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Google Apps highlights – 2/18/11

2/18/2011 11:24:00 AM
This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This Friday update includes improvements to the Gmail mobile web app and Google Docs interfaces, a feature long-sought-after by many Google Voice fans, a powerful account security improvement and stories from several of the companies and government agencies that have recently moved to Google Apps.

Priority Inbox for Gmail mobile web app
Keeping what’s most important front and center is especially helpful on the smaller screen of your mobile device, so we were happy to release Priority Inbox in the Gmail mobile web app. If your phone’s browser supports HTML5, you’ll see the familiar Priority Inbox sections and message importance markers when you visit gmail.com.


Doc list refresh
The documents list in Google Docs got a visual makeover and tune-up on Monday. We added a helpful set of filters to quickly narrow down search results, a right-side preview panel to show details about a selected file and the ability to view uploaded media like photos and videos. What we previously called “Folders” are now called “Collections,” and we’re making the whole interface snappier to save you time.


Port numbers to Google Voice
Last month, we updated Google Voice in response to one of our top user requests: the ability to port existing phone numbers to Google Voice. If you have a beloved phone number that you want to keep as your primary digits, but want Google Voice to ring multiple phones when someone calls, Number Porting might be for you. There’s a $20 charge for Number Porting, and your wireless carrier may charge an early termination fee, so we recommend that you check with your carrier before porting. For more details, check the Google Voice Help Center.



2-Step Verification available to all
Now everyone can help keep their account safer with 2-Step Verification, which we released to Google Apps business customers last year. This advanced security feature works by requiring you to sign in with something you know (your password) plus something you have (a code from your mobile phone). 2-Step Verification helps ensure that the person trying to access your account is the real you.


New setup wizard for Google Apps administrators
Organizations using Google Apps often get up and running in under an hour, but we wanted the setup experience to be even faster and easier. Last week we added a new Google Apps setup wizard to the administrative control panel, which gives guided help for creating user accounts, migrating existing mail to Gmail, routing user email to Gmail and more.


Who’s gone Google?
Recently we’ve seen a surge in new public sector customers—including the Administrative Conference of the United States, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the City of Rochester Hills. These organizations are not only saving taxpayer dollars with Google Apps, but also boosting the productivity of their ranks.

More than 50,000 businesses have also started using Google Apps in the last three weeks. Pithy Little Wine Co., DeyFischer Consulting, Manna on Main Street and Hunter Douglas are just a few of the businesses we’ve profiled recently who are are going 100% web.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Explore our U.S. Presidents on a map

2/18/2011 09:02:00 AM
(Cross-posted from the Students Blog and Lat Long Blog)

When I was in elementary school, I got two days off every February; one for George Washington and another for Abraham Lincoln. I remember classrooms were usually wallpapered with a potpourri of decorations left over from Valentine’s Day and token silhouettes of these two Presidents thumb-tacked to the bulletin board. My teachers would talk about the significance of the holiday during class but with lack of visuals to pique my interest, it was always hard to retain (and fully enjoy!) the information. With that in mind, we’re pleased to celebrate the President’s Day holiday in the U.S. by letting you go back in time to learn more about our past presidents in a visually fun and interactive way.

We’ve created a U.S. Presidents Showcase to map the birthplaces of all 44 presidents, and provide details about their presidential terms, using the Google Earth plug-in. You can also see the states that voted during each president’s election by clicking on the tours in the left column of the showcase.


Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious to learn more about U.S. presidents, we hope you enjoy exploring a little further using Google Earth. In addition to the U.S. Presidents map, educators can use some of our other resources in their classroom to explore more aspects of history. Here are a few ideas:
  • Explore the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other historical monuments in 3D and have students explain how architecture is used to honor people, concepts and establishments
  • View a 3D model of Valley Forge National Park in Google Earth
  • View a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and map the areas where slavery ended, as well as the areas that were not initially covered by this executive order
  • Discuss the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and use the ruler tool in Google Earth to measure the width of the Delaware River
We hope you have fun exploring and learning a little more of the history behind the President’s Day holiday. And when you’re done, go out and enjoy your day off!

YouTube Highlights 2/17/2011

2/17/2011 07:16:00 PM
This is the latest in our series of YouTube highlights. Every couple of weeks, we bring you regular updates on new product features, interesting programs to watch and tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

A lot has happened since our last update, including protests in Egypt, a major U.S. sporting event, the launch of the Google Art project and the Grammy Music Awards—all portrayed in different ways by YouTube and our global community.

Footage of protests in the Middle East on YouTube
Thousands of videos of the protests in Egypt earlier this month were uploaded to YouTube, giving people access to raw footage shot by Egyptians on the ground. People around the world could access these videos by visiting CitizenTube, YouTube’s news and politics channel, or watching live coverage on Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English YouTube channels, as well as Fox News' and Arabic broadcaster Al-Arabiya’s YouTube channels. We’ve also been working with news curation group Storyful to curate videos from the protest movements in Bahrain, Iran, Yemen, Algeria and Libya—you can check out highlights on CitizenTube.

This week’s trends on YouTube
Each weekday, YouTube Trends takes a look at the most interesting videos and cultural phenomena on YouTube. Here’s a sampling from the past two weeks:



2011 Nonprofit Video Awards
For the second year in a row, we’re working to help nonprofits succeed through the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards, a celebration of the best nonprofit video on the site. Submit your nonprofit’s video at www.youtube.com/nonprofitvideoawards. Prizes include $2,500 grants from the Case Foundation, Flip cams, free admission to the Nonprofit Technology Conference and a spotlight on the YouTube homepage.

Showtime’s “SHORT stories” recruits short filmmakers
Showtime wants to feature cutting-edge web filmmakers through its “SHORT stories” series. If you’re a filmmaker interested in the project, find out more from Showtime's Trevor Noren.

The big game: find out which ads garnered the most views
The halftime ads during the U.S.’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl, are notoriously popular—and this past game was no exception. YouTube Trends analyzed which ads were the most-searched commercials in the hours following the big game and compiled the top 10 most-viewed ads the day after.
 We also discovered some fun facts about the big game: Did you know that an estimated 69.6 million pounds of avocados were consumed on that Sunday? Or that this time was the first Super Bowl with no cheerleaders? Check out YouTube AdBlitz to watch any ads you may have missed.

Events worth watching
In case you missed them live, you can still catch up on some of the big happenings of the past few weeks on YouTube:



We’ll update you again in a few weeks. In the meantime, visit the YouTube Blog for more on ongoing programs such as On the Rise and YouTube Trends.

Designing award-winning video games with SketchUp

2/17/2011 01:40:00 PM
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was the biggest video game of 2009. It sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide, was identified by Metacritic as the most critically acclaimed game of the year, racked up more than 50 Game of the Year awards and set a new bar for artistry and storytelling in a video game. I spent more Saturday nights than I care to admit playing this game, so I was pretty excited when I found out that Robh Ruppel, Art Director at Naughty Dog Studios, used Google SketchUp to help design the game’s look and feel.

We sat down with Robh to hear how he used SketchUp to visualize Uncharted 2’s environments.



To hear more of our conversation with Robh and see some of his work, check out the Google SketchUp blog.

An update to Google Social Search

2/17/2011 07:00:00 AM
(Cross-posted on the Social Web Blog)

Today we’re doing a little bit more to bring you all the goodness of Google, plus the opinions of the people you care about. As always, we want to help you find the most relevant answers among the billions of interconnected pages on the web. But relevance isn’t just about pages—it’s also about relationships. That’s why we introduced Google Social Search in 2009, and why we’ve made a number of improvements since then. Today we’re taking another step forward—enabling you to get even more information from the people that matter to you, whether they’re publishing on YouTube, Flickr or their own blog or website.

First, social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture:

Social search results can rank anywhere on the page, and you’ll see who shared the result in the annotation underneath

Second, we’ve made Social Search more comprehensive by adding notes for links people have shared on Twitter and other sites. In the past, we’d show you results people created and linked through their Google profiles. Now, if someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a link, we may show that link in your results with a clear annotation (which is visible only to you, and only when you’re signed in). For example, if you’re looking for a video of President Obama on “The Daily Show” and your friend Nundu tweeted the video, that result might show up higher in your results and you’ll see a note with a picture of Nundu:

Now Social Search includes links people share on Twitter and other services

Third, we’ve given you more control over how you connect accounts, and made connecting accounts more convenient. You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now we’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account. (After all, you may not want everyone to know you’re @spongebobsuperfan on Twitter.) In addition, if our algorithms find a public account that might be yours (for example, because the usernames are the same), we may invite you to connect your accounts right on the search results page and in your Google Account settings:

The new setting enables you to choose whether or not to show your connected accounts publicly on your Google profile

For an overview of Google Social Search and our new features, check out the explanatory video:



As always, you’ll only get social search results when you choose to log in to your Google Account. We’re starting to roll out the updates today on Google.com in English only and you’ll see them appear in the coming week. With these changes, we want to help you find the most relevant information possible, personalized to your interests and the people you care about. To learn more, check out our help center.

Sixteen demos enter. One demo triumphs. Welcome to the Demo Slampionship.

2/16/2011 02:24:00 PM
Last October, we introduced Demo Slam based on one simple idea: nobody knows Google tech better than our users. So we asked all of you to submit tech demo videos that showcase our technology in fun ways.

Four months and many tech demos later, Demo Slam has reached people all over the world. Thanks to students, musicians, filmmakers, scientists, athletes, animators and even a toddler, demoslam.com has become a hub of creativity and technology. We’ve seen voice searches 20 feet off the ground, a living replica of Mt. Rushmore and a transcontinental Street View road race.

It’s been tons of fun, but now it’s time for Demo Slam to get serious: ladies and gentlemen, the first-ever Demo Slampionship begins today. Sixteen of Demo Slam’s finest slams will go head to head in a single elimination tournament. Each round, your votes decide who advances to final Slampionship. Voting for the first round of 16 begins today, followed by the quarter finals, semi finals and the Final Slampionship. Although there can be only one Slampion, every demo will do its part to help millions understand technology a little better.

Go to demoslam.com to check out the competition and start voting on the first round. Let the Slampionship begin!

Visualize your own data in the Google Public Data Explorer

2/16/2011 11:01:00 AM
(Cross-posted on the Google Code Blog)

Over the past two years, we’ve made public data easier to find, explore and understand in several ways, providing unemployment figures, population statistics and world development indicators in search results, and introducing the Public Data Explorer tool. Together with our data provider partners, we’ve curated 27 datasets including more than 300 data metrics. You can now use the Public Data Explorer to visualize everything from labor productivity (OECD) to Internet speed (Ookla) to gender balance in parliaments (UNECE) to government debt levels (IMF) to population density by municipality (Statistics Catalonia), with more data being added every week.

Today, we’re opening the Public Data Explorer to your data. We’re making a new data format, the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL), openly available, and providing an interface for anyone to upload their datasets. DSPL is an XML-based format designed from the ground up to support rich, interactive visualizations like those in the Public Data Explorer. The DSPL language and upload interface are available in Google Labs.

To upload a dataset, click on the “My Datasets” link on the left-hand side of the Public Data Explorer. Once imported, a dataset can be visualized, embedded in external websites, shared with others and published. If you’re an official provider, you can request that your datasets appear in the Public Data Explorer directory; please contact us to discuss this process.


With this new capability, we hope more datasets can come to life through Public Data Explorer visualisations and enable people to better understand the world around them and make more informed, data-driven decisions. Stay tuned for more datasets, visualization features and DSPL extensions in the future.

A simple way for publishers to manage access to digital content

2/16/2011 07:04:00 AM
(Cross-posted on the Google News Blog)

At Humboldt University in Berlin today, Eric Schmidt announced Google One Pass, a service that lets publishers set their own prices and terms for their digital content. With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps.

Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smartphones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password. Importantly, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don’t have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices.

With Google One Pass, publishers can customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them—offering subscriptions, metered access, "freemium" content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps. The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content. We take care of the rest, including payments technology handled via Google Checkout.

Our goal is to provide an open and flexible platform that furthers our commitment to support publishers, journalism and access to quality content. Like First Click Free, Fast Flip and Living Stories, this is another initiative developed to enable publishers to promote and distribute digital content.

German publishers Axel Springer AG, Focus Online (Tomorrow Focus) and Stern.de joined Eric at Humboldt University today as some of our first Google One Pass partners. Other publishers already signed up include Media General, NouvelObs, Bonnier’s Popular Science, Prisa and Rust Communications.

Google One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. If you’re a publisher in one of these countries and want to learn more, please reach out to the Google One Pass team or submit your information on our website. For interested publishers in other countries, we’d love to hear from you too as we plan to expand to other countries in the coming months.

Search trends: a clue to 2011 Oscar winners?

2/15/2011 11:59:00 AM
Each year, as the Academy Awards bubble to the top of our collective consciousness, we see a major spike in search traffic related to the event. This year, on the day the nominees were announced, four of the top 10 trending search terms in the U.S. were Oscar-related.

After last year’s awards ceremony, we provided an in-depth summary of search trends that played out during the broadcast. But could search trends have predicted the winners? To make it easy to explore how the actors, directors and cinematographers are trending in search—and maybe see if that data correlates with the eventual winners—you can explore search data across all award categories on our new Oscar Search Trends website.

John Batelle once described search trends as “a massive database of desires, needs, wants and likes.” Looking at Insights for Search data, we were intrigued to find that this “database of intentions” shows consistent search patterns among Best Picture winners for the last three years. Each year, the winning film has shown an upward trend in search volume for at least four weeks, as well as highest regional interest from New York (The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country for Old Men).


Will that pattern repeat this year? If you apply the same test, this year’s most likely candidates for best picture—by search pattern—are The Social Network (trending upward for five weeks) followed by Black Swan and The King’s Speech (each trending upward for four weeks). The Fighter, another 2011 Best Picture nominee, saw an upward trend in search volume for five weeks after its release, but highest regional interest was from Massachusetts instead of New York; no film with highest regional interest in Massachusetts has won best picture since The Departed in 2007. Perhaps Boston will take it back in 2011?

We can’t say for sure what will happen this year, since searches can only reflect what people are interested in, but it’s fun to look for patterns that persist year after year. So before you make any Academy Awards-related bets with your friends this year, be sure to explore the Oscar Search Trends. Choose any award category to see how the nominees were searched over time.

Making sense of science: introducing the Google Science Communication Fellows

2/15/2011 08:00:00 AM
(Cross-posted on the Google.org Blog)

In an effort to foster a more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue, we’ve started a new effort aimed at inspiring pioneering use of technology, new media and computational thinking in the communication of science to diverse audiences. Initially, we’ll focus on communicating the science on climate change.

We’re kicking off this effort by naming 21 Google Science Communication Fellows. These fellows were elected from a pool of applicants of early to mid-career Ph.D. scientists nominated by leaders in climate change research and science-based institutions across the U.S. It was hard to choose just 21 fellows from such an impressive pool of scientists; ultimately, we chose scientists who had the strongest potential to become excellent communicators. That meant previous training in science communication; research in topics related to understanding or managing climate change; and experience experimenting with innovative approaches or technology tools for science communication. This year’s fellows are an impressive bunch:
  • Brendan Bohannan, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, University of Oregon
  • Edward Brook, Professor, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University
  • Julia Cole, Professor, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona
  • Eugene Cordero, Associate Professor, Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose University
  • Frank Davis, Professor, Landscape Ecology & Conservation Planning, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Andrew Dessler, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University
  • Noah Diffenbaugh, Assistant Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University
  • Simon Donner, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
  • Nicole Heller, Research Scientist, Climate Central
  • Brian Helmuth, Professor, Biological Sciences, University South Carolina
  • Paul Higgins, Associate Director, Policy Program, American Meteorological Society
  • Jonathan Koomey, Consulting Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
  • David Lea, Professor, Earth Science, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Kelly Levin, Senior Research Associate, World Resources Institute
  • David Lobell, Assistant Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University
  • Edwin Maurer, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, Santa Clara University
  • Susanne Moser, Research Associate, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Matthew Nisbet, Associate Professor, School of Communication, American University
  • Rebecca Shaw, Director of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, CA Chapter
  • Whendee Silver, Professor, Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry, University of California-Berkeley
  • Alan Townsend, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado
At our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters in June, the fellows will participate in a workshop, which will integrate hands-on training and facilitated brainstorming on topics of technology and science communication. Following the workshop, fellows will be given the opportunity to apply for grants to put their ideas into practice. Those with the most impactful projects will be given the opportunity to join a Lindblad Expeditions & National Geographic trip to the Arctic, the Galapagos or Antarctica as a science communicator.

Congratulations to all of the fellows! And we’ll keep you posted on more ideas and tools emerging for science communication.