You’ve spilled coffee on your keyboard. The a, e, i, o, u, and r keys have stopped working. Now try to search Google for the nearest computer repair shop. The pain of typing on this broken keyboard is similar to what many people searching in non-English languages feel when trying to type today. Typing searches on keyboards not designed for your languages can be frustrating, even impossible.

Our user research has shown that many people are more comfortable formulating search queries in their own language but have difficulty typing these queries into Google. (Try typing नमस्ते on a keyboard with English letters.) To overcome the difficulty they face in typing in their local language scripts, some people have resorted to copying and pasting from other sites and from online translation tools. But there’s an easier way — a virtual, or “on-screen” keyboard, lets you type directly in your local language script in an easy and consistent manner, no matter where you are or what computer you’re using.

Virtual keyboards let people type directly in their local language script and don't require any additional software.

Last year, to make text input easy for people across the globe, we introduced a virtual keyboard API through This allowed developers to enable virtual keyboards on any text field or text area in their webpages. Today, we are taking this effort one step further by integrating virtual keyboards into Google search in 35 languages.

A virtual keyboard on to input Armenian text (the query term is [armenia])

If you use Google search in one of the languages listed below, you’ll see a small keyboard icon show up next to the search field, on both the Google homepage and search results page. Clicking on that keyboard icon brings up a virtual keyboard in your language. You can input text by either clicking on the on-screen keyboard or pressing the corresponding key.

You can find out more information on how to use the virtual keyboard in our help article. If you use Google in a language not listed below and feel that your language will benefit from a virtual keyboard, let us know by voting for your language. We hope virtual keyboards help you find information more easily — especially those of you who speak/type/read in non-Latin scripts.

Languages with integrated virtual keyboards

This is the second post in our Small Business series about entrepreneurship and the various Google tools you can use to establish and improve your business presence on the Internet. Here, you’ll learn how Google Places (formerly called the Local Business Center) can help you attract and be discovered by customers in your area for free. -Ed.

As a local business owner, one of the things that sets you apart is your ability to make personal connections with your customers because of your passion for what you do. Letting people know who you are and what your business is about is a vital part of finding customers, building lasting relationships with them and helping your business succeed. Google Places helps business owners like you to manage your online presence and supplement your Place Page with all the information that helps people decide to visit you — from basics like hours of operation and address to helpful extras like videos, coupons and special announcements.

To give you a firsthand account of how Google Places can help a small business grow and succeed, I’ve invited Danya Wright to share her experience:
I first began riding horses at age six. Ever since then I knew that I wanted to spend my life working with horses and sharing my passion with others. I had jobs working for several barns and riding programs around Arizona, but always dreamed of having a school of my own.

Two years ago, I finally realized my dream and opened Specialized Training and Riding School — S.T.A.R.S. of Horsemanship. At S.T.A.R.S., we offer lessons to riders of all ages and skill levels, provide therapeutic horse training services for those with disabilities, and train Special Olympics riders. Our property is a 10-acre scenic environment for our students and horses. But because we’re located in a rural area of Gilbert, AZ, this also presents a big challenge: I don’t have the advantage of “window shoppers” or drive-by traffic. Without a storefront, those who do pass by may not realize that my stable is open to customers. Whenever I want to find a local business, Google Maps is my resource, so I wanted to make sure my business appears there too.

I did a little research and quickly found Google Places (which was known as Local Business Center when I first signed up). Within a few minutes, I was able to update the S.T.A.R.S. Place Page to add key details about my business, like exact location and contact information. And I could mention the special services we offer like group classes, private lessons, birthday parties, Scouting events, parent-child sessions and so on. Now when a company’s looking specifically for a team-building venue, they can find my business easily.

Since avid equestrians can be quite particular about facility details, I wanted to make sure that my Place Page included all of the specialized information that’s relevant to my target clients. Now when you search on Google, you can be taken to our Place Page to see photos that offer preview of our stables and even meet Salty, one of the horses. You can also find a coupon to help provide a little extra incentive to come try out our lessons if you’re new to horseback riding.

Since I started using Google Places six months ago, my business has grown tenfold from what it was before — I’ve gone from averaging around 10 to 15 students to now serving more than 100. To be honest, I had just figured that new customers would trickle in over time, but it’s boomed far beyond my expectations. And now I can spend more time with horses and riders, and less at the computer!

Growing up in the late seventies in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, technology wasn’t really a part of my educational life. My teachers graded printouts and the idea of collaborating with my classmates on a project anytime, anywhere just wasn’t possible. Not to mention, we didn’t have a computer at home and working on the Internet was still a pipe dream for a middle schooler.

Things have changed since I was in middle school of course, and there are people working hard to bring technology into classrooms to help students learn and teachers teach. Today Oregon is taking a huge step in that direction — they’re the first state to open up Google Apps for Education to public schools throughout the state.

Starting today, the Oregon Department of Education will offer Google Apps to all the school districts in the state — helping teachers, staff and students use Gmail, Docs, Sites, Video, Groups and more within their elementary, middle and high schools. School funding has been hit hard over the past couple of years, and Oregon is no exception. This move is going to save the Department of Education $1.5 million per year — big bucks for a hurting budget.

With Google Apps, students in Oregon can build websites or email teachers about a project. Their documents and email will live online in the cloud — so they’ll be able to work from a classroom or a computer lab, at home or at the city (or county) library. And instead of just grading a paper at the end of the process, Oregonian teachers can help students with their docs in real time, coaching them along the way. It’s critical that students learn how to use the kind of productivity technology they’ll need throughout their lives, and Oregon is helping students across the state do just that.

It blows my mind to think about how far technology in the classroom has come since I was in school, and how far we still have to go to make sure kids in classrooms everywhere have access to these tech resources. Cloud computing tools like Google Apps are one way teachers, schools — and now a whole state — are addressing the issue. Oh, and alis volat propriis? That’s the Oregon motto. It means “she flies by her own wings” — makes perfect sense for a state heading to the cloud.

One of the great things about the web is choice. There’s a website out there for nearly everything, and sometimes there are many sites all dedicated to a single topic. But how can you find all the sites that are related to the subject that interests you? This week, we launched a search feature that helps you easily find new websites that are similar to the ones with which you’re already familiar.

For example, with the recent earthquakes around the world, many of us have been looking for international relief organizations. We knew that Direct Relief International has been actively involved in Haiti, so we started off by searching for [direct relief international]. The first result on the page linked us to the Direct Relief website, where we found many ways to help in Haiti. But what if one wants to support several organizations? If you click the "Similar" link that’s on the same line as the "" URL, you’ll find other nonprofits that are also involved in relief efforts.

We've offered a "Similar" feature on results for a while now as a way to discover new, useful sites, but it hasn't been too visible. Since we've been continuously improving this feature and we think it's really useful, we're now going to start showing these alternative sites more prominently. Starting this week, for queries where similar sites are likely to be helpful, we’ll display a list of "Pages similar" at the bottom of the results page. For example, this is the list of sites similar to Direct Relief International:

These sites might provide alternative ways to contribute to Haiti or Chile, like AmeriCares and Operation USA. Or they could provide a different perspective or approach, like giving more broadly through a blood donation at the Red Cross.

We hope this feature helps you discover many useful websites that you didn’t know about before and get a better understanding of all the choices the web has to offer.

Earth Day may have just passed, but the Google Earth team loves it too much to let it go. So we’ve found our own special way to celebrate Earth Day (a little late) by making an announcement that we’ve been working toward for a long time: Earth view in Google Maps.

When we first launched Google Earth back in 2005, it revolutionized the world of digital mapping. In the years since, Earth has been getting faster and lighter while adding large amounts of imagery, more ambitious features and an ever-expanding roster of platforms, including support for Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android and even the 2011 Audi A8!

Web browsers haven’t exactly been standing still either. As their capacity to handle richer applications has steadily grown, our ability to bring Google Earth online has grown along with it. In 2008, we released the Google Earth Plugin to developers, and since then thousands of sites have used it to create many cool applications and even games. Now the time has come to take off the plugin’s online training wheels and roll it out on the main stage: Google Maps. So if you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people who use Maps worldwide, you can now explore the world in luxuriantly-detailed, data-rich 3D imagery and terrain from Google Earth. If you’ve already downloaded the Google Earth Plugin, you should be able to see Earth view in Maps right away. Otherwise, you can just install the Plugin to enjoy a Maps experience that includes angled Earth views, 3D buildings, smooth panning and zooming and a great introductory showcase of places to visit and things to see.

Current Google Earth users, of course, will continue to enjoy the full power of the standalone application: KML editing, historical imagery, GPS tracks, tour-creation, Mars, Sky, flight simulator and so on. But for quick online access, the power of 3D will also be available at the click of a[n Earth] button. We’re thrilled to be able to bring this functionality to the web and we invite you to come share the moment with us.

Though our rocket program to help commuters to our Moon office is still a long way off, we’ve always jumped at the chance to bring the wonders of outer space a little closer to Earth. On Saturday, our Hubble telescope doodle celebrated 20 years of one of the most productive and celebrated science instruments since Galileo first made a telescopic survey of the heavens 400 years ago.

Hubble's razor-sharp vision has revealed previously hidden aspects of the cosmos with unparalleled intimacy and clarity, and you can see some of the best examples for yourself on our Hubble 20th birthday page. You can also download our new Hubble tour to explore further in Google Earth. And Google Sky Map now includes a Hubble Gallery for you to see Hubble discoveries by pointing your phone to the night sky.

So far, we’ve also announced a Moon office, a Moon race, an expedition to Mars, Sky in Google Earth (also available as a handy, hand-held guide), Moon in Google Earth, Mars in Google Earth, NASA images in Google Earth and more than a few extra-orbital doodles. Occasionally somebody will ask us, “Just what does space have to do with the Internet?” Plenty, if you ask Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf. But space, like the Internet, is also a fascinating place to spend time, especially for engineers, technologists and explorers. So we usually answer, “Well, who hasn’t thought about blasting off and seeing the stars up close?”

It’s incredibly important to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers to (quite literally) reach for the stars. We’ve made these tools available to help these explorers and astronauts-in-training get their bearings, as well as to showcase the incredible achievements we’ve already seen from generations of brave, dedicated people working to challenge the limits of human capability and knowledge. And, depending on who you ask, space might be closer than you think. In the meantime, for everybody who’s taken a wistful look at the night sky — we’re looking up with you.

(Cross-posted on the Inside AdWords and the Agency Ad Solutions blogs)

As the advertising industry has grown and evolved, so too has our relationship with advertising agencies. These companies, from SEMs to the largest traditional agencies, play a critical role in the continued success of Google, our advertisers and our industry — so we spend a lot of time talking to agencies about how we can make it easier for them to work with us and our advertisers.

We’ve had a lot of great feedback from agencies and today we’re announcing changes designed to offer them better training and more rigorous certification in AdWords proficiency, and to lower costs for those who help advertisers get the most out of AdWords. We’re also making it easier for advertisers to find certified agency partners to work with them on digital advertising. Here’s an overview of what’s changing today.

Raising the bar for Google AdWords Certification
We're retiring our long-standing Google Advertising Professionals (GAP) program and replacing it with a new Google AdWords Certification program for those managing AdWords accounts on behalf of advertisers. The new program provides agencies and their employees with more up-to-date, comprehensive, strategy-focused training and certification on the latest tools and best practices for managing AdWords accounts, including:
  • New training materials to help agencies better understand recent changes in search marketing and AdWords functionality, available via webinar series, learning center, or on-site training at Google
  • More challenging certification exams to test practical application of knowledge and best practices (rather than simple recall of knowledge)
  • Advanced-level exams to highlight competency in search, display, reporting and analysis
  • A redesigned Certified Partner badge, which includes a “Click to Verify” element so advertisers can view the partner’s profile page for additional information.

For more information on the AdWords Certification Program or to create an account, visit the Google Certification program site and help center.

Helping advertisers find Google Certified Partners
Google Certified Partners can opt in to Google Partner Search, an online, searchable directory that helps advertisers identify Certified Partners that meet their criteria. Small and medium-sized advertisers who haven’t previously used an agency have told us that evaluating potential partners can be a daunting task, so we think Google Partner Search will be especially valuable for them.

To show up in advertiser searches through Google Partner Search, agencies must opt in and fill in details about their core attributes and capabilities. Searches can be filtered by location, agency experience within a particular budget range, the types of services provided and the industry verticals an agency serves. Advertisers can then evaluate the list of Certified Partners that meet their criteria and contact the partners who seem best suited to their needs. To learn more about Google Partner Search, visit the help center.

Introducing preferred AdWords API pricing
The Google AdWords API allows developers to build applications that interact directly with the AdWords platform. Agencies and developers of search engine marketing tools use these applications to manage large AdWords campaigns more efficiently and creatively.

Today, we’re announcing preferred AdWords API pricing. This gives qualified Google AdWords Certified Partners who manage client AdWords accounts free use of the AdWords API based on managed client spend. To apply, agencies must have an active agency profile page and be compliant with the AdWords API terms and conditions. We’ll evaluate applications for preferred AdWords API pricing based on the criteria listed here.

We hope preferred AdWords API pricing will encourage agencies and developers to experiment with new strategies, expand the functionality of their tools, and build more comprehensive client campaigns without worrying about increased costs. You can learn more about preferred pricing and how to apply at the preferred AdWords API pricing site.

We’re looking forward to receiving feedback on all of these initiatives and to continuing to improve our partnership with agencies.

This is one of a regular series of posts on search experience updates. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This week we announced a number of new developments:

Search for specific TV show episodes

As more and more full-length content is going online, we're making it easier to find the content you want by providing a more structured experience when you search for TV shows. This week, we launched a way to search for specific TV show episodes as part of this effort. Now, when you search for your favorite TV show in Google Videos, check the lefthand toolbar for “Episodes”. By clicking on the links in the Search Options panel, you can browse by season to see all episodes, and drill down to see all sources for a specific episode.

Example searches: [desperate housewives] and [the simpsons]

Image support for RSS gadgets

For many of you who use iGoogle as your homepage, RSS feeds are a great way to get the latest news content, blog updates, recipes and celebrity gossip. And because pictures enhance the online experience, this week we added image support to our iGoogle feed gadgets for people in the U.S. We now support "Slideshow view" as well as "Headline and lead story view." You should notice the change now on your iGoogle page, and you will be able to edit the display setting of each feed by choosing "Edit settings" in the dropdown menu for your feeds.

Slideshow view

Headline and lead story view

Example feeds: [CNN], [the economist], [entertainment weekly], [national geographic]

Google Places

Also this week we announced that the Local Business Center is becoming Google Places. With one out of five searches on Google related to location, we wanted to better connect Place Pages (which launched last September for more than 50 million places globally) to a tool that enables businesses to manage their Google presence. With this change, business owners will benefit from several new ways to expand their online presence, while making it easier for you to make better decisions about local shopping. From real-time coupon updates to interior photos of businesses on place pages, these ongoing enhancements will make local search all the more useful to you. The launch of Google Places is just the beginning of Google becoming more local. If you're a business owner and want to learn more, check out

Example place page: [mission mountain winery]

Hope you enjoy this week's features. Stay tuned for what's next!

(Cross-posted from the Google Translate Blog)

For many Internet users, it is not always easy to write in languages that use unique character sets like Hindi, Hebrew and Arabic. Most computer keyboards only allow for the input of Roman characters (the alphabet used by most Western languages) and converting between scripts can be difficult. To make this process easier we launched an improved version of Google Transliteration at the end of last year, a service which enables you to phonetically convert Roman letters into a variety of other scripts.

Today we’re delighted to announce support for five new languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, Hebrew, Oriya and Sinhalese. This bring the total up to 22 languages spoken across Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. These new languages are currently available at

Since you can’t use Google Transliteration offline we also launched the transliteration based “Input Method Editor” (IME) earlier this year. Once you download and install the Google Transliteration IME (don’t worry, it's free), you can type a word the way it sounds using Roman characters and the software will convert the word to its native script. For example, typing "hamesha" in Google Hindi IME transliterates into Hindi as: हमेशा.

As an improvement to the IME, we’ve recently added 5 more languages (Amharic, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian and Tigrinya) as well as canonical schemes, macros and support for Windows 64-bit. You can read about all these powerful new features on the Google Transliteration IME help page.

Now what if you come across a language that you can speak but can’t read? For example, if you can speak Hindi, you may know that “namaste” is a greeting, however you may not be able to read ‘नमस्ते’ in Hindi script. Our new Script Converter tool converts a given web page or piece of text from one script to another so that you can read it phonetically. Script Converter currently supports 17 languages: Bengali, English, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

So, try out these tools and let us know what you think.

Today, Earth Day turns 40 and is now celebrated in more than 198 countries. Here at Google, we’ll be focusing on one of the planet’s more enjoyable aspects: its food. (Though, to be fair, we’re always focused on food around here). Our offices are hosting farmers markets, planting herb gardens, hosting talks on sustainable cooking and much more.

At our Mountain View headquarters, we’re enjoying solar cooking demonstrations, classes on composting and local food sourcing, distribution of reusable shopping bags and discussions on healthy cooking and eating. We’re also hosting a speaker from The Nature Conservancy and giving tours of our on-site 1.6MW solar panel installation and the 400kW Bloom Energy fuel cells. Today is also Take Your Child to Work Day, so we have plenty of kid-friendly activities centered around healthy, sustainable habits to complement the bounce house, movies and games.

The focus on food is not limited to Mountain View. Our Dublin office is removing all disposable cups, Stockholm is running a special Earth Day food menu in their cafe, Wroclaw employees are planting seeds and Amsterdam is overhauling its salad bar with organic offerings. And the cafe in our London office is sourcing all of its food from within 50 miles of the office, as well as organizing a bike-to-work effort coordinated with Google Maps.

Beyond food, we’ve been busy with a number of other Earth-related initiatives. Last month, Google Maps biking directions launched in the U.S. and we hope that having these directions on hand will help you find less carbon-intensive ways to commute to work or meet friends. Just the other week we added a new feature in Google Finance that reports companies’ carbon disclosure rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project. Oh, and don’t forget about the new kids on the block.

If you’re looking to make a difference, check for local efforts or make a pledge to have an impact. We’re working to minimize our own carbon footprint, and hope that you’ll take a moment today to consider how you can make a positive impact on our planet.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." Written in 1948, the principle applies aptly to today's Internet -- one of the most important means of free expression in the world. Yet government censorship of the web is growing rapidly: from the outright blocking and filtering of sites, to court orders limiting access to information and legislation forcing companies to self-censor content.

So it's no surprise that Google, like other technology and telecommunications companies, regularly receives demands from government agencies to remove content from our services. Of course many of these requests are entirely legitimate, such as requests for the removal of child pornography. We also regularly receive requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data. Again, the vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations. However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available. We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship.

We are today launching a new Government Requests tool to give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from government agencies around the world. For this launch, we are using data from July-December, 2009, and we plan to update the data in 6-month increments. Read this post to learn more about our principles surrounding free expression and controversial content on the web.

We already try to be as transparent as legally possible with respect to requests. Whenever we can, we notify users about requests that may affect them personally. If we remove content in search results, we display a message to users. The numbers we are sharing today take this transparency a step further and reflect the total number of requests we have received broken down by jurisdiction. We are also sharing the number of these content removal requests that we do not comply with, and while we cannot yet provide more detail about our compliance with user data requests in a useful way, we intend to do so in the future.

As part of our commitment to the Global Network Initiative, we have already agreed to principles and practices that govern privacy and free expression. In the spirit of these principles, we hope this tool will shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe. We also hope that this is just the first step toward increased transparency about these actions across the technology and communications industries.

Today the Local Business Center is becoming Google Places. Why? Millions of people use Google every day to find places in the real world, and we want to better connect Place Pages — the way that businesses are being found today — with the tool that enables business owners to manage their presence on Google.

We launched Place Pages last September for more than 50 million places around the world to help people make more informed decisions about where to go, from restaurants and hotels to dry cleaners and bike shops, as well as non-business places like museums, schools and parks. Place Pages connect people to information from the best sources across the web, displaying photos, reviews and essential facts, as well as real-time updates and offers from business owners.

Four million businesses have already claimed their Place Page on Google through the Local Business Center, which enables them to verify and supplement their business information to include hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons, product offerings and more. It also lets them communicate with customers and get insights that help them make smart business decisions.

Google Places will continue to offer these same tools, but the new name will simplify the connection with Place Pages. This reflects our ongoing commitment to providing business owners with powerful yet easy-to-use tools.

We're also introducing several new features:
  • Service areas: If you travel to serve customers, you can now show which geographic areas you serve. And if you run a business without a storefront or office location, you can now make your address private.
  • A new, simple way to advertise: For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on and Google Maps with Tags. As of today, we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities — Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. In the coming weeks we'll also be introducing Tags in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.
  • Business photo shoots: In addition to uploading their own photos, businesses in select cities can now request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business which we'll use to supplement existing photos of businesses on Place Pages. We've been experimenting with this over the past few months, and now have created a site for businesses to learn more and express their interest in participating.
  • Customized QR codes: From the dashboard page of Google Places, businesses in the U.S. can download a QR code that’s unique to their business, directly from their dashboard page. QR codes can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials, and customers can scan them with certain smartphones to be taken directly to the mobile version of the Place Page for that business.
  • Favorite Places: We're doing a second round of our Favorite Places program, and are mailing window decals to 50,000 businesses around the U.S. These decals include a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to directly view the mobile Place Page for the business to learn more about their great offerings.
Over the past few months we've also added the ability for business owners to post real-time updates to their Place Page. You might want to promote a sale, a special event or anything else that you want customers to know right now, and this feature lets you communicate that directly to your customers. You can also provide extra incentive by adding coupons, including ones specially formatted for mobile phones.

To keep track of how your business listing is performing on Google, we offer a personalized dashboard within Google Places that includes data about how many times people have found your business on Google, what keywords they used to find it and even what areas people traveled from to visit your business. With the dashboard, you can see how your use of any of these new features affects interest in your business and make more informed decisions about how to be found on Google and interact with your customers.

One out of five searches on Google are related to location, and we want to make sure that businesses are able to be found and put their best foot forward. We’re excited to announce Google Places today, as it’s just the beginning of what’s to come from our efforts to make Google more local. If you want to learn more about Google Places, we’d like to invite you to an upcoming overview webinar, or you can visit our newly updated Help Center. We’ll also be posting on the Lat Long blog throughout the week to give a deeper dive into many of our newest features. To get started now, go to

We’re always honored and often surprised by the many ways people can be inspired by Google. Take for example artist Ken Solomon, who has done a series of watercolors of Google Image Search results, like this one:

Ken's "Google Portrait - Warhol 2"

Just as societies preserve important documents and works of art, archivists and historians are now developing ways to preserve digital ephemera, from tweets to book drafts, as part our cultural and global history. On a small scale, Ken is doing just that, and we’re intrigued by his creative method of preserving moments in time. We may not have majored in art history, but we like the “meta” quality of Ken’s paintings of search results for pop artists. From Brillo pad boxes to Google in under 25 moves...?

You can see more of Ken’s work on his website. And if you live in New York, Ken is exhibiting these pieces in a one-man show at the Josée Bienvenu Gallery until May 15.

Nearly 400 IT executives joined us last week for a discussion on the future of enterprise IT at Atmosphere, our first cloud computing summit at the Googleplex. It was an exciting day of conversation and debate about the power of the cloud. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, you can watch the public talks online:
  • Improving collaboration: Our opening keynote announced the next generation of Google Docs, setting the stage for an inspiring roster of visionary thinkers.
  • Forces for change: Author Geoffrey Moore and analyst Mary Meeker reflected on the role of IT and the emerging trends driving its evolution.
  • Cloud adopters: Executives from Google Apps users Motorola, MeadWestvaco, Seagate and Genentech shared their experiences migrating thousands of employees to what Motorola Mobile Devices VP of IT Walt Oswald termed “the new world of IT.” (You can learn more about why businesses have gone Google on the Google Apps YouTube channel.)
  • Expanding horizons: Cloud computing pioneers Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of, and Werner Vogels, the CTO of, expounded on the newest insights and innovations from their businesses.
  • Google product highlights: Google’s product leaders showcased some of the latest features in Google Apps, Chrome OS, Android and search, while Vint Cerf, Alan Eustace and Jeff Huber explored our vision for enterprise computing.
  • Beyond IT: Scientist Janine Benyus delighted the audience with her explanation of the biological imperatives for collaboration, and reminded us all that “life is a team sport.”
Atmosphere concluded with a public discourse between Eric Schmidt and Forbes National Editor Quentin Hardy:

The complete set of Atmosphere videos is now online, and you can learn more about our cloud computing solutions for businesses on the Google Apps website. We want to thank all those who participated in Atmosphere for their contributions to this unique experience!

Update 8:41PM: Removed video.
Update 4/20/2010: Added corrected video.

Two and a half years ago, we outlined our approach to removing content from Google products and services. Our process hasn’t changed since then, but our recent decision to stop censoring search on has raised new questions about when we remove content, and how we respond to censorship demands by governments. So we figured it was time for a refresher.

Censorship of the web is a growing problem. According to the Open Net Initiative, the number of governments that censor has grown from about four in 2002 to over 40 today. In fact, some governments are now blocking content before it even reaches their citizens. Even benign intentions can result in the specter of real censorship. Repressive regimes are building firewalls and cracking down on dissent online -- dealing harshly with anyone who breaks the rules.

Increased government censorship of the web is undoubtedly driven by the fact that record numbers of people now have access to the Internet, and that they are creating more content than ever before. For example, over 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day. This creates big challenges for governments used to controlling traditional print and broadcast media. While everyone agrees that there are limits to what information should be available online -- for example child pornography -- many of the new government restrictions we are seeing today not only strike at the heart of an open Internet but also violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

We see these attempts at control in many ways. China is the most polarizing example, but it is not the only one. Google products -- from search and Blogger to YouTube and Google Docs -- have been blocked in 25 of the 100 countries where we offer our services. In addition, we regularly receive government requests to restrict or remove content from our properties. When we receive those requests, we examine them to closely to ensure they comply with the law, and if we think they’re overly broad, we attempt to narrow them down. Where possible, we are also transparent with our users about what content we have been required to block or remove so they understand that they may not be getting the full picture.

On our own services, we deal with controversial content in different ways, depending on the product. As a starting point, we distinguish between search (where we are simply linking to other web pages), the content we host, and ads. In a nutshell, here is our approach:

Search is the least restrictive of all our services, because search results are a reflection of the content of the web. We do not remove content from search globally except in narrow circumstances, like child pornography, certain links to copyrighted material, spam, malware, and results that contain sensitive personal information like credit card numbers. Specifically, we don’t want to engage in political censorship. This is especially true in countries like China and Vietnam that do not have democratic processes through which citizens can challenge censorship mandates. We carefully evaluate whether or not to establish a physical presence in countries where political censorship is likely to happen.

Some democratically-elected governments in Europe and elsewhere do have national laws that prohibit certain types of content. Our policy is to comply with the laws of these democratic governments -- for example, those that make pro-Nazi material illegal in Germany and France -- and remove search results from only our local search engine (for example, in Germany). We also comply with youth protection laws in countries like Germany by removing links to certain material that is deemed inappropriate for children or by enabling Safe Search by default, as we do in Korea. Whenever we do remove content, we display a message for our users that X number of results have been removed to comply with local law and we also report those removals to, a project run by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, which tracks online restrictions on speech.

Platforms that host content like Blogger, YouTube, and Picasa Web Albums have content policies that outline what is, and is not, permissible on those sites. A good example of content we do not allow is hate speech. Our enforcement of these policies results in the removal of more content from our hosted content platforms than we remove from Google Search. Blogger, as a pure platform for expression, is among the most open of our services, allowing for example legal pornography, as long as it complies with the Blogger Content Policy. YouTube, as a community intended to permit sharing, comments, and other user-to-user interactions, has its Community Guidelines that define its own rules of the road. For example, pornography is absolutely not allowed on YouTube.

We try to make it as easy as possible for users to flag content that violates our policies. Here’s a video explaining how flagging works on YouTube. We review flagged content across all our products 24 hours a day, seven days a week to remove offending content from our sites. And if there are local laws where we do business that prohibit content that would otherwise be allowed, we restrict access to that content only in the country that prohibits it. For example, in Turkey, videos that insult the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Ataturk, are illegal. Two years ago, we were notified of such content on YouTube and blocked those videos in Turkey that violated local law. A Turkish court subsequently demanded that we block them globally, which we refused to do, arguing that Turkish law cannot apply outside Turkey. As a result YouTube has been blocked there.

Finally, our ads products have the most restrictive policies, because they are commercial products intended to generate revenue.

These policies are always evolving. Decisions to allow, restrict or remove content from our services and products often require difficult judgment calls. We have spirited debates about the right course of action, whether it’s about our own content policies or the extent to which we resist a government request. In the end, we rely on the principles that sit at the heart of everything we do.

We’ve said them before, but in these particularly challenging times, they bear repeating: We have a bias in favor of people's right to free expression. We are driven by a belief that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.

(Cross-posted from the Google LatLong Blog)

On Tuesday, April 13, a powerful 6.9 earthquake shook the province of Qinghai, China, resulting in widespread destruction and the loss of more than 1,700 lives. Working closely with GeoEye, we’ve been able to acquire some high resolution post-earthquake imagery, which vividly illustrates the magnitude of this tragic event.

(click image to view full-size; click here to view in Google Earth)

To see more of this imagery, you can download the KML here and open it in Google Earth.

In addition, an international team, including many of our Chinese Googlers, have worked to create a Crisis Response page for the earthquake with several additional resources:
  • The China Person Finder tool, which can be used to submit or search for information about individuals who may have been affected. It is available in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and English, and is accessible on mobile. We encourage organizations and media sites to embed the gadget on their sites and help spread the word.
  • Google News and real-time search, which features posts to Twitter and other sources. This provides the latest information from authoritative sources and people on the ground.
  • A My Map to help users contribute data about Qinghai, such as the conditions in specific areas and rescue efforts underway.
The Chinese version of this page can be accessed from a link on our homepages on and, and we will continue to update the pages as more materials become available.

This is one of a regular series of posts on search experience updates. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Rich Snippets for recipes
Rich Snippets are the brief annotations you see beneath search results that summarize what's on a webpage. In addition to Rich Snippets for reviews, people, video and events, this week we unveiled a new Rich Snippets format for recipes. This means that when your search results include sites with recipe content, you might see quick facts pertaining to the recipe in your search results, like preparation or cooking times, right on the search results page.

If you have a site with recipes and want to be sure Rich Snippets show up in search results for your page, check out our documentation on how to mark up recipe information as well as our general help articles on Rich Snippets. Bon appétit!

Example search: [baked ziti]

Enhancements to real-time search
This week, we launched a new feature in real-time search that gives you the ability to search and replay the public archive of tweets on Twitter. While real-time search usually focuses on what's happening now, our new feature is helpful for viewing the history of what happened in the past and how people reacted to a particular topic on Twitter. You can zoom into any point in time — from a year, to a month, to a half-hour — and "replay" tweets from as far back as February 11, 2010 (and soon, as far back as the very first tweet on March 21, 2006). To try this feature out, click “Show options” on the search results page, and then select “Updates.” You'll notice a new chart at the top of the page, where you'll be able to adjust the time range of the tweets you'd like to see. We hope you enjoy your trip down the 140-character memory lane.

Example search: [museum of modern art]

Oftentimes, there's great new content published to the web that everyone is talking about at one particular time. So, to help you find those sites, we also recently launched the top links for a set of update results, showcasing some of the top URLs that Twitter users are talking about based on a particular query. To view these links, click “Show options” on the search results page, and then select “Updates.” You'll see a list of links on the right-hand side based on your query.

Example search: [ipad]

Google Suggest and spell correction enhancements
We've recently made some enhancements that make it easier and faster for you to get the most relevant answer using Google search. We've begun to tailor Suggest to U.S. metro areas, so you'll find that the suggested queries are more locally relevant than they used to be. Try searching for [parks in], and you'll most likely see suggested search queries for parks that really are in your neck of the woods.

In addition, we've improved our spelling correction feature. Sometimes, when you search for something that we're highly confident you've misspelled, we'll take you directly to the search results page for the correct spelling without asking "Did you mean...?" This week, we made this feature available in 31 languages across over 180 domains across the globe. We've also made some changes to how this feature deals with misspelled names. We realized that often when you search for a person's name, you include descriptive words (say, the person's profession or company) that can provide valuable context. We use these extra descriptors to offer you better suggestions, so you should soon find this feature for names more useful.

Example search: [yuri lehner stanford]

Stay tuned for more updates next week.

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.

Today’s update includes a big batch of new functionality in Google Docs and several new capabilities in Gmail. So the next time you’re in Google Apps, give these new features a spin.

Google Docs reloaded
On Monday we released a preview of the new Google Docs, which brings added features, higher fidelity for imported documents, more speed and faster collaboration to our browser-based productivity tools. Documents sport features that weren’t feasible with older browser technology, like a new ruler for margins and tab stops, better bullets and numbered lists, easier image placement and character-by-character real-time collaboration in the browser. Spreadsheets now have a formula editing bar, drag-and-drop columns and cell auto-fill. They support up to 50 simultaneous collaborators, and are much faster and more responsive overall. We added Google drawings to the mix as well, so you can work with others to create flow-charts, schematics and other kinds of diagrams together in real-time.

Calendar integration in Gmail
To make it easier to schedule time with people without leaving your inbox, now you can see people’s availability (if you have permission) and send event invitations from Gmail. As you’re composing a message, click the “Insert: Invitation” link to choose a time that works for the recipients on your email and add details about your event. When you’re done, the email message will display details about your event.

Drag-and-drop attachments in Gmail
Yesterday we introduced a simpler way to add attachments in Gmail: just drag files onto Gmail from your desktop or from a folder as you compose a message. You can drag multiple files at once, and on a Mac, you can even drag files from folders in the Dock. This feature works in Chrome or Firefox 3.6+ right now, and other browsers may support this feature in the future.

Nested Labels and Message Sneak Peek in Gmail Labs
Last week we launched two new Labs features in Gmail. Nested Labels lets you create hierarchies of labels, giving you more flexibility how you organize your saved email. Message Sneak Peek lets you preview messages without having to open them. Just right-click a message in your inbox to sneak a quick peek.

Gmail on the Apple iPad
We released a new version of the Gmail web interface specially designed for the larger screen of the iPad. Gmail on the iPad has a convenient two-pane display with a list of your conversations on the left, and full messages on the right.

Who’s gone Google?
More and more colleges and universities are moving to the cloud with Google Apps. This week we’re pleased to welcome the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, UNLV, Meredith College and Belmont Abbey College. The State Library of Kansas, the Mind Research Network and more than 50,000 other businesses and organizations have also gone Google in the last few weeks.

I hope you're making the most of these new features, whether you're using Google Apps with friends, family, coworkers or classmates. For more details and updates from the Apps team, head on over to the Google Apps Blog.

We spend a lot of time thinking about search results, but we also spend a lot of time thinking about search queries. Today we’re announcing three enhancements to help you input your searches more quickly and easily: more localized Google Suggest, improved spell correction for names and auto-correction for 31 languages.

Feel at home with Google Suggest
Last year we launched localized Google Suggest by country, offering relevant popular search queries tailored for different regions. However, just as people in the U.K. often look for different things than people in U.S., we’ve found that people in Seattle tend to look for different things than people in Dallas. So last week, we rolled out a version of Google Suggest that is tailored to specific metro areas in the U.S. You may notice that the list of queries beneath the search box will seem more locally relevant than it used to:
  • In San Francisco [bart] is probably not Bart Simpson; it’s probably Bay Area Rapid Transit:
  • In Chicago it’s easy to find out about your local NBA team:

Spelling enhancements for names
While Suggest can help you find good queries, sometimes you can get stuck because of misspellings. That’s why for years we’ve offered corrected spellings for mistyped searches (with the “Did you mean” link). We’ve steadily improved this spelling technology over time, but recently we made some big strides in correcting misspelled names.

People often search for people’s names — and not just celebrities and old friends. They look for doctors, horse trainers, hang-gliding instructors... the searches are just as diverse as the personalities in your hometown. We’ve noticed that people sometimes struggle to correctly spell names, and it’s not surprising. Names can be complicated and often there are multiple common spellings.

Our new technology is based on the concept that people often know something else about the person besides the approximate spelling of his name. People often include other terms such as "composer" or "lawyer sparta wisconsin" in their search query, which provides valuable context to help us narrow the range of possibilities for the spelling correction. We use these additional descriptive words to offer you better suggestions. Some examples: [matthew devin oracle], [yuri lehner stanford], [simon tung machine learning]. With these improvements you’ll start seeing more useful spell corrections for names.

For now this enhancement is available in our English spelling system in the U.S. We'll be rolling out the change to other parts of the world and other languages in the coming months.

Spelling auto-correction in 31 languages
Another improvement we made recently to the spelling system is auto-correction. If you search for [aiprt], rather than showing you a link on your results page that says “Did you mean: airport” we’ll take you straight to the results for the corrected search. We auto-correct when we’re highly confident in our correction in order to get you the information you’re looking for that much faster. In the past week we’ve expanded auto-correction to 31 languages across over 180 domains, with more to come.

Did you make a typo while looking for [chocolate strawberries and cream] in Italian? The right word is so close you can taste it:

While saving you that unnecessary click, we make search that much faster.

Today, leaders of the three largest British parties took part in the U.K’s first live televised debate in the run up to the May 6 general election. Alastair Stewart of ITN hosted Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg as they discussed domestic affairs before a Manchester T.V. studio audience.

Nick Clegg, his Liberal Democrat Party, and its manifesto generated many queries as people searched for Lib Dems and Liberal Democrat manifesto 2010. Searches for David Cameron and the Conservatives beat out the well-known incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Labour, but the two parties’ manifestos generated about the same number of searches.

Many Brits sought to watch the debate, searching for ITV election debate and live political debate, while others sought real-time polling information with queries such as debate polls, leaders debate poll and who is winning the debate.

Gordon Brown told David Cameron, “I'm grateful, by the way, David, for you putting up these posters about me and about crime and about everything else. You know, there's no newspaper editor done as much for me in the last two years, because my face is smiling on these posters, and I'm very grateful to you and Lord Ashcroft for funding that”, generating queries for Gordon Brown poster and Lord Ashcroft. David Cameron’s statement, “We’re going to get rid of some of these quangos” sent users scurrying to determine what a quango is. Nick Clegg’s repeated railing against renewing the Trident missile and David Cameron’s repeated railing against the jobs tax, a one percent increase in National Insurance contributions, were the other issues generating queries. Overwhelming these debate-related queries was the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the closure of British air space.

During the three weeks, follow the run-up to the May 6 British general election by watching debate highlights on YouTube and searching web trends using Google Insights for Search.

Last year, in our quest to minimize our carbon footprint (and keep people on their toes), we turned to an unlikely solution for mowing an overgrown field: goats. More than 200 goats from California Grazing have once again arrived at our Mountain View headquarters where they’ll stay for over a week chomping away on grassy goodness. The cost of bringing in the goats is comparable to hiring lawn mowers for the same job and the green benefits are clear: the goats eliminate mower emissions, reduce noise pollution, restore plant species and fertilize while grazing.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to be in the business of chèvre anytime soon, but in the meantime we’re having a lot of fun watching our new colleagues.

Last year, we announced the program that enabled hosting companies to integrate Google services into their platforms for easy access to their customers. Several hosting companies have adopted the program since then, and thousands of websites have benefited from configuring services like AdSense, Custom Search and Webmaster Tools.

Today, we’ve taken an additional step to improve access to these tools. Parallels, a leading provider of control panel software for hosting companies, has integrated Google Services for Websites into Parallels Plesk Panel, used by millions of website owners globally to manage their sites.

Any hosting provider using Plesk 9.5 can now enable Google Services for Websites for their customers. Website owners generate more traffic to their websites by optimizing them using Webmaster Tools. They can engage their users with inline Web Elements, including maps, news, videos and conversations. Custom Search and Site Search provide Google-quality search on their websites for better user retention. AdSense helps website owners monetize their sites with relevant advertising. And besides providing these valuable services to millions of customers, hosting companies can also generate additional revenues through referral programs.

More information is on the Google Services for Websites page. If you are a hoster using Plesk, please contact Parallels for more information. You can learn more about the specific services integrated at the Inside AdSense blog, the Custom Search blog and the Webmaster Central blog.

Today, April 15, is the due date for federal tax returns in the U.S. Now that everyone’s submitted their taxes in on time (we hope!) we wanted to take a look back at the last few months and tell the story of this year’s tax season through Google search.

Spoiler alert — we’re starting our tax season search story at the end. As the filing deadline has approached over the last few days and weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of search interest about taxes and tax related topics. Compared to search volume from the final week of the 2009 tax season, we’ve seen significant increases in searches for terms like [file taxes] and [tax filing extension]. As of late last week, searches for [file taxes] had increased by 16% from last year. This spike in search interest leading up to April 15 prolongs a pattern of search trends that we’ve seen for the last several years; from 2006 to 2009, searches for [file taxes] rose an average of more than 51% between April 8 and April 15.

Perhaps less expected than this final peak is the sizable spike in search volume that we see several months before April 15, around the time that W-2 forms become available. This occurs in early February and, as you can see below, there’s a noticeable increase in searches such as [get W2 form] that are related to the beginning of the tax-filing.

In general, tax season search trends look pretty similar each year, but if we dive deeper, there are lots of mini-trends to explore, often triggered by unforeseen and/or unique world events. For example, we saw a flurry of search interest following the passage of the healthcare reform bill in March. The sharp increase in searches for terms like [taxes healthcare] and [healthcare tax increase] likely reflected curiosity about the implications of the new law on tax filings.

We saw a similar trend following the tragic earthquake in Haiti. The outpouring of support for victims in Haiti generated increased interest in the details of charitable donations as they related to taxes; searches queries like [haiti donation tax] were noticeably high in January.

Unfortunately, the implications of heightened unemployment levels were also top of mind this year, and we saw an interest in the effects of joblessness on tax payments and tax filing. Queries like [unemployed taxes] and [unemployment tax refund] were noticeably elevated compared to 2009 search volume, in particular around the season’s first spike.

Hopefully, we’ve shed some light on what your fellow taxpayers were interested in over the course of tax season and, via search trends, provided a sense of the different types of events that might affect taxes and tax filing. Until next year!