Monthly:November 2019

Attention holiday shoppers: Black Friday help from Google

Midnight turkey sandwiches, leftover pie for breakfast, a leisurely walk around the block—these are the ideal moments in my day after Thanksgiving. But if you’re like me and the millions of Americans who participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday every year, chances are you’re also looking out for deals ahead of the holiday season. In fact, I hear that online shopping sales are expected to growup to 18 percent this year, and smartphone use for holiday shopping is rising—increasing by 11 percent since 2017.

Good news: Google has you covered across your holiday shopping needs, from making your list, checking it twice, finding out the best deals, and keeping an eye on each package arrival. 

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Find the best prices and places to buy

With the recently redesigned Google Shopping, you can track prices for that espresso machine you’ve been keeping your eye on (and much more). Simply find the product you want, toggle “track price,” and you’ll receive a notification by phone or email when the price of that item drops. Plus, when you buy directly on Google we’ll offset the carbon emissions created from shipping your order.

If you’re committed to shopping local or worried about the shipping deadline, Google Shopping also lets you filter for nearby products, so you can find local stores that carry what you need and see whether they have it in stock. 

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Some of our Made by Google products have Black Friday deals this year

Check out the deals on the latest tech from Google

How about some shiny new tech for your Secret Santa? Check out the Google Store for these deals (also at select U.S. retailers):

  • Say it with a (very) smart phone: From November 24th through December 2nd, get $200 off an unlocked Pixel 4 and 4XL on the Google Store.
  • Give the gift of better Wi-Fi: From November 28th through December 4th, save $40 on Nest Wifi, our newest Wi-Fi router and point which comes in three chic colors ($229).
  • Help the new homeowner, parent, or caretaker in your life: From November 28th through December 4th, get $40 off Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor, and $80 off Nest Hello.
  • Bring the party with whole-home audio: From November 28th through December 4th, save $20 on Nest Mini.
  • Stay organized, connected, and inspired in the kitchen: Save $30 on Nest Hub Max—and enjoy this exclusive bread pudding recipe from Ayesha Curry on Google Assistant displays.
  • Stuff all of the stockings: From November 28th through December 4th, get $10 off Chromecast and $20 off Chromecast Ultra.

Keep track of your deliveries (and spread cheer!)

When you’re expecting more packages than usual, keeping track of each delivery can prove to be stressful. Should you stay and wait for it? What happens if you miss it? With a Nest Aware subscription Nest Hello can alert you when a package arrives, so if it’s an important item you can enlist some help from a neighbor (or, for parents, intercept it before your child discovers an early gift from Santa). 

And starting today you can get a festive Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or wintry ringtone for your Nest Hello. Whenever someone’s at your door, they’ll hear some holiday cheer—including the person delivering your packages.

Stay zen through the shopping frenzy

Remain calm, cool and collected throughout the midnight madness on Black Friday with help from the Digital Wellbeing features on your Pixel devices. 

  • Set a time limit on specific apps and sites so your day isn’t consumed by online shopping. When the timer runs out, the app or website is paused for the rest of the day. 

  • Snooze alerts that are distracting and focus on the important ones. If you use an app to track discounts and sales, you can prioritize those notifications so you don’t spend extra time wading through notifications and hunting for the deals you want. 

  • A nighttime shopping habit can interfere with your sleep. Set Wind Down mode to silence notifications from shopping apps or social media, put your screen into grayscale to signal it’s time for bed, and avoid a night of insomnia.

  • And when it is time to wake up for those midnight deals or early morning lines, try the Sunrise Alarm feature on Pixel and Pixel Stand so even in the dead of winter, you can wake up more easily with “sunshine.” 

We wish you great deals, easy shopping, and minimal stress this holiday season.

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Why I Ride with Waymo: Micah

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Editor’s note: In June, the City of Chandler and Waymo launched an autonomous vehicle ride-hailing program to evaluate employee productivity while commuting and potential fleet cost savings. In this Why I Ride with Waymo, Micah, the Economic Development Director for the City and a father of four, shares his experience being part of this first-of-its-kind pilot program.

Hi there, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello, I’m Micah, and I’m the Economic Development Director for the City of Chandler in Arizona, where I lead an incredible team that promotes Chandler as a preferred business and tourism location. As an Arizona native, it’s fascinating to see autonomous vehicles (AVs) grow in my own backyard, and working with tech companies that contribute to the AV industry, including Waymo, make it come full circle for me.

What is it like riding with Waymo?

My first ride was fascinating. I was taking it all in, and then I quickly realized it was spectacularly un-spectacular. Waymo vehicles drive the speed limit and are extra cautious. Also, given the fact that Chandler is pretty warm in the summer, it is amazing to jump into a cool car on a hot summer day without having to wait for it to cool down! 

What do you primarily use Waymo One for, and what benefits does it offer you over other methods of transportation?
The majority of my day is spent in meetings at City Hall or at off-site locations, so I primarily use Waymo to travel around Chandler for business. Waymo One gives me time back to make calls and safely review emails and documents while I ride, which I couldn’t do if I were driving a city vehicle.

There is also a new pick-up and drop-off location for autonomous and ride-share vehicles right in front of City Hall, which makes using Waymo One super convenient. As I hop off the City Hall elevator, I’m only steps away from the vehicle pick-up location. This is also another first for the nation — we’re the first city to develop site plan guidelines that encourage properties to designate AV pick-up and drop-off locations for autonomous transport.

What are you looking forward to with Waymo One?

My colleagues and I are anxiously awaiting the expansion of Waymo’s service area. There are many instances where we need to travel to further locations, such as the state capital; I can only imagine how productive our drives would be for those longer commutes.

Would you use Waymo One in your personal life?

As a parent of four kids, there are days when I feel like a chauffeur myself. We’re constantly on the go and we don’t travel lightly. We have multiple car seats, baseball equipment and our fair share of goldfish crackers in our personal vehicles. But I can see myself using Waymo for a date night with my wife, hopefully sooner than later!

What do you think the potential is for self-driving cars, in your life and more broadly?

I’m still young (at least I think I am), but in the future, I see Waymo’s technology essential to mobility and increasing the productivity and efficiency of travel. In my work life, Chandler has been dubbed as the “Self-Driving Capital of the World” by national media. We’ve gotten our fair share of attention partnering with Waymo, and as a Community of Innovation, Chandler’s leading the way as a hub for AV technology. It’s an exciting time for Chandler to be at the forefront of this emerging technology.

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Deliver consistent site experiences with Google Optimize

Consumers expect connected shopping experiences from research to purchase. But their journeys aren’t linear; they move around, visiting—and revisiting—multiple sites and apps, multiple times a day. 

This makes it challenging for businesses to deliver a coordinated site experience, especially if they are running an experiment or personalization on their site. How do they make sure that the version of their site someone saw in the morning is the same version they see in the afternoon? 

Google Optimize can now understand when a customer has returned to a site they visited before and deliver a consistent site experience. Let’s see how this works.

Imagine you’re a hotel business running a marketing campaign that promotes a 20 percent discount for the upcoming holiday season. When people visit your site in response to the campaign, you want to make sure you offer this discount to them throughout their entire booking experience, even if they come back multiple times before they make a reservation.

One part of your marketing campaign is paid media you buy through Google Ads. In this case, you would use Optimize to create a custom web page featuring the discount and then add the Google Ads rule to ensure this page is shown to people who first arrive to your site from your Google Ads campaign. There are likely many people who click on an ad, explore your site, then come back later to complete the reservation. Now, no matter how many other pages on your site people visit, or how many times they return over 24 hours, Optimize will automatically display that custom page to them each time. 

Another way you promote this sale is through email. For this part of your campaign, once you create a custom web page with the discount offer, add a utm_campaign parameter named “holiday-sale” to the URL in the email. Then in Optimize, add a UTM parameter rule for “holiday-sale.” Optimize can now use that parameter to display the correct experience every time people who received the promo email visit your site. In addition to email, you can also use the UTM parameter rule in advertising campaigns managed with Display & Video 360 and Search Ads 360, or any other campaigns you are running that support UTM parameters.

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Create a UTM parameter rule to focus your experiment or personalization on a particular marketing campaign.

Royal Bank of Canada is an Optimize 360 customer that has already begun using UTM parameter rules. 

Together with their Google Marketing Platform Partner, Bounteous, they often use Optimize 360 to run personalizations across their entire website. Because most of these personalizations are focused on delivering the right content to the right user from their marketing campaigns, they were excited to start using the UTM parameter rule. 

“The customer journey at the Royal Bank of Canada is rarely linear. We need experiments that can react as customers frequently engage and navigate our website. The UTM parameter rule gives us that flexibility, and it is changing the way we approach our campaigns.” 

– Arnab Tagore, Senior Manager of Digital Analytics, Royal Bank of Canada

Both the Google Ads rule and UTM parameter rule are already available to use in Optimize and Optimize 360. We encourage you to go into your account and check them out and we look forward to sharing more new features that help you better meet your customers’ expectations and get the most out of your website.

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Ladies of Landsat builds inclusivity in the geosciences

Editor’s note:Today’s post is by Morgan Crowley, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University who studies wildfire progressions. This post is based on her recent appearance on the podcast Scene From Above. Above photo courtesy of McGill University.

Ladies of Landsat stickers

Working and studying in the geosciences can be lonely sometimes. I didn’t realize how lonely I was, and that this loneliness was tied to my identity as a woman, until I spent several days at a conference without seeing anyone else in the ladies’ room. Groups like Ladies of Landsat, which I help coordinate, connect us to fellow scientists who are gender and other minority peers so we can reach out about everything from finding research partners to starting a family.  By building up each other’s confidence and celebrating our wins, we lift, retain and attract women in the field. 

In our case, most connections happen on Twitter, although we do come together at events like the 2018 Google Earth Engine summit in Dublin. Google provided a space for us to connect while also teaching us technical skills in Google Earth and Earth Engine, so we were equipped to answer pressing scientific questions like where and when do wildfires spread in Canada, and how much air pollution does a fire produce in India

At the September 2019 Geo for Good Summit, we teamed up with Women in Geospatial, another online group promoting gender equality in geosciences, to discuss shared interests, challenges and skills. 

  • Morgan Crowley and others check in on the first day of Geo for Good 2019.

    Morgan Crowley and others check in on the first day of Geo for Good 2019.

  • Morgan Crowley presents her wildfire progression research during the Earth Engine User Summit 2018.

    Morgan Crowley presents her wildfire progression research during the Earth Engine User Summit 2018.

  • Erika Persons presents her Google Earth story map during Geo for Good 2019.

    Erika Persons presents her Google Earth story map during Geo for Good 2019.

In 2018, I went to the ForestSAT conference and heard women like Dr. Jody Vogelerand Dr. Joanne White talk about forestry with an incredible level of depth. I got chills. It was the first time I’d talked to more than one woman at a time about this type of science. Dr. Kate Fickas, a research faculty member at the University of Utah and the brains behind Ladies of Landsat, set up a women’s networking event at a local bar. Dr. Monika Moskal brought her ground-based LiDAR unit, a surveying device, to take a picture of us. So many people came up to us and said, “I’ve never been with this many women in the field. This is incredible.”

A LiDAR selfie of the Ladies of Landsat members

A LiDAR selfie of the Ladies of Landsat members standing in a circle around the laser scanning sensor at our 2018 ForestSAT meet up at the University of Maryland. (Image credit: Dr. Monika Moskal)

It’s encouraging to see that Ladies of Landsat and Women in Geospatial are not the only groups working to make geospatial sciences more inclusive. There are amazing groups all over the world like Women in GIS, Women in GIS – Kenya, WinGRSS and She Maps. There’s also GeoLatinas, Black Girls Mapp, GeoChicas and Indigenous Maps, who support people of color in the field. And in spite of our name, Ladies of Landsat, we’re not just about lifting up women; we’re inclusive to all genders and identities. 

The work of making geosciences more inclusive is just starting—and you can play a role, too. If you read a research paper whose authors are all men, ask why. If you go to a scientific event and every panel member is a white person, speak up. Invite gender and racial minority scientists to share their work and nominate them for grants and speaking slots. The burden to change this status quo rests on people in power.

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Helping families stay connected with the Google Assistant

Every night at our house, bedtime means storytime with Dad. A time when our daughters get to share an experience that’s just between them, get to share storylines and characters with Dad, and I get a few minutes to myself. 

But when my husband deploys, everything changes. And getting recordings of stories from Dad halfway around the world is technically tricky. Listening to him read “The Wind in the Willows” involved downloading each file from Drive and casting it to a Nest Mini. We knew there had to be a better way. 

We even asked folks on message boards for help, which is how my daughters and I ended up traveling to Portland to meet with engineers and designers from Instrument and Google Nest. We helped them design something called My Storytime—a new Google Assistant Action that makes it easier for pre-recorded stories to be played back home for loved ones.

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    The Olivers looking at initial designs for My Storytime.

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    The Olivers looking at initial designs for My Storytime.

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    The Olivers looking at initial designs for My Storytime.

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    Oliver family at the Instrument office in Portland, OR.

Now, no matter where you are, you can visit MyStorytime.com to create a private account for your family and begin building your library of recorded stories. And once shared with the parent back home, all they have to say is “Hey Google, talk to My Storytime” to hear your personal stories. 

Hey Google, talk to My Storytime

My daughters and I shared our own experiences and ideas in hopes that it would be useful to the more than 100,000 military parents who deploy every year—and the nearly 250,000 children who are back home. According to one organization, United Through Reading, that’s  40 million bedtime stories missed each year by military children. But storytime isn’t only important to military families. Grandparents who live states away, nurses and police officers who work the night shift, and anyone who travels for work can relate to the struggle of trying to make it home in time to read for bedtime. Because every bedtime story is, at its heart, a love story.  

Nothing can replace Daddy being home, but hopefully My Storytime will help make it just a little bit easier to get through the next deployment and that it brings some comfort to other families as well.

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Strengthening the AI community

AI requires people with different experiences, knowledge and backgrounds, which is why we started the DeepMind Scholarship programme and supportuniversitiesand the wider ecosystem.Read More

An update on our political ads policy

We’re proud that people around the world use Google to find relevant information about elections and that candidates use Google and search ads to raise small-dollar donations that help fund their campaigns. We’re also committed to a wide range of efforts to help protect campaigns, surface authoritative election news, and protect elections from foreign interference.

But given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms. So we’re making a few changes to how we handle political ads on our platforms globally. Regardless of the cost or impact to spending on our platforms, we believe these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide. 

Our ads platforms today

Google’s ad platforms are distinctive in a number of important ways: 

  • The main formats we offer political advertisers are search ads (which appear on Google in response to a search for a particular topic or candidate), YouTube ads (which appear on YouTube videos and generate revenue for those creators), and display ads (which appear on websites and generate revenue for our publishing partners). 

  • We provide a publicly accessible, searchable, and downloadable transparency report of election ad content and spending on our platforms, going beyond what’s offered by most other advertising media.  

  • We’ve never allowed granular microtargeting of political ads on our platforms. In many countries, the targeting of political advertising is regulated and we comply with those laws. In the U.S., we have offered basic political targeting capabilities to verified advertisers, such as serving ads based on public voter records and general political affiliations (left-leaning, right-leaning, and independent). 

Taking a new approach to targeting election ads

While we’ve never offered granular microtargeting of election ads, we believe there’s more we can do to further promote increased visibility of election ads. That’s why we’re limiting election ads audience targeting to the following general categories: age, gender, and general location (postal code level). Political advertisers can, of course, continue to do contextual targeting, such as serving ads to people reading or watching a story about, say, the economy. This will align our approach to election ads with long-established practices in media such as TV, radio, and print, and result in election ads being more widely seen and available for public discussion. (Of course, some media, like direct mail, continues to be targeted more granularly.) It will take some time to implement these changes, and we will begin enforcing the new approach in the U.K. within a week (ahead of the General Election), in the EU by the end of the year, and in the rest of the world starting on January 6, 2020.

Clarifying our ads policies

Whether you’re running for office or selling office furniture, we apply the same ads policies to everyone; there are no carve-outs. It’s against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim—whether it’s a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died. To make this more explicit, we’re clarifying our ads policies and adding examples to show how our policies prohibit things like “deep fakes” (doctored and manipulated media), misleading claims about the census process, and ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process. Of course, we recognize that robust political dialogue is an important part of democracy, and no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation. So we expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited—but we will continue to do so for clear violations.

Providing increased transparency

We want the ads we serve to be transparent and widely available so that many voices can debate issues openly. We already offer election advertising transparency in India, in the EU, and for federal U.S. election ads. We provide both in-ad disclosures and a transparency report that shows the actual content of the ads themselves, who paid for them, how much they spent, how many people saw them, and how they were targeted. Starting on December 3, 2019, we’re expanding the coverage of our election advertising transparency to include U.S. state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and ads that mention federal or state political parties, so that all of those ads will now be searchable and viewable as well. 

We’re also looking at ways to bring additional transparency to the ads we serve and we’ll have additional details to share in the coming months. We look forward to continuing our work in this important area.

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Create your own maps and stories in Google Earth

As humans, we’ve always bonded by sharing stories about the places that matter to us. It likely started around a campfire—elders recounting tales of sites sacred to their people. Today, we use technology to celebrate our ancestry, raise awareness about places we care about, and rekindle memories of home.

For nearly 15 years, people have turned to Google Earth for a comprehensive view of our planet. But our mission has never been to just show you a static picture of the planet; we want to bring the world to life. With new creation tools now in Google Earth, you can turn our digital globe into your own storytelling canvas, and create a map or story about the places that matter to you.

See how a teacher, conservationist and family are using the new creation tools

See how a teacher, conservationist and family are using the new creation tools

With creation tools in Google Earth, you can draw your own placemarks, lines and shapes, then attach your own custom text, images, and videos to these locations. You can organize your story into a narrative and collaborate with others. And when you’ve finished your story, you can share it with others. By clicking the new “Present” button, your audience will be able to fly from place to place in your custom-made Google Earth narrative.

See what people are making with the new creation tools:

Two years ago when we rewrote Google Earth for modern browsers and devices, we launched the Voyager program to start to infuse the globe with stories from the world’s best storytellers. Today, we’re taking the next and most significant step forward: turning the power of mapmaking and storytelling over to you. 

Creation tools are now available in Google Earth on web. You can view your projects on mobile and tablet devices using the latest version of our iOS or Android app. Thanks to an integration with Google Drive, you can share your stories with your audience and they can view it anywhere—their phone, tablet or laptop. Best of all, you can invite others to collaborate and co-author projects with you. 

Check out what you can do with the new creation tools:

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    Map out your places: Add placemarks, lines or shapes to the map. Choose from the icon palette or style with custom colors to jazz up your project.
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    Set the scene. Pick just the right 3D view to frame your scene, or dive into Street View to capture the view from the ground.

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    Add rich text, photos & videos: Bring your projects to life with photos and videos. Use the rich text editor to add a narrative.

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    Fullscreen slides: The slide feature lets you create title cards or break up your project into sections.

  • 5_ShowAndTell_old_v2.gif

    Show and tell: Click the Present button to take your project fullscreen and take anyone on an immersive and interactive tour of the places you care about.

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    Share and collaborate: Best of all, creation tools are integrated with Google Drive so you can collaborate with others on your projects.

We’re excited to see the stories you tell in Google Earth, and we’ll continue to build out this new capability with your help and feedback.

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Tools to help healthcare providers deliver better care

There has been a lot of interest around our collaboration with Ascension. As a physician, I understand. Health is incredibly personal, and your health information should be private to you and the people providing your care. 

That’s why I want to clarify what our teams are doing, why we’re doing it, and how it will help your healthcare providers—and you. 

Doctors and nurses love caring for patients, but aren’t always equipped with the tools they need to thrive in their mission. We have all seen headlines like “Why doctors hate their computers,” with complaints about having to use “a disconnected patchwork” that makes finding critical health information like finding a needle in the haystack. The average U.S. health system has 18 electronic medical record systems, and our doctors and nurses feel like they are “data clerks” rather than healers. 

Google has spent two decades on similar problems for consumers, building products such as Search, Translate and Gmail, and we believe we can adapt our technology to help. That’s why we’re building an intelligent suite of tools to help doctors, nurses, and other providers take better care of patients, leveraging our expertise in organizing information. 

One of those tools aims to make health records more useful, more accessible and more searchable by pulling them into a single, easy-to-use interface for doctors. I mentioned this during my presentation last month at theHLTH Conference. Ascension is the first partner where we are working with the frontline staff to pilot this tool.

Google Health – Tools to help healthcare providers deliver better care

Google Health: Tools to help healthcare providers deliver better care

This effort is challenging. Health information is incredibly complex—there are misspellings, different ways of saying the same thing, handwritten scribbles, and faxes. Healthcare IT systems also don’t talk well to each other and this keeps doctors and nurses from taking the best possible care of you. 

Policymakers and regulators across the world (e.g., CMS, HHS, the NHS, and EC)have called this out as an important issue. We’ve committed to help, and it’s why we built this system on interoperable standards

To deliver such a tool to providers, the system must operate on patients’ records. This is what people have been asking about in the context of our Ascension partnership, and why we want to clarify how we handle that data.

As we noted in an earlier post, our work adheres to strict regulations on handling patient data, and our Business Associate Agreement with Ascension ensures their patient data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing our services—this means it’s never used for advertising. We’ve also published a white paper around how customer data is encrypted and isolated in the cloud. 

To ensure that our tools are safe for Ascension doctors and nurses treating real patients, members of our team might come into contact with identifiable patient data. Because of this, we have strict controls for the limited Google employees who handle such data:

  • We develop and test our system on synthetic (fake) data and openly available datasets.

  • To configure, test, tune and maintain the service in a clinical setting, a limited number of screened and qualified Google staff may be exposed to real data. These staff undergo HIPAA and medical ethics training, and are individually and explicitly approved by Ascension for a limited time.

  • We have technical controls to further enhance data privacy. Data is accessible in a strictly controlled environment with audit trails—these controls are designed to prevent the data from leaving this environment and access to patient data is monitored and auditable.

  • We will further prioritize the development of technology that reduces the number of engineers that need access to patient data (similar to our external redactiontechnology).

  • We also participate in external certifications, like ISO 27001, where independent third-party auditors come and check our processes, including information security controls for these tools.

I graduated from medical school in 1989. I’ve seen tremendous progress in healthcare over the ensuing decades, but this progress has also brought with it challenges of information overload that have taken doctors’ and nurses’ attentions away from the patients they are called to serve. I believe technology has a major role to play in reversing this trend, while also improving how care is delivered in ways that can save lives. 

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Stadia launches today

There is a moment in every gamer’s life when they experience something unforgettable.  Whether it’s the time they first beat the final boss in their favorite game, were mesmerized by the unfolding story in a brand-new franchise, or watched an up-and-coming YouTube streamer entertain them with a game they’ve never even heard of… those moments are magical.  

We’re now on the cusp of a similarly memorable moment. Starting today, playing games on your TV in 4K without a console, streaming games to a Chrome browser on a simple laptop, or enjoying the biggest games ever made on your phone is a reality. It seems impossible until you experience it. Stadia Founder’s Edition starts arriving today, making the world’s best games available to players everywhere without a dedicated console or expensive PC.

Stadia - Official Launch Trailer | Now Available

Stadia will continue to add features and updates in the coming weeks and months, as well as more games. Twenty-six titles are coming this year, with many, many more in development all around the world. Buddy Passes will begin shipping early in December, and Stadia Premiere Edition is available to order now at stadia.com

The barriers between you and the games you love are coming down: it’s just your games and your screens with nothing but electric air in between. Thank you for being a part of the Stadia community. See you in the game.

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