May 29, 2015

Pursuing transformative technology with the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities

[Cross posted from the Official Google Blog]


When Laura Palmaro was 10 years old, she woke one morning to find that the central vision in her left eye had all but disappeared. She was not ill and had no genetic issues—it was completely out of the blue. When she was 14, the same rare condition struck her right eye, and she began her freshman year of high school legally blind. Suddenly she was forced to depend on other people to read everything aloud, from school assignments to menus. The toughest part, according to Laura, was losing her sense of independence—and not knowing when or how she would get it back.


Laura has since adopted technological solutions to her vision challenges, using a combination of screen-readers and magnification software to read, work and more. Now a program manager at Google, she is following her passion, helping Chrome and Chrome OS teams make their products more accessible. “Technology has truly transformed my life,” she says. “Assistive technology can tear down boundaries, and empower people to find their independence and fulfill their dreams.”


We agree with Laura about the power of technology to change lives. And in order to support more people like her—people who see obstacles as opportunities—we’re launching the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. We’re putting $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities, and today we’re issuing an open call to identify new areas of opportunity at g.co/ImpactChallengeDisability.


We’re kicking things off with support for two remarkable organizations. Each of these organizations is using technology to dramatically reduce the cost of and access to prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, respectively—which could be transformative for hundreds of millions of people.


  • The Enable community connects people who want prosthetics with volunteers who use 3D printers to design, print, assemble, and fit them, for free. This dramatically cuts costs, increases speed of distribution, and meets unmet needs. We’ll support the Enable Community Foundation's efforts with a $600,000 grant to advance the design, distribution and delivery of open-source 3D-printed upper-limb prosthetics.
  • Diagnosing auditory challenges can be a struggle in low income communities—the equipment is expensive, bulky and unrealistic, particularly in the developing world. With our support, and a $500,000 grant, World Wide Hearing will develop, prototype and test an extremely low cost tool kit for hearing loss using smartphone technology that’s widely available—and affordable—in the developing world.


The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious “what ifs” for the disabled community. We will choose the best of these ideas and help them to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying our people and by mobilizing our resources in support of their missions.




But of course, we realize there’s always room to improve our products as well. We have a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and we provide engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well. For example, Liftware is a stabilizing utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, and self-driving cars could one day transform mobility for everyone.


Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change. Thanks to groups like Enable and World Wide Hearing, and with tools like Liftware, we’re starting to see the potential for technologies that can profoundly and affordably impact millions. But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort—which is why we’re launching Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities today. Together, we can create a better world, faster.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google.org

Picture this: A fresh approach to Photos

[Cross posted from the Official Google Blog]

Every second of every day, people around the world are capturing their memories through photos and videos. Humankind has already taken trillions of photos and will take another trillion this year alone.

But the more moments we capture, the more challenging it becomes to relive those memories. Photos and videos become littered across mobile devices, old computers, hard drives and online services (which are constantly running out of space). It’s almost impossible to find that one photo right at the moment you need it, and sharing a bunch of photos at once is frustrating, often requiring special apps and logins.

We wanted to do better. So today we’re introducing Google Photos—a new, standalone product that gives you a home for all your photos and videos, helps you organize and bring your moments to life, and lets you share and save what matters.




A home for all your photos and videos
Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.

And when we say a lifetime of memories, we really mean it. With Google Photos, you can now backup and store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free. We maintain the original resolution up to 16MP for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos, and store compressed versions of the photos and videos in beautiful, print-quality resolution. For all the storage details, visit our help center.




Organize and bring your moments to life
Google Photos automatically organizes your memories by the people, places, and things that matter. You don’t have to tag or label any of them, and you don’t need to laboriously create albums. When you want to find a particular shot, with a simple search you can instantly find any photo—whether it’s your dog, your daughter’s birthday party, or your favorite beach in Santa Barbara. And all of this auto-grouping is private, for your eyes only.




The app can also help you quickly enhance photos and combine them in new ways to help you relive your life’s moments. In one tap, get instant adjustments tuned to the photo’s color, lighting, and subject to make each photo look its best. Press the “+” button to create your own collages, animations, movies with soundtracks, and more.

If you swipe to the left, you’ll open the Assistant view, where we’ll suggest new things made with your photos and videos, such as a collage or a story based on a recent trip you took. After previewing the creation, you can choose to keep, edit, or discard it.




Easily share and save what matters
With Google Photos, you have the choice to share your photos and videos however you want across any service you choose, from Hangouts to Twitter to WhatsApp. But even then, it’s still remarkably difficult to share a lot of photos just with friends and family and keep the ones shared with you—it usually involves a lot of downloading and re-uploading across a number of different services. We wanted to make sharing much simpler and more reliable.

You can now take any set of photos and videos, or any album, and simply create a link to share hundreds of photos at once. The recipient can see what you shared without a special app or login, then immediately save the high-quality images to their own library with a single tap. So now it’s easier to hang on to the photos you care about even if you weren’t the one holding the camera.




If you want to give Google Photos a whirl, it's available now on Android, iOS and the web. With this launch we've made a lot of progress towards eliminating many of the frustrations involved in storing, editing and sharing your memories. But we have a lot more in store—so as you keep snapping photos and capturing videos, we’ll keep working on making them even easier to store, share and bring to life.



Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Head of Google Photos

May 26, 2015

Fun and Cool ways for school students to learn programming

Since last two years, Google India has been endeavouring to promote fun and interesting ways to learn computer programming. Two of the tools that make it possible are Scratch and App Inventor - both developed at MIT. These tools make programming very easy and students are able to tell stories, make animations, build games and create Android apps in a quick and intuitive manner.
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To promote experimentation, innovation and learning via these tools, we are happy to announce the Google India Code to Learn Contest 2015. We invite school students in classes 5 to 10 enrolled at any school in India to develop their projects in Scratch or App Inventor and submit them for the contest. There are cool prizes to be won.

Visit the contest website to register for the contest, see tutorials on Scratch and App Inventor, download posters and invite your friends to the contest. Note that due to age restrictions, only parents or legal guardians can register for the contest on behalf of the students.

For this year’s Code to Learn we are partnering with two special organizations: ACM India - the Indian arm of the international society for Computing and IIIT Delhi - a research-oriented university based in Delhi. ACM is the world’s largest scientific and educational computing society and it gives the A. M. Turing Award - generally recognized as the world’s highest honour in Computer Science and the Nobel Prize of Computing. IIIT Delhi was established in 2008 and is growing fast into a significant research-oriented university in Computer Science, Electronics, Communication and related areas.

We look forward to seeing some amazing projects from students all over India in Code to Learn 2015 !!

Posted by Ashwani Sharma, Country Head, University Relations

May 18, 2015

Chromebooks for everyone

When we introduced Chromebooks four years ago, we wanted to build a laptop for the way people use computers today. They needed to be fast, easy to use, and secure by default. Since then, we’ve worked with our partners to build many laptops that solve those everyday hassles.

Since launching Chromebooks here in India, we’ve been working to ensure that Chromebooks work in an environment where connectivity can be spotty, and many people’s first experiences with technology are through a phone rather than a laptop. There are now many more apps that work offline and more Android apps coming to the Chrome Web Store.

New affordable and quality Chromebooks
Following on from last year’s releases, a host of new Chromebooks will soon be available in India.
  • The XOLO Chromebook, featuring 8 hours of battery life, will be available in the next few days at Snapdeal.
  • The Nexian Chromebook, featuring a rugged construction, is now available from Amazon at from Rs 12999.
  • And in the coming months, the latest units from ASUS including the Chromebook Flip and C201 and Samsung will be available from local retailers.

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Chromebooks come to school
Easy to use, easy to share, and easy to manage, Chromebooks have proved a hit with teachers and students around the world. In fact, according to IDC’s latest report on tablets and laptops in K-12 education, Chromebooks were the best-selling device in the U.S. last year. Now Chromebooks are available for schools and educational institutions nationally.

Super-fast to boot up with built in security and virus protection, Chromebooks help teachers and students get straight down to learning. They also come with Google Apps for Education which make it easy to create, learn and collaborate. With the Chromebook Management Console administrators can set up and manage up to thousands of Chromebooks from a computer or phone. Plus, regular updates from Google mean that Chromebooks actually get better over time, reducing schools’ maintenance and software costs.

Chrome OS heads to work
We’re also helping you bring the productivity benefits of Chromebooks to work with the launch of Chromebooks for Businesses and Chromebox for meetings. Chromebox for meetings brings together Hangouts, Google Apps and easy-to-manage chromebox, making it simple and affordable for any company to have high-definition video meetings.


You can find out more about Chromebooks for Education, Chromebooks for Business and Chromebox for Meetings here.

Posted by Smita Hashim, Global Product Manager and Frequent Flier

May 14, 2015

Three grants to help keep kids safe in India

Many in India and around the world are working very hard to fight against child exploitation in India - from governments to companies to civil society to inspiring individuals.  Most of these efforts, rightly so, have been offline, boots on the ground, and they continue to make great progress.


Now, we’d like to see if smart applications of technology can help some of these initiatives reach more people, more efficiently.  We're working with three leading non-profits in India, including piloting smart new applications of technology, with $500,000 in grants through Google.org:
  • Childline India Foundation - Childline provides a free phone service for children in need of help or protection. By dialing 1098 any time of day or night, children or concerned adults can access care from trained providers who can connect them to government or NGO services. Google’s grant will support the Childline and help them develop an online platform for its services.


  • Bachpan Bachao Andolan - BBA's mission is to protect and rescue children from slavery, trafficking, and forced labor. Google’s grant will contribute to BBA's campaign on child rights, with a specific focus on child sexual abuse, including the development of an online information site, an advocacy campaign and a national conference for experts and providers.


  • Tulir - Tulir works to prevent and heal child sexual abuse across India. It offers a school-based curriculum to help children stay safe, education for professionals who work with children, resources for healing victims, and does advocacy around the issues. This grant will allow them to work at a larger scale, using technology and innovation.


We know this is a big problem, without a simple solution. But our hope is that these three grants can help reach at least one of these kids in New Delhi or elsewhere.

Posted by Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director, Google India and Southeast Asia

May 12, 2015

Plan more trips to more places with Google Transit

Sometimes planning trips to another city via public transport can be complicated. Should you catch the bus or the metro to the nearest railway station? Next time you’re planning a trip using public transport in India, Google Maps can help. From today you’ll be able to see Indian Railways schedules for 12,000  trains on Google Transit, as well updated bus and metro information from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune cities.

Google Transit is a feature in Google Maps which helps you plan your public transport trips quickly and easily. It is available on Google Maps on Android and iOS, as well as on desktop. To get started, simply type your destination into Google Maps, click on the “Get Directions” button, and then select the “Public Transit” icon to find which metro, train or bus options are available. Google Maps will then show you door-to-door directions to your destination using the public transport options available and walking directions to and from transit points making it easier to plan your trip.  

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Say you’re based in Delhi and going to visit your relatives in Hyderabad. You can choose if you’d like to take the metro or the bus to the nearest railways station, as well as the time you’d like to depart from Delhi or arrive in Hyderabad. Transit Mode will then give you point-to-point directions at the times you’ve said you’d like to leave at or arrive by to help you plan your itinerary the same way you would in real life.  

Being able to see your entire train route and all the stops, means you know which stop is coming up next and roughly how far it is. And for those times when you want to see everything at a glance, the Schedule Explorer menu on desktop helps you easily see and scroll through all the options on the big screen.

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We hope that these additions to Google Maps Transit will make it a little easier to plan your next trip.

Posted by Suren Ruhela, Director, Program Management, Google Maps

April 30, 2015

New in the Google app: more Now cards from your apps

[Cross posted from the Official Inside Search blog]

Our phones help us keep track of our busy lives, find answers to questions large and small, and get things done quickly. That's the idea behind the Google app—to help you do all that, faster, and in one place. And with Now cards, you can keep up with what’s most important without even having to ask—even if that content is in your apps.

Earlier this year, we started showing Now cards from some of your favorite apps on Android devices. Now, we’ve worked with many new Indian app developers, to bring you even more Now cards from  the apps you have on your phone, whether you use them daily or just occasionally. Here are a few new ways cards in the Google app can help you out; you can see all the new apps you can get cards from on our site.



Make sure to update to the latest version of the Google app and your other favorite apps that work with this feature – then look out for helpful Now cards from those apps on Android over the next few weeks. Stay tuned as we add more apps and functionality in the future!

Posted by Varun Sud, Product Marketing Manager