DaedTech Digest: Packing Edition and What We Take

2 months 3 weeks ago

As I mentioned in a recent digest post, we’re heading to Vermont in a few days, where we’ll stay for a month.  Since mentioning that, we’ve gotten questions about leaving our house unoccupied and about what packing is like.  Since I answered the former last week, I’ll answer the latter this week. What Does One Pack […]

The post DaedTech Digest: Packing Edition and What We Take appeared first on DaedTech.

  
Erik Dietrich

Image rights metadata in Google Images

2 months 3 weeks ago

As part of a collaboration between Google, photo industry consortium CEPIC, and IPTC, the global technical standards body for the news media, you can now access rights-related image metadata in Google Images.

It’s traditionally been difficult to know the creator of images on the web, as well as who might own the rights. This information is often part of image metadata, and is key to protecting image copyright and licensing information.

Starting today, we’ve added Creator and Credit metadata whenever present to images on Google Images. To see this information on Google Images, you can click on the “Image Credits” link to view the metadata fields. Over the coming weeks, we will also add Copyright Notice metadata.

Also in partnership with CEPIC and IPTC, we hope to create better usage guidance for photographers, photo agencies and publishers to include copyright and attribution information in image metadata. For more on how to best implement IPTC metadata, refer to the IPTC Guidelines.

Andrew Fingerman, CEO of PhotoShelter, a provider of digital asset management tools for photographers and brands, describes why this is a big step for Google Images: “Employing IPTC metadata standards in Google Images results will help ensure proper attribution of credit and support photographers’ copyright, while also boosting the discoverability of content and creators. This is a win for the professional photo community.”

If you have questions, feedback or suggestions, please let us know through the Webmaster Tools Help Forum.

Throwbacks and thank yous on our 20th birthday

2 months 3 weeks ago

On Google’s 20th birthday, Thursday is not just for throwbacks. It’s also for thank yous.

Google wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for you: a curious crowd that comes to Search with all of life’s questions. Today’s birthday Doodle is dedicated to you, and the 20 years of searches that represent the inquisitiveness of people everywhere.

In today’s Doodle and hidden in Search for a limited time, you’ll be thrown back to (and flashed forward from) the days when “what is Y2K?” was your most burning tech question, Pluto was still a planet, and clip art was a critical part of visual communication.

The days when the music format du jour was the MP3 file and it was cutting-edge to watch a DVD. When you had to choose a screen name before hopping into a chat room.

All the kids had to have a digital pet, and girls were rocking the latest butterfly clip styles in their hair. Everyone was keepin' it real and gettin' jiggy wit it on the dance floor. And googol was just a really big number.

You can also peer back into the last two decades through the lens of trends by visiting 20years.withgoogle.com and seeing many of the people, pop culture and pizza (yes, pizza) that inspired your searches from 1998 to now.

We hope this jaunt down memory lane reminds you of your own magical moments when you found just what you were looking for with Google. For the next 20 years and beyond: Search on.

Searching for Tuva: Before the internet and now

2 months 3 weeks ago

“So you think you know every country in the world?” my late friend and drumming partner Richard Feynman said with a twinkle in his eye, back in 1977.“Well, then, whatever happened to Tannu Tuva?”

I replied, “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman—there is no such country!”

But there was: Feynman remembered Tuva as a purple splotch on the map just outside of Outer Mongolia. In the 1930s Tuva issued dozens of marvelous triangular- and diamond-shaped stamps that he collected as a boy. Then the country mysteriously disappeared.

His question turned into a quest—to learn everything we could about Tuva, and to get there ourselves. On the occasion of Google's 20th anniversary this month, I've been thinking about how different our search was then compared to today.

Back then our main source of information was libraries—local, university, even the Library of Congress. Much of the information was in Russian (Tuva had been absorbed into Stalin’s Soviet Union during World War II), so we recruited a linguistic wizard named Glen Cowan to help. (Today you can use Google Translate.) We scoured card catalogs, microfilm reels, cross-library listings—and books that literally needed the dust blown off—in hopes of finding a useful nugget of information. Each nugget, rare and unexpected, delivered a small delight of discovery, and kept our quest alive.

Search for “Tuva” today on Google and you’ll be showered with so many nuggets that you can’t possibly treasure them all.

Back then it took us months to find a single grainy black-and-white photograph of Tuva; search for “images Tuva” on Google today and you’ll find a hundred color photographs in a second.

Back then it took us a year to find a single hand-drawn map of Tuva’s exotically spelled capital; today, you can instantly see a detailed street map of Kyzyl based on satellite imagery, with current traffic conditions.

Because information about Tuva was so difficult to find in the pre-Internet era, our quest was full of twists—much like a Feynman diagram (go ahead, search!). One twist took us to Moscow, where Cowan and I discovered and then brought the largest archaeological and ethnographic exposition ever from the Soviet Union to the United States. It included spectacular items from Tuva, of course. We thought the Nomads exhibition would provide us the key to finally setting foot in Kyzyl; it actually was the key for a dozen Soviet academicians to visit the mysterious Disneyland. No matter: we learned the meaning of the Taoist saying, “The reward is in the journey.”

Undaunted, we spread our enthusiasm by sending out Xeroxed newsletters to our friends, encouraging them to pass them on and send back SASEs (self-addressed stamped envelopes) for future newsletters. We also set up a “Friends of Tuva hotline” (221-TUVA) to spread the latest information about the singing cowboys from Tuva riding in the 1993 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Each Tuvan cowboy could sing two notes simultaneously, something we could scarcely imagine when we read about it in books; today, YouTube has dozens of “Tuvan throatsinging” music videos, and the “Friends of Tuva” newsletters are online.

Sadly, Feynman died in 1988, just weeks before receiving the coveted formal invitation that would allow us to set foot in Tuva at last. But his memory lives on, here and in the land of his dreams. Today, you can find an article online about “Feynman Rock” in Tuva, carved to commemorate the centenary of Feynman’s birth in May this year. At a related event in Kyzyl, Cowan gave a talk in Russian about the work that won Feynman the Nobel Prize, while a simultaneous commemoration live-streamed into Kyzyl from Caltech.

The view from Feynman Rock in Tuva

Today I embark on dozens of quirky diversions every week, usually ending up happily lost in the world of Wikipedia (to which I contribute a dollar a day for my habit). But these easy jaunts seem more like sugar highs than the satisfying meal that Tuva provided, so in an effort to recapture that spirit of adventure, I’ve begun to frequent my local library and read good old-fashioned books again.

Nevertheless, I'm thankful for the embarrassment of riches and fools gold that is today’s Internet. And on Google's 20th anniversary, I offer up a fervent hope: let us never stop pursuing the mysteries that surround us—wondrous mysteries that await sustained, serendipitous, and joyful investigation. Quests can still begin with an intriguing question; adventures still await the curious mind.

Find your Tuva.

Oh, The Things You’ll Find

2 months 3 weeks ago

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to great pages!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
and fingers on your hands.
You can search for whatever
and see where it lands.
You're on your own. With an empty white box.
Roll a dice, flip a coin, if you’re feeling lucky (or not).

You'll spin around pages. “Do a barrel roll” with care!
About anagram you’ll say: "did you mean” isn't right there...
With your head full of brains and your hands full of fingers,
You're too smart to tap any Super Mario box figures.

And if you do not find links
That you want to click on.
You'll go back to the start,
Type again and #SearchOn.

But searchers, beware!
We've hidden more things
in the wide open air ;)

In Search, things can happen,
sometimes go askew,
Atari breakouts, Zerg rushes,
Blink <html> blink blinks too.

And when you have questions,
about lonely numbers or unicorn horns.
Or the answer to life the universe
and everything … again, #SearchOn

OH!
THE THINGS YOU’LL FIND!

Because, once in a blue moon,
Bletchley Park will be scrambled
sending PAC-MAN and snakes
on a big fullscreen amble.

Hooting owls will hoot hoot,
Mooing cows will moo moo,
Google in 1998 will send you back
20 years or so too.

And if that means you need balance,
Why not play solitaire?
Take a moment to spin a dreidel
and catch your breath there. 

Reset your bubble levels,
Turn your metronome back on,
(sqrt(cos(x))*cos(500*x)
+sqrt(abs(x))-0.4)*(3-x*x)^0.1

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL FIND ANSWERS!

So…
Whether you’re Aussie or Kenyan or mostly Hungarian
Or an Indo-Peruvian-Czech vegetarian.
You're off to great pages!
Today is your day!
Your search page is waiting.
So...get on your way!

With the help of Google Search, one woman finds her way

2 months 3 weeks ago

Robin Máxkii always felt caught between worlds—her reservation in Wisconsin, where she lived until age 11, and the urban sprawl of Houston, where she went to high school. During her late teens and early 20s, she maintained a blog, Native Notes, where she wrote passionately about native issues. One day, she received an anonymous comment that would change her life. It stated that if she wanted to actively change the community she wrote about, she should go to college. The seed was planted—she just needed to figure out how.


Robin turned to Google Search and before she knew it, she found her place at a tribal college. There, she became a campus leader, and took internships that helped her advocate for greater access to tech for her community.


Robin’s journey is the subject of our latest episode of “Search On,” Google’s original documentary series that tells the stories of people on a quest for better answers and the magic that happens when they find them at the intersection of tech and humanity. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Google and Google Search, we couldn’t think of a story that better exemplifies the tremendous possibilities that come when people have access to information. Watch Robin’s story above, and read more at g.co/betweenworlds.

Keeping people safe with AI-enabled flood forecasting

2 months 3 weeks ago

For 20 years, Google Search has provided people with the information they need, and in times of crisis, access to timely, actionable information is often crucial. Last year we launched SOS Alerts on Search and Maps to make emergency information more accessible. Since then, we’ve activated SOS Alerts in more than 200 crisis situations, in addition to tens of thousands of Google Public Alerts, which have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Floods are devastating natural disasters worldwide—it’s estimated that every year, 250 million people around the world are affected by floods, also costing billions of dollars in damages. Flood forecasting can help individuals and authorities better prepare to keep people safe, but accurate forecasting isn’t currently available in many areas. And the warning systems that do exist can be imprecise and non-actionable, resulting in far too many people being underprepared and underinformed before a flood happens.

To help improve awareness of impending floods, we're using AI and significant computational power to create better forecasting models that predict when and where floods will occur, and incorporating that information into Google Public Alerts. A variety of elements—from historical events, to river level readings, to the terrain and elevation of a specific area—feed into our models. From there, we generate maps and run up to hundreds of thousands of simulations in each location. With this information, we’ve created river flood forecasting models that can more accurately predict not only when and where a flood might occur, but the severity of the event as well.

These images depict a flood simulation of a river in Hyderabad, India. The left side uses publicly available data while the right side uses Google data and technology. Our models contain higher resolution, accuracy, and up-to-date information.

We started these flood forecasting efforts in India, where 20 percent of global flood-related fatalities occur. We’re partnering with India’s Central Water Commission to get the data we need to roll out early flood warnings, starting with the Patna region. The first alert went out earlier this month after heavy rains in the region.

Flood alert shown to users in the Patna region.

We’re also looking to expand coverage to more countries, to help more people around the world get access to these early warnings, and help keep them informed and safe.

Helping you along your Search journeys

2 months 3 weeks ago

We’ve spent the last 20 years optimizing Search so it works really well for getting quick information. You ask what the capital of Costa Rica is, and we’ll tell you it’s San José. But in life we often take longer journeys, and people turn to Search for help in these moments too.

Many searches are related to longer sessions that span multiple days, with people coming back to Search to find the latest updates on a topic or explore the range of content available. For example, you might be planning a trip, and searching for information about a destination over the course of a month. Or perhaps you regularly search for “easy dinner recipes” to help you plan you meals for the week.

We can do better to help in these journeys, so today we’re sharing new features that help you resume tasks where you left off, keep track of ideas and content that you found useful, and get relevant suggestions of things to explore next. All of this marks a fundamental transformation in the way Search understands interests and longer journeys to help you find information.

Retrace your steps with activity cards

Retracing your steps online can be really difficult. While we’ve always made your Search history available in your account settings, you should be able to access it when you’re searching, so it can be useful to you in the moment.

Now, a new activity card will help you pick up from where you left off in Search. When you revisit a query related to a task you've started in the past, we’ll show you a card with relevant pages you’ve already visited and previous queries you’ve done on this topic. This helps you retrace your steps when you might not remember which sites had that useful information you’d found earlier.

We’re intelligently showing this card only when it’s useful; it won’t appear for every search. And you’ll have full control over it—you can easily remove results from your history, pause seeing this card, or choose not to see it all together. This new activity card will be available in Search later this year.

Keep track of your searches with Collections

Another way to more easily navigate long search journeys is by adding useful content to Collections. Collections in Search help you keep track of content you’ve visited, such as a website or article or image, and quickly get back to it later.

Now, with an improved Collections experience, you can add your content from an activity card directly to Collections. This makes it even easier to keep track of and organize the content you want to revisit.


We’ve also added content suggestions to help you explore topics further, based on the other content you’ve saved and things you’ve searched for. We’ll start rolling out this new Collections experience later this fall.

Dynamic organization of Search results

Every search journey is different, and especially if you’re not familiar with the topic, it’s not always clear what your next search should be to help you learn more. So we’re introducing a new way of dynamically organizing search results that helps you more easily determine what information to explore next.

Rather than presenting information within a set of predetermined categories, we can intelligently show the subtopics that are most relevant to what you’re searching for and make it easy to explore information from the web, all with a single search.

So if you’re searching for Pugs, for example, you’ll now be able to see the tabs for the most common and relevant subtopics, like breed characteristics and names, right at the top. But if you search for something else, even a different kind of dog, like Yorkshire Terriers, you’ll see options grooming tips and breed history.


The best part about this feature is that it continues to stay fresh and learns over time. As new information is published to the web, these tabs stay up to date to reflect what’s most relevant to that topic. This dynamic page organization is already live for a variety of topics, and we’ll expand to more in the future.

A new Topic Layer in the Knowledge Graph

To enable all of these updates, Search has to understand interests and how they progress over time. So we’ve taken our existing Knowledge Graph—which understands connections between people, places, things and facts about them—and added a new layer, called the Topic Layer, engineered to deeply understand a topic space and how interests can develop over time as familiarity and expertise grow.

The Topic Layer is built by analyzing all the content that exists on the web for a given topic and develops hundreds and thousands of subtopics. For these subtopics, we can identify the most relevant articles and videos—the ones that have shown themselves to be evergreen and continually useful, as well as fresh content on the topic. We then look at patterns to understand how these subtopics relate to each other, so we can more intelligently surface the type of content you might want to explore next.

All of this enables experiences that make it easier than ever to explore your interests, even if you don’t have your next search in mind. We’re excited for the potential of this technology to provide more opportunities for discovery and exploration in Search.


Helping people find Pathways to their next job through Search

2 months 3 weeks ago

Last year at I/O, we announced a newjob search experience so more people can find jobs that meet their needs. Since then, we’ve continued to improve and expand this experience. We’ve already helped connect over 100 million people in 92 countries to job listings, and we’re working to bring this feature to more countries by the end of the year.

We’ve also focused on this unique challenge in individual communities. A few weeks ago, we shared our commitment to help our nation’s military service members transition to civilian jobs with job search for veterans, a tool for service members to easily find civilian jobs that use the skills and experience they developed in their military roles.

But there’s more to be done. Forty percent of U.S. households struggle to afford ordinary expenses with their current income, while 46 percent of U.S. employers say they can't find employees with the skills they need. As industries change, a gap has formed in local communities: The skills in demand are not always the skills people have. And this gap is different in each community.  

We see an opportunity for Search to help bridge this gap by connecting job seekers with effective, nearby job training programs delivering the skills local employers need. So that’s the challenge we’re working to solve now: to help people find useful information about the skills and training they need for a job, and better connect them with local resources that can help them realize those opportunities. Here’s one story that inspired us along the way:

We want to help create more stories like Aaron’s for people everywhere and believe these opportunities should be more discoverable online. That’s why today we’re announcing a new feature within job search called Pathways—part of our Grow with Googleinitiative to ensure economic opportunity for everyone.

Here’s our aspiration for how this will work: When someone searches for jobs on Google, we’ll show not only jobs available right now in their area, but also information about effective local training and education programs.  

We’re starting a pilot of Pathways in Virginia, where we’re partnering with leading organizations in this ecosystem including the State of Virginia, the Virginia Community College System, local employers, and many others to make these local programs more discoverable through Search.

We’re also piloting with Goodwill, the leading nonprofit job training provider in the U.S. As part of our Pathways initiative, volunteer Google engineers will work with local Goodwill organizations to ensure their education and training programs are easily found on the open web.

What we learn from these pilots will help us develop new features and ensure information about programs are readily accessible to everyone in the U.S., and more countries in the future. We want to enable communities to thrive, and make transitions like Aaron’s possible everywhere.

If your organization wants to collaborate and work together to bring this experience to life, join us.

Discover new information and inspiration with Search, no query required

2 months 3 weeks ago

Last year we introduced the Google feed to surface relevant content to you, even when you’re not searching. It’s grown dramatically over the past year: more than 800 million people use the feed each month to stay up to date on their interests. Today—as a part of three fundamental shifts in how we think about Search—we’re launching a major update to this experience, including a new name, a fresh look, and a brand-new set of features.

A new name and look

Since launching the feed, we’ve made it our goal to help you uncover fresh and interesting content about things that matter to you. Now, we’re giving the feed a name that reflects this mission: Discover. With this new name comes a fresh design that makes exploring your interests easier than ever.

New topic headers explain why you’re seeing a particular card in Discover, and whenever a topic catches your eye, you can dive deeper to explore more on that topic.

Next to each topic name is a Discover icon, which you’ll also start to see in Search for an ever-growing set of topics. You can tap “Follow” to start seeing more about that topic in your experience.

Evergreen content

In addition to this new look, you’ll also see new types of content in Discover. You’ll find more videos and fresh visual content, as well as evergreen content—articles and videos that aren’t new to the web, but are new to you.


For example, when you’re planning your next trip, Discover might show an article with the best places to eat or sights to see. Suddenly, a travel article published three months ago is timely for you. This can also be useful as you’re taking up a new hobby or going deeper on a long-time interest. Using the Topic Layer in the Knowledge Graph, Discover can predict your level of expertise on a topic and help you further develop those interests. If you’re learning to play guitar, for example, you might see beginner content about learning chords. If you’re already a skilled musician, you may see a video on more advanced techniques.


Discover is unique because it's one step ahead: it helps you come across the things you haven't even started looking for.

More context and control

Because Discover is all about you and your interests, there are now even more ways to customize what you see.


Just tap on the control icon to indicate that you want more or less content on that topic. You’ll continue to see content from a range of sources on any given topic, helping you explore new ideas surrounding your interests.


When it comes to news, we believe it’s important that everyone has access to the same information. Discover uses the same technology as Full Coverage in Google News to bring you a variety of perspectives on the latest news.


Discover in multiple languages

With this redesign, Discover will now be even more useful to people who speak multiple languages. You may like to use recipes in Spanish and read sports in English, and you will see content in your language of preference for each interest.


We’re starting with support for English and Spanish in the U.S. and will expand to more languages and countries soon.


Coming to google.com on your phone

The Google homepage has always been a place to ask questions and search for information you’re interested in. Now, it will be even easier to keep up with your interests, because Discover is coming to google.com on all mobile browsers.


Think of it as your new mobile homepage where you can not only search, but also discover useful, relevant information and inspiration from across the web for the topics you care about most. This will be rolling out over the next few weeks.


We hope you find this refreshed experience helpful as you discover your next hobby and further develop your interests with Search.

Improving Search for the next 20 years

2 months 3 weeks ago

Growing up in India, there was one good library in my town that I had access to—run by the British Council.  It was modest by western standards, and I had to take two buses just to get there. But I was lucky, because for every child like me, there were many more who didn’t have access to the same information that I did. Access to information changed my life, bringing me to the U.S. to study computer science and opening up huge possibilities for me that would not have been available without the education I had.  

The British Council Library in my hometown.

When Google started 20 years ago, our mission was to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. That seemed like an incredibly ambitious mission at the time—even considering that in 1998 the web consisted of just 25 million pages (roughly the equivalent of books in a small library).

Fast forward to today, and now we index hundreds of billions of pages in our index—more information than all the libraries in the world could hold. We’ve grown to serve people all over the world, offering Search in more than 150 languages and over 190 countries.

Through all of this, we’ve remained grounded in our mission. In fact, providing greater access to information is as core to our work today as it was when we first started. And while almost everything has changed about technology and the information available to us, the core principles of Search have stayed the same.

  • First and foremost, we focus on the user. Whether you’re looking for recipes, studying for an exam, or finding information on where to vote, we’re focused on serving your information needs.

  • We strive to give you the most relevant, highest quality information as quickly as possible. This was true when Google started with the Page Rank algorithm—the foundational technology to Search. And it’s just as true today.

  • We see billions of queries every day, and 15 percent of queries are ones we’ve never seen before. Given this scale, the only way to provide Search effectively is through an algorithmic approach. This helps us not just solve all the queries we’ve seen yesterday, but also all the ones we can’t anticipate for tomorrow.

  • Finally, we rigorously test every change we make. A key part of this testing is the rater guidelines which define our goals in search, and which are publicly available for anyone to see. Every change to Search is evaluated by experimentation and by raters using these guidelines. Last year alone, we ran more than 200,000 experiments that resulted in 2,400+ changes to search. Search will serve you better today than it did yesterday, and even better tomorrow.


As Google marks our 20th anniversary, I wanted to share a first look at the next chapter of Search, and how we’re working to make information more accessible and useful for people everywhere. This next chapter is driven by three fundamental shifts in how we think about Search:

Underpinning each of these are our advancements in AI, improving our ability to understand language in ways that weren’t possible when Google first started. This is incredibly exciting, because over 20 years ago when I studied neural nets at school, they didn’t actually work very well...at all!

But we’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts. Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching. This can enable us to address queries like: “why does my TV look strange?” to surface the most relevant results for that question, even if the exact words aren’t contained in the page. (By the way, it turns out the reason is called the soap opera effect).

Finding the right information about my TV is helpful in the moment. But AI can have much more profound effects. Whether it’s predicting areas that might be affected in a flood, or helping you identify the best job opportunities for you, AI can dramatically improve our ability to make information more accessible and useful.

I’ve worked on Search at Google since the early days of its existence. One of the things that keeps me so inspired about Search all these years is our mission and how timeless it is. Providing greater access to information is fundamental to what we do, and there are always more ways we can help people access the information they need. That’s what pushes us forward to continue to make Search better for our users. And that’s why our work here is never done.

Making visual content more useful in Search

2 months 3 weeks ago

When Search first began, our results were just plain text. But on February 24, 2000, something changed. It was the day after the Grammy Awards, and we noticed people were searching like crazy for Jennifer Lopez’s green dress. It was clear right away that people were looking for visual information, not just plain text. In the years that followed, the growth of mobile devices and small screens made it even more important to be able to quickly scan visual results.

Since then, we’ve been working to include more imagery and videos in Search, whether it’s illustrated weather reports, live sports clips, or our visual recipe experience. We've been able to do this in part thanks to advancements in computer vision, which help us extract concepts from images. We model hundreds of millions of fine-grained concepts for every image and video that we have in our index. For example, an image of a tiger might generate concepts like “feline,” “animal” or “big cat.” This lets us identify a picture by looking at its pixels, without needing to be told by the words on a page.

We’ve also made a number of updates to our most immersive experience for searching visual content, Google Images. These changes are aimed at helping people better find information visually, and making it easier to pursue the things people come to Google Images for help with, like shopping for products, styling a room, or tackling a DIY project.

Today, we’re introducing three fundamental shifts in how we think about Search, including a range of new features that use AI to make your search experience more visual and enjoyable. And when you know you want to search visually, we’re making the Google Images experience even more useful and powerful.

Immersive visual content with stories

Earlier this year we worked with the AMP Project to announce AMP stories, an open source library that makes it easy for anyone to create a story on the open web. While it’s still early, we’ve seen many publishers experimenting with this format and providing people with a more visual way to get information from Search and News. To help people discover these visual stories, we’ll also begin to show this content in Google Images and Discover.

Now we’re beginning to use AI to intelligently construct AMP stories and surface this content in Search. We’re starting today with stories about notable people—like celebrities and athletes—providing a glimpse into facts and important moments from their lives in a rich, visual format. This format lets you easily tap to the articles for more information and provides a new way to discover content from the web.

Visually preview topics with featured videos in Search

Videos can be a useful way to learn about a new topic, but it can be hard to find the most relevant videos to explore all the different facets of that topic space. Using computer vision, we’re now able to deeply understand the content of a video and help you quickly find the most useful information in a new experience called featured videos.

Imagine you’re planning a hiking trip to Zion National Park, and you want to check out videos of what to expect and ideas for sites to visit. Since you’ve never been there, you might not know which specific landmarks to look for when mapping out your trek.

With featured videos, we take our deep understanding of the topic space (in this case, the most important landmarks in the park) and show the most relevant videos for those subtopics. For Zion National Park, you might see a video for each attraction, like Angels Landing or the Narrows. This provides a more holistic view of the video content available for a topic, and opens up new paths to discover more.

Visual journeys with Google Images

People coming to Google Images today are looking to find information, or for help doing something—not just to see an image. So we’re announcing several new features to help you find visual information more easily, and pursue activities where having a visual reference is important.

Tapping the power of the web page

When you come to Google Images for help on a task, the page where an image lives is important. Whatever page you visit should help you take the next step in what you’re trying to do. Also, with many visual searches, there may not be one right answer, so you want to scan a lot of images and information before you find what you need.

Over the last year, we’ve overhauled the Google Images algorithm to rank results that have both great images and great content on the page. For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking. If you’re doing a search for DIY shelving, the site behind the image is now more likely to be a site related to DIY projects. We also prioritize fresher content, so you’re more likely to visit a site that has been updated recently.

Also, it wasn’t long ago that if you visited an image’s web page, it might be hard to find the specific image you were looking for when you got there. We now prioritize sites where the image is central to the page, and higher up on the page. So if you’re looking to buy a specific pair of shoes, a product page dedicated to that pair of shoes will be prioritized above, say, a category page showing a range of shoe styles.  

Starting this week, we’ll also show more context around images, including captions that show you the title of the webpage where each image is published. This is critical to help you understand the page behind the image. We’ll also suggest related search terms at the top of the page for more guidance. We’ve already introduced this new look on mobile, and now we’re bringing it to desktop where a larger screen is important for complex tasks.

Explore within an image using AI with Lens in Google Images

We launched Google Lens last year to help you do more with what you see. People are already using it in their camera and on their photos—to find items in an outfit they like, learn more about landmarks, or identify that cute dog in the park. In the coming weeks, we’ll bring Lens to Google Images to help you explore and learn more about visual content you find during your searches.

Lens’ AI technology analyzes images and detects objects of interest within them. If you select one of these objects, Lens will show you relevant images, many of which link to product pages so you can continue your search or buy the item you’re interested in. Using your finger on a mobile device screen, Lens will also let you “draw” on any part of an image, even if it’s not preselected by Lens, to trigger related results and dive even deeper on what’s in your image.

We hope these changes will make it easier—and more visually interesting—to traverse the web, find information, and pursue your interests.


Tips from the people behind your favorite Google products

2 months 3 weeks ago

I’m one of those people who always cuts it close at the airport—it’s a race through security, with just enough time to grab the airline essentials: water bottle, magazine, a soft pretzel if I’m lucky. But I just learned that I can whip out Google Maps to find my way around the airport (by searching the airport name and terminal number), so I no longer waste time running around looking for my snack of choice.

For two decades, Google has built products that make my life more useful. Eight of these products now have a billion users, and with all that extra time at the airport, I got to thinking—how many other unknown tips and tricks are out there? Since Google is celebrating its 20th birthday this month, I present a party favor: tips on Google’s most-used products, straight from the people who helped build them.

Search

  • For lovers of covers:Try searching for a song and then tapping “other recordings” for different renditions.
  • Don’t burn daylight: Make the most of your daylight hours by knowing when the sun will go down. Search [sunset] to get the time the sun will set today.
  • For content connoisseurs:If you’re a fan of bingeable TV shows or a movie buff, you can see all the places to stream any show or film by searching [watch] followed by the title. (Head’s up: this is available in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Germany and India). 
Emily Moxley, Director of Product Management


Maps

  • Beat the crowds:Use Google Maps to find out the estimated wait times and popular times to visit your favorite restaurants and businesses. 
  • Don’t get lost in the parking lot:If you’ve ever spent way too long searching for your parked car, this tip’s for you. After navigating to your destination, tap on the blue dot and then “Set as parking location” so you can always find your way back to your parking spot.
  • Quickest route to the airport snacks:If you’re flying to a new place, you can use Google Maps to help you find your way around an airport. A quick search for an airport terminal name, say “SFO Terminal 1,” will show you the lay of the land, including nearby gates, lounges, restaurants and stores.
Dane Glasgow, VP of Product


YouTube
  • Just add popcorn:Developed to cut down on glare and give you that movie theater experience, Dark Theme turns your background dark while you’re watching YouTube. It’s available on desktop, iOS and now rolling out to Android. 
  • Pick your pace:Speed up or slow down the playback of a video by tapping on the three dots at the bottom right of any video. 
  • Take a shortcut:While watching a YouTube video, use the numbered keys to seek in a video. For example, hitting “2” will take you 20 percent into the video, “6” will take you to 60 percent into the video, “0” will restart the video. 
Brian Marquardt, Director of Product Management


Gmail
  • The ultimate to-do list: Open Tasks in your side panel within Gmail, then drag and drop emails to turn your messages into action items. 
  • Shhhh:Declutter your inbox with Gmail’s mute feature, which pushes the entire conversation to your archive and any future conversations on the thread bypass your inbox to be automatically archived as well. 
  • Take it back:Don’t fret over embarrassing typos, unintentional reply-alls, or other email taboos. In your Gmail settings, just implement a 5-30 second cancellation period on your sent emails and once you’ve fired one off, you’ll receive a prompt to “Undo.”

Kevin Smilak, Engineering Director


Google Drive
  • Give your docs a gold star:Find your favorite Drive items by starring your most important docs within the Drive main menu, and then bookmarking your Starred page. 
  • File_name_V2:Freeze moments in time by naming different versions of the docs you edit frequently. In a Doc, Sheet, or Slides go to File > Version History > Name current version. Name any version then access it easily from "Version history" by name. 
  • Your search is our command:Google Drive makes the text within all of the images and PDFs you upload searchable. Try searching for a phrase that you know is inside a picture or PDF, which is especially helpful when you can’t remember your filename. 
Alexander Vogenthaler, Director of Product Management


Android
  • Lost and found:If you’ve misplaced your Android phone, Find My Device lets you locate it by signing into your Google account. Or you can call it directly from a browser by typing “find my device” on Google. Lock your phone remotely or display a message on the lock screen, so if someone finds it they know who to contact. If you’re convinced it’s lost for good, you can erase all your data.
  • Always reachable:Don’t miss any urgent phone calls and messages from important contacts like close family members or your child’s school, even when you have Do Not Disturb turned on. Just add a star to people that matter to you, and then allow calls and messages from “starred contacts only” in Do Not Disturb settings. 
  • Use your voice:You can ask your Google Assistant to handle tasks on your Android phone (running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later). Start by saying “OK Google,” then try “take a screenshot,” “turn on flashlight,” or “open WiFi setting.” You can even ask to “take a selfie”—this will open the camera app and start a countdown. Cheeeeeeeese. 
Sagar Kamdar, Director of Product Management


Google Play
  • When you’re good with faces, but not names:Just hit pause on your movie, tap the circle around the actor or actress's face, and learn more about them and what other movies they’ve been in.
  • Read like a superhero: When you’re reading a comic on your phone, tap on a voice bubble and use your volume buttons to zoom in on the dialogue between two characters.
  • What you wish for:You can create a wishlist to keep track of items you want to install or purchase on Google Play.
Kara Bailey, Global Merchandising Director


Chrome
  • Access history across devices:Open Chrome and click on “History.” From the drop down menu, click “Full History” and “Tabs From Other Devices.” If you’re signed into the same Google account on both your phone and your computer, you’ll see the article you were just about to finish on your way into work.
  • Keeping tabs on your tabs:You can save eight days of time per year using keyboard shortcuts. Try this one in Chrome: jump between tabs at light speed by pressing Ctrl and the tab number you want to go to (i.e., Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, Ctrl+3).
  • 👀☝😀 = 🎉. Right-click in any text field for a shortcut to access emoji on any platform Chrome can be found.
Ellie Powers, Group Product Manager, and Chris Beckmann, Product Management Director 

So many tips, so much saved time.

DaedTech Digest: Do You Worry about an Unoccupied House?

2 months 4 weeks ago

In past DaedTech digests, I’ve talked about the topic of whether we miss our stuff and about packing.  This kind of naturally gives rise to something that people ask me here and there. Do you worry about leaving your house unoccupied for long periods of time? The simple answer to that is no, we don’t. […]

The post DaedTech Digest: Do You Worry about an Unoccupied House? appeared first on DaedTech.

  
Erik Dietrich

Value Prop Workshop: A “State Matrix Audit”

3 months ago

Alright, let’s try something new for this week’s reader question.  As regular readers know, I do a “you asked for it” column where I answer reader questions.  But lately, I’ve been getting a specific form of questions. People ask for help with their free agent/moonlighting value propositions.  Sometimes, these requests even involve offering to pay […]

The post Value Prop Workshop: A “State Matrix Audit” appeared first on DaedTech.

  
Erik Dietrich