Making Android better for kids and families

Making Android better for kids and families

We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make Android work for everyone. Whether it’s giving people their choice of device, or helping app developers make their apps more accessible, we think Android is at its best when more people have access to the power of mobile technology. And that includes kids. Kids are the most curious among us, and technology can be an avenue for them to express their creativity and to help them learn—whether they’re doing research for a school report, learning to string together a few chords on a guitar, or just playing their favorite games. At the same time, we want parents and kids to navigate technology together in a way that makes sense for their family.

Today, we’re happy to announce that Family Link, our solution for bringing kids and their parents into the Android ecosystem, is now available to parents in the United States without an invitation. Parents can also create a Google Account for their kid right from Android setup, and then manage their kid’s account and device with Family Link.

This is the next step in our journey, but we’re far from done. We’ve been humbled by the response from those who have already been using Family Link, and want to say thank you. We appreciate the positive pieces of feedback, as well as the many feature requests, and will continue to listen to your feedback as the product evolves.

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Getting started with Family Link

When you’re setting up your kid’s Android device (see available devices), Google asks you to create an account. Enter your kid’s birthday, and if they’re under 13, you’ll be asked to provide consent to create the account. Once that’s done, Family Link will automatically be downloaded to your kid’s device, and you can choose the apps and settings that you want for your child. Once your kid’s device is setup, download Family Link on your own device, and you can use it to do things like:

  • Manage the apps your kid can use: Approve or block the apps your kid wants to download from the Google Play Store.

  • Keep an eye on screen time: See how much time your kid spends on their favorite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device.

  • Set device bedtime: Remotely lock your kid’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.

Family Link can help you set certain digital ground rules that work for your family, whether you’re occasionally checking in on your kid’s device activity, or locking their device every day before dinner time.

If you have questions about setting up an account for your kid or using Family Link, check out our Help Center.

UX Design In A World Of Ever-Changing Screen Sizes: Tips For Staying Ahead Of The Curve

UX Design In A World Of Ever-Changing Screen Sizes: Tips For Staying Ahead Of The Curve

The move to mobile changed UX design at its core, and the move to portable devices of all sizes (and now, shapes) continues to keep designers on their toes, providing key challenges and opportunities. Yet UX designers across the industry are keeping up, and reacting to hardware changes in their own creative ways. Here’s some of their advice to keep up with an ever-changing screen size landscape.

Updating our Transparency Report and electronic privacy laws

Updating our Transparency Report and electronic privacy laws

Today, we are releasing the latest version of our Transparency Report concerning government requests for user data. This includes government requests for user data in criminal cases, as well as national security matters under U.S. law. Google fought for the right to publish this information in court and before Congress, and we continue to believe that this type of transparency can inform the broader debate about the nature and scope of government surveillance laws and programs.

In the first half of 2017, worldwide, we received 48,941 government requests that relate to 83,345 accounts. You can see more detailed figures, including a country-by-country breakdown of requests, here. We’ve also posted updated figures for the number of users/accounts impacted by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests for content in previous reporting periods. While the total number of FISA content requests was reported accurately, we inadvertently under-reported the user/account figures in some reporting periods and over-reported the user/account figures in the second half of 2010. The corrected figures are in the latest report and reflected on our visible changes page.

Updating Electronic Privacy Laws

We are publishing the latest update to our Transparency Report as the U.S. Congress embarks upon an important debate concerning the nature and scope of key FISA provisions. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 expires at the end of 2017. This is the section of FISA that authorizes the U.S. government to compel service providers like Google to disclose user data (including communications content) about non-U.S. persons in order to acquire “foreign intelligence information.”

Earlier this year, we expressed support for specific reforms to Section 702. We continue to believe that Congress can enact reforms to Section 702 in a way that enhances privacy protection for internet users while protecting national security. Independent bodies have concluded that Section 702 is valuable and effective in protecting national security and producing useful foreign intelligence. These assessments, however, do not preclude reforms that improve privacy protections for U.S. and non-U.S. persons and that do not disturb the core purposes of Section 702.

Government access laws are due for a fundamental realignment and update in light of the proliferation of technology, the very real security threats to people, and the expectations of privacy that Internet users have in their communications. Our General Counsel, Kent Walker, delivered a speech earlier this year calling for a new framework to address cross-border law enforcement requests. Updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) will be necessary to create a legal framework that addresses both law enforcement and civil liberties concerns.

The recent introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) in the Senate and the House is a significant step in the right direction, and we applaud Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller and Representatives Collins, Jeffries, Issa, and DeBene for their leadership on this important bill. ECPA should also be updated to enable countries that commit to baseline privacy, due process, and human rights principles to make direct requests to U.S. providers. Providing a pathway for such countries to obtain electronic evidence directly from service providers in other jurisdictions will remove incentives for the unilateral, extraterritorial assertion of a country’s laws, data localization proposals, aggressive expansion of government access authorities, and dangerous investigative techniques. These measures ultimately weaken privacy, due process, and human rights standards.

We look forward to continuing in the constructive discussion about these issues.

TechWiseTV LIVE: Introducing Cisco Intersight for UCS and HX and the New ACI Anywhere

TechWiseTV LIVE: Introducing Cisco Intersight for UCS and HX and the New ACI Anywhere

It’s a long blog title, but there’s a lot of information packed into this show! We pulled it off, our second ever live TechWiseTV show and we’re back in the data center talking about all the new announcements surrounding Cisco Intersight and ACI 3.0. This show is packed with guests, customers, and technical demos. If […]

Daydream Labs: Interactive scenes with Blocks objects

Daydream Labs: Interactive scenes with Blocks objects

Since the launch of Blocks, people have been enthusiastically creating and sharing their amazing models with the community. So we asked ourselves: what would it be like to use Blocks objects to create an entire interactive scene?

Turns out it’s possible. In an experiment our team built recently, we created a system that lets people make their own “Escape the Room” experience in VR. Every object in the game is made from Blocks objects, including typical stuff like a flashlight, desk, bookcase, and the obligatory keypad, but also even the room itself.

Throw in some lighting, and the result is a scene with exactly the cartoonishly spooky vibe we were going for. Not a room you’d want to be trapped in for too long!

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To get everything to work, we had to define how objects interact. We could’ve just written that directly in our code, but our goal was to allow anybody to create these experiences—no programming knowledge required. So we created a simple system of triggers and actions that allows the creator to indicate what happens next in response to certain events.

The system can express concepts such as “when the battery object collides with the flashlight object, activate the light object.” The light happens to be a spotlight located at the tip of the flashlight object, so when the player places the battery in the right place, a cone of light will shine forward and move with the flashlight.

Using this simple trigger/action system, we built a number of other puzzles in the room, like opening a locked chest with a key, placing a book in a sliding bookcase and figuring out the combination to enter on a keypad.

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Combining Blocks objects to create interactive scenes was a lot of fun. Because Blocks has a consistent low-poly visual style, the result of our efforts was an engaging environment where everything fit well together, even though objects were made by many different people on our team.

We learned a few other things along the way. First, the ability to add interactivity to a scene is super important, and a wide range of interactive scenes can be built from the simple primitives we had set up with our trigger and action system. Most of the interactions could be expressed as collisions (key and lock, battery and flashlight, book and bookcase) and simple actions like showing/hiding or animating particular objects.

Next, setting up the rendering was almost no work at all, because Blocks objects are low-poly and work well with simple materials. We just used the standard diffuse shaders for the opaque surfaces and a simple translucent one for the glass surfaces. Combining that with an ambient light and a spotlight achieved the rendering effect that we wanted.

Last, we set up a simple animation system where we pre-recorded the motions of certain objects and expressed them as a sequence of transformations (position, rotation, scale). This rudimentary animation system worked well when moving solid objects like a bookcase or the lid of a chest, but we’d need something more elaborate if we were to do character animation, perhaps using what we learned from our experiments on animating Blocks models. What’s more, adjusting the colliders for the objects to ensure they interacted correctly required some manual tweaks. In order to scale this, it might be worth looking into automatically generating simple colliders for objects.

Scene building and interactivity with Blocks objects are exciting areas for experimentation, and we’re looking forward to seeing what other applications developers will come up with in this space.

Watch now: Top 5 business expansion strategies for system integrators

Watch now: Top 5 business expansion strategies for system integrators

Earlier this month, I was involved in a webinar in partnership with CSIA and Panduit that focused on system integrators and expanding their business. The system integrator role is evolving from being project-centric into a long-term solutions partner who can help manufacturing clients in critical areas such as: Security considerations on the factory floor IT/OT […]

Cisco Enables A Faster Wireless Network at Germany’s Aachen University

Cisco Enables A Faster Wireless Network at Germany’s Aachen University

Every year, over 44,500 students attend Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen, Germany. With over 150 courses of study, that cover a large swath of educational disciplines, the university is among the leading scientific and research institutions in Europe. In addition to the large student population, 540 Professors, 5,373 other academic staff and 2,679 non-faculty staff, […]

The economic impact of geospatial services

The economic impact of geospatial services

With Google Maps, we’re committed to creating a rich, deep, and detailed understanding of the world. By digitizing and providing access to a wealth of information about the real world, we allow people to easily explore the world around them, provide tools for businesses to attract and connect with customers, power map and location experiences for third party apps and websites, and enable NGOs and governments to leverage our map and resources to tackle real-world challenges like urban planning or emergency response.

Google is continually looking for ways to add value––for our users, for local businesses, and for our partners across many industries. We want to stretch people’s perceptions of what a map can do for them, of the types of questions we can answer about the world, and the tasks we can help with. And to do that, we need to understand maps today and the impact they have on people’s lives.

With this in mind, we commissioned a detailed study to look at the impact of the geospatial industry—the ecosystem of industries that rely on geospatial technology (both online and offline)—and the direct benefit it provides to people, businesses and society. We worked with AlphaBeta, a strategy advisory business, to analyze the global impact of the geospatial industry in 2016. We asked AlphaBeta to highlight some of their findings and the methodology behind them. — Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Google Maps


At AlphaBeta, we’re passionate about identifying the forces shaping global markets and developing practical plans to create prosperity and well-being. We believe that geospatial technology is one of these forces, which is why we recently undertook research, commissioned by Google, to evaluate the impact of digital maps and their underlying technologies.

We asked ourselves: what is the full value of digital maps for users? How is this technology affecting the broader economic environment? How can societies make the most out of it?

We used consumer surveys across 22 countries spanning six regions, and other estimation approaches (such as big data analysis of online job postings), and found that geospatial services make an impact in three key ways:

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Consumer benefits
Maps help people move and shop in a faster and more efficient way. For example, not only do digital maps reduce travel time, they also help people save time on purchases by providing information like directions and product availability. By helping people plan routes in areas they aren’t familiar with, maps also improve public safety.

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Business benefits

Maps help make small and large businesses more visible, productive and profitable. By providing useful facts such as store hours, contact information and reviews, maps help drive sales—particularly important for small businesses that may find potential new customers without incurring additional advertising costs. Geospatial services also play a strategic role in helping companies in sectors covering approximately three quarters of the world’s GDP raise revenues and/or diminish costs. For example, retail companies use digital maps for market research and to identify the most profitable locations for their network of stores.

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Societal benefits

Finally, maps have positive spillover effects on the environment and societies around the world—for example, by creating jobs and reducing CO2 emissions through more efficient vehicle trips and easier identification of alternative transportation options. Geospatial technology can also play a role in emergencies—such as helping people prepare for a natural disaster by highlighting flood-risk areas.

The impact of geospatial services also varies from country to country—showing that there’s still room in many places to maximize the benefits of geospatial services for everyone. To do so, the geospatial industry, businesses, NGOs and governments in these areas will need to work together to promote, adopt and implement existing and new applications of geospatial technology.

To find out more, visit www.valueoftheweb.com.