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Design With Accessibility in Mind: The POUR Methodology

Designing and building digital products should begin with inclusive design. Inclusive design is a set of principles that help define responses to issues of diversity and enable products to be developed to address the needs of a broad range of users with different levels of ability.

We have to consider the consequences that result from not accounting for differences when we are designing digital products. To design for inclusion, we need to recognize exclusion and understand when it happens and why. Exclusion can happen by not recognizing our own biases within our designs. Exclusion happens when we do not think about all the possible ways the product will be used and by whom.

The Cycle of Exclusion via katadesigns

In Design for the Real World, Victor Papanek illustrates the designer’s responsibility in relation to the entire design problem. Design is often done in the here and now and ignores social equity.

Papanek’s Design Problem

We live amongst different demographics and people with a range of abilities. We access and use the amenities around us differently and at different times during the course of our daily lives. How we move around our environment can become difficult based on what we are doing or how we are moving about. Everyone in our neighborhood benefits from curb cuts as these eliminate barriers to movement and travel. The same can happen when we design digital products. We can help users overcome obstacles and difficulties in access to content or services. Kat Holmes suggests thinking about the daily interactions that users will have and not the demographics to find solutions to barriers. Solve for one, extend to the many. This principle is often referred to as the Curb-Cut Effect. By making something accessible or easier to use for one group, it makes things accessible and easier to use for everyone.


A simple example of an inclusive digital product is the NantMobile Money Reader. This mobile app tells the user the denomination and value of several dozen international currencies.

Currency Reader – image courtesy of Nantmobile

Think POUR

To start solving problems within an inclusive framework, think POUR

Perceivable

How will content be interpreted or processed by the user? How is the content being presented and how can it be delivered to the user? Will it be text, audio, video, braille or a combination within the presentation layer? Organize content to have with meaning (semantic structure). Design with text and create information hierarchies. Content should have the same meaning regardless of presentation and style. Think about designing with text only before applying stylizing.

Operable

What type of input methods are available for the user to use and control? What type of affordances or cues are you giving the user? Using established design patterns, i.e., linking to the homepage via a logo in the header or through an icon of a little house helps reinforce user assumptions about how things should work. Can the user use the back button in the browser? Especially when they have made an error or want to revisit previous content. Online shopping carts often do not allow users the affordance of the back button.

Understandable

Can users derive the meaning of content or how it is used? Semantic structures help organize content, but can the user read and comprehend the content? Is the writing style too formal or full of jargon? Writing should be clear and concise. Using the Fogg Index can help guide your writing style and word selection.

Robust

Access to content is supported by a broad range of technologies and methods. How backward compatible is your code base? Are you using up-to-date technologies that are not supported by older browsers? The end goal is to have the solution be technology agnostic and ubiquitous.

The UK Government has designed several Do’s and Don’ts on designing for accessibility that is a great reference design tool.

UK Government Accessibility Poster image

When we start designing for inclusion we can extend our designs to everyone. Consider designing for yourself 10 to 20 years from now. As we age, our physical and mental capabilities change, which can create barriers to access. Age-related presbyopia is something that I am having to deal with. Remember, we are all temporarily able-bodied.

Form and Function: an Interview with the Designers of Samsung’s Gear IconX (2018)

It may be Samsung’s smallest wearable, but the Gear IconX (2018) is big in terms of features and functionality. The comfortable, cord-free earbuds are engineered to offer hours of music listening – both standalone and connected to a device. The Gear IconX can improve wellbeing through its fitness functions, and increase connectivity with seamless touch control. Behind each and every function is a team of designers, who worked tirelessly to create Gear IconX. Product Planner Chahee Park and UX Designer Jungwon Choi of Samsung Electronics’ Mobile Communications Business explain more.

 

 

Q. When it came to product planning, what were your priorities and which features were focused on to optimize the Gear IconX’s usability and functions?

 

Park: This is the second generation of the Gear IconX, and as such we took the time to really listened to user feedback to help us improve upon our first design.

 

A significant priority was to ensure that the Gear IconX is the best companion to smartphones it can be. We wanted to make sure that a smartphone paired to a Gear IconX would be able to provide better and more features and functions than it can with wired headphones.

 

For example, the earbuds can store and play tracks without being connected to a smartphone. We also designed the Standalone Running Coach with voice guide, which tracks your workout, coaches you by providing real-time updates on exercise and is seamlessly integrated into the Samsung Health app. In addition, holding a button will trigger voice command and those who have Samsung smartphones are able to directly transfer their songs to their Gear IconX while connected to Bluetooth.

 

 

Battery life was another key consideration for cord-free earbuds with lots of features. The Gear IconX can achieve up to five hours of music streaming via Bluetooth and seven hours of stand-alone music play. But even if users do run out of battery, the Gear IconX’s charging case is able to recharge the earbuds, so they can keep on going wherever the user takes them throughout the day. There’s also a Quick Charge function to provide that extra boost when needed.

 

 

Q. Were there any difficulties in achieving the ideal balance between form and function?

 

Park: There definitely needs to be a careful balance between form and function. We wanted to fulfill all user needs and the most difficult hurdle was overcoming the basic limitation of size. We worked hard to figure out how to provide a long battery life, without taking away from the design and size, as well as finding the optimum balance among various features.

 

Choi: Not having a display was another challenge. The product had to be intuitive and easy to use so that users wouldn’t have any trouble using and adjusting the settings and functions. There were months of discussions and refinements involved.

 

 

Q. In terms of design, how important was overall comfort?

 

Park: Well, everyone’s ears are shaped differently, but the design had to suit as many people as possible and a lot of effort was put in to ensure this. We conducted a lot of studies and sought out the most ergonomic design. Our chief concerns were about angles, ear-comfort, stability and fixedness even during high impact movement, and of course size. Since the IconX can now be used for longer than ever, we wanted to ensure that users had complete comfort throughout.

 

 

Q. What are the advantages of using a touchpad? Can you elaborate further about the process of designing one?

 

Park: Pressing keys requires a degree of force, which is quite uncomfortable for users while they are wearing earbuds. A touchpad eliminates the need for keys and suits the Gear IconX’s minimalist design.

 

Inputting through keys had to be limited in order to deliver all the functions and features that we wanted to provide.

 

 

Choi: Our designers call it the invisible UX – there’s no screen and it can’t be seen. UI feature designers often got together to discuss basic interactions and how to ensure users would intuitively understand how to use the UX. It was important to know how much users can remember and internalize, and how quickly they could adapt to the newly applied touch and hold features.

 

An additional challenge was posed in optimizing the sensitivity of the touchpad.

 

When we say “swipe up”, everyone has a different idea of what “up” is. They go sideways, diagonal and straight up. We went through every possible scenario and gathered information through trial and error. We had to enlist the help of hundreds of internal staff in the trials.

 

 

Q. How was the sound quality of the Gear IconX achieved?

 

Park: The kernel design of the Gear IconX optimizes sound insulation and helps to block out any noises surrounding the user. Our greatest efforts were put into making sound output seamless. Since the earbuds are cord-free, and connected to a device via Bluetooth, sound must not be staggered or cut off. We wanted to minimize disturbances in the connection, particularly in underground spaces such as subway stations, where a cord-free product encounter lots of interference.

 

To achieve this, the Gear IconX’s sound output is stabilized with Samsung’s Scalable Codec, which continuously analyzes interference from WiFi and other Bluetooth signals and adjusts to minimize the impact on audio performance. The Scalable Codec decreases bit rate whenever the Gear IconX senses that the signal transfer is being disturbed, ensuring seamless music playback.

 

 

 

Q. When do users want to wear the Gear IconX the most?

 

Park: Gear IconX can be used whenever people want to listen comfortably and cordlessly – while they’re commuting or relaxing at home, for example.

 

Users can really focus on getting the most out of their exercise. The Gear IconX has many features which make it suitable for wearing while working out. Because the earbuds can store tracks and playlists, they can function independent of a smartphone, so users aren’t distracted by a screen. It’s sweat-resistant, ergonomically designed and features the Standalone Running Coach to help users maintain their pace. In addition, auto run/walk tracking give up-to-the-moment information about distance and speed. People often listen to music while exercising, and Gear IconX’s fitness features have been positively received by users.

 

 

Q. What has the consumer reaction to the Gear IconX been like?

 

Park: In the days since the launch, the early reactions from users have been pleasing to us as planners and designers, who worked hard to achieve them. Tech reviews have been shared widely, piquing the interest of the general public and consumers.

 

Tech-savvy users have also provided insightful commentary on how to use the Gear IconX. Since this Gear IconX is new to the market, their considerations are a useful resource for both consumers and Samsung.

Continuing Transparency on Russian Activity

A few weeks ago, we shared our plans to increase the transparency of advertising on Facebook. This is part of our ongoing effort to protect our platforms and the people who use them from bad actors who try to undermine our democracy.

As part of that continuing commitment, we will soon be creating a portal to enable people on Facebook to learn which of the Internet Research Agency Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts they may have liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017. This tool will be available for use by the end of the year in the Facebook Help Center.

It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election. That’s why as we have discovered information, we have continually come forward to share it publicly and have provided it to congressional investigators. And it’s also why we’re building the tool we are announcing today.

Norwegian News Outlet Nettavisen On How They Drive Newsletter Subscriptions and Revenue through Instant Articles

By John Severinson, News Partnerships

Nettavisen is a Norwegian news outlet that’s been digital-only since they first started in 1996. They cover news, sports and finance and have always looked to get its content to readers in the most seamless way possible. “We’re not a technology company though, like many media companies call themselves. We create content and leverage technology,” says Pål Nisja-Wilhelmsen, Chief Innovation Officer at Nettavisen.

The paper was among the first in Scandinavia to start using Instant Articles when it launched in April, 2016. Today they publish nearly all of their content to the platform. Over the last year and a half, Nettavisen has been able to leverage new tools to grow traffic, convert Instant Articles readers to newsletter subscribers, and increase their monetization.

Building Deeper Connections with Readers

Strategy:

  • Install Call-to-Action Units to drive newsletter subscriptions and Page likes.

Result:

  • 10x increase in daily newsletter signups in Instant Articles compared to mobile web.

Creating direct relationships with their audience through email newsletters has been an important way to build reader loyalty for Nettavisen. They recently tested out Instant Articles’ native Call-To-Action units that encourage readers to submit their email to receive newsletter subscriptions. Before, the paper was getting 20 signups a day on their mobile site. On Instant Articles, that number has consistently been near 200. During October they had 7,500 signups for a new newsletter, 800 of which came from their mobile site and the rest from Instant Articles.

Increasing Monetization Options

Strategy:

  • Use Audience Network to handle all ad revenue in Instant Articles.
  • Insert ads into Instant Articles recirculation units.

Result:

  • CPMs of $7.50. Equal to the revenue from direct sold ads on the mobile web.
  • Increase of 37% (compared to their historical average) in revenue per page view from Audience Network over the last 3 months.

We’ve recently introduced new monetization tools and flexibility, including the ability to insert ads into recirculation units. In the first month that Nettavisen took advantage of these new ad placements, monetization jumped 37%.

To monetize their articles overall, Nettavisen uses Facebook’s Audience Network. They’ve seen impressive fill rates, and believe it to be a better user experience because the ads are more relevant to individual readers. The publisher also uses branded content on the mobile site and will soon expand that to Instant Articles.

Giving Users a Better Reading Experience

Strategy:

  • Use Instant Articles to give audiences the best reading experience on Facebook.

Result:

  • Survey results from readers show they love the  reading experience.
  • 14% greater traffic from Instant Articles compared to Mobile Web.

Nisja-Wilhelmsen says that in terms of reading experience, Instant Articles is as good as the best mobile web sites. He wanted to give his own readers this experience so that they wouldn’t have to deal with bad ads and popups. The paper even surveyed readers about the format, and their audience overwhelmingly loves it. Adopting the platform, and giving their audience this seamless experience helped the paper stick to its mission, which has always been “News First.”

“Not only does our audience love the experience of Instant Articles, but it’s helped us significantly increase our newsletter subscriptions, grow traffic, and we’re seeing CPMs equal to direct sold ads on the mobile web. ” — Pål Nisja-Wilhelmsen, Chief Innovation Officer at Nettavisen

*Numbers sourced from Nettavisen using Scores.

 

Announcing Facebook Communities Summit Europe

By Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President, Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa

Today, we are announcing that the Facebook Communities Summit (FCS) is coming to Europe. The event will celebrate community leaders who are using Facebook in Europe to bring people together.

We will host group admins, event organizers and page admins from across the region in London on February 8 and 9, 2018. Whether through a group that connects new mums, a business whose Page promotes healthy lifestyles and supports a neighborhood running group, or an event to raise money for a local cause, what these communities share is a passionate leader.

At FCS Europe, community leaders attending will have the opportunity to join workshops and panels dedicated to learning new skills, applying new tools and getting advice on managing a community. Attendees will connect, learn from, and share experiences with other community leaders, as well as hear from Facebook about the products we’re building to help support safe and supportive communities. We’ll have opportunities for community builders to share their feedback and experiences with us so that we can better support them. Since hosting FCS in Chicago earlier this year, we worked to apply the feedback we heard from attendees, and recently announced some new groups features as a result.

Every time I travel, I try to meet with someone building community on our platform and I’m reminded of the impact community leaders have on the people they serve. Just last month, I met a community leader, Radim Hasalik in Prague, who is the admin of a group called Podnikatelé a živnostníci – výměna zkušeností (translated: The Exchange of Experiences). It is the Czech Republic’s most active Facebook group for entrepreneurs, business owners and self-employed people. And after meeting Radim, it’s clear how members in his Group are able to network with each other, share advice on hiring, inquire about best practices across different industries and support each other in the moment and longer term.

Group admins, event organizers and page admins from Europe are invited to apply here for an invitation to the Facebook Communities Summit. More event details will be shared in the coming months.

Spreading holiday cheer with great deals on Google Play

As temperatures drop, stay warm and entertained with these hot holiday deals on Google Play. Starting today, you’ll be able to find your favorite movies, apps, games, music, TV and books at deep discounts. Just in time for the holidays, these deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday run through November 27 in select markets.

Battle in your favorite games—not the crowds—on Black Friday.

Avoid store crowds and battle it out with a favorite game instead. Google Play offers discounts of up to 80 percent for premium games, including Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies, LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin and LEGO® Jurassic World™  and more. You’ll also get special discounts, power ups and unlimited lives for the perennially popular Gardenscapes and Homescapes games on Google Play.

Set the mood with Google Play Music.

‘Tis the season to start playing songs of cheer. You can get a Google Play Music subscription free for four months, for the right songs to suit your mood anytime.

Survive the season with must-have apps.

When you need a last-minute recipe or a mental break from those holiday errands, Google Play has you covered with discounts on hundred of apps, including a 50 percent discount on a monthly subscription to Colorfy.

Take a turkey break with a movie or TV show.

Once the meal is done and the dishes are cleared, wind down with a favorite classic or a new release as Google Play offers 50 percent off any one movie to own and 25 percent off a TV season of your choice starting on November 23. You’ll also be able to rent any movie for 99 cents for one day only on November 25.

Whether it’s catching up on the latest episodes of “The Walking Dead” or “Outlander,” the latest Minion antics in “Despicable Me 3” or a young Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” there’s something the entire family can enjoy.

Snuggle in with a good book.

The weather outside may be frightful, but a good book can be delightful. Whether it’s a bedtime story or the latest mystery, Google Play is offering a $5 credit towards any book over $5 and discounts on top titles starting on November 23. You can also find some of the most popular omnibus comics books, including Batman: The Complete Hush, Thor and Flashpoint, for $5 or less on November 25 only.

For more information on these and other deals throughout the season, head to Google Play’s Holiday Hub.

Tune in for the world’s first Google Translate music tour

Eleven years ago, Google Translate was created to break down language barriers. Since then, it has enabled billions of people and businesses all over the world to talk, connect and understand each other in new ways.

And we’re still re-imagining how it can be used—most recently, with music. The music industry in Sweden is one of the world's most successful exporters of hit music in English—with artists such Abba, The Cardigans and Avicii originating from the country. But there are still many talented Swedish artists who may not get the recognition or success they deserve except for in a small country up in the north.

This sparked an idea: might it be possible to use Google Translate with the sole purpose of breaking a Swedish band internationally?

Today, we’re presenting Translate Tour, in which up and coming Swedish indie pop group Vita Bergen will be using Google Translate to perform their new single “Tänd Ljusen” in three different languages—English, Spanish and French—on the streets of three different European cities. In just a couple of days, the band will set off to London, Paris and Madrid to sing their locally adapted songs in front of the eyes of the public—with the aim of spreading Swedish music culture and inviting people all over the world to tune into the band’s cross-European indie pop music.

Translate Tour 2_Credit Anton Olin.jpg

William Hellström from Vita Bergen will be performing his song in English, Spanish and French.

Last year Google Translate switched from phrase-based translation to Google Neural Machine Translation, which means that the tool now translates whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar.

Using this updated version of Google Translate, the English, Spanish and French translations of the song were close to flawless. The translations will also continue to improve, as the system learns from the more people using it.

Tune in to Vita Bergen’s release event, live streamed on YouTube today at 5:00 p.m. CEST, or listen to the songs in Swedish (“Tänd Ljusen”), English (“Light the Lights”), Spanish (“Enciende las Luces”) and French (“Allumez les Lumières”).

Learn more about the world around you with Google Lens and the Assistant

Looking at a landmark and not sure what it is? Interested in learning more about a movie as you stroll by the poster? With Google Lens and your Google Assistant, you now have a helpful sidekick to tell you more about what’s around you, right on your Pixel.

lens assistant

When we introduced the new Pixel 2 last month, we talked about how Google Lens builds on Google’s advancements in computer vision and machine learning. When you combine that with the Google Assistant, which is built on many of the same technologies, you can get quick help with what you see. That means that you can learn more about what’s in front of you—in real time—by selecting the Google Lens icon and tapping on what you’re interested in.

Here are the key ways your Assistant and Google Lens can help you today:


  • Text: Save information from business cards, follow URLs, call phone numbers and navigate to addresses.
  • Landmarks: Explore a new city like a pro with your Assistant to help you recognize landmarks and learn about their history.
  • Art, books and movies: Learn more about a movie, from the trailer to reviews, right from the poster. Look up a book to see the rating and a short synopsis. Become a museum guru by quickly looking up an artist’s info and more. You can even add events, like the movie release date or gallery opening, to your calendar right from Google Lens.
  • Barcodes: Quickly look up products by barcode, or scan QR codes, all with your Assistant.

Google Lens in the Assistant will be rolling out to all Pixel phones set to English in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, India and Singapore over the coming weeks. Once you get the update, go to your Google Assistant on your phone and tap the Google Lens icon in the bottom right corner.

lens assistant image

We can’t wait to see how Google Lens helps you explore the world around you, with the help of your Google Assistant. And don’t forget, Google Lens is also available in Google Photos, so even after you take a picture, you can continue to explore and get more information about what’s in your photo. 

21 Interesting Facts About Television Around The World

1 – A recent Samsung survey found that it isn’t reality TV or soaps that make us most likely to tune in….but documentaries1, with 41% claiming it is their favourite TV genre.

 

 

 

2 – Based on the above it is probably no surprise that Blue Planet II is currently the most watched show of 2017, peaking with 14.1 million viewers2

 

 

 

3 – In Australia, the iconic State of the Origin rugby match between Queensland and New South Wales drew in the most viewers of 2017 to date with 4.1 million people3

 

 

 

4 – Whilst in China, it’s an internet based ‘rap reality’ show pulling in the viewers. The Rap of China showcase young and feisty contestants hoping for their big break into the world of hip hop, with more than 2.5 billion views to date4.

 

 

 

5 – Back in the UK, Only Fools & Horses was voted the most popular sitcom of all time in Samsung’s poll.

 

 

 

6 – The Chase is our number one game show

 

 

 

7 – Whilst Strictly Come Dancing beat off some stiff competition when it came to the best reality or talent show.

 

 

 

8 – When it comes to those in front of the camera, the USA is home to some of the best paid stars of television. According to Forbes, Dr. Phil is currently the highest paid presenter in the world earning a reported $79m.

 

 

 

9 – Sofia Vergara is reportedly the highest paid television actress at $41.5m

 

 

 

10 – And, Kim Kardashian’s business empire means she is the highest paid reality star with a reported fortune of $51m.

 

 

 

11 – Behind the camera, Netflix hit The Crown is the most expensive of all time, costing $130 million to produce5.

 

 

 

12 – Whilst American TV show M*A*S*H takes the crown for the most-watched episode ever, with 103 million viewers tuning in for the final ever installment6.

 

 

 

13 – Samsung’s recent survey also shows we’re watching more television than ever, with a fifth of us claiming to watch more TV now than we did five years ago thanks to both on-demand technology….

 

 

 

14 – …and our love of binge-watching. Game of Thrones was voted in the survey as being the most-bingeable show of all.

 

 

 

15 – Game of Thrones also hit the top spot when it came to the TV show return that is most hotly anticipated.

 

 

 

16 – It also appears household disagreements on what to watch might be a thing of the past, with 15.84 million homes in the UK now having more than two TVs7.

 

 

 

17 – Size also matters, with Samsung research showing 40 inches was the average TV screen size globally in 2016

 

 

 

18 – 25% of TVs sold in 2016 had a 50 inch screen.

 

 

 

19 – 90% claim they would like a screen which is 60 inches big.

 

 

 

20 – To date, Samsung has sold 427 million televisions around the world.

 

 

 

21 – Which all makes for a lot of telly watching! Approximately eight years in our life time!8 Happy World Television Day!

 

 

 

1 Samsung survey conducted amongst 2000 adults in the UK by OnePoll, November 2017

2 http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/blue-planet-2-most-watched-tv-show-david-attenborough-a8042171.html

3 http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/state-of-origin-game-three-most-watched-show-of-2017-20170713-gxab63.html

4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-china-blog-41236746

5 http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/the-crown-netflix-most-expensive-show-ever-matt-smith-a7392911.html

6 http://uk.businessinsider.com/most-watched-episodes-2016-9

7 According to BARB.

8 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4186598/How-time-spend-activities-lifetime.html

 

Source: UK Newsroom

Moving Past GoogleApiClient

Posted by Sam Stern, Developer Programs Engineer

The release of version 11.6.0 of the Google Play services SDK moves a number of popular APIs to a new paradigm for accessing Google APIs on Android. We have reworked the APIs to reduce boilerplate, improve UX, and simplify authentication and authorization.

The primary change in this release is the introduction of new Task and GoogleApi based APIs to replace the GoogleApiClient access pattern.

The following APIs are newly updated to eliminate the use of GoogleApiClient:

  • Auth - updated the Google Sign In and Credentials APIs.
  • Drive - updated the Drive and Drive Resource APIs.
  • Fitness - updated the Ble, Config, Goals, History, Recording, Sensors, and Sessions APIs.
  • Games - updated the Achievements, Events, Games, Games Metadata, Invitations, Leaderboards, Notifications, Player Stats, Players, Realtime Multiplayer, Snapshots, Turn Based Multiplayer, and Videos APIs.
  • Nearby - updated the Connections and Messages APIs.

These APIs join others that made the switch in previous releases, such as the Awareness, Cast, Places, Location, and Wallet APIs.

The Past: Using GoogleApiClient

Here is a simple Activity that demonstrates how one would access the Google Drive API using GoogleApiClient using a previous version of the Play services SDK:

public class MyActivity extends AppCompatActivity implements
        GoogleApiClient.OnConnectionFailedListener,
        GoogleApiClient.ConnectionCallbacks {

    private static final int RC_SIGN_IN = 9001;

    private GoogleApiClient mGoogleApiClient;

    @Override
    protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);

        GoogleSignInOptions options =
               new GoogleSignInOptions.Builder(GoogleSignInOptions.DEFAULT_SIGN_IN)
                        .requestScopes(Drive.SCOPE_FILE)
                        .build();

        mGoogleApiClient = new GoogleApiClient.Builder(this)
                .enableAutoManage(this, this)
                .addConnectionCallbacks(this)
                .addApi(Auth.GOOGLE_SIGN_IN_API, options)
                .addApi(Drive.API)
                .build();
    }

    // ...
    // Not shown: code to handle sign in flow
    // ...

    @Override
    public void onConnectionFailed(@NonNull ConnectionResult connectionResult) {
        // GoogleApiClient connection failed, most API calls will not work...
    }

    @Override
    public void onConnected(@Nullable Bundle bundle) {
        // GoogleApiClient is connected, API calls should succeed...
    }

    @Override
    public void onConnectionSuspended(int i) {
        // ...
    }

    private void createDriveFile() {
        // If this method is called before "onConnected" then the app will crash,
        // so the developer has to manage multiple callbacks to make this simple
        // Drive API call.
        Drive.DriveApi.newDriveContents(mGoogleApiClient)
            .setResultCallback(new ResultCallback<DriveApi.DriveContentsResult>() {
                // ...
            });
    }
}

The code is dominated by the concept of a connection, despite using the simplified "automanage" feature. A GoogleApiClient is only connected when all APIs are available and the user has signed in (when APIs require it).

This model has a number of pitfalls:

  • Any connection failure prevents use of any of the requested APIs, but using multiple GoogleApiClient objects is unwieldy.
  • The concept of a "connection" is inappropriately overloaded. Connection failures can be result from Google Play services being missing or from authentication issues.
  • The developer has to track the connection state, because making some calls before onConnected is called will result in a crash.
  • Making a simple API call can mean waiting for two callbacks. One to wait until the GoogleApiClient is connected and another for the API call itself.

The Future: Using GoogleApi

Over the years the need to replace GoogleApiClient became apparent, so we set out to completely abstract the "connection" process and make it easier to access individual Google APIs without boilerplate.

Rather than tacking multiple APIs onto a single API client, each API now has a purpose-built client object class that extends GoogleApi. Unlike with GoogleApiClient there is no performance cost to creating many client objects. Each of these client objects abstracts the connection logic, connections are automatically managed by the SDK in a way that maximizes both speed and efficiency.

Authenticating with GoogleSignInClient

When using GoogleApiClient, authentication was part of the "connection" flow. Now that you no longer need to manage connections, you should use the new GoogleSignInClient class to initiate authentication:

public class MyNewActivity extends AppCompatActivity {

    private static final int RC_SIGN_IN = 9001;

    private GoogleSignInClient mSignInClient;

    @Override
    protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);

        GoogleSignInOptions options =
               new GoogleSignInOptions.Builder(GoogleSignInOptions.DEFAULT_SIGN_IN)
                        .requestScopes(Drive.SCOPE_FILE)
                        .build();

        mSignInClient = GoogleSignIn.getClient(this, options);
    }

    private void signIn() {
        // Launches the sign in flow, the result is returned in onActivityResult
        Intent intent = mSignInClient.getSignInIntent();
        startActivityForResult(intent, RC_SIGN_IN);
    }

    @Override
    protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data) {
        super.onActivityResult(requestCode, resultCode, data);

        if (requestCode == RC_SIGN_IN) {
            Task<GoogleSignInAccount> task = 
                    GoogleSignIn.getSignedInAccountFromIntent(data);
            if (task.isSuccessful()) {
                // Sign in succeeded, proceed with account
                GoogleSignInAccount acct = task.getResult();
            } else {
                // Sign in failed, handle failure and update UI
                // ...
            }
        }
    }
}

Making Authenticated API Calls

Making API calls to authenticated APIs is now much simpler and does not require waiting for multiple callbacks.

    private void createDriveFile() {
        // Get currently signed in account (or null)
        GoogleSignInAccount account = GoogleSignIn.getLastSignedInAccount(this);

        // Synchronously check for necessary permissions
        if (!GoogleSignIn.hasPermissions(account, Drive.SCOPE_FILE)) {
            // Note: this launches a sign-in flow, however the code to detect
            // the result of the sign-in flow and retry the API call is not
            // shown here.
            GoogleSignIn.requestPermissions(this, RC_DRIVE_PERMS, 
                    account, Drive.SCOPE_FILE);
            return;
        }

        DriveResourceClient client = Drive.getDriveResourceClient(this, account);
        client.createContents()
                .addOnCompleteListener(new OnCompleteListener<DriveContents>() {
                    @Override
                    public void onComplete(@NonNull Task<DriveContents> task) {
                        // ...
                    }
                });
    }

Before making the API call we add an inline check to make sure that we have signed in and that the sign in process granted the scopes we require.

The call to createContents() is simple, but it's actually taking care of a lot of complex behavior. If the connection to Play services has not yet been established, the call is queued until there is a connection. This is in contrast to the old behavior where calls would fail or crash if made before connecting.

In general, the new GoogleApi-based APIs have the following benefits:

  • No connection logic, calls that require a connection are queued until a connection is available. Connections are pooled when appropriate and torn down when not in use, saving battery and preventing memory leaks.
  • Sign in is completely separated from APIs that consume GoogleSignInAccount which makes it easier to use authenticated APIs throughout your app.
  • Asynchronous API calls use the new Task API rather than PendingResult, which allows for easier management and chaining.

These new APIs will improve your development process and enable you to make better apps.

Next Steps

Ready to get started with the new Google Play services SDK?

Happy building!

Vietnam’s Báo Lao Động Newspaper Recognizes Samsung Vietnam’s Employee Well-being Efforts

Samsung Electronics Vietnam has more than 100,000 employees working across its manufacturing facilities. As female workers account for nearly 75% of the total workforce, Samsung has made concerted effort, in close partnership with the employee work council, to ensure comfortable working conditions as well as unique benefits for all its staff.

 

On November 21, Báo Lao Động also interviewed several female employees at Samsung Electronics Vietnam for story looking into the positive working conditions and employee satisfaction at the company. For its part, Báo Lao Động is a representative general daily newspaper published by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, and one of the most influential and oldest newspapers in Vietnam.

 

 

The following is a full translation of the article:

 

 

Samsung Electronics Vietnam Works Hard for Employee Welfare with Employee Work Council

When female employees of Samsung Electronics Vietnam become pregnant, they can immediately apply for pregnancy and nursing support. Samsung re-assigns work and provides special chairs designed for pregnant women during their work and meal hours. The employees are also allowed to take leave or visit company clinics as they require. This is a welfare policy that the local Employee Work Council has established in consultation with the company.

 

 

Female Employees Receive Special Benefits

Lê Thị Xiêm (a worker at the main production line, from Yên Phong, Bắc Ninh Province, age 28) applied for the local branch of Samsung Electronics after graduation.

 

Xiêm, who joined Samsung in August 2009 on a two-year contract, was also offered vocational training for one month before working in the factory. In August 2011, Xiêm signed a three-year extension, and from August 2014 has been on long-term contract with the company.

 

Initially, Xiêm was planning to return to school after working at Samsung for a short time, but has decided to stay with the company given the satisfactory income and professional and healthy work environment.

 

“Since working at Samsung for the past three years, I’ve gotten married and now have two children. During both my pregnancies, the company provided a good environment for me. I was able to choose a job role suited for my health condition at the time and provided access to special meals for pregnant mothers,” explains Xiêm. “I was able to go on maternity leave for two months prior to giving birth, and 70% of my salary was provided while I was on leave. The working environment was safe, and the company and work council treated me well, as if I were the baby.”

 

The various nursing rooms (there are thirteen nursing rooms in Samsung Electronics Vietnam) within the company has helped various female employees, including Lê Thị Hoa Hậu (external case production line worker; 28), nurse their children.

 

“When we have to nurse a baby, we use the breast pump to collect breast milk. The quality is of international standard (with electric pump and milk storage) so I feel safe in nursing my child,” said Hậu.

 

“Before I started working, I researched Samsung’s welfare system and salary and actually heard some bad rumors. However, when I joined Samsung as an employee, the bad rumors did not turn out to be true. For example, some rumors said Samsung’s work environment is harmful, that there is forced overtime, and problems with personal hygiene that negatively impact the health of employees, particularly causing pregnant employees to lose their babies.”

 

“But the truth was different. The work environment is clean, and every year the workers receive hygiene and safety education. The salary and bonuses are sufficient, and the workers receive a lot of welfare benefits. This I can prove by my two children, who are smart and healthy. My husband and I, by working for the company save more than 10 million dong every month.”

 

 

It’s Like Living at a Hotel

This is the story of Hoàng Thị Thu (a worker at the main line, from Nghi Lộc, Nghệ An, age 19).

 

The company provided Thu accommodations in the Samsung dormitory as Thu is new and her hometown is far away in a rural part of Vietnam.

 

“Back home, I actually had never experienced a washing machine, or air conditioner. Nor have I watched movies in a cinema or used the gym or had access to the internet. After working for Samsung and living in the company dormitory, I have not only used washing machines and the internet, but so much more. I hope to continue working for Samsung for a longtime,” said Thu. “Living in the dormitory is like living in a hotel with 50 thousand dong. I have a two-year contract, but I hope to contribute to the company and extend my contract time.”

 

“When entering the company, 100% of our employees receive a two-year contract, as well as full benefits including social security, health, and unemployment insurance. In addition, employees are entitled to a higher salary level than the state regulations on minimum wage, as well as other incentives like free meals during their work shifts. We also organize regular employee outings and activities,” said Lại Hoàng Dũng, Chairman of the Employee Work Council at Samsung Electronics Vietnam.

 

Nguyen Thi Van Ha, Chairman of the Labor Confederation of Bacoye Ninh Province, said, “The council cooperates very well with the leaders of Samsung Vietnam through regular dialogue which provides close insight into the sentiment and aspirations of employees. The cooperation also seeks to promptly resolve, and address matters brought up by employees which has contributed to creating harmonious labor relations.”

 

He added, “Samsung is the only company that utilizes 300 shuttle buses for employees to commute. Samsung also opens negotiations twice a year, and the average salary standard is higher than for Vietnam. Samsung employees work with comfort in a safe environment with stable income. The Employee Work Council has greatly contributed to this.”

 

In operation since April 2009, Samsung Electronics Vietnam has more than 100,000 employees working across its manufacturing facilities in the Yen Phong Industrial Zone in Bac Ninh Province (SEV) and Pho Yen District in Thai Nguyen Province (SEVT). Among the employees, female workers account for nearly 75% of the total workforce.

 

 

Source: Samsung điện tử Việt Nam: Đồng hành với công đoàn chăm lo cho CNLĐ

Making Visual Messaging Even Better – Introducing High Resolution Photos in Messenger

By Sean Kelly & Hagen Green, Product Managers, Messenger

The way people message today is no longer limited by just text; visual messaging as our new universal language is much more emotional and expressive. Whether you’re catching up over moments big and small — like a recent vacation, an amazing meal at a new restaurant, a new member of the family, or the first snow day of the year — sharing photos of our experiences brings our conversations to life.

We’re making significant investments in how people communicate visually on Messenger. That’s why today, we’re excited to share that people can send and receive photos in Messenger at 4K resolution — or up to 4,096 x 4,096 pixels per image — the highest quality many smartphones support. We heard that people want to send and receive high resolution photos in Messenger — and considering people send more than 17 billion photos through Messenger every month — we’re making your conversations richer, sharper, and better than ever.

Your photos will also be sent just as quickly before, even at this new, higher resolution.

You may be curious how much of a difference 4K resolution makes. Take a look at the before and after of this photo a beach in Sydney. On the right at 4K resolution, once you zoom in, the photo is much sharper and clearer so you can see every detail. That’s what we mean by bringing your conversations to life.

See the difference in quality in this photo of the Brooklyn Bridge…

Or on a windowsill in Paris…

Or in a park in London.

To send and share photos at 4K resolution, first update your Messenger app to make sure you have the latest version. Then open a conversation and tap the camera roll icon. Select the photo, tap send, and the person you’re messaging with will receive the high resolution photo.

Starting today, we are rolling out 4K resolution on both iPhone and Android to people in the US, Canada, France, Australia, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. In the coming weeks, we’re planning to roll out 4k resolution to additional countries.

We know that every message matters to you, no matter how or what you’re sharing. We appreciate that you continue to use Messenger to connect with the people you care about most.

*The images on the left were reproduced to reflect the previous default resolution at 2K. The images on the right reflect the new default resolution at 4K.

Iterative Design Done Right: Insights and Tips from Wealthsimple’s Design Director

Tom Creighton

Tom Creighton is a hands-on kind of design director. As head of UX for Wealthsimple, an online investment management service, he believes in the power of iterative design to build and release features on his company’s apps, across multiple devices. It’s an approach that has served him well in his career, as he’s “ping-ponged” from tech startups to agencies and back again, leading teams in building successful digital products.

We asked why he’s such a advocate of the iterative design approach, and asked him to share some of his tips for UX designers who want to work more iteratively in their own careers.

What’s the best approach to iterative design?

First, you need an organization that’s going to support it. One that’s cognizant that we can only bite off so much at a time, and to do more just means it’s going to suffer. My second point is that you have to have a very specific and non-yielding bar for what you actually put in place before you release it.

We need to be very aware of the amount of work we can realistically design, build, and launch in a given amount of time. Because we are aware of that, and we don’t always try to boil the ocean on every single project, it allows us to be more sensitive to the scope of what we’re actually launching.

How have you done this at Wealthsimple?

A great example of this is our referrals feature. For a long time it was within the product, but hadn’t received the same amount of design thinking and love that some of the other parts of the product had gotten. We knew, in many ways, we didn’t have enough data to to go all out on a splashy launch just for referrals, but we could launch smaller pieces and ‘make smaller bets’ about how this was going to work, how people were going to react to it, and the kinds of things people were wanting to do.

Because we’re taking a more bite-size approach, we are able to course-correct, see what the data is telling us, and what actual behavior is. In my mind that’s what the actually benefit of iterative design is. You can launch something that’s still great since there’s still a quality bar to meet, and use it not just as a feature but also as a learning experience.

We put something out to market, just on referrals, just on mobile, and looked at what people were doing with it. At the same time, we were working on the web version of the same feature, but some of our learnings about people’s behaviors on mobile were folded back into that.

If we had launched all at once, we would have missed some of the nuance having that staggered approach allowed us to capture.

How do you know when an iteration is ready to be released?

You have to set the bar internally and say, when we’ve covered off these features, we’ll launch. You need to be sensitive to what the ‘minimally awesome’ version of a given feature is that you can actually get out the door, that actually does everything you want it to do. It’s not about building in all the bells and whistles, it’s about holding some things in reserve until we see what the MVP does in the real world.

What do you do when one of your iterations doesn’t work or perform as expected?

I think one of the nice things about working in a very product-focused organization, is there is this tacit permission that, everything is a learning opportunity. The great thing about digital products is we can just ship continuously, nothing is ever set in stone. Within a month of launching our referrals feature, for example, we blew it up, redesigned the dashboard, thought deeper about the interaction patterns based on what we had seen, and relaunched it. By doing that, it’s working considerably better.

Wealthsimple’s US dashboard on a tablet.

I think that’s the perfect example of where this iterative approach to design shines. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time on that dashboard, such that we weren’t able to change it. I think that very forgiving process allowed us the leeway to go in and say OK, we clearly need to make some adjustments, let’s open up the hood and go to town.

Wealthsimple’s US dashboard on desktop.

I think a huge part of the iterative process is that flexibility across the board, to immediately come back to something rather than having to wait or to get permission or to wait for the resources to be available. It’s a nimbleness that allows us to react to things really quickly.

Wealthsimple’s US dashboard on mobile.

What’s your advice for other UX designers who want to work more iteratively?

A huge part of the equation is having the explicit buy-in across the organization. One of the things you could try, within an organization that doesn’t work this way, is to do very small experiments. Try snapping off one small piece of a project and try working iteratively, just to see if you can get something out of the door in a couple weeks and learn from that experience.

Once you can show that working this way has a shorter turnaround time, provides a learning opportunity, and allows you to repair missteps, the product benefits of iterative design become really clear. It’s not something you can just drop onto an organization wholesale, but it is something you can introduce and show people these are the kinds of results we’re getting.

People also want to work this way. They want to be able to pivot and ideate and throw out ideas. We have a standing policy that, at any given time, any of the designers can just throw anything into our Slack channel and get feedback. If the answer is basically whenever, then I think that opens the door to more collaboration and out-there but good ideas.

I think part of the resistance to this is the question ‘what if we make a mistake?’ You don’t have to expose all of these iterative stages to your customer. This can be a very internal process, which your customers are going to benefit from. It frees people up to be more ‘out there’ and deep thinking on what they’re working on if they know it’s psychologically safe to just throw stuff out there.

This iterative approach works at all scales. How much actually makes it into the product is really variable.

Why are you so passionate about this way of working?

What working iteratively allows us to do is course correct, test assumptions, and react to conditions much quicker than our competitors. I think it’s a big competitive advantage. If we waited until everything was very buttoned down and tightened, we’d be launching an extremely beautiful, usable, and extremely functionality-packed product at a point when the market conditions or needs of customers might have changed.

We’re almost doing the user a disservice if we wait too long to get something out to them. A lot of our product is driven by the needs of the customer, and if we’re taking too long to give people the things that they want, fundamentally we’re not doing a very good job of running the product.

To learn more about Tom Creighton, head over to his website, and to check out the features mentioned above visit Wealthsimple.

[Design Story] Messenger of the Product: Samsung Wearable Package Design Story

One of the factors that determine the success or failure of a package design is whether the package effectively acts as a messenger of the product and brand. A package design not only conveys primary information of a product’s image, but it also offers a comprehensive brand experience that captures a product’s desired values and usage. Therefore, a package design is the embodiment of a product’s core message to its users and the manifestation of the conversation between a user and a product. Let’s take a moment to listen to the story of the product that is illustrated in the Samsung Wearable package design.

 

 

 

Changes for a more Consistent Brand Experience

Previous Samsung Wearable packages were great at portraying unique characteristics and strengths of different product categories, but had difficulty conveying the overarching impression of the brand. We analyzed countless competitor products and interviewed package and retail experts to create an all-encompassing brand experience through the package. Through this process, we set our design goal to create a packaging system that exudes the exhaustive aura of a brand and enhances the details of the overall experience that covers the journey from opening the package to holding the product in your hand.

 

 

Concept that Ties Categories Together

Precious

“Packaging is a nice way to speak to the user.” -Danny Miller, Creative Director of High Tide

 

Even if you are purchasing a product for yourself, a nicely packaged product that feels like a gift offers a whole new level of precious sentiment. The Samsung Mobile Wearable package acts as its own salesman when displayed on a showcase. The ‘Precious’ concept reflects this idea and provides a modern interpretation of the ‘premium gift’ keyword. From the moment users open the upper box, they are greeted with a ‘Welcome Door’ that creates anticipation for what’s to come. Furthermore, the inbox items, such as the manual and cables, are neatly assembled to express delicate care toward users.

 

360° Consideration

“To attract human attention your packaging needs to achieve a fine balance between vibrancy, uniqueness and simplicity.” – Kate Nightingale, Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology

 

 

The package is designed under the umbrella of the ‘360° Consideration’ concept, which organically connects different aspects of a package that each contain unique information. The design is systemically considerate of users and maintains a fine balance of text and images among all six sides of the box, thereby preventing an overload of information coming from a single element of the package. The compartments of the package flow seamlessly while also being exclusive, which enables the product to become a natural eye-catcher and an impressionable storyteller that tells a tale which goes beyond basic spec details.

 

 

Message that is Formed through Depth in Detail

 

A package can create a powerful message when all its elements, from materials to color, font, photography, graphics, constitution, and more, form a harmonious and meticulously detailed ensemble. The Samsung Wearable package design augments its consistency with depth in detail to more effectively communicate the product’s language to its users.

 

 

Attractive and Powerful Images

The product images used for the package were all taken in an honest viewpoint that has the product facing the front. The crisp and clean background that is spread behind the product and the soft light that permeates into the product radiate a confident and modern impression. For products like the Gear Fit2 Pro, which is important to properly show the band color, the images are rotated so that users can properly see the color of the band from the front of the package.

 

 

Systematic Transmission of Information

 

Key information such as product and brand names are always placed in the same location of the package for all categories to maintain consistency. Additional information such as the USP, icons, and product descriptions were positioned in order of importance in areas that are easily seen by the user so that all information can be systemically and properly disclosed to the user.

 

 

Color that Represents the Brand

 

The number of colors used in the package is limited to four colors, excluding the colors in the product image. The proportion of how each color is used is carefully determined by its purpose. The Premium Black color that appears universally among Samsung brand products blankets the entire package. The Samsung Accent Blue, used as the Signature Accent, is applied minimally throughout the package just enough to indicate the mood of the brand. White and light-grey are used for typography to immaculately organize product information.

 

 

Patterns that Capture the Sentiments of a Product

 

Patterns differ from product to product, so each pattern is designed to serve as a metaphor of the product’s specific qualities to evoke sentimental resonance. The Gear 360 features a photograph that boasts 360 degree photography, the Gear VR provides a multidimensional view, and the Gear Fit2 Pro shows an image that displays heart rate to exemplify the product.

 

Intuitive Icon Graphics

The Samsung Wearable package has been produced in two forms and two sizes, which upholds coherence of the brand when displayed. Even when the volume of the package must be larger to accommodate additional accessories, the z-axis of the package is enlarged instead of the x-axis or the y-axis so that the product is always displayed in a constant size when viewed from the front.

 

 

Everyone knows the feeling of keeping a package that they were particularly fond of. At times, the package of a product can induce a sensation that is as potent as, if not even stronger, than the sensation that comes from the product itself. The purpose of a package transcended beyond its previous role of simply wrapping up or protecting the product, and has gained its own meaning. The Samsung Wearable package design has come to redefine the identity and role of the package.

Two years of Google.org grants for racial justice

For many years, bold leaders across the U.S. have been using technology to foster a national dialogue on systemic inequity. Through painful moments like the Charleston church shooting, Googlers, like many others, asked what we could do to advance a more inclusive society. Two years ago, alongside our Black Googler Network and its allies, Google.org started a formal grant portfolio to advance racial and social justice in the United States.


In the spirit of understanding and getting closer to these complex issues, we began funding nonprofits fighting for racial justice in the California Bay Area—home to Google and many deep-rooted justice movements. In 2016, we doubled down on our commitment by supporting national organizations using data science and research to measure disparities in our system of mass incarceration. And today, we’re building on this commitment with another $7.5 million in grants to organizations advancing reform in our justice system, bringing our support to $32 million total.


Through these latest grants, we continue to support data and research demonstrating the impact of mass incarceration. Last month, we supported LatinoJustice with a $1 million grant to improve the quality of Latinx criminal justice data and shape the narrative and storytelling on the impact of mass incarceration in Latinx communities. And today we're providing a $4 million grant to the Vera Institute of Justice to help them build an authoritative data set that will allow researchers to measure the true economic impact of incarceration rates in rural areas.

Vera Institute: In Our Backyards

Vera Institute: In Our Backyards

Many of our initial grantees are focused on data gathering, research and analysis. We’re now also investing in organizations working on systemic solutions. For example, we’re supporting the Leadership Conference Education Fund with a $2 million grant to bolster their effort to help more law enforcement jurisdictions work with community groups, who are a critical partner in policing. The Leadership Conference has a well-known track record in this area, and they will help establish best practices that lead to more constitutional policing, less crime, and more trust and accountability. Our $500,000 grant to the R Street Institute’s Justice for Work Coalition will support their efforts aimed to bring bipartisan support for criminal justice reform and to reduce barriers to employment following incarceration.


We’ll also continue to multiply the impact of our grants with skills-based volunteer support from Googlers. Just last month, 10 Google software engineers and data scientists volunteered with Google.org grantee the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) on a full-time basis for six weeks in New York. These 10 Googlers helped build and improve CPE’s National Justice Database, the nation’s first-ever database tracking national statistics on policing. They also built software, audited tools, and improved automation efforts to help CPE better process and analyze the reports they send to partner police departments.
A Googler working with the Center for Policing Equity rides along with an officer to understand community-informed policing
Googler Austin Swift, a lead on the CPE Impact Immersion, rides along with an officer to understand his efforts to implement community-informed policing.

This isn't the only time we've teamed up Googler volunteers with grantees. Earlier this year, we helped the Equal Justice Initiative launch Lynching in America, an interactive site that explores this difficult time in U.S. history. More than 200 Googlers have volunteered in grantee Defy Ventures' prison and post-release programs for aspiring business owners, known as Entrepreneurs-in-Training. Working with Defy, Googlers have hosted small business training courses on digital marketing, digital skills and public speaking.


In the year ahead, Google will continue to stand in solidarity with the fight for racial justice. We believe in a justice system based on equity for all, informed by data and supported by community-based solutions. We’re proud to support organizations tackling this complex and worthy challenge.

Turn customers into advocates with #SmallThanks

The holiday season is a time to be grateful for friends, family and community. For me, that gratitude includes the small businesses who are a part of my everyday life in California. From my friends at Zombie Runner whose post-run coffee is the best part of my workout, to the folks at Tin-Pot Creamery who make it impossible to give up ice cream; these small businesses make my day-to-day life better and add heart to our community, and for that, I am thankful. I firmly believe when we support the businesses we love, we make the places we live better.


I also spend much of my time at work thinking about how to help small businesses grow using the web. Our products play a pivotal role in helping people and small businesses connect with each other.  As this year’s holiday shopping season and Small Business Saturday approach us, we’re doing something extra to help small businesses stand out and succeed, both online and in their neighborhoods.


We’ve created the #SmallThanks Hub to help you get free, customized marketing materials to promote your business. Simply search for your business name on the site, and we’ll automatically create posters, social media posts, window clings, stickers and more—based on the reviews and local love from your customers on Google. And now, it is available nationally in U.S. to any verified Google listing with an address. (Don’t yet have a verified listing? Signing up is free and only takes a few minutes. Start here.)  


Reviews from your fans are like digital thank you notes, and they’re one of the first things people notice about your business in search results. A few positive small thanks can mean the difference between a potential customer choosing your business or going elsewhere. 71 percent of consumers say that positive reviews in search results make them more likely to use that the business, and listings with positive reviews see 360 percent higher clicks to their site.

Keyword BlogPost-Social+Storefront.png
Show why your customers love you with posters in your store, and posts on social media.

Here are a few tips on how to use the materials from the #SmallThanks Hub to gain new customers and turn existing ones into advocates.

  1. Personalize your assets: Choose the reviews you want to feature, and select from several layouts, colors and styles to match your business’s aesthetics. You can create as many versions as you want.
  2. Show why your customers love you: Print and hang your customized posters in a visible area in your store, and share the social media versions with #SmallThanks to join in the conversation and show what makes you unique. Post the flyers around your neighborhood where potential customers might see them. 
  3. Ask customers to support you with reviews: Some customers may not remember to leave you a review, or realize the impact that it can have, so why not give them a little nudge? Place stickers in your window, receipt booklets, point-of-sale machine or anywhere else it can be prominently displayed to remind them to support you with a review. 
  4. Remind people to search for you: Post the “Find us on Google” stickers in your store and on your social media channels with #SmallThanks hashtag to tell potential customers how to connect with you.
  5. Keep your Google listing up to date: The holiday season usually means different hours and special offerings. Let customers know when you’ll be open using the special hours feature, and promote holiday specials with Local Posts
Sticker+Tent for KW.png

Encourage customers to support you on Google by placing these in visible spots.

Happy holidays and best wishes from all of us at Google.

Physics and an Innovation Mentality

Innovators behind Cisco's Infinite Video Platform are creating momentum and achieving a "critical mass" of customers on the way to redefining the business of IP video.

A merry mobile holiday with Google Shopping

In those spare moments between basting the turkey, assembling gingerbread houses, and planning your ugly-sweater party, you might find yourself reaching for your phone to research holiday gifts you still need to buy. You’re not alone: With information readily available at the swipe of a finger, holiday shoppers are doing more research before buying than ever before. Indeed, Black Friday searches containing “best” have more than doubled over the past two years on mobile. People are also scrutinizing products from every angle, including the packaging—mobile watchtime of unboxing videos is equivalent to watching “Love Actually” over 20 million times!


Before you head “over the river and through the woods” to deliver your presents this season, we’re introducing improvements to mobile shopping experiences on Google that’ll help you browse, research, compare, and get the items crossed off your holiday gift list.


What’s hot on the list this year  

As always, there's a new crop of gifts climbing the trends chart. Here's a look at popular searches going into Black Friday:



Get the shopping scoop in a snap

To help you search for gifts on the go, we recently redesigned mobile shopping on Google, bringing more product information to the forefront. Click the “Quick View” button in the Google Shopping ad to preview details like a bigger image, product description, reviews and seller rating—and to see if you can score a good deal by checking if it’s on sale. If you see an item that’s almost perfect but not quite what you want, scroll down to view visually similar or related products underneath, or to discover more products from the same brands or retailers.

1.0 - 5th ave.gif

More quickly and easily research, compare and narrow down your gift options

We know you’ve got limited time and lots of gifts to buy. Knowing that researching items and comparing prices are two of the most common mobile shopping activities, we recently introduced enhancements to the knowledge panel on Google.com to help you quickly find product photos, videos, reviews, descriptions and more.


To help you further narrow down your options and give you deeper insight into potential purchases, we’re now showing buying guides on Google for broad categories (like sewing machines or coffee grinders).

2.0 - Research.png

Also, when you search for a specific product, Google.com now shows you other helpful information, like related items, and allows you to compare reviews, prices and other specs, side by side. And if you’re searching for tech gadgets, we’ll help ensure that you're looking at the latest and greatest. You’ll now see a label alerting you there’s a “newer model available” if you're browsing last year’s product.

3.0 - ALL.png

Shop by voice with the Google Assistant

As much as we try to plan ahead, procrastination happens. If you find yourself looking for something at the last minute, try using your Google Assistant to see where you can purchase needed items nearby by saying “Ok Google, where can I buy…”, or to get it sent right to your doorstep by saying “Ok Google, buy…”. Heading into the holidays, we see people with a Google Home device—which enables voice shopping with the Google Assistant—are using their voice to most frequently buy or add everyday essentials like paper towels or pet food to their shopping lists. We’re also seeing people using voice to find other types of products to prep for the holidays —including kitchen tools like basting brushes to perfectly glaze those Thanksgiving dishes, toys to slip under the tree, or fuzzy blankets to keep warm by the fireplace.


Whether you’re researching on your phone or shopping with your voice, we wish you happy deal-hunting this holiday season!

Once again, Proud to Be First – IoT Performance

Over the past three decades, industry standard bodies like the TPC and SPEC have developed several standards for performance benchmarking. These standards have been a significant driving force behind the development of faster, less expensive, and more energy efficient systems. The two most influential database benchmark standards have been: TPC-C, the industry standard for benchmarking transaction processing systems, and TPC-D and its […]

Google Play Referrer API: Track and measure your app installs easily and securely

Posted by Neto Marin, Developer Advocate

Understanding how people find your app and what they do once they've installed it is crucial to helping you make the right product and marketing decisions. This is especially important when you're deciding your advertising strategy and budget. Today many app measurement companies and ad networks offer ad attribution solutions based on referral data. As such accurate install referral data is vital for correctly attributing app installs, as well as discounting fraudulent attempts for install credit.

To help you obtain more accurate and reliable data about your installs, we're introducing the Google Play Install Referrer API, a reliable way to securely retrieve install referral content. Using this API, your app will get precise information straight from the Play Store, including:

  • The referrer URL of the installed package.
  • The timestamp, in seconds, of when the referrer click happened.
  • The timestamp, in seconds, of when the installation began.

We've tested the API with our App Attribution Program partners including Adjust, AppsFlyer, Singular and TUNE.

"The new Play API provides us with the data we need to effectively detect and prevent click injection; it's a monumental step in securing a crucial information exchange on Android."

- Paul Müller, CTO & Co-Founder, Adjust

"The new Google Play API introduces fresh insights into both mobile ad fraud and the mobile user journey, two key domains with impact across the ecosystem."

- Elad Mashiach, VP, AppsFlyer

"This additional data directly from the Play Store provides increased precision for the Kochava fraud suite to further minimize fraud for our customers."

- Charles Manning, CEO, Kochava

"Google's new API is a game changer that will help marketing analytics platforms like Singular identify and prevent a significant portion of Ad Fraud, and provide security and accuracy to mobile advertisers"

- Gadi Eliashiv, CEO & Co-Founder, Singular

"This new data from Google Play is essential for marketers who demand accountability out of their mobile app install advertising spend. At TUNE, this data is allowing us to outright eliminate entire forms of mobile app install fraud while providing new insight into how mobile app installs are driven."

– Dan Koch, Chief Technical Officer, TUNE

Starting today, the API works with the Play Store app from version 8.3.73 and later for all developers.

Play Install Referrer Library 1.0 now available

To make it easy to integrate the Install Referrer API, we've released the Install Referrer Library 1.0 for Android. The library is available in our Maven repository. To start using it, add the following dependency to your app module build.gradle file:

dependencies {
          ...
          compile 'com.android.installreferrer:installreferrer:1.0'
      }

All communication with the Play Store app happens through a Service, so the first step is to establish the connection between your app and the Play Store. Also, to receive the connection result and updates it's necessary to implement a listener, InstallReferrerStateListener. This listener could be your current Activity or any other class you want to use:

public class MainActivity extends AppCompatActivity 
    implements InstallReferrerStateListener {
    …
}

Now that you have an InstallReferrerStateListener, you can start binding your app to the Play Store app service. To establish the connection, you must build an InstallReferrerClient instance and call the startConnection() method:

InstallReferrerClient mReferrerClient
...
mReferrerClient = newBuilder(this).build();
mReferrerClient.startConnection(this);

Then, handle the connection result in the onInstallReferrerSetupFinished() method. If the connection is OK, the app can retrieve install referrer information, by calling the getInstallReferrer() method:

@Override
public void onInstallReferrerSetupFinished(int responseCode) {
   switch (responseCode) {
       case InstallReferrerResponse.OK:
           try {
               Log.v(TAG, "InstallReferrer conneceted");
               ReferrerDetails response = mReferrerClient.getInstallReferrer();
               handleReferrer(response);
               mReferrerClient.endConnection();
           } catch (RemoteException e) {
               e.printStackTrace();
           }
           break;
       case InstallReferrerResponse.FEATURE_NOT_SUPPORTED:
           Log.w(TAG, "InstallReferrer not supported");
           break;
       case InstallReferrerResponse.SERVICE_UNAVAILABLE:
           Log.w(TAG, "Unable to connect to the service");
           break;
       default:
           Log.w(TAG, "responseCode not found.");
   }
}

For more details about the new API and the client library, visit the Install Referrer Client Library page and the reference documentation.

Other Implementations

If you are not able to use our client library, you can use the AIDL interface and establish the connection with Google Play Store on your own. Check out the IGetInstallReferrerService AIDL reference for details of the methods and the service specification.

What's next?

Check out the Play Install Referrer API documentation for details about the new API, the library's reference docs, and our Quick Start guide.

Experimenting with VR at the South China Morning Post

Having spent my pre-Google career as a reporter and editor at legacy media organizations, I can tell you that digital transformation in the news industry is challenging. Even when news organizations have the will, resources and technical expertise, the obstacles to transformation can be daunting.

In Asia, few news organization have plunged headlong into digital transformation like South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s top English-language daily newspaper. With a daily weekday circulation of roughly 105K, SCMP is a midsize paper, but its language and geography give it outsized influence.

For more than a century, SCMP has been documenting Greater China for the English-speaking diaspora across Asia-Pacific. Before the internet, expatriates and visitors would pick up the paper, sometimes days old, on airplanes and in hotels across the region. For those living in mainland China (like I did in the 1990s), the paper offered a window into the place where they lived, from a familiar yet discrete vantage point.

Now, SCMP uses the web to reach the growing global community of readers interested in news about China, and experiment with new methods of storytelling along the way. After its purchase by Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma in 2016, the newspaper suddenly had a mandate to evolve, and was given the runway and resources to experiment.

“Culture and identity are massively important when you are trying to turn around a 114-year-old company … until you have a company that is ready to experiment, willing to fail, and able to move with agility … you can talk all day long about transformation and where you’re heading but you’ll never get there,” said SCMP CEO Gary Liu in an interview with Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Policy.

That entrepreneurial spirit led SCMP to take on an immersive virtual reality project that would trace the history of Hong Kong from British rule to the present day, mining a century’s worth of archival photos and illustrations and presenting them alongside modern-day 360-degree video and drone footage. The project was Google News Lab's first immersive storytelling partnership in the Asia-Pacific region, part of the team’s broader effort to accelerate immersive storytelling across the news industry.

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“It had to be big, bold, and beautiful—and leverage new formats, technologies and platforms to tell the story,” according to SCMP online editor Brett McKeehan, who helmed the project and talked about the process at a recent Google News Lab event.

In order to make the project accessible to as many readers as possible, especially in the smartphone-dominant Asian market, the SCMP team built a responsive website that was optimized for mobile, tablet and desktop. Animations of 3D Google Earth imagery helped to tell the story and orient the reader across time and space throughout the piece.

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One of Hong Kong’s wettest Junes in history.

They set a deadline to complete the project within two months—an eternity for a newspaper used to daily deadlines. “What can’t you do in two months? What could possibly go wrong? Two months—I thought, we could do anything in two months,” McKeehan said. Shooting and production schedules were set, everyone was ready to go…

And then it rained. And rained and rained—for six straight weeks—one of Hong Kong’s wettest Junes in history.

While it rained, the Hong Kong government changed its drone restrictions, rendering certain planned shots illegal. Meanwhile, SCMP’s developer team of three learned how to build, for the first time, a responsive HTML webframe that would work for both iOS and Android.

SCMP_Back 2017-07-10 at 3.19.46 pm.png
A drone is being readied to capture footage across Hong Kong.

In the end, Brett and his team had to change their project scope and push back their release date to overcome the many unforeseen logistical and development challenges that sprang up throughout the process.

“It’s not a tale of of pixies and rainbows...It is a tale of toil and frustration, and the headaches that come with doing something new.”

Despite the pain, Brett said the experience was worthwhile, because it brought new skills that were now embedded in the newsroom. But for anyone embarking on the journey, he offered the following tips:

  • Embrace the medium: 360, VR, AR offer incredible storytelling possibilities. The sooner you take the plunge, the better. 
  • Experiment with new technologies, but start small before taking on more ambitious projects.
  • Don’t outsource: Bite the bullet, buy your own equipment (get cheap stuff and play). Own your ideas and develop your own talent.

“We’re an aspirational publisher. We’re doing something for the first time. So we made it; we’re happy with that,” McKeehan said.

And that is success, Gary Liu, SCMP’s CEO,  told me after it was published. “The point was to do it and learn in the process.”

Samsung’s Programmable Multichannel Driver Selected as Best Enabling Technology at 2017 Lux Awards

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced digital component solutions, today announced that its Programmable Multichannel Driver (PMD) has been selected as the top enabling technology of the year at the 2017 Lux Awards.

 

Since 2010, the Lux Awards has been recognized as one of the most prestigious honors for lighting component manufacturers and customers who have significantly improved the global lighting environment, reduced energy consumption or achieved major technological advances of importance to users worldwide.

 

 

Samsung’s PMD features two-channel driving, allowing luminaires to tune color temperature (CCT) and dim light output. For example, in order to control a luminaire with warm white and cool white modules, previously a separate driver was needed for each color temperature as well as a controller to connect the two drivers to a single dimmer. However, with Samsung’s award-winning PMD, a luminaire only needs to be wired to the PMD in order to fine-tune the CCT and control dimming in an exacting manner. This dual role adds to the simplicity and convenience of everyday lighting environments in an extensive number of applications ranging from commercial to architectural lighting.

 

The PMD also supports DALI and 0-10V output ports, as well as the universal input voltage range for easy adoption throughout the global lighting market. Its programming software allows lighting system managers to easily adjust operating value settings, such as CCT, current and dimming levels, to create the most optimized lighting environments.

 

Samsung’s PMD has become a key element in a growing number of smart lighting systems as it can be quickly linked to a wide range of control modules and sensors through the use of a 24V auxiliary power supply, eliminating the need for an additional power source. Moreover, it can be adjusted in 1mA increments, enabling more efficient inventory management for luminaire manufacturers.

Messenger for Small Businesses: Making Business Personal

By the Messenger Team

One of the things that makes small businesses so special is how personal they are. When you walk into your local bakery or stop by your corner bodega, it’s not just about the box of cookies you need for your last-minute dinner party or the carton of milk you’re picking up for your morning coffee, it’s about the people behind the business, and the relationship you have built with them over the years.

While many small businesses still have a community of local, loyal customers who frequent their establishment regularly, many others rely heavily on technology to reach their audience, with an increasing number of small businesses building their livelihoods entirely online. Technology has helped businesses large and small reach more people than ever before, but sometimes digital marketing can feel like it’s missing that personal connection. Messaging changes that. According to a study we recently commissioned, messaging adoption has grown significantly in the past two years, and is now the most frequently used form of communication across regions. According to this same study, Messenger is the only messaging app used by more than half the population across all age-groups, with 58% of people who use Messenger saying they use the app every day.

While people are using messaging more and more to connect with the people they love, they are increasingly turning to messaging to connect with the brands they care about; according to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, 63% of people surveyed said their messaging with businesses has increased over the past two years, and 67% expect to message businesses even more over the next two years. In fact, in 2017 alone over 330 million people connected with a small business on Messenger for the first time.

We are also seeing certain industries really take off on the platform, with professional services, retail, public good and local entertainment taking the lead. Aprille Franks-Hunt, a Master Business Coach in Oklahoma, uses Messenger to connect with her community, distribute materials and encourage signups for her seminars. Mermaid Pillow Company, a family-owned business in Nebraska that sells “Kids Positivity” pillows and arm bands, uses Messenger to answer questions and enable transactions, recently implementing the customer chat plugin on their website to connect with their customers across their website and Messenger. And Love Your Melon, a Minnesota-based brand dedicated to providing a hat to every child battling cancer in the US and supporting the fight against pediatric cancer, harnesses Messenger as a powerful re-engagement channel, using sponsored messages to promote new merchandise.

We are so inspired by the small businesses who are already using Messenger to connect with their community and customers, and with Small Business Saturday – an annual shopping event dedicated to supporting small businesses – around the corner, we’re excited to share a few resources for folks looking to get started on the platform today.

Today we are announcing the launch of Messenger’s first ‘bot makeover contest’ in partnership with bot development platform ManyChat. Three winners* will receive a makeover to their Messenger experience courtesy of ManyChat, along with consultation from our team of Messenger experts here at Facebook. Each winner will also receive $5,000 in ad credits to be used to drive discovery of their new and improved Messenger experience. Submissions are open today, November 20, 2017 through Monday, December 4, 2017 at 8:00pm PST/11:00pm EST, with the winners being announced in mid-December.

For small business owners looking to get started on Messenger, on Tuesday, November 21st at 3:00pm PST/6:00pm EST we will be partnering with small business expert Gene Marks for a Facebook Live panel about Messenger best practices. He will be joined by our very own Stefanos Loukakos, Head of Messenger Business and small business owner and Master Business Coach Aprille Franks-Hunt who can share her personal experience using Messenger to drive results and build stronger relationships. We will also be taking live questions that Gene, Stefanos and Aprille will answer at the end of the panel, so be sure to tune in and ask about anything you’ve ever wanted to know about Messenger for your business.

We’re so grateful to all the small businesses who have already chosen Messenger to connect with their community, and we look forward to empowering even more business owners to use Messenger to drive results and make business personal.

 

 

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Submission phase begins 11/20/2017 at 10:00:00AM PT & ends 12/4/2017 at 8:00:00PM PT. Only open to businesses (legal entities and individuals) that: have a valid Facebook account; are a resident or legally formed in 50 U.S., DC or PR; have 100 or fewer employees; as of the contest start date, uses Messenger to connect with customers and uses digital marketing channels; & is 18+ and maj+. 3 winners determined by highest score using criteria: Commitment to messaging (40%); Business goal (40%); & Creativity (20%). Void where prohibited by law. SUBJECT TO FULL OFFICIAL RULES, which contain important bot and content restrictions and requirements. ARV of each Prize: $8,000. Total ARV $24,000. Ad credits must be used within 90 days of issuance and are subject to their terms. Verified winner must spend minimum required time on Messenger marketing to make use of the prize or it will be forfeited. Sponsor: Facebook, Inc., 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

 

#CiscoChat Recap — How Do You Compete for the Digital Sports Fan of 2020 and Beyond?

When it comes to competing for the attention of digital sports fans, the game is constantly changing. Digital technology innovations are paving the way to more connected, more engaging, and, ultimately, more memorable experiences — and also leading to heightened fan expectations. It’s not enough just to keep score from the sidelines. To make the […]
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