Archive for April, 2011

Google Apps highlights – 4/29/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve helped you personalize Gmail in new ways, made our applications speedier to use, brought text recognition and editing powers to Android phones, and given you a glimpse into the inner workings of a Google data center.

Customize Gmail with a favorite photo
For a long while, Gmail has had themes so your inbox can reflect a bit of your personality. Now, you can set Gmail’s background to a photo from your computer or Picasa Web Albums. So if Gmail’s standard theme choices don’t quite float your boat, now we’re sure you can create a theme you’ll love.


Faster multitasking in Gmail with the Background Send Lab
Features like nearly-instant search and integrated instant messaging help you save time in your inbox, but we’re always looking for new ways to speed up your experience in Gmail. On Monday we released a new feature in Labs called Background Send that can shave off a few seconds each time you hit “Send.” With this feature enabled, you can start working with other messages while your outgoing message is processed in the background without slowing you down. Give it a try from the Labs tab of Gmail Settings.


Streamlined file uploads in Google Docs
On Monday, we sped up the Google Docs experience with improvements to file uploads. Now you can upload a whole folder at once, and if you use Chrome, Safari or Firefox, you can even drag and drop files from your desktop into the documents list or specific collections. You’ll also see an upload progress window right in the documents list.


New Google Docs app for Android
Thanks to a brand new Google Docs app for Android, it’s easier to browse, search, edit and share your documents right from your mobile phone. You can even create new documents by snapping a picture of text with your phone’s camera, and thanks to Google Docs’ optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities, words in the image are converted to text that you can continue editing from your phone or computer.


100 new fonts in Google SitesWith more design choices in Google Sites, you can create better looking sites that match the look and feel you want to achieve. This Wednesday, we added

Google Apps highlights – 4/29/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve helped you personalize Gmail in new ways, made our applications speedier to use, brought text recognition and editing powers to Android phones, and given you a glimpse into the inner workings of a Google data center.

Customize Gmail with a favorite photo
For a long while, Gmail has had themes so your inbox can reflect a bit of your personality. Now, you can set Gmail’s background to a photo from your computer or Picasa Web Albums. So if Gmail’s standard theme choices don’t quite float your boat, now we’re sure you can create a theme you’ll love.


Faster multitasking in Gmail with the Background Send Lab
Features like nearly-instant search and integrated instant messaging help you save time in your inbox, but we’re always looking for new ways to speed up your experience in Gmail. On Monday we released a new feature in Labs called Background Send that can shave off a few seconds each time you hit “Send.” With this feature enabled, you can start working with other messages while your outgoing message is processed in the background without slowing you down. Give it a try from the Labs tab of Gmail Settings.


Streamlined file uploads in Google Docs
On Monday, we sped up the Google Docs experience with improvements to file uploads. Now you can upload a whole folder at once, and if you use Chrome, Safari or Firefox, you can even drag and drop files from your desktop into the documents list or specific collections. You’ll also see an upload progress window right in the documents list.


New Google Docs app for Android
Thanks to a brand new Google Docs app for Android, it’s easier to browse, search, edit and share your documents right from your mobile phone. You can even create new documents by snapping a picture of text with your phone’s camera, and thanks to Google Docs’ optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities, words in the image are converted to text that you can continue editing from your phone or computer.


100 new fonts in Google SitesWith more design choices in Google Sites, you can create better looking sites that match the look and feel you want to achieve. This Wednesday, we added

This week in search 4/29/11

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label “This week in search” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

This week, you can find what you’re searching for a little faster, whether it’s a recipe, the time of the royal wedding or a local prayer time.

More relevant predictions in Recipe View
In the past, when you searched in Recipe View on Google, you’d see the same search predictions that you’d see on the main web results page, which wasn’t always helpful for specifically food-related searches. Now when you search in Recipe View, you’ll see more relevant search predictions. For example, typing [c] will give you predictions for [chicken] or [cake] versus [craigslist] or [cnn], and typing [co] will predict [cookies] or [coconut]—and maybe inspire you to make coconut cookies. This feature is currently available in English, with more languages and local delicacies to follow.


Rich snippets for prayer times
Rich snippets are the brief descriptions you see beneath search results that summarize what’s on a webpage and provide you with more information before you click on a site link. For example, if you search for [events], you’ll see a list of upcoming local events on the results page.

Now, in addition to rich snippets for events, reviews and people, you can find local prayer times quicker and easier in your results. For example, a search for Islamic prayer times in London will show prayer times and locations. As more sites around the world use rich snippets for prayer times, you’ll start seeing results for additional cities.


The technology is open for use by religious organizations from any faith, and is particularly useful for Islamic prayer times, which are measured according to the movement of the sun. If you have a site with prayer times, you can update your site using the rich snippets format specified in Google Webmaster Central.

Google Instant in Japan
Searchers in Japan will now be able to see search predictions and results appear as they type. Google Instant will be available for everyone in Japan over the next few days, as well as for those typing in Japanese on other domains that currently support Google Instant.


Time for the royal wedding
The highly anticipated royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton had many people setting their alarm clocks to watch the live broadcast from Britain—which meant figuring out exactly what time the ceremony would be in your local time zone. To make it easier to tune in at the right hour, searches related to the royal wedding displayed a box at the top of the results page with the time of the wedding in your local time zone; this info was available in 23 languages. Congratulations to the happy couple!


As we head into the weekend, don’t forget to try solving today’s A Google a Day question at www.agoogleaday.com:


Posted by Ben Gomes, Google Fellow

This week in search 4/29/11

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label “This week in search” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

This week, you can find what you’re searching for a little faster, whether it’s a recipe, the time of the royal wedding or a local prayer time.

More relevant predictions in Recipe View
In the past, when you searched in Recipe View on Google, you’d see the same search predictions that you’d see on the main web results page, which wasn’t always helpful for specifically food-related searches. Now when you search in Recipe View, you’ll see more relevant search predictions. For example, typing [c] will give you predictions for [chicken] or [cake] versus [craigslist] or [cnn], and typing [co] will predict [cookies] or [coconut]—and maybe inspire you to make coconut cookies. This feature is currently available in English, with more languages and local delicacies to follow.


Rich snippets for prayer times
Rich snippets are the brief descriptions you see beneath search results that summarize what’s on a webpage and provide you with more information before you click on a site link. For example, if you search for [events], you’ll see a list of upcoming local events on the results page.

Now, in addition to rich snippets for events, reviews and people, you can find local prayer times quicker and easier in your results. For example, a search for Islamic prayer times in London will show prayer times and locations. As more sites around the world use rich snippets for prayer times, you’ll start seeing results for additional cities.


The technology is open for use by religious organizations from any faith, and is particularly useful for Islamic prayer times, which are measured according to the movement of the sun. If you have a site with prayer times, you can update your site using the rich snippets format specified in Google Webmaster Central.

Google Instant in Japan
Searchers in Japan will now be able to see search predictions and results appear as they type. Google Instant will be available for everyone in Japan over the next few days, as well as for those typing in Japanese on other domains that currently support Google Instant.


Time for the royal wedding
The highly anticipated royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton had many people setting their alarm clocks to watch the live broadcast from Britain—which meant figuring out exactly what time the ceremony would be in your local time zone. To make it easier to tune in at the right hour, searches related to the royal wedding displayed a box at the top of the results page with the time of the wedding in your local time zone; this info was available in 23 languages. Congratulations to the happy couple!


As we head into the weekend, don’t forget to try solving today’s A Google a Day question at www.agoogleaday.com:


Posted by Ben Gomes, Google Fellow

From time to time we invite guests to post about topics of interest and we’re pleased to have Emily Limm join us for U.S. Arbor Day. Emily is the science director for the non-profit Save the Redwoods League and is studying the impact of climate change on the redwood forests of northern California. To raise awareness about the League’s research, she worked with Google Earth Outreach to model old-growth redwoods on Google Earth. In this post, Emily shares her ideas on how technology and citizen science can help scientific research. -Ed.

Today is U.S. Arbor Day, a holiday established 120 years ago to celebrate our often under-appreciated forests, which provide us with necessities like clean air and drinking water as well as small pleasures like shade for a summer’s day picnic or a beautiful place to hike with crunchy leaves underfoot. Arbor Day holds special meaning for me because I spend most of my time in the coastal redwood forests of California, working to protect the world’s tallest tree species.

Over the past few months, Save the Redwoods League and the Google Earth Outreach team have collaborated to create 3D models of the old-growth redwood forest in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in northern California, so you can now take a virtual hike among the ancient trees and cruise over towering treetops. Explore the park by activating the 3D trees layer in Earth (under 3D Buildings) and searching for [jedediah smith redwoods state park, ca]. Tilt your view angle toward the horizon to make the trees appear. You can download the KML file for the narrated tour about redwoods to view in Google Earth, or watch the video version below:

In order to protect redwoods in Jedediah Smith and elsewhere, my colleagues and I are working to collect data on geographic regions where the trees are currently thriving to determine how future forests will fare in our changing climate. A critical piece of our work is collecting and comparing field observations of redwoods across different climates, but we need more data to draw strong conclusions—and that’s where you come in.

Today, Save the Redwoods League is launching our citizen science project Redwood Watch, powered by iNaturalist.org, a platform for recording, organizing and mapping nature observations. By sharing a simple digital photograph of a redwood tree and the time and location where the picture was taken, you can help the League track and monitor the species. If you know of a redwood tree—perhaps in your own backyard or in a nearby park—you can use the free Redwood Watch iPhone application or your own camera to take a photo, add a comment and submit it online. iNaturalist stores your observation and, if geographical coordinates weren’t captured automatically, uses the Google Maps APIs to assign them to your photo. With your geolocated observation, we can zoom out and analyze your observation in the context of global environmental and climatic patterns.

An observation of a coast redwood submitted to the Redwood Watch on iNaturalist.org.
The more field observations Save the Redwoods League collects, the better we’ll understand what climate makes a healthy redwood today, and predict where the redwood forests of tomorrow will thrive. We hope to see you on the Redwood Watch.

Happy Arbor Day from Save the Redwoods League and Google Earth!

Note: There are plenty of parallel projects going on around the world, so if you don’t live near redwoods, consider participating in one of the other iNaturalist.org citizen science projects.

Posted by Emily Limm, Ph.D., Director of Science and Planning, Save the Redwoods League

From time to time we invite guests to post about topics of interest and we’re pleased to have Emily Limm join us for U.S. Arbor Day. Emily is the science director for the non-profit Save the Redwoods League and is studying the impact of climate change on the redwood forests of northern California. To raise awareness about the League’s research, she worked with Google Earth Outreach to model old-growth redwoods on Google Earth. In this post, Emily shares her ideas on how technology and citizen science can help scientific research. -Ed.

Today is U.S. Arbor Day, a holiday established 120 years ago to celebrate our often under-appreciated forests, which provide us with necessities like clean air and drinking water as well as small pleasures like shade for a summer’s day picnic or a beautiful place to hike with crunchy leaves underfoot. Arbor Day holds special meaning for me because I spend most of my time in the coastal redwood forests of California, working to protect the world’s tallest tree species.

Over the past few months, Save the Redwoods League and the Google Earth Outreach team have collaborated to create 3D models of the old-growth redwood forest in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in northern California, so you can now take a virtual hike among the ancient trees and cruise over towering treetops. Explore the park by activating the 3D trees layer in Earth (under 3D Buildings) and searching for [jedediah smith redwoods state park, ca]. Tilt your view angle toward the horizon to make the trees appear. You can download the KML file for the narrated tour about redwoods to view in Google Earth, or watch the video version below:

In order to protect redwoods in Jedediah Smith and elsewhere, my colleagues and I are working to collect data on geographic regions where the trees are currently thriving to determine how future forests will fare in our changing climate. A critical piece of our work is collecting and comparing field observations of redwoods across different climates, but we need more data to draw strong conclusions—and that’s where you come in.

Today, Save the Redwoods League is launching our citizen science project Redwood Watch, powered by iNaturalist.org, a platform for recording, organizing and mapping nature observations. By sharing a simple digital photograph of a redwood tree and the time and location where the picture was taken, you can help the League track and monitor the species. If you know of a redwood tree—perhaps in your own backyard or in a nearby park—you can use the free Redwood Watch iPhone application or your own camera to take a photo, add a comment and submit it online. iNaturalist stores your observation and, if geographical coordinates weren’t captured automatically, uses the Google Maps APIs to assign them to your photo. With your geolocated observation, we can zoom out and analyze your observation in the context of global environmental and climatic patterns.

An observation of a coast redwood submitted to the Redwood Watch on iNaturalist.org.
The more field observations Save the Redwoods League collects, the better we’ll understand what climate makes a healthy redwood today, and predict where the redwood forests of tomorrow will thrive. We hope to see you on the Redwood Watch.

Happy Arbor Day from Save the Redwoods League and Google Earth!

Note: There are plenty of parallel projects going on around the world, so if you don’t live near redwoods, consider participating in one of the other iNaturalist.org citizen science projects.

Posted by Emily Limm, Ph.D., Director of Science and Planning, Save the Redwoods League

YouTube highlights 4/28/2011

This is the latest in our series of YouTube highlights. Every couple of weeks, we bring you regular updates on new product features, interesting programs to watch and tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

Music, Mother Earth, flash mobs and royalty were all celebrated on YouTube in the past two weeks. Read on for more details.

A front row seat to the royal wedding
The much anticipated royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is finally here, and you have a front seat. Tune into the Royal Channel, the official YouTube channel of the British Monarchy, on April 29 to see the entire wedding celebration live. The live stream will begin at 10:00am BST (9:00am GMT, 2:00am PT, 5:00am ET) on Friday, April 29, and will follow the wedding procession, marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey and balcony kiss. The Royal Channel will also feature live blog commentary of the event to give timely updates and insights as the day unfolds. If you can’t watch the live event, footage will be shown in its entirety directly following the celebration and will be available in full on the site to view afterward.

From Brazil to the California desert, a celebration of music
Earlier this year, we took on the task of capturing the festivity, passion and celebration of Brazil’s famed Carnaval. We live streamed six days of incredible festivities for the world, resulting in more than 11 million channel views to date. Continuing in that spirit of sharing world events more broadly, we helped expand the reach of California’s Coachella Festival by live streaming the event. YouTube streamed more than 65 bands and three days of music on three separate channels, generating more than 60 million views during live and re-broadcast events. If you missed the events, you can still check out the magic of Carnaval or your favorite artists’ Coachella performances at www.youtube.com/Carnaval

As excitement gears up worldwide for the royal wedding this Friday, we thought we’d take a look at how wedding frenzy for everything from flowers to fruitcake is manifesting itself online. Not only have searchers caught the matrimony bug, but savvy businesses around the world are capitalizing on the increased interest in the day with clever online ad campaigns.

We often tell marketers that “searchers are very engaged;” it now appears that the engaged are very searched. Searches for [royal wedding] have been steadily rising since the engagement announcement and have risen an additional 90% worldwide since the beginning of April as more details of Kate and William’s big day are revealed. Search volumes have boomed—from the [royal wedding carriage] (up 70 percent since it was announced in March), to Kate’s choice of coat at official appearances and the [royal wedding flowers]. Smart merchants have had plenty of opportunity to grow their wedding-related businesses online.

For example, a centerpiece of royal wedding coverage has been Kate’s sapphire engagement ring. Searches for [sapphire rings] are up almost 25 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, and jewelers have taken notice. U.S. retailer HSN saw huge sales of its various sapphire rings and other royal wedding memorabilia, including commemorative royal wedding coins. In fact, HSN had more than 350,000 impressions and over 20,000 clicks since its royal wedding online campaigns began in December 2010. Across the pond, Martine Wester Jewellers in Fulham, London, has seen sales of its £29 replica sapphire engagement ring skyrocket as much as 250 percent.

While many Londoners are leaving town and renting out their houses, scores of people outside the city are trying to get a front-row seat at the festivities: searches for [london vacation] are up more than 10 percent since the beginning of April. Virgin Atlantic Airways used online campaigns to promote its onboard street parties for passengers flying on the day of the royal wedding.

One of the oddest searches that turns out to be royal wedding-related is [fruitcake], which is up about 15 percent in the last 90 days in the U.S. and up 8 percent year over year worldwide. Turns out, fruitcake will be the official royal wedding cake flavor. If you weren’t lucky enough to score an invitation, you can still eat like a wedding guest thanks to clued-in bakeries around the country whose well-timed ads led to soaring fruitcake orders.

So settle in with your sapphire ring and fruitcake and tune in to the Royal Household’s YouTube channel to watch the whole event. And if anybody knows where you can actually buy one of those royal carriages, let us know.

Posted by Dan Schock, Google Retail Industry Director

(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

We’ve always jumped at the chance to bring the wonders of space a little closer to home. We’ve announced a Moon office, a Moon race and an expedition to Mars and brought many nooks and crannies of the universe to Google Earth—Sky, Moon, Mars, NASA images and a Hubble tour, to name a few.

On Friday, April 29, the crew of STS-134 will launch into space for the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour and we want to give you the chance to connect with them. On May 2, NASA Commander Mark Kelly and his crew will take your questions live from space on YouTube. PBS NewsHour will live stream the interview from its YouTube channel with veteran space reporter Miles O’Brien curating and asking your questions to the crew.

Starting today, you can visit www.youtube.com/pbsnewshour to submit a video or written question for the crew of STS-134 to be used in the live interview and vote for your favorite questions. You can also submit questions on Twitter with the hashtag #utalk2nasa. Don’t be shy—if you’re most curious about how to prepare for a spacewalk or wondering if the astronauts have a speech prepared for an extra-terrestrial encounter, this is your chance to find out. Here’s a video from PBS and Miles O’Brien to inspire you:

A few suggestions before submitting your questions:
Video questions are preferred, and should be a max of 20 seconds long
Speak clearly and film in a place with minimal background noise. Keep the camera as still as possible and ask the question directly to the camera
Look through NASA videos on YouTube about STS-134 to learn more about the mission and crew
You have until Saturday April 30 at midnight ET to submit your questions. The top ranked questions will be used in the live interview on Monday, May 2 at 2:15pm ET / 11:15am PT.

To get the full experience of STS-134, you can also watch a live stream of the shuttle launch on Friday April 29 starting at 3:47pm ET at www.youtube.com/pbsnewshour. Both the launch and the interview will be available for archived viewing.

Houston, we’re ready for lift-off.

Posted by Ginny Hunt, Public Sector Program Manager

(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

We’ve always jumped at the chance to bring the wonders of space a little closer to home. We’ve announced a Moon office, a Moon race and an expedition to Mars and brought many nooks and crannies of the universe to Google Earth—Sky, Moon, Mars, NASA images and a Hubble tour, to name a few.

On Friday, April 29, the crew of STS-134 will launch into space for the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour and we want to give you the chance to connect with them. On May 2, NASA Commander Mark Kelly and his crew will take your questions live from space on YouTube. PBS NewsHour will live stream the interview from its YouTube channel with veteran space reporter Miles O’Brien curating and asking your questions to the crew.

Starting today, you can visit www.youtube.com/pbsnewshour to submit a video or written question for the crew of STS-134 to be used in the live interview and vote for your favorite questions. You can also submit questions on Twitter with the hashtag #utalk2nasa. Don’t be shy—if you’re most curious about how to prepare for a spacewalk or wondering if the astronauts have a speech prepared for an extra-terrestrial encounter, this is your chance to find out. Here’s a video from PBS and Miles O’Brien to inspire you:

A few suggestions before submitting your questions:
Video questions are preferred, and should be a max of 20 seconds long
Speak clearly and film in a place with minimal background noise. Keep the camera as still as possible and ask the question directly to the camera
Look through NASA videos on YouTube about STS-134 to learn more about the mission and crew
You have until Saturday April 30 at midnight ET to submit your questions. The top ranked questions will be used in the live interview on Monday, May 2 at 2:15pm ET / 11:15am PT.

To get the full experience of STS-134, you can also watch a live stream of the shuttle launch on Friday April 29 starting at 3:47pm ET at www.youtube.com/pbsnewshour. Both the launch and the interview will be available for archived viewing.

Houston, we’re ready for lift-off.

Update 4/29: NASA has scrubbed the launch attempt today due to a technical problem. We’ll provide an update here on the live streamed launch and live interview, and you can follow NASA updates here.

Posted by Ginny Hunt, Public Sector Program Manager

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