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In the United States, our lives would be unrecognizable without the First Amendment. Every time you search, tweet, blog, pray (or not), gripe about your government, gather with your friends online or off, upload a video, read a newspaper or send an email to your member of Congress, you’re enjoying the rights it guarantees:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We’re celebrating the First Amendment on the 1st of July by joining news organizations, artists, librarians, lawyers, educators and many others in supporting 1 for All, a national campaign to teach Americans about the source of these fundamental freedoms. From now through July 25, you can show your support for the First Amendment by submitting a 30-second video that demonstrates your freedom to speak, rock or assemble. The best videos will be featured on YouTube, on TV and at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

At a time when restrictions on speech are increasing around the globe, we think it’s essential to remind ourselves that we can’t take freedom of expression for granted. Get informed, get involved and stand up with us for the First on the 1st.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

It’s been 71 days since the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Since then, we’ve used our platforms to make sure that people can watch and participate in real time, access all the latest information on the crisis and response and share concerns through various programs and initiatives.

Now we’re teaming up with PBS NewsHour to take you to BP headquarters in Houston for an exclusive interview with Bob Dudley, President and CEO of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. In a live session moderated by the PBS NewsHour’s Ray Suarez, Mr. Dudley will respond directly to your questions.



Now is your chance to ask BP questions on accountability, the clean-up plan, recovery efforts in the Gulf Region, environmental impact, the status of the relief well drilling, the role of the U.S. government, the future of offshore drilling and of BP as a company.

Using Google Moderator on youtube.com/citizentube, submit your questions and vote the best ones to the top. Then join us for the live interview tomorrow, Thursday, July 1, at 3:30 pm ET/12:30 pm PT on CitizenTube. Portions of the interview will also be aired Thursday evening on the PBS NewsHour and available on YouTube.

Early on, we partnered with NewsHour to bring you a live stream of the oil gushing into the waters of the Gulf. On June 15, we streamed President Obama’s Oval Office address on the oil spill crisis on CitizenTube. After the President’s speech, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs answered questions submitted by YouTube users, who cast nearly 200,000 votes to select the top questions from 7,000+ submitted.

We hope that these various opportunities to engage and participate in a current event help you and fellow citizens stay more informed and have your voice heard.

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There’s an old saying that all news is local. But all news is personal too—we connect with it in different ways depending on our interests, where we live, what we do and a lot of other factors. Today we’re revamping the Google News homepage with several changes designed to make the news that you see more relevant to you. We’re also trying to better highlight interesting stories you didn’t know existed and to make it easier for you to share stories through social networks.

Before:


After:


The new heart of the homepage is something we call “News for you”: a stream of headlines automatically tailored to your interests. You can help us get it right by using the “Edit personalization” box to specify how much you’re interested in Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports or any subject you want to add (whether it’s the Supreme Court, the World Cup or synthetic biology). You can choose to view the stories by Section view or List view, and reveal more headlines by hovering over the headline with your mouse. We’ll remember your preferences each time you log in. If you don’t want customized Google News, hit “Reset personalization" to clear all personalization preferences. If you haven't previously customized and would prefer not to, simply close the “Edit personalization” box. You can always go back and change it later.

To give you more control over the news that you see, we’re now allowing you to choose which news sources you’d like to see more or less often. You can do so in News Settings. These sources will rank higher or lower for you (but not for anyone else) in Google News search results and story clusters. We’ve also added keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation, like in Gmail or Google Reader. When you’re in Google News, hit the question mark key to pop up a full list of shortcuts.

There are the subjects that interest you and then there’s the major news of the day. To make it easy for you to find the big stories like Hurricane Alex, we’re adding links to topics that many outlets are covering. You’ll find these topics in the Top Stories section on the left side of the homepage as well as in linked keywords above headlines. Clicking on a topic link takes you to a list of related coverage that you can add to your news stream. You can change your preferences any time in “Edit personalization.”


We’re also more prominently displaying the Spotlight section, which features stories of more lasting interest than breaking news and has been one of our most popular sections since we introduced it last fall. And then there’s local news; we’re now highlighting weather and headlines about your city or neighborhood in their own section, which you can edit with whichever location you want to follow.

Finally, you can now easily share story clusters with other people via Buzz, Reader, Facebook or Twitter. Just select the drop-down menu marked by an arrow on the top-right of each story cluster. In the drop-down, you can also choose to see more or less of the first news source.


The redesigned Google News homepage is rolling out today in the English-language edition in the U.S., and we plan to expand it to all editions in the coming months. We’re making the ability to choose which sources you’ll see more or less often available in all English-language editions worldwide and plan to expand it soon. For more information about these changes, check out the video below or visit our Help Center.


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This is part of our summer series of new Search Stories. Look for the label Search Stories and subscribe to the series. -Ed.

When I first brought my dog Yoshka with me to work, I didn’t expect he would go on to become a part of our company history and help inspire our dog-friendly culture. At Google, any employee can bring their dog to work, and it’s rare that I reach my desk in the morning without seeing a pup or two on the way. All these dogs—my own and those I meet around campus—seem to possess that uncanny canine ability to bring a smile to my face. I hope this week’s Search Story, Dog, will do the same for you.



Visit www.youtube.com/searchstories to check out the whole collection, or to create your own story.

Yoshka

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We recently released a new version of our Google Chrome browser with Adobe Flash Player built in, automatically bringing you the latest and greatest updates. To celebrate, we teamed up with a few creative folks to make Chrome FastBall, a Flash-based game built for YouTube. Want to race?


Complete various games to get the shiny chrome ball to the finish line in the shortest possible time. (So far, the fastest time on the Chrome team is 1 minute, 20 seconds.)

Try your luck with Chrome FastBall, and if you haven’t taken Chrome for a test drive yet, download the newest stable release of the browser at google.com/chrome.

Update 7:20PM: All technical issues have been resolved now, so you can enjoy the game. Thanks for your patience!
Update 9:22AM: Due to the overwhelming response to the game, some things aren't quite working as we hoped due to server-side overloading. Please forgive the maintenance work as we get the game back up again. Thanks!

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(Cross-posted with the Google Enterprise Blog)

From time to time we invite guests to blog about initiatives of interest, and are very pleased to have Geoff Greene join us here. Geoff is the Director of IT Support Services at Brown University, and here he shares an update on their campus-wide migration to Google Apps for Education for all students, staff and faculty. - Ed.


About a year ago we put our 6,000 undergraduate students on Google Apps. The results were phenomenal: people were happy, they were productive, they were excited...and then some people got jealous. Our faculty and staff members started coming to us asking “When do we get to go Google?” Turns out they also wanted access to the same tools to better connect and engage with students and with each other.

We thought about it for a bit and realized that they had a point. So we decided to bring the entire Brown University community together—faculty, staff, medical and grad students—with a common set of tools: Google Apps for Education. This summer, our Computing & Information Services team is in the process of migrating everyone to our new GoogleApps@Brown system. The positive experience our undergrads have had using the Apps suite helped our Provost David Kertzer decide that the change would bring significant benefits and cost savings to the university as a whole. In fact, we predict this change could save us somewhere around $1 million each year.

Our students were really the ones that led us down the Google path. They knew these tools would work because they already used them in their non-school lives. We also decided to go this direction because of the functionalities that we believe will bring our university together, namely tools like collaborative documents, better email (with nearly 30 times the storage space we had with our previous system!) and video chat.

The icing on the cake is that we signed a zero dollar contract for all these top-notch tools. But it’s not just about saving money—it’s also about investing in our university’s future. Google Apps helps us work better together, and we can feel the excitement building on campus as a result. Here’s a little glimpse:



Since some faculty and staff members aren’t as familiar with the new tools just yet, we also hosted a “roadshow” to spread the word and gear up training sessions tailored for each campus group or department. Our training efforts are robust (you can check it out at training.brown.edu) and we have Google Guides—enthusiastic staff and student volunteers—helping their peers with the transition. We feel confident that once people start using these tools together, they’ll never look back.

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Update July 9:
We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China.

(original post)
Ever since we launched Google.cn, our search engine for mainland Chinese users, we have done our best to increase access to information while abiding by Chinese law. This has not always been an easy balance to strike, especially since our January announcement that we were no longer willing to censor results on Google.cn.

We currently automatically redirect everyone using Google.cn to Google.com.hk, our Hong Kong search engine. This redirect, which offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese, has been working well for our users and for Google. However, it’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable—and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China.

That’s a prospect dreaded by many of our Chinese users, who have been vocal about their desire to keep Google.cn alive. We have therefore been looking at possible alternatives, and instead of automatically redirecting all our users, we have started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk—where users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page.

Over the next few days we’ll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page—and today we re-submitted our ICP license renewal application based on this approach.

As a company we aspire to make information available to users everywhere, including China. It’s why we have worked so hard to keep Google.cn alive, as well as to continue our research and development work in China. This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law. We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn.

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We recently announced that Oregon is the first state to begin offering Google Apps to public schools. Today, Colorado and Iowa are joining the movement. Google Apps for Education will now be available to more than 3,000 schools across the two states.

These state-wide agreements enable schools and districts to benefit from centralized resources such as deployment support and training materials, paving the way for an easy transition to Google Apps—including Gmail, Docs, Sites, Calendar, Video and Groups—in their classrooms, immediately.

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said it best: “I’m pleased to see the Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) continue its tradition of bringing innovative tools to members of the Colorado public. By leveraging the Internet, educators are able to bring new ways of learning to the classroom and connect with students in exciting and challenging ways.” And Brent Siegrist, Director of Iowa Area Education Agencies Services, reflects, “As a former teacher, I can see how these tools will engage students, make the classroom a more vibrant place and allow teachers to work together more collaboratively.”

Saving money is just one reason schools are moving to Apps. Educators and students from JeffCo Public Schools, the largest school district in Colorado with more than 85,000 students, have been using Google Apps to help students collaborate and learn by working together. Teachers in Colorado and Iowa praise the “anytime, anywhere” availability of Google Apps. They’re using the unique online collaboration tools to teach feedback and revision strategies to students, and are even starting to go paperless on a number of assignments.

This week we’re also introducing a set of training solutions for schools to start making the most of Google Apps. We’re also extending the promotion for Google Message Security to allow primary and secondary schools opt-in to the email filtering service free until the end of this year.

If you’d like to learn more, come meet the Google Apps Education Team and some of the teachers using Google Apps in Colorado today, Monday June 28, through Wednesday at the annual ISTE conference. Stop by booth #2536 and take a seat in our teaching theater to learn more about what Google Apps can do for your school. Executive Directory of SIPA John Conley will join us at our Google Block Party after the conference today. We hope you’ll join us to learn more about Colorado’s decision to move to Google Apps.

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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.

Speed is a common theme at Google—the notion of speed is baked into all of our products, from Google Chrome to web search. Often, we also simply develop features that help deliver answers fast. Whether by displaying the exact content you're looking for at the top of your search results page or by optimizing the way you search, many of these speed enhancements save you keystrokes—and time.

This week, we released two new features:

Sunrise and Sunset Search feature
Whether you're looking to find the best time for a morning jog or trying to plan that perfect moment for a wedding proposal, knowing exactly when the sun rises or sets can always be helpful. This week, we were happy to launch a Sunrise and Sunset feature for search. It gives the precise times of sunsets and sunrises for any location around the world. Unlike the weather, sunrises and sunsets are quite predictable, and as a result, we don't use a data source. Instead, we calculate sunrise and sunset times based on latitude, longitude and the current time. This calculation has been of interest to astronomers and mathematicians for millennia, so they’ve had time to get it just right. And for most locations, it’s accurate to within a single minute.


Example searches: [sunrise port jefferson ny] or [sunset cancun]

Google Search by Voice expanded to more languages
Google Search by Voice enables people to search the web faster than ever before—getting you answers with fewer keystrokes. This service was originally launched in English, and was offered in the U.S., U.K., India, Australia and New Zealand. We later introduced Japanese and Mandarin to expand the number of possible users. Just a week ago, we launched the service in French, Italian, German and Spanish. Given that local dialects are a factor in the performance of speech recognition, we first launched our service in the four countries most closely associated with these languages: France, Germany, Italy and Spain. This week we followed with Korean and the launch in Taiwan of Traditional Mandarin.



To get started with Google Search by Voice, visit the Google mobile page in your country's domain (for example, in France go to m.google.fr) and download the application for your phone’s operating system in your locale. You'll find this available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones. Ultimately, our goal is to bring Google Search by voice to speakers of all languages, so stay tuned for more announcements here.

We'll see you back here next week for more new announcements.

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With the group round of the World Cup coming to a close and the round of 16 under way, it’s the perfect time to see what’s piqued searchers’ interest since our pre-tournament search trends kick-off.

Understandably, searches for [world cup standings] climbed steadily during the first week of play as fans around the globe watched the various teams jockey within their groups to qualify for the next round. Upsets in the group round have been particularly effective at driving increased search volume. Switzerland’s win over Spain on June 16 (one of the tournament’s earliest upsets) drove its share of search traffic, and New Zealand’s unexpectedly good performance against Italy, the 2006 tournament champion, inspired people to look for information about the “All Whites” (the Kiwi team’s nickname). Until England’s keeper let in a “soft” goal in the game against the U.S., [striker] was a more popular term than [fullback], [goalkeeper] or [midfielder]—but since then, searches for [goalkeeper] have largely outpaced the other positions. Searches for [england keeper] and [rob green] also spiked on the day of that game.

One of the rising—and controversial—stars of the World Cup’s initial days was the ubiquitous vuvuzela, which, at its peak on June 15, nearly overtook searches for [waka waka], the official song of the 2010 World Cup sung by Shakira. Viewers—and listeners—around the world searched for information about the South African horn, although after the initial spike it seems people have become accustomed to this unofficial match soundtrack, or perhaps purchased their own (listen for the German fans in the round of 16!).

But the vuvuzela is certainly not the only aspect of this year’s World Cup under scrutiny. Controversies have cropped up throughout the tournament, and a rise in search volume was never far behind. Interest in the much-debated 2010 World Cup ball, or [jabulani], has remained high throughout the first two weeks, and searches for [world cup referees] reflect the growing awareness that an official’s decision can make or break the fate of a team. Search volume for this topic peaked on June 18, the day a potentially tie-breaking U.S. goal against Slovenia was disallowed by a controversial offsides call. Searches for [offsides] also spiked on June 18, as well as on June 11 following an offsides call during the opening game between Mexico and South Africa, and June 23 after a call in the U.S. game against Algeria. Among English-speaking countries, most of these searches came from the U.S., a country relatively less familiar with “the beautiful game.”

Participating teams and individual players have also done their part to spark controversy. The French team has been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons: qualification for the tournament in a win over Ireland credited to a Thierry Henry handball, refusal to train after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting the team’s coach (searches for [anelka] spiked following his departure), and their eventual elimination from the tournament. In another newsworthy twist, searches for Algerian player Rafik Saifi have skyrocketed in the last days after his altercation with an Algerian journalist.

As the stakes climb even higher in the elimination rounds, we’re all on the look-out for more exciting (and controversial) moments and emerging stars. So stay tuned—we’ll be back with more search trends as the World Cup action continues.

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This is part of our summer series of new Search Stories. Look for the label Search Stories and subscribe to the series. -Ed.

My dad’s family grew up in Vietnam. Even as they faced an uncertain future, they attended school, believing strongly in the value of education. So when my aunts and uncles immigrated to the U.S., they went to great lengths to make sure their sons and daughters had the best opportunities. It wasn’t always easy—learning a new language and finding a new job was a struggle at first. But through their selfless efforts, my cousins and I were able to excel in our studies and pursue college degrees.

So for this reason, and on behalf of the Search Stories team, I’m delighted to introduce our latest video, Graduation. It’s both poignant and relevant to my family’s own experiences, and I think it speaks to devoted caregivers the world over.



Visit www.youtube.com/searchstories to check out the whole collection, or to create your own story.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

Today, the court granted our motion for summary judgment in Viacom’s lawsuit with YouTube. This means that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online.

This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other. We’re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around the world.

UPDATE 2:12PM: This decision also applies to other parties to the lawsuit, including the Premier League.

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Today, Verizon and Motorola announced the newest device powered by Android at an event in New York. We were thrilled to be there, and humbled by what our partners have been able to accomplish with Android. Every day 160,000 Android-powered devices are activated -- that’s nearly two devices every second, used for the first time by people from New York to New Zealand.

Android started with one simple idea: Provide a powerful, open mobile platform to drive faster innovation for the benefit of consumers. This idea has come to life around the world. Today, there are 60 compatible Android devices, delivered via a global partnership network of 21 OEMs and 59 carriers in 49 countries. The volume and variety of Android devices continues to exceed even our most optimistic expectations. In some instances, Android devices are selling faster than they can be manufactured.

To celebrate, we are open-sourcing the new 2.2 version of Android, which we call Froyo, to our partners who manufacture Android devices around the world. Customers will enjoy great new features and improved browser performance. And developers will benefit from new tools such as Android cloud-to-device messaging (which makes it easier for mobile applications to sync data).

We want to thank our partners for joining us in our vision, for creating such compelling devices, and for continuing to push the limits of what is possible in a smartphone.

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This post is the latest 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, with only a digital camera and a small budget, you can use YouTube to drive sales and engage your potential customers. -Ed.

When you go to YouTube, you often see ads from big brand advertisers—a homepage ad or a display campaign running across the site. But many small business owners also use YouTube to reach their customers with videos about their products and services. While there are lots of different types of ads that small businesses can run on YouTube, sometimes the best way to show off your brand or product is to simply create a great video. Terrence Kelleman, founder of Dynomighty Design, has made YouTube videos the centerpiece of his company’s marketing strategy, so I’ve invited him to share his thoughts about how he grew his business using YouTube.
In 2001, I was working my day job as a digital photographer for e-commerce at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) when I found several prototypes for a product that were being thrown out. The plastic elements had magnets inside them, and as I broke them open and put the magnets on my desk, they suddenly shot together to form a straight line. Playing with the magnets, I realized I could make jewelry that was held together by magnetic force alone. This chance discovery was the first step on the road to starting my own company, Dynomighty, which sells magnetic jewelry and other creative products.

My first YouTube video of a magnetic bracelet was supposed to be a video for my own website to help demonstrate the dynamic features of our products. I was in a hurry the day I made it because my wife Ingrid and I were staying late to wrap up some orders. I set up some lights against a white background, and shot the video with a small point-and-shoot Canon digital camera without any editing. (In the original video, you could even hear the honking cars on Broadway outside our office in New York.) It took me three or four takes to fit all the magnetic jewelry "tricks" in a minute-long video. I posted the video to YouTube, we finished up for the night and went home.



Sitting at my desk about a month later, I heard the "beep" sound that told me I had a new email message. It beeped again, then again, and again until I noticed that in less than a minute, I’d received 13 messages notifying me of new comments on my YouTube video. And they kept coming: when I turned on my computer the next morning, it took an hour for all my email messages to load! We were inundated with orders, comments, questions, offers and opportunities to expand our business. Three months later, we’d finally caught up on all the orders, and our total sales in that time—following that one video—were approximately $130,000. Today, the video has almost 3 million views and continues to drive a steady flow of customers to our website.

YouTube gives us the perfect opportunity to incorporate video into our marketing because you don’t need advanced technical skills or expertise in online video creation or hosting. It helps us sell our product, learn about our audience and build a strong brand image. And as a small company with a limited advertising budget, YouTube has become our main advertising strategy. Not only are costs low with Promoted Videos, but healthy conversions also make YouTube our #1 referring site in terms of traffic and revenue.

We’ve made 146 other videos since our first one, and we’ve learned a lot. Most importantly, to make an effective video marketing campaign, you need to have compelling visuals and content. We often look to other popular videos on YouTube for inspiration, and ask ourselves “What do people like to watch?” Then we implement aspects of those videos into our own video work, and try to build a connection with our customers that pictures and product copy can’t really convey on their own. For instance, seeing videos of time-lapse mural paintings gave me the idea to capitalize on a unique feature of our Mighty Wallets®. The Mighty Wallet has a writable surface that you can draw on with Sharpie markers, so I set up my camera and let our design intern go freehand with his unique drawing style. The resulting video now garners about 15 percent of our total views online and has generated more than 270,000 views in seven months. And because of YouTube Insight, we’ve been able to learn a lot about our viewers—like their demographics and how they find our videos—and to use that information to develop a loyal following on the site. Today many of our videos receive more than 100,000 views within the first three months of being uploaded.

Nine years ago, a chance discovery led me to start my own company, and another discovery five years later helped me further grow my business through YouTube. I don't know what’s next for Dynomighty, but chances are you'll see it on YouTube.

Terrence (back left, in blue shirt) and the Dynomighty team

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This month, Googlers around the world participated in GoogleServe—an annual event in which Google employees take a break from their day jobs to re-connect with local communities and give back through service projects. Over 6,000 Googlers from 65 offices in 27 countries spent time in activities ranging from helping the elderly get online and consulting with organizations on their social-media strategies to tidying up public parks and playing with dogs waiting to be rehomed.

GoogleServe began in 2008 as an employee-driven initiative and is organized almost entirely by volunteers. For the 2010 event, we partnered with hundreds of community organizations, schools and governments to help meet local needs around the world. Here’s a taste of some of this year’s projects:
  • We tilled soil and planted seedlings at Gaining Ground in Concord, Massachusetts
  • We packed food bags for families living under the breadline at Resala in Cairo, Egypt and delivered meals to the needy in San Francisco, California with the Salvation Army
  • We trained senior citizens in Dublin, Ireland and Santa Monica, California to engage more effectively in the online world
  • We cleaned kitty condos in Milpitas, California at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley and repaired a road leading to the animal shelter at Tier-Asyl Hübeli, in Zurich, Switzerland
  • We cleaned rooms, tended gardens and helped out on art projects at Singapore’s Association of the Visually Handicapped
  • We repaired playground equipment in Hamburg, Germany, painted classrooms in Johannesburg, South Africa and folded 1,000 origami cranes for sick children in Tokyo, Japan
Check out our album below to see some of our employees and partners in action. And if you'd like to join us in service to your community, websites like All For Good can help you find volunteer opportunities near you.



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(Cross-posted from the Google Voice Blog)

A little over a year ago, we released an early preview of Google Voice, our web-based platform for managing your communications. We introduced one number to ring all your phones, voicemail that works like email, free calls and text messages to the U.S. and Canada, low-priced international calls and more—the only catch was you had to request and receive an invite to try it out. Today, after lots of testing and tweaking, we’re excited to open up Google Voice to the public, no invitation required.

Over the past year, we’ve introduced a mobile web app, an integrated voicemail player in Gmail, the ability to use Google Voice with your existing number and more. Over a million of you are now actively using Google Voice, and many of the features released over the past year (like SMS to email and our Chrome extension) came as a result of your suggestions, so thanks!

If you haven’t yet tried Google Voice, we can’t wait for you to try it out and let us know what you think. Check out our revamped features page to learn about everything Google Voice can do, and if you haven’t seen it yet, this video provides a good overview in less than two minutes:



We’re proud of the progress we’ve made with Google Voice over the last few years, and we’re still just scratching the surface of what’s possible when you combine your regular phone service with the latest web technology. It’s even more amazing to think about how far communication has come over the last couple hundred years. To put things in context, we created this infographic to visualize some recent history of human communication and how Google Voice uses the web to help people communicate in more ways than ever before (click the image for a larger version):



Update 10:53AM: Just to clarify, though we've opened up sign-ups, Google Voice is still limited to everyone in the U.S. for now.

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In April, we invited young artists in 17 countries to create a Google doodle based on the theme “I love football.” Since then, more than 35,000 children in Australia, Germany, Ghana, South Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Kenya, UAE and Israel have created original designs for this first-ever international doodling competition.


From footballs to goalposts, we saw some truly creative designs that prove just how much you can do with an “l,” an “e,” and a couple “o’s” and “g’s.” In the past two weeks, the winner of each country’s competition had their design shown on their country’s homepage for a day. Now, we need help deciding which of these top doodlers’ artwork will be featured on the Google homepage of all 17 participating countries on July 11. You can vote for the international winner from June 21 until June 28—visit this site to weigh in.

The winning doodler will receive a trip to South Africa for themselves and their family, offered by the South Africa Tourism Board. And the runner-up will win two VIP tickets to a Premiere League football match in the U.K. offered by Sports New Media.

So whether you’re an art lover or a football lover—vote for your favorite doodle today!

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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.

Over the last couple of weeks we introduced several new features to Google Docs, and made updates to Gmail, Buzz and Blogger. The Google Apps Marketplace expanded, and we brought many new businesses and schools onboard. Here’s the scoop:

New Google Docs editors rolling out to everyone
Just a couple months ago we started previewing Google Docs’ new editors for documents and spreadsheets, and on Monday we began turning on these faster, more feature-rich editors for everyone. In new documents, you’ll see character-by-character real-time collaboration, a ruler for custom margins and tab stops, and the files you import from your computer will be much higher quality. The new version of spreadsheets is faster, and includes a formula editing bar, cell auto-complete and much more. If your university, employer or organization provides you with a Google Docs account, you’ll start seeing the new editors by default in the coming weeks, too.



New sharing settings in Google Docs
Just yesterday we launched a streamlined way to share your files more easily in Google Docs. You can set a document, spreadsheet, presentation or drawing to be “Private,” available to “Anyone with the link,” or “Public on the web,” and then customize who has access by inviting specific collaborators. If you’re using Google Docs at work or at school, you’ll also see options that make it easy to share your files just with other people within your organization. Learn more about the new sharing options on the Google Docs blog.



New features for drawings in Google Docs
We introduced several new features for the drawings editor in Google Docs, too. Now you can center objects on the page, resize your entire canvas, view thumbnails of your drawings in your doc list, search across your drawings by text contained within and quickly view a list of handy editing keyboard shortcuts. We also added the ability for you to share drawings in the Google Docs template gallery, so other people around the world can use your creations.


Blogger Template Designer available to all
Back in March we introduced Blogger Template Designer in Blogger in Draft, and last week we made it available to everyone. You can choose from more than 19 stock templates and further customize your design with hundreds of free, professional background images, custom color schemes and pixel-perfect layout manipulation. Customizing your blog and making it “your own” is now much easier.



Google Maps previews in Gmail and Buzz
Last week, we added a new Labs feature in Gmail that automatically displays a Google Map below messages that contain street addresses—saving you the trouble of copying and pasting of addresses from Gmail to Google Maps. You can enable this feature and many others from the Labs tab under Gmail Settings. Google Buzz also integrates Google Maps now too; when your buzz includes a Google Maps link, you’ll automatically see an image of the map that you can choose to include in your post.


Apps Marketplace
For the businesses, schools and organizations using Google Apps, cloud-based functionality continues to expand through the Google Apps Marketplace. There, developers around the world can offer business- and process-enhancing apps that seamlessly integrate with Google Apps. The Marketplace has everything from accounting applications and CRM solutions to marketing automation and project workflow tools. Last week we added five new applications, and this Tuesday we tacked on over a dozen more.

Who’s gone Google?
We’re thrilled to welcome Brady Corporation, a globally distributed safety and security products company with more than 7,000 employees and 90 globally distributed business locations, to Google Apps. Cost savings were a factor in the decision, but Brady’s IT team chose Google Apps to simplify their worldwide IT operations, to streamline the integration of future acquisitions and to offer employees advanced sharing features like real-time collaboration.

In addition to the big guys, tens of thousands more small and medium size businesses have also gone Google since our last update, including Hiatus Spa + Retreat, Goble & Associates and Método DeRose Matosinhos. Welcome!

And school’s out for summer, but many colleges and universities are using the quiet months to reinvigorate their student technology. Sonoma State University, Meharry Medical College, Tokyo Keizai University (translated), Santa Fe Community College, Great Basin College and Colby College are all going Google.

Whether your company or school has already gone Google or if you’re just starting to contemplate the move, tune into our live webcast next Tuesday, June 22 at 9:00 am PDT to hear more about the improvements and new features we’ve added to Google Apps during the first half of 2010.

For more details and updates from the Apps team, head on over to the Google Apps Blog.

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This is part of our summer series of new Search Stories. Look for the label Search Stories and subscribe to the series. -Ed.

Our latest Search Story, Father and Daughter, is a tribute to all the wonderful relationships dads have with their daughters.

While working on the story we came across a comment posted to Paul Simon’s Father and Daughter video on YouTube. Maybe it’s because I’m a father of two little girls, but this almost made me cry. One day, I hope that my daughters will feel compelled to write something like this.

To Cullenlvr961: we don’t know if you’ll read this or see the video, but we just wanted to put it out there and let you know you really touched us and we’re dedicating this Search Story to you and your dad. We’ll be proud if our video evokes even a small piece of the emotion your note did.



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In a previous post, we talked about popular World Cup search queries. It turns out that people who search for one player frequently follow that immediately with a query for another player. In this post, we explore these timely connections between queries. Below, a thick line connects Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi because a lot of people followed a search for one of them with a search for the other. A thin line connects Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona because fewer people searched for them together.

(Image by Amit Patel)

Why are some players connected while others aren’t? Here are some of our discoveries:

The world’s most popular players are well-connected. The highest paid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) is tightly connected to other popular players including Lionel Messi (Argentina), Fernando Torres (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England) and Didier Drogba (Côte d'Ivoire). These players form a nucleus connecting all the other players.

A country’s players are usually connected—but not always. For example, Arjen Robben connects all the Netherlands players. In contrast, Ronaldo connects Brazilian player Kaká to his teammates Robinho, Nilmar and Grafite. France’s players Thierry Henry and Yoann Gourcuff are likewise connected through Ronaldo.

Players in the same football club are connected. Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard play together on Chelsea but represent Côte d'Ivoire and England in the World Cup. Similarly, Steven Gerrard (England) and Fernando Torres (Spain) both play for Liverpool.

If you’re interested in exploring how players connect to each other, try searching for a player’s name using Google Insights for Search and look at the “Top searches” in the bottom left to see if other footballers are listed. For example, Clint Dempsey, the U.S. player who made the match-tying goal against England last Saturday, is connected to Landon Donovan.

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Today, I rarely work on documents in isolation. I share docs with teammates for feedback, help them with their design docs and presentations and regularly make my files available to all of Google.

When using applications to collaborate with others, it's important to have control over your data and how it's shared. With Google Docs, you've always been able to share documents with individuals and groups. Today, we're making it even easier with a new simplified interface that make it even easier to share and see who has access to your files. For an overview of what's new, take a look at this video:



Documents, spreadsheets and presentations can now be identified as “Private,” “Anyone with a link” or “Public on the web.” As before, all docs start out as private by default.


These new visibility options appear as a link next to the title of every doc. Clicking this link or the “Share” button takes you straight to the new interface where you can see who has access, manage sharing access and invite others to share the doc.

These improvements have started to roll out and should be available to everyone in the next week. If you’re interested in learning more about these changes and other new sharing features, check out our post on the Google Docs blog. If you’re using Google Apps for your school or business, our post on the Enterprise Blog covers how you can share docs more easily within your organization.

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School is out for the summer, and that means it’s time for some swimsuit shopping, travel purchases and—before we know it—buying back-to-school supplies.

To help retail sites get ready for the summer shopping season, today we’re launching Google Commerce Search 2.0 for retailers in the United States and United Kingdom. The new version of Google Commerce Search provides a better experience online for shoppers and greater control—with immediate ROI—for retailers.



Google Commerce Search, first launched a little over six months ago, is an enterprise-grade website search solution hosted in Google’s cloud and designed specifically for online retailers. This second release includes a number of improvements:
  • More merchant customization: Today we’re introducing a full merchandising dashboard, which gives merchants more control over promotions, ranking rules and filtering. Marketers and product merchandisers can now do all of this themselves—no custom code necessary. New intuitive retailer controls like time-based promotions, navigation bar with filters, and simple product ranking rules mean seasonal optimizations can be done on the fly.
  • Better shopper experience: With query autocompletion, retailers can offer common queries to shoppers in real time, as they type, without any custom coding. GCS is also faster and more relevant than before thanks to search quality improvements. Because it’s hosted in the Google cloud, search results are returned to shoppers in less than a second. We’ve also added spelling and stemming dictionaries and new custom synonym options to make shopping on a retail site as easy and accurate as searching on Google.com.
  • Improved browsing and navigation: Many shoppers depend on the search bar on retail sites when they’re looking to make a purchase, but some people will always prefer to navigate through different categories and discover new products. Now, Google Commerce Search allows visitors to shop by browsing around your site as well as searching directly for products.
Finally, we’re making the benefits of Google Commerce Search 2.0 available to a wider range of retailers by introducing a pricing model that starts at $25,000/year. Get in touch with us to learn more.

As more consumers turn to online channels to purchase and research products, it’s important for your site to keep up with them using the best technology out there. So with summer just around the corner, make sure your sunscreen’s on, your beach blanket is ready and your e-commerce site is optimized with Google Commerce Search.

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With software installations and complicated instructions, editing video can be a hassle—but we think it should be easy. Today, we’re introducing YouTube’s new online video editor, which makes editing your video a cinch. It’s available in TestTube, where YouTube engineers and developers test out new tools and get feedback on how they’re doing.

With this new editor, you can:
  • Combine multiple videos you’ve uploaded to create a new longer video
  • Trim the beginning and/or ending of your videos
  • Add soundtracks from our AudioSwap library of tens of thousands of songs
  • Create new videos without worrying about file formats and publish them to YouTube with one click—no upload necessary
All that, and you don’t need to install any extra software. Here’s a video from YouTube user rewboss that gives you a glimpse of how it works:



Check out the YouTube Blog for more details. And once you’ve given the editor a whirl, let us know what you think by leaving a comment on the YouTube Blog.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, watch President Obama live on the White House YouTube channel as he addresses the nation about the Gulf oil spill. Then 15 minutes after the remarks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will answer your questions. Starting right now, you can submit questions about the disaster on Google Moderator, and vote the best ones to the top. Hear more from Mr. Gibbs:



Already, the conversation about the oil spill on the web has been lively. Earlier this month, thousands of you submitted your ideas on how to clean up the oil spill on YouTube, several of which were aired during the PBS NewsHour. And as more and more Americans are searching on Google to find information about the oil spill and cleanup efforts, we want to help you connect directly with the recovery process.

Now’s your chance to hear the White House’s response to your questions about what many are calling the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. Submit questions now and vote on the ones you think are most important; then tune in tonight to watch the President’s address live on YouTube.

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We created the Google Apps Marketplace to make it easier for businesses and universities to benefit from the rapidly growing ecosystem of apps in the cloud. Apps in the Marketplace come in many sizes, from bite-sized apps that focus on providing a single feature to larger standalone apps that run major business systems and processes—and they’re all conveniently integrated with Google apps.

We believe it should be as easy to discover and purchase cloud apps for your organization as it is to get mobile apps for your smartphone. And, once you install and evaluate an app, it’s easy for your administrator to deploy them to users with just a few clicks. (Check out this video to see how it works).

We’ve added some great new apps since we launched in March and today we’re bringing you 16 new apps to the Marketplace. They represent a cross-section of the innovation happening on the web around integrated applications, where information is shared between applications allowing people to get their work done, faster:
  • Jive: Jive Social Business Software combines collaboration, community and social networking software, allowing you to engage employees, customers and the social web.
  • Harvest: Harvest is a simple time tracking application that makes it fast and easy for businesses to track billable hours and create invoices.
  • Floorplanner Pro: Floorplanner Pro provides a quick and easy way for real estate agents and facilities professionals to create and share interactive floor plans in both 2D as 3D.
Check out our post on the Enterprise Blog for more information on all 16 apps, or go right to the Marketplace.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

Do you ever look at a YouTube video and think, "That's a work of art?" Yep, so do we—and now, so does the Guggenheim.

In five years, YouTube has redefined media culture by changing the way the world creates, distributes and watches video. Online video is exploding not just as a medium, but as an art form, and we’re proud of the originality and innovation that YouTube has fostered among our users. Our community has produced some of the most creative and celebrated works on the Internet, videos that have been viewed by millions of people around the world.

We want to celebrate phenomenal video-makers and recognize the creative potential of the medium. So today we’re collaborating with the Guggenheim Museum to discover the most creative video in the world, and showcase exceptional talent working in the ever-expanding realm of digital media: YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. This global online initiative is presented in collaboration with HP.



We’re looking for animation, motion graphics, narrative, non-narrative, or documentary work, music videos and entirely new art forms—creations that really challenge the world’s perceptions of what’s possible with video. We want to elevate the debate. This presentation, we hope, will garner some of the finest creative work from every corner of the globe—not only to showcase it on one of the biggest stages online, but also in one of the most iconic artistic venues in the world, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and throughout the Guggenheim network of museums in Bilbao, Venice and Berlin.

Participants must submit their videos to YouTube Play to enter. The deadline for submission is July 31, 2010, after which the Guggenheim will assemble a shortlist to be evaluated by an international jury of experts from the worlds of art, design, film and video. Up to 20 videos will be presented at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on October 21, with simultaneous presentations at the Guggenheim museums in Bilbao, Venice and Berlin. The presentations will also be viewable to on the YouTube Play brand channel at youtube.com/play.

As we did with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, we hope to build an aspirational place for some of the world’s best artists to showcase their works and talents. For more information about how to enter, go to youtube.com/play.

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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.

One of our goals is to deliver the web content you're looking for as fast as possible. From under-the-hood indexing improvements and small feature enhancements that make search more relevant and intuitive, to directly delivering content to your inbox in your native tongue, all these enhancements are focused on getting you the results you're looking for—fast. Back in December, I wrote here about our efforts in speed, or what we call time-to-result. This week, I'm pleased to revisit this topic and share three new releases from our search teams that showcase the fruits of this focus:

World Cup scores and schedules
This week marked the start of an exciting time for football fans the world over. As many of those fans scour the web for scores and information on the tournament, we want to help organize and present those results as quick and simply as possible. So when you complete a search related to the World Cup, you’ll see live scores, latest results and match schedules at the top of your search results. You’ll also find TV broadcast information and quick links for game recaps, live updates, standings and team profiles. The feature works on all Google search domains in 44 languages, including Afrikaans, Amharic, Swahili and Zulu.


Example searches: [world cup], [world cup spain] and [world cup group g]

Google Alerts in 40 languages
Google Alerts, which we launched in 2003, automatically searches the web to find new information about topics you're interested in and deliver it directly to your inbox. This week, we extended Google Alerts availability to 40 languages, expanding the reach of this helpful product. Google Alerts now supports Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Filipino, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese. So, for example, if you want to keep up to date with your favorite World Cup footballer, create an alert for his name and new results will be delivered to your inbox. This feature is helpful to English speakers too—try translating your query into other languages to find out what's being talked about around the world.

To get started, visit the alerts page in your country's domain (for example, here's Arabic in Egypt: www.google.com.eg/alerts).

Caffeine indexing system
This week, we announced the completion of a new web indexing system called Caffeine. This new indexing system provides fresher results for web searches (nearly 50 percent fresher than our previous system) and it's the largest collection of web content we've offered. We built Caffeine to help us meet the evolving expectations of our users, especially as content across the web becomes more global and is published in real time. Caffeine is the definition of speed for us, and we were excited to make this announcement and continue to bring you the best possible content—faster than ever before.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more enhancements next week.

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A year ago this weekend, Tehran erupted in protest at the disputed results of Iran’s tenth presidential election. In the severe government crackdown that followed, documented on cameras and uploaded by citizens to YouTube, no moment has been seen more than the death of Neda Agha Soltan, a young musician whose brutal killing by a sniper became the rallying cry for Iran’s opposition Green Movement. The anonymous videos of her death even won the prestigious George Polk prize for journalism last year.

How has video become such an important part of human rights advocacy worldwide?  In the past, we mainly saw these kinds of images in the nightly news or in documentaries - and even then only occasionally. But now that access to the Internet is much more widespread (even in many developing countries), and billions worldwide have access to ever more powerful cellphones and digital cameras, we encounter human rights images much more directly - on YouTube, in Google searches, in Facebook feeds, through links shared on Twitter.

Today the YouTube blog begins a series of posts exploring the issues around human rights and video in partnership with WITNESS, an international human rights organization that supports people using video to document and expose human rights violations. We encourage you to learn more.

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When I was in middle school, computer class was spent learning the basics of “keyboarding” and rushing to finish the lesson so I could get back to my journey on the Oregon Trail. My main goal was to survive the river crossings, maintain enough buffalo meat to sustain my family and arrive safely in California with my entire fake family still alive.

Today, many schools are teaching their first graders the basic computer skills I was learning at 13. Teens have always been the quickest adopters of new technology, as parents and teachers struggle to keep up and equip teens to make good decisions online.

When I visited Dunne Technology Academy in South Chicago earlier this week, most of the students were getting ready for their summer break, but we paused for a bit to talk about what they’re doing online. The majority of these tech-savvy teens had all encountered cyberbullying at some point, had seen pictures and information on profiles they thought were inappropriate, and had had someone try to trick them through a phishing scam.

We spent the day discussing ways to avoid being scammed, how to create an online profile that can be an asset rather than a liability, and actions you can take if you’re being bullied, harassed or see inappropriate content. Most students seemed to understand that their online identity and their “real world” self were one and the same, and that they have choices in managing their content and reputation online. We agreed that by applying the rules of good citizenship online, the Internet would be a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.

So while teens have more difficult choices online today than to ford or to ferry the river in Oregon Trail, we can prepare them to make smart decisions online. Check out the educational materials from our Digital Literacy Tour in our Google For Educators site at www.google.com/educators/digitalliteracy.html.


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In March, we launched the Blogger Template Designer on Blogger in Draft, our experimental playground where you can try out the latest features Blogger has to offer. Today we’re excited to announce that the Blogger Template Designer has graduated from Blogger in Draft and is now available to everyone by default.

Blogger Template Designer is a way for you to easily customize the look of your blog without knowing any HTML or CSS. You can select from a variety of templates, images, colors and column layouts to make your blog an expression of you. See our post on Blogger Buzz for the highlights on this new tool.

You can try the Template Designer on your blog now by going to the “Design” menu, then selecting “Template Designer.” Even if you don’t have a blog — or weren’t planning to redecorate the one you have — you can try out the Blogger Template Designer and play around with potential designs. If you like one, you can apply it to a new blog or to an existing blog.

If you want to learn more on how the Blogger Template Designer can help you create your own unique blog designs, watch our video and check out the Blogger Buzz blog.