Author Archives: bechikson

Life in the fast lane: lane guidance for drivers in Google Maps

Over the holiday season, if you’re driving back home to see family, or meeting up with friends, you can get where you want to go quickly and easily using voice-guided navigation in Google Maps — now with helpful lane guidance for highways in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Ireland.

When you’re in the turn-by-turn navigation mode, we can now make sure you don’t miss your next turn or exit by showing you which lane to stay in or move to so you’ll never find yourself darting across traffic at the last minute -- or worse, driving for miles down the wrong road. When you approach a junction or exit with multiple lanes, voice guidance will suggest which lanes are best for your route. You’ll also have easy access to alternate routes while you’re navigating, so you can choose the best drive for you.

To access turn-by-turn Navigation, open the Google Maps app on Android or iPhone and get directions to a location. Then simply touch the Navigation icon to hear voice-guided directions, complete with lane guidance. (Of course, don’t forget to enable GPS on your device to use Navigation.) For more information on navigation and lane guidance, see our help page.

Safe travels!

Bringing the museum to your mobile

Enter the Museum of Arts et Métiers in Paris and one of the first things on view is a strange looking plane perched over a historic staircase. Wonder what it is? From today, click on a mobile app based on Google Cultural Institute platform and learn about Clement Adler’s 120-year old rival to the Wright Brothers.

The platform allows museums to create a simple but powerful mobile app, based on Google's technology including Street View and YouTube. Without resorting to expensive technical help, museums now can tell their stories. Interested institutions should sign up here.

Eleven museums and cultural institutions in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Nigeria, have worked with our engineers on this pilot project. Their apps are available for free on the Google Play store.

In Turin, discover the riches of the near and far East at MAO, wonder at the surprising artworks at GAM, and go instantly from the Middle Ages to contemporary photography at Palazzo Madama. Or discover the international street artworks and their authors,brought together by the Emergence Festival. Finally, stroll through MAGA to find out more about the Italian contemporary art scene.

In France, enter Marie Curie’s office and relive the discovery of radioactivity at the Musee Curie. Drive hrough the impressionist collection of the Museum of Le Havre (MuMa) with six audio thematic tours, and the Monnaie de Paris offers a guid through contemporary artist Paul McCarthy's Chocolate Factory.

In the Netherlands, visit the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. Its app explores archaeological treasures from Egypt, Rome, and the Netherlands. Curious about the history of Nigeria?  Discover the story of the Amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorate 100 years ago thanks to the Pan-Atlantic University app.

Particularly enjoy an artwork or love the story behind an object? These mobile apps allow easy sharing with friends. Because Internet access can be a challenge when traveling abroad, we made sure these apps will work when you're offline.

The Internet no longer plays just a minor role in diffusing museum knowledge. It has become a major force, allowing museums to expand and strengthen their reach. We look forward to deepening our partnership with museums that see digital media as core to their mission of education and inspiring people about art and culture.

Blasting off from a LaunchPad in Barcelona

Barcelona is already known for its sunshine and seashore. Now, according to the Financial Times, it aims to become just as well known for its start-ups. Last week, Google LaunchPad took place in the Catalan capital. The one-week program is designed to accelerate the growth of local, early stage tech companies, and part of our Startup Launch program. It’s our third LaunchPad in Europe, following events in Tel Aviv, London, Sao Paulo, Berlin and Paris.

A strong case exists for Barcelona to become a start-up hub, the Financial Times says. “Barcelona is known as the ‘north of the south’ – combining a cosmopolitan business-friendly city with Mediterranean coast sunshine. Two international business schools, Iese and Esade, attract talent from across the world. The city hosts one of the world’s top supercomputing centres.”

At our LaunchPad, local incubators itnig, Incubio, Connector, Tetuan Valley and Caixa Capital Risc picked 14 startups to attend. During the week, some 30 mentors work individually with them on their projects, as they are experts in their fields and in most cases experienced entrepreneurs. Workshops cover product strategy, UX/UI, technology and marketing.

This initiative underlines our commitment, once again, to Spanish entrepreneurship. Despite suffering a drastic downturn in the financial crisis, the country is emerging as strong start-up nation. According to the Map of Entrepreneurship in Spain 2014, 95% of entrepreneurs decide to become so out of motivation rather than necessity AND 16% of the new projects are launched Catalonia. Barcelona always will be a beautiful city. It is in the process of becoming a modern Internet hub.

Apply for a computer science award

High schools need to increase their computer science offerings and we’re eager to support. Starting today, applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Google Computer Science for High School Awards. Universities who meet our eligibility criteria can apply for an award of up to $15,000. Apply before midnight (GMT), February 20th, 2015.

High school computer science courses face challenges throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Many teachers can have limited access to training and curriculum resources, struggle to keep up with fast changing technology or have difficulty demonstrating that computer science can be a rewarding and “cool” career choice.

Google’s Computer Science for High School Awards connects school teachers with university academics, who can provide them with the training and tools. Since its pilot in 2009, the program has sustained computer science teacher professional development and helped inspire a new generation of computer scientists who will build the apps and programs of the future.

To date, our program has trained more than 12,263 teachers, reaching an estimated 613,150 students in more than 230 locations worldwide. In 2014, we supported 26 university-led education projects in 20 countries - with projects ranging from SCRATCH and Raspberry Pi teacher workshops in Europe to android and robotics programming workshops for female students in the Middle-East.

We have resources for teachers to get ongoing, year-round help. Our Google+ Community page hosts Hangouts on Air with Computer Science industry leaders, Googlers, and top educators on a regular basis and we have a resources page with online workshops, tutorials and information on computational thinking, robotics and more.

This year we've added a new computer science custom search for additional materials (such as lesson plans, tutorials, activities, and videos) to support classroom activity, after school programs, or for home enrichment. Our ultimate goal is ambitious — to “train the trainer,” develop a thriving community of high school Computer Science teachers, and above all, engage pre-university students about the awe and beauty of computing.

Bringing a fresh digital vision from “New Europe” to Brussels

While Old Europe ponders its approach to the digital future, New Europe is rushing ahead to embrace the web as a motor for growth and prosperity. This past autumn, together with Financial Times, International Visegrad Fund and Res Publica, we announced the New Europe 100 list of innovators from Central and Eastern Europe.This past week, many of these entrepreneurs came to Brussels to present their ideas to the European Parliament

The event featured real-life success stories :
The European Parliament New Europe 100 event
  • Kamila Sidor, CEO, Geek Girl Carrots from Poland who runs a successful social innovation movement to encourage more women into ICT careers.
  • Michaela Jacova, Investment Manager, Neulogy VC from Slovakia, who supports aspiring talented entrepreneurs by awarding grants and matching with VC investors.
  • Paul-Andre Baran, Director, Biblionet from Romania, who helps provides free access to computers and the internet through public libraries.
  • Marcin Beme, CEO, from Poland, who founded a successful mobile platform offering digital audiobooks in Poland, Czech Republic, Hunagry , Spain, FInland, Sweden, Russia, Germany, France and Romania.
  • Gergana Passy, Digital Champion of Bulgaria, who advocates for a free access to the internet, e-skills and digital transformation across the society.
MEP Boni and Google's Vint Cerf
MEP Michal Boni, former minister for digitization in Poland, hosted the debate, which featured a keynote address from Vint Cerf, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist. Policymakers from around New Europe attended, including MEP Janusz Lewandowski, former Polish EU Commissioner; MEP Antanas Guoga from Lithuania, and Prof. Ziga Turk of University of Ljubljana and Former Minister for Growth in Slovenia.

All listened to the entrepreneurs offering important lessons on technology­-driven innovation. Apart from sharing personal passion for ICT-driven innovation, the New Europe called on the politicians to create a positive environment for innovation. Their proposed ingredients include accepting business failures, attracting more women in ICT careers, increasing access to the Internet across the society, and simplifying rules for trading across the borders. Together, these measures represent a positive recipe for creating a true European digital single market.

Coding for democracy in Europe

It was an audacious task - write software that would increase democratic participation in Europe. At a time when polls show increasing public disenchantment with traditional European Union institutions, the latest and 4th edition of the EUhackathon focused on getting European citizens more involved in the EU policymaking progress.

A total of 41 coders from all over Europe participated this week in Brussels. In addition to Google, Facebook, ICANN and Netflix sponsored the event.

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Alexander De Croo, Belgian Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for the Digital Agenda, visited the coders at the Google Brussels office. Google Vice President and Internet evangelist (and “father” of the Internet) Vint Cerf, offered additional encouragement.

Belgian Minister Alexander De Croo and European Commissioner Andrus Ansip
Vint Cerf with Commissioner Ansip
After 30 hours of intense coding with only a single four-hour break, the jury heard presentations of the projects. The prize giving ceremony took place at the European Parliament – MEPs Julia Reda, Andrey Novakov, Brando Benifei, Eva Paunova and Marietje Schaake announced the winners:
  • First Prize: Team Videodock (the Netherlands), created a cool search for finding videos of parliamentary debates.
  • Second Prize: Team Commission Today (Romania/Germany/USA), created a transparency register of the meetings of the EU Commission.
  • Third Prize: Team Frontwise (the Netherlands),developed a tool to make easier to access to EU public consultations.
The winning Dutch team receives their prize

Throwing off the shackles of communism

A quarter century ago, the people of Central Europe liberated themselves, bringing down the Iron Curtain, choosing capitalism over communism, and democracy over dictatorship. This week, at an event in Prague, we unveiled ten online Google Cultural Institute exhibitions recounting the amazing and thrilling events from Poland in the north to Hungary in the south.

Communism represented an artificial transplant in Central Europe. Throughout history, the region enjoyed strong religious, economic and political ties with the West. The Museum Masaryk T.G. Lany brings its readers back to the founding ideas of democracy and freedom on which the Czechoslovak Republic was built through the legacy of the first Czechoslovak president.

All through the 1980s, pressure for change mounted. An independent free trade union called Solidarity swept through Poland at the beginning of the decade. Even though the government declared martial law to crush it, the light of freedom would only be dimmed temporarily. Dissidents appeared. Priests protested. Musicians revolted. The Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel Library’s exhibition of black and white photographs captures not only the period of mass demonstrations in 1989 and the subsequent revolution, but also the visits and performances of cultural icons such as Frank Zappa and the US alternative troupe The Bread and Puppet Theater. For the citizens of Czechoslovakia, these first tastes of the Western world represented “the first free steps of a society.”

Starting in the spring of 1989, East Germans began fleeing to other Soviet bloc countries. The Hungarian government opened its border with Austria in May and the rush to escape was on. The Vaclav Havel Library exhibit captures the wave of citizens of the German Democratic Republic in September who inundated the surroundings of the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague, waiting in anticipation for longed permission to travel to the West.

In June, the Polish government legalized Solidarity and held partially free elections. Solidarity won a landslide and formed the Soviet bloc’s first non-communist led government. The Polish History Museum has created an exhibit called "Tearing the Iron Curtain apart.” It includes a photo of the symbolic meeting between Poland's first non-communist Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki and the German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Another exhibition from the Julian Antonisz Foundation shows experimental art from the communist era.

In November, the Berlin Wall crumbled and millions of Czechs crowded the streets. The Muzeum umění Olomouc has prepared a selection of images from photographer Petr Zatloukal, showing a behind-the-scenes look at the November events. The Muzeum policie České republiky showcases photographs of the uniforms of the riot police on 17th November 1989, as they watched, powerless, while millions of Czechs marched for their freedom. Dissident playwright Vaclav Havel emerged from prison to become president. The photographs from the Nadace Dagmar a Václava Havlových VIZE 97 exhibit maps Havel’s extraordinary journey from 1989 to 2011.

Slovakia also won its freedom and soon broke away from Prague to achieve full independence. Its the Museum of Crimes and Victims of Communism illustrates the path to freedom through photographs of unknown heroes who participated in country's Candle Demonstration.

The sweep of the events accelerated and the shackles of communism were gone by the end of 1989, not only throughout Central Europe, but also in the Balkan countries of Romania and Bulgaria. The Balts, within the Soviet Union itself, soon would form a human chain hundreds of miles long and win back their freedom. In Hungary, the Open Society Archives, is bringing online one of the world's largest archives from the Cold War, including propaganda films and surveillance documents, samizdat and opposition activist videos, publications and posters.

Take time to browse and learn. We believe putting historical material on the Internet and organizing it in a way that allows visitors to read and understand what it felt like to be in the midst of events not only gives more people access to important material but also preserves these perspectives for future generations. Today, memories of the Cold War may be fading and it is our duty to keep them alive as a reminder of the tremendous achievements of the courageous people of Central Europe.


YouTube music hits the right note

You watched the Belgian singer Stromae perform Papaoutai 200+ million times on YouTube, helping propel the song about his father to the top of the charts in France and into a global success. And that’s all just for one song.

This week, we’re making it easier to find new music on YouTube and rock out to old favorites by launching a new paid subscription service called Music Key. It lets you watch and listen to music without ads, in the background or offline and is available already in the United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, with more countries to come soon. If you’re interested in getting more info on the beta, you can let us know at

Music Key represents a big step forward in our blossoming partnership with the music industry. We've struck new deals with the major producers, thousands of independent record labels, collecting societies and music publishers.  Thanks to your music videos, remixes, covers, and more, you’ve made YouTube the place to go for the music fan.

YouTube benefits both the established musicians as well as newcomers, sending them more than $1 billion.

Of course, YouTube is much more than music. Other types of content creators - from educational to comedy shows - also are finding an audience earning money in our partnership programs.  More  -one million channels today earn revenue through the YouTube Partner Program. Thousands of channels make six figures annually. We look forward to continuing to develop new online opportunities for Europe's creators. 

Posted by the YouTube Music team, which recently watched “Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - YouTube Mix.”

Powering Italy’s exporters with the web

Before the Internet, almost all exporters were big, powerful companies. Exporting was expensive and time-consuming, requiring large sales, marketing and distribution networks. Today, thanks to the Net, almost any company, anywhere, and of any size, is able to reach a global market with a few clicks of a computer mouse. Italy represents a powerful case study and that’s why we are working with Unioncamere, Symbola Foundation and the Ca ‘Foscari University to expand our pathbreaking “Made in Italy Digital” program.

Italy needs to rediscover growth and increasing exports can help. The country’s powerful network of small and medium sized, family-owned companies are homes to craftsmen who produce niche products. Our program gives them tools to bring them online, aiming to help them export and reach global markets. Numerous studies have shown that companies that use the web to promote their business grow twice as fast as those who are not online.

On the program’s website,  a new section demonstrates how Google Trends, Global Market Finder, Consumer Barometer and Translate, allows companies to launch foreign subsidiaries. The Giovine family which has produced wines since 1850, recently started a blog and increased its social network activity - boosting sales by 5%. Galassia Ceramics gained 13,000 new visitors to its website, half from France and Spain. Ghirigoro T-Shirts & Accessories created a website - and boosted sales by 40 percent in 2014.

Along with the association of the Chambers of Commerce, Unioncamere, we have trained and supported with a scholarship 104 youthful “digitizers” and sent them in 51 chambers of commerce across Italy, where they provide face-to-face advice on how to approach and leverage the Internet. Our online portal offers another guide for companies wishing to meet the challenge of foreign markets. It is self-service. The eLearning path shows quick, easy solutions to selling online, launching social media marketing campaigns and much, much more, while the export toolkit to help SMBs understand their potential on several global markets and draft their export plan.

Despite these successes, much work remains to be done. According to Unioncamere, only 16 percent of its members have websites and engage in e-commerce. This means that the growth potential for Italy’s small and medium enterprises remains enormous. The task ahead is to embrace the opportunities offered by the Internet and spread global wings.

#Deutschland25 – a new generation after the Berlin Wall

Today, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the brave people who tore down the Iron Curtain. Courtesy of the German Federal Archives, we have produced a special Doodle featuring unique photos from Berlin in 1989. Berlin composer Nils Frahm created the music.

We also have launched a platform called #Deutschland25. It shares the stories of 25 extraordinary personalities who were born in Germany around 1989. Julia and Natalie come from Leipzig, the city which saw peaceful demonstrations spark the movement to bring down East German communism. These young women started Code Girls, helping young women feel comfortable to learn programming.

Philipp from Berlin helps children with his skateboarding culture, while Lisa and Christian from Munich launched Hemdless, creating shirts for people with Down’s syndrome. “The stories tell of a generation who have so many great ideas which have already been put into action," says director Bettina Blümner.

These young Germans embrace change and stand for openness, sustainability and tolerance. We at Google share these values. By making these stories accessible online, we hope to spark a conversation, allowing anybody to participate in creating our interactive portrait of today's Germany.