Monthly:April 2019

Moving toward a gender equitable internet

Lavinia, a student from Brazil, doesn’t put a photo of her face on social apps out of fear that it will be copied and circulated in men’s private groups. In fact, 68 percent of women in our research across seven countries (compared to 49 percent of men) don’t use a profile picture that shows their face. Online threats—like cyberstalking, malicious editing and the fear of strangers sharing personal content without consent—can result in destroyed reputations and even physical harm. Because of these safety threats, women limit their participation online.

The internet isn’t gender equitable. Estimates show there are fewer women online than men in two-thirds of countries worldwide. Stories like Lavinia’s begin to tell us why. To understand why these inequities exist and how to address them, we conducted interviews and surveys with nearly 4,000 participants in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan over the course of a year. We spoke to people across the gender spectrum, including cis women, trans women and men. We wanted to represent diverse voices and experiences in our research. To protect participant identity, we use pseudonyms in this blog post.

In a new report published today, Towards Gender Equity Online, we’ve identified four areas that need to be addressed to move us toward a more representative internet: access, content and community, privacy, and safety.

Towards Gender Equity Online

Women often share devices with their families, heightening the need for privacy on devices. (Note: survey participants aren’t reflected in these photos.)

Each of these areas reveals deeper insights. Women can’t get online when, where and how they want even if they do own a personal device. Many don’t have enough free time; others don’t have permission. If women are able to access the internet, many aren’t discovering relevant content and online communities, and many don’t feel comfortable creating content or participating either. Women don’t often feel fully in control of their online identities, and they regularly experience privacy and safety issues.

Online services tend to be designed with “one device, one user” in mind, but this principle doesn’t hold true for all women. Many women that we spoke to share their devices with family members. For example, when Shaina, a woman in her late thirties from Kanpur, India, watches a video that she thinks is a “little bit not nice,” she searches for five or six more to change her recommended video list. Since she shares a phone with her family, she doesn’t want the next person who uses the phone to guess what she was watching. Women like Shaina also delete their searches or use special applications to hide files. But these workarounds aren’t perfect, and as a result many women avoid using apps or seeking out content because they don’t feel in control of their privacy.

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We identified steps that technology creators can take to help create a more gender equitable internet:

  • Gather metrics, like 28-day active users, and break them down by gender to identify and address any gender gaps

  • Conduct interviews with people across the gender spectrum to understand their user experiences

  • Analyze existing data, like surveys, and look for gender-related themes and correlations

Based on this research, many Google products are already adapting. Neighbourly is an app in India that allows people to tap into local, community-based knowledge to ask and answer questions. The Neighbourly team built additional privacy features into the app experience, like preventing profile photos from being enlarged or copied through screenshot, not allowing one-on-one direct messaging and only sharing the account owner’s first name.

Our commitment is to continue to look for ways to help ensure that our products represent everyone—men, women and gender non-binary people equally. As a billion more people come online, we see a great opportunity to be fair and equitable to all gender experiences.

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After school, this teen tracks climate change with NASA

Editor’s Note: Liza Goldberg is a 17-year-old scientist interning at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Biospheric Sciences Lab. Today, she shares how Google Earth Engine helps her monitor mangroves, which are ecosystems vital to the sustainability of coastal communities around the world.  

I first heard the words “climate change” when I was 9. As a fourth-grade student in Maryland, my class studied the local Chesapeake Bay; we raised horseshoe crabs and observed the effects of extreme weather and sea level rise on the ecosystem. After studying the human-environment interactions in my community and the broader region, I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to curbing climate change.

Two years later, I began a science fair project to study the impacts of simulated warming on the carbon dioxide exchange of red maple saplings. Every weekend for three years, I used a gas analyzer to test eight trees I planted in my backyard, and submitted the project to a local fair. I explained my research to a judge, who connected me with scientists in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Biospheric Sciences Lab. Thanks to that connection, I went from testing saplings in my backyard to working with a world-renowned team of forest change scientists at age 14.

Liza Goldberg, teen scientist

Building the artificial warming chambers for my science project in my backyard.

My research group studies mangrove forests, which are vital coastal ecosystems that buffer infrastructure during extreme weather and support local fisheries. When I first began my internship at NASA in 2016, I had never heard of mangroves or learned about the scope of global forest losses, but I began reading news articles about a series of widespread mangrove losses occurring in the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia. Thousands of hectares of forests died that year, and scientists didn’t gain a complete understanding of what caused the devastation until much later. I decided to build a program that could use satellite imagery to monitor the location and drivers of mangrove loss, potentially helping to prevent another large-scale dieback in the future.

Google Earth Engine provided me with the scope of datasets and computing power necessary to analyze forest change on a global scale. I began my project at NASA with no knowledge of satellites or image processing, but guidance from my mentors, Dr. David Lagomasino and Dr. Lola Fatoyinbo, and my intensive studying of the Earth Engine developer resources helped me move from endless notes and plans to actual working code.

In mapping past global mangrove losses and drivers, we used long-term Landsat satellite imagery to identify regions of disturbance. Machine learning algorithms helped to identify where mangroves were converted to urban regions, agriculture, aquaculture or mudflats. Using the Earth Engine Apps interface, we’re working towards making our data both openly accessible and widely understandable for users of any background. Communicating our results at a comprehensible level is arguably as important as the science itself, as the ultimate goal of the project is to deliver our data to mangrove-reliant communities on the ground.

The beginning stages of EcoMap, a global mangrove loss and vulnerability system

The beginning stages of EcoMap, a global mangrove loss and vulnerability system

We’re currently working with conservationists and researchers at The Everglades Foundation to use our mangrove loss driver data to understand the impacts of sea level rise and hurricanes in Everglades National Park. In the future, we also aim to provide coastal communities in East Africa with the real-time loss and loss driver data necessary to sustainably manage and conserve local forests.

My story is just one example of the impact of mentorship and resources on research development, regardless of age. I entered my NASA project with a set of seemingly unattainable goals, and the combination of my mentors’ guidance and Earth Engine’s power helped to make them reality. As this field progresses, I am excited to continue using Earth Engine as a means of monitoring a changing planet and balancing its needs with those of society.  

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Level up on Android with Indie Games Accelerator

Games are a powerful medium of creative expression, and at Google Play we’re inspired by the passion of game developers everywhere. Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play.

Google Play | Indie Games Accelerator 2018

Our team of program mentors coached some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia. Thanks to the positive feedback we received around the program, we are bringing it back in 2019. Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re expanding the program to developers from select countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Selected participants will be invited to attend two all-expenses-paid gaming bootcamps at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore. There, they’ll receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.

Indie Games Accelerator journey | MochiBits (Android Developer Story)

Howard Go, the co-founder of Mochibits LLC, talks about how the program helped him improve his game’s downloads and ratings.

Head to our website to find out more about our program and apply. Applications are due May 19, 2019.

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Get lost in the new Earth Timelapse, now on mobile

Today we’re introducing several updates to Google Earth Timelapse, a global, zoomable time-lapse video that lets anyone explore the last 35 years of our changing planet’s surface—from the global scale to the local scale. This update adds two additional years of imagery to the time-series visualization, now spanning from 1984 to 2018, along with mobile support and visual upgrades to make exploring more accessible and intuitive.

Desktop and Mobile

Timelapse provides a comprehensive picture of our changing Earth—including stunning phenomena like the sprouting of Dubai’s Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada (seen below).

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    See the growth of cities around the world, including Las Vegas, Nevada.

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    See the impact of large-scale infrastructure on a local level such as hydropower dams in the Brazilian Amazon.

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    Gaze in awe at the scale of change, sometimes rapid, like bushfires in Australia’s Northern Territory.

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    See the complex dynamics of many different things at play in a small place like volcanoes, deforestation and wildfires.

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    Explore patterns of human activity, like surface mining, which takes many diverse forms across the world.

Scientists, documentarians and journalists have used this dataset to help us better understand the complex dynamics at work on our planet. News outlets have brought their reporting to life with Timelapse imagery, from coverage of the floods in Houston, Texas to population monitoring. Recently, a team of scientists at the University of Ottawa published an article Nature based on the Timelapse dataset which revealed a 6,000 percent increase in landslides on a Canadian Arctic island since 1984. Starting this week, if you’re in the U.K., you can see Timelapse imagery featured in Earth From Space, a new BBC series about the incredible discoveries and perspectives captured from above. 

Zeit

Zeit Online uses Timelapse to show the extent to which jungles are cleared for soy production in Brazil.

Using Google Earth Engine, Google’s cloud platform for petabyte-scale geospatial analysis, we combined more than 15 million satellite images (roughly 10 quadrillion pixels) to create the 35 global cloud-free images that make up Timelapse. These images come from the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat and European Sentinel programs. Once again, we joined forces with our friends at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab, whose Time Machine video technology makes Timelapse interactively explorable.

Today’s update also adds mobile and tablet support, making it a little easier for you to explore, research or get lost in the imagery—from wherever you are. Up until recently, mobile browsers disabled the ability to autoplay videos, which is critical for Timelapse (since it’s made up of tens of millions of multi-resolution, overlapping videos). Chrome and Firefox reinstated support for autoplay (with sound muted), so we’ve added mobile support with this latest update.

Timelapse Phone

Earth Timelapse, now available on phones and tablets, includes a handy new “Maps Mode” toggle to let you navigate the map using Google Maps.

The design of the new Timelapse interface leverages Material Design with simple, clean lines and clear focal areas, so you can easily navigate the immense dataset. We contributed this new user interface to the open-source Time Machine project, used by Carnegie Mellon and others. Read more about our design approach at Google Design.

We’re committed to creating products like Timelapse with the planet in mind, and hope that making this data easily accessible will ground debates, encourage discovery, and inform the global community’s thinking about how we live on our planet. Get started with Timelapse on the Earth Engine website, or take a mesmerizing tour of the world through YouTube.

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Touring Bird takes flight in 200 destinations worldwide

From booking flights to securing hotel rooms, the online travel industry has made the logistics side of travel easier than ever. But the fun part of taking a trip is experiencing and exploring new places, cultures and people—that’s the part travelers remember and talk about. Yet finding exciting things to do in a given location is often much more difficult than finding a cheap flight. There are many sources of information, and not all of them are reliable, which means that hours of research can still come up short.

With Touring Bird, a web-based travel app from Google’sArea 120 (a workshop for experimental projects), you can explore, compare and book over 75,000 tours and activities from top providers. Touring Bird is expanding from the initial 20 destinations launched in September 2018 to 200 total destinations, available on desktop and mobile. Our coverage now spans the world, from Anchorage to Zanzibar.

Everything in one place

When you select a destination city in Touring Bird, you’ll see top sights,, suggested tours and activities with prices, options for free guided tours, and recommendations from locals and travel experts.

A screenshot scrolling through the top sights, local tours and activities, and local tips in Touring Bird.

Customizable, one-stop shopping

We offer a “build-your-own package” feature for each destination’s top attractions. For example, if you want to explore Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Família church with a guide, visit the church’s towers and also see Gaudí’s whimsical Park Güell, you can find the tour package that meets those criteria. You’ll find offerings from multiple major providers (such as Expedia, GetYourGuide and Viator) without having to comb through endless tour descriptions on each booking agency’s website to determine what’s included or not.

A screenshot showing the flow of creating a package of tours for Barcelona.

The travel experience you want

We also curate hundreds of activities for every interest and type of traveler, whether you’re first-timers looking for iconic experiences in Zurich, travelers seeking more off-the-beaten-path activities in Athens, or families with kids on holiday in Dubai. All offerings can be further filtered by the type of activity that interests you, such as walking tours, classes or performances.

Quick and easy booking

Once you find a tour, ticket or activity that interests you, you can dig deeper and see what’s included—plus availability, prices, cancellation policies and reviews. Then you can filter by your trip dates and, when you’re ready, click straight to the provider’s website to complete the booking.

A variety of Barcelona tours and activities available in the Touring Bird app.

One-of-a-kind experiences

Local Tips arecurated recommendations for unexpected local experiences provided by destination experts. For those looking for something beyond classic guided tours, Touring Bird offers has got you covered. Watch sumo wrestlers train in Tokyo, camp by the beach with wild kangaroos near Sydney or explore the world’s largest historical toilet collection in Kyiv.

A screenshot of local tips in the Touring Bird app.

After today’s update, if you’re planning on traveling somewhere, chances are Touring Bird has it covered. Check it out at www.touringbird.com when you’re getting ready to plan your next trip.

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Google Fit is now on iOS

Being more physically active in your everyday life can help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep and increase overall mental health. When we launched the new Google Fit last year, we translated the science behind physical activity into two simple and smart activity goals: Move Minutes and Heart Points. Now, we’re bringing the Google Fit app to more people—starting today, it’s available to download on iOS.

Fit HomePage_iPhone.png

Track your Heart Points and Move Minutes earned

Move Minutes and Heart Points help you build smarter, healthier habits throughout your day. The more you move, the more Move Minutes you earn. The more intensely you move, the more Heart Points you earn. And the more Heart Points you earn, the closer you are to reaching AHA and WHO’s recommended amount of weekly physical activity to reap the health benefits. Whether you go biking or pick up your pace while walking to your next meeting to earn more Heart Points, you can check your journal to track progress on these two activity goals and see how small changes can make a big impact to your health.  

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Connect your apps and devices on Apple Health with Google Fit

Tracking your progress throughout the day should be simple and easy. Regardless of which apps or devices you use to monitor fitness, sleep and general wellbeing, Google Fit has you covered.

Apps you connect to Apple Health, such as Sleep Cycle, Nike Run Club and Headspace, sync with Google Fit to provide a holistic view of your health and show the Heart Points and Move Minutes you earn through other activities. And whether you own an Apple Watch or Wear OS by Google smartwatch, Google Fit keeps track of your workout sessions. With your journal, you’ll get a snapshot of the things that you do to help you get better sleep, be more mindful and get more active.

Visit the App Store and download the new Google Fit app today.

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Visit the U.S. National Parks in Google Earth

Each spring, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation dedicate a week to celebrating the protected spaces in our communities. Today, we’re bringing the national parks to you in a Google Earth guided tour through 31 different parks around the country.

From the breathtaking vistas of the Shenandoah Valley to the awe-inspiring hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the National Parks allow us to truly experience the natural wonders of our country. Start with the pink granite formations of Otter Cliff in Maine’s Acadia National Park, then head west to explore the ancient Pueblo dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Finally, complete your journey with a peek through the North Window arch in Utah’s Arches National Park.

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    Acadia National Park

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    Mesa Verde National Park

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    Arches National Park

Once you’ve virtually explored the national parks in Google Earth, we encourage you to put down your phone, put on some sunscreen and get outside to explore the wonders that our parks system has to offer. Start by finding the park closest to you.

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Presenting search app and browser options to Android users in Europe

People have always been able to customize their Android devices to suit their preferences. That includes personalizing the design, installing any apps they want and choosing which services to use as defaults in apps like Google Chrome.

Following the changes we made to comply with the European Commission’s ruling last year, we’ll start presenting new screens to Android users in Europe with an option to download search apps and browsers.  

These new screens will be displayed the first time a user opens Google Play after receiving an upcoming update. Two screens will surface: one for search apps and another for browsers, each containing a total of five apps, including any that are already installed. Apps that are not already installed on the device will be included based on their popularity and shown in a random order.

Android screen

An illustration of how the screens will look. The apps shown will vary by country.

Users can tap to install as many apps as they want. If an additional search app or browser is installed, the user will be shown an additional screen with instructions on how to set up the new app (e.g., placing app icons and widgets or setting defaults). Where a user downloads a search app from the screen, we’ll also ask them whether they want to change Chrome’s default search engine the next time they open Chrome.

Chrome

The prompt in Google Chrome to ask the user whether they want to change their default search engine.

The screens are rolling out over the next few weeks and will apply to both existing and new Android phones in Europe.

These changes are being made in response to feedback from the European Commission. We will be evolving the implementation over time.  

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Want to Change the Game? Design your own with Google Play

Calling all future game creators and designers! We’re looking for teens to share their game idea and vision for the future of gaming for a chance to see their game come to life on Google Play.

Today, we’re opening up our second annual Change the Game Design Challenge with Girls Make Games to inspire teens to consider a career in gaming—and celebrate women as players and creators. The Grand Prize Winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship and $15,000 for their school or community center’s technology program.

The top five finalists will serve as the creative directors for their game, teaming up with Girls Make Games and game industry veterans to develop and launch their game on Google Play. They’ll also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to showcase their game design and meet the mentors who will be helping to build their game. The finalists will join a celebration of women in gaming, get a VIP tour of Google Los Angeles, a scholarship to attend Girls Make Games Summer Camp and more.

The contest is open to U.S. residents only. For more information, including submission guidelines and how to enter, please visit g.co/ctgdesignchallenge. Looking for inspiration on what kind of game to create? Check out what last year’s finalists dreamed up.

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More science in more places with Science Journal and Google Drive

We first launched Science Journal in 2016 so that students, teachers and science enthusiasts could conduct hands-on science experiments using their phones, tablets and Chromebooks. Since then, we’ve heard one request from teachers loud and clear: students need to be able to access their experiments no matter what device they’re using or where they are. Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom, it happens outdoors, at home and everywhere in between. So today, we’re bringing a new Google Drive syncing feature to Science Journal. Now, you can access your experiments on any device using a Google Account.

Drive Sync with Science Journal

Accessing your experiment from Google Drive is easy: you can sign in with any Google Account and all of your experiments will be backed up to a Science Journal folder in Google Drive. If you have existing experiments on your device, you can add them to your Google Drive account. Many viewing, sharing and collaboration features will be coming to Science Journal in the future.

If you don’t have a Google Account or you don’t want to sign in, you can still use Science Journal—but your data won’t be saved to Google Drive. If your school doesn’t have Google Accounts, you can sign up for G Suite for free—just remember that G Suite for Education accounts need a domain administrator to activate Science Journal in the G Suite Admin console.

In addition to today’s syncing feature, we have a lot of new resources in Science Journal, just for teachers. Check out the new fundamentals and advanced professional development modules in the Google for Education Teacher Center. For introductory science activities, head over to Scholastic’s Science in Action initiative, and for more hands-on physics content, you can pre-order Arduino’s Science Kit. If you’re looking for new ways to enhance Science Journal’s capabilities, check out Vernier’s Go Direct line of classroom sensors. Science Journal activities can now be found on the Workbench site, and you can always find activities and more on the Science Journal website and get support in our new help center. Finally, the Science Journal iOS app is now open source, so the app’s code is available to the public, making it a great opportunity for students, hobbyists and companies who want to see how Science Journal works and even contribute code back to us.

Our goal with Science Journal is to help you enhance scientific thinking and data literacy in your classroom. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming months, and let us know what you think on our forum. You can tweet at us @GScienceJournal, or just use the #myScienceJournal hashtag on Twitter.

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