK (5LM_1TM_9K) by exporting the following environment variable PDK=gf180mcuC in your workspace prior to running any commands.
  • Submit your project for manufacturing on the Efabless platform.
We're excited to see designers leveraging this program by porting their existing projects that were submitted previously to OpenMPW shuttles, but also by designing new projects that target the GF180MCU PDK, finding paths together to research and advance the open source silicon ecosystem.

By Ethan Mahintorabi, Software Engineer and Johan Euphrosine, Developer Programs Engineer – Hardware Toolchains Team, and Aaron Cunningham, Technical Program Manager – Google Open Source Programs Office

How building a YouTube channel helped a Muslim influencer on his faith journey

Sharing religious advice online comes with a lot of responsibility and that’s not something Nasiruddin Shuraim Abdulmumin takes lightly. The 27-year-old YouTuber and TedX speaker started a channel called Did You Know Studios in 2016 to share his faith with his followers. Since then, he’s been interviewing some of the most influential figures in the world of Islam, touching on many taboo topics and educating his community about his religion.

Having studied Islamic Theology at Al-Hikmah University, Shuraim knew he wanted to share a religious message but he wanted to deliver it differently, and YouTube became his platform of choice. So after his first interview with Mufti Menk, a scholar twice listed as one of the ‘500 Most Influential Muslims in the world’, he knew he had found his purpose. In 2017 Shuraim was invited to perform a pilgrimage as a guest of the King of Saudi Arabia.

As his popularity grows, we spoke to Shuraim about why young people trust influencers more than religious institutions and how starting his channel helped him on his own personal faith journey.




Why did you choose YouTube to share your spirituality?
For me, YouTube was the easiest and least stressful way to spread my message. The restrictions that come from broadcasting on TV, for example, don’t exist with YouTube. There’s a lot more freedom and I think that’s very important when it comes to a topic like religion. You need to be able to speak freely and honestly. That is something I pride myself on - talking about issues that some people may consider controversial or taboo.


Why would you say it’s very important to share some of the more taboo topics you discuss?
Well, the question I always ask myself is: If I don't talk about it, then who will? The reason why I’m doing this is that I want people to be enlightened. I want them to feel comfortable coming forward with their troubles, talking about them and seeking help. The journey of enlightenment means answering difficult questions about behaviours and talking about things that make us uncomfortable. So If I’m not ready to cover taboo topics, then what would be the point of having this channel?




With almost half a million views on your YouTube channel, how do you plan to grow your social profile to reach more followers?
I am proud that my channel has grown very organically without any marketing. It’s gone from one subscriber to about 9000, and I think it’s because I’m offering something unique to my audience. However, I would like to reach a larger audience online so I’m planning to bring in some social media experts who can help me build my online following.


Have you used Google’s tools, programmes or training to help your channel grow and be discoverable online?
Google Search helped me a lot, especially in the early stages of starting my channel. I Googled so many different things to find inspiration for content, to see what other people were doing in the religious space and to watch how TV hosts conducted interviews. I believe that every young person needs someone to take them somewhere within themselves that they cannot get to by themselves. However, sometimes you don't have that person to hold your hand, so I used Google as a starting point to help discover and explore different ways I could share my spiritual message.


 


Has starting this channel helped with your personal faith journey?
Most definitely. Some people think that a lot of spiritual leaders just grew and became spiritual. But that’s not always the case, it’s a journey. When I’m interviewing my guests on YouTube, I’m learning from them too. These interviews are changing my whole perspective on life. I’ve learnt new behaviours, such as praying more regularly and I’ve learnt more about the person I want to become. Sharing my faith online has certainly helped me become a better human being and helped me become a better leader in my community. These are all things that I didn’t expect to happen when starting a YouTube channel. As I’ve grown within my own personal faith, it has made me feel more responsible. I intentionally make careful decisions for myself and the brand. For example, now that we have a studio, we can make better editing choices like deciding after a shoot that the content isn’t right for our audience. We can choose whether or not to release a video depending on if it’s beneficial to my community.




Do you feel like you have a responsibility to your YouTube audience to provide advice and guidance?
I do feel responsible, and that's why I'm very careful about who I choose to talk to on the channel. We carefully research each topic we feel is relevant and timely from sexuality to addictions and body issues. These are not just topics for Muslims, but for a wider audience too. People like myself, with a community that relies on us and trusts us for information and advice, should feel responsible because we have a duty to our audience.




Why do you think young people’s trust in religious institutions is low, but trust in religious influencers is still high?
Young people’s trust in religious institutions may be low right now but religious institutions are extremely important. They provide knowledge that is incalculable and forever valuable. Young people may tend to put religious scholars on a pedestal that seems out of reach while religious influencers like me are committed to making followers feel more comfortable and understood because we talk to them in a very relatable, human way. This often means when the scholars do something we disagree with or make a mistake, we lose all trust in them forgetting that they are human beings too. As influencers, we do need to be careful because people are looking up to us. We need to keep educating ourselves and be more prudent and sincere in whatever we do.



With many Muslim influencers growing large digital followings, what is the future of the faith in the digital age?
I don't think it's going to be very different, but it will definitely improve. Nowadays, a lot of people are sharing their religious knowledge online, and we even opened an online school during the Coronavirus pandemic. We had about 4000 students globally, Muslims and non-Muslims, and we had scholars from all over the world offering free classes for anyone interested in learning more about Islam. It really showed us that people are ready and willing to learn more about religion. That’s why we need to encourage as many clerics as possible to understand the importance of social media. Because we are in a time where a lot of people are very comfortable with learning and understanding faith digitally. So we need to make sure that the people who are experts in this field, who are maybe from a different or older generation, can reach audiences in person as well as online.






What would be your advice for young people hoping to engage with spirituality today?
My first piece of advice is to be open-minded. You can learn about religion from a range of different people, regardless of their faith. Secondly, as a young person, I think it’s important to find a mentor. Someone who will be there for you, who will guide you, who will love you sincerely and help you as much as they can on your spiritual journey. Thirdly, attaining spirituality doesn't mean you have to forget your humanity. Instead, you should be embracing it. Embrace how fickle you are, how imperfect you are and embrace your mistakes. It will bring you closer to the spiritual person you want to become. Finally, be patient with yourself during your personal journey. Focus less on societal pressures and be more self-accountable.





Posted by Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, West Africa, Google.

 ==== 

3 app measurement strategies for business growth

Marketers are investing more in their apps. In fact, 81% of retailers and 75% of e-commerce companies plan to increase their investment in promoting their mobile apps over the next 12 months.[770168]That’s why we’re introducing new tools to help you more accurately measure cross-platform conversions, strengthen campaign performance with privacy-focused measurement and adapt to shifts in platform standards on iOS and Android.

Set up cross-platform conversion measurement

People search across various sites and apps before taking action, with the average consumer switching five times between mobile web and apps in a 30 minute-session[8a20ef]. Without cross-platform conversion tracking, you’ll have measurement gaps and limit optimization across your web and app campaigns. To help advertisers more easily set up conversion tracking, we’ve been alpha testing Web to App Connect, a toolkit that guides advertisers through the process step by step.

It’s also essential to prioritize frictionless web-to-app experiences for customers that already have your app — which you can do with deep linking. For example, let’s say a customer is searching for new shoes on her mobile browser and sees your ad. With deep linking, she will land on the in-app product page and can check out faster, improving the customer experience and driving better campaign performance. On average, advertisers who have implemented deep linking are seeing over 2X uplift in conversion rate.[1ebf67]Creating this smooth experience requires technical implementation, and Web to App Connect offers tools to help simplify this workflow.

Canadian Tire, one of the leading retailers in Canada, has already seen success implementing optimized experiences with Web to App Connect.

Web to App Connect made it easier for my team to collaborate with our developers to ensure our app users aren’t having clunky experiences.
ctlogo2022-100
Vera Bondareva
Marketing Director, Canadian Tire

Web to App Connect will be available in beta early next year. You can express interest in being a part of the upcoming beta today and explore this guide to learn more about the toolkit.

Optimize performance with privacy-focused measurement

To be set up for long-term success, today’s leading marketers should prioritize measurement solutions that both deliver performance and protect user privacy. Google Analytics for Firebase, our privacy-forward measurement solution, provides powerful cross-platform measurement capabilities to help you understand how your users engage with your app and optimize your App campaign attribution, reach and performance.

Vinted, a European marketplace for secondhand clothing, wanted to improve app performance by achieving more in-app actions and optimizing their cost per in-app action. After implementing and bidding on conversions from Google Analytics for Firebase, they were able to achieve 128% more in-app actions on iOS compared to their existing measurement solution, increase installs by 92%, and decrease their cost-per-engagement by 22%.

After the transfer, we saw an immediate iOS performance impact and unlocked new opportunities.
100-Logo symbol - 512x512 - inverse@1x
Ali Mehrabiyan
Digital Marketing Manager, Vinted

When you implement Google Analytics for Firebase, you also unlock exclusive features like audience management and tROAS bidding for App campaigns. And over the next few months we’re rolling out additional benefits, including:

  • Maximized performance: You’ll have the ability to use additional consented, signed-in data to automatically improve App campaign ramp up and modeling to more efficiently reach consumers.
  • Expanded inventory: Connected TV continues to grow in viewership, and by early next year, advertisers will now get access to this key channel and the ability to measure performance across devices.
  • New audience lists: You’ll have the ability to more easily engage existing app users who have not been reached with push notifications.
Screengrab of new audience list which enables Google Analytics for Firebase users to easily engage existing app users who have not been reached with push notifications

Adapt to shifts in platform standards on iOS and Android

User expectations for privacy continue to grow, and updates such as last year’s rollout of the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework on iOS have made measurement more complex. That’s why we’re supporting solutions that help advertisers navigate these changes, including the new version 4.0 updates to SKAdNetwork, Apple’s measurement API.

Throughout 2023, we’re improving modeled reporting consistency for iOS app installs across measurement platforms in Google Ads. Next year, we’ll also release tools for advertisers using the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK, which streamline setting up SKAdNetwork conversion values and help better optimize their campaigns for in-app actions.

Developing these new solutions will take time, but you can start taking steps today to get ahead. For example, to enhance conversion modeling and reporting accuracy, you can adopt on-device conversion measurement, a privacy-preserving solution we released earlier this year. With on-device conversion measurement, user interactions with app ads can be matched to app conversions in a way that prevents user-identifying information from leaving a user's device. You can also start setting up SKAdNetwork conversion values yourself or work with a measurement partner, such as our App Attribution Partners. Lastly, explore this guide to learn more best practices for your iOS App campaigns.

And while nothing is changing today for Android App campaigns, we recently provided an update on our participation in the Privacy Sandbox on Android initiative. We regularly share feedback with Android about its public proposals so that the new privacy-preserving technologies can help you reach the right audiences, and more accurately measure your campaign results with less reliance on tracking identifiers. And we’ll be sharing what we’ve learned throughout 2023 on the experiments we participate in.

Introducing two new solutions powered by Ads Data Hub

Ads Data Hub helps advertisers, agencies and measurement partners do customized analysis of campaigns while protecting user privacy. More than 3,000 brands, agencies, and measurement partners use cloud-based Ads Data Hub to perform analyses for their specific business objectives.

Customers of Ads Data Hub have different needs, so we’ve created more specialized entry points to get started. Marketers require tools to quantify a consumer’s path to purchase and the ability to activate new audiences. At the same time, measurement partners conduct third-party assessment of metrics such as video viewability and audience reach.

To offer a more tailored experience, we are introducing an evolution to the Ads Data Hub core platform by introducing two dedicated solutions: Ads Data Hub for Marketers and Ads Data Hub for Measurement Partners.

New solutions for more catered needs

Ads Data Hub for Marketers offers a new way for advertisers and agencies to analyze their data. With this solution, they can seamlessly access insights to better inform the way they purchase media. This means a simplified experience for marketers running queries and activating their first-party data.

Riot Games, for example, used Ads Data Hub for richer marketing analyses. The company centralized their insights and combined them with Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager 360 data. This let Riot Games attribute credit to various ad touch points, accurately measure return on ad spend (ROAS), and establish a new benchmark showing that for every $1 Riot Games spent on Google media, it received $2 in revenue. Marketers, like Riot Games, perform these analyses regularly, with hundreds of thousands of queries run in 2022 alone.

Over time, new query templates, automated workflows, and updates to reporting will reduce the need for additional technical resources and decrease time to generate insights - with plans to implement Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation, also known as PAIR. In addition to these improvements, marketers will soon be able to activate their audience segments on new inventory, including YouTube. As privacy expectations evolve, we will continue to build more solutions that enable advertisers and agencies to measure and activate their first-party data with Ads Data Hub for Marketers.

Ads Data Hub for Measurement Partners gives partners a new access point to provide YouTube measurement services on behalf of marketers, advertisers, agencies, or publishers. With this launch, it’ll be easier for partners to offer accurate measurement and deliver near real-time insights. For marketers, this means they can work with independent third-party partners to calculate and report on YouTube ad performance across devices, formats, and metrics.

These third-party independent measurement services are available to marketers via our growing partner ecosystem. With Dynata, and other vendors, we have expanded measurement services on Ads Data Hub to enable cross-media solutions for YouTube. Customers will be able to analyze the performance of YouTube campaigns relative to other media channels (including linear TV, streaming TV, or online video sources). Another partner, DoubleVerify, has earned YouTube Video Viewability accreditation by the Media Rating Council (MRC), in addition to Ads Data Hub’s own accreditation announced last year.

In 2023 we plan to integrate with new partners such as iSpot and VideoAmp, joining the list of measurement partners already available with Ads Data Hub.

Commitment to a privacy-centric future

Marketers and measurement partners will benefit from rigorous privacy checks that protect the personal data of users online while still being able to perform comprehensive analytics. These analyses, in addition to insight generation and audience activation, can all be performed with Ads Data Hub users only having access to aggregated data. By investing in privacy-centric solutions that address the specific needs of marketers and measurement partners, we've simplified the path to accurate measurement across YouTube and Google campaigns.

How Scrolla is making news more accessible to South Africans

Editor’s note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation:The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram, is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Mungo Soggot, CEO of Scrolla, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and lessons from funded projects.

The costs associated with paying for mobile phone data in many African countries are often incredibly high, making it prohibitive for lower income readers to access news. As our mission is to bring high quality news on mobile phones to underserved communities, we set out to create a new product for Scrolla.Africa which is light on data use. The new platform is called Scrolla Data Lite.

Our core readers are pay-as-you-go mobile users, who make up about 75% of the market in South Africa. We found that people on these expensive pay-as-you-go data services were extremely cautious about downloading anything or surfing online. So beyond using data for messaging services, the idea of browsing on mobiles for news is regarded as a privilege.

As a mobile-only investigative and political reporting outlet, we were operating on a shoestring budget when we launched, so the data use issue was not something we had the technical capacity to address. We decided it had to wait until we had evolved the prototype and our editorial colleagues — Everson Luhanga and Phillip van Niekerk — had established Scrolla’s editorial ethos.

Our big break came when we were selected for the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa in 2021. We had a rough outline of how we would design a separate “Data Lite” site, which we used as the basis for our application. The Data Lite site doesn’t contain video or audio, and has stripped back features allowing for faster scrolling. The goals were to compress stories and images as much as possible and to automate the process so that our small team didn’t have to learn a new Content Management System (CMS). As a recipient of funding, we could build a Data Lite site far quicker and better than would have otherwise been possible, and bring in external engineering expertise to design the new platform.

The site ended up saving readers 90% on the data costs of our “full fat” site, when we compare the 100 kilobytes on page downloads on Data Lite to our usual 1 megabyte. And this meant the Data Lite site gave us about a sixfold increase in traffic compared with the full data site. We couldn’t use video or audio on the new Data Lite site, which remains its only drawback. When it came to images, we gave the editorial team strict guidelines to minimize data use without compromising user experience. This left room for error, so we then built in additional automated safeguards which ensured that uploaded images didn’t risk leaving readers with a spike in data costs.

Alongside data costs, language is an additional barrier in South Africa, so we publish in Zulu as well as English. Crucially, the GNI funding allowed us to design a system where we could include our Zulu content, together with English (a second language in South Africa), on one platform. The site had to be super easy to navigate and allow users to toggle between English and Zulu.

Picture shows a screen grab from the Zulu language mobile phone app.

A screengrab of the Scrolla app featuring the Zulu language.

The biggest lesson we learned is it’s impossible to underestimate what a big deal these data costs are: to the extent that many readers are wary of downloading apps or touching the sort of advertisements which typically require a lot of data such as those with video. The GNI enabled us to build the site, and we're open to sharing the technology with other like-minded publications in Africa and beyond.

Chrome Beta for Android Update

Hi everyone! We've just released Chrome Beta 108 (108.0.5359.22) for Android. It's now available on Google Play.

You can see a partial list of the changes in the Git log. For details on new features, check out the Chromium blog, and for details on web platform updates, check here.

If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.

Krishna Govind
Google Chrome

Chrome Beta for Android Update

Hi everyone! We've just released Chrome Beta 108 (108.0.5359.22) for Android. It's now available on Google Play.

You can see a partial list of the changes in the Git log. For details on new features, check out the Chromium blog, and for details on web platform updates, check here.

If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.

Krishna Govind
Google Chrome

Chrome Beta for Android Update

Hi everyone! We've just released Chrome Beta 108 (108.0.5359.22) for Android. It's now available on Google Play.

You can see a partial list of the changes in the Git log. For details on new features, check out the Chromium blog, and for details on web platform updates, check here.

If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.

Krishna Govind
Google Chrome