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Making healthcare better for everyone—including providers

In healthcare circles, there’s been a lot of talk over the years about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim, a framework with three broad goals: improving the patient experience of care; improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

These are extremely worthy goals, and moving to the cloud is one of the best ways to achieve them. For example, Google Cloud’s work with the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine (CCPM) and Health Data Compass helps clinicians and researchers to quickly identify patterns in patient data, helping to lower costs and improve outcomes.

Technology and policy advances have enabled organizations to make progress toward the Triple Aim, but the new era of digitized medicine has also come with costs: increasing amounts of data to sift through and make sense of; depersonalized office visits as providers turn their attention away from patients and toward their screens; and for providers, countless hours spent meeting the administrative burden that digital medicine requires. All this has led to a spike in burnout among the providers themselves. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, for every hour that a physician spends with a patient, they must spend two hours on related administration. That’s led some observers to suggest a Quadruple Aim: improving the work experience of clinicians and staff.

Here at Google Cloud, we firmly believe in the power of data to advance healthcare, but we also know how easy it is to be overwhelmed by it. The Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences team relies on the expertise of both internal and external clinicians and other care providers to help balance the advances in digital health with the impact on those who provide care. As such, we’re pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Toby Cosgrove as Executive Advisor to the Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences team.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Cosgrove was CEO at Cleveland Clinic, and is a widely respected thought leader in the healthcare space. Over the course of his career, he has seen firsthand how digitization has improved—and hampered—healthcare.

“Among practitioners, everyone talks about ‘pajama time’”—spending a couple of hours every night to complete their administrative duties, Dr. Cosgrove says. And while patients benefit from streamlined sharing of medical records and improved diagnoses that have resulted from the digitization of healthcare data, they miss the warmth and connection they used to have with their providers.

Technology may have been the cause of some of these challenges, but we believe that it can also be the cure. Machine learning and AI are particularly promising with their new and timely insights when it comes to improving the work experience of providers. Meanwhile, streamlining and automating workflows can reduce the time it takes to accomplish simple tasks like refilling a prescription, and can even help improve provider efficiency by scanning large, clinically complex data sets or images and flagging areas of concern—freeing up time to interact with patients.

We’re thrilled to have Dr. Cosgrove on board to help us tackle the Quadruple Aim, drawing on his several decades of experience at the forefront of American medicine. If you’re coming to Google Cloud Next ‘18 next week in San Francisco, be sure to attend “Healthcare and Life Sciences in the Cloud | AI in Healthcare and Biomedical Research,” where Dr. Cosgrove will join myself and Andrea Norris, NIH CIO on the stage, discussing how technology can help accelerate positive change in the practice of medicine and biomedical research.

Managing and securing cloud workers with new updates to Chrome Enterprise

The new era of the cloud worker is here, bringing with it the inevitable shift to cloud-based technologies that facilitate the flexible and collaborative ways we now work.

For IT teams, cloud workers mean a fundamental rethink of security and management of devices, applications, and access. At Next ‘18, we’ll be discussing this cultural shift and showcasing Chrome Enterprise products and capabilities that can help.

Here are a few of the new features we’ll be highlighting at Next.

Adding additional password protection for corporate accounts

When employees reuse their corporate passwords it increases an organization’s risk. Almost 80 percent of organizations face third-party exploits through stolen account credentials on a monthly basis, which increases the risk of data loss. Whether a third-party site or password database is compromised, or a user is scammed through phishing into entering their business password into a malicious site, IT teams face the risk of corporate passwords getting into the wrong hands.

Chrome Browser is adding a new policy that enterprises can enable to better protect users’ corporate accounts. Based on a popular extension, the Password Alert Policy allows enterprises to set rules to prevent corporate password use on sites outside of the company’s control. Users will be notified when they use their corporate password on an unallowed site. IT can also apply this policy to warn only when users type their passwords into predicted phishingsite. The policy can be set for both Google and non-Google accounts.

Chrome Enterprise Password Policy

The new Password Alert Policy will be demoed at Next ‘18 and will be available to enterprises in September 2018.

Simplifying browser management in the cloud

Traditionally, IT has relied upon on-premise tools to manage their browser deployments. Chrome Browser has made that easier with its support for Active Directory and the growing number of Group Policies available for admins. But as users work from different devices, and spend more time using web and SaaS apps, IT can greatly benefit from managing their browser instances right in the cloud.

At Next ‘18, IT teams will get a preview of a cloud-based Chrome Browser management feature to support their cloud workers through the Google Admin console. With this new feature, it’ll be simple to enroll separate instances of Chrome Browser on company devices, and manage them from a single interface across different delivery platforms. From a single view, IT will be able to manage Chrome Browser running on Windows, Mac, Chrome OS and Linux.

Not only will IT be able to set and apply policies from the cloud, but they will also get better visibility into their Chrome Browser deployments. For example, IT admins will be able to see inventory information and drill down into reports, helping them to both better understand how workers are using their browsers and to troubleshoot issues.

Chrome Enterprise Browser Management

Through Chrome Browser management in the Google Admin console, IT teams will be able to assign different admins to manage the browser—even if they aren’t experts in Active Directory or other management tools. This delegation will give IT more flexibility.

Stop by the Cloud Worker installation at Next ‘18 for a preview. You can also see live demos during the main Chrome Browser session. If you want to be notified when you can start managing your browsers from the cloud, visit this page to sign up for updates.

Expanding Google Play for Chrome OS

We introduced Google Play support to Chromebooks back in 2016, bringing the familiarity, breadth, and security of Play to Chrome OS.

Today, we’re announcing that managed Google Play is out of beta for Chrome Enterprise customers. More than 50 Chromebook models now support Android apps, and popular enterprise developers like Cisco, Adobe, Atlassian, VMware, and Citrix have all optimized applications for Chromebooks.

With managed Google Play, admins can curate applications by user groups as well as customize a broad range of policies and functions like application blacklisting and remote uninstall. You can learn more about managed Google Play and deploying Android applications to your Chromebook fleet here.

Helping businesses save time and money with Grab and Go

Earlier this week we announced early access for our Grab and Go program. With Grab and Go, businesses can deploy self-service stations with Chrome devices where employees can quickly borrow and return devices, increasing productivity and decreasing downtime. We’ve seen great success deploying Grab and Go inside Google, and wanted to extend its benefits to others. Learn more by reading our blog, or registering your interest.

Learn more at Next ‘18

If you’re joining us at Next ‘18, please stop by the Mobility & Devices showcase to learn more about cloud workers, get the latest on new features for Chrome OS and Chrome Browser, and preview demos. Don’t forget to pick up a Chromebook at our Grab and Go Lounge, too. See you there.

How to secure your smart home | Avast

We live in a connected world. Globally, we’ve become a tighter community, while locally, we’ve become more global. The internet has delivered on convenience, allowing anyone with a connection to see, learn about, and communicate with any individual or business on the planet. This convenience is coupled with virtually every new tech product rolling off the line, and our homes are quickly filling up with an ever-growing universe of IoT devices.

Move Mirror: You move and 80,000 images move with you

There are a lot of impressive uses for machine learning these days, like detecting objects in images, helping to detect diseases, and even enabling cars to drive themselves. But AI can also be used in more playful ways.

That’s why we made Move Mirror—an AI Experiment that lets you explore pictures in a fun new way, just by moving around. Move in front of your webcam and Move Mirror will match your real-time movements to hundreds of images of people doing similar poses around the world. It feels like a magical mirror that reflects your moves with images of all kinds of human activity—from sports and dance to martial arts, acting and beyond. You can even capture the experience as a GIF and share it with your friends.

Move Mirror

With Move Mirror, we’re showing how computer vision techniques like pose estimation can be available to anyone with a computer and a webcam. We also wanted to make machine learning more accessible to coders and makers by bringing pose estimation into the browser—hopefully inspiring them to experiment with this technology.

To build this experiment, we used PoseNet, a model that can detect human figures in images and videos by identifying where key body joints are. Move Mirror takes the input from your camera feed and maps it to a database of more than 80,000 images to find the best match. It’s powered by Tensorflow.js—a library that runs machine learning models on-device, in your browser—which means the pose estimation happens directly in the browser, and your images are not being stored or sent to a server. For a deep dive into how we built this experiment, check out this Medium post.

We hope you’ll play around with Move Mirror and share your experience by making a GIF. Try it out now at g.co/movemirror.

A New School of Learning

Roanoke County is home to five high schools, full of students who are ready to learn. But the county couldn’t always bring kids classes that fit their strengths. Each school…

SofTec Solutions turns to CloudCare and Managed Workplace to deliver managed security services | Avast

The Company

SofTec Solutions provides managed IT and security services to the Canadian business community of southeastern New Brunswick. The company serves a range of businesses within a 100 kilometer radius that includes automotive, accounting, trucking, retail corner stores, and senior care facilities.

“We’ve been able to develop expertise in different vertical markets,” says President Dave McPherson, who purchased the company in 1992. “For example, we have a solid reputation with the local Toyota, Volkswagen, and Audi dealerships for providing wireless connectivity for customer waiting rooms, integrating software for car programming devices, and securing company networks. All of our customers, no matter the type of business, expect strong protection to avoid downtime. If a breach happens, they would be unable to run their businesses.”

Make paying the easiest part of your summer trip

Stressful moments on vacation are inevitable—but paying doesn’t have to be one of them. Google Pay makes checkout easier and more secure whether you’re in the planning phase or returning home. Here are some ways you can pay quickly and easily before, during, and after your next out-of-office.

Save your card to skip the forms

When you add your payment info to pay.google.com, you won’t need to enter it again when you’re signed in to Chrome. Instead, you can fill out forms automatically using the info you’ve saved.

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Purchase must-haves with a few quick clicks

When you’re in the pre-vacation packing frenzy, shopping for even the smallest purchases can trip you up. Now, you won’t have to drop everything to find your credit card. Choose Google Pay as your payment method within your favorite apps and sites, and all you’ll have to do is confirm your purchase.

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Ask your Google Assistant to order last-minute essentials

Just remembered a crucial item in the middle of the night? You can ask your Google Assistant on your phone or Google Home to buy it for you. To set up your payment methods just say “Ok Google, set up payment methods” and follow the instructions.

Pay for dog walking, house sitting, and more—no cash required

With Google Pay, you don’t have to hit up the ATM to pay Fido’s dogwalker—or anyone with an email address or phone number. You can conveniently send money from the Google Pay app, on the web at pay.google.com, or even from Android Messages, iMessage, and Gmail if you live in the US.

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Pay with your phone in stores

Haven’t picked up the local currency? With Google Pay, you can pay in millions of places around the world using your Android phone. To pay, download the app and set up a card if you haven’t already. Then, simply unlock your phone and hold it near the terminal at checkout. When you see a check mark, you’re good to go.

Ready for your next adventure? Start by getting the Google Pay app for Android or iOS. Then you’ll be on your way to stress-free checkout wherever you’re headed this summer.

Frost & Sullivan honors Avast Business | Avast

This Wednesday, July 18, growth partnership company Frost & Sullivan is hosting their annual Excellence in Best Practices Awards Gala at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, TN. The ceremony recognizes those companies who have demonstrated outs…

Android has created more choice, not less

If you buy an Android phone, you’re choosing one of the world’s two most popular mobile platforms—one that has expanded the choice of phones available around the world.

Today, the European Commission issued a competition decision against Android, and its business model. The decision ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones, something that 89 percent of respondents to the Commission’s own market survey confirmed. It also misses just how much choice Android provides to thousands of phone makers and mobile network operators who build and sell Android devices; to millions of app developers around the world who have built their businesses with Android; and billions of consumers who can now afford and use cutting-edge Android smartphones.  

Today, because of Android, there are more than 24,000 devices, at every price point, from more than 1,300 different brands, including Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish phone makers.

android provides choice

The phones made by these companies are all different, but have one thing in common—the ability to run the same applications. This is possible thanks to simple rules that ensure technical compatibility, no matter what the size or shape of the device. No phone maker is even obliged to sign up to these rules—they can use or modify Android in any way they want, just as Amazon has done with its Fire tablets and TV sticks.

To be successful, open-source platforms have to painstakingly balance the needs of everyone that uses them. History shows that without rules around baseline compatibility, open-source platforms fragment, which hurts users, developers and phone makers. Android’s compatibility rules avoid this, and help make it an attractive long-term proposition for everyone.

Creating flexibility, choice and opportunity

Today, because of Android, a typical phone comes preloaded with as many as 40 apps from multiple developers, not just the company you bought the phone from. If you prefer other apps—or browsers, or search engines—to the preloaded ones, you can easily disable or delete them, and choose other apps instead, including apps made by some of the 1.6 million Europeans who make a living as app developers.

Removing and replacing preloaded apps

In fact, a typical Android phone user will install around 50 apps themselves. Last year, over 94 billion apps were downloaded globally from our Play app store; browsers such as Opera Mini and Firefox have been downloaded more than 100 million times, UC Browser more than 500 million times.

This is in stark contrast to how things used to be in the 1990s and early 2000s—the dial-up age. Back then, changing the pre-installed applications on your computer, or adding new ones, was technically difficult and time-consuming. The Commission’s Android decision ignores the new breadth of choice and clear evidence about how people use their phones today.

A platform built for the smartphone era

In 2007, we chose to offer Android to phone makers and mobile network operators for free. Of course, there are costs involved in building Android, and Google has invested billions of dollars over the last decade to make Android what it is today.  This investment makes sense for us because we can offer phone makers the option of pre-loading a suite of popular Google apps (such as Search, Chrome, Play, Maps and Gmail), some of which generate revenue for us, and all of which help ensure the phone ‘just works’, right out of the box. Phone makers don’t have to include our services; and they’re also free to pre-install competing apps alongside ours. This means that we earn revenue only if our apps are installed, and if people choose to use our apps instead of the rival apps.

Good for partners, good for consumers

The free distribution of the Android platform, and of Google’s suite of applications, is not only efficient for phone makers and operators—it’s of huge benefit for developers and consumers. If phone makers and mobile network operators couldn’t include our apps on their wide range of devices, it would upset the balance of the Android ecosystem. So far, the Android business model has meant that we haven’t had to charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly controlled distribution model.  

We’ve always agreed that with size comes responsibility. A healthy, thriving Android ecosystem is in everyone’s interest, and we’ve shown we’re willing to make changes. But we are concerned that today’s decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android, and that it sends a troubling signal in favor of proprietary systems over open platforms.  

Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them. Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal. 

#AndroidWorks

Huawei Releases Vo5G Technical White Paper

Huawei recently released the Vo5G (Voice over 5G) Technical White Paper. Based on the development of Vo5G standard and the voice and video codec standard, Huawei has analyzed Vo5G evolution solutions in different 5G networks and specified directions fo…

Huawei Releases Vo5G Technical White Paper

Huawei recently released the Vo5G (Voice over 5G) Technical White Paper. Based on the development of Vo5G standard and the voice and video codec standard, Huawei has analyzed Vo5G evolution solutions in different 5G networks and specified directions fo…

Google for Thailand—unlocking digital opportunity for all Thais

People search the web billions of times a day to find useful information. Sometimes they find truly extraordinary things. Aum, a 24 year-old man from Thailand ran away from home when he was seven. He spent the next 16 years looking for his family, a search made more difficult by his inability to read or write. When voice search in Thai became possible, he realized that he could search the internet by speaking instead of typing. He was finally reunited with his family last year and now helps other lost Thai children find their families.

In the seven years since Google opened its office in Bangkok, many other Thais have started using the internet to empower themselves. We’re humbled to have supported some of these online journeys, whether by enabling Thai small businesses to go global, helping promising Thai startups to scale or making it easier for people to type in Thai. Today at our “Google for Thailand” event, we announced more initiatives to enable even more Thai people and businesses to make the most out of the internet.

Google Station

Millions of Thais still lack a reliable and affordable internet connection. To improve access to the web, we are bringing Google Station, our high-speed public Wi-Fi program, to Thailand in partnership with CAT Telecom. Thais can get online with Google Station in 10 venues across Bangkok and two provinces—Phichit and Loei. We’ll expand Google Station to other parts of Thailand in the coming months so that more Thais are able to get online for free with a high-speed, reliable connection.

Academy Bangkok – A Google Space

Thailand’s digital economy is booming and needs talent. Under the Google Ignite program, we’ve been helping Thai companies find the right talent, actively connecting them with bright Thai graduates. We send graduates that are hired on an intensive Google-run two month digital skills training program to prepare them for their careers. We are dramatically scaling up this initiative and our long-term commitment to Thailand by building the Academy Bangkok in True Digital Park. Once our academy is open, we can accommodate cohorts of up to 200 students at a time. We also plan to run other programs in the facility in areas including developer skills and cloud computing.

YouTube

To support Thailand’s vibrant YouTube community and nurture its future stars, we’re re-launching the YouTube Pop-Up Space in Bangkok this November. With access to state-of-the-art production facilities, creators will have a space to learn, connect and make more high quality videos. Global training programs like YouTube NextUp and Creators for Change will also be offered. And we’re not forgetting the people viewing this great content. In partnership with AIS, we are launching unlimited YouTube Go data packs in Thailand.

YT Space Bangkok

Thai creators will have access to the best production facilities at the YouTube Pop-Up Space.

Google Maps Motorbike Mode

There are 20 million motorbike owners in Thailand and anyone who rides a motorbike knows that they move at different speeds to the rest of the traffic. But until today, Google Maps gave bikers in Thailand the same directions as car drivers. Our new motorbike mode in Google Maps is designed to offer directions tailored to the needs of motorbikes and scooters, including shortcuts and narrow roads that only motorbikes can travel on as well as more accurate travel times.

Motorbike mode maps

Motorbike mode plans routes in Google Maps factoring in the shortcuts that can be taken by motorbikes.

Google My Business

Although more Thais are going online, only about 13 percent of Thai small and medium sized businesses have websites, missing out on a rapidly growing local market. We are partnering Siam Commercial Bank to make it easier than ever for Thai businesses to get on Google My Business. Siam Commercial Bank personnel will visit business owners at their stores to help them get their free business listings on Google.

Today’s announcements are just the latest in a long-term commitment to make sure everyone can benefit from the internet in Thailand, whether they’re a first-time internet user or a small business owner. We hope that these initiatives help make life easier, more convenient and more meaningful for Thais.

Amazon Polly Update – Time-Driven Prosody and Asynchronous Synthesis

I hope that you are enjoying the Polly-powered audio that is available for the newest posts on this blog, including the DeepLens Challenge and the Storage Gateway Recap. As part of my blogging process, I now listen to the synthesized speech for my draft blog posts in order to get a better sense for how […]

Keeping It Local with Small Businesses Across the US

We’re excited to announce “Keep It Local,” a new integrated marketing campaign that celebrates the many types of small businesses that make local cultures special and help communities grow and thrive.

Emo-gee, that’s a cool job. Meet the woman who designs Google’s emoji.

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. Most of us use emoji to communicate on a daily basis, but there’s only one day a year to celebrate those delightful little characters. Today is World Emoji Day, so we sat down with Jennifer Daniel—who heads up design for Google’s emoji. Among other slightly more serious things, we chatted about her favorite emoji, how emoji communication compares to the era of Shakespeare and why the female influences in her life rule all.

JD

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I tell people I work on emoji, those tiny smiley faces that are on your phone. And the response is usually, “Really? That’s a job?”

It is a job, although the majority of my time is spent managing the art team within the “Expressions” group, which creates gifs, camera effects, stickers and other fun experiences for Gboard, Android Messages and Pixel.

What’s one habit that makes you successful?
Focus on finding good people to work with. Success follows people who work well together.

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
Just be you. As women, we’re told over and over again to lean in, but that frequently puts us in positions that are structurally unsuited and hostile. This touches on every part of the job, even seemingly trivial things like tone in emails.

Research has shown that women don’t use emoji professionally or aren’t friendly in emails, because they’re taken less seriously if they do. I understand and also reject it … our humanity is essential to effective communication. Don’t use enough emoji and you’re seen as hostile. Use too many and you’re seen as unprofessional. It’s a lose lose. So, forget it. Just be yourself.

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One of Jennifer’s illustrations of the dancer emoji. 

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?
In the industries I work in, there’s a lack of women in what my friends and I call the “just-ahead-of-me group.” So, I’d say my peers are the strongest influences in my life. The artists, writers and designers I’ve met along the way are incredibly motivating and inspiring. And, for those moments where things feel highly discouraging, well, I hope everyone has friends who pump them up like mine do, because it rules.

What’s your most-used emoji?
Lately instead of using the standard smiley 😀 (which is the 10th most popular emoji by the way … the most popular is ), I’ve been using the cowboy 🤠. I recently retired the party popper 🎉 for the saxophone 🎷. Everytime I use it, I can faintly hear Lisa Simpson

Your work is transforming the way we communicate with each other. Do you think we’re losing anything with this shift to communicating in gifs, emoji and memes?
Is the way we communicate now better than the era of Shakespeare?

Hey, I’m asking the questions!
I just mean … the way we communicate is a reflection of the time period we’re in. And we live in an era were we communicate more with the written word than ever before. Language has existed for at least 80,000 years but it first arose as speech. If humanity existed for 24 hours, let’s say writing only came around 11:07 p.m. So first there was speech, then writing, and now, we have emoji.

Some expressions are better suited for images than they are with text. I can’t tell you what 🐒🐒🎷🐬translates into words exactly, but damned if it isn’t the perfect response when a friend texts me that our plans are on for tonight. Emoji become inside jokes, slang, memes. Like language, it’s fluid. We all intuitively know when to call someone versus suggest a video chat, when to write an email or send them a text. It’s important to know who you’re speaking to and the best way to connect with them.

How did you first discover your interest in design?
Hard to say. It could be when I realized my drawings could make my classmates laugh. I was in second grade and I had just moved from the East Coast to the Midwest and it was the first time I really remember feeling heard. I truly connected with people in a way I hadn’t previously.

You have three-year old twins! What have they taught you about achieving balance in your life?
Work-life balance is when everyone wants your attention at the same time (ha, sort of kidding). At times my personal life is the most important thing and other times I need to be very focused on work. This balance, which is more of a dance, allows room for things to happen even when you least expect it, like when I get a call from the daycare and I have to drop everything to attend to … let’s just say, a pile of 💩. I’ve learned over time that you can’t be prepared for everything and that’s perfectly okay.  

baby gif

Just another day at the office. 

How do you ensure that everyone is represented in emoji?
We do our best to surround ourselves with experts and ask a lot of questions. Designing emoji (and stickers, and gifs and camera effects) for a global audience requires a certain level of humility and curiosity about the world.

And how does that work from a design perspective?
As a principle, we want to create images that are iconic and timeless. Stylistically,the more abstract an emoji is, the more you can project yourself onto it. On the flip side, the more detail a drawing has, the more people fixate on how real or accurate it is. Taking detail away from an emoji can offer more opportunity for interpretation and personality, making emoji an extension of your own. I prefer to think of Google’s emoji like words—keep them as abstract as possible.

What’s next for your team?
This week we’re releasing a series of animated stickers in Gboard and Messages that bring back our favorite blob emoji. And every month we launch more stickers and GIF effects in Gboard. I love seeing what people make, so please share your creations!

An update to referral source URLs for Google Images

Cross-posted from the Webmaster Central Blog

Every day, hundreds of millions of people use Google Images to visually discover and explore content on the web. Whether it be finding ideas for your next baking project, or visual instructions on how to fix a flat tire, exploring image results can sometimes be much more helpful than exploring text.

Updating the referral source

For webmasters, it hasn’t always been easy to understand the role Google Images plays in driving site traffic. To address this, we will roll out a new referer URL specific to Google Images over the next few months. The referer URL is part of the HTTP header, and indicates the last page the user was on and clicked to visit the destination webpage.

If you create software to track or analyze website traffic, we want you to be prepared for this change. Make sure that you are ingesting the new referer URL, and attribute the traffic to Google Images. The new referer URL is: https://images.google.com.

If you use Google Analytics to track site data, the new referral URL will be automatically ingested and traffic will be attributed to Google Images appropriately. Just to be clear, this change will not affect Search Console. Webmasters will continue to receive an aggregate list of top search queries that drive traffic to their site.

How this affects country-specific queries

We hope this change will foster a healthy visual content ecosystem. If you’re interested in learning how to optimize your pages for Google Images, please refer to the Google Image Publishing Guidelines. If you have questions, feedback or suggestions, please let us know through the Webmaster Tools Help Forum.

The new referer URL has the same country code top level domain (ccTLD) as the URL used for searching on Google Images. In practice, this means that most visitors worldwide come from images.google.com. That’s because last year, we made a change so that google.com became the default choice for searchers worldwide. However, some users may still choose to go directly to a country specific service, such as google.co.uk for the UK. For this use case, the referer uses that country TLD (for example, images.google.co.uk).

Stay on top of your day with proactive help from your Assistant

Check the traffic. Pay the bills. Pick up the package. Don’t miss the flight to Charlotte. We run through our mental to-do lists dozens of times throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be nice to have proactive help to keep our lives on track?

This week, we’re rolling out a new visual overview of your day when you open the Google Assistant app on your phone, with proactive suggestions and personalized information to help you stay on top of your day. The new visual snapshot provides curated, helpful information based on the time of day, location, and your recent interactions with the Assistant, and will be available on Android and iOS devices in all languages supported by the Google Assistant.

Travel times are front and center, so you know when to hit the road whether you’re getting ready for work, a lunch meeting, or heading home for the night. As you scroll down, you’ll see your agenda, reminders, restaurant or movie reservations, your favorite stocks, upcoming bills, packages in transit, and suggestions for new Actions you should try.

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Access the new experience by tapping on the new icon in the top right corner of the screen after you’ve activated your Google Assistant. Or if you have an iOS device, your personal updates will be shown as soon as you open the Google Assistant app.

We’ll continue to add more useful features to your snapshot over time—for example, an overview of your notes and lists from Google Keep, Any.do, Bring!, Todoist and others; a new discovery section to help you find activities nearby; reminders on where you parked; personalized recommendations for music and podcasts; and much more.

The Google Assistant can also send proactive notifications on your phone to remind you of important upcoming events. You can get notifications for upcoming bills, packages, even an alert that your flight has been delayed—your Google Assistant will keep track so you don’t have to.

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Try out the new visual snapshot and make sure you have notifications turned on for your Google Assistant so you can stay on top of the things that matter most to you.

Extending Google’s Grab and Go program to businesses so they can save time and money

Devices are more than tools; they’re the home base where your employees go to connect, collaborate, and get their work done. So when an employee’s device isn’t working, the effects are greater than simply the cost of replacement. In addition to the hours employees devote to troubleshooting devices instead of completing projects, there’s the time your IT team spends on repair and replacement when they could be focusing on more strategic initiatives. In fact, IHS estimates that IT downtime costs a large enterprise $60 million a year.

But what if you could decrease that lost time from hours and days to just a few minutes? We answered this question at Google by creating our Grab and Go program, allowing employees to use self-service stations to quickly borrow and return devices.

Chrome devices and Chrome Enterprise are the key ingredients that make this program so effective. With Grab and Go, centrally-located racks with fully-charged Chromebooks are available 24/7. As soon as an issue arises, employees can grab any of these devices and log in through their corporate account. Because their work is already stored in the cloud, they can jump back into projects immediately, as if they never left their old device.

The Grab and Go program makes life easier for our IT admins as well. Chrome Enterprise provides simple manageability through the Google Admin Console. Employees sign in to the Chromebook and all of the company’s management policies are immediately applied upon startup. This ensures that employees are using a secure device and can access all websites, emails, and documents they need to do their job. And all of their bookmarks, passwords, extensions, browsing histories, and personal settings are available on the new device thanks to Chrome Sync.

Employees using a Grab and Go Chromebook automatically get an email upon sign-in that explains how and when to return the device, plus instructions on how to extend the loan, if needed. Upon return, devices can go directly to the next user—no reset or setup is needed because Chrome OS encrypts individual user profiles by default.

We’ve deployed Grab and Go in many of our offices around the world, and the program has seen more than 30,000 unique users rack up more than 100,000 loans in the last year. In fact, our Grab and Go program administrators estimate that their initial investment in deploying the program paid for itself in productivity time saved after only 50 days.

Our success with this program prompted us to release a detailed white paper to help businesses create their own Grab and Go programs. However, we know many businesses can benefit from a turnkey solution that makes deployment fast and easy. As a result, we’re offering an early access program to get them started. With this early access program, IT admins will have all the resources required to start their own Grab and Go program—including an open source app for inventory management, a Chrome OS companion app that greets users upon sign-in, and a full deployment guide.

Because the program is so simple, Grab and Go is also an ideal solution for other business cases where employees require temporary access to a device. For example:

  • Frontline workers who only need devices for short periods of time—such as for training or sending emails.

  • Shift workers in workplaces with shared devices, such as healthcare and call centers and can use virtualization solutions through Citrix and VmWare to access legacy apps.

  • Remote workers who travel between office locations, or frequently work outside the office and need both a work and home device.

If you’re interested in launching a Chrome Enterprise Grab and Go program in your business, register your interest in our Early Access program and read our detailed white paper on how Google uses Grab and Go to keep employees productive.

Introducing Course Kit: new ways to collaborate with G Suite in your LMS, designed for Higher Ed

Effective teaching and learning require seamless collaboration between instructors and students. The right technology and training can help facilitate this connection, which is why many universities, colleges, schools and other educational institutions provide their instructors and students with a Learning Management System (LMS). In addition to using an LMS, educators and students often also use G Suite’s cloud-based productivity tools to create, collaborate and communicate in real time. Until now, there hasn’t been an easy way to integrate G Suite with many LMSs.

Enter Course Kit—a free toolkit that allows instructors to use Google Docs and Drive to collect assignments, give faster and richer feedback to students, and share course materials within the LMS they’re already using. Course Kit is built using the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard so it’s easy to set up and works with all LMSs that support LTI. Course Kit currently includes an assignment tool and a file embed tool, making it fast and secure to integrate G Suite’s powerful collaboration capabilities into teaching and learning workflows. We piloted Course Kit over the last semester with higher ed institutions, and are now making it available more widely through a beta program.

Course Kit Video

Save time for thoughtful feedback with Course Kit’s assignment tool

Creating and collecting assignments in an LMS with Course Kit’s assignment tool is efficient and secure. When submitting their work, students don’t have to worry about the format of their files because any file that can be stored in Google Drive works with Course Kit. Once students turn in their completed work, Course Kit automatically manages permissions and students no longer have edit access to their submitted files while being graded. For instructors, being able to use Google’s cloud-based tools that their students use every day is critical.

We have a lot of tech we’re trying to integrate together, so making it as easy as possible for faculty to receive assignments and grade in Google Docs is a big win for us. Holly Zakos
Senior Instructional Technologist
Course Kit Google Drive Instructor

Educators can use Course Kit’s grading interface to easily toggle between students and their submitted files, all in one tab. They also have the ability to privately give feedback on assignment submissions with the rich collaboration features of Docs and Drive—such as in-line suggestions and margin comments. To save time for deeper, personalized feedback, Course Kit includes a new feature that lets instructors quickly insert commonly used margin comments using a customizable comment bank. “Educator comments are added to a bank, which can be easily reused over and over, or edited to make feedback more personal. Our professors found that very useful,” said Ben Hommerding, Instructional Technologist at St. Norbert College.

Course Kit Comment Hashtag

When educators are finished reviewing assignments, grades and feedback are synced to the LMS and files are returned to students. “This saves a lot of time managing grades manually,” said Hommerding. Course Kit also creates an archival copy of every returned assignment so professors have an easy-to-access record of submissions — especially helpful if the assignment needs to be turned in several times. Students get notified when their assignment is returned and can view the instructor’s comments and feedback directly in their LMS.

Embed course materials in an LMS with Course Kit’s file embed tool

Using Course Kit’s file embed tool, LMS users can add course materials from Google Drive directly into LMS pages, making it easy to share materials seamlessly. Instructors can embed anything from assignment information and syllabi to lecture presentations and videos. This tool simplifies the process of sharing related materials because embedded files are right there in the LMS, organized in Drive and automatically shared, saving faculty from manually configuring sharing settings.

Course Kit Create Assignment

Join the beta

Now with the Google Docs and Drive integration within your LMS, it’s possible to streamline assignment workflows, give richer feedback, and collaborate with students. Course Kit meets industry standards for accessibility and is available in 44 languages. If your institution uses G Suite for Education, get started by requesting access to the beta. Once whitelisted, your IT administrator can install Course Kit in your LMS. Currently using Google Classroom? We are also working to add new and improved feedback functionality directly to Classroom, so stay tuned for more updates in the next few months.

It’s our goal to build tools that enable meaningful connections and lead to effective learning. As always, we’d love your feedback about Course Kit so we can continue to improve these tools, and build others that help improve teaching and learning.

Delivering increased connectivity with our first private trans-Atlantic subsea cable

This year, we’ve announced major expansions to our global cloud infrastructure, which helps us provide high quality services to our customers. We introduced new cloud regions in the Netherlands, Montreal, Finland, and opening just yesterday, Los Angeles. We invested in three consortium subsea cables–Havfrue, HK-G, and JGA-S. And we we became the first major non-telecom company to build a private intercontinental cable with our investment in the Curie cable.

Today, we’re announcing our newest private subsea cable project: Dunant. This cable crosses the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to the French Atlantic coast, and will expand our network–already the world’s largest–to help us better serve our users and customers. The Dunant cable is expected to become available in late 2020.

Google Cloud Platform presense and subsea cables

Dunant adds network capacity across the Atlantic, supplementing one of the busiest routes on the internet, and supporting the growth of Google Cloud. We’re working with TE SubCom to design, manufacture and lay the cable for Dunant, which will bring well-provisioned, high-bandwidth, low-latency, highly secure cloud connections between the U.S. and Europe.  

In keeping with the theme we established with Curie, Dunant is also named after an influential innovator, Henri Dunant, the first Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Red Cross. Like Curie and Dunant, future Google private cables will follow a similar alphabetic theme.

GCP Subsea Cable

A common question we get with these projects is why we’re building them privately.

There are a few different ways to go about building a subsea cable. The first is to simply purchase capacity from an existing cable, or one being built by someone else. The second is to create a consortium of partners with similar needs and build a cable together. The third is to build it yourself.

All of these options come with different pros and cons, and we use a combination of all three methods to best serve our customers. When approaching a new cable project, and deciding on which of the three methods to use, we consider our needs, and the needs of our customers, in a few areas:

  • Performance and latency: Cables are often built to serve a very specific route. When we build privately, we can choose this route based on what will provide the lowest latency for the largest segment of customers. In this case, we wanted connectivity across the Atlantic that was close to certain data centers, but the reasons could also include the ability to land in certain countries, or to connect two places that were previously underserved, such as was the case with Curie.

  • Capacity: The bandwidth that we want to deliver can vary widely, depending on what already exists and where our customers need more, now and in the future. Our capacity planning includes estimates of Google’s and our customers’ needs for years to come.

  • Guaranteed bandwidth for the lifetime of the cable: The life of a cable can vary from 15 to 25 years, but as with many infrastructure projects, they sometimes continue to serve the route beyond their initial projected lifespan. Our ability to guarantee our customers a certain level of connectivity helps them confidently plan for their businesses going forward.

We started off with two private cable projects that run over relatively short distances. These were our Alpha and Beta cables (a nod to how we name software releases), and their success led us to build both Curie and Dunant privately. We’ve worked with consortia on other new cables—including Havfrue, HK-G and JGA-S–and will continue to invest in consortium cables in the future.  

Our investments in both private and consortium cables meet the same objectives: helping people and businesses can take advantage of all the cloud has to offer.  We’ll continue to look for more ways to improve and expand our network, and will share more on this work in the coming months. In the meantime, you can learn more about our network on our website, or try our demo to see how our infrastructure looks today.

GCP Subsea Cable
Google Subseab Cable Investment

Amazon EC2 Instance Update – Faster Processors and More Memory

Last month I told you about the Nitro system and explained how it will allow us to broaden the selection of EC2 instances and to pick up the pace as we do so, with an ever-broadening selection of compute, storage, memory, and networking options. This will allow us to give you access to the latest […]

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