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New in the Business Plan: Jetpack Search

The Business plan combines fully managed hosting with the freedom to grow and scale your site without limits. Today we’re adding Jetpack Search to Business so you can enjoy powerful and fast on-site search functionality as part of your plan.   Once you activate Jetpack Search, you’ll be …

Step aboard Discovery with virtual reality

Editor’s note: On the anniversary of the first launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, we’ll hear from Dr. Ellen R. Stofan, planetary geologist and the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, about a new 360 film on board the Shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope.

Since the dawn of spaceflight, only a few hundred people have experienced space firsthand. But since the beginning, there have been moments that captured the world’s imagination and challenged our collective Earth-bound perspective. Of the many orbital endeavors that have made headlines through the decades, one of the most enduring and prolific has been the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hubble has been called one of the most important single scientific instruments of all time. The data it collected has deepened our understanding of the natural world—from the edge of our solar system to the age of the universe—and the images it has returned have brought the startling beauty of the cosmos to people around the world.

Today, on the 34th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Discovery’s maiden voyage, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and Google Arts & Culture have teamed up to bring visitors into the orbiter like never before. Two of the astronauts who helped deliver Hubble to orbit as part of STS-31—Maj Gen Charlie Bolden  and Dr. Kathy Sullivan—take us on a 360 journey inside Discovery at the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Inside Space Shuttle Discovery 360 | National Air and Space Museum

The video was captured using Google’s Halo camera, and takes us along with the astronauts as they climb aboard the spacecraft together for the first time in 28 years. Charlie and Kathy show us what life in space was like from dawn (they saw 16 sunrises and sunsets each day) to dinnertime (sometimes eaten on the ceiling), and relive the moment they deployed Hubble after years of planning and training.

STS-31 is just one great example of why Discovery was called the champion of the Shuttle fleet—and why it is now on display as part of the Smithsonian’s national collection. Discovery flew every kind of mission the Space Shuttle was designed to fly, from Hubble’s deployment to the delivery and assembly of International Space Station modules and more. Today, we’re celebrating the orbiter’s 39 missions and 365 total days in space with this special immersive film, 15 digital exhibits, virtual tours, and over 200 online artifacts.

  • The Space Shuttle Discovery_s Maiden Voyage on August 30th 1984.png

    The Space Shuttle Discovery’s Maiden Voyage on August 30, 1984

  • A Discovery astronaut services the Hubble Space Telescope.png

    A Discovery astronaut services the Hubble Space Telescope

  • The space shuttle Discovery is the centerpiece of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum_s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va..png

    The space shuttle Discovery is the centerpiece of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

  • Gregory J. Harbaugh, Joseph R. Tanner_s extravehicular activity crew mate, snapped this photo during the second phase of their walk and the fourth one of five for the STS-82 crew in order to services the Hubble Space Telescope.png

    Gregory J. Harbaugh snapped this photo during the STS-82 crew’s walk to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

  • Astronaut Charles F. Bolden In His Flight Suit.png

    Astronaut Charles F. Bolden In His Flight Suit

  • The Space Shuttle Discovery Flies Atop a 747.png

    The Space Shuttle Discovery Flies Atop a 747

As we enter a new era of spaceflight in the years ahead—with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the development of Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope—I hope this new collection demonstrates the remarkable progress we’ve made toward unlocking the mysteries of the universe, and how much farther we can go together. Explore the magic of Discovery Space Shuttle on Google Arts & Culture

Meet the bilingual Google Assistant with new smart home devices

This summer, we’ve brought the Google Assistant to more devices across Europe and the rest of the world to help you get answers and get things done in more languages (most recently supporting Spanish, Swedish and Dutch).

At IFA 2018, we’re adding multilingual support, so that the Assistant will be able to understand and speak more than one language at a time. Additionally, we’ll be introducing new phones and a broad range of devices and appliances for the home that support the Assistant from our growing ecosystem of partners in Europe.

Talk to the Google Assistant in multiple languages

Family members in bilingual homes often switch back and forth between languages, and now the Assistant can keep up. With our advancement in speech recognition, you can now speak two languages interchangeably with the Assistant on smart speakers and phones and the Assistant will respond in kind. This is a first-of-its-kind feature only available on the Assistant and is part of our multi-year effort to make your conversations with the Assistant more natural.

If you’re looking for an answer in English, ask, “Hey Google, what’s the weather like today?” If you’re craving tunes from your favorite German hip hop band, just ask “Hey Google, spiele die Fantastischen Vier.” Currently, the Assistant can understand any pair of languages within English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. We’ll be expanding to more languages in the coming months.

Your bilingual Google Assistant

A fully connected home

Enjoying home entertainment
Listening to music is one of the most popular ways people use the Assistant. That’s why we built the Google Home Max to offer high-fidelity and balanced sound and now it’s available in Germany, UK and France—Google Home Max will hit store shelves starting today.

This week, we’re also announcing that the Assistant will be built into new voice-activated speakers, including the Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound 1 and Beosound 2, Blaupunkt’s PVA 100, Harman Kardon’s HK Citation series, Kygo’s Speaker B9-800, Polaroid’s Sam and Buddy and Marshall Acton II and Stanmore II. Expect these smart speakers and soundbars to roll out later this year in local European markets.

Getting things done in the kitchen
On the heels of introducing our first ever Smart Displays last month with Lenovo, we’re expanding our offerings with the upcoming launch of JBL’s Link View and LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 in the coming weeks. With these new Smart Displays, you’ll have the perfect kitchen companion. You can use your voice and tap or swipe the screen to follow along with a recipe, control your smart home, watch live TV on YouTube TV, and make video calls with Google Duo. Smart Displays also come integrated with all your favorite Google products services like Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Photos and YouTube.

Controlling all connected devices in your home
The Assistant is also making your home even smarter. Just in the past year, there are now triple the number of home devices and appliances that work with the Assistant in Europe from all the major local brands you’re familiar with.

Our partners will be releasing more devices that work with the Assistant throughout the home in the coming months, including:

  • Thermostats: tado° Smart Thermostat and Smart Radiator Thermostat, Homematic IP Radiator Thermostate
  • Security and Smart Home Hubs: Netatmo’s Smart Indoor and Outdoor  Security Cameras, TP-Link’s Kasa Cam KC120 and Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200, Smanos K1 SmartHome DIY Security Kit, and Somfy’ TaHoma smart home hub
  • Lighting: FIBARO Switch, MEDION RGB LED bulb and stripe, and the Nanoleaf Light Panels
  • Appliances: Electrolux’s smart ovens, iRobot® Roomba® 980, 896 and 676 vacuums

Whether you speak German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, you’ll be able to set the temperature, lock the doors, dim the lights and more from a smart speaker and smartphone. 

Smart Home

On the go with your phone and headphones

The Google Assistant is expanding on more Android phones and headphones, helping you when you’re on the go. Some of the latest flagship devices, including the LG G7 One, SHARP Simple Smartphone 4 and Vivo NEX S, now feature dedicated buttons to easily access the Assistant. In addition, the new Xperia XZ3 from Sony and Blackberry Key 2 LE also take advantage of the shortcuts to trigger the Assistant.

And this week we’re announcing that over the coming year, more headphones are on the way, including the JBL Everest GA and LG Tone Platinum, and Earin M-2. When you pair them to your phone, you can talk to the Assistant instantly with just a touch, whether you want to skip a track to hear the next song, get notifications, and respond to your messages, or set reminders.

Phew, that was a lot of news. With lots of new devices and partners coming to Europe, the Google Assistant will be available to help you through every step of your day.

Forecasting earthquake aftershock locations with AI-assisted science

From hurricanes and floods to volcanoes and earthquakes, the Earth is continuously evolving in fits and spurts of dramatic activity. Earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis alone have caused massive destruction in the last decade—even over the course of writing this post, there were earthquakes in New Caledonia, Southern California, Iran, and Fiji, just to name a few.

Earthquakes typically occur in sequences: an initial “mainshock” (the event that usually gets the headlines) is often followed by a set of “aftershocks.” Although these aftershocks are usually smaller than the main shock, in some cases, they may significantly hamper recovery efforts.  Although the timing and size of aftershocks has been understood and explained by established empirical laws, forecasting the locations of these events has proven more challenging.

We teamed up with machine learning experts at Google to see if we could apply deep learning to explain where aftershocks might occur, and today we’re publishing a paper on our findings. But first, a bit more about how we got here: we started with a database of information on more than 118 major earthquakes from around the world.


A visual representation of the 1992 magnitude 7.3 southern California Landers earthquake where the multi-colored portion represents the initial quake and the red boxes represent aftershock locations.

From there, we applied a neural net to analyze the relationships between static stress changes caused by the mainshocks and aftershock locations. The algorithm was able to identify useful patterns.  

The end result was an improved model to forecast aftershock locations and while this system is still imprecise, it’s a motivating step forward. Machine learning-based forecasts may one day help deploy emergency services and inform evacuation plans for areas at risk of an aftershock.


Forecasted distribution of aftershock location probabilities for the Landers earthquake. Dark red colors indicate regions predicted to experience aftershocks. The black dots are the locations of observed aftershocks, and the yellow line shows the faults that ruptured during the mainshock.

There was also an unintended consequence of the research: it helped us to identify physical quantities that may be important in earthquake generation. When we applied neural networks to the data set, we were able to look under the hood at the specific combinations of factors that it found important and useful for that forecast, rather than just taking the forecasted results at face value. This opens up new possibilities for finding potential physical theories that may allow us to better understand natural phenomena.

We are looking forward to seeing what machine learning can do in the future to unravel the mysteries behind earthquakes, in an effort to mitigate their harmful effects.

Throwing it back: Google leaders share their first summer jobs

As the old saying goes, “get a summer job and you’ll stick with it forever.” Just kidding, no one says that. If they did, many of Google’s leaders—who earned their first paychecks serving burgers, planting trees and hawking hair accessories—would be doing something pretty different right now.

If you looked at the resumes of the people leading teams, initiatives and products at Google today, you’d see a wide range of first jobs that, in many cases, taught lessons that still ring true. So as people around the country are wrapping up their seasonal gigs, we asked a few Google leaders about the summer jobs they once had.

Let’s get some fresh air first. Never ones to spend their summers behind a desk, these Googlers got their hard-earned paychecks in the great outdoors. Up in Canada, Partnerships President Don Harrison fought his way through mosquitoes, ticks and bears to plant trees. Further south in Michigan, there were fewer ticks but more kids at Diversity VP Danielle Brown’s lifeguarding gig. And Communications VP Corey DuBrowa clocked 18-hour days on a farm in Oregon, where the wheat and grass seed wasn’t going to harvest itself—no, that was Corey’s job.

great outdoors v2

Long before or GOOG, President Jacquelline Fuller and VP of Investor Relations Ellen West each donned a “polyester rust uniform” and set up shop at the drive-thru under the iconic double arches. For the rest of these Googlers, a summer job meant getting your hands soapy, taking food orders, and getting a crash course in mixology.

help 1 v2

Whether selling sleeping bags, fruity drinks or hair accessories, these Googlers started out as young entrepreneurs. Eventually, Kent Walker traded in sleeping bags for legal documents. Ben Gomes left the Rasna stand to take an internship where he used neural nets to predict KFC chicken demand (before becoming one of Google’s first employees). And long after her scrunchie empire, Ana Corrales ended up in hardware, putting Google’s products in the hands of our customers.


Jeff Dean’s first-ever paying job struck a chord with wedding guests, while Vint Cerf’s interest in automatic coffee makers wasn’t as strong as the java they provided—after that summer, he intensified his studies in math and science. Though these gigs weren’t forever, these Googlers still learned a thing or two.


Early on, these people showed a knack for the careers they’d eventually find at Google. Beyond her duties fetching coffee and handing out mail, Stacy Sullivan’s summer job taught her about company structure and how leaders treat employees, setting her up to become Google’s Chief Culture Officer. For Richard Gingras, VP of News Products, the headline was written long ago: He spent a summer stacking and collating newspapers for The Providence Journal.


See you next summer!

U.S. wildlife to see (and maybe avoid) on your end-of-summer adventures

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System, which oversees more than 50,000 miles of trails across the U.S., and makes sure historic sites like the Pacific Crest Trail are around for years to come.

One of the most magical parts of traipsing around the wilderness is the chance to see local fauna: catching a glimpse of a hawk circling a field, floating by a beaver dam on your kayak, or spotting a baby deer in your hometown park.

You can use Google Images to learn more about the wildlife you encounter while hiking: to find out if what you just saw was *really* a coyote, or if that spider whose web you demolished is as scary as it looks. Over the past year, Google image searches for animals have approximately doubled.

We took a look at Google Images trends to find some of the most uniquely searched animals (and bugs!) in each U.S. state. Take a look to find out where you should travel to spy an orca whale, and where to *avoid* if you never want to see a leopard shark in real life.

For those of you planning last-minute nature exploration this summer, we’ve also identified some of the top spots in the U.S. to get your eyes on some wild creatures.

Popular wildlife on Google Images

Animal aficionados won’t be surprised that more people are searching for Orcas in Washington, or gila monsters in Arizona. But porcupines in Nebraska, or wolverines in Minnesota? Perhaps not as obvious.

If bugs are your bag, image searches indicate you’re likely to see a butterfly in Hawaii, or black widows (eep) in Colorado. If you’re visiting Iowa, keep your eyes peeled for the elegant, yet still sort of creepy, praying mantis. Check out the complete lists of uniquely searched animals and bugs in each U.S. state.

So where can you go to explore the great outdoors, and maybe catch a glimpse of lions, tigers and bears (oh my)? The top ten trending hikes on Google Maps include the world-famous Appalachian trail, the longest hiking-only trail in America, and the scenic Monument Valley desert, known for its epic rock buttes, plus several other trails across the country.

Trending hikes and campgrounds 2018

If you’re willing to spend the night in nature, the top ten trending campgrounds include Mackinaw Mill Creek in Michigan, which lets you set up camp on the shores of one of the Great Lakes. South Carlsbad State Beach in Southern California is set on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a short distance from water sports, and maybe some sea life. Just keep an eye out for leopard sharks ;).

Pro tip: Wondering what type of wildflowers you’re seeing on the trail, or if that green bush you hiked through was poison oak? Use Google Lens to help you identify local plant life (or wildlife, if you can catch it standing still … ). Just open the Lens app, point your camera at the plant and Lens will help you identify what you’re looking at.

Now that you’re fully informed on how Google can help you learn more about the wildlife around you, get out there and see it for yourself!

Protect your online accounts with Titan Security Keys

Phishing—when an attacker tries to trick you into giving them your credentials—is a common threat to all online users. Google’s automated defenses securely block the overwhelming majority of sign-in attempts even if an attacker has your username or password, but we always recommend you enable two-step verification (2SV) to further protect your online accounts.

There are many forms of 2SV—from text (SMS) message codes, to the Google Authenticator app, to hardware second factors like security keys. And while any second factor will greatly improve the security of your account, for those who want the strongest account protection, we’ve long advocated the use of security keys for 2SV.

Today, we’re making it easier to get a security key by making Google’s own Titan Security Keys available on the Google Store

Titan Security Key

Titan Security Key

Titan Security Keys have extra “special sauce” from Google—firmware that’s embedded in a hardware chip within the key that helps to verify that the key hasn’t been tampered with. We’ve gone into more detail about how this works on the Google Cloud blog.

Titan Security Keys work with popular browsers (including Chrome) and a growing ecosystem of services (including Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and more) that support FIDO standards

Getting started

It’s easy to get started with Titan Security Keys. Kits of two keys (one USB and one Bluetooth) are now available to U.S. customers on the Google Store and will be coming soon to additional regions.

To set them up with your Google Account, sign in and navigate to the 2-Step Verification page (see detailed instructions on our help center). Titan Security Keys are also compatible with the Advanced Protection Program, Google’s strongest security for users at high risk. And Google Cloud admins can enable security key enforcement in G Suite, Cloud Identity, and Google Cloud Platform to ensure that users use security keys for their accounts.

For more information, visit our website or read our detailed post on Google Cloud.

Join the Bing Maps APIs team at Microsoft Ignite 2018 in Orlando

The Bing Maps team will be at Microsoft Ignite 2018, in Orlando, Florida, September 24th through the 28th. If you are registered for the event, stop by the Bing Maps APIs for Enterprise booth in the Modern Workplace area of the Expo, to learn more about the latest features and updates to our Bing Maps platform, as well as attend our sessions.

How “Broad City” animator Mike Perry gets creative with a Pixelbook

Editor’s note: With Pixelbook and Pixelbook Pen, we’ve seen how tech can enable human creativity in outstanding ways. Mike Perry, an illustrator best known for his work on “Broad City,” recently spoke with us about how he uses Google hardware to stoke his creative process.

Keyword: When did you first start considering yourself an artist?

Mike: I’ve been drawing since I was a child. I’m not really good at anything else. Luckily it’s a functional skill that involves creative problem-solving by thinking about complicated things and how we produce art.

Production is one of my favorite parts about just “making” in general. Like, okay, we have an idea. What do we do with it? We can do anything.

Say you’re starting on a new piece, walk me through that process …

Ultimately a lot of it just comes from the process of making, right? The pure act of doing it on a regular basis means that I have a very robust catalog of images and ideas and ways of making that all collide and come together in the different ways that they need to.

Every project ends up being different, but really it’s the same elements, the same essential bits and pieces coming together to make that thing. And sometimes the ideas are first, other times the process is first.

There’s nothing better than accidentally discovering that, you know, if you put glow-in-the-dark pigments into resin, you can make glow-in-the-dark resin. And then all of a sudden, you’re like, “That’s a process experiment that turns into a really beautiful, accidental discovery.”

Now we’re thinking, “Okay, well, didn’t know you can do that.” Well, what else don’t we know we can do with resin? How can we play with these things? And then ideas form just because of the process.


How has technology affected your work?

I mean, computers are just crazy tools. We could meticulously go through and take an entire drawing apart piece by piece, and then slowly make each one of those elements come to life in its own right.

That idea is pretty simple and basic, but 10 years ago, that’s 200 people with months of time and energy. I’ve been making stuff long enough and I’ve been confronted by the technology for long enough that the only way it works for me is if it’s just seamless. It’s like, oh, I have a pencil—which is really important. And I have a Pixelbook—which is really important. And the weight of those tools is equal because they provide an essential step in the creative process.

Pixelbook hero 2.png

When I started doing animation, I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing, so I said, “I can draw, so I’ll draw one picture, and then I’ll just draw another one, and then another one, and hope that it works out.” Which was fun. There was a lot of mystery in it. You would spend a week of your life just on the light table, drawing. Tracing over and over, layer after layer. And then you would hit “play” and it would go, “Brruuum.” Or be disappointing. You know, like, what have I been doing with my life?

But now, obviously you do it digitally. You can just see everything happens in real life. You’re not getting lost in the what-ifs all the time—this stuff is about balance.

Why does everybody love cartoons?

It’s visual stimulation. It must trigger some sort of child brain magic point. Who knows why cartoons work? I know why I like them, it’s because they represent the impossible. One of the fun things about being an artist is imagining things that are not possible. Animation is an incredible tool to say, “You know what? I just want this guy to be in space right now,” and you just put him in space. You don’t have to get on a ship and fly the whole crew to space. We can just do that and it’s not a big deal.

Do you ever hit creative roadblocks?

I don’t, to be honest. I understand them, I think that there are challenges that need to be met. But it’s about the scale of time and understanding that when you hit a roadblock it probably means you’re supposed to take a break. We’re not machines capable of constantly generating content and material. We need to recharge our existence so we can be creative people.
Maybe you encounter a roadblock and you feel this is not gonna work right now. Maybe it takes two months or two hours, whatever that span of time is as long as you remember that tomorrow’s another day, you’re probably fine.

What do you draw for fun?

I’m a big fan of drawing dogs drinking cocktails, so I think that’s, like, my dog drawing niche. I just think that dogs with cocktails are funny.

Wear OS by Google: Health and help are just a swipe away

As you go about your busy day, every minute matters. We’re evolving the design of Wear OS by Google to help you get the most out of your time—providing quicker access to your information and notifications, more proactive help from the Google Assistant, and smarter health coaching—all with a swipe of your finger.


Easier access to notifications and more

We’re making it easier to browse, dismiss or take action on your notifications with the new notification stream. Simply swipe up to see all your notifications at once. See an important message? Just tap to select a built-in smart reply without even leaving your stream. Swipe down on your watch to get quicker access to handy features and shortcuts like Google Pay or ‘Find my phone’.


More proactive help from your Google Assistant

With the new design, you can now receive proactive and personalized help from your Google Assistant. Let’s say you’re headed to the airport—swipe right on your watch to see your flight status or hotel reservation. Tap on smart suggestions like the weather at your destination or find a restaurant near your hotel. When you’re getting ready for the day, your Google Assistant will help you stay ahead by reminding you to bring an umbrella, showing you your day’s meetings, or warning you if there is a delay on your commute. The Google Assistant will also suggest features you may not have tried yet and will become more helpful over time as it gets to know you and as we add new features.


Smarter health coaching

Last week, we announced that Google Fit is making it easier to be healthy with two new activity goals: Heart Points and Move Minutes. We worked with the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization to design these goals based on their physical activity recommendations which are shown to have health benefits for your heart and mind. Now, you can simply swipe left to start a workout or see how you are tracking toward your goals.


We’ll begin rolling out these new features over the next month, so look out for updates on your Wear OS by Google smartwatch. Some features may vary by phone OS, watch or country.  

Intelligent Search: Video summarization using machine learning

This blog post describes how Bing does video summarization at internet scale using machine learning. Videos account for some of the richest and most delightful content on the web. But it can be difficult to tell which cat video is really going to make you LOL. That can be a frustrating and time-consuming process and it’s why we decided to help by building a smart preview feature to improve our search results and help our users more effectively find videos on the web. The idea is simple – you can hover on a video-result thumbnail and see a short preview of the video which tells you whether the video is the one you are looking for. You can try this out with a query on the video vertical – like funny cats.

Take a spin around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Google Maps

I was eight years old when my dad took me to my first Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious car races in the world. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before—the track was buzzing with hundreds of thousands of loyal fans overshadowed only by the sound of the cars speeding by. The excitement was contagious and the sheer power of the race cars is otherworldly. From then on, I’ve attended nearly every race with my Dad. As a “Hoosier,” born and raised in Indiana, I’ve always felt a connection to this event—steeped in tradition and alive with fans like me who return every year and sing “Back home again in Indiana.”

  • Indy1

    Sitting in a race car before the race (May 2002)

  • Indy2

    Hanging in Pit Lane (May 2010)

  • Indy3

    In the garage with IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt (May 2016)

While the true feeling of the Indy 500 can only be experienced in person, I wanted to bring a taste of it to people who have never been and to those who want to revisit their past experiences there. I work in the Global Business Organization at Google, so I reached out to our Street View team to see if we could bring the track to Google Maps. They sent a Street View Camera around the track just moments before the green flag was waved, and 3 months later, it’s on Street View for all to enjoy. Starting today, you can take a spin around the infamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway and get closer to the action on your phone or computer.

Start your engines and take a spin around the track in Google Maps. For a higher speed look, check out

Unlock your team’s creativity: running great hackathons

Creative, talented employees have awesome ideas, but chances are they rarely have enough time to actually try them out and find out which ones are worth pursuing. To allow their imagination to run free and spur creative innovation, companies need to create space and opportunities for employees to try out crazy new proposals. That’s why every so often, we regularly set aside some time to build a small, ad-hoc team around an idea, brainstorm, design, hack and share what we discovered.

A hackathon shifts the routine, gets people out of their comfort zone, and allows decisions to be made quickly. It creates new leadership opportunities, a chance to experiment, and an invitation to innovate. For our teams it’s also resulted in new products, new applications of emerging technologies, and important new cross-team collaborations. While not every hackathon will result in new products or features, we always find value in the learning and exploring that occurs.

Here are our tips for setting up a successful hackathon at your workplace:

Get support from your management and executive leadership.

A hackathon requires asking people to set aside their normal work for a few days (or a whole week) and that will impact the short-term ability to progress toward quarterly or annual goals. Make sure your leadership actively support the hackathon and its goals, so the team isn’t getting mixed messages about the trade-offs involved.

Your leaders also need to set the scene for the hackathon itself: what’s our goal for this hackathon, and what is expected from participants? This is a perfect time to emphasize the opportunity for risk-taking, crazy ideas, new technology experiments and creativity. A hackathon gives leaders the opportunity to empower the team to make decisions, tackle problems in new ways, and fail spectacularly.

Some of those failures can teach you more about your own process, infrastructure and tooling than successful efforts might—allowing the entire organization to become more efficient and productive. In other words, hackathons may only result in learning, not fantastic new product ideas; it’s a gamble, but a good one to take.

Get the right people in the room.

The magic of a hackathon is it encourages your teams to mix and work with new people, so they aren’t just coding with the folks they work with every day. Gather experts in a variety of relevant subject areas (machine learning, privacy, cloud storage, mobile development, etc.) to act as advisors and technology problem solvers, so teams don’t burn time trying to learn new technology from scratch.

Organize, organize, organize.

Organizing and running the hackathon takes its own big chunk of work. We set aside one or two large spaces for presentations and team formation. We set up an internal website to gather information and publicize, and get fun swag items that encourage participation and act as mementos or trophies. In the end we evaluate projects by voting, and award prizes to the top teams.

Real collaboration happens best face to face, and everyone being in the same room allows for free-flowing conversation. We’ve usually coordinate simultaneous hackathons at multiple different office sites, to minimize travel time and open up participation to folks on the greater team, regardless of their location.

Prepare your hackers by giving prompts in advance.

We’ve found a variety of prompts and brainstorming exercises to help leading up to the hackathon, so people can hit the ground running when the week starts. For example, you can ask people to finish the sentences:

  • I wish I could …

  • How might we …

  • If only I could take time to fix …

  • It’s such a pain that …

  • Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if …

These prompts can help push people to think outside their normal scope of work. They might experiment with changes to commonly used processes or tools, or try to solve an existing business problem in a totally novel way. We sometimes see teams organize around work that removes a cumbersome task they have to do but don’t want to, or something they can’t do but wish they could.

You may want to schedule tech talks in the week or two before the hackathon, to get people thinking or inspire new ideas. These can cover new technologies you want to explore (augmented reality, deep learning, new wireless protocols), unsolved problems that need attention, or basics of a platform or piece of infrastructure that’s likely to be used by many teams.

Next up

I’ll be back with part two next week, covering advice for forming groups, sharing ideas and showcasing the results of your time hacking.

Protecting your home with the Google Assistant

Empty homes are more vulnerable to being burglarized, and it’s important to have a system in place that can monitor, alert and deter crime while you’re away. That’s where the Google Assistant can step in and help you keep an eye on everything at home.

We worked some of the most trusted home security brands to launch new devices that work with the Assistant.

Monitor your home 24/7. There are many security cameras and lights out there that work with the Assistant to help you keep an eye on your home while you’re away. With the new Arlo Security Lights, you can get instant alerts when motion is detected or pair the lights with Arlo security cameras. There are also several cameras, such as the  Nest Cam, for the interior and exterior of your home that stream 24/7 and can be checked by simply asking the Google Assistant on the app. And with any Nest Cam model, you can also ask Assistant to stream live feeds onto Chromecast-enabled televisions. If there’s an intruder, talk and listen through the camera to scare them off.

Lock from anywhere.
Smart locks allow you to lock your door from anywhere in the world, making it easy for you to monitor your doorstep while you’re away. Beginning tomorrow we’ll launch a new integration with the Nest x Yale Lock.You can use the Assistant to check the status of your lock, remotely lock it, and even include it in a Routine. For example you can lock the door automatically before going to bed by saying “Hey Google, goodnight.” Additionally, with the recent integrations of the Assistant with the August Smart Lock, Schlage® Sense Smart Deadbolt, and Sesame Lock by Candy House, you can share access with trusted friends and family and lock the door with your voice. You’ll also get an alert whenever someone locks or unlocks the door.

Keep your home secure.
Security systems aren’t new but “smart” security systems are. ADT Pulse, Honeywell’s new Smart Home Security solution and Nest Secure alarm system will let you know what’s happening at your home while you’re gone. If the alarm goes off, you’ll get an alert on your phone with information about what triggered the alarm. Silence the alarm through the apps and alert the police.

With these new security devices, your now have an easy way to protect your home with the Google Assistant. 

Google for India: Building services for every Indian, in their language

India has the second largest population of internet users in the world—and it’s only getting bigger. Around 40 million new users come online in India every year, and not just from metropolitan centers, but increasingly from rural areas as well. And they’re no longer predominantly men: in the next three years, we expect 45 percent of internet users in India to be women. This rush of new users online has greatly transformed the Indian economy and culture, from the rise of local startups to the growing use of e-commerce, digital payments, ride sharing, and online video by people from Jammu to Thiruvananthapuram.

Sometimes technology can help in extraordinary circumstances. India has gone online to rally behind the victims of the Kerala and Karnataka floods. Our Crisis Response team turned on SOS alerts on Google Search in English and Malayalam, and activated Person Finder to help people search for family and friends. Locations of flood relief resources like shelters are being shared on Google Maps. Outside of the tech support, and Googlers are contributing over $1 million to support relief and recovery efforts. And others can also donate to Kerala flood relief on Tez.

Technology is a key tool in crises, but it’s also critical for supporting India’s ongoing national momentum. In this spirit, we made announcements at this year’s Google for India event, towards three goals: making the internet work for more Indians, making our products more relevant to Indians, and taking the best of India to the rest of the world.

Making the internet work for more Indians

The first internet users in India consumed English-language content on their PCs, and later, their high-end smartphones. Today, however, there is a generation of internet users with completely different needs—where their first and only internet experience is via a touchscreen and not a keyboard. We have a responsibility to make sure that our products work well for every one of these users.

The first step is to provide more high-quality internet access. Google Station is partnering Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Limited to cover over 12,000 villages, towns and cities in the state of Andhra Pradesh, potentially reaching 10 million people. This will provide high-quality internet access to areas that have never been connected before, from hospitals to villages.

The second is to help improve the smartphone experience in India. Our Indian hardware partners on Android such as Micromax, Lava, Nokia and Transsion are creating Android (Go edition) phones at prices within reach of more Indians. Early next month Samsung will continue that momentum with the launch of its first ever Android (Go edition) device, the Galaxy J2 Core.

Many of India’s new internet users favor listening and speaking over reading text. That’s why we’re launching a new feature in Google Go that lets you listen to webpages. Powered by natural language processing and speech synthesis AI, this technology can read billions of webpages smoothly in a natural sounding voice. It supports 28 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi and Tamil—even on 2G connections.

Making our products more relevant to Indians

The majority of internet users in India today are Indian language users, and this number is expected to reach 500 million in the next two years. Smartphones are not useful unless they work in people’s primary language and provide access to great content in their native tongues.

To that goal, we are working with Indian language publishers to bring more relevant content online. Right now, the amount of online content in Indian languages is only 1 percent of what’s available in English. So we’ve started a project called Navlekhā, a word derived from Sanskrit meaning “a new way to write.” This project comprises a tool that uses AI to render any PDF containing Indian language content into editable text, making it easy for print publishers to create mobile-friendly web content. It also provides Indian language publishers with free web hosting with AdSense support, so they can immediately start monetizing their content. Publishers will also receive training and support, and a branded .page domain for the first three years. Navlekhā has already started onboarding publishers from Delhi, and we aim to welcome many more from other regions in September. Sign up for the program at

We’re also expanding the number of languages supported in our existing apps and services. The Search feed will now display your favourite news from both English and Hindi sources, using AI that learns which types of stories you like best. On the Google Assistant, we’re adding Marathi (with seven more Indian languages coming soon) and even more Indian apps—like Where Is My Train, Airtel, and Hello English—making them available through the convenience of voice control.

We’re creating more locally relevant experiences for Indians as well. Google Maps Go now brings turn-by-turn navigation functionality, while incorporating a brand new home screen with handy shortcuts. Google Maps will now also deliver better guidance to public transport riders, informing them of upcoming stops and sending alerts when it’s time to get off. And thanks to our new partnership with RedBus—India’s largest inter-city bus ticketing service—more than 20,000 inter-city bus routes in 1,500 cities will be added to Google Maps.

Taking the best of India to the rest of the world

Since launching our India-first payments app Tez last September, over 22 million people and businesses have used Tez to make over 750 million transactions that are collectively worth over $30 billion annually. We believe that many of the innovations and features we have pioneered with Tez will work in other countries. To take Tez beyond India, we will be unifying all of Google’s payment offerings globally. As a first step, Tez will now be called Google Pay.

Other than the name, the app is staying the same with all the great features and functions you enjoy. Sending a gift with a Happy Birthday spark, or paying a merchant directly from your bank account with no fees is as quick and easy as ever. In the coming weeks, we’ll be making Google Pay even more useful by increasing the number of places you can use it in, expanding services for merchants, and working with banks to provide instant loans to Google Pay users.

These are just a few things we’re working on to make sure that Indians have a great experience online, no matter what phone they’re on or what language they speak. We thank all the Indians who watch and upload videos on YouTube, navigate on Google Maps, use Google Pay, and Search for the information they need. By working hard to make your experience better, we’re also building better products for the world.

Make Google read it

We launched Google Go last year as a lightweight, faster way to search the web on devices which may have less space or less reliable internet connections. Today, millions of people around the world use Google Go to learn, stay informed, and explore the web more easily than ever before.

Despite the rapid growth of audio and video content online, the web is still predominantly made up of lengthy, text-based pages which aren’t always easy to read on the go. So it’s not surprising we’ve received consistent requests for Google Go to make it more convenient to access web content.

Today, we’re launching a new feature which will let everyone using Google Go’s browser listen to webpages out loud. Powered by natural language processing and speech synthesis AI, this technology can read aloud billions of webpages in 28 languages smoothly, and in a natural sounding voice, even on 2G connections. It also uses minimal cellular data. This technology relies on AI to determine which parts of a page to read, and which to leave out, so you only listen to what is important.

Make Google read it

Using this technology, consuming long-form text becomes as easy as watching TV or listening to the radio. It’s also helpful for multitasking, like following a recipe while cooking a meal, listening to articles while exercising, or catching up on news on your commute.

People using Google Go come from many different backgrounds, and some might want extra tools to help read and pronounce new words—for example those with visual or reading impairments, people studying a foreign language, or those less comfortable reading long text. Today’s update makes it easier for anyone to access the richness of the web. For those learning new languages, each word is highlighted as it is read, allowing you to follow along and helping accelerate your learning.

In the future, we’d like to bring the ability to listen to webpages to more Google products. Long term, we hope this is just one way we can use AI to make accessing the web easier for everyone.

Bing helps you learn more about the news in less time

At Bing, we want to empower users to get an overview of the news in less time. That’s why we built the Bing spotlight that provides overviews of news topics that you can see right in the Bing search results when you search for major developing news stories.

Making it easier to identify veteran-led businesses on Google

Since leaving the service in 2007, I’ve felt a strong pull to support my fellow veterans. I honor the  camaraderie and sense of community we share, and continue to be inspired by the new missions veterans find once we leave the service.  I’ve found my passion in data science, but for many veterans, starting a business is their new calling. More than 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. are majority-owned by veterans, and one way that I stay connected to the veteran community is by supporting those veteran-owned businesses. It’s something I can do all throughout my day, whether I’m grabbing a coffee or recommending a local restaurant to a friend.

Now, as part of a broader effort to use technology to help the veteran community, Google is making it easier to identify your local business as veteran-led on Google Search and Maps. If your business is owned, led, or founded by a veteran, you can enable this “Veteran-Led” attribute through Google My Business, and it will appear on your Google listing alongside other details like “Has Wifi” or “Outdoor Seating.” You can add the Veteran-Led attribute to your  listing by following these steps.

Veteran-Led Attribute GIF .gif

There’s no limit to the ways that veteran-led small businesses can impact their communities. Take Kevin Ryan, for example. Kevin is a West Point graduate and former Army commander who began brewing beer with the help of YouTube tutorials. Less than two years later, he and his partner Meredith Sutton, founded Service Brewing Company. In addition to creating a successful craft brewery, their mission is to give back to veterans and their community. In their first three years of business they’ve helped raise more than $70,000 for organizations that assist veterans and first responders, and about half of their 12 employees are veterans.

Service Brewing Company: On a mission

This is just one of a set of new resources and initiatives we announced today to support veterans through technology. Learn more about what we’re doing via Grow with Google, including a new ability to search for jobs with an MOS code, at

Helping veterans make their next move in civilian life

For seven years, I served in the Air Force as a civil engineer. My job was to make sure our bases, like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan where I did three tours of duty, were technologically and logistically prepared for my fellow servicemen and women to do their duty in defense of our country.

When I transitioned out of the military in 2014, I asked myself a question that many service members know too well: “What am I going to do next?” For seven years, I had counted on the clear role and security net the military provided. Civilian life, to me, was unknown. Navigating job applications was new, and I remember feeling overwhelmed as I went to job fairs.

I’m fortunate to now work at Google where I’m a program manager for Google Cloud. Since working here, I’ve sought out ways to give back to the veteran community, and today, I’m proud to be part of a team that worked on a series of new tools and resources for transitioning military personnel, their spouses, and veterans.

Through Grow with Google, our initiative to help create opportunities for all Americans, we hope to use our technology to help veterans understand the full range of opportunities open to them across many different fields. Right now those opportunities are getting lost in translation. There isn’t a common language that helps recruiters match a veteran’s experience with the need for their skills and leadership in civilian jobs. As a result, 1 in 3 veterans—of the roughly 250,000 service members who transition out of the military each year—end up taking jobs well below their skill level.

Starting today, service members can search ‘jobs for veterans‘ on Google and then enter their specific military job codes (MOS, AFSC, NEC, etc.) to see relevant civilian jobs that require similar skills to those used in their military roles. We’re also making this capability available to any employer or job board to use on their own property through our Cloud Talent Solution. As of today, service members can enter their military job codes on any career site using Talent Solution, including FedEx Careers, Encompass Health Careers, Siemens Careers, CareerBuilder and Getting Hired.

Rather than applying for a job at an existing company, some veterans might want to start their own—in fact, veteran-owned businesses make up almost 9 percent of all businesses in the U.S. To ensure these businesses are able to find customers who want to support veterans, we’re offering a new attribute through Google My Business, on Google Maps and Search mobile listings, for businesses to identify as veteran-owned or led.

Veteran-Led Attribute GIF .gif

Service Brewing Co. is a vet-led small business in Savannah, GA

Learning digital skills is a big part of Grow with Google, so for transitioning military personnel, military spouses, and veterans who want to develop a new skill, is giving a grant to the USO (United Service Organizations) to provide training and career guidance in IT support. The $2.5 million grant will enable USO to incorporate the Google IT Support Professional Certificate into their programming.

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USO Pathfinder Scout with a transitioning military service member

I’m proud that my fellow veteran Googlers and I had the chance to provide input on these tools to make sure we’re best serving those who so dutifully served our country. Google is committed to creating opportunities for everyone, and with today’s announcements, we hope our technology can help make transitioning to civilian life a little bit easier.

Cisco at Mobile World Congress Americas – 2018

Meet with us at Mobile World Congress to discuss technology advances, success stories, and revenue-generating ideas. Key executives and subject matter experts will be available at speaking sessions. Join us!

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