Author Archives: The Official Google Blog

Get outfit inspiration with style ideas in Google Lens

Whether you’re window shopping or searching for new clothes on your phone, it’s easy to identify what you like, but it’s not always easy to figure out how you’d wear it yourself. That’s where Google Lens can help. You can already use Lens to get similar item suggestions for clothing and home decor, and today we’re adding a new feature in the U.S. called “style ideas” to give you outfit inspiration from around the web.

So if you see a leopard print skirt you like on social media, take a screenshot and use Lens in Google Photos to see how other people have styled similar looks. See a winter coat that catches your eye in a store, but need some inspiration on how to rock it? Just open Lens and point your camera.

Lens style ideas on coat

Style ideas can also show you new ways to style clothes you already own. Give new life to that old sweater you haven’t picked up in a year—simply point Lens at it to see how others have worn a similar one and find pieces that might match it.

As the weather changes, get your wardrobe fall-ready with style ideas in Lens.

How we’re helping small businesses succeed

Owning a small business often means wearing many hats, and I know this firsthand. When I started my winery, I found I was not only a winemaker but also an accountant, marketer, sales person and tech support provider all at once. There was never enough time! Now that I’m at Google, I apply the lessons I learned every day as our team works to build products and solutions designed to meet the needs of small businesses.

Starting a small business can be a pathway to economic prosperity for both business owners and their communities. In fact, 67 cents out of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the local economy. Through our products like Search and Google Ads and Grow with Google, our initiative to create economic opportunity across the U.S., we’re committed to helping small businesses succeed. Being online is the way to win. Today we are releasing a new report that shows how Americans are searching for local businesses, and I can tell you that there is tremendous momentum. In fact, we’ve seen 350 times more search interest in "local" + "near me" than there was 10 years ago. 

To deepen our commitment to small businesses, Google.org is making a $10 million pledge to help low-income and underrepresented entrepreneurs start new businesses via access to training and capital.

Almost half of all libraries in the U.S. provide assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start a business of their own. That’s why the first grant will benefit the American Library Association (ALA) to support entrepreneurship centers at 10 libraries and to help libraries across the U.S. develop new offerings for small business owners. The grant will also support the ALA’s efforts to develop a guide for libraries on building their own entrepreneurship programs, including recommendations for better serving entrepreneurs from diverse communities and underrepresented backgrounds. This grant builds on our ongoing support for libraries, including the $1 million in funding that Grow with Google gave ALA earlier this year to help libraries across the U.S. provide communities with digital skills. The collaboration has already supported 130 libraries across 18 states and will continue to all 50 states. We are proud to be continuing our work with this important organization.

Google.org’s $10 million pledge is not the only way we’re investing in the success of American small businesses. In June, we introduced Google for Small Business - a website that offers free personalized plans for small businesses so they know which Google tools will help them reach more customers and work more efficiently. 

This work is important to me, both in my role at Google and as a former small business owner. Today, I’m back in my hometown of Dallas, Texas to share this news and to see some of Texas’s finest small business owners in action.

As a Googler, Texas native, woman and former small business owner, I am so proud to work alongside entrepreneurs and help American small businesses find new success in the 21st century. 

Take a look at our report below to check out how people across the U.S. are searching for small businesses.

Small Business Infographic

Our IT Support Certificate comes to 100 community colleges

For Melinda Williams, a cosmetology teacher and salon owner in Ohio, the Google IT Support Professional Certificate has been the first step on the path to a new career. Launched in January 2018 as part of our Grow with Google initiative to create economic opportunity for all, the program has helped more than 85,000 people prepare for entry-level jobs in IT support with no experience or college degree necessary. Melinda always loved computers, so she enrolled in the program through North Central State College in Mansfield, Ohio. She completed the program in just five months, and now she’s ready to see where her newfound skills will take her. “I believe it’s never too late to go in a new direction,” she says.

Melinda is one of many people who have earned a certificate through one of the 30 community colleges where the program is offered today. As the demand for qualified job candidates increases, we’re excited to announce that JFF, with support from Google.org, is expanding the program to 100 U.S. community colleges by the end of 2020. With more than 5.7 million students enrolled in U.S. community colleges, these schools play a vital role in creating economic opportunities.

We’re also making it simpler for colleges to grant credits to people who earn the certificate. The program recently secured a credit recommendation from the American Council on Education’s ACE CREDIT®, which is the industry standard for translating workplace learning to college credit. Now those who complete the program can earn a recommended 12 college credits—the equivalent of four college courses at the associate degree level. 

As we prepare for the future, we’re also looking back at the program’s first year through our inaugural Google IT Support Professional Certificate Impact Report. We’ve learned that the program makes a noticeable impact on careers–84 percent of people reported a career impact within six months, like getting a raise, finding a new job or starting a new business. The program also successfully reaches underrepresented people–60 percent of participants identify as female, Black, Latino or veteran. Reaching underserved populations was an important goal for us, so we’re excited about that progress. And on average, people earn their certificates in under six months, which breaks down to about five hours of coursework per week. Read the full report to learn more.

With support from Google and grants from Google.org, community colleges are helping people like Melinda build careers they’re passionate about. Representatives from community colleges who are interested in the IT Support Professional Certificate can visit grow.google/communitycolleges to learn more.

New heights for Southeast Asia’s internet entrepreneurs

If there’s a story that sums up the impact of technology in Southeast Asia, it’s Tan Thi Shu’s.


Shu Tan founded Sapa O’Chau, a trekking company in northern Vietnam, but initially struggled to attract customers.  She signed up for digital skills training through the Accelerate Vietnam Digital 4.0 program—and since adopting online tools she's raised awareness of her tours, increased sales, created work for her local community, and attracted more tourists to the beautiful Sapa region.    


Southeast Asia has always buzzed with entrepreneurial energy. But technology today is giving small businesses like Sapa O’Chau the chance to grow in ways that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. The latest e-Conomy SEA 2019 report, published by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, shows that the regional internet economy reached $100 billion for the first time this year, with 360 million people now online—100 million more than just four years ago. And that momentum is only going to continue as a new generation comes of age and more people outside big cities move online. The report forecasts that by 2025 the regional internet economy will have tripled to $300 billion and account for 8.5 percent of regional GDP (more than double what it is today). 


Online businesses have hit new heights

All Southeast Asia’s internet industries are growing strongly, but e-commerce and ride hailing are the standouts. More than 150 million Southeast Asians are now buying what they need online. And more than 40 million people now order transport, food and other services on demand, compared with just 8 million in 2015. 

The next wave of start-ups is coming

Behind the 11 fast-growing Southeast Asian technology companies valued at more than $1 billion, there’s a wave of more than 3,000 start-ups—promising businesses that have received $7 billion in funding since 2015. They’re operating in sectors like education, health, e-commerce and financial technology, and they’ll need continued investment, tools and support to keep growing.  


Opportunity is spreading beyond the big cities

Up until now, seven major metropolitan areas have made up more than half of Southeast Asia’s internet economy (despite accounting for just 15 percent of the total population). But between now and 2025, the internet economy is forecast to grow twice as fast outside cities as inside them, bringing new jobs and opportunities as well as greater demand for education and training. 


A new generation is shaping the future

Many of the 100 million people who’ve come online in Southeast Asia since 2015 are mobile-savvy teenagers. This new generation has influenced shifts like the rise of video apps, which doubled in popularity over the past three years. And with 10 million more young people turning 15 each year, it's a generation that will keep Southeast Asia at the forefront of digital trends.  


Access to online financial services is growing

The online financial services industry is catching up to other sectors of the internet economy, as digital payments grow from $600 billion in 2019 to a forecast $1 trillion by 2025.  However, there are still almost 300 million Southeast Asians with limited or no access to the formal banking system, and it will take collaboration between business and governments to build systems that can meet their needs.  


Despite the incredible progress noted in this year’s report, we know there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure Southeast Asia’s internet economy reaches its potential. Whether it’s providing support for small businesses to grow, teaching Southeast Asians digital skills, expanding Internet access through Google Station or advocating for smart policy and regulation, we’re looking forward to helping bring the benefits of technology to millions more people across this amazing region.

The historic partnership of democracy and technology

In September I joined the 2019 Digital Summit in Dublin, where I was invited to deliver a speech on technology and politics. The Digital Summit brings together stakeholders from across society to discuss technological innovation and the challenges facing all of us. It’s a forum designed to tackle hard questions in a thoughtful, serious, and mutually respectful way. In that regard, the summit built on what I believe to be one of the more constructive and least told stories in modern history—the relationship between technology and politics in society, and the work of policymakers who helped lay the foundation for our digital century.


Over the past 30 years, in democracies around the world, policymakers’ support for the free flow of goods, services, and ideas has created a larger, more diverse, more inclusive digital economy. It’s fostered a world where individuals are empowered through wider access to knowledge, and where start-up entrepreneurs and small businesses can reach customers around the globe. As the World Bank has found, over the past 25 years more than 1 billion people have emerged from extreme poverty—an event unparalleled in human history. That’s due in no small part to the twin rise of technology and trade. And today, with innovations in areas like artificial intelligence, we stand on the cusp of even greater advances.


This amazing story of human progress didn’t come out of the ether. The policies and attitudes of open societies made it possible. From investments in ARPA and the National Science Foundation to the pioneering work at CERN, policymakers created the environment that made invention happen. More than just permitting innovation, they championed the idea of a world in which technology could support greater prosperity, freedom, and individual empowerment. History doesn’t often talk about that, but I think it will ultimately tell the story of how that framework helped unleash the human ingenuity that will help us address the most serious challenges of our time. 


To hear more, watch or read my full speech from the 2019 Digital Summit.

Building community and making connections at Grace Hopper

I’ve spent most of my career in roles where it becomes less diverse as you go up the ranks. Oftentimes, I’ve been the only Black woman in the room, so I’ve had to create a community where one didn’t exist, and now in my role at Google, it's a big part of my job to create community for underrepresented groups. 

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Kicking off Grace Hopper 2019

This week I’m at the 16th Annual Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, Florida. Every year, 20,000 people—including nearly 5,000 students from more than 300 institutions—come to Grace Hopper to listen to inspiring talks, make new connections, and network with some of the smartest minds in tech. For us, it’s an opportunity to meet the next generation of Googlers; more than 1,000 Googlers and 50 Google senior leaders will be attending. 

Because events like Grace Hopper are critical to helping women technologists from across the world build their community, access shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford to attend. Since 2004, we’ve worked with Grace Hopper to donate travel grants to help students, and this year, we’ve provided $650,000 for this cause, because we believe that students regardless of their socioeconomic status, should be able to attend the conference so they can forge a path in the technology industry. 

The sense of community at Grace Hopper is one of the reasons women come back every year and I’m looking forward to meeting so many talented women in the industry. Here’s where you can find me and other Googlers at this year’s conference. If you’re in Orlando this week, please stop by and say hi! At the Career Fair Booth, you can check out some of our favorite aspects of working at Google: shared workspaces, activities, and creative nooks to get work done. At the Tech Showcase Booth, get a glimpse of Google’s products and services and the women behind the technology.

If you can’t make it to Orlando for #GHC19, we’ll be bringing the experience to you on our @LifeatGoogle and @GoogleStudents social media channels all week long.


Action Blocks: one tap to make technology more accessible

Think about the last time you did something seemingly simple on your phone, like booking a rideshare. To do this, you had to unlock your phone, find the right app, and type in your pickup location. The process required you to read and write, remember your selections, and focus for several minutes at a time. For the 630 million people in the world with some form of cognitive disability, it’s not that easy. So we’ve been experimenting with how the Assistant and Android can work together to reduce the complexity of these tasks for people with cognitive disabilities. 

Back at I/O, we shared how Googler Lorenzo Caggioni used the Assistant to build a device called DIVA for his brother Giovanni, who is legally blind, deaf and has Down Syndrome. DIVA makes people with disabilities more autonomous, helping them interact with the Assistant in a nonverbal way. With DIVA, Giovanni can watch his favorite shows and listen to his music on his own. 

DIVA was the starting point for Action Blocks, which uses the Google Assistant to make it easier for people who have a cognitive disability to use Android phones and tablets. With Action Blocks, you add Assistant commands to your home screen with a custom image, which acts as a visual cue.

BedtimeStory_web.gif

Use Action Blocks to create a home screen shortcut for a bedtime story.

The Action Block icon—for example, a photograph of a cab—triggers the corresponding Assistant command, like ordering a rideshare. Action Blocks can be configured to do anything the Assistant can do, in just one tap: call a loved one, share your location, watch your favorite show, control the lights and more.  

Action Blocks is the first of our many efforts to empower people with cognitive disabilities, help them gain independence, connect with loved ones and engage in the world as they are. 

The product is still in the testing phase, and if you’re the caregiver or family member of someone with a cognitive disability that could benefit, please join our trusted tester program. Follow us @googleaccess to learn more.

How the head of Google Ad Grants fights for the underdog

Michelle Hurtado was raised on the notion that hard work can get you through anything. As the daughter of a Hispanic immigrant, she was born with the drive to create a better life for those around her, always surrounding herself with strong communities and an appreciation for faith, family and traditions. These values came from her grandmother, who fled Colombia during especially violent years—with Michelle’s father in tow. Michelle says her grandmother’s bravery and dedication to her family will have an impact for generations to come.

Michelle became the first in her family to graduate from college and eventually made her way to Google, where she runs our Ad Grants program. In the latest installment of The She Word, we talked about how her team helps nonprofits around the world and how her “north star” has led her to fight for underprivileged people throughout her career. 

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I work on the Ad Grants team. We give free ads to nonprofits, nearly $1 billion a year, so they can reach people who need their services. 

How was that idea born?

Ad Grants was Google’s first-ever philanthropic effort. Sixteen years ago, we started recognizing that ads had a lot of value, but nonprofits wouldn’t necessarily have the funds to pay for them. We wanted to make sure that organizations of all resource levels could get their message out there. We’ve served more than 100,000 nonprofits in 51 countries, but I think this program is still a hidden gem. There are 3-4 million nonprofits out there who could benefit from Ad Grants. 

What’s the hardest part of your job?

There are philosophical questions that I grapple with: Where can we create the most impact or provide the most value? Do we spread resources around as much as possible? Or invest in nonprofits that have been deemed the most impactful? Do we focus on places that have the most need or the resources to fill the need? The nonprofit sector is incredibly diverse and varied, and so our strategy for giving needs to be, too. The work is never done. 

And what about the most rewarding part?

The teams behind these nonprofits have such critical programs, kind hearts and big plans to change the world. A nonprofit like Make a Difference is using their online presence to recruit volunteers around the world to educate kids in small Indian villages, and Samaritans used Ad Grants to raise awareness of their helpline to ultimately reduce suicide rates. 

Tell us about your pre-Google life. What were your dreams as a kid?

I grew up poor; my family was on welfare. My parents juggled several jobs and worked as hard as they could, but still couldn’t make it. We went through a lot—we lost my mom when I was young and moved around quite a bit. When I was 17, I received a scholarship to college. That changed my life forever, and  lifted up my family, too. Since then, I’ve wanted to fight for the underdog. I originally wanted to work in government because I wanted to change the system, but those systematic changes are hard to come by. Helping people is really what makes the world go round. 

Do you feel like you were an underdog? 

I do. It’s part of why I’m successful in my current job—I can think from other people’s perspectives. It’s incredibly important for me to know who I’m serving. It makes me go to the ends of the earth for those people. 

How did you get to Google?

In my third year of college, I traveled abroad for the first time with a nonprofit program called Semester at Sea. I made it to Cuba, Brazil, Uganda, India and China. Connecting with people around the world changes your perspective, and I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to travel and learn. I went to work in marketing for American Airlines, where I helped to launch the first flights to India and China. In that role, I learned about digital ads and saw how they connected people to new, useful information. I ended up coming over to Google, working with small businesses to use ads to grow their economic impact. From there, I started to work with nonprofits specifically. I always find my way back to the underdog. 

Michelle traveling.jpg

Michelle on a trip to Egypt during Semester at Sea.

Do you have any advice for women starting out in their careers?

Decide what your north star is and embrace any opportunity that’s going in that general direction. Don’t wait for your skills to be perfectly aligned and don’t wait for the perfect timing. Just keep moving in the right direction.

Have you followed the same north star throughout your career?

My intention has always been to help underprivileged people. I have a sweet spot in particular for folks who are really trying to make it, but the system’s not set up well for them. My current role supports a platform so that we can all help one another—my team and I are connecting people to causes. 

Manage tags easily and safely with the new Community Template Gallery

Businesses often work with trusted partners to conduct a variety of important functions on their websites. These partners can help businesses accurately measure their online conversions or determine which product reviews to display. For all this to work  businesses need to implement tags, or code written by their partners, directly on their sites. It’s critical for businesses to trust that these tags are working as intended to protect their customers and brand. 


With that in mind, we’ve created the new Community Template Gallery for Google Tag Manager. Community Template Gallery is an open platform where partners can share their tag templates. Businesses can then customize these templates to easily implement tags on their websites.


Not only does Community Template Gallery help businesses quickly implement and manage tags, but it also provides more transparency into how these tags will behave—making the whole tagging process easier and safer.

Less code is more 

In the past, if your business needed to implement a partner tag that wasn’t already integrated with Tag Manager, getting that tag up and running would take a lot of manual work. You might have to consult with your partner to determine how to correctly customize and place the tag on your website so it was tailored for your business needs. Not only did this take a lot of time, it also required heavy involvement from developers, leaving lots of room for error.


Community Template Gallery reduces the potential for incorrect implementation. Once your partner shares their tag template in the gallery, you can find it and simply enter the required information in an intuitive UI. You do not need to customize any HTML or Javascript.
Businesses can add tag templates to their workspace and then tailor the tag by completing the form.

Businesses can add tag templates to their workspace and then tailor the tag by completing the form.

Community Template Gallery also helps partners keep tag templates up-to-date. Whenever partners make updates to their tag templates, the latest version will quickly become available. And if you’ve already implemented that tag template,  we’ll notify you that there is a new version that you can review before making the update.

Increased transparency 

When you publish a partner’s tag on your website, you need to understand what it does and trust that it won’t do anything unexpected. That’s why we’ve built a permissions system into Community Template Gallery.


Before you implement or update a tag from the gallery, you will now be able to review and approve the actions it will take when it becomes live on your website. This gives you more control and transparency over the tags on your sites.


Businesses can review and approve how a tag will behave when implemented on a website.

Businesses can review and approve how a tag will behave when implemented on a website.

Community Template Gallery is now live in both Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360. You’ll find many tag templates already included and ready to use. If you’re a tag developer, we encourage you to build and submit your template today.

To stay secure online, Password Checkup has your back

We’ve all been there. Compromising security for convenience, we put our personal information at risk with poor password habits. One in four Americans use common passwords—like Abc123, Password1111, and [email protected] Sixty-six percent of Americans admit to using the same weak password across multiple sites, which makes all those accounts vulnerable. And every day, new data breaches publicly expose millions of usernames and passwords.

Until passwords become a thing of the past (trust us, we’re working on it), there’s a simple and secure solution: use a password manager, like the one built into your Google Account and Google Chrome. It generates strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts, auto-fills them as you sign in, and helps keep them safe in a central place. 

Today we’re launching the Password Checkup—a new feature built into our password manager that checks the strength and security of all of your saved passwords, tells you if we find they’ve been compromised (for example, in a breach), and gives you personalized, actionable recommendations when needed. 

A built-in password manager in your Google Account

A built-in password manager in your Google Account

With a single click, the Password Checkup tells you if: 


  • Your passwords have been compromised in a third-party breach. We’ve found more than 4 billion usernames and passwords that have been exposed due to third-party breaches. If any of these are yours, attackers could have these passwords and access your information. 

  • Your passwords are being reused across different sites. If someone gets access to a password that you reuse on multiple sites, they can use it to sign into your other accounts as well.

  • Your passwords should be strengthened. Weak passwords can be easily guessed by attackers, putting your personal information at risk. 

This is just one way we help protect you across the internet, not just on Google. The Password Checkup and the password manager are built into your Google Account, along with many other important privacy and security controls. To manage and check all of your saved passwords, you can go directly to passwords.google.com.

Coming soon: Always-on protection with Chrome

The Password Checkup is built from our Chrome extension launched earlier this year, which alerts you if your username or password has been compromised in a third-party data breach. The extension has been downloaded more than 1 million times, with nearly half of those users receiving a warning for a compromised password. Later this year, we’ll build Password Checkup technology directly into Chrome for everyone—so you get real time protection as you type your password without needing to install a separate extension. 

Features like Security Checkup, password manager and now the Password Checkup are all examples of how we're continuously working to make your online experience safer and easier—not just on Google, but across the web. So the next time you’re struggling to remember how many !’s and 1’s you added to your last password, we can help you with that.