Tag Archives: area 120

Organize your documents effortlessly with Stack

Have you ever lost a receipt you needed for a refund? Or misplaced an important tax document? Or forgot a bill and incurred a fine? I’ve done all three. (More than once!) 

As we go through life, we come across many documents that we might need in the future. Organizing these documents takes time and effort. So, if you’re anything like me, you might end up with piles of papers lying around your house (or PDFs scattered across your computer desktop). And good luck finding them when you actually need them. 

I joined Google a couple of years ago when my education startup, Socratic, was acquired. At Socratic, we used Google’s computer vision and language understanding to make learning easier for high school students. I wondered if we could apply the same technologies to make organizing documents easier. 

To experiment with this idea, my colleague Mathew Cowan and I joined Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator. We worked with DocAI, a team in Google Cloud whose artificial intelligence has helped companies analyze billions of documents. We found that by applying DocAI’s enterprise technology to personal documents, we could help people get organized.
Stack's logo, which has blue, green and yellow rectangles stacked on one another near the word Stack

Today, we’re launching Stack, our experimental app for Android. It’s early days — our algorithms still get things wrong, but we’re improving them every day. Here are some of the things you can do with Stack:

Effortlessly categorize your documents.

Take a photo of a document and Stack will scan it, automatically name it for you, and suggest the right category — or “stack,” as we call them — for you to store it in. 

An animation showing a receipt from a store being scanned and saved.

Find things faster.

Stack will identify important information in your documents (such as “due date” or “total amount due”) and pull it out to make it easier to find and access. You can also search through the full text of your documents (not just the title) to quickly find what you need.

An animation showing details from a water bill being scanned in Stack

Never lose a document.

Stack uses Google's advanced security and sign-in technology to protect your documents. For extra protection on your phone, you can require a scan of your face or fingerprint every time you unlock the app. 


Stack can also automatically save a copy of your documents to Google Drive. That way, should you ever decide to stop using Stack, your documents will be accessible in Drive and easy to export. 

A laptop showing Google Drive and a smartphone showing a fingerprint scanning login screen.

We know how stressful staying on top of your paperwork can be. So far, Stack has made us feel more organized and prepared for whatever life throws at us. We're excited about its potential to help you, too.


Stack is only available on Android in the U.S. You can install it through the Google Play store.

How we built a new tool without ever meeting in person

A little over a year ago, a group of us within Area 120, Google’s internal incubator, wanted to explore whether recorded video could help remote teams work better. Little did we know at the time that COVID-19 would soon send us all home, and we'd actually have to build the product remotely as well. That project became Threadit, short video recordings to share your work and connect with your team. 

Once we had a working  prototype, we started using Threadit to take back control of our working hours. Threadit, available from your browser or as a Chrome extension, helps you say and show more with a video message than with an email or chat. We use Threadit to show each other our progress, ask questions or request feedback without needing to coordinate schedules. This helps us reduce unnecessary meetings while still becoming a tighter-knit team. We have more time to think and do focused work, and the meetings we keep are more effective and easier to schedule for everyone. 

Today, Threadit is available to anyone who wants to try it. 

Threadit screenshots

Record yourself and your screen

To use Threadit, simply speak straight to the camera or share your screen; if you don’t like how it sounded, just hit record and try it again. Record as many short clips as you’d like, and Threadit will stitch them all together into one cohesive video message. When you’re done, send it off to your team. Anyone can reply with their own video message when they’re ready — it’s all part of one conversation.
Threadit screenshots

We know Threadit works because we used it ourselves. Our team has still never met in person. Instead of team whiteboarding sessions or quick updates around someone’s desk, we had to juggle work and family schedules. This meant more virtual meetings and lengthy text exchanges just to stay on the same page.


Show up how you want, when you want

People from all over the world helped us build Threadit, so using the tool became a great way to see one another without having to schedule live meetings across time zones. I’d send a Threadit to my colleagues in Japan during my normal working hours in Seattle; they’d respond during the hours that worked for them in Tokyo. Threadit helped us feel like we were working together in person, even though we were responding at different times from across the world — it built connections that email couldn’t. The best part? Nobody had to get up early or stay up late.

This became our new norm, whether with teammates in Tokyo or in their homes just down the street. I could record replies around putting my son down for a nap or cooking dinner, and review what I said so I came across how I wanted. Threadit gave us an opportunity to hear from everyone on our team, not just the loudest voices in a live meeting. We had more control over our time and could contribute when we were each ready.

Threadit screenshots

How will you use Threadit? 

Since we started, we’ve seen teams use Threadit in different ways, from sharing sales presentations to recording product tutorials to sending leadership updates. We even started using Threadit as a way of celebrating team birthdays! 

Because we all have enough productivity tools to manage as is, we built Threadit to work the way you do. Access Threadit directly from your web browser or mobile device. If you get our Chrome extension, you can record yourself and anything on your screen at any time, even from within Gmail. Send a Threadit to anyone by simply sharing the link — no  download necessary. 


Threadit screenshots

We’re excited for you to see how Threadit can help your team. Get started at threadit.area120.com.  

GameSnacks brings HTML5 games to Google products

Last February we announced GameSnacks, a HTML5 gaming platform from Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental products. We launched GameSnacks to test whether lightweight, casual games would resonate with people who use the internet via low memory devices on 2G and 3G networks, especially in countries like India and Indonesia.

Since then, millions of people from around the world have played our games. GameSnacks now has more than 100 games built by early game development partners. These games span multiple genres: classics (e.g. Chess), racing games (e.g. Retro Drift), puzzle games (e.g. Element Blocks), and hypercasual games (e.g. Cake Slice Ninja) to list a few. You can check out the full catalog by visiting gamesnacks.com.


Today, we’re sharing how we’ve broadened our efforts by bringing HTML5 games to Google products. We’re also inviting more game developers to join us as we grow the platform.

Finding HTML5 games to play is hard

When I mention HTML5 web gaming to friends and family, they fondly remember Flash gaming sites from 10 or 15 years ago. Web games have come a long way since then. Mobile browsers can now render rich graphics, and engines like Phaser, Construct and Cocos make it easier for developers to build HTML5 games. 

HTML5 games tend to be small, enabling them to load quickly in a variety of network conditions, whether on 2G near the outskirts of New Delhi or on an intermittent connection on a New York City subway. Users can play them on any device with a web browser: Android, iOS, and desktop. And across these devices, users don’t need to install anything to play. They simply tap on a link and start playing games immediately.

However, the distribution landscape for HTML5 games is fragmented. Developers have to painstakingly modify their HTML5 games to work across each app they integrate with or web portal they upload to. Discovering HTML5 games to play is often difficult.

We’ve been thinking about how we can make HTML5 game developers’ lives easier to ultimately get more HTML5 games out to more users. Here’s a closer look at how we’re doing this.

A new way to discover HTML5 games across Google products

Back in February 2020, we announced our partnership with Gojek to bring HTML5 games to their users and give developers a new distribution opportunity. Since then, we’ve been bringing the GameSnacks catalog to users across a variety of different Google apps. 

First, we’ve made it easy to access GameSnacks games directly from the New Tab page in Chrome, starting with users in India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Kenya. Users can get to gamesnacks.com via the Top Sites icon on Chrome on Android. The Games section is one of the most frequently visited sections of the page.

The game Stack Bounce played on Google Chrome in mobile.

Blast through blocks in Stack Bounce on GameSnacks on Google Chrome.

Second, we’ve brought GameSnacks games to Google Pay users in India. Google Pay initially started as a way to help users pay friends. Increasingly, they allow users to get many more things done: book rides, order food and now, entertain themselves.


Google Pay users in India can play GameSnacks games from the Games section of the app.

Bolly Beat played on Google Pay in India

Bounce to the rhythm in Bolly Beat on GameSnacks on Google Pay.

Third, we’re experimenting with bringing GameSnacks games to the Google Assistant. When select Android Assistant users ask to play a GameSnacks game, they can start playing instantly.


The game 99 Balls played on Google Assistant.

Ask Google to play 99 Balls on GameSnacks on Google Assistant.

And finally, we’re experimenting with surfacing GameSnacks games in Discover. Select users in India will see GameSnacks games appear in their feed:

The game Tiger Run on Google Discover.

See how far you can run in Tiger Run on GameSnacks on Google Discover.


GameSnacks will be a one-stop shop for developers to bring their HTML5 games to Google users, no matter what product they’re using. Over the coming months, we’ll look for more opportunities to bring GameSnacks games to more Google products.

An open call to game developers

We’re committed to helping game developers succeed with HTML5. Beyond continuing to help developers reach more users, we’ll help developers build meaningful gaming businesses by helping them better monetize HTML5 games. We’ll soon start experimenting with next-generation AdSense for Games ad formats with a select number of GameSnacks games.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to add more high quality HTML5 games to our catalog. If you’re a game developer interested in being an early GameSnacks partner, reach out and let’s work together.

Make tracking your work easier than ever with Tables

I’ve been in the technology industry for a long time, including 10 years at Google. And during my years in the workforce, I’ve always had a difficult time tracking projects. Our teams stored notes and related tasks in different documents. Those documents always got out of date. We’d have to manually sync data between them. And I’d spend a lot of time coordinating between team members to prioritize and update statuses. I spent more time keeping track of work than actually working! 

Tracking work with existing tech solutions meant building a custom in-house solution or purchasing an off-the-shelf product, but these options are time-consuming, inflexible and expensive.

That's why we built Tables, a user-friendly, intuitive work tracking tool, as part of Area 120, Google's in-house incubator for experimental projects. Tables helps teams track work and automate tasks to save time and supercharge collaboration—without any coding required.

Save time, work smarter

Tables, with other teams at Google, is investing in automation. For Tables, this means Bots. With Bots, teams can easily schedule recurring email reminders when tasks are overdue, message a chat room when new form submissions are received, or move a task to someone else’s work queue when the status is changed.

Tables

Tables helps teams track work, no matter the task at hand.

Prior to Tables, you'd have to do a lot of manual work: check multiple different sources of data, collate it all together and then copy and paste it into another doc to hand it off. Tables makes automating these actions quick and easy, saving teams time and making collaboration seamless.

Integrated with Google

Getting started with Tables is easy. You can import data right from Google Sheets, share data with your Google Groups and assign tasks to your existing Google contacts. 

It’s time to spend more time working and less time tracking it. That’s why today, we launched the beta version of Tables in the U.S.—with both a free and paid plan. Now you can work more efficiently and collaborate easily, no matter the task. Get started today or visit our website to learn more. 

Fundo: a virtual experiences platform for creators

In 2018, while working on a project at Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator for experimental projects, my colleague Sha Sajadieh and I went to VidCon, a major convention for the online video industry. The energy was absolutely incredible. Fans rushed across the convention floor to meet their favorite creators, and waited in massive queues for a selfie.

It reminded us that the YouTube community is amazing—the connections between creators and their audiences goes far deeper than just videos and comment threads. But we also thought: How can we create these magic moments for even more people, at any time, no matter where they are?  

This sparked an idea for a new Area 120 project: Fundo, a platform for virtual events and experiences, designed and built for creators. With Fundo, everything is live and interactive, using face-to-face video chat to mirror those in-person encounters. And it all happens using your computer or phone, from the comfort of home or on the go. 

Fundo also gives creators new monetization options to support what they do. Event hosts are in control of ticket prices and any discounts, including free events if preferred. Some creators using YouTube Channel Memberships offer Fundo Meet & Greets exclusively to channel members as a premium perk.

Over the past year, many parts of life had to move online and become virtual. While we didn’t build Fundo specifically because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission of creating meaningful experiences online is even more important today. In addition to YouTube creators and their fans, we're seeing authors, fitness instructors, business and lifestyle consultants and others use Fundo to find new ways to connect.

We’ve been testing with early adopters, and today we are launching Fundo for all creators in the U.S. and Canada, with more locations coming soon.

One end-to-end platform

Virtual events, especially ticketed experiences, can be complicated. From scheduling to sign-ups, payment processing, communication and live streaming, there’s a lot to manage. Fundo makes it easy by providing a single end-to-end solution. Event hosts and their guests can do everything within the Fundo website, with no apps or additional software downloads required.

Brandon Rogers on Fundo

Fans can discover events happening on Fundo through our home page, or through links shared directly by their favorite creators. You choose an event, answer a few questions, complete the ticket purchase and you’re all set. Fundo will provide the event link and send reminders up until the start time, as well as technical support if needed. 

Safety is a top priority. Because Fundo is checking everyone’s ticket, there’s no risk of uninvited guests. We also have reporting and flagging features to curtail abuse.

Customized experiences

No two creators are the same, and no two audiences are the same. That’s why Fundo offers different types of experiences that can be adapted and customized. Creators can schedule an event in advance, or let fans request a time. They can meet one-on-one or in groups. They can invite co-hosts or take the stage solo.

As a fan, you’ll have a variety of experiences to choose from. Join the Q&A with Kreekcraft’s channel members in a group Meet & Greet:

Kreekcraft on Fundo

Take selfies together using our Photo Booth, with Las 2 Muñecas:

Las 2 Muñecas on Fundo

Or join a virtual workshop, like The East Family’s home mixology seminar:

The East Family on Fundo

Check out our calendar of all featured events, available now at fundo.town. If you are interested in using Fundo as a creator to host events, you can sign up now at fundo.town/creators

Orion Wifi helps venues improve cellular coverage

When I visit a grocery store or a doctors’ office, I sometimes have weak cellular coverage. I know there might be a public Wi-Fi network that could help, but it’s a pain to figure out which networks are high-quality and available to me. And then it’s another often-frustrating process to get connected.

What if my cellular carrier could give me the best of both worlds?

Orion Wifi helps solve this problem. Orion Wifi is a new platform from Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator for experimental projects. We’ve designed an easy way for public venues—like that grocery store, a medical office or a mall—to sell Wi-Fi capacity to cellular carriers.

With Orion Wifi, when you walk into that grocery store, your carrier can automatically and securely connect you to the Wi-Fi.

Although you don’t lift a finger, there’s a lot happening in the background. As you walk into the grocery store, Orion Wifi helps the local network tell the carrier about its price and quality. If the carrier decides the connection is good enough, we’ll auto-connect you. If the quality is too low, we won’t. When you are connected, Internet traffic flows over the Wi-Fi network just as if you had connected directly to the Wi-Fi; Orion cannot access users’ Internet traffic. 

That means more connectivity in more places—seamlessly and automatically.  

Public venues: more revenue, happier visitors

What’s in it for the grocery store? Poor connectivity is a problem for them, too. Disconnected visitors are unhappy visitors. So places like downtown districts, office buildings, stores, malls, restaurants, transit hubs and hospitals invest heavily in high-quality networks so that you can make a video call, send a picture and check your email.  

Orion Wifi uses those existing networks to connect more visitors, and to provide a new revenue stream to the venue owner. 

Orion Wifi works with most commercial and enterprise Wi-Fi systems, usually with no new hardware or software. Orion Wifi helps improve connectivity even for venues that have already deployed Distributed Antenna Systems or Small Cells to improve coverage. But unlike those systems, Orion Wifi is incredibly quick and easy to turn on.  

Partnering across cellular, Wi-Fi and real estate

We’re working with industry leaders across the telecommunications industry to make this happen.  

Google Fi and Republic Wireless will be among the first cellular carriers to use this new technology. We’re partnering with leading Wi-Fi manufacturers like Cisco Systems, CommScope (RUCKUS) and Juniper Mist to ensure that Orion Wifi is compatible and easy to deploy with their networking equipment. And we’re working with the Wireless Broadband Alliance on the emerging OpenRoaming standard to make Wi-Fi roaming even more powerful. 

To ensure ubiquitous access, we’re also partnering with experts in Wi-Fi and real estate to deploy Orion Wifi widely. Boingo, the leading carrier-grade Wi-Fi provider, is using Orion Wifi to expand its connectivity offering to travelers and visitors across their U.S. footprint. And we’re working with leaders in commercial real estate like 5G LLC, GigaMonster, CA Ventures and Single Digits to enable Orion Wifi at premium venues across the United States. 

Easy, quick and free

Starting today, Orion Wifi is available to United States-based public venues. We’ve made the sign-up process easy. There’s no cost to sign up, and no commitments or obligations. If you operate venues with high-quality commercial Wi-Fi networks, visit orion.area120.com, where you can use our self-service portal to try it out for yourself.  

Orion Wifi helps venues improve cellular coverage

When I visit a grocery store or a doctors’ office, I sometimes have weak cellular coverage. I know there might be a public Wi-Fi network that could help, but it’s a pain to figure out which networks are high-quality and available to me. And then it’s another often-frustrating process to get connected.

What if my cellular carrier could give me the best of both worlds?

Orion Wifi helps solve this problem. Orion Wifi is a new platform from Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator for experimental projects. We’ve designed an easy way for public venues—like that grocery store, a medical office or a mall—to sell Wi-Fi capacity to cellular carriers.

With Orion Wifi, when you walk into that grocery store, your carrier can automatically and securely connect you to the Wi-Fi.

Although you don’t lift a finger, there’s a lot happening in the background. As you walk into the grocery store, Orion Wifi helps the local network tell the carrier about its price and quality. If the carrier decides the connection is good enough, we’ll auto-connect you. If the quality is too low, we won’t. When you are connected, Internet traffic flows over the Wi-Fi network just as if you had connected directly to the Wi-Fi; Orion cannot access users’ Internet traffic. 

That means more connectivity in more places—seamlessly and automatically.  

Public venues: more revenue, happier visitors

What’s in it for the grocery store? Poor connectivity is a problem for them, too. Disconnected visitors are unhappy visitors. So places like downtown districts, office buildings, stores, malls, restaurants, transit hubs and hospitals invest heavily in high-quality networks so that you can make a video call, send a picture and check your email.  

Orion Wifi uses those existing networks to connect more visitors, and to provide a new revenue stream to the venue owner. 

Orion Wifi works with most commercial and enterprise Wi-Fi systems, usually with no new hardware or software. Orion Wifi helps improve connectivity even for venues that have already deployed Distributed Antenna Systems or Small Cells to improve coverage. But unlike those systems, Orion Wifi is incredibly quick and easy to turn on.  

Partnering across cellular, Wi-Fi and real estate

We’re working with industry leaders across the telecommunications industry to make this happen.  

Google Fi and Republic Wireless will be among the first cellular carriers to use this new technology. We’re partnering with leading Wi-Fi manufacturers like Cisco Systems, CommScope (RUCKUS) and Juniper Mist to ensure that Orion Wifi is compatible and easy to deploy with their networking equipment. And we’re working with the Wireless Broadband Alliance on the emerging OpenRoaming standard to make Wi-Fi roaming even more powerful. 

To ensure ubiquitous access, we’re also partnering with experts in Wi-Fi and real estate to deploy Orion Wifi widely. Boingo, the leading carrier-grade Wi-Fi provider, is using Orion Wifi to expand its connectivity offering to travelers and visitors across their U.S. footprint. And we’re working with leaders in commercial real estate like 5G LLC, GigaMonster, CA Ventures and Single Digits to enable Orion Wifi at premium venues across the United States. 

Easy, quick and free

Starting today, Orion Wifi is available to United States-based public venues. We’ve made the sign-up process easy. There’s no cost to sign up, and no commitments or obligations. If you operate venues with high-quality commercial Wi-Fi networks, visit orion.area120.com, where you can use our self-service portal to try it out for yourself.  

Shoploop: an entertaining new way to shop online

Last year, I was on the New York City subway conducting user research for Touring Bird, a project I was working on with Area 120, Google’s in-house lab for experimental projects. One of the young commuters standing next to me was silently scrolling on her device, switching between a social media app, YouTube and an online shop. 

Curious, I asked her what she was doing. It turns out she'd seen somebody promote a makeup product on social media, and wanted to check it out—so she watched reviews on YouTube to see how it would look in real life and whether other people liked it. Then she looked it up on an e-commerce site to buy it. This took three different apps or websites, at minimum, to find what she was looking for.

This was the original insight for a new experiment Area 120 is launching today: Shoploop, a video shopping platform for discovering, evaluating and buying products, all in one place.

Discover new products in a short, entertaining video format

The experience on Shoploop is more interactive than just scrolling through images, titles and descriptions on a traditional e-commerce site. All Shoploop videos are shorter than 90 seconds and help you discover new products in an entertaining way, whether you want to try at-home nail stickersrevive your second-day hair or get a concealer that gives full coverage

Shoploop 1.gif

Hélène's fun video shows you how to make your eyeliner pop for summer.

Information from real, relatable people

We want to help people experience the look and feel of products they’re shopping for in real life without going to a physical store. Shoploop helps you get product reviews from real people who are knowledgeable about the products in a particular area. For example, Alex shows live product usage in her video to get rid of pimples, and Kim includes practical tips and advice on how to use a face roller in her video.

Shoploop 2.gif

Stacy demonstrating how to get pink puff hair.

A simple purchasing experience

Once you find a product that interests you, you can either save the product to buy it later or click straight to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase. You can also follow your favorite Shoploop creators and share videos you like with your friends and family. 

Blog post Gif 3.gif

A quick and easy purchase experience on Shoploop.

Currently, we’re focused on content creators, publishers and online store owners in the beauty industry in categories such as makeupskincarehair and nails. Our goal is to provide them a platform where they can review and recommend products and help others shop directly from their videos. For example, Jessica, contributing editor at Allure, shows the benefits of using a Mihakka (a face exfoliating tool made with clay from the Atlas mountains in Morocco), and Adeline Koh, owner of handmade skincare company Sabbatical Beauty, highlights the craftsmanship and story behind her products. If you are a content creator or a store owner in any of these product areas, you can apply through our website to be an exclusive Shoploop creator.

Check out our Shoploop experiment by visiting shoploop.app on your mobile device. The current site is optimized for mobile and we are working hard to bring it to desktop users soon. 

Want to share your passion with the world? Get Keen

“What are we doing?” my wife asked as we both looked up from our phones one evening. We’d been browsing feeds of posts, images and news for hours on end, mindlessly filling the gaps between work and sleep. “This is our one precious life,” she told me. That line, paraphrased from a Mary Oliver poem, became shorthand for us to spend more time on what we loved.

That week, we started collecting some of the things that brought us joy and shared them with each other. She grew up birding and knew I was interested, so she sent me links to resources on bird identification, migration patterns and good binoculars. Since we met, we had also dreamed about someday starting a flower farm, so  we began collecting notes on farming plans, seed catalogs and other ideas to chase that dream together.

It was powerful to tell each other what we wanted to spend more time on. And once we did, we found that collecting related ideas, links and resources together gave us a way to spend more time on our shared passions in real life.

To explore this idea further, four colleagues and I created a new experiment called Keen as part of Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental projects. We worked in close collaboration with a team at Google called People and AI Research (PAIR), dedicated to human-centered machine learning systems, to develop this experiment.

A home for long-term interests 

On Keen, which is a web and Android app, you say what you want to spend more time on, and then curate content from the web and people you trust to help make that happen. You make a “keen,” which can be about any topic, whether it’s baking delicious bread at home, getting into birding or researching typography. Keen lets you curate the content you love, share your collection with others and find new content based on what you have saved.

Using Keen on desktop and mobile

Curate and share 

You can curate for yourself or for other people. Just as my wife found resources to help me learn about birding, you can use Keen to build a collection of your best resources on a topic you know well and share it with people who would enjoy your curation. The keens can be private or public, so you control what is shared and who can contribute.

Expand and explore

For every keen you create, we use Google Search and the latest in machine learning to remain on the lookout for helpful content related to your interests. The more you save to a keen and organize it, the better the recommendations become. Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can start curating a keen and save a few interesting “gems” or links that you find helpful. These bits of content act like seeds and help keen discover more and more related content over time. You can also follow keens that others have created, discovering thousands of hand-curated lists from the community and getting alerts when new things are added.

Spend time on what you love

Keen isn’t intended to be a place to spend endless hours browsing. Instead, it’s a home for your interests: a place to grow them, share them with loved ones and find things that will help in making this precious life count.

We'd love your feedback on the idea and how to make it better, and if you’ve made a keen that you think others would love, let us know.

Want to share your passion with the world? Get Keen

“What are we doing?” my wife asked as we both looked up from our phones one evening. We’d been browsing feeds of posts, images and news for hours on end, mindlessly filling the gaps between work and sleep. “This is our one precious life,” she told me. That line, paraphrased from a Mary Oliver poem, became shorthand for us to spend more time on what we loved.

That week, we started collecting some of the things that brought us joy and shared them with each other. She grew up birding and knew I was interested, so she sent me links to resources on bird identification, migration patterns and good binoculars. Since we met, we had also dreamed about someday starting a flower farm, so  we began collecting notes on farming plans, seed catalogs and other ideas to chase that dream together.

It was powerful to tell each other what we wanted to spend more time on. And once we did, we found that collecting related ideas, links and resources together gave us a way to spend more time on our shared passions in real life.

To explore this idea further, four colleagues and I created a new experiment called Keen as part of Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental projects. We worked in close collaboration with a team at Google called People and AI Research (PAIR), dedicated to human-centered machine learning systems, to develop this experiment.

A home for long-term interests 

On Keen, which is a web and Android app, you say what you want to spend more time on, and then curate content from the web and people you trust to help make that happen. You make a “keen,” which can be about any topic, whether it’s baking delicious bread at home, getting into birding or researching typography. Keen lets you curate the content you love, share your collection with others and find new content based on what you have saved.

Using Keen on desktop and mobile

Curate and share 

You can curate for yourself or for other people. Just as my wife found resources to help me learn about birding, you can use Keen to build a collection of your best resources on a topic you know well and share it with people who would enjoy your curation. The keens can be private or public, so you control what is shared and who can contribute.

Expand and explore

For every keen you create, we use Google Search and the latest in machine learning to remain on the lookout for helpful content related to your interests. The more you save to a keen and organize it, the better the recommendations become. Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can start curating a keen and save a few interesting “gems” or links that you find helpful. These bits of content act like seeds and help keen discover more and more related content over time. You can also follow keens that others have created, discovering thousands of hand-curated lists from the community and getting alerts when new things are added.

Spend time on what you love

Keen isn’t intended to be a place to spend endless hours browsing. Instead, it’s a home for your interests: a place to grow them, share them with loved ones and find things that will help in making this precious life count.

We'd love your feedback on the idea and how to make it better, and if you’ve made a keen that you think others would love, let us know.