Journalism & News

All the data you need to cover 500 local elections

Next year, nearly 500 local elections for Senate and House seats are taking place across the United States. As part of our mission to help journalists report on the stories that matter, we  worked with ProPublica to build the Election Databot: a tool that provides data about all of those elections, from campaign spending to Google Search Trends for candidates.

We launched the Databot for the 2016 general election, but this new version shows complete information for all the House and Senate races through November 8, 2018. It also includes this year’s special election on December 12 between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, who are vying for one of Alabama’s Senate seats.

z

The new version of the Databot includes key data for national and local reporters writing about the hundreds of local races taking place across America, including:

  • Google Search Trends for each candidate and incumbent with real-time search data
  • YouTube videos from candidates and incumbents
  • Candidate spending data from the FEC
  • Voting records and Congressional data
  • Articles from Google News, including local news sources about each candidate
  • Press statements from each incumbent candidate
  • Cook report race ratings for each election
  • Deleted Tweets from Politwoops

You can explore either national or local data, and can set up notifications for a particular race. 2018 will be a big year for politics, and the Databot can help journalists report on election stories in new and exciting ways.

Google Cloud

METRO AG, Viessmann and BOTfriends move onto Google Cloud

Google Cloud Summit took place in Munich today—the biggest cloud event in the Germany-Austria-Switzerland region. There, we announced collaborations with three well-known German companies of different sizes, from different industries and each facing different challenges.

metro

With more than 150,000 employees in 25 countries and sales of more than 36 billion euros, METRO Group is one of the largest companies in the food industry. In order to be prepared for digital challenges, METRO is migrating its e-commerce platform to Google Cloud, which it believes has advantages in terms of performance and scalability.

For us, Google Cloud’s reliability and its leading technology—not to mention its pricing—were decisive. With Google machine learning and artificial intelligence, we’ve found the perfect partner for the future.

Timo Salzsieder

CIO and CSO of METRO AG

viessman-logo

The Viessmann Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heating, industrial and cooling systems, is also counting on Google Cloud. The company has grown rapidly in recent years, especially internationally. In order to improve internal collaboration between employees, Viessmann Group will use G Suite. In just six months, Viessmann was able to migrate almost all its data and applications into Google Cloud and make them available to all employees worldwide.

G Suite enables us to manage tasks better and work cooperatively on documents. Even though our employees often work in different countries and time zones, we have moved closer together as a team.

Alexander Poellman

Smart Office & Collaboration Manager at Viessmann

botfriends-logo

The start-up BOTfriends is a leader in the development of chatbot applications, which can make initial customer contact more effective and help staff answer questions faster. BOTfriends uses machine learning from Google Cloud for its chatbots, resulting in more natural communication and an improved user experience.

Our chatbots would not have been possible without Google Cloud. Thanks to machine learning, we are improving the effectiveness of customer support and recruitment teams.

Michelle Skodowski

Co-founder of BOTfriends

We’re excited to bring the power of Google Cloud technologies customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. To learn more about our cloud solutions, visit our Google Cloud Platform website.

Product News

Facebook’s 2017 Year In Review

Announcing our 2017 Year in Review, highlighting the top ways people came together on Facebook to support one another.

Search

Improving Search and discovery on Google

Search is not just about answering your questions—it’s also about discovery. We search to explore new topics of interest, to find new angles to ideas or things we think we already know, or even to uncover information that we didn’t even think to ask about.

Over the years, we’ve developed many features to help you discover more on your journeys through the web, starting with related searches almost 10 years ago, to more recent additions such as related questions (Related questions are labeled “People also ask” in search results). In the last few weeks, we’ve made three new additions to help you explore further, including expanded Featured Snippets, improved functionality of Knowledge Panels, and suggested content as you search for a particular topic.

Featured Snippets are algorithmically generated highlights of what’s available on the web that provide quick, relevant answers for your queries. Today, we’ve added more images and related searches inside select Featured Snippets to help you learn even more about your topic, or to discover new things related to your interest.

richer featured snippets

We’ve also updated Knowledge Panels in Search to show related content. For example, while looking at the Knowledge Panel about skiing, you’ll see related searches for sports such as snowboarding directly inside the result.

alpine_ski.gif

Lastly, now while you’re researching a particular topic on Google—like soccer players for next year’s World Cup—and you search for Neymar followed by a search for Messi, you’ll see suggestions for related topics in the same vein at the top of the search results page so you can continue to discover other athletes during your search session.

search session neymar and messi

We hope these three changes will have a big impact on helping you discover more from the web. You never know what surprising, new interests await.

Android 8.1

Welcoming Android 8.1 Oreo and Android Oreo (Go edition)

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

At Google
for India
this Monday, we announced the final release of Android 8.1 Oreo.
Android 8.1 Oreo is another exciting step toward bringing to life our vision of
an AI-first mobile platform, for everyone, everywhere.

Android 8.1 introduces support for our new Android Oreo (Go edition) software experience for entry-level
devices. Android Oreo (Go edition) brings the best of Android to the rapidly
growing market for low-memory devices around the world, including your apps and
games.

Android 8.1 also introduces the Neural
Networks API
, a hardware accelerated machine learning runtime to
support ML capabilities in your apps. On supported devices, the Neural Networks
API enables fast and efficient inference for a range of key use cases, starting
with vision-based object classification.

You can get started with Android 8.1 Oreo (API level 27) today. We’re pushing
sources to Android Open Source Project
now, and rolling out the update to supported Pixel and Nexus devices over the
next week. We’re also working with our device maker partners to bring Android
8.1 to more devices, including Android Oreo (Go edition) devices, in the months
ahead.

Android Oreo (Go edition)

As announced at
Google I/O 2017, the “Android Go” project is our initiative to optimize the
Android experience for billions of people coming online around the world.
Starting with Android 8.1, we’re making Android a great platform for entry-level
devices in the Android Oreo (Go edition) configuration:

  • Memory optimizations — Improved memory usage across the
    platform to ensure that apps can run efficiently on devices with 1GB or less
    RAM.
  • Flexible targeting options — New hardware
    feature constants
    to let you target the distribution of your apps to normal
    or low-RAM devices through Google Play.
  • Optimized Google apps: Rebuilt and optimized versions of
    Google apps, using less memory, storage space, and mobile data.
  • Google Play: While all apps will be available on Android
    Oreo (Go edition) devices, Google Play will give visibility to apps specifically
    optimized by developers to provide a great experience for billions of people
    with the building
    for billions guidelines
    .

We’ve updated the building for billions guidelines with
additional guidance on how
to optimize your app for Android Oreo (Go edition) devices
. For most
developers, optimizing your existing APK or using Google Play’s Multiple
APK feature
to target a version of your APK to low-RAM devices is the best
way to prepare for Android Oreo (Go edition) devices. Remember that making
your app lighter
and more efficient benefits your whole audience, regardless
of device.

Neural Networks API

The Neural
Networks API
provides accelerated computation and inference for on-device
machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow Lite — Google’s
cross-platform ML library for mobile — as well as Caffe2 and others. TensorFlow
Lite is now
available to developers
, so visit the TensorFlow
Lite open source repo
for downloads and docs. TensorFlow Lite works with the
Neural Networks API to run models like MobileNets,
Inception v3, and Smart
Reply
efficiently on your mobile device.

Autofill enhancements and more

Android 8.1 includes select new
features and developer APIs
(API level 27), along with the latest
optimizations, bug fixes, and security patches. Extend your app with Autofill
enhancements, a SharedMemory
API, and more. You can also add established Android Oreo features as well, see
the Android
Oreo site
for details.

Test your apps on Android 8.1

If haven’t already, take a few moments today to test your apps and make sure
they offer the experience you want for users upgrading to Android 8.1 Oreo.

Just install your current app from Google Play onto a device or emulator
running Android Oreo and test the user flows. The app should run and look great,
and handle the Android Oreo behavior
changes
properly. In particular, pay attention to background
location limits
, notification
channels
, and changes in networking,
security,
and identifiers.

Speed your development with Android Studio

To build with Android 8.1, we recommend updating to Android
Studio 3.0
, which is now available from the stable
channel
. On top of the new app performance
profiling tools
, support for the Kotlin
programming language
, and Gradle build optimizations, Android Studio 3.0
makes it easier to develop for Android Oreo features like Instant
Apps
, XML
Fonts
, downloadable
fonts
, and adaptive
icons
.

With the final platform we’re updating the SDK and build tools in Android
Studio, as well as the API Level 27 emulator system images. We recommend
updating to the Android
Support Library 27.0.2
, which is available from Google’s
Maven repository
. See the version
notes
for details on what’s new.

As always, we’re providing downloadable factory and OTA images on the Nexus
Images
page to help you do final testing on your Pixel and Nexus devices.

Publish your updates to Google Play

When you’re ready, you can publish your APK updates targeting API level 27 in
your alpha, beta, or production channels. Make sure that your updated app runs
well on Android Oreo as well as older versions. We recommend using beta
testing
to get early feedback from a small group of users and a pre-launch
report
to help you identify any issues, then do a staged
rollout
. Head over to the Android Developers site to find more info on launch
best practices
. We’re looking forward to seeing your app updates!

What’s next for Android Oreo?

We’ll soon be closing the Developer Preview issue tracker, but please keep the
feedback coming! If you still see an issue that you filed in the preview
tracker, just file
a new issue
against Android 8.1 in the AOSP issue tracker. You can also
continue to give us feedback or ask questions in the developer
community
.

Education

There’s no failure, just opportunity: a teacher’s journey to code

Computer Science Education Week is an annual event to get kids excited about the possibilities of coding. As a part of CSEdWeek this year, we unveiled a new coding activity that lets students create their own Google logo, using block-based coding and video tutorials. Abigail Ramirez, a middle school teacher from Pomona Unified School District, tried out the activity in her computer science classroom, and spoke to us about the activity, as well as the importance of computer science in her students’ lives.

Tell us about how you got started with coding.

When I was in the third grade, my dad bought an old computer (the kind that required giant floppy disks) and challenged my siblings and me to set it up. “Reader Rabbit”—a reading and spelling game that we liked—didn’t work properly, so we had to take out the manual, read the code, fix the code, then fix the game. We didn’t even know we were programming, we just wanted to play on the computer! Fast forward years later, my congregation needed support with our website, so I turned to YouTube and Udacity to learn more. And two months after that, I attended a week-long CS institute at Harvey Mudd College, which is where my CS education officially began.

And now you teach computer science—how did you end up doing that?

I’m probably the least likely CS teacher. I’m originally an English teacher, and have the privilege of teaching at the school that I attended, which happens to be 94 percent Title I (meaning the majority of the kids have free or reduced lunch). Most of my students have college and career dreams, and they’ll be the first in their family to go down that path. While attending the CS Institute at Harvey Mudd, I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, have untapped potential, or simply need access to 21st century skills.

I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eventually, with the support of my administrator, I got the greenlight to pilot a couple of CS classes at my school. Now I teach a class called Middle Years Computer Science, which is where I tried out this year’s CSEdWeek coding activity.

How did the kids react to the coding activity?

When they found out they could design and program their own Google logo, the excitement went through the roof. Both seasoned coders and those who were new to coding came away with a sense of community and purpose. They expressed that their simple logos had the possibility of changing someone’s day, putting some joy in someone’s heart, inspiring people to act, and creating awareness.

  • CSEW_1.JPG
  • CSEW_2.JPG
  • CSEW_3.JPG

What are some of the most creative approaches that the kids took to completing the activity?

Kids are imaginative and innovative by nature, and when they get access to a creative tool like programming, the sky’s the limit. The students created some really heartfelt logos featuring concepts celebrating foster care and adoption using broadcasting codes (this means that letters in the logo will move in some way, based on a command that you give another letter). Others created music videos, complete with Google-themed fidget spinners. Some daring students even created motion-sensor interactive games using their webcam, and experimented with food-shaped logos.

How did the students work together to problem-solve during the activity?

I encourage my students to think of themselves as “lead learners,” meaning each individual has a skill, expertise, or idea to share with their classmates—and when they talk through each other’s ideas, it usually leads to an even better result. Coding gives students the flexibility to see what others are doing and immediately apply it, yet expand on it to increase their own skill. Besides, this shared experience is too awesome to keep to oneself—collaboration is a natural outcome. When something didn’t work in a manner they intended, you could see that students were using persistence and critical thinking to debug the block errors. When they were stuck, they would seek each other out as expert help.

Did this activity change any perceptions of coding the kids had before doing the activity?

Coding can be scary. But if you eliminate the doubt, mix in lots of fun, and allow for collaboration, coding barriers can be debugged. From the start, we established that there is no failure in their code, just an opportunity to increase their coding and debugging abilities. In the end, the students felt a sense of accomplishment from creating a program that sprung from their imagination.

How do the kids envision using computer science in the future? Have you seen their skills progress over time?

A lot of students have decided that’s the field that they want to go into. I get to be their hypemaster—I help keep the momentum going, to inspire them to pursue computer science. I also try to show them how these skills would be used out in the real world. I start each class with a “CS moment,” which is a video clip of a company that uses computer science—video gaming, for example, shows the kids that they could apply CS to things they’re already doing.

How have you noticed that learning about CS has positively impacted your students?

I can see the joy radiate out of them when they’re learning and practicing. A student once said to me, “I can change the world right now, I just need to figure out the source code.” So for me, it’s all about getting them to the next step.

As an English teacher, I gave my kids a voice. As a computer science teacher, I help them create their future.

And they get to decide what it is, and where they’ll go.

G Suite

Get ready for AI to help make your business more productive

Editor’s note: Companies are evaluating how to use artificial intelligence to transform how they work. Nicholas McQuire, analyst at CCS Insight, reflects on how businesses are using machine learning and assistive technologies to help employees be more productive. He also provides tangible takeaways on how enterprises can better prepare for the future of work.

Employees are drowning in a sea of data and sprawling digital tools, using an average of 6.1 mobile apps for work purposes today, according to a recent CCS Insight survey of IT decision-makers. Part of the reason we’ve seen a lag in macro productivity since the 2008 financial crisis is that we waste a lot of time doing mundane tasks, like searching for data, booking meetings and learning the ins and outs of complex software.

According to Harvard Business Review, wasted time and inefficient processes—what experts call “organizational drag”—cost the U.S. economy a staggering $3 trillion each year. Employees need more assistive and personalized technology to help them tackle organizational drag and work faster and smarter.

Over the next five years, artificial intelligence (AI) will change the way we work and, in the process, transform businesses.

The arrival of AI in the enterprise is quickening

I witnessed a number of proofs of concept in machine learning in 2017; many speech-and image-based cognitive applications are emerging in specific markets, like fraud detection in finance, low-level contract analysis in the legal sector and personalization in retail. There are also AI applications emerging in corporate functions such as IT support, human resources, sales and customer service.

This shows promise for the technology, particularly in the face of challenges like trust, complexity, security and training required for machine learning systems. But it also suggests that the arrival of AI in enterprises could be moving more quickly than we think.

According to the same study, 58 percent of respondents said they are either using, trialling or researching the technology in their business. Decision-makers also said that on average, 29 percent of their applications will be enhanced with AI within the next two years—a remarkably bullish view.

New opportunities for businesses to evolve productivity

In this context, new AI capabilities pose exciting opportunities to evolve productivity and collaboration.

  • Assistive software: In the past year, assistive, cognitive features have become more prevalent in productivity software, such as search, quicker access to documents, automated email replies and virtual assistants. These solutions help surface contextually relevant information for employees and can automate simple, time-consuming tasks, like scheduling meetings, creating help desk tickets, booking conference rooms or summarizing content. In the future, they might also help firms improve and manage employee engagement, a critical human resources and leadership challenge at the moment.
  • Natural language processing: It won’t be long before we also see the integration of voice or natural language processing in productivity apps. The rise of speech-controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or the recently-launched Alexa for Business show that creating and completing documents using speech dictation, or using natural language queries to parse data or control functions in spreadsheets, is no longer in the realm of science fiction.
  • Security: Perhaps one of the biggest uses of AI will be to protect company information. Companies are beginning to use AI to protect against spam, phishing and malware in email, as well as the alarming rise of data breaches across the globe; the use of AI to detect threats and improve incident response will likely rise exponentially. Cloud security vendors with access to higher volumes of signals to train AI models are well placed to help businesses leverage early detection of threats. Perhaps this is why, IT professionals listed cybersecurity as the most-likely adopted use of AI in their organizations.

One thing to note: it’s important that enterprises gradually introduce their employees to machine learning capabilities in productivity apps as not to undermine the familiarity of the user experience or turn employees off in fear of privacy violations. In this respect, the advent of AI into work activities resembles consumer apps like YouTube, Maps, Spotify or Amazon, where the technology is subtle to users who may not be aware of cognitive features. The fact that 54 percent of employees in our survey stated they don’t use AI in their personal life, despite the widespread use AI these successful apps, is an important illustration.

How your company can prepare for change

Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to prepare for one of the most important technology shifts of our generation. For those who have yet to get started, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Introduce your employees to AI in collaboration tools early. New, assistive AI features in collaboration software help employees get familiar with the technology and its benefits. Smart email, improved document access and search, chatbots and speech assistants will all be important and accessible technologies that can save employees time, improve workflows and enhance employee experiences.
  2. Take advantage of tools that use AI for data security. Rising data breaches and insider threats, coupled with the growing use of cloud and mobile applications, means the integrity of company data is consistently at risk. Security products that incorporate machine learning-based threat intelligence and anomaly detection should be a key priority.
  3. Don’t neglect change management. New collaboration tools that use AI have a high impact on organizational culture, but not all employees will be immediately supportive of this new way of working. While our surveys reveal employees are generally positive on AI, there is still much fear and confusion surrounding AI as a source of job displacement. Be mindful of the impact of change management, specifically the importance of good communication, training and, above all, employee engagement throughout the process.

AI will no doubt face some challenges over the next few years as it enters the workplace, but sentiment is changing away from doom-and-gloom scenarios towards understanding how the technology can be used more effectively to assist humans and enable smarter work. 

It will be fascinating to see how businesses and technology markets transform as AI matures in the coming years.

campus

Building a sustainable campus in Silicon Valley

As we continue to grow and plan for the future, Microsoft is modernizing our workplaces in all regions where we do business. In Silicon Valley, we are creating our smartest, greenest office yet. Our new Silicon Valley Campus, a 643,000-square-foot modernization of our 32-acre Mountain View location, recently broke ground. This project represents a significant investment…

The post Building a sustainable campus in Silicon Valley appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Search

Gain a deeper understanding of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder on Google

Editor’s note:

Now when you search for “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” “PTSD” or related queries on Google on mobile, you’ll see a Knowledge Panel that will give you the option to tap “check if you may have PTSD”, which will bring you to PC-PTSD-5, a clinically validated screening questionnaire to assess your likelihood of having the condition. To ensure that the information shared in the PC-PTSD-5 questionnaire is accurate and useful, we’ve partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Center for PTSD, who have authored a guest post about this effort.

In any given year, about 14 million adults in the U.S. will experience Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can develop after any traumatic event, including combat, hurricanes, earthquakes or experiences like mass shootings, assaults or even car accidents. However, despite how common this condition is, treatment- seeking is low. In fact, only about half the people who have PTSD will receive treatment. To help people understand PTSD, we’ve collaborated with Google to provide simple, direct access to information that may help those who are suffering.

When you search for PTSD in the U.S. on your phone, a Knowledge Panel for the condition appears, providing an overview, facts and treatment information about the disorder. Now for the first time,the PC-PTSD-5, a clinically validated screening questionnaire to test your likelihood of having PTSD, is available directly from the search result. By tapping “check if you may have PTSD,” you can answer a private questionnaire to assess your likelihood of having PTSD and have a more informed conversation with your doctor. Getting an in-person assessment is essential to a diagnosis of PTSD, and this commonly- used screening tool gives you important information you can bring to your appointment.

PTSD screen.png

PTSD can be treated, and the PC-PTSD-5 can be a crucial step toward getting proper diagnosis and treatment. If you, a family member or friend is struggling, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the VA’s National Center for PTSD can provide support and information. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org if you have any questions about PTSD or finding support and resources. Veterans and their families can contact the VA National Center for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov for information and resources or the Veteran’s Crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate support.

512-Gigabyte Universal Flash Storage

Samsung Starts Producing First 512-Gigabyte Universal Flash Storage for Next-Generation Mobile Devices

Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun mass production of the industry’s first 512-gigabyte

Google in Europe

RCS messaging now available to Telia subscribers in Sweden

Over the past year, we’ve been working to upgrade SMS text messaging to RCS, the next generation carrier messaging standard, partnering with carriers and device manufacturers around the world. So far we’ve launched RCS messaging with carriers in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia, and starting today we’re partnering with Telia Company to bring RCS messaging to their millions of subscribers across Nordics, Baltics and Eurasia. RCS messaging will launch first to Telia consumer subscribers in Sweden starting this week, and will expand to more countries over time.

With RCS messaging, Telia subscribers will automatically have access to advanced features on their Android device. Texting over WiFi, typing indicators, high-res photo and video sharing, read receipts, and more will now be included in the carrier messaging experience through Android Messages. The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS Cloud from Google, and will be fully interoperable between networks through the Jibe RCS Hub, including Telenor, Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone. This RCS messaging implementation supports the GSMA universal profile—a standard supported by more than 60 carriers and manufacturers.

Telia_Image

In markets where RCS is available, Telia subscribers who already have the Android Messages app on their phone will automatically get access to RCS services through an app update. Subscribers who don’t have the app can install the Android Messages app from the Google Play store. All new Android devices from Telia will come with Android Messages preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging app.

We’re excited to bring more enhanced messaging features to Android users in Sweden, and even more countries soon, with RCS.

Google in Asia

Google for India: Building India-first products and features

The internet in India has undergone an incredible transformation. This year India crossed the 400 million internet user mark. And Indians are using more data than ever before—4GB on average every month, projected to grow to 11GB per month in the next four years. Cheaper data through carrier innovation and greater access to public WiFi such as Google Station makes the richness of the internet more accessible to Indians. And as a result, they’re spending more time watching their favorite videos and less time worrying about the cost of data.

With so many internet users hungry to do even more online, we’ve been working to build new products and features specifically for India. At our third annual Google for India event, in Delhi today, we announced some of these updates. Here’s a look:

A better entry-level smartphone experience with Android Oreo (Go edition)

Android Oreo (Go edition)—a new smartphone experience for entry-level devices—is available to the Android ecosystem of developers, partners and carriers as part of today’s release of Android 8.1. Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM will get all the optimizations that come with Android Oreo (Go edition), including a better performing OS with built-in data management features and security benefits. There is also a new set of pre-installed Google apps, including Google Go and the Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition), designed to be lighter and more relevant to the unique needs of the next billion users. Android Oreo (Go edition) smartphones also come with a version of the Google Play Store that allows people to download any app, while highlighting the apps designed to work best on Go edition devices.

Our partners’ phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will hit shelves in early 2018.

Google Go, a new app from Google Search

One of the core apps designed for Android Oreo (Go edition) is Google Go, a new app from Google Search. Available today as a preview on the Google Play Store in India and Indonesia, Google Go is tailor-made for the millions of people in those countries coming online for the first time. It’s simple to use and fast even on entry level devices and spotty connections, making discovering, sharing and finding content easier and more reliable.

Google Go has three special features that meet the needs of users who are new to the internet. First, typing on a small device can be slow and cumbersome, and people may not know what to look for online, so Google Go’s tap-first user interface helps them better express themselves, explore new ideas, find things to share and guide them around the web. Second, Google Go is light on storage and data, and great on patchy connections. It’s less than 5MB to download, and search results in Google Go are optimized to save up to 40 percent data. Third, it’s very easy to switch and see answers in another language, for example, between Hindi and English.

Free up space on your phone with Files Go

Files Go is a new app that helps free up space, find files faster and share files offline with people nearby. In tests over the last month, the average user saved 1GB of space. Files Go was built from scratch for Go edition devices, and today the official version launched on the Google Play Store. Learn more about Files Go in this post.

The Google Assistant for the JioPhone

A special version of the Google Assistant—the Google Assistant for the JioPhone, built for India in both English and Hindi—is launching today. This will help bring the benefits of the Google Assistant to millions of first time internet users on the JioPhone with an intuitive voice-based user interface, along with a rich set of data services. The Assistant can help make phone calls, text, play music and videos, navigate and search the internet, and access other apps and services.

Two-wheeler mode in Google Maps comes to India first

Another India-first feature is the new “two-wheeler mode” in Google Maps. India is the largest two-wheeler market in the world, and the millions of motorcycle and scooter riders have different navigation needs than drivers of automobiles. Two-wheeler mode in Maps shows trip routes that use “shortcuts” not accessible to cars and trucks. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations. And since so many Indians rely on local landmarks for navigation, two-wheeler mode will show major landmarks on the route so that riders can plan their trip before starting, and don’t have to keep checking the phone on the go.

Two-wheeler mode is launching in India today, to be followed by more countries in the coming months.

Tez momentum and new features

Our India-first mobile payments app Tez has seen huge growth in its first 10 weeks. Tez has processed over 140 million transactions from nearly 12 million active users. There are more than 525,000 merchants already on Tez, using it to take payments, pay their suppliers or transfer money to employees. And Tez isn’t just being used in India’s top metros—in fact, we’ve seen Tez users from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from towns in Arunachal Pradesh to the villages of Gujarat.

In the coming weeks, Tez will start rolling out a customized experience to pay bills right in the app. More than 70 billers will be supported, including utilities and direct-to-home service providers. Once people pay a bill on Tez, they never have to add the billing organization again. Tez will also remind users when certain bills are due. And they can avoid paying the same bill twice, since the payment status will be automatically updated.

And since payments aren’t simply transfers of money, but often, personal exchanges for meaningful occasions, we’re adding fun animated moments that trigger when a certain word or phrase appears in the message with the payment, such as “hello” or “India.”



We hope this suite of products and features helps more people discover how the internet makes life easier and more convenient for Indians—whether it’s helping pay bills on time, navigating the quickest route to a destination or searching for answers to important questions.

These products and features are India-first, but if we’ve seen anything over the last few years, India-first ideas aren’t just useful to people in India. The mobile-first next billion users are changing the very nature of the internet, and so when we build better products for India, we ultimately build better products for everyone—and for the future.

Android

Introducing Android Oreo (Go edition) with the release of Android 8.1

Since Android’s creation, our mission has been to bring the power of computing to everyone. As a global operating system, Android has grown to more than 2 billion active devices around the world, with more users in India than the U.S.

To make sure billions more people can get access to computing, it’s important that entry-level devices are fully functioning smartphones that can browse the web and use apps. At Google I/O this year, we gave an early look at a project we called “Android Go” to make this possible. We’re excited to announce that this software experience—Android Oreo (Go edition)—is ready, and launching as a part of the Android 8.1 release tomorrow.

Android Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of memory will come with the all the Go optimizations. This Android Oreo (Go edition) experience is made up of three key components:

  • Operating System: Performance and storage improvements to the OS with data management features and security benefits built-in.

  • Google Apps: A new set of Google apps, designed to be lighter and relevant to the unique needs of people who are coming online for the first time.

  • Google Play Store: A tuned version of the Google Play Store that allows you to download any app, but also highlights the apps designed to work best on your device.

Go big with faster performance, more storage, data management, and security

We enhanced Android Oreo (Go edition) for speed and reliability on entry-level devices, which means the average app is now 15 percent faster on devices running Android Oreo (Go edition). There are many of these kinds of optimizations—and they really add up. If all entry level Android devices launched apps 15 percent faster, that would save the world a cumulative one million hours of time—every day!

It’s common for entry level devices to have very little storage space available once you account for the size of the OS and the preinstalled apps. This can be frustrating for people who want more space for their music, apps, and photos. So, we’ve optimized Android Oreo (Go edition) and enhanced our preinstalled Google apps to take up 50 percent less space. The net result is that we’ve doubled the amount of available storage on entry-level devices.

App Storage

Devices running Android Oreo (Go edition) also come with Google’s data saver features turned on by default. For example, Data Saver in Chrome saves the average user more than 600MB of data per year. You can also manage which apps can use background data with our built-in data saver feature, giving you more control over how your data is used.

Android Oreo is the most secure version of Android yet, so when you buy an Android Oreo (Go edition) device, you’ll be getting all the same security features. And of course all devices with Android Oreo (Go edition) get Google Play Protect built-in. Google Play Protect continuously works to keep your device, data and apps safe. It scans your app installs, even when you’re offline, no matter where you downloaded them from.

Go with Google

We’ve redesigned many of our popular Google apps to address local needs. Preinstalled on Android Oreo (Go edition) devices, this set of optimized apps includes Google Go, Google Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, Gboard, Google Play, Chrome, and the new Files Go app by Google.

With our new and reimagined Google apps, we’ve focused on making them not only smaller, but smooth and fast too. For example, Google Go—a new app to find the information you want—optimizes data by up to 40 percent, weighs less than 5MB in size, and makes it faster to find popular and trending information with a simple, tappable interface. And with the Google Assistant for Android (Go edition), you can quickly send messages, make calls, set alarms, and more with your voice and a single touch of the screen.

Our storage-saving features extend beyond the OS to a new file-management app by Google—Files Go—which helps you clean up space and stay organized. Whether it’s recommendations for removing spam, duplicate images or unused apps from your phone, Files Go is the perfect complement to the storage-maximizing features of Android Oreo (Go edition).

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Go Play

In the Play Store, you can download any app, and we’ve also created a new section that recommends popular apps that are tuned to run well on entry-level devices. 

We’ve have been thrilled to see that many of our partners are using our building for billions guidelines to either optimize their existing app or create a new app to run well on entry-level devices, in the hopes of bringing their experiences to billions of new smartphone users.

Ready. Set. Go.

With the launch of Android Oreo (Go edition) in Android 8.1, partners will soon be able to ship this new release on their entry-level devices around the world. We can’t wait for our partners’ devices to hit shelves in the coming months.

And if you’re a developer, let’s build for the next billion together.

Next Billion Users

Ready, set… Files Go! A faster way to clean up, find and share files on your phone

Every day, millions of smartphones run out of space. While phones with 16GB or 32GB of storage are becoming more popular, many phones around the world have much less storage, often as low as 4GB. And with the barrage of images, videos, apps and documents that keep piling up, at some point it becomes a mess—it’s hard to find what you need when you need it, and your phone slows down and starts crashing. We all eventually reach that point where we have to choose what to keep or delete.

That’s why we’re excited to introduce Files Go, an app that takes a mobile-first approach to freeing up space, finding files faster and easily sharing them with others.

FilesGoScreen

Free up space on your phone and find files faster

Files Go helps you:

  • Free up space. Get personalized suggestions about which files to delete, whether it’s unused apps, large files, duplicate files or low-resolution videos and memes detected using Google’s latest mobile vision technology

  • Find files faster. No more navigating through a maze of folders. Find exactly the stuff you want with smart filters that automatically organize your images, videos, apps, documents and more.

  • Backup files to the cloud. If you want to keep a file forever, select it from the Files menu and back it up to Google Drive or any other cloud storage app.

  • Share files offline. Transfer directly from your phone to a nearby friend’s phone without using any data. The file transfers are encrypted, fast (up to 125 Mbps) and free.
FilesGoAnimation
Transfer files securely between two phones, fast and data-free

We’ve been testing Files Go for a month, and the average user is saving 1GB of space and has shared many files with others without using data. Starting today, we’re opening up Files Go globally on the Google Play Store for all phones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher. Free up more space and share files faster—give Files Go a try!


Develop

Tuning your apps and games for long screen devices

Posted by Fred Chung, Developer Advocate

In recent months, there’s a growing trend for handset makers to ship new devices
with long screen aspect ratio (stretching beyond 16:9), many of which also sport
rounded corners. This attests to the Android ecosystem’s breadth and choice.
Pixel 2 XL and Huawei Mate 10 Pro are just two of many examples. These screen
characteristics could bring a very immersive experience to users and they take
notice of apps and games that don’t take advantage of the long aspect ratio
screen on these new devices. Therefore it is important for developers to
optimize for these screen designs. Let’s have a look at related support
provided by the Android OS.

Optimize for long aspect ratio screens

Most apps using standard UI widgets will likely work out-of-the-box on these devices. Android
documentation
details techniques for flexibly working on multiple screen
sizes. However, some games and apps with custom UIs may run into issues due to
incorrect assumptions on certain aspect ratios. We’re sharing a few typical
issues faced by developers, so you can pay attention to those relevant to you:

  • Certain sides of the screen are cropped. This makes any
    graphic or UI elements in the affected regions look incomplete.
  • Touch targets are offset from UI elements (e.g. buttons).
    Users may be confused on UI elements that are seemingly interactive.
  • For full screen mode on rounded corners devices, any UI elements
    very close to the corners may be outside of the curved corner viewable
    area
    . Imagine if a commerce app’s “Purchase” button was partially
    obstructed? We recommend referencing Material
    Design guidelines
    by leaving 16dp side margins in layouts.

If responsive UI is really not suitable for your situation, as a last
resort
declare an explicit maximum supported aspect ratio as follows. On
devices with a wider aspect ratio, the app will be shown in a compatibility mode
padded with letterbox. Keep in mind that certain device models provide an
override for users to force the app into full-screen compatibility mode, so be
sure to test under these scenarios too!

Targets API level 26 or higher: Use android:maxAspectRatio
attributes.

Targets API level 25 or lower: Use android.max_aspect meta-data.
Note that maximum aspect ratio values will be respected only if your
activities don’t support resizableActivity.
See documentation
for detail.

System letterboxes an app when the declared maximum aspect ratio is smaller
than the device’s screen.

Consider using side-by-side activities

Long aspect ratio devices enable even more multi-window use cases that could
increase user productivity. Beginning in Android 7.0, the platform offers a
standard way for developers to implement multi-window on supported devices as
well as perform data drag and drop between activities. Refer to documentation
for details.

Testing is crucial. If you don’t have access to one of these long screen
devices, be sure to test on the emulator with adequate screen size and
resolution hardware properties, which are explained in the emulator
documentation
.

We know you want to delight your users with long screen devices. With a few
steps, you can ensure your apps and games taking full advantage of these
devices!

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