Reader@mReotEch.com

Latest Tech Feeds to Keep You Updated…

Pixel 2 and Daydream View: new experiences in AR and VR

Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to make computing more immersive, intuitive and powerful. With augmented reality (AR), you can interact with digital objects that are integrated seamlessly in the real world around you. With virtual reality (VR), you can experience what it’s like to go anywhere. We just announced the new Pixel 2, which gives you access to amazing smartphone AR and high-quality mobile VR in the same device.

AR: Have fun and get things done

Aside from taking great photos and videos, the Pixel 2 camera is factory calibrated and optimized for AR. It enables robust tracking, even in low-light conditions, and 60 frames per second rendering of AR objects. That means you’ll be able to have really engaging AR experiences.

To start, we’re putting AR objects and characters at your fingertips in a new experience called AR Stickers. With it, you’ll be able to express yourself with playful emojis and set the scene for your very own stories. If you’re powering through an afternoon slump, you can take a picture with a tired cup of coffee from the Foodmoji pack. Or, if you’re feeling festive, shoot a happy birthday video for your friend with lots of AR balloons. These stickers give you new ways to be creative and capture how you’re feeling, so you can share with the people in your life. It works right in the camera, and it’ll be exclusive to the Pixel. 

coffeegif2

We’ll release more new AR Sticker packs in the future, so keep your eyes peeled around the changing seasons, holidays and big pop culture moments. You’ll be able to interact with your favorite characters from “Stranger Things,” and be part of the scene as Eleven faces off against the Demogorgon. Team up with R2-D2 to save the day with the "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" pack. Hang out with your favorite NBA Stars and the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

EDCWGIF

We’re previewing apps and experiences built by our partners with ARCore, the AR software development kit (SDK) for Android. With Houzz, you’ll be able to bring the showroom into your living room and see how different furniture, accent pieces and more fit into your space. Experience the real-time action of a League of Legends match through an AR map, built by Grab Games. And with LEGO, have fun building virtual models in AR with characters that come to life, without fear of stepping on that last 2x4 brick.

AR Stickers and lots of other AR experiences will be available in the coming months.

VR: More immersive with an all-new Daydream View

We’re also announcing a new Google Daydream View headset, which you can pair with Pixel 2 or another Daydream-ready phone for great VR. 

Google Daydream View

With this new headset, we kept the best parts of the original and made them even better. The new Daydream View has high-performance lenses, which result in better image clarity and a wider field of view. It sports a premium two-tone fabric that makes the headset soft and light, and it comes in three new colors: Fog, Charcoal and Coral.

DDV3

There’s so much to experience on Daydream. Last year, we launched with 25 apps and games. Daydream now has more than 250 titles, so you’ll never run out of things to do. Over the last year, we’ve also seen how much people love watching immersive VR video on apps like YouTube VR. And no wonder: great VR video puts you in the center of the action. It’s a totally different experience from watching on a flat screen.

We’re bringing you more of these amazing, only-in-VR moments with a slate of new and exclusive premium content for Daydream. Get closer than front row seats with intimate performances from your favorite stars like Ed Sheeran in “Austin City Limits Backstage.” Hear personal confessions from huge comics like Trevor Noah in “The Confessional,” a YouTube VR original from Felix & Paul. With “The Female Planet,” follow in the footsteps of inspiring women like Gina Rodriguez and Inna Braverman. Venture to all seven continents with the new series “Discovery TRVLR,” and blast off into space with IMAX 3D in Google Play Movies.

Learn more and buy

With Google Pixel 2, you’ll have easy access to both AR and VR. We can’t wait for you to get your hands on it and start exploring. Learn more and pre-order one at the Google Store.

The new Google Daydream View will be available later this year:

  • United States: Google Store, Verizon, Best Buy, AT&T, Amazon
  • Canada: Google Store, Best Buy, Rogers, Bell, Telus, Freedom, Videotron, Glentel
  • United Kingdom: Google Store, EE, Carphone Warehouse
  • Germany: Google Store, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, MediaMarkt, Saturn
  • Australia: Google Store, Telstra, JB Hi-Fi
  • India: Flipkart
  • Italy: Google Store
  • France: Google Store
  • Spain: Google Store
  • Japan: Google Store
  • Korea: Google Store

From now until the end of the year, your purchase of Daydream View will come with a bundle of top games to help get you started. (U.S., U.K. and Korea only).

gamespromo

Ask more of your phone: Google Pixel 2

“What if smartphones were smarter and simpler?” That's the question we asked ourselves last year, and what we set out to answer when we launched our first Pixel phone made by Google. With Pixel, we set out to make the smartphone experience better and bring the best of Google to the most important device in your life. So we created the world’s best smartphone camera and the first phone with the Google Assistant. But we didn’t stop there.

Today, along with a new family of hardware products, we’re introducing Google Pixel 2. We want you to be able to ask even more from your phone—so we're giving you the highest-rated camera ever that helps you take great pictures and interact with the world around you, all-day battery life, and an Assistant that understands you better and helps you get more done.

Pixel 2 is loaded with great features. Let me take you through a few of our favorites.

The best smartphone camera, again

Taking great photos and videos is one of the things you do most with your phone, so we set out to deliver the best photography experience. You get stunningly crisp, clear, and detailed photos in any light. You can also take high-quality portrait shots with the perfect background blurs, from both the front and back camera. New motion photos capture a few seconds of video around the shot so you can relive the moment around the picture. The Pixel 2 camera is powered by our computational photography and machine learning (ML) capabilities which make all these great features easy, fun and fast for you to use.

Pixel 2_Photo Collage.png

We’ve made video capture better too by combining both optical and electronic video stabilization to give you remarkably smooth video, even when you’re on the move. All of these great features mean you can take the best photos and videos with Pixel 2. And don’t just take our word for it—independent camera experts DxOMark have rated the Pixel 2 camera as the best camera of any smartphone, with an unprecedented score of 98. To top it off, we’re once again providing free unlimited storage for all of the photos and videos taken on your Pixel.

Your camera will also keep getting better over time. As just one example, coming soon and exclusive to Pixel, you’ll be able to play with Augmented Reality (AR) Stickers, so you can add playful emojis and virtual characters to your photos and videos and set the scene for your very own stories.

Search what you see

Pixel 2 owners will also get an exclusive preview of Google Lens—a new set of visual smarts that help you learn more about the world around you and get things done. Lens builds on Google’s advancements in computer vision and ML, combined with our Knowledge Graph which underpins Google Search. From day one, on your Pixel 2, you’ll be able to look up landmarks, books, music albums, movies and artwork by clicking on the Lens icon in Google Photos. You can also use Google Lens to copy URLs and contact info from a picture of a poster or business card. We’ll add capabilities on an ongoing basis, including the use of Lens in the Google Assistant.

Google_Lens_Demo_Landmark_GIF_01.gif

The Google Assistant, more helpful for you

The Google Assistant makes many tasks—from sending a text or making a call, to finding an answer—faster, easier and hands-free. You won’t need to edit the text messages you dictate as often as you do with other assistants. With Pixel 2, you can access your Google Assistant with a new feature called Active Edge. Just give the phone a quick squeeze—even when it’s in a case—and ask the Assistant for what you need.

Your Assistant now helps you manage more settings and apps on your phone. You can say “turn on do not disturb” on your way into the theater, instead of navigating settings, and soon you’ll be able to book concert tickets or buy flowers. You can control your music, your smart home devices and find answers to pretty much anything.

In the coming weeks, your Assistant on Pixel will also be able to help with your daily routines, just by using one simple phrase. For example, when you go to bed at night, with a simple “good night” your Assistant can silence your phone, turn off the lights, set your alarm and more. There are also routines coming to Pixel for the morning, your commute, when you get home, etc. So the Google Assistant on Pixel not only understands you better but can also be more personal to you, helping you get more done at any time.

Do more, worry less

We’ve all been caught with a dead battery, so we made sure the Pixel 2 has a battery that lasts all day.* And if you ever need a quick boost, 15 minutes of charging gives you up to seven hours of usage. It’s also water and dust resistant to the IP67 standard and comes with important security features baked in. With monthly security updates from Google, your Pixel will always have the most advanced security precautions built in—no more worrying about updating or upgrading.

We’re also making it easy to switch to Pixel. Most people will be able to copy their contacts, apps, messages, photos, and even their iMessages from their old phones to Pixel in 10 minutes or less. It’s fast and painless.

Just give me the deets, already

Pixel 2 comes in two sizes, with the same great features in both. There’s the 5-inch Pixel 2 with a crystal-clear cinematic OLED display, which comes in Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue. The 6-inch Pixel 2 XL has a razor-sharp pOLED 18:9 display which allows us to create a full screen, immersive viewing experience, and comes in Just Black and Black & White.

Both phones are powered by Android 8.0 Oreo and come with an always-on display which lets you see notifications at a glance on Pixel’s screen without having to touch the power button. The new Now Playing feature, exclusive to Pixel, shows you what song is playing around you. With your permission it matches music to a database of thousands of songs that’s stored on your device, without sending any information to Google.

Alongside Pixel we’re launching new cases and accessories. That includes our customizable Google Live Cases, and a range of other cases, cables, headphones and more from over 25 partners in our “made for Google” program. The "made for" products will feature a badge on the packaging so you know they've been certified to meet Google's compatibility standards.

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are available for pre-order today starting at $649 in the U.S. Both products are also available in Australia, Canada, Germany, India and U.K. We’ll be bringing Pixel 2 XL to Italy, Singapore and Spain later this year. In the U.S., we’re teaming up with Verizon to make Pixel available nationwide at all Verizon retail outlets as well as at Best Buy stores. Pixel is also being offered on the Google Store. And Project Fi fans will be happy to know that Pixel also works on the Fi network.

There's so much more to Pixel 2, but I'm sure I've already taken up my word count. Visit google.com/phones to find out more. 

Pixel 2 video

*Based on use of the included charger and a mix of talk, data, and standby use with always on display off.  Actual results may vary, see website for details.  

Contributor Spotlight: Anne Bracker

Anne Bracker, who goes by bearsky23 on Adobe Stock, is a Kansas-city based graphic designer and vector artist who is artfully balancing a full-time design gig and a successful stock career. Anne will be joining us at Adobe MAX this month and sharing her experience and best tips with creatives curious about getting started with stock. We caught up with her to learn more about her background and why she decided to get into stock in the first place.

Adobe Stock: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? 

Anne Bracker: My name is Anne Bracker and I’m from Kansas City. I’ve been in the design industry for about 15 years, doing everything from prepress to production to agency work. Right now I’m a full-time graphic designer, and I also create vector artwork on nights and weekends to make extra money. I love being creative all the time, not just at work, so it’s a great outlet for me.

Adobe Stock: Did you always want to be a creative professional growing up? 

AB: I always loved art and drawing as a kid, but I was a little worried about pursuing a career in just ‘art,’ because I’d always heard it was hard to make a living as an artist. Then I found out about graphic design, so I decided to major in that in college instead of painting or ceramics. I am so glad I chose graphic design, because the internet has really opened up tons of career options in the design field.

Adobe Stock:  Why did you decide to get into stock? 

AB: I started working at a small agency in Kansas City a few years ago, and they used a lot of stock photos and vectors in their work for clients. I was usually the person searching for these, and that’s what really got me thinking about becoming a contributor. Now I have over 1000 images in my portfolio. It’s been really great having my work online – and I’m able to reach a way bigger audience than what I’d be able to do on my own.

Adobe Stock: What’s the benefit of having your work available on Adobe Stock? 

AB: The fact that Adobe Stock has integration with Photoshop is pretty awesome. They make it so easy for designers to search and use stock images straight from the programs, and that’s a huge benefit for the user over other stock sites. And then of course there’s the audience reach benefit. If I tried to just sell my images on a personal website, it would be very hard to get the kind of traffic my images see on stock sites today.

Adobe Stock: How do you balance your job at the office with creating content for the stock marketplace?

AB: It can sometimes be a little rough. I have a commitment to create at least one new image every day, and sometimes life can be crazy! But I get it done, even if it means ‘making up’ days I missed. Plus, with stock, I can create whatever I want wherever I want. I can put a movie on and sketch ideas, head to a coffee shop and work from there, or even meet up with other designers for a ‘freelance and stock images night’ where we bring our computers and work on projects while catching up. So at the end of the day, it doesn’t really feel like work at all!

Adobe Stock: What types of images tend to sell the best for you? 

AB: I’d say the best-selling images have been ones that target a specific industry, like healthcare or business. I like to do icon sets, because pretty much every business has (or needs) a website, and that means the web designer will probably need icons. I generally just try to guess what my end user, the designer, will be looking for.

Adobe Stock: Do you have any examples that you can share from your Stock portfolio? 

AB: This is a graphic I made for the eclipse.  It’s not even ‘correct’ for what a solar eclipse looks like, but it still resonated with people as an eclipse graphic, so it sold fairly well. Images for upcoming events or holidays can sell really well.

Sometimes I try to focus on a concept and make a few images around that concept. I also try to keep graphic designers in mind when I’m making these since they’re my target market. This graphic provides a designer with an already-made book template and download button that might save them 30 minutes or more. And the book and button can be separated easily – I try to make sure it’s easy for the designer to add or remove elements from my designs.

Adobe Stock: Do you have any advice for people trying to build up their stock portfolio?

AB: I would recommend having a weekly or daily creation goal and sticking to it. My goal is to create one a day, but of course you have to do what works for you. If that’s 3 per week, then great. But if you’re only able to create only one piece a week, you’re probably not going to see the kind of revenue results you want. Also, make sure your keywords are on point – that’s how people are able to find your images. You can have up to 50 keywords on Adobe Stock, but it’s important to have relevant and specific keywords rather than trying to fill up all 50 slots.

Adobe Stock: What are some projects or skills you’re excited to develop in the new year?  

AB: I would love to learn Premiere and After Effects inside and out. I think video is going to continue to become a more important part of a designer’s required skill set as time goes on, so I need to jump on that trend!

See more of Anne’s work on Adobe Stock, and if you’re coming to MAX this year, be sure to check out Anne’s session on Thursday, October 19.

Header image by Anne Bracker

Google Pixelbook: the high performance Chromebook

The way we use technology has changed so much over the past 10 years. We live online. We use tons of apps every day. We create and collaborate more than ever, and we’re constantly jumping across all our devices to get things done.

But while the way we use technology has changed, our laptops haven't really kept up. They don't run many of the apps we use and love on our phones. They're not as portable as tablets. And they’re not always as versatile and helpful as they should be.

With Google Pixelbook, a new high-performance Chromebook, we're hoping to change this. We’ve worked to combine the best parts of a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, to fit how we use technology today. Pixelbook comes with premium hardware; the speed, simplicity and security of Chrome OS; the smarts of the Google Assistant; and all your favorite apps on Google Play.

Beautifully versatile

Pixelbook is the thinnest, lightest laptop we’ve ever made, at just 10.3mm and 1.1 kilograms. It has a 4-in-1 design, so you can do anything you want with it. You can use it as a laptop, fold the keyboard underneath to easily watch your favorite show, read your favorite book or take notes in tablet mode when you’re on the go, or prop it into tent mode as you follow along with a recipe in the kitchen.

Pixelbook Hero US.jpg

The 12.3-inch high-resolution touchscreen display brings you vibrant colors and enough brightness to use outside, even on a sunny day. The thin keyboard is comfortable to use, with soft-touch keys and a backlit design that helps you work anywhere. The trackpad uses new, special touch-processing algorithms to make sure you can navigate with accuracy.

Performance hardware and software  

Pixelbook starts up in seconds, stays fast throughout the day, and won’t slow down over time. Chrome OS provides a more secure computing experience, with multiple layers of security and automatic updates. Pixelbook uses Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors and plenty of RAM to smoothly handle your multitasking needs.

With storage options up to 512 GB, you can store documents, movies, music and apps, and Google Drive will sync your most recent Google Docs, Sheets and Slides to your device, so you can keep working and watching even when you’re offline. Pixelbook’s battery lasts up to 10 hours and if you run low on juice, 15 minutes of charging gets you up to two hours. You can also use your Pixelbook charger with your Pixel phone, giving you one less thing to carry around.

Alongside Pixelbook we’re introducing the Google Pixelbook Pen, a smart, responsive stylus which gives you a natural and comfortable feel when you are sketching and writing. Pixelbook Pen uses machine learning for handwriting recognition, and we’ve reduced latency to just 10 milliseconds—so it feels as fast as writing with a pen on paper. It also has 60 degrees of angular awareness and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, so it’s fast and responsive and naturally follows your hand movements.

A more helpful laptop

Pixelbook is the first laptop with the Google Assistant built in. Just say “Ok Google” or press the dedicated Assistant key, and you can talk or type to find answers or perform tasks. You can set a reminder, check your commute, look up a basketball score, open a new document, or find an email. Just like you can with your other devices, your Google Assistant gives you hands-free access to your music and entertainment and allows you to control your smart home to turn up the thermostat or turn down the lights.

You can also use your Pixelbook Pen to get help or take action on what’s on your screen—just press and hold the button on your Pixelbook Pen and circle an image or text. You can look up words, find out more about a picture, add an event to your calendar, and more.

It’s not just the Assistant that makes the Pixelbook a more helpful laptop. For example, when you don’t have access to WiFi, Pixelbook can automatically connect to your Pixel phone’s data. And you can ask your Google Assistant on Pixel to send an email to a colleague when you’re out and about, and then ask it to find their reply on your Pixelbook when you get back to work.

Your favorite Google Play apps, on a bigger screen

You can download your favorite apps on Google Play for Pixelbook, so you don’t have to switch between your phone and your laptop. For instance, listen to Spotify or use Adobe Lightroom to edit a photo before you post it to Instagram or Snapchat or play games like Asphalt 8.  You can even download Netflix to watch your favorite series both online and offline.

Pixelbook Pen is also great for drawing and designing in your favorite apps. Illustrate with Infinite Painter, design with AutoCAD, or jot down thoughts with Squid and Evernote. You can even take notes right from the lock screen with Google Keep.

Many more developers are building apps for the larger screen too, and you can check Google Play for the latest apps to try.

Pixelbook video

Get yours soon

Pixelbook is available in three configurations starting at $999 in the U.S., so you can choose the processing power, memory and storage you want. The Pixelbook Pen is $99. Both will be on sale at the Google Store and major retailers, including Best Buy, in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Pre-orders start today.

So that’s the Pixelbook—a radically helpful laptop that’s designed to better fit how you work, play and create. To find out more, visit g.co/pixelbook.

Welcoming Mini and Max to the Google Home family

Today, we’re welcoming two new products to the Google Home family: Google Home Mini is small and mighty for hands-free help in every room. And Google Home Max is our biggest and best-sounding Google Home ever. They’re both radically helpful, and packed with the power of the Google Assistant, including some brand new features.

Google Home Mini

Mini makes the Google Assistant more accessible than ever at home. We designed it to fit naturally in any room. It’s sleek and smooth, with no corners or edges, and about the size of a donut. Its fabric enclosure is durable, yet transparent enough to let through both light and sound. The LEDs under the fabric light up to show you when your Assistant hears you. And it projects 360-degree sound so you’ll never miss a beat. With far-field microphones, Mini can hear you even when there’s music playing or there’s other noise in the background. Mini comes in three colors—Chalk, Charcoal and Coral. At $49, Google Home Mini works on its own or you can have a few around the house, giving you the power of Google anywhere in your home.

Google Home Max

Max redefines audio, in a way that only Google can—with AI. Its high-fidelity sound is built on a foundation of premium hardware. With dual 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers, you’ll get deep, balanced bass. And Max can play loud, really loud…so you can fill even the largest room in your home with your favorite music. In fact, it’s 20 times more powerful than the original Google Home.

Max is our first speaker with Smart Sound, a new audio experience powered by Google’s artificial intelligence. It’s what allows Max to adapt to you—your environment, your context, and your preferences. Smart Sound automatically adjusts for where you place Max in a room, so if you decide to move your speaker a few feet, it will dynamically tune itself within seconds.

Max works with a wide range of music services and supports Bluetooth and auxiliary port . And Max was made to fit your space and style; it can be placed vertically or horizontally and comes in two colors—Chalk and Charcoal.


The Google Assistant

The entire Google Home family has the Assistant built in, so you can get answers from Google, tackle your day, enjoy your entertainment, and control your smart home. The Google Assistant is the only assistant that recognizes your voice, and up to five others in your home, so that you can all get a personalized experience The Assistant is always getting better, and today we’re introducing a few new features:

Help with everyday routines 
You can already say “Hey Google, good morning” to hear about your day, including your personalized schedule, commute time, the weather and news. Soon your Assistant will be even more helpful with your daily routines. With a single command, you can control multiple smart home devices plus get information you need in the moment. So “Hey Google, goodnight!” can turn off your lights, turn down the temperature, and let you know tomorrow’s first meeting.

You can also broadcast a message to let the family know when it’s time to get a move on. Just say “Hey Google, broadcast it’s time to leave for soccer practice!” and it’ll play on the other Google Home devices around the house.

Features for families
We’re making Google Home more fun for the whole family, with 50+ new experiences for you to try out. Learn something new, or imagine with storytime. There are also plenty of fun activities; go on an adventure with Mickey Mouse, identify your alter ego with the Justice League D.C. Super heroes, or play Freeze Dance in your living room. These experiences will be supported by Family Link accounts on the Assistant, letting parents create accounts for their children under 13.

Smarter home
Now you can control more than 1,000 smart home products from 100+ brands, with just your voice. Starting today, we’re also introducing new ways to control your Nest products. If you have a Chromecast, you can keep an eye on your home with just your voice. Say “Hey Google, show me the the backyard” to see a live feed, right on your TV. And it won’t stop there; learn more about the ways that Nest will work with your Google Assistant in the Nest Blog.

Learn more about all the new features available from the Google Assistant in this post.

Availability

Google Home Mini is $49 and will be available in stores starting October 19. You can pre-order yours online today at the Google Store, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Verizon and more. Mini will also be available in the U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Australia, and soon Japan. Voice Match is now available in those countries as well. Google Home Max will launch in the U.S. for $399 and comes with 12 months of ad-free YouTube Music—this offer is for new subscribers only and you have until February to claim it (check out the terms). Starting November 13, you can pre-order online from the Google Store, Best Buy and other retailers.

5 Questions for Designer, Author and MAX Speaker Kelli Anderson

Kelli Anderson is a designer, author, and all around creative innovator. She was also one of Adobe’s very first Creative Residents, and she’ll be speaking at Adobe MAX 2017 in Las Vegas, Oct. 18-20. We talked to Kelli about her work, her MAX session, her unique and delightful book, “This Book is a Planitarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions,” and about the concept of designing for good.

Q: The design field is ever-evolving. How do you keep up with the changes and evolve as a designer? Do you find it necessary to continue learning and experimenting with the technology? What do you do to foster your creative growth?

A: As a ‘professional’ it is hard to admit this (but someone has to do it!): I make better work when I’m new to something. When I don’t completely know what I’m doing or what to expect out of the process, the work is often more successful than when I feel like I ‘have a handle on it’. Because of this, I’m eager to experiment with new technology and just see what happens. (Since I don’t know exactly what to expect, I waste no time thinking about strategy or motive and get straight to considerations internal to design itself. It forces me to respond to what’s in front of me, not my preconceived notions about what should be there.)

Q: How do you handle a creative slump? Any favorite places for inspiration?

A: I read kids’ science experiment books (seriously!). But I also like to escape media and just see what’s happening in the world. I love going to the art book fair, to the Arm (which is a community printspace down the street from me), and Chelsea galleries. Lately, political protests have felt very inspiring (the signs are way-good!) Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a slump is idea- or mood-related. Having physical places that make me feel inspired is a necessity in my life.

 

Q: You’re an author as well as a designer, and your newest book is coming out in October. Can you tell us a bit about the book and what inspired it?

A: Yeah—so the new book is called This Book is a Planetarium and it contains a pop-up planetarium, a strummable musical instrument, a geometric drawing generator, a perpetual calendar, a message encrypter and decoder, and a speaker that amplifies sound.

I wanted to reduce familiar gadgets down to just paper—to show that a lot can be done with very little—but also: to demonstrate (rather than just “telling”) that the physical world is amazing in ways we totally take for granted. Because each pop-up works (despite exhibiting no apparent technology), the book enables an intimate, firsthand vantage point on invisible forces at play in our world. The book also concisely explains how paper can be structured to tap into the larger phenomena of light, time, soundwaves, and mathematics in order to make lo-fi magic.

It is kind of a science book for people who are better at feeling things out than they are at math.

 

Q: You’ll be speaking at the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas this October, and your session explores your very hands-on, analogue approach to your projects. Can you tell us more about your working style?

A: In design and in life (mostly) I really like it when things don’t behave as expected. Much more so than ‘being told’, these experiences form a very compelling intervention to our misconceptions about how the larger world works.

This is why I’ve been working on these paper tech design experiments [that the world totally doesn’t, like need-need] For most modern people, witnessing paper perform as functional tech is a revelation—since we tend to assume that all technology is magic that happens in very out-of-reach black boxes. Creating these pop-up books was the most effective way that I could think of to shake people into believing that the science behind the physical world is both magic and accessible to everyone.

Q: The term ‘Design for Good’ is popping up a lot these days, and the idea of your work making a difference in the world is a goal for many designers. Do you think about how your design can impact certain issues for the better? Is that a goal you keep in mind?

A: Definitely. And I don’t think people have to quit their day job (or dump all of their clients and work for a non-profit) to do it. Designers make a ton of tiny decisions that shape the world in small but very fundamental ways. What is the default skin color used in your illustrations? When you say you’re making your app ‘accessible’, who do you have in mind? Right after the election last year, a group of SVA students and I sat down and made a list of all the ‘good’ design can do. We came up with this: empower by informing (do not hide information or mislead), correct/challenge misinformation, visualize the changes that you wish to see in the world (this gets them closer to ‘real’), depict how the world really works (rather than how it’s supposed to work), un-hide diversity, make civic engagement more inviting, make the little guy look bigger than the big guy, level the playing field for someone, show that science is real, uncover new information through applied research, and challenge ossified assumptions.

Thanks, Kelli! We’re looking forward to hearing you speak at MAX!

For those of you attending MAX in person, you can sign up for Kelli’s session here. 

 

Video Playback with the Google Assistant on Android TV

Posted by Benjamin Baxter, Developer Programs Engineer

How to integrate the Google Assistant in a TV app

Earlier this year, we announced that the Google Assistant will be coming to Android TV and it has arrived. The Google Assistant on Android TV will allow users to discover, launch and control media content, control smart devices like light bulbs, and much more. Your Assistant also understands that you're interacting on a TV, so you'll get the best experience possible while watching your favorite movies and TV shows.

The Google Assistant has a built-in capability to understand commands like "Watch The Incredibles", and media controls, like pause, fast forward, etc. This article will walk through how to integrate the Google Assistant into your application.

There are no new APIs needed to integrate with the Google Assistant. You just need to follow the pattern that the Google Assistant expects from your app. If you want to experiment and play with the APIs and the Assistant, you can download this sample from github.

Discovery

The Google Assistant has made some changes to improve finding information on Android TV.

There are a few ways to expose your content to users through the Google Assisant.

Server side integration. (Requires registration and onboarding)

You need to provide your content catalog to Google. This data is ingested and available to the Google Assistant outside of your app.

This is not specific for Google Assistant. It will also enable other Google services such as search and discovery on Google Search, Google Play, Google Home App, and Android TV.

Client side integration. (Available to all apps)

If your app is already searchable, then you only need to handle the EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK flag, which we go into more detail later. Content will auto-play if the app name is explicitly specified in the search results or if the user is already in your app.

Once your app is searchable, you can test by asking the Assistant or, if you are in a loud area, test quietly by running the following adb command:

adb shell am start -a "android.search.action.GLOBAL_SEARCH" --es query \"The Incredibles\" 

Each app that responds to the search query will have a row displaying their search results. Notice that YouTube and the sample app, Assistant Playback, each receive their own rows for content that match the search query.

For specific searches such as "Play Big Buck Bunny", the Assistant will present a card with a button for each app that exactly matched the search query. In the screenshot below, you can see the sample app, Assistant Playback, shows up as an option to watch Big Buck Bunny.

There are times when the Google Assistant will launch an app directly to start playing content. An example of when this occurs is when content is exclusive to the app; "Play the Netflix original House of Cards".

Launching

When the user selects a video from search results, an intent is sent to your app. The priority order for the intent actions are as follows:

  1. Intent specified in the cursor returned from the search (SUGGEST_COLUMN_INTENT_ACTION).
  2. Intent specific in the searchable.xml file with the searchSuggestIntentAction value.
  3. Defaults to ACTION_VIEW.

In addition, the Assistant will also pass an extra to signal if playback should begin immediately. You app should be able to handle the intent and expect a boolean extra called EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK.

import static android.support.v4.content.IntentCompat.EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK;

public class SearchableActivity extends Activity {

   @Override
   protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
       super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
       if (getIntent() != null) {
           // Retrieve video from getIntent().getData().

           boolean startPlayback = getIntent().getBooleanExtra(EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK, false);
           Log.d(TAG, "Should start playback? " + (startPlayback ? "yes" : "no"));

           if (startPlayback) {
               // Start playback.
               startActivity(...);
           } else {
               // Show details for movie.
               startActivity(...);
           }
       }
       finish();
   }
}

You can test this by modifying and running the following adb command. If your app has a custom action, then replace android.intent.action.VIEW with the custom action. Replace the value of the -d argument with the URI you return from the Assistant's query.

adb shell 'am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW --ez
android.intent.extra.START_PLAYBACK true -d <URI> -f 0x14000000'

The -f argument is the logical OR value from FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK | FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TOP. This will force your activity to be freshly launched.

For example, in the sample app, you can run the following command to launch playback of "Big Buck Bunny" as if the assistant had launched it.

adb shell 'am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW --ez
android.intent.extra.START_PLAYBACK true -d 
content://com.example.android.assistantplayback/video/2 -n
com.example.android.assistantplayback/.SearchableActivity -f 0x14000000'

The URI above is defined by the value of android:searchSuggestIntentData in searchable.xml (content://com.example.android.assistantplayback/video/) in addition to the value of SearchManager.SUGGEST_COLUMN_INTENT_DATA_ID (2) returned from the query.

Note that intents may be cached by the Google Assistant up to 7 days. Your app could receive a request to play content that is no longer available. The intent handler should be designed to be stateless and not rely on any previously knowledge to handle the deep link. Your app should gracefully handle this situation. One solution would be to show an error message and let the user land on your main activity or another relevant activity.

Playback

If your app implements MediaSession correctly, then your app should work right away with no changes.

The Google Assistant assumes that your app handles transport controls. The Assistant uses the TransportControls to send media commands to your app's MediaSession. Video apps must support the following controls wherever possible:

  • Play/Pause/Stop
  • Previous/Next
  • Rewind/Fast Forward (implemented with seekTo())

You can easily get a hook for these controls by implementing a MediaSession.Callback. If you play videos using PlaybackTransportControlGlue, then all your callback needs to do it sync the glue and the MediaSession. Otherwise use this callback to sync your player.

public class MyMediaSessionCallback extends MediaSessionCompat.Callback {

   private final PlaybackTransportControlGlue<?> mGlue;

   public MediaSessionCallback(PlaybackTransportControlGlue<?> glue) {
       mGlue = glue;
   }

   @Override
   public void onPlay() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onPlay()");
       mGlue.play();
       updateMediaSessionState(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onPause() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onPause()");
       mGlue.pause();
       updateMediaSessionState(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onSeekTo(long position) {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onSeekTo()");
       mGlue.seekTo(position);
       updateMediaSessionState(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onStop() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onStop()");
       // Handle differently based on your use case.
   }

   @Override
   public void onSkipToNext() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onSkipToNext()");
       playAndUpdateMediaSession(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onSkipToPrevious() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onSkipToPrevious()");
       playAndUpdateMediaSession(...);
   }
}

Continue learning

Check out the following articles and training documents to continue learning about MediaSession and Video apps.

To play around with the Google Assistant on Android TV, download the sample app and run it on Nvidia Shield running Android M or above.

If you would like to continue the discussion, leave a response or talk to me on Twitter.

Samsung HMD Odyssey Introduces the Ultimate Windows Mixed Reality Experience

 

Samsung Electronics, in partnership with Microsoft, today announced the Samsung HMD Odyssey – the most immersive Windows Mixed Reality (MR) headset in the market. The quick and easy to set up Samsung HMD Odyssey delivers a premium virtual reality experience, with superior picture quality and the highest resolution display taking consumers to entirely new virtual limits.

 

“The Samsung HMD Odyssey is a high performing headset, which like all of our products, delivers meaningful innovation to our consumers’ lives,” said YG Choi, Senior Vice President of PC Business Team, Samsung Electronics. “Designed in partnership with Microsoft, the Samsung HMD Odyssey transports consumers to the next frontier of Windows Mixed Reality, which introduces to them to a new, industry leading virtual reality experience.”

 

 

Lifelike Experiences

With dual 3.5-inch AMOLED displays, the Samsung HMD Odyssey delivers more vibrant colors, and deeper blacks, providing crisper, more lifelike images. The 110-degree field of view allows users to discover paramount virtual experiences around them.

 

When it comes to sound, the Samsung HMD Odyssey comes with 360° Spatial Sound, providing users with complete surround sound, through premium built-in AKG headphones.

 

Users can also talk with other gamers, without having to remove the headset, using the fitted array mic.

 

 

Incredibly Easy Start

The Windows Mixed Reality experience with the Samsung HMD Odyssey has been designed to give users the very best experience right out of the box. Unlike typical head-mounted displays, you do not need to install any extra motion sensors – simply connect to your PC and get started. With inside-out position tracking, users are not restricted to a limited space during their virtual reality experience.

 

For a more immersive experience, Samsung HMD Odyssey comes with a Six Degrees of Freedom1 (6 DOF) sensor allowing for intuitive and natural movements.

 

With an adjustable control wheel, the Samsung HMD Odyssey is designed to provide a comfortable and snug fit.

 

Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow at Microsoft said, “We’re excited to welcome the Samsung HMD Odyssey to the Windows Mixed Reality family of devices. This is an incredible product and another important step for the mixed reality journey we are on at Microsoft. With the Samsung HMD Odyssey, the team at Samsung has developed a Windows Mixed Reality headset that will delight our fans looking to immersive themselves in the world of mixed reality this holiday.”

 

The Samsung HMD Odyssey comes with integrated AKG headphones and array mics for voice commands, as well as two motion controllers. The Samsung HMD Odyssey will be available later this year in the US, China, Korea, Brazil and Hong Kong, with pre-orders beginning in the US only on October 3rd.

 

For more information about the Samsung HMD Odyssey, visit http://www.samsungmobilepress.com, news.samsung.com/galaxy or www.samsung.com.

 

*All functionality, features, specifications and other product information provided in this document including, but not limited to, the benefits, design, pricing, components, performance, availability, and capabilities of the product are subject to change without notice or obligation.

 

 

Samsung HMD Odyssey Specifications

Samsung HMD Odyssey (Headset)

Platform Windows Mixed Reality
Display Dual 3.5” AMOLED
1,440 x 1,600 @90/60Hz
Interface HDMI2.0 + USB 3.0 Interface Bound Cable (4m Length)
Lens Single Fresnel
Field of View Φ66, FOV 110º, 6.7X
IPD 60-72mm Range
Camera 6 DOF Camera x 2
Sensor Accelerometer (6 Axis) |  Gyrometer (6 Axis ) |
Compass (3 Axis) | Proximity Sensor | IPD Sensor
Acoustics 2 MIC Support | Cortana | Built-in AKG Headphone
Control & Function Volume | IPD Adjustment
Dimension 202mm (W) x 131.5mm (D) x 111mm (H)
Weight 645g

 

Samsung HMD Odyssey (Controller)

Control & Function Touchpad (Clickable), Menu button
Windows/Controller power button,
Trigger, Thumbstick, Indicator light
Sensor Accelerometer (6 Axis) |  Gyrometer (6 Axis ) |
Compass (3 Axis)
Battery AAA Battery x 2ea
Dimension 154.2 x 119.1 x 119.1mm
Weight 160g

 

1 6 DOF refers to the freedom of movement in a 3 dimensional space. Unlike many VR controllers that recognizes 3 axis, 6 DOF gives you the freedom to move forward and back, left and right, up and down, yaw, pitch, and roll.

Best commute ever? Ride along with Google execs Diane Greene and Fei-Fei Li

Editor’s Note: The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is coming up, and Diane Greene and Dr. Fei-Fei Li—two of our senior leaders—are getting ready. Sometimes Diane and Fei-Fei commute to the office together, and this time we happened to be along to capture the ride. Diane took over the music for the commute, and with Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in the background, she and Fei-Fei chatted about the conference, their careers in tech, motherhood, and amplifying female voices everywhere. Hop in the backseat for Diane and Fei-Fei’s ride to work.

(A quick note for the riders: This conversation has been edited for brevity, and so you don’t have to read Diane and Fei-Fei talking about U-turns.)

fei-fei and diane.gif

Fei-Fei: Are you getting excited for Grace Hopper?

Diane: I’m super excited for the conference. We’re bringing together technical women to surface a lot of things that haven’t been talked about as openly in the past.

Fei-Fei: You’ve had a long career in tech. What makes this point in time different from the early days when you entered this field?

Diane: I got a degree in engineering in 1976 (ed note: Fei-Fei jumped in to remind Diane that this was the year she was born!). Computers were so exciting, and I learned to program. When I went to grad school to study computer science in 1985, there was actually a fair number of women at UC Berkeley. I’d say we had at least 30 percent women, which is way better than today.

It was a new, undefined field. And whenever there’s a new industry or technology, it’s wide open for everyone because nothing’s been established. Tech was that way, so it was quite natural for women to work in artificial intelligence and theory, and even in systems, networking, and hardware architecture. I came from mechanical engineering and the oil industry where I was the only woman. Tech was full of women then, but now less than 15 percent of women are in tech.

Fei-Fei: So do you think it’s too late?

Diane: I don’t think it’s too late. Girls in grade school and high school are coding. And certainly in colleges the focus on engineering is really strong, and the numbers are growing again.

Fei-Fei: You’re giving a talk at Grace Hopper—how will you talk to them about what distinguishes your career?

Diane: It’s wonderful that we’re both giving talks! Growing up, I loved building things so it was natural for me to go into engineering. I want to encourage other women to start with what you’re interested in and what makes you excited. If you love building things, focus on that, and the career success will come. I’ve been so unbelievably lucky in my career, but it’s a proof point that you can end up having quite a good career while doing what you’re interested in.

I want to encourage other women to start with what you’re interested in and what makes you excited. If you love building things, focus on that, and the career success will come. Diane Greene

Fei-Fei: And you are a mother of two grown, beautiful children. How did you prioritize them while balancing career?

Diane: When I was at VMware, I had the “go home for dinner” rule. When we founded the company, I was pregnant and none of the other founders had kids. But we were able to build a the culture around families—every time someone had a kid we gave them a VMware diaper bag. Whenever my kids were having a school play or parent teacher conference, I would make a big show of leaving in the middle of the day so everyone would know they could do that too. And at Google, I encourage both men and women on my team to find that balance.

Fei-Fei: It’s so important for your message to get across because young women today are thinking about their goals and what they want to build for the world, but also for themselves and their families. And there are so many women and people of color doing great work, how do we lift up their work? How do we get their voices heard? This is something I think about all the time, the voice of women and underrepresented communities in AI.

Diane: This is about educating people—not just women—to surface the accomplishments of everybody and make sure there’s no unconscious bias going on. I think Grace Hopper is a phenomenal tool for this, and there are things that I incorporate into my work day to prevent that unconscious bias: pausing to make sure the right people were included in a meeting, and that no one has been overlooked. And encouraging everyone in that meeting to participate so that all voices are heard.

Fei-Fei: Grace Hopper could be a great platform to share best practices for how to address these issues.

...young women today are thinking about their goals and what they want to build for the world, but also for themselves and their families. Dr. Fei-Fei Li

Diane: Every company is struggling to address diversity and there’s a school of thought that says having three or more people from one minority group makes all the difference in the world—I see it on boards. Whenever we have three or more women, the whole dynamic changes. Do you see that in your research group at all?

Fei-Fei: Yes, for a long time I was the only woman faculty member in the Stanford AI lab, but now it has attracted a lot of women who do very well because there’s a community. And that’s wonderful for me, and for the group.

Now back to you … you’ve had such a successful career, and I think a lot of women would love to know what keeps you going every day.

Diane: When you wake up in the morning, be excited about what’s ahead for the day. And if you’re not excited, ask yourself if it’s time for a change. Right now the Cloud is at the center of massive change in our world, and I’m lucky to have a front row seat to how it’s happening and what’s possible with it. We’re creating the next generation of technologies that are going to help people do things that we didn’t even know were possible, particularly in the AI/ML area. It’s exciting to be in the middle of the transformation of our world and the fast pace at which it’s happening.

Fei-Fei: Coming to Google Cloud, the most rewarding part is seeing how this is helping people go through that transformation and making a difference. And it’s at such a scale that it’s unthinkable on almost any other platform.

Diane: Cloud is making it easier for companies to work together and for people to work across boundaries together, and I love that. I’ve always found when you can collaborate across more boundaries you can get a lot more done.

To hear more from Fei-Fei and Diane, tune into Grace Hopper’s live stream on October 4. 

Access information quicker, do better work with Google Cloud Search

We all get sidetracked at work. We intend to be as efficient as possible, but inevitably, the “busyness” of business gets in the way through back-to-back meetings, unfinished docs or managing a rowdy inbox. To be more efficient, you need quick access to your information like relevant docs, important tasks and context for your meetings.

Sadly, according to a report by McKinsey, workers spend up to 20 percent of their time—an entire day each week—searching for and consolidating information across a number of tools. We made Google Cloud Search available to Enterprise and Business edition customers earlier this year so that teams can access important information quicker. Here are a few ways that Cloud Search can help you get the information you need to accomplish more throughout your day.

1. Search more intuitively, access information quicker

If you search for a doc, you’re probably not going to remember its exact name or where you saved it in Drive. Instead, you might remember who sent the doc to you or a specific piece of information it contains, like a statistic.

A few weeks ago, we launched a new, more intuitive way to search in Cloud Search using natural language processing (NLP) technology. Type questions in Cloud Search using everyday language, like “Documents shared with me by John?,” “What’s my agenda next Tuesday?,” or “What docs need my attention?” and it will track down useful information for you.
NLP GIF

2. Prioritize your to-dos, use spare time more wisely

With so much work to do, deciding what to focus on and what to leave for later isn’t always simple. A study by McKinsey reports that only nine percent of executives surveyed feel “very satisfied” with the way they allocate their time. We think technology, like Cloud Search, should help you with more than just finding what you’re looking for—it should help you stay focused on what’s important.

Imagine if your next meeting gets cancelled and you suddenly have an extra half hour to accomplish tasks. You can open the Cloud Search app to help you focus on what’s important. Powered by machine intelligence, Cloud Search proactively surfaces information that it believes is relevant to you and organizes it into simple cards that appear in the app throughout your workday. For example, it suggests documents or tasks based on which documents need your attention or upcoming meetings you have in Google Calendar.

3. Prepare for meetings, get more out of them

Employees spend a lot of time in meetings. According to a study in the UK by the Centre for Economics and Business, office workers spend an average of four hours per week in meetings. It’s even normal for us to join meetings unprepared. The same group surveyed feels like nearly half of the time (47%) spent in meetings is unproductive.

Thankfully, Cloud Search can help. It uses machine intelligence to organize and present information to set you up for success in a meeting. In addition to surfacing relevant docs, Cloud Search also surfaces information about meeting attendees from your corporate directory, and even includes links to relevant conversations from Gmail.

Start by going into Cloud Search to see info related to your next meeting. If you’re interested in looking at another meeting later in the day, just click on “Today’s meetings” and it will show you your agenda for the day. Next, select an event in your agenda (sourced from your Calendar) and Cloud Search will recommend information that’s relevant to that meeting.

GIF 2

Take back your time and focus on what’s important—open the Cloud Search app and get started today, or ask your IT administrator to enable it in your domain. You can also learn more about how Cloud Search can help your teams here.

Android Excellence: congratulations to the new apps and games for Fall 2017

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

Android Excellence recognizes some of the highest quality apps and games on Google Play. With a strong focus on great design, an engaging user experience, and strong app performance, this set of apps and games show the diversity of content on Google Play. Whether you're trying to better manage personal finances with Money Lover or want to experience the thrill of stunt-racing with stunning graphics and real-time challenges in Asphalt 8, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

One new awardee is Bring!, a simple-to-use app that helps manage your grocery lists. Use the existing catalog of items or add your own product photos, then share your lists and message in-app to let others know when it's time to shop. If you're looking for a new game to play, Karma. Incarnation 1. is a "wonderfully weird, puzzle-filled indie adventure game." With beautiful hand-drawn art, you guide the story's hero through moments of humor and challenge to be reunited with his love.

Congratulations to the new Android Excellence apps and games for Fall 2017.

New Android Excellence apps New Android Excellence games
Agoda Asphalt 8
AlarmMon Bubble Witch 3 Saga
Bring! Castle Creeps
CastBox Crab War
Email by Edison Crash of Cars
Eve Dan the Man
Fotor Dawn of Titans
Mint Dream Defense
Money Lover Iron Marines
Onefootball Karma. Incarnation 1.
Robinhood Postknight
Viki Sky Force Reloaded
Zombie Age 3

Explore other great apps and games in the Editors’ Choice section on Google Play.

How useful did you find this blogpost?

Promoting October Cyber Security Awareness Month

By Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer

Facebook works constantly to protect your account and information as part of our effort to help build a safe community. For years, we have joined people around the world in recognizing and promoting cyber security awareness during the month of October.

This year, a lot of you will see information in your News Feed about the different tools we offer to help protect your account and can help remind you about some of the ways you can increase your security.

For example, this month, millions of people around the world will see a prompt to run our Security Checkup, which will help you enhance the security of your Facebook account in just a few steps. This easy-to-use tool can help you log out of Facebook from unused browsers and devices, get alerts about unrecognized logins, and learn to protect your password.

For more examples of security tools, you can check out a blog post published today from Heidi Shin, a product manager on the account security team. Her team builds and maintains the set of security features you can use to make your account more secure. Heidi’s post is the first of a weekly blog series we are hosting this month, where each Monday in October, we will introduce you to a new person who can teach you more about what Facebook does, and what you can do, to help protect your account. These blogs and other security information can be found at http://facebook.com/security.

Now anyone can explore machine learning, no coding required

From helping you find your favorite dog photos, to helping farmers in Japan sort cucumbers, machine learning is changing the way people use code to solve problems. But how does machine learning actually work? We wanted to make it easier for people who are curious about this technology to learn more about it. So we created Teachable Machine, a simple experiment that lets you teach a machine using your camera—live in the browser, no coding required.

Teachable Machine is built with a new library called deeplearn.js, which makes it easier for any web developer to get into machine learning. It trains a neural net right in your browser—locally on your device—without sending any images to a server. We’ve also open sourced the code to help inspire others to make new experiments.

Check it out at g.co/teachablemachine.

New Rights Manager Integrations

By Xiaoyin Qu, Product Manager

We launched Rights Manager last year to help rights owners protect their video content at scale, and have continued to improve the tool. We’ve heard from rights owners that they’d like more ways to access Rights Manager capabilities, so today we are announcing new third-party integrations.

Three service providers — Friend MTS, MarkMonitor, and ZEFR — are integrating with the Rights Manager API to provide rights management on Facebook as a service. These companies are proven industry leaders in the rights management space.

We want to give rights owners access to Rights Manager in the ways that make the most sense for their business. Currently, rights owners can use Rights Manager through Page Publishing Tools and by integrating their applications with Rights Manager via the API. Today’s integrations expand access to Rights Manager functionality by allowing rights owners to work with service providers to help manage their intellectual property if that’s their preferred option.

If you’re already using Rights Manager and you’d like to work with one of these providers, you can reach out to the company directly. If you’re a rights owner not currently enrolled in Rights Manager, you can first apply for access here, and then reach out to the company of your choice. These integrations will be available in the coming weeks.

If you’re a service provider that is interested in integrating with the Rights Manager API, contact us here.

Hard Questions: Russian Ads Delivered to Congress

By Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications

Update on October 6, 2017: This post has been combined with an earlier post on this topic to create a single page of information about the ads we discovered.

What was in the ads you shared with Congress? How many people saw them?
Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow Pages on these issues.

Here are a few other facts about the ads:

  • An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. We were able to approximate the number of unique people (“reach”) who saw at least one of these ads, with our best modeling
  • 44% of total ad impressions (number of times ads were displayed) were before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were after the election.
  • Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. That’s because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach  people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result.
  • For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.
  • About 1% of the ads used a specific type of Custom Audiences targeting to reach people on Facebook who had visited that advertiser’s website or liked the advertiser’s Page — as well as to reach people who are similar to those audiences. None of the ads used another type of Custom Audiences targeting based on personal information such as email addresses. (This bullet added October 3, 2017.)
  • Of the more than 3,000 ads that we have shared with Congress, 5% appeared on Instagram. About $6,700 was spent on these ads (This bullet added October 6, 2017.)

Why do you allow ads like these to target certain demographic or interest groups?
Our ad targeting is designed to show people ads they might find useful, instead of showing everyone ads that they might find irrelevant or annoying. For instance, a baseball clothing line can use our targeting categories to reach people just interested in baseball, rather than everyone who likes sports. Other examples include a business selling makeup designed specifically for African-American women. Or a language class wanting to reach potential students.

These are worthwhile uses of ad targeting because they enable people to connect with the things they care about. But we know ad targeting can be abused, and we aim to prevent abusive ads from running on our platform. To begin, ads containing certain types of targeting will now require additional human review and approval.

In looking for such abuses, we examine all of the components of an ad: who created it, who it’s intended for, and what its message is. Sometimes a combination of an ad’s message and its targeting can be pernicious. If we find any ad — including those targeting a cultural affinity interest group — that contains a message spreading hate or violence, it will be rejected or removed. Facebook’s Community Standards strictly prohibit attacking people based on their protected characteristics, and our advertising terms are even more restrictive, prohibiting advertisers from discriminating against people based on religion and other attributes.

Why can’t you catch every ad that breaks your rules?
We review millions of ads each week, and about 8 million people report ads to us each day. In the last year alone, we have significantly grown the number of people working on ad review. And in order to do better at catching abuse on our platform, we’re announcing a number of improvements, including:

  • Making advertising more transparent
  • Strengthening enforcement against improper ads
  • Tightening restrictions on advertiser content
  • Increasing requirements for authenticity
  • Establishing industry standards and best practices

Weren’t some of these ads paid for in Russian currency? Why didn’t your ad review system notice this and bring the ads to your attention?
Some of the ads were paid for in Russian currency. Currency alone isn’t a good way of identifying suspicious activity, because the overwhelming majority of advertisers who pay in Russian currency, like the overwhelming majority of people who access Facebook from Russia, aren’t doing anything wrong. We did use this as a signal to help identify these ads, but it wasn’t the only signal. We are continuing to refine our techniques for identifying the kinds of ads in question. We’re not going to disclose more details because we don’t want to give bad actors a roadmap for avoiding future detection.

If the ads had been purchased by Americans instead of Russians, would they have violated your policies?
We require authenticity regardless of location. If Americans conducted a coordinated, inauthentic operation — as the Russian organization did in this case — we would take their ads down, too.

However, many of these ads did not violate our content policies. That means that for most of them, if they had been run by authentic individuals, anywhere, they could have remained on the platform.

Shouldn’t you stop foreigners from meddling in US social issues?
The right to speak out on global issues that cross borders is an important principle. Organizations such as UNICEF, Oxfam or religious organizations depend on the ability to communicate — and advertise — their views in a wide range of countries. While we may not always agree with the positions of those who would speak on issues here, we believe in their right to do so — just as we believe in the right of Americans to express opinions on issues in other countries.

Some of these ads and other content on Facebook appear to sow division in America and other countries at a time of increasing social unrest. If these ads or content were placed or posted authentically, you would allow many of these. Why?
This is an issue we have debated a great deal. We understand that Facebook has become an important platform for social and political expression in the US and around the world. We are focused on developing greater safeguards against malicious interference in elections and strengthening our advertising policies and enforcement to prevent abuse.

As an increasingly important and widespread platform for political and social expression, we at Facebook — and all of us — must also take seriously the crucial place that free political speech occupies around the world in protecting democracy and the rights of those who are in the minority, who are oppressed or who have views that are not held by the majority or those in power. Even when we have taken all steps to control abuse, there will be political and social content that will appear on our platform that people will find objectionable, and that we will find objectionable. We permit these messages because we share the values of free speech — that when the right to speech is censored or restricted for any of us, it diminishes the rights to speech for all of us, and that when people have the right and opportunity to engage in free and full political expression, over time, they will move forward, not backwards, in promoting democracy and the rights of all.

Are you working with other companies and the government to prevent interference that exploits platforms like yours?
The threats we’re confronting are bigger than any one company, or even any one industry. The kind of malicious interference we’re seeing requires everyone working together, across business, government and civil society, to share information and arrive at the best responses.

We have been working with many others in the technology industry, including with Google and Twitter, on a range of elements related to this investigation. We also have a long history of working together to fight online threats and develop best practices on other issues, such as child safety and counterterrorism. And we will continue all of this work.

With all these new efforts you’re putting in place, would any of them have prevented these ads from running?
We believe we would have caught these malicious actors faster and prevented more improper ads from running. Our effort to require US election-related advertisers to authenticate their business will help catch suspicious behavior. The ad transparency tool we’re building will be accessible to anyone, including industry and political watchdog groups. And our improved enforcement and more restrictive content standards for ads would have rejected more of the ads when submitted.

Is there more out there that you haven’t found?
It’s possible. We’re still looking for abuse and bad actors on our platform — our internal investigation continues. We hope that by cooperating with Congress, the Special Counsel and our industry partners, we will help keep bad actors off our platform.

Do you now have a complete view of what happened in this election?
The 2016 US election was the first where evidence has been widely reported that foreign actors sought to exploit the internet to influence voter behavior. We understand more about how our service was abused and we will continue to investigate to learn all we can. We know that our experience is only a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Congress and the Special Counsel are best placed to put these pieces together because they have much broader investigative power to obtain information from other sources.

We strongly believe in free and fair elections. We strongly believe in free speech and robust public debate. We strongly believe free speech and free elections depend upon each other. We’re fast developing both standards and greater safeguards against malicious and illegal interference on our platform. We’re strengthening our advertising policies to minimize and even eliminate abuse. Why? Because we are mindful of the importance and special place political speech occupies in protecting both democracy and civil society. We are dedicated to being an open platform for all ideas — and that may sometimes mean allowing people to express views we — or others — find objectionable. This has been the longstanding challenge for all democracies: how to foster honest and authentic political speech while protecting civic discourse from manipulation and abuse. Now that the challenge has taken a new shape, it will be up to all of us to meet it.

Read more about our new blog series Hard Questions. We want your input on what other topics we should address — and what we could be doing better. Please send suggestions to hardquestions@fb.com.

Originally published on September 21, 2017:

Hard Questions: More on Russian Ads

By Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications

1) Why did Facebook finally decide to share the ads with Congress?

As our General Counsel has explained, this is an extraordinary investigation — one that raises questions that go to the integrity of the US elections. After an extensive legal and policy review, we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered with Congress, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, will help government authorities complete the vitally important work of assessing what happened in the 2016 election. That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.

2) Why are you sharing these with Special Counsel and Congress — and not releasing them to the public?

Federal law places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information. Given the sensitive national security and privacy issues involved in this extraordinary investigation, we think Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely. For further understanding on this decision, see our General Counsel’s post.

3) Let’s go back to the beginning. Did Facebook know when the ads were purchased that they might be part of a Russian operation? Why not?

No, we didn’t.

The vast majority of our over 5 million advertisers use our self-service tools. This allows individuals or businesses to create a Facebook Page, attach a credit card or some other payment method and run ads promoting their posts.

In some situations, Facebook employees work directly with our larger advertisers. In the case of the Russian ads, none of those we found involved in-person relationships.

At the same time, a significant number of advertisers run ads internationally, and a high number of advertisers run content that addresses social issues — an ad from a non-governmental organization, for example, that addresses women’s rights. So there was nothing necessarily noteworthy at the time about a foreign actor running an ad involving a social issue. Of course, knowing what we’ve learned since the election, some of these ads were indeed both noteworthy and problematic, which is why our CEO today announced a number of important steps we are taking to help prevent this kind of deceptive interference in the future.

4) Do you expect to find more ads from Russian or other foreign actors using fake accounts?

It’s possible.

When we’re looking for this type of abuse, we cast a wide net in trying to identify any activity that looks suspicious. But it’s a game of cat and mouse. Bad actors are always working to use more sophisticated methods to obfuscate their origins and cover their tracks. That in turn leads us to devise new methods and smarter tactics to catch them — things like machine learning, data science and highly trained human investigators. And, of course, our internal inquiry continues.

It’s possible that government investigators have information that could help us, and we welcome any information the authorities are willing to share to help with our own investigations.

Using ads and other messaging to affect political discourse has become a common part of the cybersecurity arsenal for organized, advanced actors. This means all online platforms will need to address this issue, and get smarter about how to address it, now and in the future.

5) I’ve heard that Facebook disabled tens of thousands of accounts in France and only hundreds in the United States. Is this accurate?

No, these numbers represent different things and can’t be directly compared.

To explain it, it’s important to understand how large platforms try to stop abusive behavior at scale. Staying ahead of those who try to misuse our service is an ongoing effort led by our security and integrity teams, and we recognize this work will never be done. We build and update technical systems every day to make it easier to respond to reports of abuse, detect and remove spam, identify and eliminate fake accounts, and prevent accounts from being compromised. This work also reduces the distribution of content that violates our policies, since fake accounts often distribute deceptive material, such as false news, hoaxes, and misinformation.

This past April, we announced improvements to these systems aimed at helping us detect fake accounts on our service more effectively. As we began to roll out these changes globally, we took action against tens of thousands of fake accounts in France. This number represents fake accounts of all varieties, the most common being those that are used for financially-motivated spam. While we believe that the removal of these accounts also reduced the spread of disinformation, it’s incorrect to state that these tens of thousands of accounts represent organized campaigns from any particular country or set of countries.

In contrast, the approximately 470 accounts and Pages we shut down recently were identified by our dedicated security team that manually investigates specific, organized threats. They found that this set of accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another — and were likely operated out of Russia.

Read more about our new blog series Hard Questions. We want your input on what other topics we should address — and what we could be doing better. Please send suggestions to hardquestions@fb.com.

Android Wear Beta

Posted by Hoi Lam, Lead Developer Advocate, Android Wear
LG Watch Sport

Today, we are launching the beta of the next Android Wear update. As we mentioned at Google I/O, this will mainly be a technical upgrade to API 26 with enhancements to background limits and notification channels. LG Watch Sport users can go to this webpage to sign up and the factory image will automatically be downloaded to the watch you enroll. As this is a beta, please be sure to review the known issues before enrolling. If you don't have a watch to test on, you can use the Android emulator. For developers working with Android Wear for China, an updated emulator image is also available.

Notification Channels

In this update, users can choose the types of notifications they receive via an app through notification channels. This gives users finer-grained control than muting all notifications from the app. For notifications generated locally by Android Wear apps, users will be able to customise the notifications channel they want to see, right on their watch. Please refer to the Wear notification sample for more details. For notifications bridged from the phone, the phone notifications channel settings will dictate what is shown on the watch.

if (Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= Build.VERSION_CODES.O) {
    mNotificationManager.createNotificationChannel(
        NotificationChannel("1001", "New Follower",
            NotificationManager.IMPORTANCE_DEFAULT))

    mNotificationManager.createNotificationChannel(
        NotificationChannel("1002", "Likes",
            NotificationManager.IMPORTANCE_LOW))
}

Background Limits

There are increased restrictions on background services. Developers should assume services can no longer run in the background without a visible notification. In addition, the background location update frequency will be reduced. Battery-saving best practices such as using JobScheduler should be adopted to ensure your app is battery-efficient and able to perform background tasks when possible.

Please give us your feedback

We expect this to be the only beta release before the final production release. Thank you for your feedback so far. Please submit any bugs you find via the Android Wear issue tracker. The earlier you submit them, the higher the likelihood that we can include the fixes in the final release.

Improving Enforcement and Transparency of Ads on Facebook

By Joel Kaplan, VP Global Public Policy

Last month we announced plans to share with Congress the ads that appear to have come from a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency. We found more than 3,000 of these ads, which ran between 2015 and 2017. Many appear to amplify racial and social divisions. Today we are delivering those ads to congressional investigators and explaining more about the steps we’re taking to strengthen our ads policies and enforcement.

All of these ads violated our policies because they came from inauthentic accounts. We are sharing these ads with Congress because we want to do our part to help investigators gain a deeper understanding of Russian interference in the US political system and explain those activities to the public. These actions run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for.

Last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about the steps we’re taking to prevent this abuse of our platform, while still promoting legitimate discussion of social issues and honest civic debate. Today we’re sharing further details about the updates we’re putting in place, plus new steps to improve review and enforcement of ads and ad accounts (steps 2 and 3 below):

  1. Making advertising more transparent. We believe that when you see an ad, you should know who ran it and what other ads they’re running – which is why we show you the Page name for any ads that run in your feed. To provide even greater transparency for people and accountability for advertisers, we’re now building new tools that will allow you to see the other ads a Page is running as well – including ads that aren’t targeted to you directly. We hope that this will establish a new standard for our industry in ad transparency.We try to catch content that shouldn’t be on Facebook before it’s even posted – but because this is not always possible, we also take action when people report ads that violate our policies. We’re grateful to our community for this support, and hope that more transparency will mean more people can report inappropriate ads.
  2. Strengthening enforcement against improper ads. We use both automated and manual review, and we’re taking aggressive steps to strengthen both. Reviewing ads means assessing not just the content of an ad, but the context in which it was bought and the intended audience – so we’re changing our ads review system to pay more attention to these signals. We’re also adding more than 1,000 people to our global ads review teams over the next year and investing more in machine learning to better understand when to flag and take down ads. Enforcement is never perfect, but we will get better at finding and removing improper ads.
  3. Tightening restrictions on advertiser content. We hold people on Facebook to our Community Standards, and we hold advertisers to even stricter guidelines. Our ads policies already prohibit shocking content, direct threats and the promotion of the sale or use of weapons. Going forward, we are expanding these policies to prevent ads that use even more subtle expressions of violence.
  4. Increasing requirements for authenticity. We’re updating our policies to require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run US federal election-related ads. Potential advertisers will have to confirm the business or organization they represent before they can buy ads. As Mark said, we won’t catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere.
  5. Establishing industry standards and best practices. In order to fight threats like these, we’re all going to need to work together. We are reaching out to leaders in our industry and governments around the world to share information on bad actors and make sure they stay off all platforms.

We care deeply about the integrity of elections around the world. We take responsibility for what happens on our platform and we will do everything we can to keep our community safe from interference.

Driving the future of digital subscriptions

Journalism provides accurate and timely information when it matters most, shaping our understanding of important issues and pushing us to learn more in search of the truth. People come to Google looking for high-quality content, and our job is to help them find it. However, sometimes that content is behind a paywall.

While research has shown that people are becoming more accustomed to paying for news, the sometimes painful process of signing up for a subscription can be a turn off. That’s not great for users or for news publishers who see subscriptions as an increasingly important source of revenue.

To address these problems we’ve been talking to news publishers about how to support their subscription businesses with a focus on the following:

  • First, Flexible Sampling will replace First Click Free. Publishers are in the best position to determine what level of free sampling works best for them. So as of this week, we are ending the First Click Free policy, which required publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles per day via Google Search and Google News before people were shown a paywall.
  • Longer term, we are building a suite of products and services to help news publishers reach new audiences, drive subscriptions and grow revenue.
  • We are also looking at how we can simplify the purchase process and make it easy for Google users to get the full value of their subscriptions across Google’s platforms.

Our goal is to make subscriptions work seamlessly everywhere, for everyone.

First Click Free

We will end our First Click Free policy in favor of a Flexible Sampling model where publishers will decide how many, if any, free articles they want to provide to potential subscribers based on their own business strategies. This move is informed by our own research, publisher feedback, and months-long experiments with the New York Times and the Financial Times, both of which operate successful subscription services.  

"Google's decision to let publishers determine how much content readers can sample from search is a positive development,” said Kinsey Wilson, an adviser to New York Times CEO Mark Thompson. "We're encouraged as well by Google's willingness to consider other ways of supporting subscription business models and we are looking forward to continuing to work with them to craft smart solutions."

Publishers generally recognize that giving people access to some free content is the way to persuade people to buy their product. The typical approach to sampling is a model called metering, which lets people see a pre-determined number of free stories before a paywall kicks in. We recommend the following approach:

  • Monthly, rather than daily, metering allows publishers more flexibility to experiment with the number of free stories to offer people and to target those more likely to subscribe.
  • For most publishers, 10 articles per month is a good starting point.
  • Please see our Webmaster blog and our guide on Flexible Sampling for more detail on these approaches.

“Try before you buy” underlines what many publishers already know—they need to provide some form of free sampling to be successful on the internet. If it’s too little, then fewer users will click on links to that content or share it, which could have an effect on brand discovery and subsequently may affect traffic over time.

Subscription support

Subscribing to great content should not be as hard as it is today. Registering on a site, creating and remembering multiple passwords, and entering credit card information—these are all hassles we hope to solve.

As a first step we’re taking advantage of our existing identity and payment technologies to help people subscribe on a publication’s website with a single click, and then seamlessly access that content anywhere— whether it’s on that publisher site or mobile app, or on Google Newsstand, Google Search or Google News.

And since news products and subscription models vary widely, we’re collaborating with publishers around the world on how to build a subscription mechanism that can meet the needs of a diverse array of approaches—to the benefit of the news industry and consumers alike.  

We’re also exploring how Google’s machine learning capabilities can help publishers recognize potential subscribers and present the right offer to the right audience at the right time.

“It's extremely clear that advertising alone can no longer pay for the production and distribution of high quality journalism—and at the same time the societal need for sustainable independent journalism has never been greater.  Reader-based revenue, aka paid-content, or subscription services, are therefore not just a nice-to-have, but an essential component of a publisher's revenue composition,” said Jon Slade, FT Chief Commercial Officer.

“The Financial Times is welcoming of Google's input and actions to help this critical sector of the media industry, and we've worked very closely with Google to aid understanding of the needs that publishers have and how Google can help. That mutual understanding includes the ability to set controls over the amount of free content given to readers, a level playing field for content discovery, optimised promotion and payment processes. It is important that we now build and accelerate on the discussions and actions to date.”  

We are just getting started and want to get as much input from publishers—large, small, national, local, international—to make sure we build solutions together that work for everyone.  

Scroll Up