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.

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.

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 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.

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).

n

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.

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!


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!

Android Things Developer Preview 6

Posted by Wayne Piekarski,
Developer Advocate for IoT

The next release of Android Things Developer Preview 6 (DP6) is here with lots
of new features and bug fixes. Android Things is Google’s platform that enables
Android Developers to create Internet of Things (IoT) devices with support for
powerful applications such as video and audio processing and on-board machine
learning with TensorFlow. For the specifics on what is new, visit the release
notes
. Here are a few of the highlights of what is in DP6.

IoT launcher

DP6 includes a new IoT launcher that allows the user to see the current state of
the device and change settings using a touch screen or USB input devices.
Settings such as configuring the WiFi, finding the build ID, and checking for
updates is now something that can be done interactively, making it even easier
to get started. This launcher is visible when no other developer-provided IOT_LAUNCHER
Activity is present.

Graphics acceleration defaults

Android Things uses the open-source SwiftShader library, a
CPU-based implementation of the OpenGL ES APIs. This enables common OpenGL
support across all platforms, even those with no GPU hardware. However, many
simple 2D UIs render faster if the drawing is done directly to the framebuffer
and OpenGL emulation is not used. In DP6, OpenGL rendering is disabled by
default to ensure that most apps run with the fastest UI possible. If you need
OpenGL support for 3D rendering, WebView, or TextureView, then explicitly enable
it in your AndroidManifest.xml according to the documentation:

<activity

    ...
    android:hardwareAccelerated="true">

API 27 and Google Play Services

DP6 is now based on the latest Android 8.1 developer preview, with API level 27.
Most of the standard Android samples now work on DP6. For example, the Camera2Basic
sample using the Camera2 API and TextureView now works on both NXP and Raspberry
Pi based devices (with the hardwareAccelerated flag set to true). Google Play
Services has been updated to support SDK version 11.6, supporting all the latest
features
.

Command-line flashing tool

We heard from developers that flashing and configuring a board using fastboot
can be tedious, so the Android Things
Console
now brings a new and simpler way of flashing device images. Instead
of using fastboot and adb commands manually, a new interactive command-line
android-things-setup-utility
is now provided. This tool makes it much easier to get started with Android
Things, and automates the download and flashing process.

Android Things Console updates

DP6 introduces the new partition scheme that will be used for the upcoming
production release. Due to the new partition layout, the over-the-air update
(OTA) system cannot update existing DP5.1 or earlier devices. Developers will
need to go to the Android
Things Console
, and download and flash a new DP6 build. The Console UI has
also been changed for DP6 features, and will only allow you to create new builds
based on DP6. If you have any older existing builds, they are still available
for download but will not support OTA updates. Developers are encouraged to move
all work to DP6.

GPIO pin naming

The interactive IoT launcher shown at boot now includes an I/O pinout section
where you can discover the labels of all the pins. The pin naming used by the
i.MX7 has been changed, and you should update your code to use this new naming
convention. See the i.MX7
documentation
for the complete list of pin names.

Settings and Device Update APIs

New APIs have been added to Android Things that control the configuration
of the local device and device updates. UpdateManager
gives developers control over when updates and reboots can be performed,
ensuring the device is available for the user when needed. DeviceManager
controls factory reset, reboot, and device locales. APIs are also provided for
settings such as ScreenManager
to control the screen, and TimeManager
to control the clock and time zone.

Peripheral command-line tool

We now provide a command-line tool pio
that gives developers access to the Peripheral API via the adb shell. Developers
can interactively test GPIO, PWM, UART, I2C, SPI, and future interfaces from an
adb shell, which is useful for debugging and automated testing.

Feedback

DP6 includes significant changes and improvements to the platform. Please send
us your feedback by filing bug
reports
and feature
requests
, as well as asking any questions on Stack
Overflow
. To start using DP6, use the Android Things Console to
download system images and flash existing devices, or use the android-things-setup-utility.
More information about the changes are available in the release
notes
. You can also join Google’s IoT
Developers Community
on Google+, a great resource to get updates and discuss
ideas. Also, we have our new hackster.io
community
, where everyone can share the amazing projects they have built. We
look forward to seeing what you build with Android Things!

Innovation often comes from the heart of America

In 1882, by dint of hard work and partnership, electricity reached the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company in Appleton, Wisconsin, nine years before electricity would light up the nation’s White House. Company executive Henry J. Rogers and his colleagues had managed the seemingly impossible, using technology and innovation to harness the Fox River’s turbulent waters,…

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Facebook Social Good Forum: Announcing New Tools and Initiatives for Communities to Help Each Other

By Naomi Gleit, VP Social Good Today at the second annual Social Good Forum, we announced new tools and initiatives to help people keep each other safe and supported on Facebook. Mentorship and Support, a new product where mentees and mentors come together to connect and interact directly with each other and progress through a […]

Investing to grow right here at home

At a time when space is at a premium and many companies are looking for room to grow, we recognize that our 500-acre campus in Redmond, Washington, is a unique asset. Neighboring a vibrant urban core, suburban towns, lakes, mountains and miles of forest, it’s one of Microsoft’s crown jewels. And as we continue to…

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Microsoft builds and integrates Azure Location Based Services directly into the cloud

Microsoft believes that advances in technology will solve many of the problems created in the industrial era and help make society safer, more sustainable, efficient and inclusive. For example, as enterprises harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect their physical assets to the cloud, they are dramatically reducing energy usage and…

The post Microsoft builds and integrates Azure Location Based Services directly into the cloud appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.