The North Pole air traffic control elves have just notified us that Santa has taken off! For the next day, you can visit the Google Santa Tracker to see where Santa’s headed next and keep tabs on how many presents he’s delivered. You can also keep up with him on your smartphone and tablet with the Android app, in your browser with the the Chrome extension, and even in 3D with Google Earth and Google Earth mobile (look for it in the Tour Guide feature with the latest version of Google Earth).
We hope you’ve had a chance to try the new Google Maps app for iPhone (announced last week and available for download in the Apple App Store). The app is designed to be simple—just to work whenever you need it. Still, we have a few tips to make finding things with Google Maps even faster and easier. All the tips are collected on our site but here a few of my favorites:
Swipe to see more. In Google Maps a wealth of information is often just a swipe away. Whether you’re looking at search results or directions, you can swipe the bottom info sheet left and right to see other options. To get more details on any of the results, swipe that info sheet upward (or just tap it—that works too). Even with the info sheet expanded, you can swipe to see those other results.
Place a pin. Get more information about any location by just pressing and holding the map. The info sheet that pops up tells you the address, lets you save or share the place, and best of all, brings up…
Street View. By far the easiest way to get to Street View is placing a pin. Tap the imagery preview on the info sheet to enter into Street View, then explore! I recommend the look-around feature (bottom left button) which changes what you’re looking at as you tilt and move your phone.
Want to learn more? See the rest of our tips on the site. And as you explore the app on your own, share your own tips using #googlemaps. Most of all, enjoy discovering your world.
While millions of people eagerly await Christmas Day, Santa and his elves are keeping busy at the North Pole. They’re preparing presents, tuning up the sleigh, feeding the reindeer and, of course, checking the list (twice!) before they take flight on their trip around the world.
While we’ve been tracking Santa since 2004 with Google Earth, this year a team of dedicated Google Maps engineers built a new route algorithm to chart Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve. On his sleigh, arguably the fastest airborne vehicle in the world, Santa whips from city to city delivering presents to millions of homes. You’ll be able to follow him on Google Maps and Google Earth, and get his stats starting at 2:00 a.m. PST Christmas Eve at google.com/santatracker.
Simulating Santa’s path across the world—see it live Dec 24
In addition, with some help from developer elves, we’ve built a few other tools to help you track Santa from wherever you may be. Add the new Chrome extension or download the Android app to keep up with Santa from your smartphone or tablet. And to get the latest updates on his trip, follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
Get a dashboard view of Santa’s journey on Google Maps
If you’re a student journalist looking to harness the power of technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways, then the first ever Google Journalism Fellowship could help make the summer of 2013 one to remember.
We recognize the value that quality journalism plays in a functioning society and would like to help the next generation of reporters gain valuable skills and experience on the path to creating great content.
This 10-week program will give eight students the opportunity to contribute to a variety of organizations—from those that are steeped in investigative journalism to those working for press freedom around the world and to those that are helping the industry figure out its future in the digital age. Throughout, fellows will gain skills and contacts to help them as they move forward with their careers.
This program will be of particular interest to students studying data journalism, online freedom of expression or new business models for the industry.
Our partners in the first Google Journalism Fellowship are:
Yesterday, the heads of Japan’s eight most popular political parties held eight consecutive Google+ Hangouts to engage with citizens across the country ahead of Sunday’s general election—arguably the largest (and longest) series of Hangouts with politicians ever! Each of the leaders held a Hangout, including incumbent Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda from the Democratic Party Japan and Shinzo Abe from the Liberal Democratic Party.
Voters asked questions that reflected the most pressing issues on the Japanese people’s minds: the ailing economy, social security and the future of energy programs. For instance, one 21-year old student asked a politician about welfare and economic self-reliance, in response to which the politician explained his vision to create more opportunities for young people.
After announcing these Hangouts on November 29, we invited citizens to upload their questions on to Google+ using the hashtag #政治家と話そう (“talk to politicians”). Ten participants representing a cross-section of voters across Japanese society—including a college student from Tokyo, a housewife from Mie prefecture, and a businessman from Shizuoka prefecture—were chosen to join the Hangouts. People who tuned in said that it gave them a chance to witness an in-depth conversation between politicians and voters up close, which is rare in Japan’s incredibly short and intense campaign season of 12 days.
These Hangouts are part of Google Japan’s effort to help voters get information about the candidates before they head to the polls on December 16. To help voters get access to information about more than 1,000 candidates and 12 political parties, we launched our Japan elections site, called Erabou 2012 (“Choose 2012”), at google.co.jp/senkyo. This site serves as a hub for all latest elections-related information, pulling together candidate profiles and party platforms. If you missed the Hangouts live, you can also watch the recordings there and on the Japan Politics YouTube Channel.
Posted by Mak Arima, Country Managing Director, Google Japan
People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.
The app shows more map on screen and turns mobile mapping into one intuitive experience. It’s a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views. The search box at the top is a good place to start—perhaps by entering the name of a new and interesting restaurant. An expandable info sheet at the bottom shows the address, opening hours, ratings and reviews, images, directions and other information.
At the heart of this app is our constantly improving map of the world that includes detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest. Preview where you want to go with Street View and see inside places with Business Photos to decide on a table or see if it’s better at the bar. To get you there, you’ve got voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic conditions to avoid the jams and if you want to use public transportation, find information for more than one million public transit stops.
The world around us is constantly changing and, thanks to feedback from you, we make tens of thousands of daily updates to keep Google Maps accurate and comprehensive. Here’s a helpful hint for the new app: if you see something off, simply shake your phone to send us feedback.
To complete the Google Maps ecosystem, we’re also releasing the Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a simple URL scheme to help developers use Google Maps when building their beautiful and innovative apps.
The new Google Maps app is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch (4th gen) iOS 5.1 and higher, in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.
Visit the App Store today and download the new Google Maps app. We believe this delightful new experience is a great starting point—and we’ll continue to improve Google Maps for you, every day.
Posted by Daniel Graf, Director, Google Maps for Mobile
During the holidays we reconnect with loved ones and rediscover what makes us tick. And it’s times like these that remind me why we started Google+ in the first place: to make online sharing as meaningful as the real thing. Too often our online tools miss the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions, and Google+ aims to fix this. Fortunately we’ve got a vibrant community to guide us.
Today Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever. More than 500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1′ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends in Search…), and 135 million are active in just the stream.
This enthusiasm, we think, stems from our building tools that build real relationships—in a live hangout, around a breathtaking photo, or with an inner circle of friends. So today we’re launching two new improvements that help bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software.
Google+ Communities: for all the people you ought to know
From photography to astronomy (and everythinginbetween), Google+ has always been a place to crowd around common interests and meet new people. What’s been missing, however, are more permanent homes for all the stuff you love: the wonderful, the weird, and yes, even the things that are waaay out there. With Google+ Communities there’s now a gathering place for your passions, including:
Public or private membership to support all kinds of groups—from topics and interests to local neighborhoods to regular poker nights
Discussion categories to find the conversations you care about most
The option to start hangouts and plan events with community members
The ability to share with your community from any +1 button across the web
To give it a try just click on the new “Communities” icon (rolling out today), then create or join your favorite community. It’s only a preview, and mobile’s coming soon, so we’re keen to get your feedback.
Snapseed: beautiful photos with your mobile device
Great pictures aren’t taken, they’re made—and Nik Software has been helping people make awesome photos for years. Having welcomed Nik to the Google family, we’re excited to bring their Snapseed app (last year’s iPad app of the year) to Android. It includes:
Creative filters like drama, black & white, and vintage that you can apply individually or in combination
Control Point technology to selectively enhance your photo—to brighten just a face, for instance, or deepen just the sky
The ability to share your creations via Google+ and other services
Snapseed is rolling out now to Google Play and the App Store, and starting today, both versions are free.
Sample image created with Snapseed; gallery available here
This time of year we honor the past, and imagine what’s ahead. So we want to thank you for lending your big hearts to this small project. And we invite you to a future where everyone’s cared for and comfortable in their own skin—in life and online. Let’s keep building Google+ together, and let’s be excellent to each other this holidayseason.
It’s that time of year: school is in full swing, the holidays are just around the corner, and we’re once again accepting proposals for our Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) grants. CS4HS is a “train the trainer” program that aims to give teachers the tools they need in order to bring computer science and computational thinking into the classroom.
With a grant from Google, university, college and technical college faculty develop these three to five day workshops—hands-on, interactive opportunities for K-12 teachers to learn how to teach CS to their students. Some programs are geared toward CS teachers, while others are for non-CS teachers who want to incorporate computer science into their curriculum. No two programs are exactly alike, and it is the creative and passionate material that organizers develop which makes this program so unique—and successful.
2013 marks the fifth consecutive year for our CS4HS program, and we’ve grown significantly. Hundreds of students and thousands of teachers have been through these workshops to date, and our program has spread to include places in Africa, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the U.S. Our alumni are connected to each other, other educators and organizers through our teacher’s forum, which also enables K-12 teachers interested in CS education to join the discussion and ask questions.
We’re accepting applications on our website from now until February 16, 2013. To qualify, you must work for an accredited university, college or technical school in one of the qualifying regions. Each region has a slightly different application process, so make sure to read up on your area at www.cs4hs.com.
If you’re not a university faculty member, but still want to be involved, reach out to a local area university and encourage the CS Chairperson to apply; peruse information on our K-12 educators page to start bringing CS into your classroom; and check for updates on our website starting in March to find a program near you.
We’re excited to help even more educators learn how to bring computer science to their students, whether they’re teaching CS, math, history, or any other subject. Together, we can start the nextgeneration of CS professionals on their way.
Posted by Erin Mindell, Program Manager, Google Education
The holiday shopping season is upon us. Your favorite retail stores are already playing holiday tunes, promoting sales, and decking out their displays in red and green. But if flashbacks of people rushing all around you frantically trying to find gifts for everyone on their lists are giving you anxiety, fret not. This year you can use indoor Google Maps on your Android device to stay cool, calm, collected and most of all, one step ahead of the crowd.
On Black Friday and throughout this holiday season, simply zoom in to a participating store on Google Maps to devise your shopping game plan. An indoor floor plan with helpful labels will automatically appear, and the familiar “blue dot” icon will help you figure out the fastest way to the accessories department, the food court when you need to refuel, and the closest restroom or ATM when you need a break from your marathon shopping session. For many locations, you can even get indoor walking directions to find the best route from one store to the next.
Indoor Google Maps for Mall of America in Bloomington, MN (left)
and for Macy’s in New York, NY (right)
These accurate, easy-to-use indoor maps are available for a number of popular retail locations across the globe including many local malls and select Best Buy, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Harrod’s, Selfridges, John Lewis and other stores. With the help of your Android device, you can beeline it to the camcorder you’ve been eyeing for your dad, and then quickly make your way to that sweater you know your sister will love. For list of additional venue partners, including some in Belgium that just became available today, check out this list.
Indoor Google Maps for West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (left) and for Nordstrom in Seattle, WA (right)
We hope these indoor maps make finding your way in and around retail stores easier, less stressful and more efficient this holiday season. To access them, simply update Google Maps on your Android by visiting Google Play on your phone or desktop. Happy holiday shopping!
Posted by Cedric Dupont, Product Manager, Google Maps
The best thing about building tools is seeing what people do with them. Since Google+ launched, it’s been fascinating to discover people using it in ways we never could have dreamed up—like the photographer who figured out how to turn a camera, a phone and Hangouts into Virtual Photo Walks.
Ghetto Film School had a different idea. They’ve been running filmmaking programs for young people in their South Bronx neighborhood since 2000, and when they heard about Google+, they thought it would be a great way to bring what they do to teenagers beyond the Bronx. And from that simple idea, Ghetto Film School’s MasterClass series—discussions between great directors and young filmmakers from around the world—was born.