Over the past year, we’ve worked with the mobile industry on an initiative to upgrade SMS for people everywhere, providing a more enhanced messaging experience through RCS (Rich Communications Services). Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re partnering with Telenor to enable the launch of RCS messaging to their 214 million subscribers across Europe and Asia, including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and India. Subscribers will have access to advanced messaging features as a standard part of their Android device.

Features like group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will come standard on Android. Subscribers will have their SMS experience upgraded through the Messenger app for Android devices, developed by Google. The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.


In markets where RCS is launched, Telenor subscribers who already have the Messenger app on their phone will automatically get access to RCS services through an app update. Subscribers who don't have the app can install the Messenger app from the Google Play store. In addition, as part of the partnership with Telenor, many new Android devices will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging app.

This RCS messaging implementation supports the GSMA universal profile—a standard supported by more than 58 carriers and manufacturers collectively covering a subscriber base of 4.7 billion people globally. We’ve launched RCS messaging using the universal profile with carriers in the U.S. and Canada, and plan on launching RCS in more countries in the coming months.

The Official Google Blog

Question by ksadadesign: Are there any banks in Europe that are closely affiliated with US banks?
I am traveling Europe with a band and want to deposit money we make at shows along the way. But I would like to be able to set up the account here and have access to it both here in the USA and in the European Union. Are there any banks that have ATMs in Europe that can be set up here in the United States?

Best answer:

Answer by shoredude2
HSBC has brances in the New York area as well as in many foreighn countries.

Citizens Bank in the northeast is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Building a better map of Europe

More than a billion people use Google Maps each month to find their way around town and around the world. To help these people get exactly the information they need, the Google Maps team works constantly to ensure that the geographic data behind our maps is comprehensive and accurate. As part of this ongoing effort, we’ve just released updated maps for 10 countries and regions in Europe: Andorra, Bulgaria, Estonia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Today’s update is part of a project called Ground Truth that began in 2008. Through this initiative, we acquire high-quality map data from authoritative sources around the world and then apply a mix of advanced algorithms, supplemental data (including satellite, aerial and Street View imagery), and human input to create a map that corresponds as closely as possible to the real-world facts that you’d find if you were to visit that location.

For example, this update adds a new 70-km section of Bulgaria’s Trakiya motorway, which opened recently to drivers but hasn’t been reflected on most maps of the region until now.

But roads and highways alone don’t define the character of a place, and they aren’t always sufficient to help you get around. So Google Maps also integrates information such as walking paths, ferry lines, building outlines, park boundaries, university campuses and more—providing a richer, more comprehensive and more realistic experience for locals, visitors and armchair travelers alike.

Our new map of Spain, for example, not only shows the famous Museo del Prado and Parque del Retiro in Madrid, but also includes additional building models in surrounding neighborhoods, the well-known “Estanque” (or pond) in the center of the park, and detailed walking paths throughout both the park and the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens.

Of course, the world is always changing, and we want Google Maps to change with it. So when you notice something on the map that needs updating, let us know through the simple “Report a problem” tool in the lower right corner of the map. We’ll make the appropriate changes to the map—often within just a few minutes or hours of reviewing and verifying your feedback! This tool launches today in the 10 places where we’ve updated our maps, and is already available in dozens of other countries around the world.

With today’s release, the maps that we’ve built through our Ground Truth initiative are now available in a total of 40 countries worldwide. To see the progress we’ve made to date, take a look at the image below (click for a full-size version).

We hope today’s launch of more comprehensive and accurate maps of Europe will help you explore amazing places from Barcelona and Budapest to Bratislava and beyond.

The Official Google Blog

Whether you’re travelling abroad or exploring your own city, the maps you carry with you should be comprehensive, accurate and easy to use. We're constantly making improvements to Google Maps to help you find and discover places that are meaningful to you no matter where you are. And today, we’re launching updated maps of Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lesotho, Macau, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore and Vatican City to do just that.

As was the case for past updates, our new maps are more detailed and precise. For example, in Ireland we now have excellent coverage of National Heritage Areas, as well as more detailed coastlines and bodies of water:

We’ve also added more accurate names and locations for major points of interest, such as airports, universities and public squares. Here you can see St. Mark’s Square in Venice, now with accurately aligned canals, 3D buildings and detailed labels of the countless number of places to be discovered.

We’ve also added better and more clearly labelled ferry routes in many places, such as the area below surrounding Naples, Italy. Traveling by ferry is one of my favorite ways to explore a city—I love looking back from the water at the cityscapes—and this improvement will help you find the ferry routes you need to do the same. You can even use Google Maps to get transit-based directions for ferries. We take into account ferry timetables to route you over water just easily as you might follow our driving directions over land.

In addition to the above changes, local roads on these maps are now more accurately distinguished from highways, and multi-lingual names are available for a larger proportion of roads in many of the updated countries. These improvements give you a better visual feel of the location, as well as make it easier to navigate the area when you're on the ground.

Of course, the world around us is always changing, so we’re making our “Report a problem” tool available in each of these countries as well. You can use it to send us a description of any corrections to be made, which we then incorporate into our maps, often within days.

Today’s improvements follow the recent expansion of our collection of Antarctic imagery, and are part of our ongoing effort to build maps that are comprehensive, accurate and easy to use. We've partnered with numerous authoritative sources to ensure that Google Maps is a living reflection of every corner of the globe. After all, a map is only as good as the data behind it. The maps that we've built will help ensure that you get correct and up-to-date information about the world around you.

Update 8:00pm: We're also making certain maps of the 11 countries listed above, plus Egypt, Poland and Ukraine, available offline in Google Maps for Android.

The Official Google Blog

Cross-posted from the Google European Public Policy Blog

The digital age generates reams of raw data. Much of that data is interesting or important, but since there’s a lot of it out there it’s often hard to find and analyze. This is where journalists can help. Journalists are experts at delving into complex issues and writing stories that make them accessible—essential skills for dealing with the data deluge of the digital age. In order to support and encourage innovative data journalism, we’re sponsoring a series of prizes all across Europe.

Let’s start in the Nordics, where we recently partnered with Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information and Southern Denmark University’s Center for Journalism to sponsor the Nordic News Hacker 2012 contest. Contestants were asked to create and submit a piece of data journalism—anything from a data mash-up to a new mobile app.

This year’s winner is Anders Pedersen. Ander’s project, Doctors for Sale, inspired by Pro Publica’s Docs for Dollars investigation in the United States, used raw data to uncover doctors who receive money from the pharmaceutical industry. He wins a $ 20,000 scholarship to work with the Guardian Data Blog in London for one month to further his investigative skills.

Several thousand kilometers south of Denmark at the International Journalism Festival, the Global Editors Network announced the 60 shortlisted projects for the Google-sponsored Data Journalism Awards. Some 320 projects were submitted from a diverse group of applicants including major media groups, regional newspapers, press associations, and entrepreneurial journalists from more than 60 countries. Six winners will be announced during the News World Summit, on May 31, 2012 in Paris.

In Vienna, the International Press Institute recently announced the winners of their News Innovation contest, sponsored by Google. Fourteen projects were selected, including digital training in the Middle East, corruption chasing in the Balkans, and citizen photojournalism in the UK. All use digital data and new technologies to tell stories or reach new audiences. The winners received a total of more than $ 1.7 million.

Congratulations to all the journalists and publications who are embracing the digital world!

The Official Google Blog

Question by : How come the US makes you file taxs, Why don't they do it automatic like in europe?
Like in Europe they just take the tax due out of your check, No need to file any sorts of income tax or anything. Why don't they do that in the US? Make's it easier on there people's.

Best answer:

Answer by tinman97prn
The US tax code has been so bastardized to make it "better" that at present there is no simple % that would work...But there is also so much $ tied up in the tax prep system.

Add your own answer in the comments!

UK mobile operator Vodafone has become the first carrier in Europe to roll out operator billing for Android devices, allowing its customers in the UK (and soon Germany) to charge app purchases to their existing mobile bill.

Customers on both pay monthly and pay-as-you-go tariffs will now be able to select an option on the Android Market which will process the payment via Google’s partnership with the UK operator, bypassing the Google Checkout process. The new initiative will suit customers that are unable to add their card details to Google’s Android Market.

In 2010, Google launched Direct Carrier Billing in the US, making it available to both T-Mobile US and AT&T users, rolling out the service to Japanese carriers SoftBank, KDDI, and NTT DOCOMO in April 2011. Vodafone becomes the first carrier in Europe to make the service available to its customers.

Vodafone hopes that it will increase purchase volumes from its customers but also drive revenues for developers and its partners. Prices on the Android Market are transparent and payment options are detailed before the app is downloaded, allowing customers to be aware of what they are buying.

The carrier has also enforced safeguards, limiting app purchases to £30 on a single item (once per month) with a £250 monthly limit.

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