This Holiday Season – Buy One IoT Device, Get Free CVEs

As the Internet of Things gains steam and continues to develop, so are adversaries and the threats affecting these systems. Companies throughout the world are busy deploying low cost Internet-connected computing devices (aka the Internet of Things) to solve business problems and improve our lives. In tandem, criminals are developing their methods for abusing and […]

Archer Goes Undercover at Comic Con

Rather than create another video featuring Archer half-heartedly apologizing for his absence at San Deigo Comic Con, the show’s production team thought it would be fun to change things up, and have Archer interact in real-time with fans.

Defying gravity: an epic stunt at the Guggenheim Bilbao

When the Guggenheim Bilbao museum opened 20 years ago it was described by many as a starship from outer space. Its swirling roof is made of paper-thin titanium tiles—33,000 of them—covering the building like fish scales. At the time, it was such a novelty that the museum had to commission a chemical laboratory to produce a custom liquid to clean the titanium!

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Guggenheim Bilbao (photo by Trashhand)

The museum was an unusual experiment not just because of its gleaming shell. Over two decades ago, following the collapse of the traditional industries Bilbao was built on, the city was scarred with industrial wastelands, abandoned factories, and a community afflicted by unemployment and social tensions. Bilbao surprised the world (and raised a few eyebrows) with a unique idea to kickstart the city’s regeneration, and they set out to build—not new factories or new roads—but instead a new center for modern art.

Since then, the museum has attracted 19 million visitors and became the epicenter of the urban renewal that rippled through Bilbao. Today it stands as an icon of the city and its successful self-transformation. To celebrate the Guggenheim’s 20th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture partnered with the museum to bring their stories to you and show it from a new angle.

But how do you find a new angle on one of the world’s most photographed buildings? Google invited Johan Tonnoir—known for running and jumping across Paris’s busy rooftops with only a pair of sturdy shoes—to the Guggenheim.

Johan explored the building in his own way … through a breathtaking stunt-run across the building and its iconic slippery roof. He climbed to the highest peak and jumped, flipped and leapt from one wing of the roof to the other at 50 meters high. And all along, urban photographer Trashhand from Chicago followed him with his lens.

Check out the museum’s masterpieces on Google Arts & Culture (but please don’t try to do it Johan’s way…). You can see all this online at g.co/guggenheimbilbao or in the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android.

Investing £1 million in training for computing teachers in the U.K.

Advancing our students’ understanding of the principles and practices of computing is critical to developing a competitive workforce for the 21st century.

In every field, businesses of all sizes are looking to hire people who understand computing, so we need more students to leave school confident in skills like coding, computational thinking, machine learning and cybersecurity.

The U.K. has already led the way in preparing for this future by making computer science education a part of the school curriculum in 2014. But we know there is more to do to ensure young people in every community have access to world-class computer science education.

A recent report from the Royal Society found that despite the good progress in recent years, only 11 percent of Key Stage 4 pupils take GCSE computer science. The majority of teachers are teaching an unfamiliar school subject without adequate support. These teachers are eager to offer computer science to their students but they need access to subject area training to build their confidence.

The U.K. government’s announcement that they’re investing £100 million for an additional 8,000 computer science teachers supported by a new National Centre for Computing is an encouraging step forward. It builds on the progress that’s been made since computing was added to the curriculum in 2014 by helping to ensure teachers have the specialist training and support they need to educate the next generation of British computer scientists.

We want to continue to play our part too.

Today we’re announcing £1 million in grants to support training for secondary school computing teachers in the U.K.

The Google.org grant will allow the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the British Computer Society and the National STEM Learning Centre to deliver free computer science and pedagogy training for thousands of key stage 3 and key stage 4 teachers in England over three years, with a specific focus on disadvantaged areas.

A Raspberry Pi and Google teacher training workshop in Leeds, UK
A Raspberry Pi and Google teacher training workshop in Leeds, U.K.

Through this effort, they will make make online courses and professional development resources available to teachers anywhere, anytime, for free, and deliver free in-person workshops for teachers across the country.

Googlers care deeply about helping to develop our future computer scientists, and many of them will give their time and skills to this program. A team of Google engineers and learning and development specialists will volunteer with Raspberry Pi to ensure that all teachers are able to access the online resources and courses.

This grant is part of Google’s long-standing commitment to computer science education. Through Google.org, we’ve given nearly $40 million to organizations around the globe ensuring that traditionally underrepresented students have access to opportunities to explore computer science.

In the U.K., we also support teacher recruitment and professional development by teaming up with organizations like Teach First and University of Wolverhampton, and we focus on inspiring more children, especially girls and those from disadvantaged areas, to take up computing through Code Club UK after-school clubs.

CS education and computational thinking skills are key to the future, and we’re committed to supporting Raspberry Pi—and other organizations like them—to ensure teachers and young people have the skills they’ll need to succeed.

How Sweden’s Oxievång School helps teachers navigate the journey to the “learning island”

Editor’s note: Google has just completed its first-ever Google for Education Study Tour, bringing nearly 100 educators from 12 countries around Europe to Lund, Sweden, to share ideas on innovating within their systems and creating an environment that embraces innovation.. One of the highlights of the two-day event was a visit to Oxievång School in Malmö, where principal Jenny Nyberg has led their adoption of technology in the classroom. Below, Jenny explains how to support teachers during a period of technology adoption.

When we’re introducing new technology for our classrooms, I tell my teachers to imagine the ultimate goal as an island we all have to swim toward. Some of us are very fast swimmers, and we’ll figure out how to get to the island quickly, and even get around any sharks. Some of us are slow swimmers, and may be hesitant to jump in, but the strong swimmers will show us the way (and how to get around the sharks). Eventually, we all have to jump into the water.

Bringing tech-based personalized learning into the classrooms at Oxievång School was our “island” and we’ve all completed the journey, which was particularly important given that our school, like the city of Malmö itself, is a mix of different people with varying needs. We have immigrant students as well as native Swedes; 40 percent of our students speak Swedish as their second language. But all students can  become strong learners when teachers discover what motivates and excites them. When we adopted G Suite for education, our “fast-swimmer” teachers showed their colleagues how they could now customize learning for each and every student.

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Jenny Nyberg during school visit

As school leaders, my vice principals and I served as role models for using G Suite— not just for teaching, but for making our jobs easier too. We showed teachers how to use Google Sites to store information we needed every day, like staff policies and forms. We walked teachers through the Google Docs tools that allow them to comment on student work immediately rather than waiting to receive homework from students, and giving feedback much later. When teachers saw this in action, they understood how adopting G Suite was going to make a big difference for their teaching effectiveness and their productivity.

If you want teachers to become enthusiastic about using new technology, they need to be confident in their use of the new technology. For this, you have to give them support.  So we hired a digital learning educator who works exclusively with teachers to help them build up their technology skills. Every teacher receives a personalized development plan with a list of resources for training.

Our students have become more engaged in their coursework as teachers have become better at using Google technology to personalize learning. If students are curious about a subject, they can use their Chromebooks and G Suite tools to further explore the topic on their own. They also interact with teachers more often, even using Hangouts to meet with teachers outside of the classroom. As teachers become more confident, their enthusiasm spreads to the students.

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One of the stations included students demonstrating robots they programmed with their Chromebooks

Once we give teachers basic training, we keep supporting them so that the transformation spreads throughout the school. When they need extra help with using G Suite, teachers know where to find it: they can schedule a meeting with the digital learning educator. We have team leaders across grades and subjects who help teachers’ follow their development plans. Once a month, we all meet at school sessions called “skrytbyt,” which roughly translates as “boost exchange.” In these sessions teachers trade stories about lessons that went well and ask for advice about how to improve lessons they find challenging. Sharing knowledge is a great way to build confidence.

As leaders in education, we have to be honest with teachers and acknowledge that change isn’t easy, but assure them that we’re here for them. Teachers worry that students know more about technology than they do—students are the digital natives, while teachers are the digital immigrants. We constantly remind teachers that they can find inspiration in each other and in their students’ knowledge, so that we all make it to the island together.

Fact-checking the French election: lessons from CrossCheck, a collaborative effort to combat misinformation

Nine months ago, 37 newsrooms worked together to combat misinformation in the run-up to the French Presidential election. Organized by First Draft, and supported by the Google News Lab, CrossCheck launched a virtual newsroom, where fact-checkers collaborated to verify disputed online content and share fact-checked information back to the public.

The initiative was a part of the News Lab’s broader effort to help journalists curb the spread of misinformation during important cultural and political moments. With a recent study finding that nearly 25% of all news stories about the French Presidential election shared on social media were fake, it was important for French newsrooms to work closely together to combat misinformation in a timely fashion. 

Yesterday at our office in Paris, alongside many of the newsrooms who took part in the initiative, we released a report on the project produced by academics from the University of Toulouse and Grenoble Alpes University. The report explored the impact the project had on the newsrooms and journalists involved, and the general public.

  A few themes emerged from the report:

  • Accuracy in reporting rises above competition. While news organizations operate in a highly competitive landscape, there was broad agreement that “debunking work should not be competitive” and should be “considered a public service.” That spirit was echoed by the willingness of 100 journalists to work together and share information for ten weeks leading up to Election Day. Many of the journalists talked about the sense of pride they felt doing this work together. As one journalist put it, “debunking fake news is not a scoop.”    
  • The initiative helped spread best practices around verification for journalists. Journalists interviewed for the report discussed the value of the news skills the picked up around fact-checking, image verification, and video authentication—and the lasting impact that would have on their work. One journalist noted, “I strengthened my reflexes, I progressed in my profession, in fact-checking, and gained efficiency and speed working with user generated content.” 
  • Efforts to ensure accuracy in reporting are important for news consumers. The project resonated with many news consumers who saw the effort as independent, impartial and credible (reinforced by the number of news organizations that participated). By the end of the election, the CrossCheck blog hit nearly 600,000 page views, had roughly 5K followers on Twitter and 180K followers on Facebook (where its videos amassed 1.2 million views). As one news reader noted, “many people around me were convinced that a particular piece of misinformation was true before I demonstrated the opposite to them. This changed how they voted.”

You can learn more about the News Lab’s efforts to work with the news industry to increase trust and fight misinformation here.

‘Tis the season to Fi it Forward

With the season for giving right around the corner, we’re excited to kick off the Fi it Forward referral challenge. The challenge is rolling out today starting on desktop.

Like our last referral challenge, participants will earn prizes for the referrals they make throughout the challenge. In the Fi it Forward challenge, you can win up to two hardware gifts when you refer friends to Project Fi: a Google Chromecast and the new Android One moto x4.

But we’re most excited about our opportunity to pay it forward with our third gift. At the end of the challenge, Project Fi will donate $50,000 to the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC). We’re thrilled to see organizations like the ITDRC harness the power of communications technology to make a meaningful difference in crisis response and recovery, and we’re grateful to come together as a community to support their initiatives. Project Fi users don’t have to take any action to participate in the community gift—you’re already supporting the ITDRC’s disaster relief efforts just by being a part of Project Fi.

Ready to get started?. Remember to enter the challenge and get your referrals in by December 17. We can’t wait to Fi it Forward with all of you this holiday season.

Lights, shadows and silhouettes by #teampixel

Shadows don’t always have to be scary—they can be downright magical. This week, #teampixel is sharing everything from a solitary lemon’s shadow to palm trees silhouetted against a vivid sky in Venice, CA. Come chase shadows with us and see what you find.

If you’d like to be featured on @google and The Keyword, tag your Pixel photos with #teampixel and you might see yourself next.

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    Left: james_4388 – palm tree silhouettes in Venice, CA. Right: Lkkben – shadowing a game in Singapore
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    davidhorneman – caught in a sea of lights
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    Left: prokopakis_ – Athens Olympic Sports Complex. Right: sidgoswami – a spark of madness
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    Left: Wanderingislemissionpic – a lemon and its shadow. Right: phoolandevi_ – shadow play in Jaipur, Rajasthan
  • Pixel_1116_5.jpg
    rhyslawsn – soggy sandals and socks in British Columbia

7 ways the Assistant can help you get ready for Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and, as always, your Google Assistant is ready to help. So while the turkey cooks and the family gathers, here are some questions to ask your Assistant. 

thanksgiving
  • Show up to dinner on time: “Ok Google, how’s traffic?”
  • Prepare accordingly: “Ok Google, set a turkey timer for 4 hours.”
  • And don’t forget dessert: “Ok Google, add apple pie and pumpkin pie to my shopping list”
  • Play a game while you wait for turkey: “Ok Google, play Thanksgiving Mad Libs” 
  • Hear a funny tale: “Ok Google, tell me a turkey story” 
  • Learn something new: “Ok Google, give me a fun fact about Thanksgiving”
  • When Thanksgiving’s over, get ready for the next occasion:  “Ok Google, play holiday music” 

Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

Developing a VR game in just two weeks

Earlier this year, 3D modeler Jarlan Perez joined the Blocks team for a two-week sprint. The goal of his time with the team was to create a fully immersive virtual reality game in just two weeks using Blocks and Unreal Engine, two tools that have significantly influenced his process as a modeler and game enthusiast.

The result was “Blocks Isle,” the first level of a game that takes you on a journey to find your long lost friend in a sci-fi land of wonder. To win, you must solve a puzzle using hidden clues and interactions throughout the experience.

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You start out on a strange desert island. After uncovering some clues and pulling a handy lever, a rocky pathway opens for exploration. Up ahead, hidden radios and books reveal clues to solve the puzzle.

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Initial steps to get onto Blocks Isle. Levers and teleportation immerse the user in a new world.

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Solving the puzzle on Blocks Isle

We caught up with Jarlan to hear more about his process and advice for other developers building immersive experiences using Blocks and Unreal Engine 4.

Brittany: Tell us about using Blocks and Unreal to develop a game in such a short amount of time.

Jarlan: Tag teaming both pieces of software worked very well! Blocks allowed me to visualize and be in the space during the modeling and conceptual phase. Unreal is like giving an artist magical powers: I’m able to fully build a proof of concept and implement functionality without having to be a professional programmer.

I found myself spending part of the day in Blocks experimenting with concepts and the rest in Unreal creating basic functionality for those ideas. This method allowed for rapid prototyping and was later beneficial when populating the space with art assets.

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Basic prototype in Unreal

What tips and tricks did you uncover that made it easy to build your game?

Being able to build large parts of the environment while standing smack dab in the middle of it is wonderful.

A big thing that I found myself doing is blowing the scene up to actual size, standing in it, and using a combination of the move grip and me moving my arms back and forth to simulate walking within the space. It helped me further understand how I wanted the player to navigate the space and where certain things needed to be placed. Again all within Blocks and no code.

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Simulating walking through the experience in Blocks, as part of the creation process

Another general tip, the snap trigger is your friend! I’ve used it for most of my modeling in Blocks to snap and place assets.

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Using Blocks’ snapping feature to align shapes in the environment

How did you experiment with different ideas and concepts?

I had a few different concepts when I started the project. Blocks allowed me to quickly build a mock up of each for testing.

Blocks is an amazing tool for spatial prototyping. Before bringing a scene into Unreal, I’d blow it up to scale and move around in the space to see if it makes sense for what I’m trying to achieve. This saved me so much time.

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Further development of the Blocks Isle concept

Without Blocks, how might this process have been different?

After all is said and done, I still had to take the geometry from Blocks and bring it into a 3D program for unwrapping and lightmap baking.

That said, even though I am proficient in traditional 3D modeling, I think the project would have taken longer to put together without Blocks. Blocks helped me take out some steps in the process. Traditionally I’d model out the scene and export pieces as I went, bringing them into the engine, placing them, and moving around to get a sense of how the space feels. All that got combined inside Blocks. Oh, and not to mention color exploration. If I wanted to try out colors I’d also have to create materials and place them on each asset during the in-engine test which takes more time. I can easily preview all of that in Blocks.

What advice would you give to other game developers about using these tools?

Keep exploring and always stay hungry. Be on the lookout for new tools that can improve your process and don’t be afraid of trying something new. If it doesn’t work out, it’s ok. We learn so much more from the challenges we take on than from the ones we don’t face by walking the easy path.

There are some amazing low poly games and artists out there. I think many artists would benefit from making models in VR using Blocks. If I was able to finish this project in two weeks, I can only imagine what a small team could do. Give it a try, and post your creations or questions using #MadeWithBlocks.

If you’d like to experience Blocks Isle on the HTC Vive, you can download the game.

The High Five: our searches go on, and on

Turkey, “Titanic” and the pope’s new ride were on our minds this week. Here are a few of the week’s top search trends, with data from the Google News Lab.

Almost time for turkey

As people in the U.S. prepare to gather around the table for Thanksgiving next week, our Thanksgiving insights page has all the trends. Pumpkin pie dominates searches in the U.S., but pecan pie is more popular in the southeast and apple pie is the state favorite in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. A smoked turkey is popular in most states, though some contend it should be roasted, fried or grilled. And Friendsgiving continues to rise in popularity, with searches like “friendsgiving ideas,” “friendsgiving invitations” and “friendsgiving games.”

We’ll never let go

Two decades ago, “Titanic” left an iceberg-sized hole in our hearts, and now it’s coming back to theaters in honor of its 20-year anniversary. In the years since its debut, search interest in “Titanic” reached its highest point globally in April 2012 when Titanic in 3D was released. All this talk of sinking ships made us think about other famous boats—the top searched shipwrecks this week include the Batavia, the Edmund Fitzgerald and the USS Indianapolis.

Hot wheels

The “popemobile” got an upgrade this week. Lamborghini gifted the pope a special edition luxury car, which he decided to auction off for charity. Though the pope is known for his affinity for Fiats, interest in “Pope Lamborghini” zoomed 190 percent higher than “Pope Fiat.” People also searched to find out, “Why did the Lamborghini company give the pope a car?” and “How much does the Lamborghini that they gave the pope cost?”

That’s a foul

Searches for “UCLA basketball players” shot 330 percent higher this week when three players returned home after being arrested for shoplifting while on tour with the team in China. The search queries dribbled in: “How long are the UCLA players suspended for?” “Why did China let the UCLA players go?” and “What were the UCLA players stealing?”

All about the music

With hits like “Despacito” and “Mi Gente” taking over the globe this year, the Latin Grammys last night were a hot ticket. People searched “How to watch the Latin Grammy awards online,” “What time are the Latin Grammy awards on?” and “How does music qualify for a Latin Grammy award?” Of the nominees for Record of the Year, “Despacito,” “Guerra,” and “Felices Los 4” were the most searched.

An AI Resident at work: Suhani Vora and her work on genomics

Suhani Vora is a bioengineer, aspiring (and self-taught) machine learning expert, SNES Super Mario World ninja, and Google AI Resident. This means that she’s part of a 12-month research training program designed to jumpstart a career in machine learning. Residents, who are paired with Google AI mentors to work on research projects according to their interests, apply machine learning to their expertise in various backgrounds—from computer science to epidemiology.

I caught up with Suhani to hear more about her work as an AI Resident, her typical day, and how AI can help transform the field of genomics.

Phing: How did you get into machine learning research?

Suhani: During graduate school, I worked on engineering CRISPR/Cas9 systems, which enable a wide range of research on genomes. And though I was working with the most efficient tools available for genome editing, I knew we could make progress even faster.

One important factor was our limited ability to predict what novel biological designs would work. Each design cycle, we were only using very small amounts of previously collected data and relied on individual interpretation of that data to make design decisions in the lab.

By failing to incorporate more powerful computational methods to make use of big data and aid in the design process, it was affecting our ability to make progress quickly. Knowing that machine learning methods would greatly accelerate the speed of scientific discovery, I decided to work on finding ways to apply machine learning to my own field of genetic engineering.

I reached out to researchers in the field, asking how best to get started. A Googler I knew suggested I take the machine learning course by Andrew Ng on Coursera (could not recommend it more highly), so I did that. I’ve never had more fun learning! I had also started auditing an ML course at MIT, and reading papers on deep learning applications to problems in genomics. Ultimately, I took the plunge and and ended up joining the Residency program after finishing grad school.  

Tell us about your role at Google, and what you’re working on right now.

I’m a cross-disciplinary deep learning researcher—I research, code, and experiment with deep learning models to explore their applicability to problems in genomics.

In the same way that we use machine learning models to predict the objects are present in an image (think: searching for your dogs in Google Photos), I research ways we can build neural networks to automatically predict the properties of a DNA sequence. This has all kinds of applications, like predicting whether a DNA mutation will cause cancer, or is benign.

What’s a typical day like for you?

On any given day, I’m writing code to process new genomics data, or creating a neural network in TensorFlow to model the data. Right now, a lot of my time is spent troubleshooting such models.

I also spend time chatting with fellow Residents, or a member of the TensorFlow team, to get their expertise on the experiments or code I’m writing. This could include a meeting with my two mentors, Mark DePristo and Quoc Le, top researchers in the field of machine learning who regularly provide invaluable guidance for developing the neural network models I’m interested in.

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    Suhani heads to the whiteboard.
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    Just a normal day writing code to process new genomics data, or creating (and troubleshooting…) a neural network in TensorFlow to model the data.
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    Selfie with her mentors, Mark DePristo and Quoc Le
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    Eating lunch at her favorite Google cafe.

What do you like most about the AI Residency program? About working at Google?

I like the freedom to pursue topics of our interest, combined with the strong support network we have to get things done. Google is a really positive work environment, and I feel set up to succeed. In a different environment I wouldn’t have the chance to work with a world-class researcher in computational genomics like Mark, AND Quoc, one of the world’s leading machine learning researchers, at time same time and place. It’s pretty mind-blowing.

What kind of background do you need to work in machine learning?

We have such a wide array of backgrounds among our AI Residents! The only real common thread I see is a very strong desire to work on machine learning, or to apply machine learning to a particular problem of choice. I think having a strong background in linear algebra, statistics, computer science, and perhaps modeling makes things easier—but these skills are also now accessible to almost anyone with an interest, through MOOCs!

What kinds of problems do you think that AI can help solve for the world?

Ultimately, it really just depends how creative we are in figuring out what AI can do for us. Current deep learning methods have become state of the art for image recognition tasks, such as automatically detecting pets or scenes in images, and natural language processing, like translating from Chinese to English. I’m excited to see the next wave of applications in areas such as speech recognition, robotic handling, and medicine.

Interested in the AI Residency? Check out submission details and apply for the 2018 program on our Careers site.

Android Things Contest Winners

Posted by Dave Smith,
Developer Advocate for IoT

Back in September, we worked
with Hackster.io
to encourage the developer community to build smart
connected devices using Android Things and post their projects to the Developer Challenge for Android
Things
. The goal was to showcase the combination of turnkey hardware and a
powerful SDK for building and maintaining devices at scale.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest and submitted a project or
idea. We had over 1100 participants register for the contest, resulting in over
350 submissions. Out of that group, we’ve chosen three winners. Each winner will
receive support and tools from Dragon Innovation to develop their
concepts into commercial products. Join us in congratulating the following
makers!

Best Enterprise Project: Distributed
Air Quality Monitoring

Maker: James
Puderer

Monitor air quality on a street-by-street level using Android Things, Google
Cloud IoT Core, and taxis!

This project showcases how Android Things makes it easy to build devices that
integrate with the various services provided by the Google Cloud Platform for
robust data collection and analysis. It’s a clever end-to-end solution that
shows understanding of both the problem domain as well as the technology.

Best Start Up Project: BrewCentral

Maker: Trent Shumay and Steven Pridie

Brewing amazing beer is a balance of art, science, and ritual. The
BrewCentral system makes it possible for anyone to do an all-grain brew!

BrewCentral pairs a real-time PID controller with the touch-enabled UI and
decision-making compute power of Android Things. The result is a system that
accurately controls the time, temperature, and flow rates necessary to achieve
repeatable results during a brew cycle. The planned enhancements for cloud-based
brewing recipes will make this a connected experience for the entire brewing
community.

Best IoT Project: BrailleBox
– Braille News Reader

Maker: Joe Birch

BrailleBox is a small piece of hardware that empowers users who are
hard-of-sight to read the latest news articles in Braille.

This project is a great use case of using IoT to have a social impact. The
current proof of concept streams articles from a news feed to the Braille pad,
but this project has the potential to leverage machine learning on the device to
translate additional input from the physical world into a Braille result.

Honorable Mentions

The community submitted some amazing projects for the contest, which made the
choice of picking only three winners extremely difficult. Here are a few of our
favorite projects that weren’t selected for a prize:

  • Andro
    Cart
    : A shopping cart device powered by Android Things. Designed to help
    decentralize point of sale (POS) billing.
  • SIGHT:
    For the Blind
    : A pair of smart glasses for the blind, powered by Android
    Things and TensorFlow.
  • Industrial
    IoT Gateway
    : A smart industrial gateway for the IoT world based on Android
    Things.
  • Sentinel: The
    first semi-autonomous home security robot based on Android Things.
  • Word
    Clock
    : A creative take on reading the time, powered by Android Things.
    Control it via the Nearby API or the Google Assistant.

We encourage everyone to check out all the new projects in the Google
Hackster community
, and submit your own as well! You can also join Google’s IoT Developers Community on Google+, a
great resource to get updates, ask questions, and discuss ideas. We look forward
to seeing what exciting projects you build!

CategoriesUncategorized

Doubling down in Japan

With Ruth, our CFO, visiting the site of our new Tokyo office today.

In 2001, when Google was just three years old, we opened our first office outside the U.S. That office was right here in Tokyo. Before Chrome, Gmail and YouTube, there was Google Japan.

16 years later, Google has grown quite a bit—we now have offices in over 150 cities, spanning nearly 60 countries—and Google Japan has grown as well, to 1,300 Googlers strong.

Today, I’m excited to announce the next phase of our long term investment and presence in Japan: a new office in Shibuya, Tokyo, opening in 2019, that will allow us to double the size of our team here. We are also announcing an initiative, working with Minna No Code, to help bring computer science education to more than two million students across Japan.

Doubling our presence in Japan means growing our strong engineering teams here. When an earthquake hit Tohoku in 2011, members of these teams worked quickly to launch tools like Person Finder that we still use when disasters strike around the world. And they continue to work on and improve products like Search and Maps. It also means growing our teams who work every day to help Japanese companies grow. Their work, and the tools we provide, helped Japanese businesses increase their revenue by more than $6.7 billion in 2015 alone.

We are working on some exciting ideas around the design of the new office that will let us open our doors to the community, and will share more details as plans progress.

Artist Impression of Japan Office
Here are some early artist’s impressions of how we might design some of the spaces

Finally, this is a sign of our commitment to long-term investment in Japan. It’s about creating the future with Japan’s innovators of today and those from the next generation. That’s why, through Google.org, we are partnering with Minna No Code to train thousands of teachers in computer science who will go on to teach more than two million Japanese students. This initiative is in line with Japan’s plans to ensure that all Japanese students receive a computer science education by 2020.

We can’t wait to start the next phase of our journey in Japan and to see the future that we can create together.

Announcing New Tools for the Creator Community

By Chris Hatfield, Product Manager, Video Creators around the world are sharing their videos on Facebook to build a community around their passion — whether their passion is comedy sketches, their favorite recipes, or even knitting sweaters. On Facebook, creators can connect with more than two billion potential fans and collaborators, get to know their […]

Reflecting on a year’s worth of Chrome security improvements

In the next few weeks, you’ll probably be spending lots of time online buying gifts for your friends, family and “extended family” (your dog, duh). And as always, you want to do so securely. Picking the perfect present is hard enough; you shouldn’t have to worry about staying safe while you’re shopping.

Security has always been a top priority for Chrome, and this year we made a bunch of improvements to help keep your information even safer, and encourage sites across the web to become more secure as well. We’re giving you a rundown of those upgrades today, so that you can concentrate on buying the warmest new slippers for your dad or the perfect new holiday sweater for your dog in the next few weeks.

More protection from dangerous and deceptive sites

For years, Google Safe Browsing has scanned the web looking for potential dangers—like sites with malware or phishing schemes that try to steal your personal information—and warned users to steer clear. This year, we announced that Safe Browsing protects more than 3 billion devices, and in Chrome specifically, shows 260 million warnings before users can visit dangerous sites every month.

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We’re constantly working to improve Safe Browsing and we made really encouraging progress this year, particularly with mobile devices. Safe Browsing powers the warnings we now show in Gmail’s Android and iOS mobile apps after a user clicks a link to a phishing site. We brought Safe Browsing to Android WebView (which Android apps sometimes use to open web content) in Android Oreo, so even web browsing inside other apps is safer. We also brought the new mobile-optimized Safe Browsing protocol to Chrome, which cuts 80 percent of the data used by Safe Browsing and helps Chrome stay lean.

In case you do download a nastygram, this year we’ve also redesigned and upgraded the Chrome Cleanup Tool with technology from IT company ESET. Chrome will alert you if we detect unwanted software, to remove the software and get you back in good hands.

Making the web safer, for everyone

Our security work helps protect Chrome users, but we’ve also pursued projects to help secure the web as a whole. Last year, we announced that we would mark sites that are not encrypted (i.e., served over HTTP) as “not secure” in Chrome. Since then, we’ve seen a marked increase in HTTPS usage on the web, especially with some of the web’s top sites:

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If you’re researching gifts at a coffee shop or airport, you might be connecting to unfamiliar Wi-Fi which could be risky if the sites you’re visiting are not using the secure HTTPS protocol. With HTTPS, you can rest assured that the person sitting next to you can’t see or meddle with everything you’re doing on the Wi-Fi network. HTTPS ensures your connection is encrypted and your data is safe from eavesdroppers regardless of which Wi-Fi network you’re on.

An even stronger sandbox

Chrome has never relied on just one protection to secure your data. We use a layered approach with many different safeguards, including a sandbox—a feature that isolates different tabs in your browser so that if there’s a problem with one, it won’t affect the others. In the past year, we’ve added an additional sandbox layer to Chrome on Android and improved Chrome’s sandboxing on Windows and Android WebView.

So, if you’ve entered your credit card to purchase doggy nail polish in one Chrome tab, and you’ve inadvertently loaded a misbehaving or malicious site in another tab the sandbox will isolate that bad tab, and your credit card details will be protected.

Improving our browser warnings to keep you even safer

It should always be easy to know if you might be in danger online, and what you can do to get back to safety. Chrome communicates these risks in a variety of different ways, from a green lock for a secure HTTPS connection, to a red triangle warning if an attacker might be trying to steal your information.

By applying insights from new research that we published this year, we were able to improve or remove 25 percent of all HTTPS warnings Chrome users see. These improvements mean fewer false alarms, so you see warnings only when you really need them.

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Some of Chrome’s HTTPS warnings (on the left) are actually caused by reasons unrelated to security—in this case, the user’s clock was set to the wrong time. We’ve made the warnings more precise (on the right) to better explain what’s going on and how to fix it.

Unfortunately, our research didn’t help users avoid dog-grooming dangers. This is a very challenging problem that requires further analysis.

A history of strong security

Security has been a core pillar of Chrome since the very beginning. We’re always tracking our own progress, but outside perspectives are a key component of strong protections too.

The security research community has been key to strengthening Chrome security. We are extremely appreciative of their work—their reports help keep our users safer. We’ve given $4.2 million to researchers through our Vulnerability Reward Program since it launched in 2010.

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Of course, we’re also happy when aren’t able to find security issues. At Pwn2Own 2017, an industry event where security professionals come together to hack browsers, Chrome remained standing while other browsers were successfully exploited.

Zooming out, we worked with two top-tier security firms to independently assess Chrome’s overall security across the range of areas that are important to keep users safe. Their whitepapers found, for example, that Chrome warns users about more phishing than other major browsers, Chrome patches security vulnerabilities faster than other major browsers, and “security restrictions are best enforced in Google Chrome.” We won’t rest on these laurels, and we will never stop improving Chrome’s security protections.

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So, whether you’re shopping for a new computer, concert tickets, or some perfume for your pooch, rest assured: Chrome will secure your data with the best protections on the planet.

Getting your Android app ready for Autofill

Posted by Wojtek Kalicinski, Android Developer Advocate, Akshay Kannan,
Product Manager for Android Authentication, and Felipe Leme, Software Engineer on Android Frameworks

Starting in Oreo, Autofill makes it easy for users to provide credit cards,
logins, addresses, and other information to apps. Forms in your apps can now be
filled automatically, and your users no longer have to remember complicated
passwords or type the same bits of information more than once.

Users can choose from multiple Autofill services (similar to keyboards today).
By default, we include Autofill with Google, but users can also select any third
party Autofill app of their choice. Users can manage this from
Settings->System->Languages>Advanced->Autofill service.

What’s available today

Today, Autofill with Google supports filing credit cards, addresses, logins,
names, and phone numbers. When logging in or creating an account for the first
time, Autofill also allows users to save the new credentials to their account.
If you use WebViews in your app, which many apps do for logins and other
screens, your users can now also benefit from Autofill support, as long as they
have Chrome 61 or later installed.

The Autofill API is open for any developer to implement a service. We are actively
working with 1Password,
Dashlane,
Keeper,
and LastPass
to help them with their implementations and will be working with other password managers shortly.
We are also creating a new curated collection on the Play Store, which the “Add service” button in Settings will link to. If you
are a password manager developer and would like us to review your app, please get
in touch
.

What you need to do as a developer

As an app developer, there are a few simple things you can do to take advantage
of this new functionality and make sure that it works in your apps:

Test your app and annotate your views if needed

In many cases, Autofill may work in your app without any effort. But to ensure
consistent behavior, we recommend providing explicit hints to tell the framework
about the contents of your field. You can do this using either the android:autofillHints
attribute
or the setAutofillHints()
method
.

Similarly, with WebViews in your apps, you can use HTML Autocomplete
Attributes
to provide hints about fields. Autofill will work in WebViews as
long as you have Chrome 61 or later installed on your device. Even if your app
is using custom views, you can also define
the metadata that allows autofill to work
.

For views where Autofill does not make sense, such as a Captcha or a message
compose box, you can explicitly mark the view as IMPORTANT_FOR_AUTOFILL_NO
(or IMPORTANT_FOR_AUTOFILL_NO_EXCLUDE_DESCENDANTS
in the root of a view hierarchy). Use this field responsibly, and remember that
users can always bypass this by long pressing an EditText and selecting
“Autofill” in the overflow menu.

Affiliate your website and mobile app

Autofill with Google can seamlessly share logins across websites and mobile apps
‒ passwords saved through Chrome can also be provided to native apps. But in
order for this to work, as an app developer, you must explicitly declare the
association between your website with your mobile app. This involves 2 steps:

Step 1: Host a JSON file at
yourdomain.com/.well-known/assetlinks.json

If you’ve used technologies like App Links or Google Smart Lock before, you
might have heard about the Digital Asset Links (DAL) file. It’s a JSON file
placed under a well known location in your website that lets you make public,
verifiable statements about other apps or websites.

You should follow the Smart
Lock for Passwords guide
for information about how to create and host the
DAL file correctly on your server. Even though Smart Lock is a more advanced way
of signing users into your app, our Autofill service uses the same
infrastructure to verify app-website associations. What’s more, because DAL
files are public, third-party Autofill service developers can also use the
association information to secure their implementations.

Step 2: Update your App’s Manifest with the same
information

Once again, follow the Smart
Lock for Passwords guide
to do this, under “Declare the association in the
Android app.”

You’ll need to update your app’s manifest file with an asset_statements
resource, which links to the URL where your assetlinks.json file is hosted. Once
that’s done, you’ll need to submit your updated app to the Play Store, and fill
out the Affiliation
Submission Form
for the association to go live.

When using Android Studio 3.0, the App Links Assistant can generate all of this
for you. When you open the DAL generator tool (Tools -> App Links Assistant ->
Open Digital Asset Links File Generator), simply make sure you enable the new
checkbox labeled “Support sharing credentials between the app and website”.

Then, click on “Generate Digital Asset Links file”, and copy the preview content
to the DAL file hosted on your server and in your app. Please remember to verify
that the selected domain names and certificates are correct.

Future work

It’s still very early days for Autofill in Android. We are continuing to make
some major investments going forward to improve the experience, whether you use
Autofill with Google or a third party password manager.

Some of our key areas of investment include:

  1. Autofill with Google: We want to provide a great experience
    out of the box, so we include Autofill with Google with all Oreo devices. We’re
    constantly improving our field detection and data quality, as well as expanding
    our support for saving more types of data.
  2. WebView support: We introduced initial support for filling
    WebViews in Chrome 61, and we’ll be continuing to test, harden, and make
    improvements to this integration over time, so if your app uses WebViews you’ll
    still be able to benefit from this functionality.
  3. Third party app support: We are working with the ecosystem
    to make sure that apps work as intended with the Autofill framework. We urge you
    as developers to give your app a spin on Android Oreo and make sure that things
    work as expected with Autofill enabled. For more info, see our full
    documentation on the Autofill
    Framework
    .

If you encounter any issues or have any suggestions for how we can make this
better for you, please send
us feedback
.

With E-rate Funding, Magic Happens at Ascend Public Charter Schools

Four sites with four separate networks. No VPN capabilities, no streamlined network management, and no IT budget. Limited wireless access, inhibiting student learning and staff collaboration. Only a five person IT team. Starting to sound like a nightmare? This was the reality for Ascend Public Charter Schools, located in Brooklyn. Emeka Ibekweh, Managing Director of […]

Go behind the scenes with Austin City Limits: Backstage

Austin City Limits” needs little introduction. It’s the longest-running television music program in history, it’s helped launch the careers of iconic musicians like Willie Nelson (featured in the very first episode back in 1974), and it’s even enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But, for all its history, the closest you can get is either in the crowd, or in front of your TV screen. We wanted to go further, and pay tribute to this legendary show’s 43rd season and its impact on pop culture. So we’re releasing a new virtual reality video series called “Austin City Limits: Backstage” in partnership with SubVRsive Media.

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“ACL Backstage” lets you explore the untold stories of the crew, the city, the fans and, of course, the musicians who make Austin City Limits possible—all in virtual reality. Venture backstage at Austin’s legendary Moody Theater to hear stories from some of your favorite artists. Then, watch and listen up close as they take the stage and play their hits under the bright lights. After that, you can take a whirlwind tour through the city’s thriving local music scene, where you’ll hear up-and-coming stars who might make it big one day.

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ACL Backstage will have 10 episodes, each featuring a different artist or group.The first three are available now, with more coming soon:

  • Ed​ ​Sheeran” This is Ed Sheeran’s second ACL Live performance, and since he last took the stage in 2014, his career has skyrocketed. Now, with multiple Grammy wins and three platinum records under his belt, he reflects on his rise to the top of the charts. His passion for the music and his fans shine through in this episode.

  • Zac​ ​Brown​ ​Band​” Three-time Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band make a stop on their 2017 Welcome Home Tour to grace the ACL stage for the very first time. Sit backstage with the band as they chat about ACL’s rich history, and join them onstage for their lively show.

  • Unsung Heroes” Hear ACL stories directly from crew members, many of whom have been working the show for decades. They explain the ethos of Austin City Limits and why it remains so popular among musicians.

Use your Cardboard or Google Daydream View to check out all the videos on the ACL YouTube Channel. Kick back, hang with your favorite artists, and rock out.