Digital Ink Recognition in ML Kit

Posted by Mircea Trăichioiu, Software Engineer, Handwriting Recognition

A month ago, we announced changes to ML Kit to make mobile development with machine learning even easier. Today we're announcing the addition of the Digital Ink Recognition API on both Android and iOS to allow developers to create apps where stylus and touch act as first class inputs.

Digital ink recognition: the latest addition to ML Kit’s APIs

Digital Ink Recognition is different from the existing Vision and Natural Language APIs in ML Kit, as it takes neither text nor images as input. Instead, it looks at the user's strokes on the screen and recognizes what they are writing or drawing. This is the same technology that powers handwriting recognition in Gboard - Google’s own keyboard app, which we described in detail in a 2019 blog post. It's also the same underlying technology used in the Quick, Draw! and AutoDraw experiments.

Handwriting input in Gboard

Turning doodles into art with Autodraw

With the new Digital Ink Recognition API, developers can now use this technology in their apps as well, for everything from letting users input text and figures with a finger or stylus to transcribing handwritten notes to make them searchable; all in near real time and entirely on-device.

Supports many languages and character sets

Digital Ink Recognition supports 300+ languages and 25+ writing systems including all major Latin languages, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Cyrillic, and more. Classifiers parse written text into a string of characters

Recognizes shapes

Other classifiers can describe shapes, such as drawings and emojis, by the class to which they belong (circle, square, happy face, etc). We currently support an autodraw sketch recognizer, an emoji recognizer, and a basic shape recognizer.

Works offline

Digital Ink Recognition API runs on-device and does not require a network connection. However, you must download one or more models before you can use a recognizer. Models are downloaded on demand and are around 20MB in size. Refer to the model download documentation for more information.

Runs fast

The time to perform a recognition call depends on the exact device and the size of the input stroke sequence. On a typical mobile device recognizing a line of text takes about 100 ms.

How to get started

If you would like to start using Digital Ink Recognition in your mobile app, head over to the documentation or check out the sample apps for Android and iOS to see the API in action. For questions or feedback, please reach out to us through one of our community channels.

Android 11 final Beta update, official release coming soon!

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

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It’s already August and the official Android 11 release is coming very soon! As we put the finishing touches on the new platform, today we’re bringing you Beta 3, our last update in this year’s preview cycle. For developers, now is the time to make sure your apps are ready, before we bring the official release to consumers.

You can get Beta 3 today on Pixel 2, 3, 3a, and 4 devices (and coming soon, Pixel 4a!). Just enroll here for an over-the-air update. If you’re already enrolled, you’ll automatically get the update soon. As always, let us know your feedback, and thank you for all of the input you’ve provided so far.

Watch for more information on the official Android 11 release coming soon!

What’s in Beta 3?

Today’s update includes a release candidate build of Android 11 for Pixel devices and the Android Emulator. We reached platform stability at Beta 2, so all app-facing surfaces and behaviors are final, including SDK and NDK APIs, app-facing system behaviors, and restrictions on non-SDK interfaces. With these and the latest fixes and optimizations, Beta 3 gives you everything you need to complete your testing.

As we bring Android 11 to final form, we’re also taking this opportunity to update Android with the Exposure Notifications System in mind. Starting in Beta 3, users will be able to run Exposure Notification apps on Android 11 without needing to turn on the device location setting. This is an exception we’re making for the Exposure Notification System only, given that it has been designed in such a way that apps using it can’t infer device location through Bluetooth scanning. To protect user privacy, all other apps will still be prohibited from performing Bluetooth scanning unless the device location setting is on and the user has granted them location permission. You can read more in our Update on Exposure Notifications post.

Get your apps ready for Android 11!

With the official Android 11 release on the way, we’re asking all Android app and game developers to finish your compatibility testing and publish your updates soon. For SDK, library, tools, and game engine developers, it’s even more important to release a compatible version right away, since your downstream app and game developers may be blocked until they receive your updates.

how

As we covered in depth at Beta 2, here’s how to test for compatibility with Android 11.

For testing your current app, read behavior changes for all apps to identify areas where platform changes might affect your apps. Here are some of the top changes to watch for (these apply regardless of your app’s targetSdkVersion):

  • One-time permission - Users can now grant single-use permission to access location, device microphone and camera. Details here.
  • External storage access - Apps can no longer access other apps’ files in external storage. Details here.
  • Scudo hardened allocator - Scudo is now the heap memory allocator for native code in apps. Details here.
  • File descriptor sanitizer - Fdsan is now enabled by default to detect file descriptor handling issues for native code in apps. Details here.

Remember to test the libraries and SDKs in your app for compatibility. If you find an issue, try updating to the latest version of the SDK, or reach out to the developer for help.

For more information on compatibility testing and tools, check out the resources we shared for Android 11 Compatibility week and visit the Android 11 developer site for technical details.

Explore the new features and APIs

Android 11 has a ton of new features to build new experiences for users around people, controls, and privacy. When you’re ready to dive in, check out our #Android11 Beta post for a recap of all of the developer features, and you can also visit the Beta Launch page to see talks from the Android team on what’s new in their areas. For complete details on Android 11 features and APIs, visit the Android 11 developer site.

Also make sure to try the Android 11 features in Android Studio that can improve your productivity and workflow, like ADB incremental for faster installs of large APKs, and additional nullability annotations on platform APIs. You can give these a try by downloading the latest Android Studio Beta or Canary version. Instructions for configuring Android Studio for Android 11 are here.

How do I get Beta 3?

It’s easy! Just enroll here to get the Beta 3 update over-the-air on your Pixel 2, 3, 3a, or 4 device (and coming soon, Pixel 4a). If you're already enrolled, you'll receive the update soon and no action is needed on your part. Alternatively, you can give Android Flash Tool a try for easy on-demand updates, and if you’d rather flash manually, downloadable system images are also available. If you don't have a Pixel device, you can use the Android Emulator in Android Studio or try a GSI image to run Android 11 on supported Treble-compliant devices.

What’s next?

Stay tuned for the official Android 11 launch coming in the weeks ahead! In the meantime, we recommend finishing your testing and publishing your compatible updates as soon as possible. Feel free to share your feedback using our hotlists for filing platform issues (including privacy and behavior changes), app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues. You've given us great feedback so far -- thank you again!

A huge thank you to our developer community for your participation in our recent Android 11 AMA and Android Studio AMA on r/anddroiddev! It’s great to hear what’s important to you and we hope we were able to help!

Make sure your video meetings are accessible for everyone

In 2017, Professor Robert Kelly was conducting a video interview with the BBC from his home office when he was famously, and adorably, interrupted.

BBC dad

Today, many of us working remotely due to COVID-19 can relate. Virtual meetings have become even more vital to how we connect, communicate and get work done, which is one of the reasons we made Google Meet available for free to everyone back in May. And while video conferencing is now part of our daily lives, it comes with its challenges, too. Aside from the occasional adorable interruptions, there’s also more potential for accidental exclusion. And when that happens, we risk missing out on valuable perspectives, creativity and successful outcomes

Fortunately, there are ways to make remote meetings better and more inclusive for all. 

Plan ahead

The more planning you do, the better remote meetings can be. Share your agenda, process and materials ahead of time so everyone has a chance to gather their thoughts and show up ready to contribute meaningfully. 

Everyone processes information differently; for instance, for some neurodivergent people, vague information can be stressful and difficult to respond to. And for introverted people, the same can lead to less participation.  

Check that the platforms your team uses for real-time chat, presentations, feedback or whiteboarding work with different assistive technologies that people with disabilities may use. You can search online, on the company’s help center, or contact them directly. (Here’s some accessibility info for GoogleMeet and Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.

If you’re tied to using a specific platform, like a brainstorming tool without captions, tell everyone about its limitations ahead of time and work together to find a workaround. 

You can also send participants an anonymous feedback survey with Google Forms asking how to improve the experience. 

Set ground rules, norms and time limits

From the start, establish a clear process for the meeting. This can include when there should be discussion, when someone has the floor for an extended period, how to take turns and what signals the moderator will use to (politely!) cut in to keep things moving along.

It’s also essential to normalize parenting and caregiving. Make sure your colleagues know caregiving responsibilities can be attended to and prioritized, and discuss that it’s OK (and sometimes even fun!) for kids, pets and other family members to interrupt calls. And remember, anyone can be a caretaker regardless of age, gender or living situation, so include everyone in this discussion. 

 If meetings are longer than an hour (and were intended to be), offer breaks. Listening fatigue due to cognitive load can occur for deaf and hard-of-hearing participants, but breaks are likely welcome to anyone spending the majority of their day looking at a screen.

Take advantage of remote meeting technology

Before you join meetings, be close enough to the mic and camera so participants can easily see faces to clearly read lips, tone and body language. Using real-time closed captions (CC) is also a good idea (here’s how to turn on English CC when presenting in Google Meet and Google Slides), as is adding a phone dial-in option, which G Suite customers can easily do in Google Meet

And if you’re sharing any Docs or Slides, make sure the content is easily visible for everyone. (For more details about making sure meetings and the content you share during them are accessible, check out this blog post about creating inclusivity while we work from home.) 

Leave time for empathy

There’s a lot going on in the world, from a global pandemic to the quest for racial equity. It’s important to recognize that people may be in difficult situations and feeling a multitude of emotions. 

If you are leading a video call, plan to take some time at the beginning to acknowledge how people may be feeling, offer your support and understanding. Even though meetings have a specific agenda, it’s also important to  create a safe, no-pressure space for people to share—if they want to—and to connect to one another. 

Hopefully these tips will help make your video meetings more welcoming for everyone you work and meet with. 

News Brief: July updates from the Google News Initiative

As newsrooms face steep advertising declines during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re focusing on programs to help grow revenue for news organizations. As the nature of working continues to change, publishers are investing in digital growth and sharing their findings with the news industry through virtual events. Read on for July updates from the Google News Initiative.  

The GNI Subscriptions Lab expands globally

The GNI Subscriptions Lab helps news organizations grow direct reader revenue. The program is expanding to Asia Pacific for the first time, and will be running in the region through a partnership with WAN-IFRA and FTI Consulting. Applications are open until August 14th, 2020. 

We also shared initial takeaways from the discovery phase of the GNI Subscriptions Lab in Europe with INMA and their members. These include three early industry findings about how publishers can align their reader revenue strategies around core business goals.

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Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, Director General of Aptika KemKominfo RI, presenting for Google for Media in Indonesia

Indonesian publishers share program lessons with local news community

In Indonesia, we started a six-month informational series called Google for Media, in which publishers share lessons from their participation in GNI programs with the broader local news community. During the first event, Innovation in the Newsroom, presenters discussed leading through innovation, building and monetizing an online presence and applying design thinking to newsrooms.
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Apply for the new round of the Google Podcasts creator program

New resources for podcast creators

We launched a training course to help podcast creators learn how to use our new analytics tool, Google Podcasts Manager. The tool helps podcasters get to know their audience better and reach new listeners across Google. We also announced a new round of applications for this year’s Google Podcasts creator program. Created in partnership with PRX, the creator program seeks to elevate underrepresented voices in podcasting by providing free training, equipment and funding. This year, the program will train producers with an existing show who want to take their podcast to the next level. BIPOC podcasters and creators from traditionally marginalized groups are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is August 9 — learn more and apply today.

Virtual News Impact Summits for European publishers

Organized in partnership with the European Journalism Centre, this year’s News Impact Summits will explore the intersection between journalism, technology and innovation. There will be three Summits throughout October and November of this year, focused on audience, audio and voice and data journalism. For this first time in six years, the summits will move online and will be live-streamed to make sure you can join the discussion wherever you are. Registrations are now open for all three events.

That’s all for July. Keep in touch on Twitter and sign up for more updates through the Google News Initiative newsletter.


Beta Support for search in Google Ads scripts

Today, we are announcing beta support for a new search method in Google Ads scripts. This method is backed by the Google Ads API and supports most queries supported by that API. Please see the documentation page for the AdsApp.search method for more information.

Additionally, we are adding beta support for the Google Ads Query Language to our existing AdsApp.report method. When using the report method, Google Ads scripts will automatically determine the correct reporting engine (either AdWords API or Google Ads API) to use based on the FROM clause in your query.

The key difference between the report and search methods is in how the results are returned.
  • The report method will return a Report object, as it always has. Each row will be a map of column names to values.
  • The search method will return an iterator of rows, and each row will be analogous to a GoogleAdsRow in the Google Ads API.
For example, the campaign.name column would be accessed using row['campaign.name'] if you use report, and row.campaign.name if you use search. The flat format from report can be useful for exporting to a spreadsheet or CSV. The object format from search is useful for programmatically processing results. Additionally, handling repeated fields is more intuitive since they will be returned as true arrays in the object format rather than concatenated together into a single string.

To help you build queries for your search, check out our query builder tool. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback on the new beta features, please contact us via our forum.

Listen up: New features to grow your digital audio business

As people listen to more streaming music, digital radio, podcasts, and even text-to-speech news articles, publishers have an opportunity to grow their revenue from audio ads by revitalizing the century-old format with new technologies. Historically, audio advertising hasn’t kept pace with the online advertising world—often requiring publishers to sell audio ads directly or retrofit video ads into a digital audio ads format—resulting in poor listening experiences and limited publisher revenue. 

To help publishers monetize their digital audio content, Google Ad Manager is expanding support for audio ads with new features like Dynamic Ad Insertion for audio, programmatic monetization, and new audio forecasting capabilities. With these new audio features, publishers gain opportunities to monetize their digital audio content, advertisers are able to reach more relevant audio audiences, and listeners can experience better quality ads. 


Monetize seamlessly across formats 

Google Ad Manager’s new audio features, currently in beta, allow publishers to develop a true cross-format monetization strategy across their audio, video, and display content. Partners can now manage all of their inventory in one place, making it easy to deliver the best ad format depending on how users engage with their content. 

For example, if a person is interacting with a music streaming app on their phone or computer, Ad Manager can deliver a video ad. Or if the streaming service is running in the background, an audio-only ad can be served. Publishers can also use Dynamic Ad Insertion for their audio inventory to seamlessly insert ads into live audio streams across a variety of devices, no matter how someone is listening. These features help audio publishers deliver the right ad format to the right device at the right time, allowing them to provide a high-quality ad experience for users while maximizing revenue.

TuneIn, an audio streaming service that delivers live news, music, sports, and podcasts, uses Google Ad Manager’s new audio features to manage all of their inventory across formats. “We use Google Ad Manager to monetize all of our inventory programmatically across audio, display, and video. This has helped us to streamline our business by increasing operational efficiency, monetize more effectively, and provide a better user experience with more relevant ads,” says TuneIn’s Director of Monetization, Kellan Barker. 


Grow advertiser demand with programmatic audio ads 

Ad Manager gives partners flexibility to sell audio inventory any way they want—whether that’s through Programmatic Guaranteed, private auction, open auction, or direct sales deals. With new programmatic monetization capabilities, publishers are able to unlock advertiser demand for their audio inventory from Authorized Buyers, like Display & Video 360 and in the future Google Ads, so that they can increase fill rates and revenue. With new audio campaign settings, publishers can easily create audio-specific line items in Ad Manager and advertisers can create new audio campaign-types or use the audio Marketplace in Display & Video 360 to discover and secure ad inventory on high-quality audio content. 

Spotify, one of the world’s most popular audio streaming companies, has taken a Programmatic Guaranteed-first approach to selling its streaming audio inventory. “Selling our audio inventory through Programmatic Guaranteed has allowed us to bring parity between reservations and programmatic,” says Greta Lawn, Head of Global Automation Sales at Spotify. “It’s helped us make audio inventory available to more advertisers and grow revenue.” 


Forecast audio inventory

We’re also launching new audio forecasting capabilities that break out audio from other formats, giving publishers insight into audio inventory availability and how audio ads are performing. Forecasting uses historical audio inventory data and takes into account seasonality to project how many audio impressions a publisher may have available, which can help them better plan and monetize their audio content. 

These new audio features are just the beginning. For example, we're currently running a podcast ads pilot with AdSense partners, and will continue to explore podcast monetization solutions, so that publishers can grow revenue across this emerging format. We'll develop more audio monetization solutions for our partners as new audio formats arise, whether it’s podcasts, smart speakers, or other connected audio devices. Listen up for future audio updates! 

Run audio ads easily with new tools in Display & Video 360

In 2020, U.S. adults are projected to listen to digital audio more than radio for the first time ever. As the audio landscape continues to shift more heavily to digital, marketers have more opportunities to reach their audiences and get their attention using a long-proven format. Google continues to help marketers embrace this shift with new and improved audio product offerings.

We’re introducing new audio capabilities in Display & Video 360 to simplify the ad creation process, make it easier to find the right audio inventory for your brand, and improve measurement.

Easily create compelling audio ads at scale

Audio ads are a unique way to reach customers when they aren't looking at their devices, but are still engaged with content and receptive to brand messages. Whether listening to a podcast on a drive, streaming music while out for a walk, or using voice with a smart speaker, there are multiple times a day to reach users through audio. But creating professional grade audio ads can be difficult and costly. Our new audio ad creation tool, Audio Mixer, is a one-stop-shop for advertisers and agencies looking to easily create audio ads at scale.

With Audio Mixer, marketers are able to upload multiple tracks including music, sound effects and voice, while also having full edit control to create a high quality audio ad. Audio Mixer also allows brands and agencies to add the companion display creative that will be shown with the audio tracks. The preview gives marketers a better sense of their customers’ full audio ad experience. Marketers can then share the complete audio ad and companion asset for brand approvals through a link that does not require Display & Video 360 access.

One of our Audio Mixer beta users, Joystick Interactive, has found the product to be both simple to use and impactful. Andrew Henry, Head of Client Services at Joystick, says that “the Display & Video 360 Audio Mixer platform is an ideal solution to create custom audio ads quickly. The user-friendly interface provides the tools to create professional, high quality ads no matter the level of technical expertise.”

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 A demo of Audio Mixer’s track setup and editing ability

Audio Mixer is now available globally in Display & Video 360. For information on how to get started, please visit the help center.

Discover audio inventory in Marketplace

To help advertisers connect with audio publishers and view available inventory for their campaigns, audio will soon have its own section in Marketplace. Marketplace will showcase inventory from top audio partners including AdsWizz, iHeart, Pandora, SoundCloud (global), Spotify, Triton Digital and TuneIn, among others. It will also provide marketers with more audio-specific information, such as content type to distinguish between music, radio and podcasts.

Audio inventory in Marketplace is now fully available. You can find additional details here.

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A view of Audio in Marketplace

In addition to highlighting audio in Marketplace, we're working to increase access to new audio inventory. For example, advertisers can now access digital audio inventory through Programmatic Guaranteed deals and other programmatic transaction types on Google Ad Manager. As a part of this, Ad Manager is also introducing new audio monetization features that help publishers sell their audio inventory programmatically to marketers.

Building stronger brand measurement in audio

Google’s Brand Liftoffering is an ad measurement solution that evaluates the impact of ad campaigns on brand perception. As one of the most requested product features for audio, we look forward to expanding Brand Lift measurement to audio inventory later this year.

With Brand Lift, advertisers will have the ability to understand if their audio campaigns are impacting brand favorability metrics, such as awareness, ad recall, consideration and purchase intent. The offering will also provide programmatic buyers with actionable insights for in-flight optimizations as early as seven days into the campaign, with reporting slices across areas like creative and line item. Additionally, the tool will provide marketers with unified measurement across audio, video and YouTube campaigns.

As the ability to reach people through audio continues to grow, we are working on building additional features to help advertisers take full advantage of the growing audience opportunity. This includes solutions for dynamic audio creation, contextual targeting, podcasts and more. We are excited for what the future of audio will bring.

How Bridge Michigan turned new readers into paying members

In November 2018, during an important state election, Bridge Michigan set an all-time record for monthly readers, with 380,287 people heading to our site for news. We thought it'd be a long time before we saw another month with a similar rise in audience numbers.

But in March 2020, when COVID-19 surfaced in Michigan, we finished the month with 3.75 million readers, nearly 10 times more than that previous record. In fact, March saw more readers than our previous two years combined.

Bridge wasn’t alone in this spike in readership; many news organizations saw surges in traffic with the outbreak of coronavirus in their regions. The challenge was how to keep those new readers coming back and engaged for the long haul.

At Bridge, audience is at the heart of our growth strategy, which is why last year we joined the Google News Initiative Audience Lab, a multi-month program run in partnership with News Revenue Hub to help news organizations grow their loyal audiences and find new ways to increase advertising and consumer revenue. 

We saw in the GNI Audience Lab, informed by the News Consumer Insights tool, that readers with the greatest impact on our sustainability are loyalists, as they generate the majority of our revenue. While our overall traffic started to recede in the months following our record March, our loyalty metrics, like repeat visitors and session length, remain stronger than ever today. The Lab team worked with us to make our site and our newsletter more engaging. As tens of thousands of new loyalists return to us, a large portion are choosing to become paying members. Our revenue from these readers has kept pace with our significant audience spikes. 

Here’s how we did it, using an audience funnel approach: Our editors and reporters looked at the data to see what audiences wanted most, driving readership and generating returning readers. Then, we turned those readers into newsletter subscribers, then donors, and finally, sustained members. 

Helping people find our content

Much of our audience growth is attributed to our improved search engine optimization (SEO). News Revenue Hub helped us run a number of tests at the story, section front and homepage levels to help speed up our site. One outcome was implementing a plug-in that automatically reduces the size of images, which has helped speed up our site’s load time, so readers can get to the content faster.

In March 2020, we had over 1.7 million Google Search referrals, beating our November record by 870 percent. At the time, we ranked well for "Michigan coronavirus," so we included those words in relevant page titles.

SEO helps readers rediscover us, as well. Just because someone reads our publication once doesn't mean the person will remember us or come back. As readers kept searching for variations of coronavirus-related Michigan phrases, they kept finding compelling and timely journalism from Bridge that met their information needs.

Newsletter subscribers

In 2019, we added about 13,000 new newsletter subscribers. Today, about halfway through 2020, we’ve already added almost three times as many new subscribers. The most effective tool for newsletter growth has been embedded email signup forms that appear in different ways on every page of our website. We’ve also found that Facebook lead generation ads are effective at finding readers who like our mission, but haven't heard of us yet.


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Examples of Bridge’s newsletter signup forms

But newsletter subscribers alone aren't enough to sustain growth over time. The GNI Audience Lab helped us develop strategies to increase open rates and click rates, such as creating personalized newsletter headers. 

New donations

At Bridge, we pride ourselves on our high-quality, laser-focused Michigan journalism, which many of our readers choose to pay for. We create opportunities throughout our site to highlight how readers can help fund our content, with membership appeals at the top, middle and bottom of every story. Part of having an ever-growing email list is segmenting fundraising messages to the most engaged email subscribers and crafting unique messages for nonmembers, as well as thank-you messages to existing members. 


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Examples of Bridge’s call to action for donations

Sustainable donations

In order to add predictability to our budget, we’re working towards developing a consistent reader base that regularly contributes through monthly recurring donations. Our membership options default to monthly payments to set up this cadence. Readers can choose to donate one time at any amount, but we focus our messaging and appeals on sustained giving. 

And our sustainable revenue growth efforts are working. Since March 2019, our monthly recurring revenue from donations has more than quadrupled and continues to grow today.

Catering to the information needs of our readers remains central to our audience growth strategy at Bridge. That’s why we consistently ask our readers to evaluate the value of our service to them. Sustaining their brand loyalty allows us to continue to grow and produce facts-driven journalism for our state.


Timelines and tools for transition from classic to new Google Sites

What’s changing 

In 2017, we announced that we would replace classic Sites with new Sites, and in 2019 we announced that domains will have until the end of 2021 to complete the transition. Now, we’re providing a more detailed timeline, as well as new tools to help you and your users manage the transition. 


Timeline to fully transition to new Sites by end of 2021 

Here’s a detailed look at the expected timeline for the transition from classic Sites to new Sites: 
  • Currently available - Classic Sites Manager, a tool which can help admins and users manage the transition to new Sites. See more details below. 
  • Starting August 13, 2020 - New Sites will become the default option for website creation. See more details below. 
  • Starting May 2021 - New website creation will no longer be available in classic Sites. This means that any new websites created in your organization will only be in new Sites. 
  • Starting October 2021 - Editing of any remaining classic Sites will be disabled. 
  • Starting December 2021 - When users try to visit a classic Site, they will no longer see the website content. Any remaining classic Sites will automatically be: 
    • Downloaded as an archive. 
    • Replaced with a draft in the new Sites experience for site owners to review and publish. 

We’ll announce more details on each of these stages on the G Suite Updates blog over the course of the transition. Use our Help Center to learn more about the transition from classic Sites to new Sites


Enable new Sites for users today 
If you haven’t done so already, we recommend that you enable new Sites for all user groups that don’t already have access within your domain, and disable creation of new classic Sites. This will help reduce the number of classic Sites which get created and then need to be migrated. Your users will still be able to view and edit existing classic Sites as needed. Use our Help Center to learn more about turning on new Sites for your users


New Classic Sites Manager tool now available 
A new tool, Classic Sites Manager, is now available. It provides a view of your classic Sites, the ability to export a summary to Google Sheets for project management, options to convert classic Sites, and take bulk actions to archive or delete sites. Currently, super admins will be able to see and manage all classic Sites in their domain, and users will be able to see and manage classic Sites they own. Use these guides to learn more about how to use the Classic Sites Manager tool: guidance for G Suite admins, guidance for end users.

  
New Sites the default option starting on August 13, 2020 
Starting August 13, 2020, new Sites will become the default option for website creation. This means that if you have both classic Sites and new Sites enabled, when users go to sites,google.com, they’ll be redirected to sites.google.com/new. From there, users can see and manage new Sites, as well as create sites with new Sites. Users will still be able to use classic Sites easily by clicking the “back to classic Sites” button on the new Sites homepage. 


Who’s impacted 

Admins and end users 


Why you’d use it 

Since launching new Sites, we’ve listened to and incorporated your feedback, and top requests are now included in the new Sites experience. These include: 
  • Admin permissions that allow you to control your users’ ability to edit and create sites within your domain. 
  • Section layouts and pre-built templates that let users create websites with fewer clicks and less site creation expertise. 
  • Version history that allows users to see their edit history, revert and restore previous versions, and review the history of who made changes. 
  • New tile types that let users be more expressive with website content, including a table of contents, image carousels, collapsible text, and more. 
  • Custom URLs and publishing to an audience that let users share their website content. 
As a result of these improvements, new Sites offers powerful features and a simple user experience so users can create websites without designer, programmer, or IT help. For example, you can learn about how customers are using Sites to support remote work and learning. Use our Help Center to learn more about how G Suite admins can use the new Google Sites


Getting started 

Admins: 
  • New Sites default: This change will take place by default if you have both classic Sites and new Sites enabled. You can turn new Sites on or off for users at the OU or group level. Visit the Help Center to learn more about how to enable new Sites
  • Classic Sites Manager console: Use our Help Center to learn more about the Classic Sites Manager and plan for your transition using this migration guide
End users: 

Rollout pace 

New Sites default: 
Classic Sites Manager tool: 
  • This feature is available now for all users. 

Availability 

  • Available to all G Suite customers and users with personal Google accounts. 

Resources 

Search Console API announcements

Over the past year, we have been working to upgrade the infrastructure of the Search Console API, and we are happy to let you know that we’re almost there. You might have already noticed some minor changes, but in general, our goal was to make the migration as invisible as possible. This change will help Google to improve the performance of the API as demand grows.

Note that if you’re not querying the API yourself you don't need to take action. If you are querying the API for your own data or if you maintain a tool which uses that data (e.g. a WordPress plugin), read on. Below is a summary of the changes:

  1. Changes on Google Cloud Platform dashboard: you’ll see is a drop in the old API usage report and an increase in the new one.
  2. API key restriction changes: if you have previously set API key restrictions, you might need to change them.
  3. Discovery document changes: if you’re querying the API using a third-party API library or querying the Webmasters Discovery Document directly, you will need to update it by the end of the year.

Please note that other than these changes, the API is backward compatible and there are currently no changes in scope or functionality.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) changes

In the Google Cloud Console dashboards, you will notice a traffic drop for the legacy API and an increase in calls to the new one. This is the same API, just under the new name.

Image: Search Console API changes in Google Cloud Console

You can monitor your API usage on the new Google Search Console API page.

API key restriction changes

As mentioned in the introduction, these instructions are important only if you query the data yourself or provide a tool that does that for your users.

To check if you have an API restriction active on your API key, follow these steps in the credentials page and make sure the Search Console API is not restricted. If you have added an API restriction for your API keys you will need to take action by August 31.

In order to allow your API calls to be migrated automatically to the new API infrastructure, you need to make sure the Google Search Console API is not restricted.

  • If your API restrictions are set to “Don’t restrict key” you’re all set.
  • If your API restrictions are set to “Restrict key”, the Search Console API should be checked as shown in the image below.
Image: Google Search Console API restrictions setting


Discovery document changes

If you’re querying the Search Console API using an external API library, or querying the Webmasters API discovery document directly you will need to take action as we’ll drop the support in the Webmasters discovery document. Our current plan is to support it until December 31, 2020 - but we’ll provide more details and guidance in the coming months.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the Webmasters community or the Google Webmasters Twitter handle.

Posted by Nati Yosephian, Search Console Software Engineer