Developer tips and guides: Common policy violations and how you can avoid them

By Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play App Safety

At Google Play, we want to foster an ecosystem of safe, engaging, useful, and entertaining apps used and loved by billions of Android users worldwide. That’s why we regularly update and revise our Google Play Developer Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement, detailing the boundaries of app content and functionalities allowed on the platform, as well as providing latest guidance on how developers can promote and monetize apps.

In recent efforts in analyzing apps for policy compliance on Google Play we identified some common mistakes and violations that developers make, and we’re sharing these with the developer community with tips and guides on how to avoid them, mitigating the risks of apps and developer accounts being suspended for violating our policies.

Links that take users back to other apps on the Play Store

One of the most common mistakes we see are apps that have buttons and menus that link out to the Play Store -- either to apps by the same developer, or other apps that may be affiliated with the developer, but not being clear that these are ads or promotional links. Without this clarity, apps may get enforced for having deceptive / disguised ads. One of the ways to avoid such mistakes is by explicitly calling these out by labeling the buttons and links as ‘More Apps’, ‘More Games’, ‘Explore’, ‘Check out our other apps’, etc.

Example of app content that link out to app listing on Play

Example of app content that link out to app listing on Play

Spammy app descriptions

Another mistake we frequently observe is where developers ‘stuff’ keywords in the app description in hope for better discoverability and ranking against certain keywords and phrases. Text blocks or lists that contain repetitive or unrelated keywords or references violate our Store Listing and Promotion policy. Writing a clear app description intended and optimized for user’s readability and understanding is one of the best ways to avoid this violation.

Watch this video to learn how to avoid spammy store listings and efforts to artificially boost app visibility.

Abandoned and broken apps

There are apps that have been published by the developers a long time ago, and are no longer being maintained. Abandoned and unmaintained apps often create user experience issues -- broken app functionality, for example. Not only are such apps at risk of getting a low star rating and negative user reviews, they will also be flagged as violating the minimum functionality policy. To mitigate the negative impact to the developer reputation and app enforcement, consider unpublishing such apps from the Play Store. Note the updated unpublish action won’t affect existing users who already installed the app, and developers can always choose to re-publish them after addressing the broken experiences.

Example of an abandoned app that provides a broken app experience

Example of an abandoned app that provides a broken app experience

Play icon with graduation cap

Take the ‘Minimum and Broken Functionality Spam’ course on Play Academy



Apps vs. Webview

Lastly, we observe a large volume of app submissions that are just webviews of existing websites. Most of these apps are submitted with a primary purpose of driving traffic rather than providing engaging app experiences to Android users. Such apps are considered webview spam, and are removed from Play. Instead, consider thinking through what users can do or do better with the app than in a web experience and implement relevant features and functionalities that enrich the user experience.

Example of webview without any app functionality

Example of a webview without any app functionality

Play icon with graduation cap

Take the ‘Webview Spam’ course on Play Academy



While the above are one of the most frequent mistakes, make sure to stay up to date with the latest policies by visiting the Play Developer Policy Center. Check out Google Play Academy’s Policy training, including our new Spam courses, and watch our Play PolicyBytes videos to learn more about recent policy updates.

Developer tips and guides: Common policy violations and how you can avoid them

By Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play App Safety

At Google Play, we want to foster an ecosystem of safe, engaging, useful, and entertaining apps used and loved by billions of Android users worldwide. That’s why we regularly update and revise our Google Play Developer Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement, detailing the boundaries of app content and functionalities allowed on the platform, as well as providing latest guidance on how developers can promote and monetize apps.

In recent efforts in analyzing apps for policy compliance on Google Play we identified some common mistakes and violations that developers make, and we’re sharing these with the developer community with tips and guides on how to avoid them, mitigating the risks of apps and developer accounts being suspended for violating our policies.

Links that take users back to other apps on the Play Store

One of the most common mistakes we see are apps that have buttons and menus that link out to the Play Store -- either to apps by the same developer, or other apps that may be affiliated with the developer, but not being clear that these are ads or promotional links. Without this clarity, apps may get enforced for having deceptive / disguised ads. One of the ways to avoid such mistakes is by explicitly calling these out by labeling the buttons and links as ‘More Apps’, ‘More Games’, ‘Explore’, ‘Check out our other apps’, etc.

Example of app content that link out to app listing on Play

Example of app content that link out to app listing on Play

Spammy app descriptions

Another mistake we frequently observe is where developers ‘stuff’ keywords in the app description in hope for better discoverability and ranking against certain keywords and phrases. Text blocks or lists that contain repetitive or unrelated keywords or references violate our Store Listing and Promotion policy. Writing a clear app description intended and optimized for user’s readability and understanding is one of the best ways to avoid this violation.

Watch this video to learn how to avoid spammy store listings and efforts to artificially boost app visibility.

Abandoned and broken apps

There are apps that have been published by the developers a long time ago, and are no longer being maintained. Abandoned and unmaintained apps often create user experience issues -- broken app functionality, for example. Not only are such apps at risk of getting a low star rating and negative user reviews, they will also be flagged as violating the minimum functionality policy. To mitigate the negative impact to the developer reputation and app enforcement, consider unpublishing such apps from the Play Store. Note the updated unpublish action won’t affect existing users who already installed the app, and developers can always choose to re-publish them after addressing the broken experiences.

Example of an abandoned app that provides a broken app experience

Example of an abandoned app that provides a broken app experience

Play icon with graduation cap

Take the ‘Minimum and Broken Functionality Spam’ course on Play Academy



Apps vs. Webview

Lastly, we observe a large volume of app submissions that are just webviews of existing websites. Most of these apps are submitted with a primary purpose of driving traffic rather than providing engaging app experiences to Android users. Such apps are considered webview spam, and are removed from Play. Instead, consider thinking through what users can do or do better with the app than in a web experience and implement relevant features and functionalities that enrich the user experience.

Example of webview without any app functionality

Example of a webview without any app functionality

Play icon with graduation cap

Take the ‘Webview Spam’ course on Play Academy



While the above are one of the most frequent mistakes, make sure to stay up to date with the latest policies by visiting the Play Developer Policy Center. Check out Google Play Academy’s Policy training, including our new Spam courses, and watch our Play PolicyBytes videos to learn more about recent policy updates.

Developer tips and guides: Common policy violations and how you can avoid them

By Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play App Safety

At Google Play, we want to foster an ecosystem of safe, engaging, useful, and entertaining apps used and loved by billions of Android users worldwide. That’s why we regularly update and revise our Google Play Developer Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement, detailing the boundaries of app content and functionalities allowed on the platform, as well as providing latest guidance on how developers can promote and monetize apps.

In recent efforts in analyzing apps for policy compliance on Google Play we identified some common mistakes and violations that developers make, and we’re sharing these with the developer community with tips and guides on how to avoid them, mitigating the risks of apps and developer accounts being suspended for violating our policies.

Links that take users back to other apps on the Play Store

One of the most common mistakes we see are apps that have buttons and menus that link out to the Play Store -- either to apps by the same developer, or other apps that may be affiliated with the developer, but not being clear that these are ads or promotional links. Without this clarity, apps may get enforced for having deceptive / disguised ads. One of the ways to avoid such mistakes is by explicitly calling these out by labeling the buttons and links as ‘More Apps’, ‘More Games’, ‘Explore’, ‘Check out our other apps’, etc.

Example of app content that link out to app listing on Play

Example of app content that link out to app listing on Play

Spammy app descriptions

Another mistake we frequently observe is where developers ‘stuff’ keywords in the app description in hope for better discoverability and ranking against certain keywords and phrases. Text blocks or lists that contain repetitive or unrelated keywords or references violate our Store Listing and Promotion policy. Writing a clear app description intended and optimized for user’s readability and understanding is one of the best ways to avoid this violation.

Watch this video to learn how to avoid spammy store listings and efforts to artificially boost app visibility.

Abandoned and broken apps

There are apps that have been published by the developers a long time ago, and are no longer being maintained. Abandoned and unmaintained apps often create user experience issues -- broken app functionality, for example. Not only are such apps at risk of getting a low star rating and negative user reviews, they will also be flagged as violating the minimum functionality policy. To mitigate the negative impact to the developer reputation and app enforcement, consider unpublishing such apps from the Play Store. Note the updated unpublish action won’t affect existing users who already installed the app, and developers can always choose to re-publish them after addressing the broken experiences.

Example of an abandoned app that provides a broken app experience

Example of an abandoned app that provides a broken app experience

Play icon with graduation cap

Take the ‘Minimum and Broken Functionality Spam’ course on Play Academy



Apps vs. Webview

Lastly, we observe a large volume of app submissions that are just webviews of existing websites. Most of these apps are submitted with a primary purpose of driving traffic rather than providing engaging app experiences to Android users. Such apps are considered webview spam, and are removed from Play. Instead, consider thinking through what users can do or do better with the app than in a web experience and implement relevant features and functionalities that enrich the user experience.

Example of webview without any app functionality

Example of a webview without any app functionality

Play icon with graduation cap

Take the ‘Webview Spam’ course on Play Academy



While the above are one of the most frequent mistakes, make sure to stay up to date with the latest policies by visiting the Play Developer Policy Center. Check out Google Play Academy’s Policy training, including our new Spam courses, and watch our Play PolicyBytes videos to learn more about recent policy updates.

Working from home is ruff. Dooglers make it a little better.

In December 2011, a small ceremony was held at a previously unnamed cafe at Google’s Mountain View campus. The NoName Cafe in building 43 would no longer be nameless: It would henceforth be known as Yoshka’s Cafe, in honor of Google’s original Top Dog, and the first dog to ever visit Google’s campus.

Yoshka belonged to software engineer and long-time Googler, Urs Hölzle, and his wife, Geeske. Urs first started bringing Yoshka to work in 1999, his first year at Google, when Geeske had to go to Europe for a few months. At the time, he remembers, working from home wasn’t feasible because his internet connection was too slow. “DSL was barely working, and I couldn’t leave Yoshka at home,” he says. 

Luckily, his pup was more than welcome at work. “He was a sweet dog, so the reaction was really positive,” Urs says. “There was one person in the office who was afraid of dogs, but Yoshka quickly grew on him, and he recognized that Yoshka was big but not dangerous!” Yoshka was friends with everyone, even people who delivered packages to the office.

Yoshka passed away in 2011, but his legacy lives on. Yoshka’s Cafe includes a small museum dedicated to the Leonberger who had been well-known (and loved) by Googlers. Yoshka’s favorite toy, a fluffy ball, and his collar are on display, along with his Google badge. A small plaque on the podium explains that it was Yoshka who helped Google become “a dog-friendly company.”

Yoshka

Not only are dogs still welcome at Google offices, there’s even a dog park at the Mountain View campus called The Doogleplex. Pups have become an integral part of Google culture—so much so, that even as we work from home, Googlers are still supporting that canine connection. 

One of the most important parts of Google’s dog-friendly atmosphere is the Doogler group, a Googler employee group and message board, which for some has become an even more important asset while they work from home. There are different groups for various locations, and even some for specific breeds, but the original Doogler group was created two years ago by Aida Martinez, who figured that Googlers and their pups could benefit from a centralized online forum. 

Aida has two dogs, Honey and Mia, who often accompanied her to work at the London Google offices. “I brought them to work since Mia was a 4-month-old puppy,” Aida says. “I rescued Honey when Mia was 1, and then she also started coming to the office at least once a week.” In addition to starting Dooglers, Aida also helped with dog-related events, like the London office’s puppy pop-up, where Googlers brought their pups in for other employees to take a break with. 

Googler Danielle Feller also participated in similar events held in one of the New York offices. “You signed up, and went into a room with four puppies and you could just...roll around with them for 15 or 20 minutes,” she remembers of the Puppy Therapy Program. “It was so cute!” Shortly after, Danielle started thinking about how to bring the pop-ups to more of the New York locations, and to make sure that Googlers who didn’t have dogs could be the first to benefit from some play time. 

In February, Danielle teamed up with Ann Stout and Dena Soukieh, two Googlers she’d met through the Puppy Therapy Program, to host more “puppy-pop” sessions. Danielle’s own dog, Oso, also participated, which had an added bonus for Danielle: “As great as it is to have my dog at work, when he’s at my desk, I get less done!” she says. “So many people want to come pet him and see him, so this was a nice way of giving him play time with my coworkers.” 

Oso

Oso wearing his backpack and Doogler bandana to the office. The term is so popular at Google that dog owners often get “Doogler” swag for their pets. 

Now that most Googlers are working from home, the Doogler groups have figured out ways to bring some of the company’s dog-friendly atmosphere into the home. In June, Danielle helped organized a virtual pet parade over Google Meet. “Each pet got one minute to be introduced and spend some time on screen, showcase a fun fact or trick, and then make room for the next one to be featured,” Danielle says. Slots filled up quickly, mostly with dogs, and the event also featured a shelter that was looking for foster homes and a Googler from the San Francisco office to introduce his foster dog. 

The event was a hit—and even inspired other events, including one attended by nearly 800 Googlers located in the Asia Pacific area and another for those in California (though of course, Googlers anywhere can join). Ray Lader, who works as a Community Lead in the San Francisco office, recently held the Bay Area WFH Strut with a group of coworkers, which also featured a foster agency followed by intros of Googlers’ pets. Danielle says she noticed that a benefit of time at home is that more Googlers have decided to foster and adopt pets—and those new pet parents have a great resource at their fingertips. “The Doogler group is so collaborative,” she says. “It’s just a group of people who really care about their dogs and animals in general.” 

One of those people is Max Dzitsiuk, a software engineer who works on augmented reality algorithms. While he usually works from the San Francisco office, he’s currently living and working in his home country of Ukraine. Before he moved to San Francisco to begin working at Google, he volunteered at a dog shelter in his hometown. “Once I moved to the U.S., I used some of my Google volunteer time to work at Bay Area shelters,” he says. He also joined the Doogler group. Instead of adopting, Max is dedicated to fostering dogs that he finds permanent families for; he often brought his fosters to the office. “My team liked to stop by my desk and play with the dogs.” 

Zub

Max most recently fostered Zub, who will be moving to the U.S. (where he’ll be adopted) thanks to donations from the Doogler group. “He spent all of his life in a shelter near Kyiv,” Max says. “Despite not living with people much, he’s a very gentle and loving dog.”

In the past, whenever he’s traveled back from Ukraine to San Francisco, he tries to bring back dogs to be adopted in the States. “We bring adult dogs that have very few chances to be adopted in the Ukraine,” he says. Through the group, he also helps dogs find local families. 

While in Ukraine, he’s using the Doogler group to promote the work he’s doing with rescues. He recently shared that he’s raising funds to bring four rescue dogs to the U.S. “Thanks to the Dooglers, we were able to finish up all the necessary tests and treatments the dogs needed before making their long journey,” he says. “I can’t wait to post an update about their trip. I’m so glad to be working with people who care about this issue.” 

Even while working from home, Googlers have still found ways to “bring” their dogs to work and involve them in “office” life. And given the circumstances, it seems we’re all better for it. “It’s not hard to feel happy when you just look at them. They’re so friendly and fun to be around; that’s why people have emotional support animals,” Urs explained, when I asked why dogs are such a welcome presence at Google. “It’s a good thing to have friendly faces around the office who just want to be around you and are happy to be petted and get your attention.” And the same applies to our home offices, too.

A path to sustainability led by digital subscriptions

During my 10 years at The Boston Globe, we took a different path than most publishers. In 2011, we built a state-of-the-art website that was supported almost entirely by digital subscriptions, at a time when it was uncertain if readers would ever pay for news online. Today, digital subscriptions revenue alone more than covers for the cost of The Globe’s newsroom. Motivated to help others in the industry, I’ve since joined FTI Consulting, where I advise local publishers as they navigate the same existential business questions as we did.

Since I spent the last decade of my life pioneering a new business model for journalism, people often ask me if digital subscriptions can be a viable strategy for local news. Experience has taught me the simple answer is yes.

That’s why FTI Consulting partnered with the Google News Initiative on the GNI Digital Growth Program, a free program to help more small and mid-sized news publishers around the world achieve digital success. Reader revenue is central to the program’s curriculum, which is supported through playbooks, interactive exercises, workshops and labs. The workshops are currently guiding publishers through reader revenue models and sharing lessons learned from news organizations around the world, including those which have participated in the GNI Subscriptions Labs in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Publishers in the North America program, which FTI Consulting partnered on with Google and the Local Media Association, are great examples of the growth potential for local news. While the year-long Lab focused on helping news companies dive deep on digital subscriptions wrapped about six months ago, these publishers share a continued commitment to sustainability led by reader revenue.

As of August, the median year-over-year gain in digital subscriptions revenue for the participating publishers was 86 percent, compared to the industry average of 45 percent. While the business model of each organization is unique, these publishers achieved a higher level of performance by rallying around a shared set of digital metrics proven to make business impact.

For starters, they nearly doubled the conversion rates of their online readers to paying subscribers since the start of the Lab. They achieved this dramatic increase through a variety of tested tactics, including making digital subscriptions a priority, asking readers more often to subscribe and sign up for newsletters, improving and simplifying the online subscription checkout process and increasing website page speed. 

What may be most impressive, though, is that these publishers were able to grow their overall number of subscribers without deep discounts or aggressive promotional offers. In fact, they raised the prices of their digital subscription offerings, even during today’s pandemic. The group’s average revenue per user (ARPU) has increased by 24 percent.

More important than the tactical improvements, publishers involved with the Lab have been able to create the “reader revenue machine,” a term that I use to describe a publisher that has put in place the mindset, processes, capabilities and technology to grow reader revenue continuously. 

A good example of this transformation is The Portland Press Herald. In March, they launched “Digital Only Mondays,” which means they no longer print physical newspapers on Mondays. Within the first few weeks, this experiment increased the digital engagement of their print subscribers by 26 percent, and significantly reduced costs by eliminating one day of printing. The result as of July: The Press Herald was up 114 percent in digital subscriptions revenue compared to last year, and their staff gained the confidence to make bold decisions to support their digital transformation.

The reader revenue growth of The Press Herald is just one example of the bright spots I’ve seen shaping the future of local news. Through the GNI Digital Growth Program, I’m looking forward to working with Google to scale these insights and real world examples to help more publishers build sustainable business models for local journalism.

For those interested in learning more about the best practices that have helped publishers achieve digital subscriber success, join me, Google, other industry leaders and nearly 2,000 news organizations globally for our Reader Revenue workshops. Coming up next week, I will co-host a panel on this very topic. To sign up, visit the workshop registration page.


Find voting and ballot drop box locations on Google

This year, searches for "how to vote" in the U.S. are higher than ever before. To make it easier to find information about how and where to vote—regardless of your preferred voting method—we’ve launched election-related features with information from trusted and authoritative organizations in Google Search.  


Starting today, when you go to Google Search and Maps for information on where to vote, you’ll find helpful features that show the voting locations closest to you. On Google, search for things like “early voting locations” or “ballot drop boxes near me” and you'll find details on where you can vote in person or return your mail-in ballot, whether you're voting early or on Election Day. It will also include helpful reminders, like to bring your ballot completed and sealed. 


Just as easily, you’ll soon be able to ask, “Hey Google, where do I vote?” and Google Assistant will share details on where to vote nearby on your Assistant-enabled phone, smart speaker or Smart Display.

Where to vote.gif

After you’ve selected a voting location or ballot drop box in your area, you can click through from Google Search or Google Assistant to Google Maps for quick information about how far it is, how to get there, and voting hours. Similarly, if you search for your voting location in Google Maps you’ll have easy access to the feature in Search to help you confirm where you can cast your vote. 


The official information in this feature comes from the Voting Information Project, a partnership between Democracy Works, a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization, and state election officials. Through the Voting Information Project, we plan to have more than 200,000 voting locations available across the country. For places where voting locations are not yet available, we’ll surface state and local election websites. As more locations become available, or if there are changes, we’ll continue to update the information provided across Google Search, Assistant and Maps.

Creativity in a crisis

As the realities of a global pandemic sank in and the UK went into lockdown, children and young people employed their everyday surroundings as inspiration for creativity. Kitchen tables, living room floors and gardens were transformed into art studios. The hand-drawn rainbows that started appearing in windows across England in early spring were one of many signals that young people want to be heard, and that they are able to respond to the current crisis in an artistic way. 


Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with Arts Council England to collect these voices and allow young people to express themselves on a global platform. Arts Council England, dedicated to promoting the performing, visual and literary arts in England, launched The Way I See It at the start of the summer. Working with five cultural organizations, they invited children and young people across the country to stretch their creative muscles as they responded to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The partner organizations—English National Opera, BALTIC, Company Three, Dancefest and Heart & Soul—set out challenges such “Lockdown Aria,” “This Is My Statement” and “Half A Minute Movie,” which invited 30-second films inspired by a newly acquired skill.
I was inspired by communities coming together during lockdown and I felt it was a good thing to document what had happened. Ben from Birmingham, age 13

Now, Google Arts & Culture has provided the projects with a permanent digital home. Explore this playful and personal collection of spoken word, film, visual art, photography, music, dance and more created during lockdown, as well as new pieces produced in response to a series of summer challenges. It’s an engaging depiction of life in 2020 as experienced by 170 people aged between 2 and 28 years old. Visit g.co/TheWayISeeIt to explore the whole collection. 

In addition to this collaboration with Arts Council England, Google Arts & Culture has also worked with several European art schools to virtually exhibit their students’ responses to the crisis. For Room with a View, young artists were asked to create a piece of art from or of their window—a fitting symbol, as windows have functioned throughout art history as both barriers and connections to the outside world. Students from Accademia di Belle Arti Bologna, École Camondo, Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion and Edinburgh College of Art responded with over 150 submissions, ranging from acrylic and oil to video. The final collection has been curated by Amira Gad, Head of Programmes, Light Art Space (LAS), to draw out some common themes like Nostalgia, New Perspectives and Reimagining Spaces. Discover the full collection at g.co/roomwithaview.

A new partnership with Spain’s public service media

Public service media organizations (PSMs) have long played a critical role in delivering trusted information, entertainment and education, and investing in local cultures and showcasing them to the world. In Europe alone there are 69 PSMs, which together invest €19.5 billion each year in local content and operate a combined 939 TV and radio stations.

 At Google we have long-standing partnerships with PSMs around the world, with one of the most recent being RTVE in Spain. Similar to the BBC or CBC, RTVE serves as the national public broadcaster for radio and television, and is the largest Spanish-language audiovisual group in Spain. We’ve joined forces with three goals in mind: to find new ways of engaging audiences, to develop machine learning tools to improve internationalization and scale, and to offer digital training to the next generation of content creators. 

 As we worked with RTVE to think through new ways of engaging with audiences and reaching new ones, we decided to start with the popular Operación Triunfo, a nationally beloved music talent show. Along with RTVE Digital and producer Gestmusic, we created OT Academy, a new action on Google Assistant: By saying, “OK Google, I want to talk to OT Academy,” fans got exclusive daily summaries, podcasts from the contestants and behind-the-scenes updates. Over 14 weeks, there were more than 678,000 listens for the exclusive daily bulletins.

 Spain is increasingly a hub for global TV and film production, so it’s the perfect moment to think about how to bring RTVE content to an international audience. Using machine learning in Google Cloud Platform, RTVE now has auto-translated subtitles for a portion of its vast online video library. Viewers can choose from Galician, Basque and Catalan, as well as English, Italian, French and German, which opens up new audiences both within and outside of Spain.

Finally, our YouTube team worked with the RTVE Institute to support their training program for video creators, in which audiovisual experts from Spain share tips on topics like “How to behave in front of a camera,” “How to communicate properly,” and “How to dress for every occasion.” As part of this collaboration several well-known Spanish YouTube creators contributed their expertise on topics such as “How to start on YouTube” and “How to grow on YouTube.” Anyone who wants to start out in content creation, or media professionals who are looking to expand their knowledge, can take inspiration from the pros. So far, the project is already benefiting thousands of potential future content creators.

 We look forward to continued opportunities to collaborate with RTVE. Our hope is that with these kinds of initiatives, we can help RTVE and other PSMs with their strategic goals and support their role as vehicles of information, entertainment and education.

Pixel 4a and Nest Audio on sale in India

Google’s all-new Pixel 4a and the Nest Audio smart speaker went on sale starting today on Flipkart as part of their Big Billion Days Specials, at a special launch price of ₹29,999 (MRP INR 31,999), and ₹6,999 (MRP INR 7,999) respectively. While the Pixel 4a will continue to be available on Flipkart, Nest Audio will also become available later at Reliance Retail and Tata Cliq.

Pixel 4a brings the same incredible camera experiences from Pixel 4, with a new re-designed hole punch design, with features like HDR+ with dual exposure controls, Portrait Mode, Top Shot, Night Sight with astrophotography capabilities and fused video stabilization. The Pixel 4a comes in Just Black with a 5.8-inch OLED display and has a matte finish that feels secure and comfortable in your hand, and features Pixel’s signature color pop power button in mint.


In addition to features like Recorder, which now connects with Google Docs to seamlessly save and share transcriptions and recordings (English only), Pixel 4a will feature helpful experiences like the Personal Safety app for real-time emergency notifications. Pixel 4a also has Live Caption, which provides real-time captioning (English only) for your video and audio content.

Introduced last year in Pixel 4, the new Google Assistant is also available in Pixel 4a to help with getting things done fast, like controlling your apps (sending a text message or opening your calendar,) using it contextually within your apps (open Maps and simply say “Search for South Indian restaurants”), and quickly searching within Google Photos using only your voice. While these new Assistant capabilities are currently only available for English, all of the other Assistant features continue to be available in nine Indian languages.


The Pixel 4a is based on the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 730G Mobile Platform, and has the Titan M security module for on-device security, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with an even bigger battery (3140 mAh) that lasts all day*. Pixel 4a users can enjoy entertainment and extra storage, with three-month free trials of YouTube Premium and Google One.

Nest Audio is Google’s latest smart speaker, made for music lovers. Typically, a bigger speaker equals bigger sound, but Nest Audio has a really slim profile—so it fits anywhere in the home. In order to maximize audio output, Google custom-designed quality drivers and housed them in an enclosure that helps it squeeze out every bit of sound possible. 


It is 75 percent louder and has 50 percent stronger bass than the original Google Home. This smart speaker uses a 19mm tweeter for consistent high-frequency coverage and clear vocals, and a 75mm mid-woofer that really brings the bass. Google completed more than 500 hours of tuning to ensure balanced lows, mids and highs so nothing is lacking or overbearing. The custom-designed tweeter allows each musical detail to come through, and the grill, fabric and materials are optimized so you can enjoy the audio without distortion. The bass is significant and the vocals have depth -- from pop to classical to bollywood, Nest Audio sounds great across genres.


Nest Audio is available in India in two colors: Chalk and Charcoal. Its soft, rounded edges blend in with your home’s decor, and its minimal footprint doesn't take up too much space on your shelf or countertop.


Nest Audio also adapts to your home. Its Media EQ feature enables Nest Audio to automatically tune itself to whatever you’re listening to: music, podcasts, audiobooks or even a response from Google Assistant. And Ambient IQ lets Nest Audio also adjust the volume of Assistant, news, podcasts and audiobooks based on the background noise in your home, so you can hear the weather forecast over a noisy vacuum cleaner.


If you have a Google Home, Nest Mini or even a Nest Hub, you can easily make Nest Audio the center of your whole home sound system. You can also pair two Nest Audio speakers to operate in stereo, for left and right channel separation. And with Google Assistant available in Hindi and English, Nest Audio helps you tackle your day, enjoy your entertainment and control a range of compatible smart home brands like Philips Hue, TP-Link and more.

 

Posted by the Google India team

*Approximate battery life based on a mix of talk, data, standby, and use of other features, with always on display off. An active display and other usage factors will decrease battery life. Pixel 4a battery testing conducted in Mountain View, California in early 2020 on pre-production hardware and software. Actual results may vary.


How AI is powering a more helpful Google

When I first came across the web as a computer scientist in the mid-90s, I was struck by the sheer volume of information online, in contrast with how hard it was to find what you were looking for. It was then that I first started thinking about search, and I’ve been fascinated by the problem ever since. 


We’ve made tremendous progress over the past 22 years, making Google Search work better for you every day. With recent advancements in AI, we’re making bigger leaps forward in improvements to Google than we’ve seen over the last decade, so it’s even easier for you to find just what you’re looking for. Today during our Search On livestream, we shared how we're bringing the most advanced AI into our products to further our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Helping you find exactly what you’re looking for

At the heart of Google Search is our ability to understand your query and rank relevant results for that query. We’ve invested deeply in language understanding research, and last year we introduced how BERT language understanding systems are helping to deliver more relevant results in Google Search. Today we’re excited to share that BERT is now used in almost every query in English, helping you get higher quality results for your questions. We’re also sharing several new advancements to search ranking, made possible through our latest research in AI: 


Spelling

We’ve continued to improve our ability to understand misspelled words, and for good reason—one in 10 queries every day are misspelled. Today, we’re introducing a new spelling algorithm that uses a deep neural net to significantly improve our ability to decipher misspellings. In fact, this single change makes a greater improvement to spelling than all of our improvements over the last five years.

A new spelling algorithm helps us understand the context of misspelled words, so we can help you find the right results, all in under 3 milliseconds.


Passages

Very specific searches can be the hardest to get right, since sometimes the single sentence that answers your question might be buried deep in a web page. We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages. By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for. This technology will improve 7 percent of search queries across all languages as we roll it out globally.

With new passage understanding capabilities, Google can understand that the specific passage (R) is a lot more relevant to a specific query than a broader page on that topic (L).


Subtopics

We’ve applied neural nets to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when you search for something broad. As an example, if you search for “home exercise equipment,” we can now understand relevant subtopics, such as budget equipment, premium picks, or small space ideas, and show a wider range of content for you on the search results page. We’ll start rolling this out by the end of this year.


 

Access to high quality information during COVID-19

We’re making several new improvements to help you navigate your world and get things done more safely and efficiently. Live busyness updates show you how busy a place is right now so you can more easily social distance, and we’ve added a new feature to Live View to help you get essential information about a business before you even step inside. We’re also adding COVID-19 safety information front and center on Business Profiles across Google Search and Maps. This will help you know if a business requires you to wear a mask, if you need to make an advance reservation, or if the staff is taking extra safety precautions, like temperature checks. And we’ve used our Duplex conversational technology to help local businesses keep their information up-to-date online, such as opening hours and store inventory.

Understanding key moments in videos

Using a new AI-driven approach, we’re now able to understand the deep semantics of a video and automatically identify key moments. This lets us tag those moments in the video, so you can navigate them like chapters in a book. Whether you’re looking for that one step in a recipe tutorial, or the game-winning home run in a highlights reel, you can easily find those moments. We’ve started testing this technology this year, and by the end of 2020 we expect that 10 percent of searches on Google will use this new technology.

Deepening understanding through data

Sometimes the best search result is a statistic. But often stats are buried in large datasets and not easily comprehensible or accessible online. Since 2018, we’ve been working on the Data Commons Project, an open knowledge database of statistical data started in collaboration with the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, World Bank and many others. Bringing these datasets together was a first step, and now we’re making this information more accessible and useful through Google Search.


Now when you ask a question like “how many people work in Chicago ,” we use natural language processing to map your search to one specific set of the billions of data points in Data Commons to provide the right stat in a visual, easy to understand format. You’ll also find other relevant data points and context—like stats for other cities—to help you easily explore the topic in more depth. 

Helping quality journalism through advanced search

Quality journalism often comes from long-term investigative projects, requiring time consuming work sifting through giant collections of documents, images and audio recordings. As part of Journalist Studio, our new suite of tools to help reporters do their work more efficiently, securely, and creatively through technology, we’re launching Pinpoint, a new tool that brings the power of Google Search to journalists. Pinpoint helps reporters quickly sift through hundreds of thousands of documents by automatically identifying and organizing the most frequently mentioned people, organizations and locations. Reporters can sign up to request access to Pinpoint starting this week.

Search what you see, and explore information in 3D

For many topics, seeing is key to understanding. Several new features in Lens and AR in Google Search help you learn, shop, and discover the world in new ways. Many of us are dealing with the challenges of learning from home, and with Lens, you can now get step-by-step homework help on math, chemistry, biology and physics problems. Social distancing has also dramatically changed how we shop, so we’re making it easier to visually shop for what you’re looking for online, whether you’re looking for a sweater or want a closer look at a new car but can’t visit a showroom.

If you don’t know how to search it, sing it

We’ve all had that experience of having a tune stuck in our head, but can’t quite remember the lyrics. Now, when those moments arise, you just have to hum to search, and our AI models can match the melody to the right song. 

What sets Google Search apart

There has never been more choice in the ways people access information, and we need to constantly develop cutting-edge technology to ensure that Google remains the most useful and most trusted way to search. Four key elements form the foundation for all our work to improve Search and answer trillions of queries every year. These elements are what makes Google helpful and reliable for the people who come to us each day to find information.


Understanding all the world’s information

We’re focused on deeply understanding all the world’s information, whether that information is contained in words on web pages, in images or videos, or even in the places and objects around us. With investments in AI, we’re able to analyze and understand all types of information in the world, just as we did by indexing web pages 22 years ago. We’re pushing the boundaries of what it means to understand the world, so before you even type in a query, we’re ready to help you explore new forms of information and insights never before available. 


The highest quality information 

People rely on Search for the highest quality information available, and our commitment to quality has always been what set Google apart from day one. Every year we launch thousands of improvements to make Search better, and rigorously test each of these changes to ensure people find them helpful. Our ranking factors and policies are applied fairly to all websites, and this has led to widespread access to a diversity of information, ideas and viewpoints.


World class privacy and security

To keep people and their data safe, we invest in world class privacy and security. We’ve led the industry in keeping you safe while searching with Safe Browsing and spam protection. We believe that privacy is a universal right and are committed to giving every user the tools they need to be in control.


Open access for everyone

Last—but certainly not least—we are committed to open access for everyone. We aim to help the open web thrive, sending more traffic to the open web every year since Google was created. Google is free for everyone, accessible on any device, in more than 150 languages around the world, and we continue to expand our ability to serve people everywhere.


So wherever you are, whatever you’re looking for, however you’re able to sing, spell, say, or visualize it, you can search on with Google.


Posted by Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Search & Assistant, Geo, Ads, Commerce, Payments & NBU