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Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Google was launched in September 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. Some of Google’s products are Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Gmail, Google Search, Google Duo, Google Maps, Google Translate, Google Earth, and Google Photos. Play our Pac-Man videogame.

Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in California. The project initially involved an unofficial "third founder", Scott Hassan, the original lead programmer who wrote much of the code for the original Google Search engine, but he left before Google was officially founded as a company. Read the full story...
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  • These Latino entrepreneurs are creating opportunity Fri, 07 Oct 2022 13:00:00 +0000

    Google for Startups is on a mission to support a global startup community that is inclusive, accessible, and equitable—not only because it is the right thing to do, but because diversity drives innovation and opportunity. The founders we support through programs like the Google for Startups Latino Founders Fundare often using their unique perspectives to solve problems and build generational wealth within their communities. After helping us ring in Hispanic Heritage Month at the NASDAQ Opening Bell, some of the first 50 recipients of the Latino Founders Fundshared how they are leveraging tech and support from the program to create opportunity within the Latino community and beyond. If you’re a Latino entrepreneur or know a great Latino-led startup and would like to be informed about future opportunities to apply for the Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, please visit this interest form.

    Conoce a emprendedores Latinos que Google for Startups está ayudando a crecer

    Google for Startups tiene la misión de apoyar una comunidad global de empresas emergentes que sea inclusiva, accesible y equitativa, no solo porque es lo correcto, sino porque la diversidad impulsa la innovación y las oportunidades. Los fundadores que apoyamos a través de programas como el Fondo de Fundadores Latinos de Google for Startupsa menudo usan sus perspectivas únicas para resolver problemas y generar riqueza generacional dentro de sus comunidades. Después de ayudarnos a celebrar el Mes de la Herencia Hispana sonando la campana de apertura de NASDAQ, algunos de los primeros 50 beneficiarios del Fondo para Fundadores Latinoscompartieron cómo están aprovechando la tecnología y el apoyo del programa para impulsar el crecimiento económico dentro de la comunidad Latina y más allá. Si eres un emprendedor Latino o conoces una gran empresa emergente liderada por Latinos y deseas recibir información sobre oportunidades futuras de cómo aplicar para el Fondo de Fundadores Latinos de Google for Startups, entra a este formulario de interés.

  • Made by Google, a new podcast about designing hardware Fri, 07 Oct 2022 03:00:00 +0000

    Have you ever wondered what goes into the design of your phone camera? How to keep your personal information secure on your mobile device? Or what it means to build a sustainable tech device?

    Our new Made by Google podcast starts with questions like these to explore the latest thinking and design ideas behind Google devices.

    Made by Google Podcast Trailer

    As a former broadcast journalist, I’m excited to pick up my microphone again and talk to my fellow Googlers to explore the how, what and why of topics such as phone cameras, security, sustainability, smart homes and wearable devices.

    The first episode, out today, asks how the phone camera went from a fairly useless feature to one of the most important tools we all rely on daily. I talk to Isaac Reynolds, a Pixel camera product manager, about the evolution of the phone camera and what he predicts for the future. Along the way, we get into selfies, geek out about video, and talk about our favourite features in the brand new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Isaac happens to be a professional photographer, and offers some unexpected photography insights and tips.

    To listen and subscribe to future episodes, just search for Made by Google wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will be released every week. Next time we’ll be getting the answers to questions about mobile security: Do we actually need to worry about cyber criminality? How does Google design devices to protect the people who use them? What steps do we need to take to protect ourselves?


    Trailer transcript

  • New audience solutions in Display & Video 360 Thu, 06 Oct 2022 17:00:00 +0000

    As digital advertising changes, it's essential for advertisers to stay ahead of the curve while meeting people's expectations. Consumers want privacy but they also want relevant ads. In fact, 62% of consumers in the US consider it important to have a personalized experience with a brand.[96be74]We don’t believe this should be rocket science for programmatic advertisers. This is why we are building simple, off-the-shelf solutions in Display & Video 360 with first-party data and machine learning. We’re announcing two of these solutions today, optimized targeting and Exchange Provided Identifiers.

    Optimized targeting helps advertisers expand reach across relevant audiences and increase return on investment with the touch of just a button. Exchange Provided Identifier, also known as EPID, provides Display & Video 360 with new signals which will be used to automatically future-proof frequency management tools. In the future, EPIDs will be powering a variety of other marketing use cases in Display & Video 360 with no action required by advertisers.

    Programmatic buys automatically powered with publishers’ data

    Advertisers increasingly rely on publishers' first-party data to enrich their marketing strategies. That’s why we’re evolving our programmatic technology to organically inform Display & Video 360 solutions with those valuable signals.

    You may be familiar with Publisher Provided Identifiers, also known as PPIDs, which became available for publishers to use programmatically last year. PPID allows publishers to send Google Ad Manager a first-party identifier for marketing use-cases. EPID expands on this technology. It makes it available to more exchanges, publishers, or vendors looking to share their first-party identifiers with Display & Video 360’s backend to improve the quality of programmatic ads served on their respective properties. EPIDs from a given exchange or publisher cannot be used to inform marketing strategies outside of that publisher’s inventory. This protects people from being tracked across the web.

    Earlier this year, we started testing this feature and receiving EPIDs from several publishers and exchanges, including Magnite. Based on partner feedback, we began improving this feature. We’re excited to grow our list of partners and progressively enhance advertisers’ programmatic campaigns with these new durable signals.

    In the coming months, EPID will be used to inform Display & Video 360 users’ frequency management solutions. This will ensure brands can continue avoiding ad repetition while maximizing reach efficiency even when third-party cookies go away. Advertisers won’t have to make any changes in their account since EPIDs will be organically embedded in Display & Video’s technology. Brands and agencies will automatically benefit from EPID when setting frequency goals.

    In the near future, EPID will be used as a signal for building Google audience segments in Display & Video 360. This will give advertisers a chance to deliver more personalized ads on publishers’ sites for which EPIDs are received. Down the line, EPID will also help brands unlock other core advertising functionalities, like cross-device reach on a domain by domain basis, and invalid traffic prevention in a privacy-safe way.

    Expand reach across audiences more easily

    Reaching the right people with a message is one thing. But to be successful, advertisers have to reach enough of these people and scale their audience strategy. This is where machine learning and optimized targeting come in.

    Optimized targeting lets advertisers find new and relevant customers likely to convert within their campaign goals. Campaign settings, such as manually-selected audiences including first-party data and Google audiences, influence the machine learning algorithm. Optimized targeting then uses machine learning to expand reach across other relevant groups without relying on third-party cookies.

    Because it uses the same goals as our automated and custom bidding solutions, optimized targeting reaches people most likely to drive impressions, clicks, or conversions as defined and customized by the advertiser to drive business outcomes. This ultimately leads to better performance and increased conversions. In our early tests, we found that advertisers who use optimized targeting in Display & Video 360 can see, on average, a 25% improvement in their campaign objectives when using Google audiences and can see, on average, a 55% improvement when using first-party data.[4f8fcc]

    "On average, advertisers who use optimized targeting in Display & Video 360 can see a 25% improvement in campaign objectives when using google audiences & 55% improvement when using first-party data. Source: Google Data, Global, 9/8/22-9/15/22."

    In Display & Video 360, optimized targeting is currently available for YouTube Video Action campaigns and will expand beyond YouTube to all display and video campaigns in the coming months. Once launched, new eligible display and video campaigns will be opted into optimized targeting with the ability to opt out.

    We are continuing to create Display & Video 360 solutions that will allow marketers to successfully reach and influence their most relevant audiences, while ensuring consumers feel safe online. EPID and optimized targeting are two of many new audience tools and features we are building for programmatic buyers.

  • The latest and greatest: meet Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:45:00 +0000

    The redesigned Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are here. Powered by our next-generation Google Tensor G2 processor and shipping with Android 13, these phones are at the center of our ever-expanding hardware portfolio that also includes a watch, tablet[569c9d]and earbuds. All of these devices come with the smarts you expect from Google and work together to help you.

    Our sleekest design yet

    Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are sleek, sophisticated and durable. Plus the aluminum enclosure for both phones is made of 100% recycled content.[1a177c]

    With a 6.3-inch display and smaller bezels, Pixel 7 is purposefully more compact than Pixel 6 — packing more features and improvements into a smaller profile. Its new zirconia-blasted aluminum feels silky in your hand, and you can choose from three colors to suit your personal style: Snow, Obsidian and brand new Lemongrass.

    Pixel 7 Pro has a 6.7-inch immersive display, a beautiful polished aluminum frame and a camera bar that’s perfectly complemented by the three color options: Snow, Obsidian and a new Hazel color.

    Image of the new Pixel Portfolio

    Android 13 on Pixel 7

    Android 13 on Pixel 7 brings you the best Android experience yet. It’s fast, smart and secure. Plus, the fresh new style and customization capabilities make it feel unique to you. You can recolor the look of your app icons to match the aesthetic of your phone’s wallpaper, and even assign specific languages to individual apps.

    App icons can change color to match your wallpaper

    An even better camera (if you can believe it)

    Say hello to the best picture-taking experience on a Pixel phone yet. Here are five camera features you don’t want to miss:

    • Extend your range with our next-generation Super Res Zoom up to 8x on Pixel 7 and up to 30x on Pixel 7 Pro.[3ce020]You’ll be able to get sharp, quality images from a distance, so your friends will think you were courtside when you show them the pictures you took of your sports hero in action. We’ve also achieved optical quality similar to a dedicated 2x telephoto lens for Pixel 7 and a 10x telephoto lens for Pixel 7 Pro,[efd7cd]so you have the flexibility to creatively frame your shot at multiple magnifications while maintaining high quality.
    • Use Pixel 7 Pro to get even closer with Macro Focus, which delivers Pixel HDR+ photo quality from as close as three centimeters away. Take photos of flower petals, raindrops, feathers and other tiny details with full sharpness and vivid color.
    Detailed close up of a sunflower taken with Macro Focus on Pixel 7 Pro

    Photo taken with Macro Focus on Pixel 7 Pro

    • Bring your blurry photos back to life with Photo Unblur, a Google Photos feature only on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.[dd77fe]Photo Unblur uses machine learning to improve your blurry pictures — even old ones. With just a few taps, remove blur and visual noise so you can relive the moment as clearly as you remember it. And you can also touch up those photos and easily remove distractions with Magic Eraser.[dd77fe]
    Photo before using Photo Unblur

    Photo Unblur Before

    Photo after using Photo Unblur

    Photo Unblur After

    • We all love taking selfies. With Guided Frame, those who are blind or low-vision are now able to capture selfies with a combination of precise audio guidance, high-contrast visual animations and haptic feedback. Because selfies should be for everyone.
    • Videos are getting an upgrade with new 10-bit HDR. Record brighter, higher contrast videos with wider color ranges. And Cinematic Blur lets you shoot cinema-like videos with beautiful, shallow depth-of-field.

    We’ve also made updates to the things you already love about Pixel’s camera, our most inclusive camera to date. Real Tone’s camera algorithms have been trained with more than 10,000 additional portraits of people of color from our image expert partners to make sure that Pixel Camera consistently renders skin tones authentically. With this, we’ve improved Real Tone to work in low-light settings including Night Sight. And Night Sight now only needs half of the normal exposure time to produce beautiful low-light images that are sharper than before. You can read a recap of all of our new camera features here.

    Image before improving Real Tone and Night Sight

    Image before improving Real Tone and Night Sight

    Image after improving Real Tone and Night Sight

    Image after improving Real Tone and Night Sight

    Smarts and speech

    Google’s smarts and intelligence is a big part of what makes a Pixel, a Pixel, and Pixel 7 is no different. With Google Tensor G2, we've improved almost every major subsystem in the chip, and we’ve designed them to work really well together to handle the nuanced and complex nature of our software and machine learning. So your smartphone is even smarter, especially when it comes to understanding speech and language.[7e2194]

    It can be frustrating when you call a business and have to memorize all the options for the extension you need, which is why we launched Direct My Call last year.[e6c745]This feature just got better with Pixel 7: For many of the most-called businesses, you’ll now be able to see a list of menu options before they’re even spoken, so you can cancel that flight or file an insurance claim even faster.

    Menu options populate before the phone tree navigation system has spoken them with Direct My Call

    Texting just got more fun with Assistant voice typing, which now automatically suggests emojis that are relevant to your messages. You can also search for emojis with your voice.[ee3736]Don’t worry if you don’t know the name of the emoji you’re looking for. It’s forgiving, so “hey emoji” 👋, “winky emoji” 😜 ​​or “LOL emoji” 😂, for example, will work just fine. Plus, Assistant voice typing is now available in French, Italian and Spanish, in addition to English, German, and Japanese.

    Voice messages are great, but you’re not always in a great place to listen to one. With Pixel 7’s speech recognition technology, your phone can now transcribe voice messages on Google’s Messages app, so you can easily read them as soon as you receive them.

    Example of a transcription of a voice message

    Safe and secure with 7

    As always, your personal information is protected with Pixel. With Google Tensor G2 and the Titan M2 security chip, Pixel is built with multiple layers of security to help keep you safe and secure. Titan M2 makes your phone more resilient to sophisticated attacks.[cd021f]And later this year, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will get VPN by Google One[974b15]at no extra cost, so your online activity is protected no matter what app or web browser you use.

    Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro’s fast and secure under-display fingerprint reader makes unlocking your phone a breeze. And now, you’ll have the added convenience of Face Unlock thanks to advanced machine learning models for face recognition, so you can quickly access what you need with just a glance.

    Get yours

    Pre-order Pixel 7 today starting at $599 and Pixel 7 Pro from $899. The phones will be available on store shelves with all major U.S. carriers starting on October 13. You can see all the countries Pixel is available in here —and we’re excited to be expanding Pixel into Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden for the first time. You can also order cases Made by Google or from a wide assortment of Made for Google partners, all available at both the Google Store and our retail channels.

  • Introducing our new Pixel portfolio of products Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:45:00 +0000

    Today, we’re introducing a true portfolio of Pixel products for the first time: the new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, and the very first Google Pixel Watch. Every Pixel device is designed to deliver a level of personal intelligence that turns day to day problems into truly delightful experiences. All of this is brought to life thanks to our combination of foundational technologies, artificial intelligence, Android and Google Tensor.

    This is what we have been building up to for a while: delivering a lineup of beautifully designed Pixel phones, watches and earbuds that work together to understand your needs and deliver the helpfulness you expect from Google. We believe Pixel isn't only a phone experience, it's a personal, intelligent, cohesive computing experience.

    White Pixel phones, Pixel Buds and a Google Pixel Watch on top of natural white backgrounds

    The latest products from Google

    As the Pixel portfolio expands the phone is at the center of it all. The new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro take all the helpfulness and personal intelligence people love about Pixel, and make them even better. The design is the ultimate refinement of Pixel, simplifying the parts and construction to make phones that are sophisticated and distinct.

    Underneath, they’re powered by the second-generation Google Tensor G2, the only processor that makes it possible to bring Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning directly to the phone. The new Pixel phones are great for photography, with features that can sharpen your photos and shoot cinema-quality videos. Pixel Call Assist is a new suite of features that helps with everything from making calls to avoiding them. They also provide fast, accurate voice assistance with Live Translate and Assistant voice typing.

    Pixel 7 is engineered to understand you and your world, putting Google’s personalized intelligence right in your hand. And Pixel 7 Pro is Google’s most powerful phone. It brings serious performance, and an upgraded telephoto lens, for people who want an even better zoom experience.

    Our new Google Pixel Watch, is the first smartwatch to provide the best of Google and Fitbit, and it’s the perfect companion to our Pixel phones. Pixel Watch features a beautiful, custom-developed 3-D coverglass that’s durable and scratch resistant, with three distinct jewelry inspired stainless steel finishes in black, silver and gold. Watches are so personal, so we offer many watch bands — active, stretch and woven, metal and leather — along with customizable watch faces and an easily personalizable user interface. Google Pixel Watch helps simplify your life by integrating with your favorite Google apps, to listen to music, manage your smart home, get directions, make payments and more. Google Pixel Watch is the first WearOS device that combines Google's helpfulness with best health and fitness insights from Fitbit.

    Earlier this year at I/O, we previewed plans to build an Android tablet powered by our custom Tensor G2 processor. And today, we shared more about our vision for making the PixelTablet the most helpful tablet whether you’re at home or on the go.[d0af56]We’re taking years of everything we’ve learned from making products for the home and Pixel and combining that experience into one device. Pixel Tablet pairs with a charging Speaker Dock to keep your device fully charged. It offers a terrific audio experience, while bringing some of the best features from a smart display to your tablet. Pixel Tablet is designed to seamlessly transition from an at home display to an entertainment device you can take anywhere - making it one of the most versatile tablets that easily adapts to you. We’ll share more details when it launches next year.

    From their design to the high-tech features, these latest products embody the best of Google. You can learn more about them and pre-order the new Pixel phones and the new Google Pixel Watch in the Google Store, or from our partners around the world. In fact, we're expanding the availability of Pixel phones to more places, including Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden for the first time. Google now has a comprehensive portfolio of devices and services, for your home and for on the go, and we hope you’ll love this latest generation of products.

  • Stay connected with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:45:00 +0000

    With phones getting smarter and faster every year, it’s easy to forget why we ever started carrying them around in the first place: phone calling and texting. Let’s take a look at the newest Messages and Phone features on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro that make it easier than ever to stay connected.

    It can be frustrating when you can’t hear the person on the other side of an important phone call, like when you’re on a work call with your team, or while Mom’s giving you directions to the family reunion. So we improved the audio experience for Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro users with Clear Calling, rolling out in the coming months. It uses machine learning to automatically filter out background noise and enhance the voice on the other end of the line, so it’s easier to hear the person you’re talking to, even if they’re on a windy street or in a noisy restaurant.

    If you have your hands full, you can send and receive calls and messages from your Google Pixel Watch too. The watch works with your phone to display Caller ID and spam warnings from incoming callers, so you don’t have to pull out your phone every time it rings. Plus, your watch will intelligently route the audio where you want it. So if you’re listening to a podcast on your Pixel Buds Pro and you answer a call from your watch, no problem — the audio will automatically connect to your earbuds.

    Save time when you call a business

    Pixel solves some of life’s most tedious tasks by using Google’s AI to make your phone calls more helpful.

    Motion graphic showing Direct My Call feature on a Pixel 7 Pro, illustrating phone menu options for a business immediately displayed on screen for the caller. The caller then taps a phone menu option, and is shown the second tier of the phone tree.

    Direct My Call, powered by Google’s Duplex technology, helps you navigate automated phone menus by transcribing the menu options and showing them on your screen for you to tap, so you don’t need to listen to or memorize them. Since launch, it has helped Pixel users navigate over 50 million calls with businesses. The new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro take this even further by showing you the menu options right away, before they’re even spoken, so you get to the right department even faster.

    You can expect to see the menu options ahead of time when you call many of the most popular toll-free numbers in the U.S., and we're bringing this experience to more business numbers over time.

    Security by design

    We know privacy is top of mind for Pixel users. That’s why we designed these features to work on your Pixel device itself – the audio data never leaves the phone or is sent to anyone, including Google, unless you explicitly decide to share it to help improve these features. Your conversations stay private.

    Together with existing features like Call Screen, Wait Times, and Hold For Me, these updates on the new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro help you communicate and connect, whether by avoiding missing key moments with those closest to you, or by saving your precious time and patience, so you can focus on more important things in your life. Both devices launch today.

  • Google Pixel Watch: Help by Google, health by Fitbit Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:45:00 +0000

    As part of our latest offering of Google devices this fall, we’re officially unveiling our first full-featured premium smartwatch: Google Pixel Watch. A natural extension of the Pixel family, the Google Pixel Watch combines the smarts and helpfulness you know and love from Google with Fitbit’s health and fitness expertise, all in an elegant design.

    A design you can truly make your own

    Designed with comfort and durability in mind, the Google Pixel Watch is sophisticated for a night out or a business meeting, can endure your activities and workouts, and is pleasant to sleep in. The bold, circular 3D domed glass blends seamlessly into the stainless steel body giving it a slim look on the wrist. It is both water-resistant (up to 5 ATM/50 meters) and scratch-resistant, meant to be worn all day and night. Inspired by a classic timepiece, the tactile crown controls on-screen scrolling, accesses shortcuts and initiates the app tray to get you the helpful information you need. The side button subtly above the crown opens your most-recently used apps, so favorites are just a click away.

    Close up shot of Google Pixel Watch with lemongrass active band displaying the time and heart rate on the watch face.

    Wrapped in a stainless steel body and slim, sophisticated design, Google Pixel Watch has your favorite features just a swipe away.

    The unique band attach mechanism — inspired by how a camera lens attaches to a camera body — makes it easy to change bands to transform the overall look of the watch. Switch up your style with 20 available band choices, and choose from a wide assortment of classic or modern bands in woven, stretch, active and leather styles, with metal coming next spring.[0a45c7]

    And the comprehensive family of 19 customizable watch faces, each with many personalization options – from the colors to the layout and the information you need most – provide thousands of options. You can even set your favorite photos as your watch face with Google Photos.

    Google help goes with you

    Google Pixel Watch is powered with Wear OS by Google (Wear OS 3.5) and delivers the information you need at a glance, making tasks more convenient and providing help whenever and wherever you need it. Interaction is extremely smooth, responsive and easy to use. With tiles and watch faces you can easily customize to be full of information or minimal – the experience is uniquely yours to choose what you see at a glance. With Google Assistant built in, your personalized help on the go is quick and hands-free. You can easily control your smart home devices through the Google Home app or just say “Hey, Google” to your watch to adjust the thermostat, turn on or off the lights, and get notifications from your Nest doorbell when a person or package is at the door (with compatible smart devices).

    A Google Pixel Watch face shows the thermostat being set to heat the upstairs of a user’s home.

    From adjusting the thermostat to turning off the lights, Google Pixel Watch offers various features with the Google Home app to make life more convenient.

    Check your notifications from Gmail and Google Calendar, make contactless payments in stores and at transit with Google Wallet, and get turn-by-turn directions with Maps, including an interactive view that makes it easy to see where you are and where you’re going. Enjoy access to over 100 million songs with YouTube Music Premium (three months included), and cache your favorite playlists using ample 32GB of on-device storage, or streaming phone-free over built-in 4G LTE-cellular. And access even more apps with Google Play Store right on your wrist, including Adidas Running, Calm, Spotify, MyFitnessPal and Strava.

    The Google Pixel Watch is a great companion to the Pixel devices you already love. With Fast Pair, your Pixel Buds will automatically connect to your watch once paired with your phone, and you can start a call on the watch and conveniently transition to your phone once in reach. You get music playback controls and turn-by-turn directions on your watch, even if you start them on the phone.

    Photo of the new Pixel family lineup.

    Google Pixel Watch is a great companion to the Pixel family and will work seamlessly with the products you know and love.

    To give you added peace of mind, Google Pixel Watch is equipped with an Emergency SOS feature to alert emergency responders or trusted contacts when you’re in an emergency or feeling unsafe. Fall detection (coming in 2023) can sense if you’ve taken a hard fall, connecting you to emergency services and even auto-dialing if you’re unresponsive.

    Health and fitness favorites from Fitbit

    Google Pixel Watch has deep integration with Fitbit to provide leading health and fitness features, including our most accurate heart rate tracking yet. With on-device machine learning and deep optimization down to the processor level, it gives you an accurate measurement of your heart rate continuously tracking at once per second. The Fitbit experience is completely redesigned for Google Pixel Watch, with 40 exercise modes available to track your favorite workouts and all-day activities including steps, distance with built-in GPS and Active Zone Minutes, to help you push for that extra rep during workouts.

    Left: A man in workout clothes sits down, stretching his legs while wearing a Google Pixel Watch.  Right: A Google Pixel Watch face shows a user’s heart rate in the morning.

    Continuously tracking at once per second, Google Pixel Watch offers an accurate measurement of your heart rate all day long.

    It helps you keep tabs on your health with an ECG app to detect signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), better understand your sleep with Sleep Score and Sleep Stages, and receive guidance powered by Fitbit’s 20 billion nights tracked.[7eb3e3]Get insights into key metrics like your breathing rate, heart rate variability and more — all on the Health Metrics Dashboard in the Fitbit app. With Fitbit Premium, you get deeper insights and access to features like Daily Readiness Score so you know when to go all-out in your workout or prioritize rest. More than 1,000 workouts and 400 mindfulness sessions are available to help you take action and approach each day based on what your body is telling you.

    Close-up images of health metrics on the Google Pixel Watch face and in the Fitbit app.

    Keep your health information right at your fingertips, both on your Google Pixel Watch face and in the Fitbit app.

    Getting started is easy

    In addition to compatibility with Pixel phones, Google Pixel Watch also works with other Android 8.0+ phones and is available in two connectivity configurations: built-in 4G LTE for phone-free convenience or Bluetooth/Wi-Fi only. Google Fi subscribers can even set up LTE without additional line fees on most plans. Fast Pair makes it easy to set-up your Google Pixel Watch with your Pixel phone, plus existing Fitbit users can pick up where they left off from their current device and won’t lose any stats or personal data.

    Google Pixel Watch keeps you going through the day reliably with up to 24 hours of battery life, even with all-day continuous per second heart rate, and health and activity tracking.[fb9cb7]And when you do need a quick charge, get back 50% battery life in just 30 minutes, ideal for pre-bedtime charging for your sleep tracking.[1d7c22]

    Google Pixel Watch is available for $349 for Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, and $399 for 4G LTE, including six months of Fitbit Premium and three months of YouTube Music Premium (available in applicable markets). Accessory bands range from $49-$199.

    Beginning today, pre-order Google Pixel Watch online at the Google Store, Fitbit.com and select global retailers and your favorite carriers, with availability in nine countries, including US, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and Taiwan, starting October 13.

    A line up of Google Pixel Watches with an assortment of active band colors.

    Pre-order the Google Pixel Watch of your choice starting today.

  • Google Assistant’s new updates make it easier than ever to get things done across devices Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:45:00 +0000

    When we launched Google Assistant six years ago, we envisioned a world in which you could control lights and thermostats with your voice, naturally communicate with your devices in multiple languages, and simplify your daily tasks with voice controls and proactive reminders. Fast forward to today, and every month more than 700 million people in over 95 countries – and across 29 languages! – get things done reliably with their Assistant. As voice has become a primary way we engage with technology, Assistant makes it easy to get things done across different devices, whether you're at home or on the go.

    Today at Made by Google, we shared some of our latest improvements to Assistant’s powerful AI capabilities, including new ways to interact more naturally with Assistant across Pixel 7 and the Google Pixel Watch. Here’s a look at a few of our favorites.

    Use your voice to get things done faster and more easily

    Send messages faster with Assistant voice typing

    With Assistant voice typing, you can easily talk to Google to type, edit and send messages on average 2.5x faster than typing on the keyboard, and now in more languages – Spanish, Italian and French. It’s also getting more fun! When you’re writing a message, Assistant voice typing can now suggest emojis relevant to your messages and lets you search the emoji to insert with your voice even without knowing the exact name for it. Just say “LOL emoji” and Assistant will know what you mean 😂.

    Assistant voice typing with emoji suggestions and search

    Discover more delightful calling and messaging experiences powered by Assistant

    At Made by Google, we shared some ways Google is creating a more delightful calling and texting experience on Android-powered devices and how Assistant’s speech models are helping to make it even easier to communicate:

    • Call Screen helps you avoid unwanted calls and it has handled over 600 million calls for users last year.
    • Direct My Call, powered by Duplex, will now show call menu options right away, so you can tap to get where you need without waiting to hear lengthy recorded menus and has helped Pixel users navigate over 50 million calls with businesses.
    • Voice Message Transcription enables users to easily read audio messages on Google’s Messages app when you’re not in a great place to listen to one.

    Launched last year on Pixel 6, quick phrases give you hands-free help on specific tasks, without needing to say “Hey Google.” On Pixel 7, you can now say “Silence” to dismiss incoming calls when you are not ready to pick up. And soon the Recorder app on Pixel 7 will include Speaker labels to differentiate and transcribe each speaker’s words separately, allowing you to capture meeting and interview notes with ease.

    GIF of smartphone using Direct My Call feature

    Direct My Call shows you call menu options right away before they were spoken

    Bringing proactive intelligence directly to your screen

    At a Glance on Pixel helps get what you need, when you need it – before you have to ask – right on your home or lock screen. If it’s going to rain or snow in your area in the next hour, At a Glance can proactively show you an update right on your phone so you can plan accordingly. Wondering if your package arrived? Get a video feed preview from your Nest doorbell. Traveling? Simply see flight or baggage information and your destination’s weather forecast.

    Experience the best of Google Assistant on your new Pixel devices

    With Assistant, you can use your voice in new and exciting ways on the sleek, new Pixel Watch. Take quick actions like sending messages, setting a timer, controlling your connected home devices and starting your run. Or when you’re wearing your Pixel Buds, you can say “Hey Google, play my workout playlist” to power through your cardio session. We also announced the Google Pixel Tablet, coming next year, which is designed to be helpful in your hand and in your home. With the Pixel Tablet and the Charging Speaker Dock, you can enjoy hands-free help from Assistant or a photo frame of your memories.

    An image of Assistant working on a watch dial

    Whether you’re using Assistant to send a message from your Pixel Watch, glancing at useful information on your Pixel 7 lock screen, or asking “Hey Google, find my phone” right from your watch, we want Assistant to be your go-to conversation helper. One that moves with you throughout your day – whether you’re at home or on the go – to make life easier and give you time to focus on what matters most.

  • Made by Google 2022 Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:45:00 +0000
  • This Googler helps make Pixel phones the best they can be Thu, 06 Oct 2022 14:00:00 +0000

    Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns, apprentices and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

    Today’s post is all about Frances Wang, a test engineering director for the Google Pixel team based in Taiwan.

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    I grew up in Taiwan and moved to Canada to pursue my bachelor’s degree in life science. After working in the mobile industry for 22 years, I returned to Taiwan to do an Executive MBA, and then started a new chapter of my career here. I enjoy outdoor activities like cycling and golfing, so it’s great to be in Taiwan. There are so many places here where I’m immersed in nature, and I find myself growing in confidence through conquering steeper and longer gradient rides.

    Frances is smiling as she rides a bicycle on a road. There are lush trees next to her.

    Frances enjoying a bike ride.

    What’s your role at Google?

    I am a Test Engineering Director in our Google Pixel software test team. We’re involved in phone software testing, enhancing test efficiency and effectiveness through automation. My goal every day is to keep our team focused on delivering quality products and improving efficiency. It’s a mix of meetings, project reviews and communicating with other Googlers.

    What inspires you to come in (or log on) every day?

    Google is growing rapidly in Asia Pacific, and Taiwan is the company’s hub for software and hardware innovation. We have the largest engineering site in APAC and the second largest tech site outside of the US. It’s great to know I am contributing to this growth and working on products used by billions of people around the world.

    I’m passionate about product quality and creating a great customer experience. The mobile phone industry is always evolving and as part of the Pixel team, it’s exciting to see how the products and technologies we work on help solve real problems and make people’s lives better. It’s a big plus to work in an environment that encourages innovation while still focusing on data and technical expertise.

    How would you describe Google’s culture in Taiwan?

    We have an inclusive culture and innovative approach to problem solving. The people here are driven, open and truly find success in collaboration. Google Taiwan is a place for talented people to challenge themselves and maximize their potential.

    What advice do you have for someone thinking about applying to Google?

    Be ready to deal with ambiguity and solve problems differently. If you’re looking for opportunities in both software and hardware, and you want to work on product used by people around the world, this is the place for you.

  • 10 design details you didn’t know about in our new hardware lineup Thu, 06 Oct 2022 12:45:00 +0000

    “Design is about solving problems,” says Ivy Ross who leads the team that creates how a Google product — including new products announced today at our Made by Google event — looks, feels and acts when you hold it in your hands. When designing this new line of products her team had to solve a whole host of choices — from designing a WiFi router you actually want to put on your shelf to deciding what Google's first-ever watch should look like.

    We chatted with Ivy — along with Isabelle Olsson, who leads design for home and wearable products and our team that develops colors, materials and finishes for hardware products, and Claude Zellweger, who leads industrial design for Pixel phones — to get the scoop on 10 design details in our latest hardware products that were made with you in mind.

    Colors to calm you

    Pixel 7 Pro comes in a fresh new color: Hazel. The nature-inspired greenish hue is soothing, and the warm gold metal finish adds some polish. The Pixel 7 comes in a new energizing color: Lemongrass. “We wanted to create colors that are calming, yet also surprising,” Isabelle says. If being matchy-matchy is the kind of look that calms your mood, you’ll be happy to see matching color combos and finishes across products.

    Line up the lenses

    Both phones have horizontal camera bars that now blend seamlessly into the frames — and the aluminum in the housing and camera bar is 100% recycled content.[ba4e13]This simplified design reduces the number of parts to make the phone, and just feels better in your hand thanks to its fluid and smooth surfaces. “At the core of it, we wanted to bring more emphasis to the camera,” Claude says.

    Silky to the touch

    Pixel 7 has a silky smooth feel thanks to our new zirconia-blasted matte finish. Meanwhile, Pixel 7 Pro has a high-polished aluminum finish that takes inspiration from jewelry and watches.

    You bezel believe it

    The phones feature a bezel that’s even thinner than the Pixel 6 phones. With a thinner bezel — which is the frame on the front of the device that isn’t the screen — you can look at more content that’s relevant to you as opposed to extraneous borders.

    A smartwatch dripping with inspiration

    Inspired by water droplets, the smooth domed glass face of the Google Pixel Watch keeps it from snagging on your shirts or sleeves. But that design choice was more than just a functional one. “A smartwatch first and foremost is a watch,” says Ivy, who pulled from her background as a jeweler and her love for collecting traditional watches to help design this watch. “The round design represents the ancient shape of time and balances the fact that we fit all of the modern smarts of Google and health and wellness features from Fitbit into the watch.”

    Bands that click with any mood

    From casual to formal to active, there’s a watch band designed for all your moods and needs. Plus, according to Isabelle, the way the bands click into place to attach is incredibly easy and satisfying.

    A color combo to rule them all

    To get the perfect mix of colors for the woven fabric watch band accessory — which is made of recycled plastic yarn[4cefda]— the team tested at least 200 different color combos in one week. The result is a band that looks simple and understated from far away, but catches people’s attention up close.

    A shelf-worthy design

    You’ll want to give some countertop real estate to the new Nest WiFi Pro, which was designed to look good out in the open. “The areas where WiFi routers go — like countertops, side tables and shelves — usually have beautiful collected items from people's lives like a flower vase, a sculpture or a stack of books,” Isabelle says. To make sure the Nest WiFi Pro fits in with people’s treasured objects, the team chose a high-gloss finish — inspired by ceramics and glassware — and subtle hues that match any vibe.

    Good things come in small packages

    You might notice that the Pixel phone packaging has less plastic — the packaging is now 99% plastic free. The team ditched extraneous materials and created a box the phones fit safely and snugly inside.

    Sustainability as the guide

    From choosing recycled materials for our packaging and products to coming up with designs that create less waste and are built to last — sustainability is built into so many of the decisions our designers make. Because of these thoughtful choices, we’ve used even more recycled materials in our newest products, like the Nest Wifi Pro which is made of more than 60% recycled materials. And it doesn’t stop here. By 2025, we aim to use recycled or renewable materials for at least 50% of the plastic used across our hardware products. And we’re on track to eliminate plastic from our packaging by that same time. Each of these goals is another challenge our design team is ready to tackle.

  • Give it a shot: Check out these 10 new camera upgrades on Pixel 7 and 7 Pro Thu, 06 Oct 2022 10:45:00 +0000

    Our recently announced Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones deliver the best photo and video experience we’ve ever had on a Pixel phone. There’s a lot of hardware, software and machine learning that go into our computational photography features. Here’s a look at 10 new things Pixel Camera can do and how we made them happen.

    1. Take great shots of everyone — no matter their skin tone.

    Real Tone makes our camera work more equitably for people of every skin tone. With the help of partners around the world, we’ve created over 10,000 new portraits on Pixel 7 to improve Real Tone, and we’ve worked with Diversify Photo to evaluate our progress. Thanks to them, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have the most inclusive smartphone camera.[d191a5]

    A person standing against a green wall looking away

    Real Tone on Pixel 7 & Pixel 7 Pro

    2. Snap a selfie with confidence.

    For people who are blind or low-vision, Guided Frame provides a combination of audio cues with high-contrast animations and haptic feedback — that slight vibration you feel when tapping things on your phone — to help capture a selfie.

    A person taking a selfie with a screen reader enabled

    Guided Frame on Pixel 7 & Pixel 7 Pro

    3. Remove blur from old, blurry photos.

    Now with Photo Unblur in Google Photos you can bring your blurry photos back to life and make your most treasured shots look as great as you remember — even if you took them on a different camera.

    A blurry portrait of a child standing on a boardwalk becomes sharper

    Photo Unblur on Pixel 7 & Pixel 7 Pro

    4. Low light, no problem.

    In the darkest scenes, Night Sight photos are sharper than ever. Using updates to HDR+ with Bracketing and new ML techniques to reduce noise, your low-light photos will have less motion blur since exposures can be half as long as before.[341905]So go ahead and capture those nighttime portraits, city nightscapes and more.

    A dark image becomes much brighter

    Night Sight on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

    5. Get creative with a wider lens and Macro Focus.

    The Pixel 7 Pro has an upgraded ultrawide lens that is 21% wider than Pixel 7’s so you can fit more in the frame. Plus the ultrawide lens has autofocus, which powers Macro Focus. Simply move your phone close to your subject — like a flower — and the camera will automatically transition from the main camera to the ultrawide. This will allow Pixel 7 Pro to focus on a subject as close as three centimeters away, making small objects look life-size.

    6. Find the perfect composition with high-quality zoom options.

    Super Res Zoom uses the inner crop of the 50-megapixel sensor, remosaicing, and HDR+ with Bracketing to create 12.5MP photos at 2x on both Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. The 2x photos are sharp with low noise and high resolution — similar to what a dedicated 2x telephoto camera would capture.[f741a2]

    A video representation of how Pixel Camera transforms the color filter pattern of the sensor and combines multiple images of varying brightnesses into one photo at 2x zoom

    2x Super Res Zoom on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

    7. Zoom in even farther.

    On the Pixel 7 Pro, the new 48-megapixel telephoto camera kicks in at 5x zoom, and Super Res Zoom — which uses the same process as above — creates stunning 12-megapixel photos at 10x, which look similar to what you’d get with a 10x optical zoom camera.[f741a2]At 15x and beyond, you can take handheld photos without a tripod with Zoom Stabilization, which uses many of Pixel’s advances in video stabilization to keep the phone steady. Instead of trying to tame your natural hand movements – which can turn small changes into large swings in the viewfinder – you can focus on composing and taking the perfect photo. At 20x, Google Tensor G2 powers a new machine learning upscaler that increases your photo’s resolution even more, resulting in zoom photos up to 30x on Pixel 7 Pro — the furthest zoom magnification ever on a Pixel.

    The same photo taken at 0.5x, 1x, 2x, 5x, 10x, and 30x zoom showing the difference between zoomed out and zoomed in

    30x Super Res Zoom on Pixel 7 Pro

    8. Get the in-between shot.

    But sometimes the perfect composition calls for a zoom magnification that’s in between your smartphone’s optical cameras (1x and 5x for Pixel 7 Pro). What if you want a high-quality photo at 3x or 4x on Pixel 7 Pro? Traditionally, smartphone cameras perform digital zoom to cover these zoom magnifications, and this frequently results in lower-quality photos. To help you get great photos — even between the lenses — Pixel 7 Pro combines the next generation of Super Res Zoom’s 2x camera technologies described above, bonafide super resolution techniques, and a new ML model, which fills in the innermost section of the photo with detail from the 5x telephoto camera. The result is stunning photos – even if you’re taking them at 3x or 4x, which is before Pixel 7 Pro’s 5x telephoto lens would normally kick in.

    A video representation of how Pixel Camera combines an image from the main camera and telephoto camera into one

    Multi-camera Super Res Zoom on Pixel 7 Pro

    9. Shoot even better videos.

    Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7 can record in 4K60 FPS on all of the cameras — even the front one — while also using Speech Enhancement to isolate the person speaking, as if they had a lapel mic. With so many improvements and refinements to video, including our third version of Active Stabilization, Pixel is an amazing tool for creators to achieve cinematic video, audio, and color in all kinds of lighting. Give the new Cinematic Blur mode a whirl, which uses similar technology as Portrait Mode to artfully blur the background in videos to keep your audience’s attention on the subject, or try capturing your memories in 10-bit HDR video, which is the perfect format for sunsets and fashion shoots with its smooth color gradients and high contrast. ‘

    10. Share your videos.

    We’ve partnered with Snap so you can capture ultrawide front and rear photos and videos, and your videos will use video stabilization. Plus, you can use a new feature called Dual — that’s only on Pixel 7 and select Android phones — to simultaneously record video on your front and rear cameras to capture yourself and the scene in front of you.

  • In Tokyo: New commitments to Japan’s digital future Thu, 06 Oct 2022 06:00:00 +0000

    Google opened our first office outside the United States in Shibuya, a neighborhood in Tokyo, back in 2001. Last year marked 20 years in the city — and in the Asia-Pacific region more broadly — and I am excited to be back this week. While here, I helped launch our new Pixel devices and met with leaders to share more about how Google can support Japan’s digital future.

    Sundar stands on stage in front of a screen with a photo of the new Pixel watch

    Sundar presenting at the Tokyo Pixel launch.

    Something that’s always inspired me on my visits to Japan is how people of all ages are using technology to improve their lives and help others. The last time I was here, I helped open our Campus for Startups, part of our efforts to support generations of entrepreneurs. And today I met with student developers from local universities. Some have already started their own companies, and others are using Pixel and Android to bring their ideas to life.

    Our goal is to ensure everyone benefits from the innovation happening in Japan. Today, I was pleased to share the details of our new Japan Digitization Initiative with Prime Minister Kishida. We’re expanding our commitment to build infrastructure, provide digital training and opportunity, and support partners and nonprofits working to bring the benefits of technology to more people.

    Two people looking at the camera, in suits, shaking heads.

    Investing in technical infrastructure

    We’ll be opening our first data center in Japan — in Inzai City, Chiba — in 2023. This will give people in Japan faster, more reliable access to our tools and services, support economic activity and jobs, and connect Japan to the rest of the global digital economy.

    The Chiba data center is part of a $730 million investment in infrastructure that began last year and will continue through 2024. That includes the Topaz subsea cable, which we expect to be ready for service in 2023, and will become the first fiber cable to connect Japan with the west coast of Canada. Our existing Google Cloud Platform regions, in Tokyo and Osaka, provide storage and services for Japanese businesses. And according to a recent Analysys Mason study, Google’s network infrastructure investments in Japan, both past and present, could enable an additional $303 billion in GDP between 2022 and 2026.

    The exterior of Google’s data center, a wide gray building with grass and trees in the forefront.

    Google’s first data center in Japan is in Inzai City, Chiba Prefecture.

    As we build this infrastructure, we’ll keep working to support Japanese businesses in other ways. Our Tokyo startups campus is helping Japanese founders build new kinds of businesses, many motivated by solving social and economic challenges — like helping with health diagnoses or increasing access to education.

    Providing digital training and opportunity

    We want to help Japanese people learn the skills they need to use technology confidently. Since 2019, we’ve supported 10 million people in Japan through Grow with Google, and adapted our training programs to people and businesses affected by the pandemic.

    We’ve seen in Japan and around the world how the pandemic has accelerated the need for skills in specific, high-growth jobs, and we’ve created new kinds of training models to meet the increased demand. That includes the Japan Reskilling Consortium, which we launched in June. It’s a collaboration between business, governments and the nonprofit sector, providing skills training in areas like artificial intelligence and digital marketing and a job-matching service to help trainees find work opportunities. The consortium already offers more than 300 training programs with more than 90 partners.

    We’ve also launched a new program to help Japanese companies develop a workplace culture that fosters innovation — with support from Google tailored to different businesses’ needs. We’ll keep building on these initiatives and partnerships from here.

    Expanding the benefits of technology

    Through Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, we’re committing $6 million to support Japanese nonprofits working to expand the benefits of technology.

    As part of this effort, we’re providing grant funding to the Japan Foundation for Aging and Health to help them reach 50,000 older people, with a mix of programs focused on digital training, community building and employment support. We’re also supporting the Safer Internet Association in its efforts to increase media literacy in Japanese communities. Other organizations to receive support will be announced soon.

    These new commitments complement the important work our teams in Japan do every day. We’ll continue to bring the best of our products, platforms and devices to the millions of Japanese people who use them, from making Google Maps more immersive to helping Japanese developers on Google Play. And we’ll continue our partnerships with Japanese governments and institutions harnessing AI to confront challenges like climate change and disease.

    We look forward to helping more people in Japan benefit from the opportunities technology brings, over the decade ahead and beyond.

  • Strengthening measurement with new tagging capabilities Wed, 05 Oct 2022 15:00:00 +0000

    Sitewide tags are the building blocks of a strong measurement foundation. They help advertisers understand how customers are interacting with their website and ads. But, it’s historically been difficult to set up and manage tags without technical expertise or a tag management platform like Google Tag Manager. To address this, we recently rolled out a single, reusable Google tag so you can do more across different Google products and accounts without changing your website code. Now we’re unveiling another set of capabilities that provide more visibility into your site’s measurement coverage and simplify the setup.

    Whether it’s through the Google tag or Google Tag Manager, proper sitewide tagging is essential to successfully measure and act on your data. One company that has shown measurement excellence through tagging is The North Face, a retail brand that’s advancing exploration through innovative thinking, design, and technology. Using our enterprise tag management solution, Google Tag Manager 360, the brand has been able to unlock customer insights that influence everything from future campaigns to product offerings and website design. “Tagging is the backbone of our consumer experience. Rather than forecasting by putting a finger to the wind, we can make data-driven decisions using real-time and historical data.” shares Sarah Kleinman, VP of Digital Experiences.

    Increase your measurement accuracy

    As your digital presence grows, it can be easy to miss pages or overlook new site sections. With the new Tag coverage summary, you can quickly determine whether your Google tag has been implemented on all of your website pages.

    Use the Tag coverage summary to see which pages of your website have the Google tag installed and quickly identify pages that are not tagged

    You’ll see where your tags are implemented in suggested pages, which can be added to your summary to understand your tag coverage on these pages later. And, if the suggestions don’t include all of your website pages, quickly add the URLs by entering them or uploading a CSV file. You can also click the Tag Assistant icon next to each page to investigate whether your tags are implemented properly.

    Simplify setup with less code

    In the coming weeks, we'll be integrating the Google tag into the account setup and conversion setup flows in Google Ads and Google Analytics — product interfaces you’re already familiar with — for a more centralized and intuitive experience. These new features will make it faster and easier to set up conversion measurement. You won’t need to add more code to your website, which often relies on technical expertise or assistance from other departments.

    Screenshot of the Google Ads setup flow showing the step when a user is directed to install or reuse a Google tag

    You’ll be directed to set up the Google tag or reuse an existing one during account setup

    For customers using popular content management systems or website builders, you’ll now be able to install a new Google tag across your website without making manual changes to the site code. You can also now reuse your existing gtag.js implementation or create a new Google tag to deploy without making changes to your website code. You can do this directly in your CMS within the Ads and Analytics account setup flows. CMS instructions are shown on your installation screen for the following platforms that are integrated with the Google tag.

    Screenshot of step-by-step setup instructions for advertisers using a content management system

    Advertisers using a content management system can set up a Google tag without making changes to their website code

    If you’re still using Universal Analytics, we recently shared that now it’s time to make the move to Google Analytics 4. If you have gtag.js for Google Ads or Universal Analytics on your website, you will be able to do this directly in the setup assistant in Google Analytics by choosing an existing Google tag. If you don't have a Google tag on your site or are using an analytics.js tag, you’ll need to create a new tag before you can get started, which you can do within the same, simplified workflow.

    Animated screenshots of the Google Analytics setup assistant showing advertisers choices to use a Google tag found on their website, use a different Google tag, or create a new Google tag

    Set up your Google tag directly in the Google Analytics setup assistant

    With so much at stake when it comes to performance and privacy, it’s more important than ever to ensure you have a strong measurement foundation. We’re with you every step of the way and these new features make it easier to set up and manage your tagging infrastructure within the product interfaces you’re already familiar with.

  • Continued investment in measures to help fight financial fraud in the UK Wed, 05 Oct 2022 14:40:00 +0000

    In recent years, scammers continue to deploy new fraudulent practices in order to take advantage of people. According to UK Finance’s latest figures, over £1.3 billion was stolen through fraud in 2021, up from £1.26 billion the year before.

    To combat this concerning trend, Google continues to invest in teams, new policies and better enforcement capabilities. In 2021, we blocked or removed 58.9 million financial services bad ads globally to protect the advertising ecosystem.

    Today, we are announcing a significant additional measure to protect both consumers and legitimate advertisers in the UK. The Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy will be updated to require that all advertisers be FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) authorised for debt adjusting and debt counselling in order to show debt services advertisements starting from 6 December 2022. Insolvency practitioners, including those licensed by a recognized professional body, will no longer be allowed to advertise for these services. Advertisers must successfully complete the updated verification process by the time enforcement begins on 16 January 2023. The policy update also allows advertisers that are included on the FCA Financial Services Register as ‘exempt professional firms’ or recognised investment exchanges to be verified as UK FCA-authorised advertisers.

    Our financial services certification policy, launched initially in 2021, has led to a pronounced decline in reports of ads promoting financial scams, and has subsequently been rolled out across Google platforms in Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Portugal, Brazil, France, Spain and Germany. A problem of this scale needs cross-industry effort, so we are pleased to see other tech companies now commit to introducing similar policies in the UK.

    Today’s announcement builds on longstanding and robust financial products and services policies and engagement with industry in order to deliver a safer experience for users, publishers and advertisers.

    Further collaborative industry progress to date

    In addition to ongoing policy reviews and updates, we continue to adapt and collaborate with industry and government organisations to tackle these evolving tactics by scammers. Last year, Google was the first major technology company to join Stop Scams UK, an industry-led collaboration of responsible businesses from across the banking, telecoms and technology sectors who have come together to develop best practices to stop scams at the source.

    We also pledged $5 million in advertising credits to support public awareness campaigns in the UK, helping to ensure that consumers are better informed about how to spot the tactics of scammers both online and offline. We encourage businesses and consumers to refer to industry resources from trusted sources and Google partners including Stop Scams, UK Finance’s ‘Take 5’ campaign and the Advertising Standards Authority to stay up to date with the latest solutions we can all adopt to operate safely online.

  • What publishers should focus on now to prepare for privacy changes Wed, 05 Oct 2022 14:30:00 +0000

    In the fourth episode of our Publisher Privacy Q&A series, we talk about what publishers should be prioritizing and focused on right now to prepare their businesses for ongoing and upcoming privacy changes.

    Stay tuned for the fifth Publisher Privacy Q&A episode coming soon. In the meantime, check out episodes 1, 2, and 3 of this series.

  • Working with UNESCO to support Ukraine’s teachers on World Teachers' Day Wed, 05 Oct 2022 12:00:00 +0000

    “The transformation of education begins with teachers” is the theme for World Teachers' Day 2022. For Ukraine’s teachers, who have had to transform the way they work and teach over the last seven months, these words take on an entirely different meaning.

    Ukrainian teachers and children continue to be impacted by the war - whether they’re refugees abroad, displaced in their own country, or trapped in areas under fire. According to the authorities, 2,292 education institutions have been damaged and 309 destroyed since the Russian offensive began in February.

    This has meant that two out of three children who were living in Ukraine at the beginning of this year have had their education disrupted, with some of these children out of education completely. Given the experiences of these children, and what they have witnessed, many are also traumatized. The classroom, whether virtual or otherwise, can help children to heal by being a place of security through which normality, curiosity and play can return.

    Supporting Ukraine’s teachers

    To support Ukrainian teachers to keep teaching, and students to keep learning, Google.org are providing UNESCO with €1.2M to train and equip 50,000 teachers in Ukraine with psychosocial skills to support the mental health of their students. This will help Ukrainian teachers with some critical tools they need to continue teaching – including into the longer term – in these challenging circumstances. This latest support builds on the over $40 million in cash donations and $5 million of in-kind support for humanitarian relief efforts provided by Google.org and Google employees.

    Providing the tools

    Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with organisations including the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science and UNESCO to provide Chromebooks to schools - helping teachers connect with their students, wherever they are now based.

    Since then, for many teachers the challenges have escalated. This academic year started with more than 40% of Ukrainian schools giving classes online to increasing numbers of displaced and traumatized children.

    To help teachers connect with their students, wherever they and their students are, we've increased our commitment to provide Chromebooks from 43,000 to 50,000. Thanks to our close collaboration with UNESCO and the Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science, these Chromebooks have started to arrive. They are currently being distributed to teachers in and around the Dnipro region, and will be provided throughout the country in the weeks ahead.

    Of course, university and college students have been impacted by the war in Ukraine too - with many unable to attend their classes in person or in real-time. To help support them continue in their education, we’ve now given 250 universities and colleges six months’ free access to our premium Google Workspace for Education features. These features support higher education online learning, allowing universities to host meetings for up to 250 students and record them in Drive.

    Providing the resources

    To help Ukraine’s teachers adapt to giving lessons purely online, Google is working with local partners to deliver training in online tools, such as Google Workspace for Education, through a series of workshops and resources. We’ve recently increased our goal from 50,000 to 200,000 teachers trained by June 2023.

    We’ll continue to search for ways we can partner with Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science, and those of bordering countries, to help those impacted by the war in Ukraine - including the millions of school and university students trying to access education in this trying and difficult time.

  • How LiDAR tech helps preserve world heritage Wed, 05 Oct 2022 11:00:00 +0000

    There’s a ninth-century Buddhist temple at the heart of an ancient city in Myanmar that’s constructed from red brick and adorned with exquisite plaster moldings softened by weather and age. When a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit the area in 2016, its walls collapsed and the plaster crumbled. And this is just one temple amongst more than 3,000 pagodas, temples and monasteries in a vast archeological site that sprawls over 65 square kilometers, so assessing the scale of the damage — and how to repair it — was a huge and complex task.

    Luckily, the team at CyArk, a Google Arts and Culture partner, were in a position to help. Six months before the earthquake, they had gathered a series of detailed 3D laser scans – or “digital twins” – of Bagan’s cultural sites for a UNESCO conservation project. By creating another set of “twins” in the earthquake’s aftermath, they could compare before and after in precise detail. For the engineers and conservators tasked with repairing Bagan, the data was invaluable.

    According to John Ristevski, CEO and chairman of CyArk, the project was one dramatic example of “putting data to work to solve problems.” As the Bagan Lab Experiment shows, the data also served another purpose: bringing ancient heritage to life for new audiences around the world. Google Arts and Culture sat down with John to learn more about how this kind of 3D laser scanning technology, also known as LiDAR, can help preserve cultural heritage, tell captivating stories and make history more accessible.

    John, tell us a bit more about LiDAR devices and how they work.

    Ben Kacyra, who founded CyArk in 2003 to preserve and celebrate cultural heritage, developed the first mobile LiDAR devices in the mid-nineties. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and these devices use lasers to create incredibly detailed and accurate 3D representations of places that would be hard to describe using other means. Think of the inside of a submarine or an oil refinery, for instance – it would take forever to measure and map these places using traditional methods. A LiDAR device can gather many millions of data points per second.

    So it’s safe to say that LiDAR beats a measuring tape and a pencil – but is it enough?

    At Bagan, we also used aerial drone photography and photogrammetry, a technique that allows us to build 3D reconstructions that capture the colors and textures of the pagodas and temples in photo-realistic detail. Alongside these, we collected interviews, audio soundscapes and 360-degree video to evoke the atmosphere and history of Bagan.

    Members of CyArk, Myanmar's Department of Archaeology, Carleton University and Yangon Technological University during a 3D documentation workshop at Bagan, 2016.

    Members of CyArk, Myanmar's Department of Archaeology, Carleton University and Yangon Technological University during a 3D documentation workshop at Bagan, 2016.

    Google Arts and Culture lends itself to pulling all these different pieces together to present coherent, interactive experiences, pushing the boundaries of how to tell these stories online. Open Heritage or Resilience of the Redwoods are two examples of that.

    What threatens world heritage sites today and how can 3D models help?

    The number one threat is climate change. Rising sea levels, desertification, rainfall events and so on are affecting sites and monuments that are not designed to withstand them. The Bagan earthquake was a dramatic, one-off event. But climate change is more insidious and it’s often harder to pin down its effects. By helping us understand how heritage sites are changing, 3D data can support efforts to preserve them which we’ve been doing with Heritage on the Edge.

    What does the future hold for Bagan, and for LiDAR technology?

    In 2019, Bagan was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Careful restoration work is ongoing to protect and preserve its statues, soaring temples and hand-painted frescoes, and it continues to be an active site of pilgrimage and worship.

    Image of Easter Island, with two CyArk team members on a fieldwork trip outdoors, looking at a stone artefact.

    CyArk team members on a fieldwork trip to Rapa Nui, 2020.

    Looking ahead, our hope for LiDAR technology is not just to document the world's cultural heritage ourselves, but to share these techniques and methods with others. A good example of this is our work in Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. Its unique moai stone statues are threatened by storms, rising sea levels and coastal erosion. Local people have now acquired their own LiDAR equipment to help preserve the island's cultural heritage for generations to come.

  • Delivering on our $1 billion commitment in Africa Wed, 05 Oct 2022 08:00:00 +0000

    Last year our CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced that Google would invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years to support a range of initiatives, from improved connectivity to investment in startups, to help boost Africa’s digital transformation.

    Africa’s internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025 – 5.2% of the continent’s GDP. To support this growth, over the last year we’ve made progress on helping to enable affordable access and on building products for every African user – helping businesses build their online presence, supporting entrepreneurs spur next-generation technologies, and helping nonprofits to improve lives across the continent.

    We’d like to share how we’re delivering on our commitment and partnering with others – policymakers, non-profits, businesses and creators – to make the internet more useful to more people in Africa.

    Introducing the first Google Cloud region in Africa

    Today we’re announcing our intent to establish a Google Cloud region in South Africa – our first on the continent. South Africa will be joining Google Cloud’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.

    The future cloud region in South Africa will bring Google Cloud services closer to our local customers, enabling them to innovate and securely deliver faster, more reliable experiences to their own customers, helping to accelerate their growth. According to research by AlphaBeta Economics for Google Cloud, the South Africa cloud region will contribute more than a cumulative USD 2.1 billion to the country’s GDP, and will support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs by 2030.

    Image shows Director for Cloud in Africa, Niral Patel, next to a heading that announces Google's intent to establish its first Cloud region in Africa

    Niral Patel, Director for Cloud in Africa announces Google's intention to establish Google's first Cloud region in Africa

    Along with the cloud region, we are expanding our network through the Equiano subsea cable and building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi. In doing so, we are building full scale Cloud capability for Africa.

    Supporting African entrepreneurs

    We continue to support African entrepreneurs in growing their businesses and developing their talent. Our recently announced second cohort of the Black Founders Fund builds on the success of last year’s cohort, who raised $97 million in follow-on funding and have employed more than 500 additional staff since they were selected. We’re also continuing our support of African small businesses through the Hustle Academy and Google Business Profiles, and helping job seekers learn skills through Developer Scholarships and Career Certifications.

    We’ve also continued to support nonprofits working to improve lives in Africa, with a $40 million cash and in-kind commitment so far. Over the last year this has included:

    • $1.5M investment in Career Certifications this year bringing our total Google.org funding to more than $3M since 2021
    • A $3 million grant to support AirQo in expanding their work monitoring air quality from Kampala to ten cities in five countries on the continent;
    • A team of Googlers who have joined the Tony Elumelu Foundation for 6 months, full-time and pro-bono. The team helped build a new training web and app interface to support the next million African entrepreneurs to grow and fund their businesses.

    Across all our initiatives, we continue to work closely with our partners – most recently with the UN to launch the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI), aimed at accelerating Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development.

    Building more helpful products for Africa

    We recently announced plans to open the first African product development centre in Nairobi. The centre will develop and build better products for Africans and the world.

    Today, we’re launching voice typing support for nine more African languages (isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga) in Gboard, the Google keyboard – while 24 new languages are now supported on Google Translate, including Lingala, which is spoken by more than 45 million people across Central Africa.

    To make Maps more useful, Street View imagery in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria has had a refresh with nearly 300,000 more kilometres of imagery now helping people virtually explore and navigate neighbourhoods. We’re also extending the service to Rwanda, meaning that Street View is now available in 11 African countries.

    In addition to expanding the AI Accra Research Center earlier this year, theOpen Buildings Project, which mapped buildings across the African continent using machine learning and satellite imagery, is expanding to South and Southeast Asia and is a great example of the AI centre creating solutions for Africa that are useful across the world.

    Delivering on our promise

    We remain committed to working with our partners in building for Africa together, and helping to unlock the benefits of the digital economy for more people by providing useful products, programmes and investments. We’re doing this by partnering with African organisations, businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s the talent and drive of the individuals in the countries, communities and businesses of Africa that will power Africa’s economic growth.

  • New ways we’re making speech recognition work for everyone Tue, 04 Oct 2022 17:30:00 +0000

    Voice-activated technologies, like Google Home or the Google Assistant, can help people do things like make a phone call to someone, adjust the lighting in their house, or play a favorite song — all with the sound of their voice. But these technologies may not work as well for the millions of people around the world who have non-standard speech. In 2019 we launched our research initiative Project Euphonia with the aim of finding ways to leverage AI to make speech recognition technology more accessible.

    Today, we’re expanding this commitment to accessibility through our involvement in the Speech Accessibility Project, a collaboration between researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and five technology companies, including Google. The university is working with advocacy groups, like Team Gleason and the Davis Phinney Foundation, to create datasets of impaired speech that can help accelerate improvements to automated speech recognition (ASR) for the communities these organizations support.

    Since the launch of Project Euphonia, we’ve had the opportunity to work with community organizations to compile a collection of speech samples from over 2,000 people. This collection of utterances has allowed Project Euphonia researchers to adapt standard speech recognition systems to understand non-standard speech more accurately, and ultimately reduce median word error rates by an average of more than 80%. These promising results created the foundation for Project Relate, an Android app that allows people to submit samples of their voice and receive a personalized speech recognition model that more accurately understands their speech. It also encouraged the expansion of Project Euphonia to include additional languages like French, Japanese, and Spanish.

    There’s still a lot to be done to develop ASR systems that can understand everyone’s voice — regardless of speech pattern. However, it’s clear that larger, more diverse datasets and collaboration with the communities we want to reach will help get us to where we want to go. That is why we’re making it easy for Project Euphonia participants to share copies of their recordings to the Speech Accessibility Project. Our hope is that by making these datasets available to research and development teams, we can help improve communication systems for everyone, including people with disabilities.



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  • Sales specialist, mentor, and woman in Web3: Anella Bokhari is building community and helping others tell their story along the way Thu, 06 Oct 2022 18:00:00 -0000

    Editor's note: Anella Bokhari is a Google Cloud ISV Sales Specialist and the cofounder of Women in Web3, a Google Group dedicated to increasing female and non binary participation in blockchain technology. She's also a mentor and career coach, with a rich history of helping others develop and tell their story.


    What was your path to Google Cloud?

    My first job after graduating college in 2007 was selling Bloomberg terminals. Lacking a financial background was not an issue because they could teach me what I needed to know. 

    A year later we had the subprime crisis; Bloomberg did better than a lot of other places in the financial sector, so I learned how important data and information are to organizations. I caught the startup itch and left Bloomberg for a mid stage ad tech startup. I wound up being recruited by Google from there and joined the Google Marketing Platform team in 2016. I moved over to Google Cloud in January of last year. 


    How different is Cloud, compared with Ads?

    Ads has been Google’s bread and butter for the last twenty years. Many people in Ads have spent the majority of their careers at Google. Cloud is still very much a startup for Google. As such, the majority of team members have been hired within the last few years. The difference in maturity of these two businesses definitely contributes to uniquely different cultures. 

    At Cloud, I work with outside companies, called Independent Software Vendors [ISVs], that want to sell their technology to existing and prospective Google Cloud customers. They reach these audiences by appealing to Google Cloud sellers who manage these relationships. This role requires me to connect many individual people and groups.


    That's a challenge -  appeal to a salesperson, so you can appeal to a customer.

    It's a great communications challenge. I’ve led sessions on how to give a really compelling narrative to someone who's being bombarded with things to sell. Ideally, in three slides or less you can clearly tell them the real problems you help solve, real examples of success, and what you and the salesperson can do together. It sounds simple, but great success comes from thinking through all the details. 


    You're also a mentor and coach to a lot of people within Google.

    Google is a massive company with a lot of different opportunities. It can help to have someone who will listen, discuss career ambitions, and come up with a plan on getting there. 

    A huge part of this process is owning your personal brand and developing your story. This has alway been a focus area for me in my career. The ability to help others with this process is very rewarding. 

    The biggest difference between coaching Googlers and coaching an ISV is the audience focus. The ISV is thinking about what a salesperson needs to hear, and the Googler is ultimately thinking about what the hiring manager needs to hear. 


    You've also started doing a lot of work in Web3 including founding Women in Web3 at Google. What attracted you to the space?

    Web3 is generally defined as the next phase of the internet powered by blockchain technology. It’s an umbrella term for a lot of things, including cryptocurrency, Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance and the metaverse. The most important and exciting part of this space is the theme of direct participation. Imagine being able to participate in an artist’s royalties because you were a holder of their original NFT! There is massive potential to innovate across multiple different industries.  Once the hype and the buzz settles, we will start to see true utility based use cases come to life. 

    When I started getting interested in Web3, I joined some of the chatrooms Alphabet has on the subject. I noticed there weren't a lot of women, so I wanted to create a forum where more  women and non binary audiences who were interested, but maybe a bit intimidated, could connect on the topic. After launching the group and spreading the word that week we had about 600 people sign up. We're now up to 800+, and we've hosted a lot of great external speakers to showcase the working being done in the space. 


    Where do you hope this community goes?

    I want it to be a place where people feel safe to ask questions, where it's ok to feel like a beginner, and where eventually, people start getting involved. What I'm most passionate about is that it is still early days. The moment to ensure this will be a diverse and equitable industry is now.

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  • Announcing Advanced Markers: easily create highly customized, faster performance markers Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    For many of you, putting a marker on a map was your first experience using Google Maps Platform. And often, that was your first step in using Google’s knowledge of the real world to build immersive and helpful mapping experiences for your users in every corner of the globe. No matter what the use case, industry, or whether you’re building for web or mobile–the marker is almost always a core element for a map-based experience. 

    One of our developer community’s top requests is for more advanced marker capabilities that are easy to use. Today, we’re meeting that demand with the Preview release of Advanced Markers for the Maps JavaScript API. Now, you can create highly customized, faster performance markers that provide a richer user experience, showcase your brand, and save time and resources. 

    Key capabilities and use cases

    Customize the Google Maps red pin
    The ability to easily customize the default red pin ranks among our most requested features from developers. With the new `PinView` class in Advanced Markers, you can now change the color, background, icon, and outline of the default red pin directly in your code, with no image needed. 

    This enables a number of use cases. A retailer can change the markers for their store locations to reflect their brand colors. A travel company can change the colors and icons of places around hotels, to make it easier for users to pick their ideal hotel based on the surrounding amenities. Or a logistics company can change the color of a marker to reflect the status of packages or vehicles as changes occur in real-time.

    Direct support of SVGs and PNGs to create custom markers
    Another option for customizing a marker is to use your own image asset, such as an icon or photo. You now have the ability to use any image format supported by the HTML `img` tag, such as PNGs and SVGs. You can also use CSS to dynamically style and animate Advanced Markers, including changing sizing, opacity, position, color, and more. This makes it easier to add dynamic marker experiences into a Google map than ever before. For example, you can use your logo or other brand assets to incorporate your branding more deeply into your maps.


    Advanced Markers branding example
    A representative mockup showing custom animated markers built with SVG images

    Create contextual, interactive experiences with custom markers
    You can also create custom Advanced Markers using any custom HTML element that responds to user interactions and can be styled with the full flexibility of CSS. With this capability, you can create beautiful, engaging, and interactive marker experiences that were previously difficult to build without the use of complex custom overlays. For example, a real estate company can enable markers to display property prices that respond to user interactions to display additional helpful information, such as the property address, square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. 


    Advanced Markers real estate example
    A representative mockup of a real estate company using custom markers with HTML elements to display property prices

    Visit our demo to explore these and other use cases.

    Improved marker performance and accessibility 

    Advanced Markers can load up to 66% faster than our traditional markers, and provide faster panning and zooming.1 The feature also supports fast load times for a larger amount of markers. 

    Advanced Markers performance
    A map loading, panning and zooming 500 markers, using Advanced Markers

    We’ve also made numerous accessibility improvements, enabling you to create products for users that utilize screen readers or keyboard navigation. With these improvements, users can navigate between markers, and drag and drop them, all with the keyboard. The marker title is automatically picked up by the screen reader, and the marker defaults to the accessibility role.

    Advanced Markers accessibility

    Advanced Markers enables you to create products that utilize screen readers or keyboard navigation 

    Getting Started with Advanced Markers

    Like the recent Preview release of Data-driven styling, Advanced Markers is included with Dynamic Maps for Maps JavaScript API as the latest feature added to Cloud-based maps styling. To get started with Advanced Markers and learn about additional features, check out the documentation and view this video.

    Video tutorial on how to use Advanced Markers

    We can’t wait to see how you’ll reimagine this fundamental part of your mapping experiences.


    1 Internal benchmark tests were done on an Advanced Markers map with 500 markers.  Actual results will vary based on a number of factors, including but not limited to advanced markers configurations, application implementation, browsers, and hardware specifications.

  • How our commitment to open source unlocks AI and ML innovation Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    At Google, we believe anyone should be able to quickly and easily turn their artificial intelligence (AI) idea into reality. Open source software (OSS) has become increasingly important to this goal, heavily influencing the pace of innovation in AI and machine learning (ML) ecosystems. Over the last two decades, ML has transformed Google services including Search, YouTube, Assistant, and Maps, and the basis for this transformation has always been our "open first" approach through investments in projects and ecosystems like TensorFlow, Jax, and PyTorch. 

    These OSS efforts are important because many AI technologies rely on closed or exclusive approaches. This wall-garden approach creates high barriers to entry for developers; limits efforts to make AI explainable, ethical, equitable; and stunts innovation. We’re committed to open ecosystems, as we firmly believe no one company should own AI/ML innovation. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of Google’s most significant OSS AI and ML contributions from recent years, as well as how our commitment to open technologies can help organizations innovate faster and more flexibly.   

    Openness is the way to operate as an ecosystem, not a single project 

    Google’s OSS initiatives extend and enable AI initiatives according to three pillars: 

    • Access — OSS allows developers, researchers and organizations of all sizes to leverage the latest ML technology. It is a key part of democratizing innovation in ML, fostering software diversity and choice for customers, and lowering operating cost while accelerating scale for everyone. 

    • Transparency — Open source datasets, ML algorithms, training models, frameworks, and compilers ensure due diligence and validation by the larger community. This is paramount when it comes to ML as it bolsters reproducibility, interpretability, ensures equity, and boosts security.

    • Innovation — With more access and transparency, more innovation comes naturally. Our customers and partners take advantage of open source ML toolsets and frameworks to create more innovation in the field by contributing their own OSS. 

    Google’s ongoing commitment to open source AI 

    Google’s commitment to open standards spans over two decades of OSS contributions like TensorFlow, JAX, TFX, MLIR, KubeFlow, and Kubernetes, as well as sponsorship for critical OSS data science initiatives like Project Jupyter and NumFOCUS. Initiatives like these have helped Google become the leading Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) contributor—and by building on these efforts, Google Cloud seeks to be the best platform for the OSS AI community and ecosystem. 

    The perils of closed technologies can emerge at many points across ML pipelines, which is why Google’s OSS strategy encompasses the entire “idea-to-production” lifecycle, from acquiring data, to training models, to managing infrastructure, to facilitating experimentation and model refinement: 

    Data acquisition: starting the journey from idea to production-ready ML model 

    The journey from an idea to a production ML model starts with data. TensorFlow Datasets not only help users acquire ready-to-use, customizable, and highly-optimized datasets (including image, audio, and text), but also provides a set of helpful APIs that make it easy for users to organize their own datasets, regardless of whether they build with TensorFlow, Jax, or other ML frameworks.

    Model development and training: shortening the path from data to useful ML 

    OSS libraries help developers and researchers design, implement, train, test, and debug ML algorithms. Our contributors on this front include:  

    • The TensorFlowcore framework, which offers APIs to help data scientists and developers build and train production-grade ML models on distributed and accelerated infrastructure powered by GPUs or TPUs;

    • Google’s founding membership of the PyTorch Foundation, which positions us to increase adoption of ML by building an ecosystem of open-source projects with PyTorch;

    • Keras, a simple and powerful ML framework, well integrated with TensorFLow, that makes it easy for developers to quickly build and train ML models, or to leverage pre-trained AI applications

    • Model Garden, which provides implementations of many state-of-the-art computer vision and natural language processing models, maintained by Google and accessible to all, alongside APIs to accelerate training and experiments;  

    • Jax, a lean, intuitive, and composable system that brings together automatic differentiation (Autograd) and the Accelerated Linear Algebra (XLA) optimizing compiler to offer high-performance ML for fast research and production;

    • TensorFlow Hub, a repository of trained ML models ready for fine-tuning and deployment; and,

    • MediaPipe open source cross-platform, which lets users leverage customizable ML solutions for live and streaming media, including text and video. 

    ML infrastructure management: scaling valuable models with powerful backends

    Accessing and managing infrastructure for ML, especially at scale, can be a blocker for many organizations, which is why Google has invested in initiatives including:

    • The TFX (or TensorFlow Extended) platform, which offers software frameworks and tooling for full MLOps deployments, helping developers with data automation, model tracking, performance monitoring, and model retraining; 

    • Kubeflow, which makes deployments of ML workflows on Kubernetes simple, portable and scalable; and,

    • TRC (TPU Research Cloud), which gives access to a cluster of more than 1,000 Cloud TPU devices at no charge to selected researchers who publish peer-reviewed papers and/or open source code. 

    Experimentation and model optimization: encouraging discovery and iteration

    Data, tools for model training, and infrastructure can achieve only so much without strong processes for experimentation and optimization—which is why we’ve contribution to projects like xManager, which enables anyone to run and keep track of ML experiments locally or on Vertex AI and Tensorboard, which simplifies tracking and visualizing of model performance metrics.

    These areas of focus will help not only our customers but the open-source AI community as a whole, and we’re excited to share more OSS news in coming days and months. To start exploring why many organizations choose Google Cloud for their open-source AI needs, visit our “open cloud” page and be sure to register for Google Cloud Next ‘22 for all our latest news.  


    Thanks to all the contributors to this blog post: Matt Vasey, George Elissaios, Warren Barkley, Manvinder Singh, James Rubin, Abhishek Ratna, Thea Lamkin, Amin Vahdat, Andrew Moore, Max Sapozhnikov, Gandhi, Vikram Kasivajhula

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  • IDC Report: Driving business value with Google Workspace Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    At Google Workspace, we believe flexible, modern tools that put people at the center of the experience are critical to helping employees and teams innovate and get things done. We recently commissioned IDC to interview eight of our largest global customers and complete an in-depth analysis to better understand the business value they’re generating from their investment in Google Workspace. All organizations remained anonymous to us during the process. 

    Now we’re delighted to share some of the high-level insights from the analysis, which can best be summed up by this quote: “Google Workspace gives us a single point of focus for transformation and enablement.” Across these customers, IDC learned that our integrated tools make digital experiences more accessible, help employees spend more time on meaningful activities, and enhance collaboration to have a “substantial impact” on how people work and power their organizations.

    More time for what matters

    IDC stat for GWS

    By some estimates, employees spend 58% of their days doing “work about work” — administrative tasks, tracking down information and files, answering emails, and switching between apps and tools. And that percentage jumps to 62% for managers. With so much running in place, employees struggle to find time for truly impactful activities like strategy, innovation, and customer service. 

    Organizations can free up valuable employee time and resources by giving them tools that help streamline tasks or automate repetitive workflows. That might be a retail associate using AppSheet, our no-code platform, to create a custom app that simplifies their daily inventory count. Or it might be turning to AI-generated summaries of long documents in team collaboration meetings.

    Based on IDC’s analysis of our selected customers,“Employees using Google Workspace have 36% more time for creative work and spend 24% less time on routine or administrative tasks.” For example, an international airline explained that their pilots and cabin crew previously traveled to the airport for in-person briefings. Now that they create and share briefing documents in Google Docs and through Drive, they can prepare to take flight well in advance and easily track ongoing updates. 

    Accessible digital experiences for all

    Technology that doesn’t work for everyone ultimately works for no one. As the world of work settles into hybrid, people-first tools that enable every employee to contribute equally, from anywhere, are a must. Likewise, forward-thinking organizations should ensure that employees with unique job responsibilities, specific working conditions, or accessibility needs can use the same technologies as their other colleagues.

    To that end, IDC observed that Google Workspace delivers benefits for all workers that “are so impactful that they fundamentally change how employees work.” One customer highlighted how their frontline employees working in cold temperatures add text with their voice to Google Docs, so they don’t have to remove their gloves to type. Another customer noted that Google Meet has transformed video conferencing for hard of hearing employees: “They’re able to participate in Google Meet meetings by seeing people’s videos and watching their lips…plus the closed captioning allows them to participate and understand what’s happening.”

    Working together, wherever and whenever

    Organizations need their employees to work together successfully from anywhere, and IDC reported that Google Workspace helps office, remote, and frontline workers alike facilitate cross-functional collaboration and improve communication to make decision-making more efficient. For one interviewed organization, “Collaboration is the most significant benefit, meaning the frequency of interaction enabled by Google Workspace through…a standardized, well-integrated toolset. When everyone on a project can work on the same document in real time across widely distributed geographies, that makes for a more productive team.”

    To learn more about how Google Workspace helps enterprises address the needs of distributed workforces and drive business value, download the full IDC white paper.

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  • Moving to Log Analytics for BigQuery export users Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    If you’ve already centralized your log analysis on BigQuery as your single pane of glass for logs & events…congratulations! You’re already benefiting from BigQuery’s:

    With the introduction of Log Analytics (Public Preview), something great is now even better. It leverages BigQuery while also reducing your costs and accelerating your time to value with respect to exporting and analyzing your Google Cloud logs in BigQuery.

    This post is for users who are (or are considering) migrating from BigQuery log sink to Log Analytics. We’ll highlight the differences between the two, and go over how to easily tweak your existing BigQuery SQL queries to work with Log Analytics. For an introductory overview of Log Analytics and how it fits in Cloud Logging, see our user docs.

    Comparison

    When it comes to advanced log analytics using the power of BigQuery, Log Analytics offers a simple, cost-effective and easy-to-operate alternative to exporting to BigQuery with Log Router (using log sink) which involves duplicating your log data. Before jumping into examples and patterns to help you convert your BigQuery SQL queries, let’s compare Log Analytics and Log sink to BigQuery.

    1 Log Analytics.jpg
    2 Log Analytics.jpg


    Log sink to BigQuery

    Log Analytics

    Operational Overhead

    • Create and manage additional log sink(s) and BigQuery dataset to export a copy of the log entries

    Cost

    • Pay twice for storage and ingestion since data is duplicated in BigQuery

    • BigQuery storage and ingestion cost are included in Cloud Logging ingestion costs

    • Free tier of queries from Log Analytics

    Storage

    • Schema defined at table creation time for every log type

    • Log format changes can cause schema mismatch errors 

    • Single unified schema

    • Log format changes do not cause schema mismatch errors

    Analytics

    • Query logs in SQL from BigQuery

    Security

    Comparing Log Analytics with traditional log sink to BigQuery 

    Simplified table organization

    The first important data change is that all logs in a Log Analytics-upgraded log bucket are available in a single log view _AllLogs with an overarching schema (detailed in next section) that supports all Google Cloud log types or shapes. This is in contrast to traditional BigQuery log sink where each log entry gets mapped to a separate BigQuery table in your dataset based on the log name, as detailed in BigQuery routing schema. Below are some examples:

    3 Log Analytics.jpg
    Table path in SQL FROM clause

    The second column in this table assumes your BigQuery log sink is configured to use partitioned tables. If your BigQuery log sink is configured to use date-sharded tables, your queries must also account for the additional suffix (calendar date of log entry) added to table names e.g. cloudaudit_googleapis_com_data_access_09252022.

    As shown in the above comparison table, with Log Analytics, you don’t need to know apriori the specific log name nor the exact table name for that log since all logs are available in the same view. This greatly simplifies querying especially when you want to search and correlate across different logs types.

    You can still control the scope of a given query by optionally specifying log_id or log_name in your WHERE clause. For example, to restrict the query to data_access logs, you can add the following:

    WHERE log_id = "cloudaudit.googleapis.com/data_access"

    Unified log schema

    Since there’s only one schema for all logs, there’s one superset schema in Log Analytics that is managed for you. This schema is a collation of all possible log schemas. For example, the schema accommodates the different possible types of payloads in a LogEntry (protoPayload, textPayload and jsonPayload) by mapping them to unique fields (proto_payload, text_payload and json_payload respectively):

    4 Log Analytics.jpg

    Log field names have also generally changed from camelCase (e.g. logName) to snake_case (e.g. log_name). There are also new fields such as log_id, that is log_id of each log entry.

    Another user-facing schema change is the use of native JSON data type by Log Analytics for some fields representing nested objects like json_payload and labels. Since JSON-typed columns can include arbitrary JSON objects, the Log Analytics schema doesn't list the fields available in that column. This is in contrast to traditional BigQuery log sink which has pre-defined rigid schemas for every log type including every nested field.  With a more flexible schema that includes JSON fields, Log Analytics can support semi-structured data including arbitrary logs while also making queries simpler, and in some cases faster.

    Schema migration guide

    With all these table schema changes, how would you compose new or translate your existing SQL queries from traditional BigQuery log sink to Log Analytics?

    The following lists side-by-side all log fields and maps them to corresponding column names and types, for both cases of traditional Log sink routing into BigQuery, and the new Log Analytics. Use this table as a migration guide to help you identify breaking changes, properly reference the new fields and methodically migrate your existing SQL queries (Click image to enlarge):

    5 Log Analytics.jpg
    Log schema mapping table (Click to enlarge)

    All fields with breaking changes are bolded to make it visually easier to track where changes are needed. For example, if you’re querying audit logs, you’re probably referencing and parsing protopayload_auditlog STRUCT field. Using the schema migration table above, you can see how that field now maps to proto_payload.audit_log STRUCT field with Log Analytics. 

    Notice the newly added fields are marked in yellow cells and the JSON-converted fields are marked in red cells.

    Schema changes summary

    Based on the above schema migration guide, there are 5 notable breaking changes (beyond the general column name change from camelCase to snake_case):

    1) Fields whose type changed from STRING to JSON (highlighted in red above):

    • metadataJson

    • requestJson

    • responseJson

    • resourceOriginalStateJson 

    2) Fields whose type changed from STRUCT to JSON (also highlighted in red above):

    • labels

    • resource.labels

    • jsonPayload

    • jsonpayload_type_loadbalancerlogentry

    • protopayload_auditlog.servicedata_v1_bigquery

    • protopayload_auditlog.servicedata_v1_iam

    • protopayload_auditlog.servicedata_v1_iam_admin

    3) Fields which are further nested:

    • protopayload_auditlog (now proto_payload.audit_log)

    • protopayload_requestlog (now proto_payload.request_log)

    4) Fields which are coalesced into one:

    • jsonPayload (now json_payload)

    • jsonpayload_type_loadbalancerlogentry (now json_payload)

    • jsonpayload_v1beta1_actionlog (now json_payload)

    5) Other fields with type changes:

    • httpRequest.latency (from FLOAT to STRUCT)

    Query migration patterns

    For each of these changes, let’s see how your SQL queries should be translated. Working through examples, we highlight below SQL excerpts and provide a link to complete SQL query in Community Security Analytics (CSA) repo for full real-world examples. In the following examples:

    • ‘Before’ refers to SQL with traditional BigQuery log sink, and

    • ‘After’ refers to SQL with Log Analytics

    Pattern 1: Referencing nested field from a STRING column now turned into JSON
    This pertains to some of the fields highlighted in red in the schema migration table, namely: 

    • metadataJson

    • requestJson

    • responseJson

    • resourceOriginalStateJson


    Before:

    JSON_VALUE(protopayload_auditlog.metadataJson, '$.violationReason')

    After:

    JSON_VALUE(proto_payload.audit_log.metadata.violationReason)

    Real-world full query: CSA 1.10


    Before:

    JSON_VALUE(protopayload_auditlog.metadataJson, '$.ingressViolations[0].targetResource')

    After:

    JSON_VALUE(proto_payload.audit_log.metadata.ingressViolations[0].targetResource)

    Real-world full query: CSA 1.10


    Pattern 2: Referencing nested field from a STRUCT column now turned into JSON
    This pertains to some of the fields highlighted in red in the schema migration table, namely: 

    • labels

    • resource.labels

    • jsonPayload

    • jsonpayload_type_loadbalancerlogentry

    • protopayload_auditlog.servicedata*


    Before:

    jsonPayload.connection.dest_ip

    After:

    JSON_VALUE(jsonPayload.connection.dest_ip)

    Real-world full query: CSA 6.01


    Before:

    resource.labels.backend_service_name

    After:

    JSON_VALUE(resource.labels.backend_service_name)

    Real-world full query: CSA 1.20


    Before:

    jsonpayload_type_loadbalancerlogentry.statusdetails

    After:

    JSON_VALUE(json_payload.statusDetails)

    Real-world full query: CSA 1.20


    Before:

    protopayload_auditlog.servicedata_v1_iam.policyDelta.bindingDeltas

    After:

    JSON_QUERY_ARRAY(proto_payload.audit_log.service_data.policyDelta.bindingDeltas)

    Real-world full query: CSA 2.20


    Pattern 3: Referencing fields from protoPayload:
    This pertains to some of the bolded fields in the schema migration table, namely: 

    • protopayload_auditlog (now proto_payload.audit_log)

    • protopayload_requestlog (now proto_payload.request_log)


    Before:

    protopayload_auditlog.authenticationInfo.principalEmail

    After:

    proto_payload.audit_log.authentication_info.principal_email

    Real-world full query: CSA 1.01


    Pattern 4: Referencing fields from jsonPayload of type load balancer log entry:

    Before:

    jsonpayload_type_loadbalancerlogentry.statusdetails

    After:

    JSON_VALUE(json_payload.statusDetails)

    Real-world full query: CSA 1.20


    Pattern 5: Referencing latency field in httpRequest
    :


    Before:

    httpRequest.latency

    After:

    http_request.latency.nanos / POW(10,9)


    Conclusion

    With Log Analytics, you can reduce the cost and complexity of log analysis, by moving away from self-managed log sinks and BigQuery datasets, into Google-managed log sink and BigQuery dataset while also taking advantage of faster and simpler querying. On top of that, you also get the features included in Cloud Logging such as the Logs Explorer for real-time troubleshooting, logs-based metrics, log alerts and Error Reporting for automated insights. 

    Armed with this guide, switching to use Log Analytics for log analysis can be easy. Use the above schema migration guide and apply the 5 prescriptive migration patterns, to help you convert your BigQuery SQL log queries or to author new ones in Log Analytics.

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  • Tell us about your Cloud Architecture dreams Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Whether you are new to Google Cloud or an existing customer running thousands of workloads, one of the most common questions we get is, “How would Google architect and design my environment?” The answer to this question would truly be a dream come true, right?  Just to set expectations, we won’t answer that here.  This short blog is intended to give you a hint of how we’re thinking about this question, before taking a deeper dive into the subject in a future whitepaper.  More importantly, we hope it gets you thinking about how you’d like to see us answer that question in the future.   We’d love to hear from you, so if you are itching to tell us your cloud architecture dreams, you’ll find ways to let us know at the end of this blog.

    Can We Talk About Architecture?

    If you were to look up the term “architecture”, it’s likely there would be references to designing and constructing buildings or perhaps more broadly, designing and constructing “something”.  When we think about cloud architecture specifically, we have certain requirements in mind and expectations for what we’ve built.  Whatever it is we build needs to provide some utility to us.  Technical architectures typically must meet certain non-functional requirements like resilience, performance, security, and more.  One method of design takes functional and non-functional elements of an architecture and aligns them with a specific set of design principles.  Design principles act as a compass for what you are trying to create.  While they don’t define exactly how to get to your destination, they keep you pointed in the right direction.  Using design principles is certainly not a new concept.   However, a design principle driven approach to architecture allows us to come up with a slightly better definition of what architecture is.  For purposes of the discussion here, let’s think of architecture as a purpose built service that conforms to a set of prioritized design principles.  In other words, the thing that you’ve built is providing some value or utility to the organization and at the same time must have certain characteristics to stay on course with the “path” your design intended.

    1 Cloud Architecture.jpg

    What is a Picture Worth?

    It’s been said that cloud architects sometimes create a bunch of pretty documents and pictures but at the end of the day, those assets get shoved into a drawer; never to be read again.  Assuming what we’ve designed has value to us, there are likely certain design principles that drive the architecture.  We expect what we’ve built to not only provide some utility, but also meet the design principles we had in mind; secure, resilient, high performance, and so on.  How would you ensure that your new system continues to meet the standards of design you’ve established?  There are configuration management solutions like Chef, Puppet, or cloud based services like Deployment Manager… or Terraform.   Those are all great at managing configuration, but are they managing architecture?   Do any of these tools know that a particular managed configuration will affect a design principle like performance, security or resiliency?  Are any of these tools guiding you on what should even be managed or configured to begin with?  What do you do with these tools when there are new architectural requirements?  We realize that these are more questions than answers.  The point is that maintaining the integrity of your environment’s architecture is much different from maintaining the integrity of its configuration.   In fact, if the design principles on which you based your architecture provide value to your organization, then one would think that maintaining the integrity of the architecture is actually the most important thing.

    2 Cloud Architecture.jpg

    What’s Your Dream Cloud Architecture?

    What would your dream scenario be with regard to your cloud architecture?  If we had to guess, we think you’d want (at least in part) something that answered the first question posed; “How would Google architect and design my environment?”.  What does this really mean to you though?  Companies are very different and Google is no exception to that.  What works for Google might not work for you.  Would we ask you what you need to do and then based on your response generate an architecture?  Would it mean you telling us what you prioritize, reviewing something you’ve built, and then providing specific recommendations?  What if your environment changed?  What if our cloud services changed?   We are starting to think about how to approach cloud architecture differently and will be discussing more thoughts on the subject in future blog posts.  Until then, we would love to hear what is important to you about your cloud architecture.  If you’d like to learn more, take a look at the latest version of our Architecture Framework.  If you’d like to connect with us, come talk to us in our community  or share your cloud architecture dreams with us at cloud-architecture-dreams@google.com.

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  • 100,000 new SUVs booked in 30 minutes: How Mahindra built its online order system Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Almost 70 years ago, starting in 1954, the Mahindra Group began assembling the Indian version of the Willys CJ3. Willys were arguably the first SUV in any country, and that vehicle would lay the groundwork for our Automotive Division’s continued leadership in the space, up to our iconic and best-selling Scorpio models.

    When it came time to launch the newest version, the Scorpio-N this summer, we knew we wanted to attempt something as special and different as the vehicle itself. As in most markets, vehicle sales in India are largely made through dealerships. Yet past launches have shown us an enthusiasm among our tech-savvy buyers to have a different kind of sales experience, not unlike those they have come to expect from so many other products. 

    As a result, we set out to build a first-of-its-kind site for digital bookings. We knew it would face a serious surge, like most e-commerce sites on a big sales day, but that was the kind of traffic automotive sites are hardly accustomed to.

    To our delight, the project exceeded our wildest expectations, setting digital sales records in the process. On launch day, July 30, 2022, we saw more than 25,000 booking requests in the first minute, and 100,000 booking requests in the first 30 minutes, totaling USD 2.3 billion in car sales. 

    At its peak, there were around 60,000 concurrent users on the booking platform trying to book the vehicle. Now let’s look under the hood of how to create a platform robust and scalable enough to handle an e-commerce-level rush for the automotive industry.

    A cloud-first approach to auto sales and architecture

    Our aim was to build a clean, lean, and highly efficient system, which is also fast, robust, and scalable. And to achieve it, we went back to the drawing board to remove all the inefficiencies in our existing online and dealer booking processes. We put on our design thinking hats, to give our customers and dealers a platform that was meant to be used during high rush launches and does the only thing which mattered during launch day: the ability for all to book a vehicle swiftly and efficiently.

    While order booking use cases are quite common development scenarios, our particular challenge was to handle a large volume of orders in a very short time, and ensure almost immediate end-user response times. Each order required a sequence of business logic checks, customer notifications, payment flow, and interaction with our CRM systems. We knew we needed to build a cloud-first solution that could scale to meet the surge and then rapidly scale down once the rush was over.

    We arrived at a list of required resources about three months before the launch date and planned for resources to be reserved for our Google Cloud project. We chose to build the solution on managed platform services, which allowed us to focus on developing our solution logic rather than worrying about day-two concerns such as platform scalability and security. The core platform stack is comprised of Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Cloud Spanner, and Cloud Memorystore (Redis), and is supported by Container Registry, Pub/Sub, Cloud Functions, reCaptcha Enterprise, Google Analytics, and Google Cloud’s operations suite. The solution architecture is described in detail in the following section.

    Architecture components

    The diagram below depicts the high-level solution architecture. We had three key personas interacting with our portal: customers, dealers, and our admin team. To identify the microservices, we dissected the use cases for each of these personas and designed parameterized microservices to serve them. As solution design progressed, our microservices-based approach allowed us to quickly adapt business logic and keep up with changes suggested by our sales teams. The front-end web application was created using ReactJS as a single-page application, while the microservices were built using NodeJS and hosted on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

    1 Mahindra Group.jpg

    Container orchestration with Google Kubernetes Engine

    GKE provides Standard and Autopilot as two modes of operation. In addition to the features provided by the Standard mode, GKE Autopilot mode adds day-two conveniences such as Google Cloud managed nodes. We opted for GKE Standard mode, with nodes provisioned across three Google Cloud availability zones in the Mumbai Google Cloud region, as we were aware of the precise load pattern to be anticipated, and the portal was going to be relatively short-lived. OSS Istio was configured to route the traffic within the cluster, which was sitting behind a cloud load balancer, itself behind the CDN. All microservices code components were built, packaged into containers, and deployed via our corporate build platform. At peak, we had 1,200 GKE nodes in operation.

    All customer notifications generated in the user flow were delivered via email and SMS/text messages. These were routed via Pub/Sub, acting as a queue, with Cloud Functions draining the queues and delivering them via partner SMS gateways and Mahindra’s email APIs. Given the importance of sending timely SMS notifications of booking confirmations, two independent third-party SMS gateway providers were used to ensure redundancy and scale. Both Pub/Sub and Cloud Functions scaled automatically to keep up with notification workload.  

    Data strategy  

    Given the need for incredibly high transaction throughput for a short burst of time, we chose Spanner as the primary datastore as it offers the best features of relational databases and scale-out performance of NoSQL databases. Using Spanner not only provided us the scale needed to store the car bookings rapidly, but also allowed the admin teams to see real-time drill-down pivots of sales performance across vehicle models, towns and dealerships, without the need for an additional analytical processing layer. Here’s how:
    • Spanner uniquely offers Interleaved tables that physically collocate the child table rows with the parent table row, leading to faster retrieval. 
    • Spanner also has a scale-out model where it automatically and dynamically partitions data across compute nodes (splits) to scale out the transaction workload. 
    • We were able to prevent Spanner from dynamically partitioning data during peak traffic, by pre-warming the Spanner database with representative data, and allowing it to settle before the booking window opened. 

    Together, these benefits ensured a quick and seamless booking and checkout process for our customers.

    We chose Memorystore (Redis) to serve mostly static, master data such as models, cities/towns, and dealer lists. It also served as the primary store for user session/token tracking. Separate Memorystore clusters were provisioned for each of the above needs. 

    UI/UX Strategy  

    We kept the website in line with a lean booking process. We only had the necessary components that a customer would need to book the vehicle: 1) vehicle choice, 2) the dealership to deliver the vehicle to, 3) the customer’s personal details, and 4) payment mode.

    Within the journey, we worked towards a lean system and ensured all images and other master assets were optimized for size and pushed to Cloudflare CDN, with cache enabled to reduce latency and to reduce server calls. All the static and resource files were pushed to CDN during the build process.

    On the service backend side, we had around 10 microservices that were independent of each other. Each microservice was scaled proportionally to the request frequency and the data it was processing. The source code was reviewed and optimized to have fewer iterations. We made sure there were no bottlenecks in any of the microservices and had mechanisms in place to recover in case there were some failures.

    Monitoring the solution

    Monitoring the solution was going to be a key necessity. We anticipated that customer volume would spike when the web portal launched on a specific date and time, so the solution team required real-time operational visibility into how each component was performing. To monitor the performance of all Google Cloud services, specific Google Cloud Monitoring dashboards were developed. Custom dashboards were also developed to analyze application logs via Cloud Trace and Cloud Logging. This allowed the operations team to monitor some business metrics correlated with operations status in real time. The war room team kept track of end users' experiences by manually navigating through the main booking flow and logging in to the portal. 

    Finally, integration with Google Analytics gave our team almost real-time visibility to user traffic in terms of use cases, with the ability to drill down to get city/state-wise details. 

    Preparing for the portal launch

    The team did extensive performance testing ahead of the launch. The critical parameter was to achieve low, single-digit end-user response times in seconds, for all customer requests. Given that the architecture exclusively used REST APIs and sync calls wherever possible for client-server communication, the team had to test the REST APIs to arrive at the best GKE and Spanner sizing to meet the peak performance test target of 250,000 concurrent users. Locust, an open-source performance testing tool running on an independent GKE cluster, was used to perform and monitor the stress test. Numerous configurations (e.g. min/max pod settings in GKE, Spanner indexes and interleaved storage settings, introducing MemoryStore for real-time counters, etc.) were tuned during the process. We did extensive load testing which established GKE’s and Spanner’s ability to handle the traffic spike we were expecting by a significant margin.

    Transforming the SUV buying experience

    In India, the traditional SUV purchasing process is offline and centered around dealerships. Pivoting to an exclusive online booking experience needed internal business process tweaks to make it simple and secure for customers and dealers to do online bookings themselves. With our deep technical partnership with Google Cloud in powering the successful Scorpio-N launch event, we feel we have influenced a shift in the SUV buying experience, where we received more than 70% of the first 25,000 booking requests directly from buyers sitting in their homes. 

    The Mahindra Automotive team looks forward to continuing to drive digital innovations in the Indian automotive sector with Google Cloud.

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  • The Home Depot derived key business insights by upskilling on BigQuery Thu, 06 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    The Home Depot (THD) is the world’s largest home-improvement retailer and leverages a data-driven approach to meet growing customer demand. 

    Focusing on building a world-class interconnected retail experience to enable their customers to accomplish more required a two-fold solution – they needed to upskill their IT staff to equip them to extract the most from the cloud as well as to drive efficient business operations. But that wasn’t all - they also needed an accelerated training roadmap that could deliver results in weeks (as opposed to years) to enable completion of a multi-year migration to the cloud.

    As THD focused to move to an agile deployment cycle to more quickly meet customer needs,  Google Cloud, along with internal and external partners, developed an accelerated training and certification roadmap aligned with THD’s growth initiatives.

    As the scale of Google Cloud across the business increased, THD was faced with the challenge of how to effectively train thousands of employees across a very broad and diverse range of scope-related topics to fully leverage all of Google Cloud's capabilities. THD’s internal learning and enablement team, OrangeMethod, partnered with Google Cloud Customer Experience to ensure they had an effective level of guidance for this massive undertaking. By harnessing the expertise of Google Cloud Learning services and Premium Support for Google Cloud, THD was in an ideal position to develop a strategic approach that enabled them to effectively implement a training program for its technology associates.

    Training, enablement, and cloud support have become the most important areas for the Google Cloud Customer Experience team to highlight with each customer. Leveraging our training provider, ROI Training, Google Cloud Learning services ran a 10-week cohort program with THD to equip their associates with the Professional Cloud Architect certification. This project was then scaled-up to create a quarterly schedule for certifying cohorts of THD employees in Google Cloud. Google Cloud Learning services, along with OrangeMethod, launched an internal website to - manage registration and gather statistics from their associates on  associates who were interested in participating in the training curriculum in the future. With Premium Support for Google Cloud, THD also collaborated with their Technical Account Manager (TAM) to secure proactive technical guidance for cultivating enterprise-wide business and technical transformation. The TAM’s customer-aware knowledge of THD’s systems and environments that ensured THD  implemented training solutions best suited for their associates’ needs. 

    A second area of focus was to ensure monthly Cloud Hero events across various topics including data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). Cloud Hero events deliver short half-day sessions with hands-on training and discussion about a specific topic, which enables associates to become upskilled in a very short timeframe through an engaging event that leverages topics of interest. Together, monthly Cloud Hero events were completed along with certification cohorts and customized training where needed. This structured path resulted in hundreds of THD associates gaining the additional skills they needed to more efficiently tackle complex projects in addition to creating a solid learning base which will enable THD to handle more groups and scale their educational training to accommodate even more associates in the future.

    In addition, THD leadership was keen to standardize ML workflows and facilitate cohesive collaboration across engineering teams through hands-on experience. Their senior engineering principals teamed up with talent development stakeholders from THD’s internal IT training team, OrangeMethod, and approached Google Cloud’s Advanced Solutions Lab (ASL) to find the best means to upskill their top data engineers in ML and data solutions such as BigQuery and Vertex AI. THD team leaders had a desire to build a custom curriculum plan in collaboration with Google ML software engineers and SMEs. The goal was to create deep-dive hands-on instruction in training, tuning, and serving models with Vertex AI. This bespoke program included orchestrating ML workflows relying on BigQuery data with Vertex Pipelines, monitoring models deployed to Vertex Endpoints, creating scalable low-latency nearest neighbor lookups with Vertex Matching Engine, and enabling distributed data processing with Apache Beam and Cloud Dataflow. THD cycled two teams through this custom training curriculum within 60 days, and is now working with the ASL team to move three more data engineering teams through this training by the end of 2022. 

    Proving the value and impact for the training program was essential to gain continued executive sponsorship for expanding the certification journeys. THD executed a robust survey directly with associates to gauge the business gains of the training program. Over the course of two years, more than 300 associates completed the training delivered by ROI Training, with 92% reporting that it was valuable, and shared interest in taking additional Google Cloud courses. The most popular track, Professional Cloud Architect, confirmed that 86% of respondents agreed that the Google Cloud training was applicable to their role, while another 75% confirmed that they used knowledge from their Google Cloud training on a weekly basis. 

    “The Home Depot successfully partnered with Google Cloud to put together a comprehensive multi-year training and enablement plan. Google Cloud supported THD with multiple certification cohorts, Advanced Solution Lab engagements, topics-based training, and Cloud Hero events. This training strategy worked to accelerate our cloud migrations and upskill our associates.”Chris Black, VP Technology - Chief Architect, THD

    By combining the resources of Google Cloud Learning services and the fully tailored guidance of their TAM via Premium Support for Google Cloud, THD has trained more than 900 employees and certified close to 240 associates. The team members gained a deeper insight into various Google Cloud topics. When combined with Premium Support services, THD continues their journey to the cloud while ensuring ongoing business and industry growth and leadership.

    To learn more about how you can engage business innovation and cloud education services, visit:

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  • Querying Firestore in the Cloud Console Thu, 06 Oct 2022 15:00:00 -0000

    Power up your Firestore queries in the console: we’re excited to announce the launch of the new query builder, adding several major enhancements to the experience. You can now visually construct queries using all the power of the Firestore SDK—query collections or collection groups using multiple WHERE clauses, equalities, and comparison operators. Query results are displayed in a table format to enhance data exploration. Let’s get to it!

    Querying with multiple WHERE clauses

    To see the new features, we’ll look at a fictional car rental agency’s “customers” collection. We want to find our US customers who’ve spent over $5,000 on rentals. From the query builder tab:

    1. Click ‘Add to Query’ to add a WHERE clause

    2. Choose ‘country’ as the field, and type ‘United States’ as the field value

    3. Add a second WHERE clause

    4. Choose ‘lifetime_value’ as the field, ‘>’ as the operator, ‘number’ as the data type, and ‘5000’ as the value.

    5. Click ‘Run’

    The query results are shown in the table and stay updated as the contents change. Each query you run is added to your browser history, making it easy to navigate, bookmark, and share your work.

    firestore-query-01

    What if we only want to see our top 5 US customers?

    1. Change the second ‘WHERE’ clause to an ‘ORDER BY’ clause

    2. Choose ‘lifetime_value’ as the field, and ‘descending’ as the order

    3. Click ‘Add to Query’ to add a ‘LIMIT’ clause with a value of ‘5’

    4. Click ‘Run’

    The table now shows the 5 highest-spending customers in the US.

    firestore-query-02

    Querying subcollections

    Let's say we want to look at a particular customer’s rentals. Click the ‘View’ chip to update the query scope to a specific subcollection.

    firestore-query-03

    Querying collection groups

    Collection group queries let you retrieve documents from all collections with the same ID. Let’s say we want to look at each customer’s rental history to find everyone who has rented a Subaru or GMC. For that, we need to query by collection group.

    1. Change the ‘Query Scope’ dropdown to ‘Collection group’.

    2. Enter ‘rentals’ as the collection group.

    3. Click ‘Add to Query’ to add a WHERE clause.

    4. Select ‘make’ as the field and ‘IN’ as the operator.

    5. ‘IN’ accepts an array of values to match on. Click the icon to edit this array and add string values for ‘Subaru’ and ‘GMC’. 

    6. Click ‘Update’ and then ‘Run’.

    firestore-query-04
    firestore-query-05

    Get started

    The query builder is now available in Firestore Native Mode, Datastore Mode, and the Firebase Console. Use the above examples to help get started or click to learn more about managing Firestore in the Google Cloud console. Happy querying!

  • Google Cloud to power AppLovin’s next phase of growth with leading cloud infrastructure and services Thu, 06 Oct 2022 13:00:00 -0000

    Innovative companies are using cloud technology to transform the way they build their products and services, attract new customers and deliver products at scale. This ultimately will grow their market position. The ability to build on Google Cloud is creating entirely new opportunities for innovation, and today I’m excited to highlight one such customer, AppLovin, which is utilizing Google Cloud’s capabilities to bring a unique and powerful platform to its customers.

    AppLovin operates one of the world’s most successful platforms for app developers to grow their business with a powerful, full stack solution including user acquisition, monetization and measurement. More than 10,000 developers use AppLovin to market, monetize, analyze and publish their apps to people around the globe. 

    Today, we’re expanding our work with AppLovin to more than double its use of Google infrastructure and compute, helping them further accelerate their growth and meet the demands of app developers that use AppLovin’s platform and products. 

    We began working with AppLovin in 2020, and in 2021, supported the company’s successful migration of seven data centers — including five in a single day — onto Google Cloud infrastructure. In our continued partnership, we support AppLovin’s plans to significantly scale its use of Google infrastructure and compute. 

    Using networking technologies including Google Cloud Content Delivery Network (Cloud CDN) tied to Premium Network, Google Cloud Armor Managed Protection, and Google Cloud Load Balancer — in addition to application modernization services like Dataproc and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) — AppLovin’s technology stack will be equipped for future growth, scaling new cloud computing capacity and delivering low-latency experiences to its customers. 

    More specifically, with Cloud CDN providing AppLovin with the capabilities to further reduce its platform latency and Cloud Armor ensuring a secure network, AppLovin will be equipped to provide: 

    • Instant scalability of its platform across Google Cloud’s edge cache network locations;

    • Increased support for its global-reaching campaigns; and

    • A secure web delivery environment for the delivery and management of content to customers across regions.

    In addition to platform benefits like low latency times for content retrieval and improved content streaming availability across the globe, these new capabilities will provide AppLovin engineers the ability to simplify their compute infrastructure in more centralized GKE and Cloud Storage locations when building new platform innovations without sacrificing the end-user experience.  

    Google Cloud has also supported AppLovin as it integrated new features into its core technology stack. For example, when the company purchased Twitter’s MoPub business, it added more data each month into AppLovin’s existing solutions while migrating thousands of customers to its existing monetization platform, MAX. To do this, AppLovin needed to rapidly increase its compute capacity by 2x in less than three months. Working with our Google Cloud teams and using Cloud CDN alongside Terraform and its internal automation tools, AppLovin successfully migrated MoPub customers over to MAX — tripling traffic to AppLovin’s platform in less than 90 days.

    Meeting critical moments of scale requires the right cloud infrastructure and technologies, and Google Cloud is proud to support technology leaders like AppLovin with the capabilities and services they need to deliver new and innovative capabilities to customers, reach new audiences, and rapidly scale and transform their business in the cloud.

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  • Secure streaming data with Private Service Connect for Confluent Cloud Wed, 05 Oct 2022 19:00:00 -0000

    Data speed and security should not be mutually exclusive, which is why Confluent Cloud, a cloud-first data streaming platform built by the founders of Apache Kafka, secures your data through encryption at rest and enables secure data in motion.

    However, for the most sensitive data — particularly data generated by organizations in highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare — only fully segregated private pipelines will do. That’s why we're excited to announce that Confluent Cloud now supports Google Cloud Private Service Connect (PSC) for secure network connectivity. 

    A better data security solution

    For many companies, a multi-layer data security policy starts with minimizing network attack vectors exposed to the public internet. Blocking internet access to key resources such as Apache Kafka clusters can prevent security breaches, DDOS attacks, spam, and other issues. To enable communications, organizations have relied on virtual private cloud (VPC) peering — where two parties share network addresses across two networks — for private network connectivity, but this has its downsides. 

    VPC peering requires both parties to coordinate on an IP address block for communication between the networks. Many companies have limited IP space and finding an available IP address block can be challenging, requiring a lot of back and forth between teams. This can be especially painful in large organizations with hundreds of networks connected in sophisticated topologies. Applications that need access to Kafka are likely spread across many networks, and peering them all to Confluent Cloud is a lot of work.

    Another concern of VPC peering is that each party has access to the other’s network. Confluent Cloud users want their clients to initiate connections to Confluent Cloud but restrict Confluent from having access back into their network.

    Google Cloud PSC can overcome these shortfalls. PSC allows for a one-way, secure, and private connection from your VPC to Confluent Cloud. Confluent exposes a service attachment for each new network, for which customers can create corresponding PSC endpoints in their own VPCs on Google Cloud. There’s no need to juggle IP address blocks as clients connect using the PSC endpoint. The one-way connection from the customer to Confluent Cloud means there is less surface area for the network security team to keep secure. Making dozens or even hundreds of PSC connections to a single Confluent Cloud network doesn’t require any extra coordination, either with Confluent or within your organization.

    This networking option combines a high level of data security with ease of setup and use. Benefits of using Private Service Connect with your Confluent Cloud networks include:

    • A secure, unidirectional gateway connection to Confluent Cloud that must be initiated from your VPC network to allow traffic to flow over Private Service Connect to Confluent Cloud

    • Centralized management with Google Cloud Console to configure DNS resolution for your private endpoints 

    • Registration of Google Cloud project IDs helps ensure that only your trusted projects have access

    • No need to coordinate CIDR ranges between your network and Confluent Cloud

    To learn how to use Private Service Connect with your Confluent Cloud networks, read the developer documentation on confluent.com

    The power of managed Kafka on Google Cloud

    Confluent on Google Cloud brings the power of real-time data streaming to organizations without the exorbitant costs and technical challenges of in-house solutions. As Confluent grows and reaches across different industries, it will continue to support more customers who face more highly regulated or other risk-averse use cases. For those customers, private connectivity from a virtual network is an ideal solution for accessing Confluent’s SaaS offerings. Confluent can now address this need by offering Private Service Connect to simplify architectures and connectivity in Google Cloud while helping to eliminate the risk of data exfiltration. 

    With the addition of Private Service Connect support, it’s easier than ever for organizations in need of private connectivity to take advantage of Confluent’s fully managed cloud service on Google Cloud to help eliminate the burdens and risks of self-managing Kafka and focus more time on building apps that differentiate your business.

    Get started with a free trial on the Google Cloud Marketplace today. And to learn more about the launch of Private Service Connect, visit cnfl.io/psc.

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  • How Chrome supports today’s workforce with secure enterprise browsing Wed, 05 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    When I first started at Google 15 years ago, I was brought on as a “hired hacker” on Google’s security team. I hunted for software vulnerabilities and helped product teams fix and mitigate them. Over the years, I’ve worked on initiatives to ensure security is built-in by default and user-friendly, to detect and mitigate exploits, and to advance security across the broader tech ecosystem, such as our recently announced Open Source Software Vulnerability Rewards Program. As you might expect, security has a very special place in my heart, and now that I’m leading the Chrome browser team, security continues to be a critical focus for our team — especially for the enterprise.  

    Chrome is committed to browser security at its core, and our secure-by-design approach enables us to safeguard users working on the web. For many organizations and the hundreds of millions of enterprise users who already use Chrome, the browser has essentially become the new endpoint, which makes it the perfect place to level up enterprise security. An added bonus: Because of Chrome’s built-in security, organizations won’t have to install any additional software or tools.

    3 ways that Chrome protects your organization

    Chrome is committed to browser security at its core, and our secure-by-design approach enables us to safeguard users working on the web. As we think about how work and threats are evolving, we continue to work with other Google teams to provide organizations with the leading secure enterprise browsing solution. With Chrome and BeyondCorp Enterprise, IT and security teams can:

    • Protect and secure corporate data across devices(managed, unmanaged, and bring your own environments) through data loss prevention and other browser-based policies 

    • Enforce Zero Trust security models and context-aware access controls across SaaS and web apps for all users

    • Gain critical security and risk insights on events that users face while working on the web

    Let’s dive into each of these. 

    Securing corporate data: 

    Protecting corporate data from internal and external threats is a tall order. Chrome continues to secure the browsing platform, and our management controls enable IT teams to set critical policies and reduce risky behaviors. For example, we recently extended our Enhanced Safe Browsing to enterprises to provide even more protection from malicious sites and phishing attempts. When using this capability, users are 35% less likely to be successfully phished than other users. Now IT and security teams can turn on this functionality through a Chrome management policy

    We also know that many organizations need to take an even more proactive approach to data security. With BeyondCorp Enterprise Essentials, organizations can leverage Chrome to protect their information and enable data loss prevention (including control over upload, download, print, save, copy and paste), real-time phishing protection, malware deep scanning, and Zero Trust access to SaaS applications. 

    DIP UI

    Supporting and protecting complex workforces: 

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution to browser security because there are so many different types of employees, work styles, and technology needs. Whether they are in-office or remote workers and whether they are using a company-issued or personal device, one thing remains true across all enterprise users: They need a frictionless experience to help them be productive and protected. Chrome gives users the same great, familiar browser experience many use outside of work, while Chrome Browser Cloud Management provides hundreds of policy controls, such as blocking Chrome extensions, managing updates, and other critical settings. It also offers reporting and visibility into an enterprise Chrome fleet across desktop and mobile devices on and off the network. 

    When paired with BeyondCorp Enterprise Essentials, IT and security teams can apply a consistent layer of security protection directly from the browser. Many organizations are moving towards Zero Trust security models, and beginning this journey by securing the browser is a great first step. Being able to support a Zero Trust security model for contractors, remote workers, and people using unmanaged devices without having to install any software or apps is a key benefit of this solution.

    context aware

    Providing security insights and investigation to mitigate risks:

    Visibility and reporting from Chrome provide valuable data points for IT and security teams to make data-driven security decisions. For example, alerts of unsafe user activities and incidents are reported to administrators in dashboards, allowing them to investigate events and potential sources of risk. 

    BCE Dashboard

    Earlier this year, we introduced the ability to view critical security events from Chrome with a range of Google tools and popular security solutions. We’re happy to announce that our connector work with CrowdStrike is now generally available, giving enterprises another option where they can view and analyze security insights from Chrome. Additionally, Chrome is adding new security events available across all our security integrations, including log-in events and password breach events. Extension events and crash events will be coming soon. Our Chrome enterprise customers are finding this increased security visibility and integrations to be a critical part of raising their security posture.

    Getting advanced security reporting on events like content transfers within Chrome is “a tremendous benefit” for blocking unwanted data transfers and for understanding how data is shared, according to Tim Ehrhart, Domain Head, Information Security, Roche. 

    "We chose Chrome and BeyondCorp Enterprise as Roche's secure enterprise browsing solution because it provides us with deep visibility and protections to keep our users and corporate data safe. Because it's part of the browser, we are able to easily scale security capabilities across our managed and unmanaged devices in a way that is simple and consistent. Once the solution was turned on, we were able to identify and stop an attempt to exfiltrate a large amount of corporate information within hours."

    Secure Enterprise Solution Launch

    Every organization has a different set of security requirements, and Google’s secure enterprise browsing solution can meet the needs of your organization at every stage of your digital transformation. Get started today with Chrome and learn more by attending our BeyondCorp Enterprise session “What’s New in Zero Trust” at the upcoming Google Cloud Next virtual event

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  • From open source to managed services: Maisons du Monde’s service mesh journey Wed, 05 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Maisons du Monde is the European leader in inspiring and affordable homes. As a brand characterized by openness and dialogue, it unites its 7.5 million customers around desirable and sustainable lifestyles. Atmospheres for the home across multiple styles can be found in its constantly renewed range of furniture and decor. With optimism, creativity, commitment and proximity as its core values, the brand is based on a high-performance, omni-channel model. With its digitalization, digital sales, customer service, nothing can stand in the way of this love brand and its company purpose: “To inspire people to be open to the world, so that together we can create unique, welcoming and sustainable places to live.” With 360 stores across France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, and Portugal our systems and website caters to traffic from across Europe. Our team of Operations Engineers and Site Reliability Engineers (SRE) manage the MDM website and ensure the availability of our services. Our APIs and systems run omnichannel services such as orders, users, and carriers. Our cloud migration aims involve increasing visibility into our network environment, maximizing our engineering resources, and providing our customers with a faster, more efficient website experience.

    1.0 Migration challenges

    In 2018, when Maisons du Monde made the decision to modernize our infrastructure, we knew containerization was our best option. The flexibility and scalability of Kubernetes, continuously optimized with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), enables our technical teams to use real-time data to improve our customer’s experience while providing a higher quality of service. 

    As we seamlessly began our migration to GKE, we started exploring the full power of microservices inside optimized Kubernetes; compared to our limited on-premises environment. Here, we realized we need a service mesh, a networking layer that helps our developers secure, connect, and monitor our new microservices so they can communicate and share data. Placing a service mesh on top of our GKE cluster allows us to accelerate innovation in three key areas:

    • Traffic Management
    • Security 
    • Observability

    We began by deeply assessing a service mesh’s role in our network environment, from improving our security posture to providing advanced routing, and aligning our priorities with the company’s business goals.

    1.1 Why we need to solve these challenges

    The migration to Kubernetes and containers, while gaining flexibility and agility, also means regaining visibility into and control of certain aspects of our network environment. The first key feature we’ve focused on is traffic management. Why? Because it allows us to return ownership of an application’s traffic management to the development teams. Both Istio, and Anthos Service Mesh (ASM), come with CRDs (Custom Resource Definitions) that extend GKE objects. With those new CRDs, we split load balancing management, which the Ops Team owns, and the traffic/routing management which is specific to the application owned by the development team. With these changes, traffic management, previously handled by advanced load balancing tools, became fully customizable.

    2.0 Why Istio

    We began by evaluating several tools that could fit our needs:

    • GCE Ingress Controller

    • Nginx Ingress Controller

    • Traefik

    • Istio

    Our goal was to provide our teams with modern and manageable tools. We wanted to solve some of the Kubernetes pain points while offering our developers new features, and additional tools for testing, security enhancement and advanced traffic management.

    With our requirements top of mind, we drafted a series of criteria that our tool needs to meet:

    • A unique endpoint (Ingress) for multiple services and namespaces

    • Network observability inside the cluster / between services and more

    • Active product and developer community

    • Traffic management inside and outside the cluster

    • Security policies between services

    • Solution / Setup Cost

    After some POCs and analyses, Istio seemed to be the candidate, at least at the start.

    2.1 Deploying Istio on Google Cloud

    From day one, Istio’s service mesh offering met a number of our requirements. Monitoring each release, we began selecting features that could bring the most value to our teams. Here are the most valuable features we used at Maisons du Monde:

    • Dedicated application URL for isolated feature development.

    • Network Gateway management mapped with a (unique) Global or Internal Load Balancer. A single gateway (ingress or egress) for multiple services

    • JWT Token verification from IAP Authentication

    • Communication control between services

    • Egress TLS Origination

    • Fault Injection (Testing in progress)

    • Canary Deployment (Testing in progress)

    With Istio deployed in our network environment, we had granular controls over traffic management and security posture, ensuring that our applications and services were available and observable. Yet, despite the ability to enforce consistent policies and automate load balancing, our Istio deployment was missing some critical requirements for our modernization. 

    2.2 What challenges does ASM solves over Istio

    While Istio allows us to observe and secure our applications, it requires significant investment of our engineers to maintain and update the platform to ensure optimization. Because security continues to be a core pillar in our upgrade, our engineers must constantly maintain Istio to provide visibility into our network. However, the effort to constantly upgrade Istio conflicts with one of our primary goals of our cloud modernization: maximizing the efficiency of our engineering teams. 

    While we initially considered employing Anthos Service Mesh (ASM) at the beginning of our journey, at the time, it was part of a package of features and functionalities that we felt were unnecessary for our environment. So we chose an open-source alternative, Istio. However, when Google began offering ASM as a standalone product, we jumped at the opportunity to prioritize the investment in our developers and divert their resources into accelerating innovation for our customers. 

    Thanks to ASM’s wide-ranging functionalities, our developer team no longer spends long hours manually configuring settings and optimizing clusters. Now, ASM automates systems such as:

    • Managed versions channels with auto-update

    • Control plane (IstioD) is managed outside the cluster and monitored by Google

    • UI is managed by Google (Google ASM UI and Google Trace which are used by other GCP product like LB)

    • mTLS managed via MeshCA

    • GCP Support

    • Inter Cluster and/or project connection and visibility

    3.0 ASM migration journey: From Istio 1.4 to ASM Managed control plane 

    When beginning our migration to the cloud, we deployed Istio v1.4 with plans to upgrade as final builds were released. Due to limited SRE engineers resources, upgrading and optimizing Istio took time, delaying our ability to innovate features and harden our network security posture. While the first upgrades were painful, we began implementing canary upgrades for future rollouts.

    1 Maisons du Monde - ASM Blog.jpg
    MDM’s migration timeline

    From v1.6 of Istio, the upgrade process became easier. The Community worked a lot to simplify the rollout workload, avoiding downtime or service interruptions. Everything was smooth until the upgrade from v1.10 to v1.11. We’ve used ASM’s terraform module for handling ASM deployment in our clusters. When we wanted to upgrade to v1.11, the ASM’s Terraform module changed to manage ASM with only Control Plane enabled. While we wanted to move to v1.11 before activating the managed control plane, step by step, we decided to manage both concurrently. 

    3.1 Road to ASM Managed

    Moving from Istio v1.9 to ASM 1.9 is seamless. However, it’s important to use ASM’s script to set up additional ASM components. Asmcli is just a fork of istioctl script which supports ASM components managed by Google. 

    During our first attempt to integrate asmcli, we faced challenges because we didn’t want to use a managed control plane. Instead, we were replicating our methods of incorporating isitoctl. We realized that to gain the full benefit of ASM, we need to modernize our workloads to work natively with features supported by Anthos Service Mesh.  

    Here’s the quick and easy steps of migrating from Istio to ASM Managed today:

    • Upgrade you ASM installation to v1.10

    • Migrate to ASM v1.11 with managed control plane enabled

    The migration process works smoothly and requires adjusting some configurations and your chosen release channel.

    Before your migration, please note the EnvoyFilter object is incompatible with the ASM and its managed control plane. If you use it, you should find an alternative.

    3.2 The day-to-day differences of a Managed Control Plane

    The big advantage of using a managed control plane is that istiod is not inside the cluster anymore. It’s now a hidden service fully managed by Google Cloud including installation, maintenance and upgrades. 

    Thanks to ASM Managed, our SRE engineers no longer need to devote their limited time and resources to preparing and optimizing our environment for an Istio update. In fact, ASM is already accelerating our ability to assess and update applications and services. With three channels available on ASM, we stagger our development and testing into segmented clusters:

    • Rapid (latest istio release)

    • Regular (one release before latest)

    • Stable (two releases before latest)

    To maximize productivity, we are using the Regular channel on our development cluster, while the Stable channel is used for Quality Assurance. Segmenting allows us to test a recent version on a sandboxed cluster to manage releases that have specific configurations, and allows us to identify potential compatibility issues prior to release. When it’s time to roll out the upgrade, we know that ASM will handle orchestration and updates across the environment.

    The one regret we have is losing visibility on the status of istio proxies (istioctl proxy-status); this command was useful for identifying problems inside the mesh and when some envoy proxies fail. However, to overcome that, we have been using Prometheus metrics on each envoy, but that does add some delay when debugging. The ASM Managed UI is continuously adding new features, and its seamless integration into the Google Cloud interface provides an out-of-the-box experience that makes cluster management a delight. 

    Recently, we had to secure exposed API endpoints for our partners. We wanted to use IAP authentication and ASM objects to secure and control which partner has access to sensitive data. Because our applications span across cloud and on-premises environments, maintaining a hardened security posture is a challenge. To limit network access to potential threat actors, we decided to constrict access to a single endpoint. By maintaining a single endpoint, our users are accessing Istio objects regardless of whether they’re accessing the on-premises or the GKE cluster. We verify the JWT Token, check to see if the requester has the correct permissions to access the Istio object, and forward the request to the appropriate endpoint (on-premises or GKE cluster). The cherry on top of our sundae: all communications inside the mesh are secured by design thanks to a mutual TLS that is fully managed with ASM.

    2 Maisons du Monde - ASM Blog.jpg

    Our migration experience has been a journey of twists and turns. While our implementation of Istio was successful, we were devoting too many engineering resources towards simple maintenance and compatibility issues. When we began assessing the cost/benefit of an open-source vs. a managed service, it became apparent that our options were between innovative development and managing our own environment. With ASM Managed, we know that Google Cloud can administer our ASM, so we can dedicate our developer resources towards creative and innovative projects that provide value to our customers.  

    Looking back on our migration, we finally found our way to the path that was right for us, but it’s clear that there were bumps in the road and detours. Some key things to consider for your migration: 

    • Utilize canary deployments when possible. While Kubernetes natively supports canary implementations, it can still be challenging to update and support rollouts in a heavy-traffic environment without a service mesh. 

    • An active support and developer community are critical information, innovation, and technical acceleration resources. Contributing and engaging with your community is necessary to build connections with subject matter experts and establish your thought leadership brand. 

    • Planning your engineering resources is critical at every step, and it’s never too early to reassess when you get new data. The time and well-being of your engineers can have severe effects on morale and productivity, so make sure not to waste them on projects that can be automated or managed. 

    As we continue the subsequent phases of our modernization with Google Cloud, we’re grateful for the close partnership and collaboration they’ve shown us. Innovation is at the heart of Maisons du Monde, from our workshops to the sales floor, and thanks to ASM Managed, it’s at the heart of our cloud environment.

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  • New Google Cloud Spot VM price reductions: Up to 11% off already discounted Wed, 05 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Spot VMs, previously known as preemptible VMs, are spare compute capacity offered at a significant discount. When we launched Spot VMs last year, we removed the 24 hour limitation so Spot VMs can now run indefinitely. We continue to offer the industry’s most predictable, simple, and competitive Spot pricing - with pricing updates implemented up to once a month. 

    As an example of bringing savings to you, today, we are excited to share that we have lowered prices on standard and custom VMs and memory in 37 resource pools (where a resource pool refers to a specific VM resource in a given region). 

    While you can find prices on the VM instance pricing page, and Cloud Billing Catalog API, a summary of the price changes can also be found in the table below. As you can see, we are offering additional discounts off On Demand - as much as 11% on T2D in certain regions! Because T2D VMs can provide over 40% higher price-performance when compared to other leading clouds, you can do even more with less. To stay updated on Spot pricing,  you can sign up for Spot VMs pricing announcements..

    The below prices apply to all VM types, including custom VMs, high CPU, and high memory variations. While Spot VMs are equivalent in performance to on demand VMs, they are not guaranteed capacity, so we recommend being VM or region flexible. See below for more tips and resources.

    Spot VM.jpg

    Note: though Spot discounts apply to GPUs and local SSDs, today we are not updating those prices.

    Customers across the globe have been transforming and innovating faster by using Spot VMs.  

    "Media.net is a global company with dynamic resource requirements. [We] chose Spot VMs after exploring various options to support spiky workloads, as they provided Media.net with both deep discounts and simple, predictable pricing." — Amit Bhawani, Sr VP of Engineering, Media.net

    media.jpg

    "Businesses rely on LiveRamp to process petabytes of file and streaming data safely, securely and predictably to generate valuable business outcomes. We run tens of Dataproc clusters with thousands of nodes and tens of thousands of cores at a given point of time. We extensively use Google Cloud Spot to reduce our cost and to meet the variability and spikes in customer demand." — Mithun Bondugula, Head of Big Data Infrastructure, LiveRamp

    liveramp.jpg

    Here are a few best practices to consider when choosing your Spot VM:

    1. If you are using preemptible VMs today, migrate to Spot by updating your API calls to provisioning model = SPOT to ensure your VMs run can run beyond 24 hours (documentation)

    2. Take advantage of our lowest priced SKUs, in particular those prices dropped today. 

    3. Select at least two resource pools to minimize interruption, and use regional MIGs with zone = ‘ANY” to minimize interruption (documentation

      1. When you select this distribution type, the group picks zones for creating VM instances to fulfill the requested number of VMs within present resource constraints and to maximize utilization of unused zonal reservations. 

    4. Use BulkCreate API, which allows you to create multiple Spot VMs with a single request. To maximize obtainability, we recommend distributing VM requests across zones by setting the target_shape = ANY.

    5. Deploy Spot VMs using Batch. Batch is a free native Google Cloud service that handles the scheduling and execution of your workload while provisioning VM instances, and automatically use the -ANY distribution to reduce interruption

    For more resources and best practices, please check out our latest blog posts below. 

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  • 6 Building blocks for cloud networking - Networking Architecture Wed, 05 Oct 2022 14:00:00 -0000

    Cloud offers opportunities to businesses to help them achieve their strategic objectives. One of the foundational components of the cloud is networking. This article explores the building blocks of networking on Google Cloud.

    The purpose of architecture

    Moving to the cloud can be a complex endeavor and onboarding and designing your architecture is an important first step. Architecting a design that meets your needs is all about considering areas such as security, high availability, scalability, flexibility, ease of use and sector specific requirements. With a specific focus on cloud networking architecture, there are several building blocks that will be discussed below.

    The concepts

    In the document Designing networks for migrating enterprise workloads: Architectural approaches, we identify six fundamentals building blocks of cloud networking. The blocks are as follows:

    • Network Connectivity

    • Network Security

    • Service Networking

    • Service Security

    • Content Delivery

    • Observability

    Building Blocks Cloud

    Figure 1. Building blocks cloud networking connectivity and security

    For each of these building blocks, Google Cloud has several services which can be incorporated in your design to help achieve your requirements. Let’s take a look at each of these.

    Network Connectivity

    Customers need to be able to access systems, apps and services when they need to. Having reliable and available networking is a critical element of the service. Different SLO/SLA may exist for your services and would affect the high availability design option, however, at a basic level reliable connectivity is a necessity.

    In order to achieve this connectivity there are several products including Cloud VPC, Cloud Interconnects, Network Connectivity Center and VCP Network Peering.

    For more information check out the Network Connectivity section of the Designing Networks For Migrating Enterprise Workloads: Architectural Approaches document.

    Network Security

    Part of building trust in an organization is making sure the network is secured thereby making network security a requirement.

    To help achieve your security goals there are several features and services including, VPC firewall rules, packet mirroring, network virtual appliances, Cloud IDS, Cloud NAT, Firewall insights, network logging services

    Google Cloud also has default security controls in place like encryption of data in transit and at rest. Based on your organization's risk appetite, regulatory requirements and compliance needs, you can use these and other services to create your layered defense in depth setup.

    For more information check out the Network Security section of theDesigning Networks For Migrating Enterprise Workloads: Architectural Approaches document.

    Service Networking

    The ability of your services to be found is a key element since your services often need to communicate with other services.

    In order to facilitate service networking there exist services like Cloud DNS, Cloud Load Balancing, Service Directory, Private Service Connect and more.

    For more information check out the Service Networking section of the Designing Networks For Migrating Enterprise Workloads: Architectural Approaches document.

    Service Security

    Controlling access to services and resources adds an additional layer of security in your environments. This access can be enforced by using higher level logic, such as user identity and packet patterns.

    You can achieve these capabilities with services including Cloud Armor, Identity Aware proxy and VPC service controls.

    For more information check out the Service Security section of the Designing Networks For Migrating Enterprise Workloads: Architectural Approaches document.

    Content Delivery

    Getting access to your application or content is very important to customers. Regardless if it’s one customer or millions, providing reliable low latency access is always a good thing.

    Google Cloud has services that help you in this area like Cloud CDN and Media CDN. These services can help reduce latency by caching content and serving customer requests from a point closest to their connection.

    Observability

    Knowing what is happening in the network is very important especially when trying to troubleshoot an issue. Network Intelligence Centre gives you a single pane of glass to view the network and currently has 5 specific modules to meet your various needs:


    More on architecture

    To help you on your design journey, the Cloud Architecture Centre provides you with documentation, guides and more.

    To learn more about networking architecture, check out the following documents:

    Blocks 2

    Want to ask a question, find out more or share a thought? Please connect with me on Linkedin or Twitter: @ammettw.

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  • U.S. Army chooses Google Workspace to deliver cutting-edge collaboration Tue, 04 Oct 2022 19:30:00 -0000

    In June, we announced the creation of Google Public Sector, a new Google division focusing on helping U.S. public sector entities—including federal, state, and local governments, and educational institutions—accelerate their digital transformations. It is our belief that Google Public Sector, and our industry partner ecosystem, will play an important role in applying cloud technology to solve complex problems for our nation. 

    Today, I’m proud to announce one of our first big partnerships following the launch of this new subsidiary, as Google Public Sector will provide up to 250,000 personnel of the U.S. Army workforce with the Google Workspace. The government has asked for more choice in cloud vendors who can support its missions, and Google Workspace will equip today’s military with a leading suite of collaboration tools to get their work done.

    In the Army, personnel often need to work across remote locations, in challenging environments, with seamless collaboration key to their success. Google Workspace was designed with these challenges in mind and can be deployed quickly across a diverse set of working conditions, locations, jobs, and skill levels. And more than three billion users already rely on Google Workspace, which means that they’re familiar tools and require little training or extended ramp-up time for Army personnel—ultimately helping Soldiers and employees communicate better and more securely than ever before. 

    Working with Accenture Federal Services under the Army Cloud Account Management Optimization contract and our implementation partner SADA, we’re excited to help the Army deploy a cloud-first collaboration solution, improving upon more traditional technologies with unparalleled security and versatility. Google Workspace is not only “born in the cloud” with secure-by-design architecture, but also provides a clear path to future features and innovations.

    One of the key reasons we are able to serve the U.S. Army is that Google Workspace recently received an Impact Level 4 authorization from the DoD. IL4 is a DoD security designation related to the safe handling of controlled unclassified information (CUI). That means government officials and others can use Google Workspace with more confidence and ease than ever before. 

    Momentum for Google Public Sector

    With Google Public Sector, we are committed to building our relationship with the U.S. Army and with other public sector agencies. In fact, we recently announced a partnership with Acclima to provide New York State with hyperlocal air quality monitoring and an alliance with Arizona State University to deliver an immersive online K-12 learning technology to students in the United States and around the world.

    This is just the start. Google Public Sector is dedicated to helping U.S. public sector customers become experts in Google Cloud’s advanced cybersecurity products, protecting people, data, and applications from increasingly pervasive and challenging cyber threats. We have numerous training and certification programs for public sector employees and our partners in digital and cloud skills, and we continue to expand our ecosystem of partners capable of building new solutions to better serve U.S. public sector organizations.

    Delivering the best possible public services means making life better and work more fulfilling for millions of people, inside and outside of government. We're thrilled by what we are accomplishing at Google Public Sector, particularly with today’s partnership with the U.S. Army, and look forward to announcing even more great developments in the future. 

    Learn more about how the government is accelerating innovation at ourGoogle Government Summit, taking place in person on Nov. 15 in Washington D.C. Join agency leaders as they explore best practices and share industry insights on using cloud technology to meet their missions.

  • Building an automated data pipeline from BigQuery to Earth Engine with Cloud Functions Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Over the years, vast amounts of satellite data have been collected and ever more granular data are being collected everyday. Until recently, those data have been an untapped asset in the commercial space. This is largely because the tools required for large scale analysis of this type of data were not readily available and neither was the satellite imagery itself. Thanks to Earth Engine, a planetary-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis, that is no longer the case. 

    The platform, which was recently announced as a generally available Google Cloud Platform (GCP) product, now allows commercial users across industries to operationalize remotely sensed data. Some Earth Engine use cases that are already being explored include sustainable sourcing, climate risk detection, sustainable agriculture, and natural resource management. Developing spatially focused solutions for these use cases with Earth Engine unlocks distinct insights for improving business operations. Automating those solutions produces insights faster, removes toil and limits the introduction of error. 

    The automated data pipeline discussed in this post brings data from BigQuery into Earth Engine and is in the context of a sustainable sourcing use case for a fictional consumer packaged goods company, Cymbal. This use case requires two types of data. The first is data that Cymbal already has and the second is data that is provided by Earth Engine and the Earth Engine Data Catalog. In this example, the data owned by Cymbal is starting in BigQuery and flowing through the data pipeline into Earth Engine through an automated process.

    A helpful way to think about combining these data is as a layering process, similar to assembling a cake. Let’s talk through the layers for this use case. The base layer is satellite imagery, or raster data, provided by Earth Engine. The second layer is the locations of palm plantations provided by Cymbal, outlined in black in the image below. The third and final layer is tree cover data from the data catalog, the pink areas below. Just like the layers of a cake, these data layers come together to produce the final product. The goal of this architecture is to automate the aggregation of the data layers.

    blog_img_2.jpg

    Another example of a use case where this architecture could be applied is in a methane emission detection use case. In that case, the first layer would remain the same. The second layer would be facility location details (i.e. name and facility type) provided by the company or organization. Methane emission data from the data catalog would be the third layer. As with methane detection and sustainable supply chain, most use cases will involve some tabular data collected by companies or organizations. Because the data are tabular, BigQuery is a natural starting point. To learn more about tabular versus raster data and when to use BigQuery versus Earth Engine, check out this post.

    Now that you understand the potential value of using Earth Engine and BigQuery together in an automated pipeline, we will go through the architecture itself. In the next section, you will see how to automate the flow of data from GCP products, like BigQuery, into Earth Engine for analysis using Cloud Functions. If you are curious about how to move data from Earth Engine into BigQuery you can read about it in this post.

    Architecture Walkthrough

    Cymbal has the goal of gaining more clarity in their palm oil supply chain which is primarily located in Indonesia. Their specific goal is to identify areas of potential deforestation. In this section, you will see how we can move the data Cymbal already has about the locations of palm plantations into Earth Engine in order to map those territories over satellite images to equip Cymbal with information about what is happening on the ground. Let’s walk through the architecture step by step to better understand how all of the pieces fit together. If you’d like to follow along with the code for this architecture, you can find it here.

    Architecture

    blog_img_1.jpg

    Step by Step Walkthrough

    1. Import Geospatial data into BigQuery
    Cymbal’s Geospatial Data Scientist is responsible for the management of the data they have about the locations of palm plantations and how it arrives in BigQuery.

    2. A Cloud Scheduler task sends a message to a Pub/Sub topic
    A Cloud Scheduler task is responsible for starting the pipeline in motion. Cloud Scheduler tasks are cron tasks and can be scheduled at any frequency that fits your workflow. When the task runs it sends a message to a Pub/Sub topic.

    3. The Pub/Sub topic receives a message and triggers a Cloud Function

    4. The first Cloud Function transfers the data from BigQuery to Cloud Storage
    The data must be moved into Cloud Storage so that it can be used to create an Earth Engine asset

    5. The data arrives in the Cloud Storage bucket and triggers a second Cloud Function

    6. The second Cloud Function makes a call to the Earth Engine API and creates an asset in Earth Engine
    The Cloud Function starts by authenticating with Earth Engine. It then makes an APIcall creating an Earth Engine asset from the Geospatial data that is in Cloud Storage.

    7. AnEarth Engine App (EE App) is updated when the asset gets created in Earth Engine
    This EE App is primarily for the decision makers at Cymbal who are primarily interested in high impact metrics. The application is a dashboard giving the user visibility into metrics and visualizations without having to get bogged down in code.

    8. A script for advanced analytics is made accessible from the EE App
    An environment for advanced analytics in the Earth Engine code editor is created and made available through the EE App for Cymbal’s technical users. The environment gives the technical users a place to dig deeper into any questions that arise from decision makers about areas of potential deforestation.

    9. Results from analysis in Earth Engine can be exported back to Cloud Storage
    When a technical user is finished with their further analysis in the advanced analytics environment they have the option to run a task and export their findings to Cloud Storage. From there, they can continue their workflow however they see fit.

    With these nine high-level steps, an automated workflow is achieved that provides a solution for Cymbal, giving them visibility into their palm oil supply chain. Not only does the solution address the company wide goal, it also keeps in mind the needs of various types of users at Cymbal. 

    Summary

    We’ve just walked through the architecture for an automated data pipeline from BigQuery to Earth Engine using Cloud Functions. The best way to deepen your understanding of this architecture and how all of the pieces fit together is to walk through building the architecture in your own environment. We’ve made building out the architecture easy by providing a Terraform Script available on GitHub. Once you have the architecture built out, try swapping out different elements of the pipeline to make it more applicable to your own operations. If you are looking for some inspiration or are curious to see another example, be sure to take a look at this post which brings data from Earth Engine into BigQuery. The post walks through creating a Cloud Function that pulls temperature and vegetation data from the Landsat satellite imagery within the GEE Catalog from SQL in BigQuery. Thanks for reading.

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  • Analyzing satellite images in Google Earth Engine with BigQuery SQL Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Google Earth Engine (GEE)  is a groundbreaking product that has been available for research and government use for more than a decade. Google Cloud recently launched GEE to General Availability for commercial use. This blog post describes a method to utilize GEE from within BigQuery’s SQL allowing SQL speakers to get access to and value from the vast troves of data available within Earth Engine.

    We will use Cloud Functions to allow SQL users at your organization to make use of the computation and data catalog superpowers of Google Earth Engine.  So, if you are a SQL speaker and you want to understand how to leverage a massive library of earth observation data in your analysis then buckle up and read on.

    Before we get started let’s spend thirty seconds on setting geospatial context for our use-case.  BigQuery excels at doing operations on vector data.  Vector data are things like points, polygons, things that you can fit into a table.  We use the PostGIS syntax so users that have used spatial SQL before will feel right at home in BigQuery.  

    BigQuery has more than 175+ public datasets available within Analytics Hub.  After doing analysis in BigQuery users can use tools like GeoViz,  Data Studio, Carto and Looker to visualize those insights. 

    Earth Engine is designed for raster or imagery analysis, particularly satellite imagery. GEE, which holds more than 70PB of satellite imagery, is used to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth's surface. GEE is widely used to extract insights from satellite images to make better use of  land, based on its diverse geospatial datasets and easy-to-use application programming interface (API).

    By using these two products in conjunction with each other you can expand your analysis to incorporate both vector and raster datasets to combine insights from 70PB of GEE and 175+ datasets from BigQuery.  For example, in this blog we’ll create a Cloud Function that pulls temperature and vegetation data from the Landsat satellite imagery within the GEE Catalog and we’ll do it all from SQL in BigQuery. If you are curious about how to move data from BigQuery into Earth Engine you can read about it in this post.

    While our example is focused on agriculture this method can apply to any industry that matters to you.

    Let’s get started 

    Agriculture is transforming with the implementation of modern technologies. Technologies such as GPS and satellite image dissemination allow researchers and farmers to gain more information, monitor and manage agricultural resources. Satellite imagery can be a reliable source to track images of how a field is developing. 

    A common analysis of imagery used in agricultural tools today is Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). NDVI is a measurement of plant health that is visually displayed with a legend from -1 to +1. Negative values are indicative of water and moisture. But high NDVI values suggest a dense vegetation canopy. Imagery and yield tend to have a high correlation; thus, it can be used with other data like weather to drive seeding prescriptions.

    As an agricultural engineer you are keenly interested in crop health for all the farms and fields that you manage.  The healthier the crop the better the yield and the more profit the farm will produce.  Let's assume you have mapped all your fields and the coordinates are available in BQ. You now want to calculate the NDVI of every field, along with the average temperature for different months, to ensure the crop is healthy and take necessary action if there is an unexpected fall in NDVI. So the question is  how do we pull NDVI and temperature information into BigQuery for the fields by only using SQL?

    Using GEE’s ready-to-go Landsat 8 imagerywe can calculate NDVI for any given point on the planet. Similarly, we can use the publicly available ERA5 dataset of monthly climate for global terrestrial surfaces to calculate the average temperature for any given point.

    Architecture

    1 EE+BQ.jpg

    Cloud Functions are a powerful tool to augment the SQL commands in BigQuery.  In this case we are going to wrap a GEE script within a Cloud Function and call that function directly from BigQuery’s SQL. Before we start, let's get the environment set up.

    Environment setup

    Before you proceed we need to get the environment setup:

    • A Google Cloud project with billing enabled.  (Note:  this example cannot run within the BigQuery Sandbox as a billing account is required to run Cloud Functions)

    • Ensure your GCP user has access to Earth Engine, can create Service accounts and assign roles. You can sign up for Earth Engine at Earth Engine Sign Up. Verify if you have access, check if you can view the Earth Engine Code Editor with your GCP user.

    At this point Earth Engine and BigQuery are enabled and ready to work for you. Now let’s set up the environment and define the cloud functions.

    1. Once you have created your project in GCP, select it on the console and click on cloud-shell.

    2 EE+BQ.jpg

    2. On cloud-shell, you will need to clone a git repository which contains the shell script and assets required for this demo. Run the following command on cloud shell,

    code_block
    [StructValue([(u'code', u'git clone https://github.com/dojowahi/earth-engine-on-bigquery.git\r\ncd ~/earth-engine-on-bigquery\r\nchmod +x *.sh'), (u'language', u''), (u'caption', <wagtail.wagtailcore.rich_text.RichText object at 0x3ee149fe06d0>)])]

    3. Edit config.sh - In your editor of choice update the variables in config.sh to reflect your GCP project.

    4. Execute setup_sa.sh. You will be prompted to authenticate and you can choose “n” to use your existing auth.

    code_block
    [StructValue([(u'code', u'sh setup_sa.sh'), (u'language', u''), (u'caption', <wagtail.wagtailcore.rich_text.RichText object at 0x3ee149fe0290>)])]

    4. If the shell script has executed successfully, you should now have a new Service Account created, as shown in the image below

    3 EE+BQ.jpg

    5. A Service Account(SA) in format <PROJECT_NUMBER>-compute@developer.gserviceaccount.com was created in the previous step, you need to sign up this SA for Earth Engine at EE SA signup. Check out the last line of the screenshot above it will list out SA name

    The screenshot below shows how the signup process looks for registering your SA.

    4 EE+BQ.jpg

    6. Execute deploy_cf.sh, it should take around 10 minutes for the deployment to complete.

    code_block
    [StructValue([(u'code', u'sh deploy_cf.sh'), (u'language', u''), (u'caption', <wagtail.wagtailcore.rich_text.RichText object at 0x3ee149fd8b90>)])]

    You should now have a dataset named gee and table land_coords under your project in BigQuery along with the functions get_poly_ndvi_month and get_poly_temp_month.

    You will also see a sample query output on the Cloud shell, as shown below

    5 EE+BQ.jpg

    7. Now execute the command below in Cloudshell

    code_block
    [StructValue([(u'code', u"bq query --use_legacy_sql=false 'SELECT name,gee.get_poly_ndvi_month(aoi,2020,7) as ndvi_jul, gee.get_poly_temp_month(aoi,2020,7) as temp_jul FROM `gee.land_coords` LIMIT 10'"), (u'language', u''), (u'caption', <wagtail.wagtailcore.rich_text.RichText object at 0x3ee149fe7290>)])]

    and you should see something like this

    6 EE+BQ.jpg

    If you are able to get a similar output to one shown above, then you have successfully executed SQL over Landsat imagery.

    Now navigate to the BigQuery console and your screen should look something like this:
    7 EE+BQ.jpg

    You should see a new external connection us.gcf-ee-conn, two external routines called get_poly_ndvi_month, get_poly_temp_month and a new table land_coords.

    Next navigate to the Cloud functions console and you should see two new functions polyndvicf-gen2 and polytempcf-gen2 as shown below.

    8 EE+BQ.jpg

    At this stage your environment is ready. Now you can go to the BQ console and execute queries. The query below calculates the NDVI and temperature for July 2020 for all the field polygons stored in the table land_coords

    code_block
    [StructValue([(u'code', u'select name,\r\nst_centroid(st_geogfromtext(aoi)) as centroid,\r\ngee.get_poly_ndvi_month(aoi,2020,7) AS ndvi_jul,\r\ngee.get_poly_temp_month(aoi,2020,7) AS temp_jul \r\nFROM `gee.land_coords`'), (u'language', u''), (u'caption', <wagtail.wagtailcore.rich_text.RichText object at 0x3ee149fe7850>)])]

    The output should look something like this:

    9 EE+BQ.jpg

    When the user executes the query in BQ, the function get_poly_ndvi_month and get_poly_temp_month trigger remote calls to the cloud functions polyndvicf-gen2 and polytempcf-gen2 which would initiate the script on GEE. The results from GEE are streamed back to the BQ console and shown to the user.

    What’s Next?

    You can now plot this data on a map in Data Studio or Geoviz and publish it to your users

    10 EE+BQ.jpg

    Now that your data is within BigQuery, you can join this data with your private datasets or other public datasets within BigQuery and build ML models using BigQuery ML to predict crop yields, seed prescriptions.

    Summary

    The example above demonstrates how users can wrap GEE functionality within Cloud Functions so that GEE can be executed exclusively within SQL. The method we have described requires someone who can write GEE scripts. The advantage is that once the script is built,  all of your SQL-speaking data analysts-scientists-engineers can do calculations on vast troves of satellite imagery in GEE directly from the BigQuery UI or API.

    Once the data and results are in BigQuery you can join the data with other tables in BigQuery or with the data available through Analytics Hub.  Additionally with this method, users can combine GEE data with other functionality such as geospatial functions or BQML.  In future we’ll expand our examples to include these other BigQuery capabilities.

    Thanks for reading, and remember,  if you are interested in learning more about how to move data from BigQuery to Earth Engine together, check out this blog post. The post outlines a solution for a sustainable sourcing use case for a fictional consumer packaged goods company trying to understand their palm oil supply chain which is primarily located in Indonesia. 


    Acknowledgements: Shout out to David Gibson and Chao Shen for valuable feedback.

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  • How to simplify and fast-track your data warehouse migrations using BigQuery Migration Service Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    Migrating data to the cloud can be a daunting task. Especially moving data from warehouses and legacy environments requires a systematic approach. These migrations usually need manual effort and can be error-prone. They are complex and involve several steps such as planning, system setup, query translation, schema analysis, data movement, validation, and performance optimization. To mitigate the risks, migrations necessitate  a structured approach with a set of consistent tools to help make the outcomes more predictable.

    1 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg
    Typical data warehouse migrations: Error prone, labor intensive, trial and error based

    Google Cloud simplifies this with the BigQuery Migration Service - a suite of managed tools that allow users to reliably plan and execute migrations, making outcomes more predictable. It is free to use and generates consistent results with a high degree of accuracy.

    Major brands like PayPal, HSBC, Vodafone and Major League Baseball use BigQuery Migration Service to accelerate time to unlock the power of BigQuery, deploy new use cases, break down data silos, and harness the full potential of their data. It’s incredibly easy to use, open and customizable. So, customers can migrate on their own or choose from our wide range of specialized migration partners.

    2 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg
    BigQuery Migration Service: Automatically assess, translate SQL, transfer data, and validate

    BigQuery Migration Service automates most of the migration journey for you. It divides the end-to-end migration journey into four components: assessment, SQL translation, data transfer, and validation. Users can accelerate migrations through each of these phases often just with the push of a few buttons. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into each of these phases and learn how to reduce the risk and costs of your data warehouse migrations.

    Step 1: Assessment
    BigQuery Migration Service generates a detailed plan with a view of dependencies, risks, and the optimized migrated state on BigQuery by profiling the source workload logs and metadata.

    3 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg

    During the assessment phase, BigQuery Migration Service guides you through a set of steps using an intuitive interface and automatically generates a Google Data Studio report with rich insights and actionable steps. Assessment capabilities are currently available for Teradata and Redshift, and will soon be expanded for additional sources.

    4 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg
    Assessment Report: Know before you start and eliminate surprises. See your data objects and query characteristics before you start the data transfer.

    Step 2: SQL Translation 
    This phase is often the most difficult part of any migration. BigQuery Migration Service provides fast, semantically correct, human readable translations from most SQL flavors to BigQuery. It can intelligently translate SQL statements  in high-throughput batch and Google-translate-like interactive modes from Amazon Redshift SQL, Apache HiveQL, Apache Spark SQL, Azure Synapse T-SQL, IBM Netezza SQL/NZPLSQL, MySQL, Oracle SQL/PL/SQL/Exadata, Presto SQL, PostgreSQL, Snowflake SQL, SQL Server T-SQL, Teradata SQL/SPL/BTEQ and Vertica SQL.

    Unlike most existing offerings which parse Regular Expressions, BigQuery’s SQL translation is true compiler based, with advanced customizable capabilities to handle macro substitutions, user defined functions, output name mapping and other source-context-aware nuances. The output is  detailed and prescriptive with clear “next-actions''. Data engineers and data analysts save countless hours leveraging our industry leading automated SQL translation service.

    5 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg
    Batch Translations: Automatic translations from a comprehensive list of SQL dialects accelerate large migrations
    6 BigQuery Migration Service.gif
    Interactive Translations: A favorite feature for data engineers, interactive translations simplify the refactoring efforts and reduce errors dramatically and serve as a great learning aid

    Step 3: Data Transfer
    BigQuery offers data transfer service from source systems into BigQuery using a simple guided wizard. Users create a transfer configuration and choose a data source from the drop down list.

    Destination settings walk the user through connection options to the data sources and securely connect to the source and target systems. 

    A critical feature of BigQuery’s data transfer is the ability to schedule jobs. Large data transfers can impose additional burdens on operational systems and impact the data sources. BigQuery Migration Service provides the flexibility to schedule transfer jobs to execute at user-specified times to avoid any adverse impact on production environments

    7 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg
    Data Transfer Wizard: A step-by-step wizard guides the user to move data from source systems to BigQuery

    Step 4: Validation
    This phase ensures that data at the legacy source and BigQuery are consistent after the migration is completed. Validation allows highly configurable, and orchestrate-able rules to perform a granular per-row, per-column, or per-table left-to-right comparison between the source system and BigQuery. Labeling, aggregating, group-by, and filtering enable deep validations.

    8 BigQuery Migration Service.jpg
    Validation: The peace-of-mind module for BigQuery Migration Service

    If you would like to leverage BigQuery Migration Service for an upcoming proof-of-concept or migration, reach out to your GCP partner, your GCP sales rep or check out our documentation to try it out yourself.

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  • EyecareLive transforms healthcare ecosystem with Enhanced Support Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:00:00 -0000

    EyecareLive transforms the healthcare ecosystem with Enhanced Support, a support service  from the Google Cloud Customer Care portfolio.

    Telemedicine is now mainstream. It exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2022 survey by Jones Lang Lasalle (registration required) found that 38% of U.S. patients were using some form of telemedicine. This number is expected to grow as consumers are demanding more convenient and immediate access to care, and doctors are seeking efficiencies, cost savings, and to forge closer relationships with patients. 

    But because the eye-care field is so heavily regulated, optometrists and ophthalmologists face more technical hurdles to perform telemedicine than their peers in other medical practices. 

    To join the telemedicine revolution, a generic technology solution wouldn’t do. Eye-care professionals need a more carefully architected and rigorously secure platform – one that ensures a very high degree of compliance and privacy.

    EyecareLive provides exactly that. Their comprehensive cloud-based solution was built specifically for eye-care telemedicine practices. They not only facilitate telemedicine visits with patients via video, but help providers stay in compliance with complex industry regulations.

    What’s more, EyecareLive is the only platform in the industry that conducts vision screening using Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-registered tests to check a patient’s vision before connecting them to a doctor through a video call. The doctor can thus triage any issues immediately and quickly determine the right next steps for proper care. In addition, their platform digitally connects optometrists and ophthalmologists to the entire eye-care ecosystem, including other doctors for referrals, insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, pharmacies, and, of course, patients.

    On top of all of this, the automated back office for their eye-care practices processes electronic health records (EHRs), clinical workflow, billing, coding, and more into one platform. EyecareLive streamlines operations and frees up doctors to focus on delivering the highest possible eye healthcare and on building stronger relationships with patients.

    “Considering the number of plug-and-play services that Google has built into the Google Cloud Healthcare solutions, Google is basically supporting the entire healthcare industry from an infrastructure provider point of view.”  — Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    Seeking greater agility, EyecareLive migrated to Google Cloud

    EyecareLive is truly cloud first. They had operated entirely in the AWS cloud since opening their doors in 2017. Several years in, they decided to look for an additional cloud provider with broader support for digital health platforms. They specifically wanted to migrate to one they could rely on to deliver plug-and-play services, which would accelerate innovation of their platform. Rather than re-architecting for a new cloud, EyecareLive wanted a cloud platform that would offer compatible services they could use to meet their needs for reliability and availability.  

    “If we want to deploy a new conversational bot or build AI models that assist doctors to diagnose based on a retina image, Google Cloud provides these services which are  reliable and tested by Google Cloud Healthcare solutions in many cases.” — Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    Versatility was another requirement. The EyecareLive platform must fulfill the demands of a variety of organizations — doctors, pharmaceutical companies, clinics, and others. EyecareLive also has an international deployment strategy that goes far beyond offering a domestic telehealth solution. Therefore EyecareLive needed a cloud functionality that extended into the broader global eye-care ecosystem.

    EyecareLive chose Google Cloud. The most compelling reason was the deep industry expertise found in Google Cloud for healthcare and life sciences. This distinguished Google Cloud from all other possible cloud providers considered by EyecareLive. “We like Google Cloud because of the differentiations such as Google Cloud Healthcare solutions, computer vision, and AI models that can be used out of the box,” says Raj Ramchandani, CEO of EyecareLive. “We found these features more robust for our use cases on Google Cloud than any other.”

    “Google is heavily into its Healthcare Cloud. That’s what differentiates it. We love that part because we can tap into innovative healthcare cloud functionality quickly.” — Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    Key to production deployment (and beyond): Google Cloud Enhanced Support

    As a cloud-born company, EyecareLive had an exceedingly tech-savvy team. But the migration was a complex one that involved migrating third-party software and networking products that were tightly integrated into EyecareLive’s own code. The team knew it needed expert help with the migration. What’s more, doctors, patients, and other users required 24/7 access to the platform, and any interruptions to availability or infrastructure hiccups during the migration would disrupt their online experiences. However, the EyecareLive team was already stretched by continuing to grow and innovate the business, so they asked Google Cloud for help.

    EyecareLive purchased Enhanced Support, a support service offered by the Google Cloud Customer Care portfolio. Specifically designed for small and midsized businesses (SMBs). Enhanced Support gave EyecareLive unlimited, fast access to expert support from a team of experienced Google Cloud engineers during the intricate, multifaceted migration.

    “It was my top priority to engage Google Cloud Customer Care to help us keep the platform always available for our doctors and users,” says Ramchandani. “The level of detail to the answers, the clarifications of having the Enhanced Support experts tell us to do it a certain way has been enormously helpful.” 

    For example, one of the valuable features delivered by Enhanced Support is Third-Party Technology Support, which gives EyecareLive access to experts with specialized knowledge of third-party technologies, such as networking, MongoDB, and infrastructure. This meant all components in EyecareLive’s infrastructure could be seamlessly migrated to Google Cloud, and afterward EyecareLive could lean on Enhanced Support experts to continue to troubleshoot and mitigate issues as necessary.

    “The response times to the questions and issues we had when going live was fantastic. It was the best experience with a tech vendor we’ve had in a long time.” — Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    With Enhanced Support at their side, EyecareLive was able to get up and running quickly in preparation for their international expansion by using Google Cloud’s prebuilt AI models, load balancers, and networking technologies that were designed to be easily deployed across multiple regions throughout the globe. "We know exactly how to implement data locality to scale our deployment into different regions and into different countries, because we've learned that from the Google Cloud support team." -- Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    EyecareLive then proceeded to rapidly scale their business, knowing that Google Cloud would ensure they could meet compliance standards in whatever country or region they expanded into.

    “Since we’ve moved to Google Cloud and chose Enhanced Support, we’ve had 100% availability. That’s zero downtime, which is incredible.” — Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    Enhanced Support also provided the capabilities for EyecareLive to:

    • Resolve issues and minimize any unplanned downtime to maintain a high-quality, secure experience for doctors and patients during and after migration

    • Acquire fast responses to questions from technical support experts 

    • Learn from guidance from the Enhanced Support team beyond immediate technical issues 

    EyecareLive builds momentum toward their vision for eye-care telemedicine  

    By working closely with the Google Cloud Enhanced Support team, EyecareLive was able to successfully migrate their platform. 

    “If you ask any of my engineers which cloud provider they prefer, they’d all respond ‘Google Cloud,’” says Ramchandani. “The documentation is there, the sample code is there, everything that we need to get started is available.”

    EyecareLive was then able to go on to grow and scale their business in the cloud in the following ways: 

    • Successfully managed a complex migration with minimal disruption and maximum availability, ensuring a consistent, secure, and compliant-ready experience for doctors and patients

    • Gained the trust of both doctors and patients – they know that EyecareLive protects their sensitive medical data

    • Kept EyecareLive agile and focused on innovating forward rather than building new features from scratch by supporting the team as they took advantage of Google’s tailored, plug-and-play technologies

    • Analyzed performance over time to plan for future growth by partnering with Enhanced Support for the long term

    “We know we can rely on Google Cloud from a security point of view. We love the fact that Google Cloud Healthcare solution is HIPAA compliant. Those are the things that make us trust Google to do the right thing.” — Raj Ramchandani, CEO, EyecareLive

    With Enhanced Support, EyecareLive sees a bright future in the cloud

    With the help of Enhanced Support, EyecareLive brings digital transformation to the eye-care in the healthcare industry by integrating the entire ecosystem of eye-care partners onto one platform making EyecareLive a leader in their industry. 

    Learn more about Google Cloud Customer Care services and sign up today.

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Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed. From the Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta - the definitive account of the Trump administration’s tragic mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the chaos, incompetence, and craven politicization that has led to more than a half million American deaths and counting.

Since the day Donald Trump was elected, his critics warned that an unexpected crisis would test the former reality-television host - and they predicted that the president would prove unable to meet the moment. In 2020, that crisis came to pass, with the outcomes more devastating and consequential than anyone dared to imagine. Nightmare Scenario is the complete story of Donald Trump’s handling - and mishandling - of the COVID-19 catastrophe, during the period of January 2020 up to Election Day that year. Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta take us deep inside the White House, from the Situation Room to the Oval Office, to show how the members of the administration launched an all-out war against the health agencies, doctors, and scientific communities, all in their futile attempts to wish away the worst global pandemic in a century...


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  • A wild new way to use Android widgets Wed, 05 Oct 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    When we Androidians think about widgets, we tend to think about our humble home screens.

    Makes sense, right? That's where widgets have traditionally existed here in the land o' Android (with one short-lived exception, anyway, but Google's convinced we've forgotten about that).

    Hold the phone, though — 'cause it turns out there's a whole other way to interact with widgets on your favorite Googley gadget. Few mere mortals are aware, but at some point, Google quietly started offering the ability to call up Android widgets on demand, as you need 'em, via a simple spoken command.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Mozilla: Apple, Google, and Microsoft lock you into their browsers Wed, 28 Sep 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    Apple, Google, Microsoft and others have essentially locked users into their web browsers through default settings in their OS platforms, giving the platform makers an unfair advantage over competitors, according to a new report by Firefox maker Mozilla.

    Mozilla researchers found each platform maker “wants to keep people within its walled garden” by steering mobile and desktop users to Apple Safari, Google Chrome, or Microsoft Edge. “All five major platforms today (Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft) bundle their respective browsers with their operating systems and set them as the operating system default in the prime home screen or dock position,” Mozilla wrote in a 66-page report.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • 3 smart settings for better Google Pixel battery life Fri, 23 Sep 2022 02:45:00 -0700

    If there's one feeling all of us phone-carrying cuttlefish can relate to, it's the sense of anxiety when that dreaded low-battery warning shows up on our screens.

    Both Android itself and Google's Pixel phones, specifically, have gotten much better at managing battery life over the years. But some of the Pixel's most intelligent systems for safeguarding your stamina are options in your phone's software — and that means it's up to you to find 'em.

    Google's Pixel software is absolutely overflowing with those sorts of out-of-sight treasures, so to continue our ongoing Pixel settings explorations, I want to spelunk our way into some of your device's most advanced options for stretching your battery life to the max.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Android's underappreciated design revolution Tue, 20 Sep 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    Over the past couple years, those of us who pay close attention to mobile-tech matters have been watching a whole new paradigm of design shape up right before our overly moist eyeballs.

    And you know I have to be talking about something important here, 'cause I'm using big words like "paradigm" and, erm, "eyeballs."

    The subject in question is something core to the Android experience — particularly for anyone who's palming a Google-made Pixel phone, where the core Android software exists in its most undiluted form.

    It's a little somethin' called Material You, and having lived with a Pixel through a full year of Android 12 and now the beginning of Android 13, I'm here to tell you it's one of the most shape-shifting and underappreciated advancements we've seen in modern tech — even if hardly anyone seems to be giving it the credit it deserves.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Google’s failure to quash EU antitrust ruling has broad implications for tech companies Thu, 15 Sep 2022 10:11:00 -0700

    The EU General Court's decision Wednesday to largely uphold the ruling of the European Commission that fined Google €4 billion (US$3.9 billion) for antitrust violations could have wide-ranging implications for other tech companies.

    The case dates back to 2018, when the EU’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, issued a ruling that Google used its Android mobile operating system to undermine competitors.

    The ruling dealt with three types of agreements that involved Google’s mobile application distribution agreements (MADAs), antifragmentation agreements (AFAs), and revenue sharing agreements (RSAs).

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • As telehealth use plummets, the healthcare industry faces a crossroads Mon, 12 Sep 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    After reaching historically high adoption rates during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth services has plummeted since the beginning of the year.

    Experts say that places the healthcare industry at a fork in the road, where providers, payors, and tech companies must choose whether to embrace an effective and convenient healthcare medium or be left behind as telehealth marches forward.

    The road toward adoption of telehealth — the use of electronic communications to provide care and other services — has been long. Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, the adoption rate in the US, nearly 60 years after telehealth technology was first introduced, was just 0.9% of outpatient visits.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Got a Google Pixel? Flip this secret Android 13 switch Wed, 31 Aug 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    Friends, Android-appreciators, fellow Pixel-persons — listen up, for what I'm about to tell you may very well change how you think about getting around your favorite Googley phone:

    No matter what you've seen with Android 13 so far or how much digging you've done to unearth its many buried treasures, you almost certainly haven't experienced the software's most significant and shape-shifting addition. And there's good reason for that: The addition isn't technically available on your device.

    Android 13, as you may know by now, is a tale of two different operating systems. And while the improvements on the standard Pixel phone front are certainly not insignificant, the advancement that has the potential to make the most meaningful difference in your day-to-day life isn't intended to be used in that environment. It's limited only to foldable phones and tablets (for now, at least).

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Google Slides cheat sheet: How to get started Tue, 30 Aug 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    Need to build a slide presentation for a meeting, training, or other event? Google Slides is an easy-to-use web app that comes with the essential tools and more. It stores your presentations in the cloud with Google Drive. Anyone with a Google account can use Slides and Drive for free, and they’re also included with a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) subscription for business and enterprise customers. There are Google Sheets mobile apps for Android and iOS, too.

    This guide will help you become familiar with the Google Slides web interface and show you how to start a new presentation, upload a Microsoft PowerPoint file to edit in Google Slides, collaborate with others on your presentation, and finally, present it to others.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Android, ChromeOS, and the future of app discovery Fri, 26 Aug 2022 02:45:00 -0700

    Android and ChromeOS. ChromeOS and Android. Has there ever been a more enigmatic and question-creating couple in the mobile-tech universe?

    From the get-go, Google's two primary platforms have been the subject of endless scorn and speculation. Folks who don't actually use a Chromebook and haven't experienced ChromeOS since its earliest days have long been convinced that the platform serves no practical purpose and is destined for death. For ages, the popular narrative revolved around the notion that Google was gonna somehow "merge" the two into a single consolidated entity.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • 5 out-of-sight superpowers for Google Contacts on Android Wed, 24 Aug 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    Quick: What's the most exciting app on your Android phone right now?

    Just a hunch here, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Google Contacts probably wasn't your answer. And why would it be? Your phone's virtual Rolodex is about as exhilarating as a trip to the endodontist. Plus, our mobile devices have had systems for managing our contacts since way back in the prehistoric days, so it certainly doesn't seem like something to celebrate.

    Hold the phone, though — 'cause Android's current contacts setup is much more than just a dusty ol' place to dump names and numbers. The Google Contacts app has some genuinely useful advanced options that can make your life easier and make your phone more intelligent. And all you've gotta do is dig 'em up and start putting 'em to use.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • 10 tricks for more efficient Android messaging Fri, 19 Aug 2022 05:32:00 -0700

    No matter what type of Android phone you carry or how you usually use it, one thing is a near-universal constant:

    You're gonna spend a ton of time sending and reading messages.

    The messages may be from clients, colleagues, or your cousin Crissy from Cleveland (damn it, Crissy!). But regardless of who sends 'em or what they're about, they're all popping up on your phone and cluttering your weary brainspace.

    My fellow Android adorer, I'm here to tell you there's a better way.

    Google's Android Messages app has gotten surprisingly good over the years. That's no big secret. If you're only relying on what you see on the surface within Android Messages, though, you're missing out on some of its most powerful and underappreciated efficiency-enhancing options.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • The best buried Android 13 treasures Wed, 17 Aug 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    If you've got a Google Pixel phone, it's time to rejoice — for some shiny new software is on its way to you this week.

    Android 13, Google's latest and greatest Android version, officially made its landing on Monday and is in the midst of rolling out to current Pixel devices as we speak.

    That means if you've got a Pixel 4 or higher, it should be showing up in your sweaty person-palms any moment now. And that, in turn, means you've got some spectacular new Googley goodies to explore.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • 10 out-of-sight Google Pixel settings worth surfacing Fri, 12 Aug 2022 02:45:00 -0700

    With some phones, the hardware itself is the primary point of appeal.

    Google's self-made Pixel devices take a decidedly different approach. Sure, the shells around the phones are as shiny and purty as any of 'em — but it's what's inside that really sets the Pixel apart.

    Plain and simple, Google's Android software is in a league of its own. And aside from the thoughtfully designed, platform-consistent interface and the lack of obnoxious and often over-the-top experience-harming additions so many other manufacturers love to lard into their Android environments, Pixels are packed with genuinely useful features that tap into Google's high-tech smarts and make your life easier in some small but significant ways.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • In a hybrid workforce world, what happens to all that office space? Thu, 11 Aug 2022 04:03:00 -0700

    Offices are getting smaller — or at least companies that own or lease office space are now using less of it, according to the 2022 Office Space Report compiled by workplace management software maker Robin Powered.

    The company surveyed 247 business owners, facilities managers and those in charge of office space. The survey was aimed at getting a better idea of what companies plan to do with their all their cubicles, meeting rooms and offices in the aftermath of workplace changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the move to remote and hybrid work, and the Great Resignation.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Companies move to drop college degree requirements for new hires, focus on skills Wed, 10 Aug 2022 03:04:00 -0700

    At Google, a four-year degree is not required for almost any role at the company — and a computer science degree isn't required for most software engineering or product manager positions. “Our focus is on demonstrated skills and experience, and this can come through degrees or it can come through relevant experience,” said Tom Dewaele, Google’s vice president of People Experience.

    Similarly, Bank of America has refocused its hiring efforts on a skills-based approach. “We recognize that prospective talent think they need a degree to work for us, but that is not the case,” said Christie Gragnani-Woods, a Bank of America Global Talent Acquisition executive. “We are dedicated to recruiting from a diverse talent pool to provide an equal opportunity for all to find careers in financial services, including those that don’t require a degree.”

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • 7 Gboard settings that'll supercharge your Android typing Wed, 10 Aug 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    If there's one place where saved seconds can seriously add up, it's in your smartphone's on-screen keyboard.

    This doesn't get nearly enough attention among average tech-totin' animals, but Android has an awesome advantage over that (cough, cough) other mobile platform when it comes to text input. All it takes is two minutes of trying to type text on an iDevice to see just how much of a good thing we've got goin' (and to make yourself want to gouge your eyes out with the nearest overpriced Apple accessory).

    And you know what? While we've got no shortage of commendable Android keyboard apps to choose from, Google's own Gboard keyboard really is the perfect example of how simple, effective, and expandable the Android typing experience can be. Gboard works well right out of the virtual box, and once you start poking around in the mustiest corners of its settings, you'll uncover some tucked-away treasures that can inject all sorts of seconds-saving sorcery into your Android input process.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • Tech hiring enters the Big Freeze Thu, 04 Aug 2022 05:28:00 -0700

    As the global economic downturn continues to deepen, many technology companies are reacting to fears of an incoming recession by putting the brakes on hiring.

    While lowering payroll costs might seem like an easy way to reduce spending right now, the job landscape remains in a state of flux, with research showing that workers are just as pessimistic about the economic climate as their employers.

    As a result, 60% of US job seekers say they feel more urgency to find a job now, before market conditions change for the worse. This could leave companies that have decided to stop hiring with a talent drain they are unable to plug.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • The awkward thing about Android 13 Thu, 04 Aug 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    Android 13 may be one of Google's strangest Android versions yet. And considering the company we're talking about here, my goodness, that's really saying something.

    Android 13 — currently in the final phase of its beta development and expected to be launched any moment now — is without a doubt one of the most shape-shifting software updates in Android's history. It'll completely change the way Android looks, feels, and acts and open the door to a whole new side of growth for the platform.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • 7 Google Pixel settings you should change this second Sun, 31 Jul 2022 07:56:00 -0700

    Part of the Pixel's primary appeal is the phone's phenomenal software. All Android experiences are not created equal, as anyone who's spent seven seconds with an out-of-the-box Samsung setup can tell you, and Google's clean and simple approach to Android is a huge piece of what makes a Pixel so pleasant to use.

    Still, while a Pixel may be perfectly peachy from the moment you power it on, Google's smartphone software is full of hidden features and advanced options that can make your experience even more exceptional.

    And whether you're setting up a shiny new Pixel 6a right now or cradling an older Pixel model in your suspiciously sticky paw, taking the time to think through some of your phone's most easily overlooked settings can take your Pixel adventure to a whole new level.

    To read this article in full, please click here

  • The story behind Google’s in-house desktop Linux Thu, 28 Jul 2022 03:00:00 -0700

    If you look around Google's Mountain View, CA offices, you'll see Windows machines, Chromebooks, Macs — and gLinux desktops. G what, you ask? Well, in addition to  relying on Linux for its servers, Google has its very own Linux desktop distribution.

    You can't get it — darn it! — but for more than a decade, Google has been baking and eating its own homemade Linux desktop distribution. The first version was Goobuntu. (As you'd guess from the name, it was based on Ubuntu.)

    To read this article in full, please click here



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