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Newsfeeds from around the industry
The Official Google Blog
Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture.

  • Through the Google lens: Search trends February 20-26
    If you’re the kind of person who loves the Internet when it’s at its most Internet-y, you had a good week. From llamas to retro cartoons to that darn dress, here’s a look at the past week in search:

    Internet gold
    Is it white and gold? Or blue and black? That’s the question that had everyone searching, tweeting and generally freaking out Thursday after a Tumblr user posted a photo of a dress that seemed to appear different colors to different people. Debate over the true color of the dress raged for hours, while others tried to solve the mystery of its divisiveness. All we know is, there were more than two million searches for [white and gold dress] yesterday—more than for [blue and black dress]—proving once and for all that it’s white and gold… right?
    Before #thedress, though, there were the llamas. In Phoenix, Ariz., yesterday, two llamas got loose from their handlers and took off on a trot through neighborhood streets, yards and sidewalks. Searchers were captivated by the “llama drama,” which ended when police (l)lassoed the animals after a low-speed chase.
    Obama says (K)nope
    Armed with waffles, Lagavulin and a lot of tissues, we said farewell to NBC’s Parks and Recreation on Tuesday after a seven-year run. Searchers turned to the web to revisit favorite characters, quotes and episodes from the show that brought us “Treat Yo’ Self” and the Cones of Dunshire, while (wackily) celebrating the value of hard work, friendship and public service.
    Moving from the small-town politics of Pawnee to the big-time in D.C., this week President Obama issued his third-ever Presidential veto, rejecting a bill that would have approved the Keystone XL Pipeline project. People turned to the web to learn more about Presidential veto power throughout history and the pipeline itself. What would Leslie and Ron make of all this, we wonder?

    Heroic comebacks
    Woo-oo! Nineties kids are rejoicing following news that the Disney cartoon DuckTales is getting a reboot. Searches for the show spiked 8x the day after the announcement. Sounds like a lot of you are ready for some tales of derring-do in 2017.
    And Madonna had a bit of a shaky week, after she fell backwards down a flight of stairs during her first performance at the Brit Awards in 20 years. But the Queen of Pop recovered quickly to finish her song “Living for Love.” She’s still an icon for a reason.

    Tip of the week
    This will be illuminating: if you have an Android device running Lollipop, you can flip the on/off switch on your phone’s flashlight just by saying “Ok Google, turn on my flashlight.” You can do the same trick to turn on or off WiFi or Bluetooth.

    Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched for [lil sebastian] and [duck tales real ducks]

  • Rethinking office space
    Not the sexiest title for a blog post, I know. But as we’ve inhabited a variety of workplaces—including a garage in Menlo Park, a farmhouse in Denmark and an entire New York city block—we’ve learned something about what makes an office space great. And we’re excited to put that into practice, starting here at our home in Mountain View.

    Today we’re submitting a plan to redevelop four sites—places where we already have offices but hope to significantly increase our square footage—to the Mountain View City Council. It's the first time we'll design and build offices from scratch and we hope these plans by Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio will lead to a better way of working.
    A rendering of our proposed new campus. See more images on Google+

    The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas. (Our self-driving car team, for example, has very different needs when it comes to office space from our Search engineers.) Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature.

    Of course, this project is about much more than just office space; it’s about doing more with the local community as well. So we’re adding lots of bike paths and retail opportunities, like restaurants, for local businesses. We also hope to bring new life to the unique local environment, from enhancing burrowing owl habitats to widening creek beds. And we’re committed to do everything we can to save energy—our recent agreement to offset our energy consumption in North Bayshore with renewable energy includes the development of this proposal.

    We chose Mountain View for our headquarters 15 years ago because we love the beauty of the bay, the close proximity to great universities, the family-friendly environment and the chance to work in a city at the heart of Silicon Valley. Today, we want to create office spaces that don’t just provide a great home for Google, but which also work for the city that has given us so much.

    We look forward to working with our neighbors at the City Council on this proposal—and the future of Mountain View’s North Bayshore.

    Posted by David Radcliffe, Vice President, Real Estate

  • Get away with Google Flights
    While winds howl, frost bites and snow falls, people dream of getting away from it all. Every year around this time, we see an uptick in searches for spring and summer travel from people who have had it up to here with winter. And in the middle of one of the coldest, snowiest, iciest winters on record in the U.S., you better believe people are gearing up to grab their suntan lotion and their carry-ons, and hop on a plane. Enter Google Flights, which makes it easy to plan the trip that’s right for you. Here are a few tips to help you book this year’s dream vacation.

    Flexibility is key when finding great deals
    There’s a travel myth that you can always find the best deals on Tuesday. But actually, you can find good deals any day of the week—especially if you’re flexible with your travel dates. Though it’s sometimes hard to pull the trigger because you’re afraid the price will drop tomorrow (or next Tuesday, maybe?), our experience shows it’s usually best to book right away.

    Regardless of which day you sit down to plan your trip, you can use the calendar in Google Flights to scroll through months and see the lowest fare highlighted for each day. If you’re planning even further out, use the lowest fares graph beneath the calendar to see how prices may fluctuate based on the season, holidays or other events. You can also set preferences (such as direct flights only) and our calendar will adjust to show you just those flights and fares that fit the bill. Finally, if you can save more by using a nearby airport or flying on a different day, we’ll show you a tip at the top of your results.
    Not sure about your destination? No problem
    Sometimes, you know exactly where your destination needs to be—say, when you’re taking a business trip, or headed to a wedding or family reunion. But there are times when all you know is that you want to go somewhere. Maybe you want to go somewhere with a beach, but don’t care if it’s in Greece or the Caribbean. Or you want to visit Southeast Asia, but aren’t sure which countries to visit.

    Our research shows more than half of searchers don’t know where they’re going to travel when they sit down to plan. With Google Flights, you can search for regions or whole countries, like “Flights to Europe” and “Flights to Mexico." Or, expand the map to scan the entire world and see accurate prices for all the different cities you can fly to, along with filters for your flight preferences. If you’re in a particularly adventurous—or lazy—mood, select the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the map and we’ll suggest ideas for where to go based on popular destinations and your past search history.

    But… cheaper isn’t always better
    We all love a good deal, but when it comes to choosing flights, cheaper doesn’t always win—and no wonder, when sometimes that means two connections instead of none. On Google Flights, the vast majority of people choose one of the Best flights—considered to be flights that are the best combination of price and convenience. Try it out next time you’re looking for something that fits your schedule, not just your budget.

    So once you’ve warmed your hands on that cup of hot cocoa, put them to work on your keyboard or phone. Google Flights is ready to find the best destinations, dates, fares and flights for you to get away from it all.

    Posted by Eric Zimmerman, Product Manager, Google Flights (dreaming of warmth from my Boston ice prison)

  • Expanding opportunities through computer science education
    One student celebrated Martin Luther King Day. Another created a music video with a nod to a Frozen princess. A third invited a cold polar bear in for holiday cheer. All these students are participants in Google CS First, a program that teaches 9- to 14-year-olds how to use computer science (CS) to express themselves and their interests. In the process, they get a window into the world of coding and learn skills that may be useful to them in the future.

    We launched CS First back in 2013, and since then more than 19,000 students have participated at one of 1,300+ CS First clubs around the country, most run by teachers, parents and volunteers. All our CS First materials are free and available online, and the curriculum is designed for everyone to work at their own pace, meaning it’s accessible even to people who are new to technology. It’s also designed to tap into students’ existing interests, showing them how CS can integrate with the rest of their lives. Inspired by fashion, art, music, politics and more, students have used code to build videos, games and stories on topics big and small, from how they met their best friends to solving global hunger.
    CS First participants at Sedgefield Middle School in Goose Creek, SC look over a friend’s shoulder at her project

    Now, we’re partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Corporation for National and Community Service to bring CS First to even more students across the country. A new group of 20 AmeriCorps VISTA members will spend a year helping local Boys & Girls Clubs incorporate CS First and other educational programs into their slate of activities, giving more young people, especially those who might not otherwise be exposed to coding, greater access to computer science education.

    Computer science is increasingly important to building a successful career, in fields varying from medicine to architecture to music. But today, there aren’t enough computer scientists to fill the available jobs—and on top of that, many populations aren’t equally represented in the field. According to code.org, only 8 percent of people who take the Advanced Placement Computer Science Exam are students of color, and only 15 percent are women. And while women earn 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees, only 12 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women. We want to expand the pool of technologists, and make sure that all young people, regardless of background or resources, have access to high-quality CS education from an early age.

    That’s what this new effort is all about. Our partners have long been committed to supporting young people and communities. Boys & Girls Clubs of America gives young people access to opportunities to help them become productive and responsible citizens during out of school time. And AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. Working together, we can empower more young people with the technical know-how they need to succeed in today’s society and economy.

    Join us in making CS more accessible to more kids, and apply on the AmeriCorps website by March 1. If accepted, you’ll come to the Google headquarters in Mountain View for training before spending a year in one of six cities. Best of all, your year of service will make a real difference in the lives of young people.

    Posted by Kate Berrio, Google CS First Program Manager

  • Our first building block in tech for tykes: YouTube Kids
    When we were kids, if we wanted to learn more about gorillas or how to make friendship bracelets, our parents pointed us to an encyclopedia, or took us to the library. When we wanted to watch cartoons, we eagerly awaited Saturday morning. Today’s kids have it even better—they have all of these options, plus a world of knowledge and information at their fingertips via the Internet. That opens up wonderful opportunities, but also can cause some worry for those of us who are parents.

    So over the past year, teams across Google—including many passionate parents—have been looking at how families are using our products, and how we can make it easier for children and parents to explore and play together. We decided to start with YouTube.

    For years, families have come to YouTube, watching countless hours of videos on a variety of topics. And today, we’re launching YouTube Kids, a new family-friendly app that makes it easy for kids to explore a vast selection of videos on any topic.

    In the new YouTube Kids app, available on Android and iOS in the U.S., videos are narrowed to focus on content that is appropriate for the whole family. You might explore DIY arts and crafts, learn how to find the circumference of a circle, or watch favorites from Mother Goose Club to Minecraft, as well as new series from National Geographic Kids and Reading Rainbow. And there are more train videos than even you can count.

    We’ve designed the app to be easier for kids to use, with a brighter and bigger interface that’s perfect for small thumbs and pudgy fingers. For parents, we’ve built in options that let you decide how your family uses the app, including the ability to set viewing limits with a timer.

    Head over to YouTube’s blog to learn more. This is just our first step—we’ll keep tinkering and hope to have more great products for your family soon.

    Posted by Pavni Diwanji, VP of Engineering, and Shimrit Ben-Yair, Product Manager, both moms of two

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