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G Suite

How Google went all in on video meetings (and you can, too)

Editor’s note: this is the first article in a five-part series on Google Hangouts.

I’ve worked at Google for more than a decade and have seen the company expand across geographies—including to Stockholm where I have worked from day one. My coworkers and I build video conferencing technology to help global teams work better together.

It’s sometimes easy to forget what life was like before face-to-face video conferencing (VC) at work, but we struggled with many of the same issues that other companies deal with—cobbled together communication technologies, dropped calls, expensive solutions. Here’s a look at how we transitioned Google to be a cloud video meeting-first company.

2004 – 2007: Life before Hangouts

In the mid-2000s, Google underwent explosive growth. We grew from nearly 3,000 employees to more than 17,000 across 40 offices globally. Historically, we relied on traditional conference phone bridging and email to communicate across time zones, but phone calls don’t exactly inspire creativity and tone gets lost in translation with email threads.

We realized that the technology we used didn’t mirror how our teams actually like to work together. If I want to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.

Google decided to go all in on video meetings. We outsourced proprietary video conferencing (VC) technology and outfitted large meeting rooms with these devices. 

If I need to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.

Hangouts 1
A conference room in Google’s Zurich office in 2007 which had outsourced VC technology.

While revolutionary, this VC technology was extremely costly. Each unit could cost upwards of $50,000, and that did not include support, licensing and network maintenance fees. To complicate matters, the units were powered by complex, on-prem infrastructure and required several support technicians. By 2007, nearly 2,400 rooms were equipped with the technology.

Then we broke it.

The system was built to host meetings for team members in the office, but didn’t cater to people on the go. As more and more Googlers used video meetings, we reached maximum capacity on the technology’s infrastructure and experienced frequent dropped calls and poor audio/visual (AV) quality. I even remember one of the VC bridges catching on fire! We had to make a change.

2008 – 2013: Taking matters into our own hands

In 2008, we built our own VC solution that could keep up with the rate at which we were growing. We scaled with software and moved meetings to the cloud.

Our earliest “Hangouts” prototype was Gmail Video Chat, a way to connect with contacts directly in Gmail. Hours after releasing the service to the public, it had hundreds of thousands of users.

Gmail voice and video chat

The earliest software prototype for video conferencing at Google, Gmail Video Chat.

Hangouts 2

Arthur van der Geer tests out the earliest prototype for Hangouts, go/meet. 

While a good start, we knew we couldn’t scale group video conferencing within Gmail. We built our second iteration, which tied meeting rooms to unique URLs. We introduced it to Googlers in 2009 and the product took off.

During this journey, we also built our own infrastructure (WebRTC) so we no longer had to rely on third-party audio and video components. Our internal IT team created our own VC hardware prototypes; we used  touchscreen computers and custom software with the first version of Hangouts and called it “Google Video Conferencing” (“GVC” for short).

First Google Video Conferencing Prototype | 2008

Google engineers test the first Google Video Conferencing hardware prototype in 2008.

With each of these elements, we had now built our earliest version of Hangouts. After a few years of testing—and widespread adoption by Googlers—we made the platform available externally to customers in 2014 (“Chromebox for Meetings”). In the first two weeks, we sold more than 2,000 units. By the end of the year, every Google conference room and company device had access to VC.

2014 – today: Transforming how businesses do business

GIF test

Nearly a decade has passed since we built the first prototype. Face-to-face collaboration is ingrained in Google’s DNA now—more than 16,500 meetings rooms are VC-equipped at Google and our employees join Hangouts 240,000 times per day! That’s equivalent to spending more than 10 years per day collaborating in video meetings. And, now, more than 3 million businesses are using Hangouts to transform how they work too.

We learned a lot about what it takes to successfully collaborate as a scaling business. If you’re looking to transition your meetings to the cloud with VC, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Encourage video engagement from the start. Every good idea needs a champion. Be seen as an innovator by evangelizing video engagement in company meetings from the start. Your team will thank you for it.
  2. If you’re going to move to VC, make it available everywhere. We transformed our work culture to be video meeting-first because we made VC ubiquitous. Hangouts Meet brings you a consistent experience across web, mobile and conference rooms.  If you’re going to make the switch, go all in and make it accessible to everyone.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Video meetings can help distributed teams feel more engaged and help employees collaborate whenever, and wherever, inspiration strikes. This means you’ll have more diverse perspectives which makes for better quality output.

What’s next? Impactful additions and improvements to Hangouts Meet will be announced soon. All the while, we’re continuing to research how teams work together and how we can evolve VC technology to reflect that collaboration. For example, we’re experimenting with making scheduling easier for teams thanks to the @meet AI bot in the early adopter version of Hangouts Chat.

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Google Cloud

Transforming Chile’s health sector with connectivity

Editor’s note: From instant access to medical records, to telemedicine in rural areas, connectivity in the health sector has the power to improve lives. In this guest post, Soledad Munoz Lopez, CIO of the Chilean Ministry of Health, shares with us how Chile implemented a national API-based architecture to help bring better health to millions.

Not long ago, Chile’s Ministry of Health (MINSAL) faced an enormous challenge. Chile’s 1,400 connected health facilities and 1,000 remote medical facilities lacked connectivity, and many of its healthcare systems could not easily interoperate. This meant healthcare providers couldn’t always expect to have fast and easy access to medical records.

Earlier efforts to centralize and manage medical records across facilities fell apart because they were costly and far too laborious. And as a result, we missed out on a lot of opportunities. We came to realize that we needed a new approach to IT architecture.

To help ensure that data, applications and services are securely available when and where they’re needed, I’m helping to lead the implementation of a national API-based architecture, powered by Google Cloud’s Apigee. From facilitating smoother public-private partnerships to enabling wider use of services such as telemedicine, we see this as a critical and aggressive move to rapidly improve wellness for our millions of citizens and visitors.

The API-first architecture aligns with a variety of MINSAL’s healthcare efforts, including a national program to connect unconnected healthcare centers, and a plan to digitize all clinic and administrative processes, both for major hospitals and local clinics and primary care centers. It also helps MINSAL’s strategic work, such as better leveraging data and connectivity for public alerts, population health management programs and the Public Health Surveillance initiatives needed for planning and execution of public health policy.

Connecting Chile’s healthcare system

One of the primary areas of concern addressed by the new digital architecture is the ease and speed of integration. As noted above, it’s important that whenever a patient is treated anywhere in Chile, the clinical teams and the patient have access to all the information that has been generated for that patient, regardless of where this information was recorded. This includes data from other health clinics, public or private institutions, laboratories, radiology and images and clinical equipment.

This variety of data sources typifies the diverse heterogenous environment that an API-first architecture needs to address: applications, devices, patient record systems, management systems, scheduling and so on. Most of these pieces within the MINSAL ecosystem were never designed to interoperate. We chose an API-first approach because APIs abstract all of this back-end complexity into predictable, consistent interfaces that allow developers to more quickly and efficiently connect data, services and apps across the nationwide system. The result is a more seamless experience for doctors and patients and a secure but agile infrastructure for MINSAL.

In a previous attempt to efficiently and scalably integrate health records, started in 2005, Chile utilized a centralized SOA-based architecture. This strategy turned out to be an expensive and inflexible way to try and achieve interoperability. The integration expenses were projected to require at least three times the current budget—untenable in a country where the total budget for development of clinical records is about $40 million annually.

Yet far larger are the costs to the users of an unconnected system, including unnecessary travel, duplication of exams and out of pocket costs in general.  

Working with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and local system integrators such as Tecnodata, MINSAL is implementing a health systems technology investment strategy that is much more efficient. The API-based architecture enables any IT professional in any of Chile’s organizations, facilities, institutions and providers to onboard their information systems in an organized, more secure, self-service manner.  

This helps make the national program much more scalable, and involves local industry experts more closely. In addition, these entities can continue to evolve their own local systems as they need, as long as they’re compliant with the common integration strategy. MINSAL has established the policy that all data records be based on API-centric standards like FHIR and HL7, with images based on DICOM.   

All of these connectivity and interoperability efforts help enable important services that benefit Chilean citizens, such as telemedicine. Telemedicine, which enables patients to avoid unnecessary travel and relocation while under medical care, is highly developed in five specialties in Chile: teledermatology, teleophthalmology, telenephrology, teleradiology and tele-electrocardiography.  

An API platform for a healthy future

The Apigee platform has been the accelerator for the entire program, providing visibility and controls that make APIs easier to manage. It also saves MINSAL from needing to develop API management features that Apigee provides built right into the platform, such as key management, identity brokering, traffic routing, cyber-threat management, data caching, collection of analytics, developer management, developer portal and many others. As a result of the success of this program, we’re moving towards API-based strategies in more than just the health sector. Here are a few examples:

  • A single registry of individual and institutional health providers

  • An identity service integrated with the National Identity Registry

  • A birth pre-registry

  • A verification of identity service for use during emergency medical services

  • A national pharmaceutical terminology service

  • A patient portal (including pregnancy support, for example)

  • Electronic immunization records

  • Traceability and management of national health insurance accounts

  • An electronic medical prescription model

The API platform helps professionals in the entire network of healthcare systems in Chile access patient information throughout the care cycle. MINSAL was able to reduce costs through sharing  information, eliminating delays and reducing the duplication of medical tests. The platform also provides information to apps and websites used by patients, enabling them to see and gradually empower themselves with their own health data.

The promotion of preventive healthcare is a critically important initiative in Chile. API technology supports the monitoring of epidemiological changes in the population, consuming information from operational systems, through the same Apigee API platform that is already interfacing with all the health establishments. This means we now have far better data to begin testing machine learning  and use our big data to help focus our health programs on impactful outcomes.

Chile is a  leader among Latin American national health programs, and works closely with other countries and organizations to develop and coordinate programs and policies. By working with GCP and adopting an API-based architecture with the explicit goal of improving outcomes and the efficacy of the health care system, we hope to inspire others and pave the way to better health for billions of people.  

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Android enterprise

Android zero-touch enrollment: seamless and secure enterprise deployment

Companies around the world deploy Android to mobilize employees and transform their businesses. No matter the use case, we know that a successful deployment is about more than just selecting the right devices; it’s about getting them configured and rolled out into the hands of users as quickly and easily as possible.

Today we’re launching a new deployment method called zero-touch enrollment to make Android rollouts more seamless and secure. With zero-touch enrollment, companies can configure the devices they purchase and have them shipped with management and settings pre-configured, so employees can get up and running out of the box.

Zero touch pixel demo

For administrators, zero-touch enrollment removes the need for users to configure their devices manually and ensures that devices always have corporate policies in place. Support is also much easier, with no extra steps for end-users; they just sign in and get access to their work apps and data.  

Zero-touch is available on devices purchased from our zero-touch carrier partners, and we’re excited to partner with Verizon to offer zero-touch enrollment on the Pixel, phone by Google, starting today.

“For our business customers, deploying new devices and services securely with the ability to enforce device-specific policies is critical for protecting proprietary information and an organization’s brand,” says Ryan O’Shea, vice president of National Business Channels with Verizon Wireless. “The Android zero-touch enrollment program allows our business customers to get up and running seamlessly and securely, and we are excited today to introduce this initiative on the Pixel phone and other future Android devices.”

We’re working with our device partners including Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG Electronics, HMD Global Oy Home of Nokia Phones, BlackBerry smartphones, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim with additional OEMs to be added soon to deliver the zero-touch experience to enterprises. The Huawei Mate 10, Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact specifically will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks and of course, other devices from our OEM partners will launch soon.

Organizations can use software from leading enterprise mobility management providers (EMMs) including VMware AirWatch, BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, SOTI, GSuite and others to specify configurations and device policies that are automatically applied to employees’ mobile devices during the initial setup.

If your company already uses other enrollment methods, don’t worry — you can mix enrollment methods to suit your particular needs. Samsung will continue to offer Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME) on Samsung devices, including pre-Oreo devices. Samsung devices that upgrade to, or ship with, Android Oreo will have zero-touch as an additional option. Other existing enrollment methods like QR code and NFC bump will continue to be supported across Android.

Keen to get started with zero-touch? Talk to our carrier partners who plan to offer zero-touch:

  • USA: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile

  • Europe: BT, Deutsche Telekom


  • Asia-Pacific: Softbank, Telstra


To learn more, visit our zero-touch page.

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Arts & Culture

Something’s coming … “West Side Story” on Google Arts & Culture

“In the olden days, everybody sang.”

Those are the words of Leonard Bernstein, composer behind the iconic musical “West Side Story,” where everyone danced and snapped through the streets, too. Whether you’re a Jet all the way or you side with the Sharks, Tony and Maria’s love story is as poignant today as it was 60 years ago, when the Broadway musical first debuted.

In partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and the National Museum of American Jewish History, Google Arts & Culture is launching a new collection honoring “West Side Story.” Bringing together artifacts and mementos from the making of the musical and movie, behind-the-scenes photographs, and a peek into the modern-day representation of the musical, this collection explores the history, artistic value and social relevance of “West Side Story.” Check it out at g.co/westsidestory and on the Google Arts & Culture app (available on Android and iOS).

  • Stephen Sondheim on piano and Leonard Bernstein standing amongst female singers rehearsing for West Side Story (variant)_NYPL.jpg

    Stephen Sondheim on piano and Leonard Bernstein standing amongst female singers rehearsing for “West Side Story.”

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    Leonard Bernstein’s personal annotated copy of “Romeo and Juliet.” He made several notes for adapting Shakespeare’s play into a contemporary musical.
  • Outside Philadelphia's Erlanger Theatre before the Broadway Opening_NYPL.jpg
    Excited crowds gathered outside the Erlanger Theatre in Philadelphia to see “West Side Story,” during its two week out-of-town tryout before it opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957.
  • Jerome Robbins & actress Natalie Wood LIFE.jpg
    Natalie Wood (pictured at piano with Jerome Robbins) was the last principal cast in the movie. She recorded Maria’s songs, but ultimately her singing was dubbed by an uncredited Marni Nixon.
  • West Side Story dancers on the NYC streets _NYPL (1).jpg
    The Prologue sequence lasted twice as long on screen as on stage. The magic of cinema blended locations on the Upper West Side and East Harlem (where the playground scenes were shot).
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    In 1959, photographer Bruce Davidson observed and photographed a teenage gang in Brooklyn, New York, capturing the spirit of post-war youth culture that inspired the rival gangs of “West Side Story.” This photo is one is called “Man in sunglasses smoking.”

  • Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert on location (West 56th street between 9th and 10th ave) for West Side Story publicity shoot_NYPL.jpg
    In an interview, Carol Lawrence (who played Maria in “West Side Story” on Broadway) remembers the photo shoot for the iconic image of Maria and Tony running down the street.
  • WestSideStory4.jpg
    360-video of “Cool”, one of the most popular songs of the musical, performed at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY as part of Carnegie Hall’s, The Somewhere Project.
  • -West Side Story Production- Performances 4_CH.jpg

    From March 4–6, 2016, three extraordinary performances of “West Side Story” were presented at the Knockdown Center, a restored factory in Queens. The production brought together high school–aged apprentice performers joining the cast, and a 200-voice youth choir adding a new dimension to Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score.

  • West Side Story Production Performances_CH (1).jpg
    With a colorblind approach to casting, the audience was able to identify the Sharks and the Jets through their clothing rather than by the color of the members’ hair or skin.

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Google Assistant

Headphones optimized for the Google Assistant

Your Assistant is already available to help on phones, speakers and more. But sometimes you need something a bit more personal, just for you to hear. And that’s where headphones come into play. Like when you’re commuting on the train or reading at home. It would be nice to get on-the-go help from your Assistant, without glancing at your phone.

To help with those “in between” moments, together with Bose, we’re announcing headphones that are optimized for the Assistant, starting with the QC35 II. So now, you can keep up to date on your messages, music and more—with headphones that you’ve paired with your eligible Android phone or iPhone.

To get started, connect your QC 35 II headphones to your phone via Bluetooth, open your Google Assistant app and follow the instructions. From there, your Assistant is just a button away—push (and hold) the Action button on your headphones to easily and quickly talk to your Assistant. 

  • Stay connected to what matters: Hear your incoming messages, calendar events and more, automatically, right from your headphones. So if you’re listening to your favorite song and you get a text, your Assistant can read it to you, no extra steps. 
  • Listen to music, news and more: Now it’s easier to access a playlist, skip a track or go to a new song when you’re listening to music—and the music experience will continue to get better over time. You can also keep up with news while you take walk, jump in a cab or go for a run. Just ask your Assistant to “play the news” and you’ll get a read-out of the current hot topics. You can choose from a variety of news sources, like CNBC, CNN, NPR and others. 
  • Keep in touch with friends: You can make a call with just a few simple words—“Call dad”—take the call from your headphones and continue on your way. No stopping or dialing, just talking. 
Bose

We’ve worked together with Bose to create a great Assistant experience on the QC35 II—whether you’re on a crowded street or squished on a bus, Bose’s active noise cancellation will help eliminate unwanted sounds around you, so you’re able to hear your Assistant, your music and more. The Assistant on the QC35 II will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, France and the U.K.

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digital art

Samsung Ushers in a New Era for Digital Art with The Frame at the London Design Festival

  Samsung Electronics today opened exhibition spaces celebrating artistry and design at the London Design Festival, one of the top three worldwide design

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Causes & Community

A ride to remember on World Alzheimer’s Day

Editor’s note: Anne-Christine Hertz is a Swedish inventor who works at Health Technology Centre of Halland. Today, she shares a story of how the Centre used Street View to invent a device that helps elderly with Alzheimer’s.

A few weeks ago I met 75-year-old Lars Jonsson and his wife Ingrid. They married when Lars was 40 and have lived a happy, fulfilling life together. Lars also suffers from dementia.

Every three seconds someone develops dementia, a condition that creates disability and dependency among many elderly, robbing them of memory and judgment. It’s not only overwhelming and stressful for those suffering, but also their loved ones. It was tough on Ingrid when her husband suddenly had trouble recalling the memories they’d spent a lifetime creating.

We met Lars and Ingrid when they came to test a device we invented to improve the lives of dementia patients. It’s called BikeAround, and it pairs a stationary bike with Google Street View projected on a big screen to take patients on a virtual ride down memory lane, letting them pedal around a place they have visited in the past. As Lars sat in the saddle, Ingrid suggested we take him back to the city and church in which they got married. Lars’s face flickered with happiness as the church rose up before him. The expression on his wife’s face when she knew for sure that he remembered was heartwarming

The development of the BikeAround system, which is now owned by health care company Camanio Care, started back in 2010 at Health Technology Center in Halland, Sweden. We were conducting research on dementia, and noticed people living with the disease were given different access to physical activity depending on which municipality they were living in. Since it’s often recommended that dementia patients perform physical activities to stimulate both physical and mental health, this was an issue. We wanted to find a way to motivate the elderly with dementia to exercise more, in a safe and secure way.

Our strongest memories are tied inexorably to location. It’s no coincidence, when you think about any big memory or past event, your first thought is often “Where was I when that happened?” BikeAround taps into this idea by combining mental and physical stimulation—surrounding the patient with places they recognize through the Street View images, and then having them pedal and steer through them. Scientists think this kind of pairing produces dopamine in the brain and has the potential to affect memory management in a profound way.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a time when people and organizations from all over the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness of this disease for which there’s no cure. Researchers all over the world are trying to find new ways to increase quality of life for the people affected by the disease. The experience with Lars—and many others patients—proves we’ve developed not just a product for improving health, but something that creates emotion and connects people. Patients often find the BikeAround solution so fascinating—so comforting—they don’t want to get off. Neighborhoods they grew up in. Parks they played in as a child. Family visits to the seaside. They remember again. That’s a feeling of freedom.

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Bengt Ivarsson tests BikeAround, a stationary bike that’s paired with Google Street View to take dementia patients on a virtual ride down memory lane.

I have always looked at digitization and technology as a catalyst to open up the world not just to the tech savvy, but also to the elderly, who often live in digital exclusion. We’re excited about having found a way to bring happiness to many people living with dementia and their relatives. But what’s also exciting to me is that this is just one example of how technology can be harnessed to make a real impact on people’s lives. If we look beyond ourselves and unleash our imaginations, there’s no limit to what we can do to help others.

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Google in Asia

Google signs agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware

About a year and a half ago, I joined Google to pursue my dream job to create compelling hardware products, built with Google’s smarts at their core. As a first step, we brought together various consumer hardware-related efforts and established a single hardware organization within the company. Our team’s goal is to offer the best Google experience—across hardware, software and services—to people around the world. Last fall, we introduced our first family of Made by Google products, including Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View and Chromecast Ultra, and we’re preparing to unveil our second generation of products on October 4. We’re excited about the 2017 lineup, but even more inspired by what’s in store over the next five, 10, even 20 years. Creating beautiful products that people rely on every single day is a journey, and we are investing for the long run.

That’s why we’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.

In many ways, this agreement is a testament to the decade-long history of teamwork between HTC and  Google. Together, we’ve achieved several mobile-industry firsts, including the first ever Android smartphone, the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1 (I loved mine!); as well as the Nexus One in 2010, the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014, and the first Pixel smartphone just last year.

It’s still early days for Google’s hardware business. We’re focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products that offers people a unique yet delightful experience only made possible by bringing together the best of Google software—like the Google Assistant—with thoughtfully designed hardware. HTC has been a longtime partner and has created some of the most beautiful, high-end devices on the market. We can’t wait to welcome members of the HTC team to join us on this journey.

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Public Policy

Working together to combat terrorists online

Editor’s note: This is a revised and abbreviated version of a speech Kent delivered today at the United Nations in New York City, NY, on behalf of the members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism is a group of four technology companies—Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube—that are committed to working together and with governments and civil society to address the problem of online terrorist content.

For our companies, terrorism isn’t just a business concern or a technical challenge. These are deeply personal threats. We are citizens of London, Paris, Jakarta, and New York. And in the wake of each terrorist attack we too frantically check in on our families and co-workers to make sure they are safe. We’ve all had to do this far too often.

The products that our companies build lower barriers to innovation and empower billions of people around the world. But we recognize that the internet and other tools have also been abused by terrorists in their efforts to recruit, fundraise, and organize. And we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our platforms aren’t used to distribute terrorist material.

The Forum’s efforts are focused on three areas: leveraging technology, conducting research on patterns of radicalization and misuse of online platforms, and sharing best practices to accelerate our joint efforts against dangerous radicalization. Let me say more about each pillar.

First, when it comes to technology, you should know that our companies are putting our best talent and technology against the task of getting terrorist content off our services. There is no silver bullet when it comes to finding and removing this content, but we’re getting much better.

One early success in collaboration has been our “hash sharing” database, which allows a company that discovers terrorist content on one of their sites to create a digital fingerprint and share it with the other companies in the coalition, who can then more easily detect and review similar content for removal.  

We have to deal with these problems at tremendous scale. The haystacks are unimaginably large and the needles are both very small and constantly changing. People upload over 400 hours of content to YouTube every minute. Our software engineers have spent years developing technology that can spot certain telltale cues and markers. In recent months we have more than doubled the number of videos we’ve removed for violent extremism and have located these videos twice as fast. And what’s more, 75 percent of the violent extremism videos we’ve removed in recent months were found using technology before they received a single human flag.

These efforts are working. Between August 2015 and June 2017, Twitter suspended more than 935,000 accounts for the promotion of terrorism. During the first half of 2017, over 95 percent of the accounts it removed were detected using its in-house technology. Facebook is using new advances in artificial intelligence to root out “terrorist clusters” by mapping out the pages, posts, and profiles with terrorist material and then shutting them down.

Despite this recent progress, machines are simply not at the stage where they can replace human judgment. For example, portions of a terrorist video in a news broadcast might be entirely legitimate, but a computer program will have difficulty distinguishing documentary coverage from incitement.  

The Forum’s second pillar is focused on conducting and sharing research about how terrorists use the internet to influence their audiences so that we can stay one step ahead.

Today, the members of the Forum are pleased to announce that we are making a multi-million dollar commitment to support research on terrorist abuse of the internet and how governments, tech companies, and civil society can fight back against online radicalization.

The Forum has also set a goal of working with 50 smaller tech companies to help them better tackle terrorist content on their platforms. On Monday, we hosted dozens of companies for a workshop with our partners under the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. There will be a workshop in Brussels in December and another in Indonesia in the coming months. And we are also working to expand the hash-sharing database to smaller companies.

The Forum’s final pillar is working together to find powerful messages and avenues to reach out to those at greatest risk of radicalization.

Members of the forum are doing a better job of sharing breakthroughs with each other. One success we’ve seen is with the Redirect Method developed at Alphabet’s Jigsaw group. Redirect uses targeted advertising to reach people searching for terrorist content and presents videos that undermine extremist recruiting efforts. During a recent eight-week study more than 300,000 users clicked on our targeted ads and watched more than 500,000 minutes of video. This past April, Microsoft started a similar program on Bing. And Jigsaw and Bing are now exploring a partnership to share best practices and expertise.

At the same time, we’re elevating the voices that are most credible in speaking out against terrorism, hate, and violence. YouTube’s Creators for Change program highlights online stars taking a stand against xenophobia and extremism.  And Facebook’s P2P program has brought together more than 5,000 students from 68 countries to create campaigns to combat hate speech. And together the companies have participated in hundreds of meetings and trainings to counter violent extremism including events in Beirut, Bosnia, and Brussels and summits at the White House, here at the United Nations, London, and Sydney to empower credible non-governmental voices against violent extremism.

There is no magic computer program that will eliminate online terrorist content, but we are committed to working with everyone in this room as we continue to ramp up our own efforts to stop terrorists’ abuse of our services. This forum is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to working with national and local governments, and civil society, to prevent extremist ideology from spreading in communities and online.

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Google AR and VR

Best Practices: Creating Art Assets for VR

Editor’s Note: This is a design-focused post for anyone interested in creating art assets for virtual reality.

As a VR and AR artist, I’ve noticed two trends. First, new tools and practices that can make us better artists are appearing all the time. But also, techniques and skills from the late 90’s and early 00’s are making a comeback, and they apply to virtual reality because computing resources in VR are limited. If you’re just starting out, there’s a lot to consider. So if you’re an artist and you’re new to VR, here are some of my favorite tips for creating great assets.

vrart1copy
  • Never drop a frame. You need to keep your frame rate as high as possible, because the lower it goes, the greater the chance of discomfort and motion sickness due to conflicts between your inner ear and your visual inputs. One technique to keep your frame rate high is to create levels of detail (LODs). A character with 10,000 polygons only needs such a high resolution really close up. At further distances, you could swap in a 5,000 poly version, and then even lower poly models as the distance increases, all the way to a single polygon (LOD 4 in the diagram below). This will help with performance, and it works especially well for large groups of background characters that are always seen at a distance.
vrart2
  • Be aware of the textures you’re using. Busy, noisy and contrasting textures can be nauseating in VR, as they tend to cause a jittering look. However, flat textures with no detail can pose problems as well, because without texture it’s hard to measure motion or depth. Although extremes can work in non-VR experiences, avoid them in VR. 
leafwrong
LeafRight
  • How it looks in VR is what matters. When designing assets in 2D, be sure to constantly check and see what it looks like in VR.  It can be cumbersome to jump back and forth, but your perspective will be different: volume and size are extremely present in VR. Putting that tree on a hill may look like a fine distance to cover when you’re designing in 2D, but once you’re in VR and comparing distances, it might not work at all.
Cave
  • Make exploration fun, not hard. Exploration should be fun and available, but in VR you really want to clearly point out where to go. Create a visual language, like having orange torches near the proper dungeon exit, or street lights in a zombie apocalypse. These are subtle yet important indicators, because it’s very easy to become lost in VR.

Hopefully, these tips will be useful as you get started creating art in VR. We’re all on the edge of a new frontier, and because of that, we’re learning all the time. It’s great. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks? Let’s get a conversation going; use #VRArtTips to share.

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Android

Project Fi welcomes Android One, with the moto x4

With Project Fi, we set out to make your wireless experience fast, easy and fair—with access to three national 4G LTE networks, and international roaming at no extra cost. But many of you have asked us for more options for high quality, affordable devices that work with Project Fi. We’ve heard you and we’re excited to launch our newest phone for Project Fi: the Android One moto x4.

We took some important steps with Android One earlier this month by expanding the program to bring a fresh, secure software experience designed by Google to more high-quality devices no matter the price point. The launch of Android One moto x4 on Project Fi is the next step in our commitment to work with more partners and expand Android One to new places.

  • Google Assistant
    Your Google Assistant experience is fully optimized on the Android One moto x4
  • Unlimited storage from Google Photos
    Unlimited high-quality photo storage built-in with Google Photos
  • Security
    Enjoy top of the line security with Google Play Protect and regular security updates
  • Android updates
    Stay fresh with the latest updates from Android

Packed with a pure Android experience, advanced hardware and great network connectivity, here’s a closer look at what you’ll get with the new Android One moto x4.

Best-in-class software experience designed by Google

Like all Android One phones, Android One moto x4 runs a pure Android experience, with a clean software design and a carefully curated set of preinstalled apps to give you just what you need. For example, it comes optimized for the Google Assistant to help you get more done, and offers high-quality video calling with Google Duo. You’ll also get access to the latest updates from Android, such as Android Oreo before the end of the year. Android One moto x4 will be among the first to receive an upgrade to Android P.


Powerful cameras and unlimited high-quality photo storage

The Android One moto x4 comes with three cameras. A 12MP + 8MP dual rear camera system lets you capture wide-angle photos and detailed portraits. The front-facing camera comes packed with 16MP and an adaptive low light mode. And with free high quality storage from Google Photos, you never have to worry about running out of space.


All day battery and ultra-fast charging

Power through the day and enjoy your favorite Android software features like battery saver. When you need to recharge, TurboPower™ charging makes it ultra fast: You can get up to six hours of power in just 15 minutes.

Top of the line security

The Android One moto x4 will receive timely security updates and built-in malware protection from Google Play Protect, working around the clock to keep your device, data and apps safe.

The Android One moto x4 is priced at $399, comes in Super Black and Sterling Blue, and is available only in the U.S. on Project Fi’s network. You can pre-order it on the Project Fi website starting today. If you’ve got an older Nexus phone and want to trade it in for a new device, we’re making it easier than ever with our new trade-in program. We’ll give you up to $165 for select Nexus devices, and if you start your trade-in for an Android One moto xby October 5, you’ll earn an extra $50 Fi credit.

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Diversity

Hector Mujica on “showing grace to those in the margins” and his social impact work at Google

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the fascinating stories and important contributions of our Hispanic Googlers—their histories, their families, and what keeps them busy inside and outside of work. 

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Any Venezuelan football fans out there? Here I am showing some love for “Vino Tinto.”

Next up is Hector Mujica, social justice champion, enthusiast of the outdoors, and self-proclaimed acronym inventor (SPAI).

Give us the 10-second, one-sentence version of what you do at Google.

I work on Google.org, Google’s philanthropy team, where I manage our programs across Latin America, and support our disaster relief giving and volunteering work globally.

When did you (or generations before you) immigrate to the U.S.?

My family immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela when I was a young child, after my dad landed a job at Oracle in Miami. Of all the places to start in America, South Florida must be one of the best—with the rich cultural diversity and ample Latin food, it made the transition smooth, and kept me close to my Hispanic heritage.

How are you involved in the Hispanic community at Google, and why is it important to you?

I worked closely on the founding of HOLA, our Hispanic employee resource group (ERG). Through HOLA, I’ve gotten to meet many of our Latino Googlers over the years—all of whom continue to amaze me with their stories, talents, and passions to make this company, and the world, a better, more equitable place. The Hispanic community is vital to Google because it brings in people who might otherwise feel like cultural strangers and tells them, “come as you are—you belong.”

The Hispanic community is vital to Google because it brings in people who might otherwise feel like cultural strangers and tells them, “come as you are—you belong.”

How did you find your way to Google? Have you always pictured yourself working here?

I actually never had ambitions to work in tech or at Google. While in my junior year of undergrad at Florida International University, I looked for internships around the country, and was intrigued by working at company that was breaking all the established norms in corporate America. I applied to Google’s BOLD internship program, thinking it was a long shot, and after a few interviews, I found myself living out the coldest summer of my life in San Francisco, interning at Google on the People Operations team. I fell in love with Northern California and Google, and anxiously awaited the opportunities that lay ahead.

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Day one of my BOLD internship at Google in 2010, before I learned that dress shirts and ties are not part of the dress code at Google.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My dad’s hustle, grit, passion and optimism have taught me much about life and the world. As a first-generation immigrant, he taught me about risk-taking and tenacity. As a man of faith, he’s taught me about unapologetically straying true to my convictions. As a family man, he’s been a caretaker and steward of not only his nuclear family, but—like a good Latino—his extended family as well. He’s always balanced family life with the needs of the community. Whether it meant taking immigrant families into our home while they got on their feet, working with the homeless to help them rehabilitate, or volunteering to feed the needy at nearby shelters, my dad never turned down a chance show grace to those in the margins. These experiences shaped my worldview and gave me sense of social justice and altruism, which continues to influence the work I do today at Google.org.

Kilimanjaro.jpg
Sunrise on top of the world, at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing mountains is tough, but the summit is always worth it.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Outdoors. Or traveling to experience the outdoors in the rest of the world. I’ve always been in awe of nature. Oceans and mountains both scare me and inspire me. Whenever I have a chance to see the natural world from a new angle, I usually take it. That wanderlust has taken me to nearly every continent (Antarctica, I’m coming for you!), 51 countries, and from the deepest depths (I’m a scuba diver) to some of the highest highs (just did Kilimanjaro last year!).

What career advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Invest wisely in people and moments. The networks of people around you will help shape your perspectives, career and open doors to new opportunities … and when these opportunities present themselves, capitalize on the moments. They will teach you more than any classroom can.

What has been a big moment for you at Google?

I’ve had many Google “magic moments,” but the one that comes to mind was Googlers’ collective reaction to the travel ban earlier this year. Within days of the ban, Googlers organized a demonstration and showed up in full force, with messages of encouragement and enthusiasm during grim times. My team and I assembled a $4 million crisis fund to support key organizations that were leading the way in fighting injustice and intolerance. This moment reinforced in me the power of unity and comradery at Google, and within immigrant communities, who bring their best selves to this great country of ours.

As a Venezuelan-American that has benefited from ample opportunity, I am compelled to give back to my community. That’s why I’m so thankful of the opportunity I have at Google.org to invest in a better, most just, and more equitable world, for everyone.

  • Extended Family.jpg
    “La familia lo es todo.” Here is most of my extended family, who never misses a chance to get together and build new memories.
  • DSC_0120.jpg
    Volunteering with my teammates during GoogleServe 2016, our annual month of service at Google.
  • 16422771_10107484261002770_823508372964323153_o.jpg

    Participating in demonstration with my team, who showed up in full force to support our immigrant communities and colleagues earlier this year.

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Google Cloud

Addressing the UK NCSC’s Cloud Security Principles

As your organization adopts more cloud services, it’s essential to get a clear picture of how sensitive data will be protected. Many authorities, from government regulators, to industry standards bodies and consortia, have provided guidance on how to evaluate cloud security. Notably, the UK National Cyber Security Centre offers a framework built around 14 Cloud Security Principles, and we recently updated our response detailing how we address these principles for both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and G Suite. Google Cloud customers in the UK public sector can use the response to assess the suitability of these Google Cloud products to host their data with sensitivity levels up to “OFFICIAL,” including “OFFICIAL SENSITIVE.”

The UK National Cyber Security Centre was set up to improve the underlying security of the UK internet and to protect critical services from cyber attacks. Its 14 Cloud Security Principles are expansive and thorough, and include such important considerations as data in-transit protection, supply chain security, identity and authentication and secure use of the service.

The 14 NCSC Cloud Security Principles allow service providers like Google Cloud to highlight the security benefits of our products and services in an easily consumable format. Our response provides details about how GCP and G Suite satisfy the recommendations built into each of the principles, and describes the specific best practices, services and certifications that help us address the goals of each recommendation.

The NCSC also provides detailed ChromeOS deployment guidance to help organizations follow its 12 End User Device Security Principles. With an end-to-end solution encompassing GCP, applications and connected devices, Google Cloud provides the appropriate tools and functionality to allow you to adhere to the NCSC’s stringent security guidelines in letter and spirit.

Our response comes on the heels of GCP opening a new region in London, which allows GCP customers in the UK to improve the latency of their applications.

We look forward to working with all manner of UK customers, regulated and otherwise, as we build out a more secure, intelligent, collaborative and open cloud.

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network functions virtualization

Samsung and Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Host ONOS BUILD 2017 to Unleash Software-Defined Next-Generation Network

Samsung Electronics and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) together will host the ONOS™(Open Network Operating System) BUILD 2017 conference to be held at

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Environment

Why we should develop “circular cities” and how Google technology can help

The process of digging up materials, turning those materials into a product, and shipping it to an “end user” (who eventually tosses it in the trash) is called the “linear” economy, and it’s depleting our world of resources faster than they can be replenished. We need to ditch this old model and move to a “circular” economy. Instead of using raw resources (think timber and ore) to create new products, the circular economy keeps materials in circulation for multiple uses, whether they are maintained, reused, refurbished, or recycled.

Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas accounting for 75 percent of natural resource consumption, 50 percent of global waste production, and 60-80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So, the concept of the circular economy is especially relevant in cities.

Digital technology helps city leaders and citizens gather, refine, and analyze data to create cities that are circular by design. Today we published a white paper with our partners at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that explores how digital technology and a few of Google’s existing efforts can enable more circular cities. Google has captured insights across cities, from the quality of the air people breathe to the amount of solar power people could put on their roof at home. Google Cloud Platform allows for global-scale data sharing and provides the foundation for collaborative projects between public and private organizations, such as the Waze Connected Citizens Program.

Along with Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we’re also exploring how to build circular cities through a joint project called the Circularity Lab. Located in both the Bay Area and New York City, the Lab will raise awareness about circularity in the built environment and create a space where people can see how it could positively impact their lives and communities.

The circular economy model, enriched with technology, is a powerful and potentially highly productive combination. We’re excited to continue exploring these opportunities.

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