Google Voice Improvements: Use in Gmail and transfer calls

Quick launch summary

Google Voice is now available in Gmail when using Chrome or Firefox browsers on your computer. This allows you to make and receive calls without switching tabs. Google Voice in Gmail looks similar to the call panel in the Voice web application, allowing you to answer calls, make new outbound calls, and easily transfer calls.


In addition, you can now transfer calls using the Google Voice mobile and web apps. In a few simple steps, you can send a call to the appropriate person, whether that’s an intelligently-suggested contact, searching in your directory or a manually entered phone number.


Call transferring is available in Voice on Android, iOS, and the web.

Getting started

Admins: There is no admin control for this feature.

End users: These features will be available to Voice customers by default. Visit the Help Center to learn more about transferring calls or using Google Voice in Gmail.

Rollout pace

Google Voice call transfer


Google Voice in Gmail


Availability


  • Available to all G Suite customers with Google Voice licenses

Resources



Roadmap




Google Voice Improvements: Use in Gmail and transfer calls

Quick launch summary

Google Voice is now available in Gmail when using Chrome or Firefox browsers on your computer. This allows you to make and receive calls without switching tabs. Google Voice in Gmail looks similar to the call panel in the Voice web application, allowing you to answer calls, make new outbound calls, and easily transfer calls.


In addition, you can now transfer calls using the Google Voice mobile and web apps. In a few simple steps, you can send a call to the appropriate person, whether that’s an intelligently-suggested contact, searching in your directory or a manually entered phone number.


Call transferring is available in Voice on Android, iOS, and the web.

Getting started

Admins: There is no admin control for this feature.

End users: These features will be available to Voice customers by default. Visit the Help Center to learn more about transferring calls or using Google Voice in Gmail.

Rollout pace

Google Voice call transfer


Google Voice in Gmail


Availability


  • Available to all G Suite customers with Google Voice licenses

Resources



Roadmap




Evaluating page experience for a better web

Through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience. In recent years, Search has added a variety of user experience criteria, such as how quickly pages load and mobile-friendliness, as factors for ranking results. Earlier this month, the Chrome team announced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web.

Today, we’re building on this work and providing an early look at an upcoming Search ranking change that incorporates these page experience metrics. We will introduce a new signal that combines Core Web Vitals with our existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page.

As part of this update, we'll also incorporate the page experience metrics into our ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature in Search on mobile, and remove the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility. Google continues to support AMP, and will continue to link to AMP pages when available. We’ve also updated our developer tools to help site owners optimize their page experience.

A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out. We're providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.

About page experience

The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.

Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger - how annoying!).

We're combining the signals derived from Core Web Vitals with our existing Search signals for page experience, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, to provide a holistic picture of page experience. Because we continue to work on identifying and measuring aspects of page experience, we plan to incorporate more page experience signals on a yearly basis to both further align with evolving user expectations and increase the aspects of user experience that we can measure.

A diagram illustrating the components of Search’s signal for page experience.

Page experience ranking

Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page. By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.

For some developers, understanding how their sites measure on the Core Web Vitals—and addressing noted issues—will require some work. To help out, we’ve updated popular developer tools such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to surface Core Web Vitals information and recommendations, and Google Search Console provides a dedicated report to help site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement. We’re also working with external tool developers to bring Core Web Vitals into their offerings.

While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

Page experience and the mobile Top Stories feature


The mobile Top Stories feature is a premier fresh content experience in Search that currently emphasizes AMP results, which have been optimized to exhibit a good page experience. Over the past several years, Top Stories has inspired new thinking about the ways we could promote better page experiences across the web.

When we roll out the page experience ranking update, we will also update the eligibility criteria for the Top Stories experience. AMP will no longer be necessary for stories to be featured in Top Stories on mobile; it will be open to any page. Alongside this change, page experience will become a ranking factor in Top Stories, in addition to the many factors assessed. As before, pages must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. Site owners who currently publish pages as AMP, or with an AMP version, will see no change in behavior – the AMP version will be what’s linked from Top Stories. 

Summary


We believe user engagement will improve as experiences on the web get better -- and that by incorporating these new signals into Search, we'll help make the web better for everyone. We hope that sharing our roadmap for the page experience updates and launching supporting tools ahead of time will help the diverse ecosystem of web creators, developers, and businesses to improve and deliver more delightful user experiences. 

Please stay tuned for our future updates that will communicate more specific guidance on the timing for these changes to come into effect. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please visit our webmaster forums.

Evaluating page experience for a better web

Through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience. In recent years, Search has added a variety of user experience criteria, such as how quickly pages load and mobile-friendliness, as factors for ranking results. Earlier this month, the Chrome team announced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web.

Today, we’re building on this work and providing an early look at an upcoming Search ranking change that incorporates these page experience metrics. We will introduce a new signal that combines Core Web Vitals with our existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page.

As part of this update, we'll also incorporate the page experience metrics into our ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature in Search on mobile, and remove the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility. Google continues to support AMP, and will continue to link to AMP pages when available. We’ve also updated our developer tools to help site owners optimize their page experience.

A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out. We're providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.

About page experience

The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.

Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger - how annoying!).

We're combining the signals derived from Core Web Vitals with our existing Search signals for page experience, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, to provide a holistic picture of page experience. Because we continue to work on identifying and measuring aspects of page experience, we plan to incorporate more page experience signals on a yearly basis to both further align with evolving user expectations and increase the aspects of user experience that we can measure.

A diagram illustrating the components of Search’s signal for page experience.

Page experience ranking

Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page. By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.

For some developers, understanding how their sites measure on the Core Web Vitals—and addressing noted issues—will require some work. To help out, we’ve updated popular developer tools such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to surface Core Web Vitals information and recommendations, and Google Search Console provides a dedicated report to help site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement. We’re also working with external tool developers to bring Core Web Vitals into their offerings.

While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

Page experience and the mobile Top Stories feature


The mobile Top Stories feature is a premier fresh content experience in Search that currently emphasizes AMP results, which have been optimized to exhibit a good page experience. Over the past several years, Top Stories has inspired new thinking about the ways we could promote better page experiences across the web.

When we roll out the page experience ranking update, we will also update the eligibility criteria for the Top Stories experience. AMP will no longer be necessary for stories to be featured in Top Stories on mobile; it will be open to any page. Alongside this change, page experience will become a ranking factor in Top Stories, in addition to the many factors assessed. As before, pages must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. Site owners who currently publish pages as AMP, or with an AMP version, will see no change in behavior – the AMP version will be what’s linked from Top Stories. 

Summary


We believe user engagement will improve as experiences on the web get better -- and that by incorporating these new signals into Search, we'll help make the web better for everyone. We hope that sharing our roadmap for the page experience updates and launching supporting tools ahead of time will help the diverse ecosystem of web creators, developers, and businesses to improve and deliver more delightful user experiences. 

Please stay tuned for our future updates that will communicate more specific guidance on the timing for these changes to come into effect. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please visit our webmaster forums.

Evaluating page experience for a better web

Through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience. In recent years, Search has added a variety of user experience criteria, such as how quickly pages load and mobile-friendliness, as factors for ranking results. Earlier this month, the Chrome team announced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web.

Today, we’re building on this work and providing an early look at an upcoming Search ranking change that incorporates these page experience metrics. We will introduce a new signal that combines Core Web Vitals with our existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page.

As part of this update, we'll also incorporate the page experience metrics into our ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature in Search on mobile, and remove the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility. Google continues to support AMP, and will continue to link to AMP pages when available. We’ve also updated our developer tools to help site owners optimize their page experience.

A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out. We're providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.

About page experience

The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.

Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger - how annoying!).

We're combining the signals derived from Core Web Vitals with our existing Search signals for page experience, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, to provide a holistic picture of page experience. Because we continue to work on identifying and measuring aspects of page experience, we plan to incorporate more page experience signals on a yearly basis to both further align with evolving user expectations and increase the aspects of user experience that we can measure.

A diagram illustrating the components of Search’s signal for page experience.

Page experience ranking

Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page. By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.

For some developers, understanding how their sites measure on the Core Web Vitals—and addressing noted issues—will require some work. To help out, we’ve updated popular developer tools such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to surface Core Web Vitals information and recommendations, and Google Search Console provides a dedicated report to help site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement. We’re also working with external tool developers to bring Core Web Vitals into their offerings.

While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

Page experience and the mobile Top Stories feature


The mobile Top Stories feature is a premier fresh content experience in Search that currently emphasizes AMP results, which have been optimized to exhibit a good page experience. Over the past several years, Top Stories has inspired new thinking about the ways we could promote better page experiences across the web.

When we roll out the page experience ranking update, we will also update the eligibility criteria for the Top Stories experience. AMP will no longer be necessary for stories to be featured in Top Stories on mobile; it will be open to any page. Alongside this change, page experience will become a ranking factor in Top Stories, in addition to the many factors assessed. As before, pages must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. Site owners who currently publish pages as AMP, or with an AMP version, will see no change in behavior – the AMP version will be what’s linked from Top Stories. 

Summary


We believe user engagement will improve as experiences on the web get better -- and that by incorporating these new signals into Search, we'll help make the web better for everyone. We hope that sharing our roadmap for the page experience updates and launching supporting tools ahead of time will help the diverse ecosystem of web creators, developers, and businesses to improve and deliver more delightful user experiences. 

Please stay tuned for our future updates that will communicate more specific guidance on the timing for these changes to come into effect. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please visit our webmaster forums.

Responding to the European Commission’s AI white paper

In January, our CEO Sundar Pichai visited Brussels to talk about artificial intelligence and how Google could help people and businesses succeed in the digital age through partnership. Much has changed since then due to COVID-19, but one thing hasn’t—our commitment to the potential of partnership with Europe on AI, especially to tackle the pandemic and help people and the economy recover. 

As part of that effort, we earlier today filed our response to the European Commission’s Consultation on Artificial Intelligence, giving our feedback on the Commission’s initial proposal for how to regulate and accelerate the adoption of AI. 

Excellence, skills, trust

Our filing applauds the Commission’s focus on building out the European “ecosystem of excellence.” European universities already boast renowned leaders in dozens of areas of AI research—Google partners with some of them via our machine learning research hubs in Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and London—and many of their students go on to make important contributions to European businesses.  

We support the Commission’s plans to help businesses develop the AI skills they need to thrive in the new digital economy. Next month, we’ll contribute to those efforts by extending our machine learning check-up tool to 11 European countries to help small businesses implement AI and grow their businesses. Google Cloud already works closely with scores of businesses across Europe to help them innovate using AI.  

We also support the Commission’s goal of building a framework for AI innovation that will create trust and guide ethical development and use of this widely applicable technology. We appreciate the Commission's proportionate, risk-based approach. It’s important that AI applications in sensitive fields—such as medicine or transportation—are held to the appropriate standards. 

Based on our experience working with AI, we also offered a couple of suggestions for making future regulation more effective. We want to be a helpful and engaged partner to policymakers, and we have provided more details in our formal response to the consultation.

Definition of high-risk AI applications

AI has a broad range of current and future applications, including some that involve significant benefits and risks.  We think any future regulation would benefit from a more carefully nuanced definition of “high-risk” applications of AI. We agree that some uses warrant extra scrutiny and safeguards to address genuine and complex challenges around safety, fairness, explainability, accountability, and human interactions. 

Assessment of AI applications

When thinking about how to assess high-risk AI applications, it's important to strike a balance. While AI won’t always be perfect, it has great potential to help us improve over the performance of existing systems and processes. But the development process for AI must give people confidence that the AI system they’re using is reliable and safe. That’s especially true for applications like new medical diagnostic techniques, which potentially allow skilled medical practitioners to offer more accurate diagnoses, earlier interventions, and better patient outcomes. But the requirements need to be proportionate to the risk, and shouldn’t unduly limit innovation, adoption, and impact. 

This is not an easy needle to thread. The Commission’s proposal suggests “ex ante” assessment of AI applications (i.e., upfront assessment, based on forecasted rather than actual use cases). Our contribution recommends having established due diligence and regulatory review processes expand to include the assessment of AI applications. This would avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and likely speed up implementation.

For the (probably) rare instances when high-risk applications of AI are not obviously covered by existing regulations, we would encourage clear guidance on the “due diligence” criteria companies should use in their development processes. This would enable robust upfront self-assessment and documentation of any risks and their mitigations, and could also include further scrutiny after launch.

This approach would give European citizens confidence about the trustworthiness of AI applications, while also fostering innovation across the region. And it would encourage companies—especially smaller ones—to launch a range of valuable new services. 

Principles and process

Responsible development of AI presents new challenges and critical questions for all of us. In 2018 we published our own AI Principles to help guide our ethical development and use of AI, and also established internal review processes to help us avoid bias, test rigorously for safety, design with privacy top of mind.  Our principles also specify areas where we will not design or deploy AI, such as to support mass surveillance or violate human rights. Look out for an update on our work around these principles in the coming weeks. 

AI is an important part of Google’s business and our aspirations for the future. We share a common goal with policymakers—a desire to build trust in AI through responsible innovation and thoughtful regulation, so that European citizens can safely enjoy the full social and economic benefits of AI. We hope that our contribution to the consultation is useful, and we look forward to participating in the discussion in coming months.

Responding to the European Commission’s AI white paper

In January, our CEO Sundar Pichai visited Brussels to talk about artificial intelligence and how Google could help people and businesses succeed in the digital age through partnership. Much has changed since then due to COVID-19, but one thing hasn’t—our commitment to the potential of partnership with Europe on AI, especially to tackle the pandemic and help people and the economy recover. 

As part of that effort, we earlier today filed our response to the European Commission’s Consultation on Artificial Intelligence, giving our feedback on the Commission’s initial proposal for how to regulate and accelerate the adoption of AI. 

Excellence, skills, trust

Our filing applauds the Commission’s focus on building out the European “ecosystem of excellence.” European universities already boast renowned leaders in dozens of areas of AI research—Google partners with some of them via our machine learning research hubs in Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and London—and many of their students go on to make important contributions to European businesses.  

We support the Commission’s plans to help businesses develop the AI skills they need to thrive in the new digital economy. Next month, we’ll contribute to those efforts by extending our machine learning check-up tool to 11 European countries to help small businesses implement AI and grow their businesses. Google Cloud already works closely with scores of businesses across Europe to help them innovate using AI.  

We also support the Commission’s goal of building a framework for AI innovation that will create trust and guide ethical development and use of this widely applicable technology. We appreciate the Commission's proportionate, risk-based approach. It’s important that AI applications in sensitive fields—such as medicine or transportation—are held to the appropriate standards. 

Based on our experience working with AI, we also offered a couple of suggestions for making future regulation more effective. We want to be a helpful and engaged partner to policymakers, and we have provided more details in our formal response to the consultation.

Definition of high-risk AI applications

AI has a broad range of current and future applications, including some that involve significant benefits and risks.  We think any future regulation would benefit from a more carefully nuanced definition of “high-risk” applications of AI. We agree that some uses warrant extra scrutiny and safeguards to address genuine and complex challenges around safety, fairness, explainability, accountability, and human interactions. 

Assessment of AI applications

When thinking about how to assess high-risk AI applications, it's important to strike a balance. While AI won’t always be perfect, it has great potential to help us improve over the performance of existing systems and processes. But the development process for AI must give people confidence that the AI system they’re using is reliable and safe. That’s especially true for applications like new medical diagnostic techniques, which potentially allow skilled medical practitioners to offer more accurate diagnoses, earlier interventions, and better patient outcomes. But the requirements need to be proportionate to the risk, and shouldn’t unduly limit innovation, adoption, and impact. 

This is not an easy needle to thread. The Commission’s proposal suggests “ex ante” assessment of AI applications (i.e., upfront assessment, based on forecasted rather than actual use cases). Our contribution recommends having established due diligence and regulatory review processes expand to include the assessment of AI applications. This would avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and likely speed up implementation.

For the (probably) rare instances when high-risk applications of AI are not obviously covered by existing regulations, we would encourage clear guidance on the “due diligence” criteria companies should use in their development processes. This would enable robust upfront self-assessment and documentation of any risks and their mitigations, and could also include further scrutiny after launch.

This approach would give European citizens confidence about the trustworthiness of AI applications, while also fostering innovation across the region. And it would encourage companies—especially smaller ones—to launch a range of valuable new services. 

Principles and process

Responsible development of AI presents new challenges and critical questions for all of us. In 2018 we published our own AI Principles to help guide our ethical development and use of AI, and also established internal review processes to help us avoid bias, test rigorously for safety, design with privacy top of mind.  Our principles also specify areas where we will not design or deploy AI, such as to support mass surveillance or violate human rights. Look out for an update on our work around these principles in the coming weeks. 

AI is an important part of Google’s business and our aspirations for the future. We share a common goal with policymakers—a desire to build trust in AI through responsible innovation and thoughtful regulation, so that European citizens can safely enjoy the full social and economic benefits of AI. We hope that our contribution to the consultation is useful, and we look forward to participating in the discussion in coming months.

No address? No problem. Share your location using Plus Codes

For many of us, it’s easy to take addresses for granted. We order products online, and they show up at our doorstep. In an emergency, we give our address to an ambulance or fire truck, and they quickly get to us. But what happens when you don’t have an address and you need to direct someone to your current location? 

More than 2 billion people on the planet—about 25 percent of us or more —either don’t have an address or have an address that isn’t easy to locate. To tackle this challenge, we launched Plus Codes in 2015. Plus Codes are simple, easy to use digital addresses derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. They can be used to uniquely identify any location, from a rural home out on a prairie to a small shop stall on a nameless street.

Today we’ve made it easier for anyone with an Android device to share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. People who use Google Maps might be familiar with the blue dot that represents their current location. Simply tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code for your current location that can be shared with others as easily as giving them a phone number.

Tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code

Plus Codes: free, digital address for anywhere

A Plus Code is a simple alphanumeric code which can be combined with a locality (for example: FWM8+V9, Ibadan, Nigeria). They look like a regular address, but with a short code where a street name or number would be. Beyond using the blue dot, you can also find the Plus Code for a location by tapping and holding the map to drop a pin at a location you want a Plus Code for.

Plus Codes are searchable on Google Maps and even Google Search, meaning everywhere on the planet can now be uniquely identified. 

These digital location identifiers are free to use, available offline and can be printed on paper, posters and signs. The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case.

About Plus Codes

A helpful tool for emergency and crisis situations 

Plus Codes can be especially helpful for people and organizations in emergency and crisis response scenarios. If you’ve ever been in an emergency, you know that being able to share your location for help to easily find you is critical. Yet in many places in the world, organizations struggle with this challenge on a daily basis. 

With Plus Codes, not only can people share their location quickly even without an address, but they can now do so by simply opening up Google Maps and tapping on the blue dot to view, copy and share their Plus Code location. A Plus Code can then be entered into Google Maps to help locate and navigate to that location.

Digital locations through Plus Codes means that everywhere now has an easily identifiable location, saving time and getting resources there when it really matters. Not having an address should no longer be a barrier to easily sharing your location with service providers, guiding them to you when you most need them.

Download the latest version of the Google Maps Android app over the coming weeks to try out the new update.

No address? No problem. Share your location using Plus Codes

For many of us, it’s easy to take addresses for granted. We order products online, and they show up at our doorstep. In an emergency, we give our address to an ambulance or fire truck, and they quickly get to us. But what happens when you don’t have an address and you need to direct someone to your current location? 

More than 2 billion people on the planet—about 25 percent of us or more —either don’t have an address or have an address that isn’t easy to locate. To tackle this challenge, we launched Plus Codes in 2015. Plus Codes are simple, easy to use digital addresses derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. They can be used to uniquely identify any location, from a rural home out on a prairie to a small shop stall on a nameless street.

Today we’ve made it easier for anyone with an Android device to share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. People who use Google Maps might be familiar with the blue dot that represents their current location. Simply tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code for your current location that can be shared with others as easily as giving them a phone number.

Tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code

Plus Codes: free, digital address for anywhere

A Plus Code is a simple alphanumeric code which can be combined with a locality (for example: FWM8+V9, Ibadan, Nigeria). They look like a regular address, but with a short code where a street name or number would be. Beyond using the blue dot, you can also find the Plus Code for a location by tapping and holding the map to drop a pin at a location you want a Plus Code for.

Plus Codes are searchable on Google Maps and even Google Search, meaning everywhere on the planet can now be uniquely identified. 

These digital location identifiers are free to use, available offline and can be printed on paper, posters and signs. The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case.

About Plus Codes

A helpful tool for emergency and crisis situations 

Plus Codes can be especially helpful for people and organizations in emergency and crisis response scenarios. If you’ve ever been in an emergency, you know that being able to share your location for help to easily find you is critical. Yet in many places in the world, organizations struggle with this challenge on a daily basis. 

With Plus Codes, not only can people share their location quickly even without an address, but they can now do so by simply opening up Google Maps and tapping on the blue dot to view, copy and share their Plus Code location. A Plus Code can then be entered into Google Maps to help locate and navigate to that location.

Digital locations through Plus Codes means that everywhere now has an easily identifiable location, saving time and getting resources there when it really matters. Not having an address should no longer be a barrier to easily sharing your location with service providers, guiding them to you when you most need them.

Download the latest version of the Google Maps Android app over the coming weeks to try out the new update.

Learn and play together as a family with Chromebook

The last few months have been an adventure for a lot of families like mine that are juggling work, parenting, and school at home. Our family Chromebook has been a huge help. Between video calls with teachers and classmates, virtual “field trips” to the zoo, moviemaking, and book publishing (and that’s just the last week!), my kids are spending more time online. With that comes some challenges, and I know I’m not alone. A lot of parents are looking for better tools to help them manage and guide their kids’ time spent online.


We hope our new Chrome OS update can help. This update brings two new improvements to Family Link on Chromebook: access to Chrome Web store extensions for kids and per-app time limits for Google Play apps. Family Link is an app that helps parents set digital ground rules and manage screen time across kids’ Android phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. Parents can use the Family Link app from their phone to set restrictions on which websites their kids can visit, set device time limits, and approve and install apps from the Google Play Store for their child’s account.

Access to thousands of useful extensions

Now, parents can let their children personalize Chrome with thousands of free extensions and themes from theChrome Web Store and be more productive with tools like Zoom and Screencastify. To approve extensions, parents just need to enter their password on the supervised Chromebook.
M83_Family_GIF1

Parents can now approve extensions from the Chrome Web Store for their kids.

Healthy guardrails for apps on Chromebook

With the latest update, parents can also set per-app time limits for Play Store apps to manage their child’s screen time on Chromebooks. This Family Link improvement gives parents more precise control over their kids’ app usage, so kids can strike the right balance of time on educational apps like Khan Academy Kids and games like Roblox.

M83_Family_Image1

Kids will receive notifications related to per-app time limits set by parents.

Getting started

If you’re new to using Family Link on Chromebook, download the app from the Google Play Store and check out this article on our Help Center for set-up instructions. 


Here are some other tips for using Chromebook as a family:

  • Visit the revamped “Kids” tab on the Google Play Store to find teacher-approved apps for learning and entertainment.

  • Visit Teach from Home for resources on teaching and learning at home, and more information about the Google for Education tools your kid may be using in school.  

  • Help your kid learn the fundamentals of digital citizenship and online safety with Google’s Be Internet Awesome family resources and the Interland game

  • Turn on Digital Wellbeing settings, like Night Light, which changes Chromebook’s screen temperature to reduce blue light at night.

We’ll be back soon with another highlight reel of recent improvements to Chromebook.