Google Blog

Every day people come to Google News for a trusted view of the world. It’s there for everything from moments of political change to gripping sports events to daily local news. To make news more accessible and easier to navigate, we redesigned the desktop website with a renewed focus on facts, diverse perspectives, and more control for users.

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Here’s a deeper look:

Designed for readability

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The new UI has a clean and uncluttered look, designed for comfortable reading and browsing.

  • We’ve adopted a card format that makes it easier to browse, scan and identify related articles about a story.
  • The new layout focuses on key elements, such as publisher names and article labels, and maintains your view and place on the page as you click in and out of stories and explore topics.  
  • We dedicated the navigation column on the left to sections that you customize. You can jump quickly to news you enjoy, whether it’s standard sections like Sports or Entertainment, or those created by you and powered by your queries, such as “FIFA World Cup” or “Bollywood.”

Easier navigation

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At the top of the page you’ll notice a new navigation bar for “Headlines,” “Local” and “For You.” Upon signing in, you can personalize the “Local” and “For You” tabs. In “Local,” you can track stories from any part of the world that you care about—from your hometown to where you do business to where you went to school. In “For You,” you can pinpoint niche interests and create your own mini news feed, whether it’s following your favorite team, or satisfying your inner geek with news on cool gadgets and gizmos.

Story Cards with different perspectives

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Story cards help you explore different perspectives to gain a well-rounded understanding of an issue. The first view offers a quick glance into a story. From there you can go deeper and read articles with different points of view which are frequently labeled with helpful tags (e.g., Local Source, Most Referenced, Opinion, or Fact Check). People have told us these labels identify important facets of a story and provide more context. As a result, whenever possible, we now show a second labeled article in addition to the top headline for each story. This way you can see additional context on stories immediately even as you are scanning.

The“Full Coverage” page, as the name suggests, lets you immerse yourself in coverage about a story or issue that you want to deep dive into.

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Accessed from the story card, this page gives you a range of articles with a diversity of perspectives. You can sort by relevance or date, see top videos, and browse top news topics in the “Related” block.

A dedicated Fact Check block

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Facts are at the heart of a story’s credibility. Last year we introduced the Fact Check label so you can get easy access to fact checking articles that investigate claims made in the story. Now we’re adding a Fact Check block on the right column of “Headlines” that shows the top fact checked articles recently published (this feature is currently available in the U.S. only).

Videos

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Videos have become central to news storytelling, so we improved the algorithmic selection for top videos, highlighted the top video in a story card, and built a better player. While playing a video, more related videos will be available in the player.

Settings

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Finally, we know you want to be in control of your news, so we are making it easier to update things under the hood, with all settings in one place. And to make Google News personal, new capabilities allow you to name your custom sections, edit existing sections, type in interests you want to see in the “For You” stream, and identify news sources that you want to see more (or less) of.

We’re rolling out this update globally in the coming days. We hope the new design enables you to easily access quality journalism, bolstered with meaningful insights and comprehensive coverage.

Posted: June 27, 2017, 10:00 pm

Editor's note: Over the last year, we’ve introduced new ways for students to develop important future skills with Chromebook tools, including active listening and creativity. Yesterday at ISTE we announced our latest bundles in this series, curated in collaboration with educators. In this post, we dive into the Media Literacy apps on Chromebooks bundle, designed to help students evaluate and think critically about the information they see online. Follow our updates on Twitter, and if you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 to learn more and demo these tools for yourself.

Bringing current events into the classroom is a great way to engage students in what’s happening around the world. With countless online news sources to choose from, it’s more important than ever for students to develop media literacy skills that help them understand the difference between reliable information sources and “fake news.” And media literacy skills aren’t just helpful in the classroom—they’re essential  future skills that help students thrive beyond the classroom and into their adult careers.

Earlier this month we announced Be Internet Awesome, a program to help kids learn how to become smart, confident explorers of the online world. One module teaches how to be Internet Alert, including how to avoid “falling for fake.” Now, to help school districts provide more media literacy opportunities to students, we’re offering a bundle of Media Literacy apps on Chromebooks, designed to help students evaluate and think critically about the information they see online. These apps are available at a special discounted price and may be purchased alongside Chromebooks or independently from U.S. Chromebooks resellers.

Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens. Renee Hobbs National Association for Media Literacy
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Here’s a deeper look at the apps in the Media Literacy bundle.

Scrible is a research platform enabling students to curate, annotate and collaborate on authentic online sources such as news articles and blog posts. They can highlight important passages, comment on key points and reply to one another in real time—fostering collaborative discourse, critical commentary, and mindfulness about the quality of their sources. They can later bring their researched content into the writing process using automatic citation capture, bibliographies and Google Docs and Drive integrations.

“Scrible helps students think about information critically through organizing their thoughts on the page,” says Matt Menschner, social studies teacher at Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (KCAPA) in Philadelphia, PA. “It's helped foster creative and critical thinking and positive discussion around the efficacy of the information that we’re going through on a daily basis.”

Menschner says that during the recent school year, Scrible “acted like an icebreaker and fostered a lot more creative discussion and face-to-face conversations” between his students. He doesn’t expect the benefits to fade after graduation, either—students from previous years “come back to visit and they tell me they still use Scrible now in their college classes.”

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Frontier, an app from eSpark Learning, teaches critical thinking about media through reading and writing lessons for students in grades three through eight. Frontier offers a library of online lessons centered on thought-provoking topics that engage all types of readers—from eager to reluctant. “It's a differentiated research, reading and writing product that allows students to have choice,” says Cindy Kopp, a fifth-grade English language arts and social studies teacher at Mineola Middle School in Mineola, NY. “It enables them to think beyond the text.”

Kopp says Frontier projects are “inherently something students are excited about. They become so interested in some of the projects that on their own they look to read more about them.” One student, for example, became fascinated with crime-scene forensics, and his research paper was shared with a law enforcement officer in Michigan. The officer then shared a video with the class that helped further their understanding of the forensic process.

“The kids went wild over it, because now they're realizing that their writing has importance,” Kopp says. “There's relevance, and they're opening a dialogue with others outside of the classroom.”

Encouraging student choice in research and writing can help students connect more deeply with the core curriculum at hand. Frontier is “building out projects that align to our curriculum, which helps us supplement the social studies portion of the curriculum,” says Kopp. All the while, students learn how to “seek and access information from a variety of sources, related to questions they’re curious about.”

To learn more about these and other educational tools, please visit g.co/educhromebookapps, check out the websites, or contact your school’s Chromebook reseller. And follow @GoogleForEdu on Twitter to see all that's launching at ISTE.

Posted: June 27, 2017, 7:00 pm

Editor’s Note: As part of his residency, Tilt Brush artist Isaac Cohen—aka Cabbibo—used the Tilt Brush Toolkit to create a VR picture book titled “Delila's Gift,”  which tells the story of a small sea creature named Delila and her struggles to comprehend the darkness around her and what it means to belong.

“Delila’s Gift” is free to play on Steam. We caught up with Isaac to hear more about what inspires him and what it’s like working with Tilt Brush.

1. Walk us through your creative process in Tilt Brush. How do you use it?

The Tilt Brush interface is really intuitive, so it’s easy to get started. For me, it’s the first step of the creative process. After painting in Tilt Brush, I take my paintings and use them as the basis for a simulation that is coded in Unity. I end up with these tiny little sprites that recreate the form of the painting.

Because I'm recreating the painting with a limited number of particles, the paintings need to be simple. This is hard for me because I really can't draw, so making simple paintings means repainting each page many times until it feels right.

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2. What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from my personal experiences, as well as from nature and reading about fantastic natural phenomena and creatures—things like nudibranchs, jellyfish, redwood trees, the reflection of light on the water, prisms, iridescent beetles, and the clouds rolling in over the edge of a mountain.

For “Delila’s Gift”, it was an experience I had one day when I was biking, and a car almost hit me. The driver started yelling at me and continued to follow me. I was angry, and I entered fight or flight mode, which wasn’t helpful. I believe that had I taken a deep breath, I could have had a meaningful interaction with that person and showed them love. Taking a deep breath in moments of fear and loneliness can help calm our minds and remember how miraculous it is to be alive. It's a gift; hence the name.

I think that there is a simplicity to the way that I can paint with Tilt Brush that makes it more humane, genuine, and approachable. It helps to have paintings that feel “handmade,” like they are made by a real person from the heart. I wanted to reflect that in “Delila’s Gift.”

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3. Do you have any advice for other Tilt Brush creators?

Tilt Brush is the equivalent of my VR journal. I use it as a place to sketch and think, to imagine and inhabit the space that I am about to create.

I’d suggest that any time you create a new project in VR, whether it’s a game, a narrative, or some other weird experience, you should spend some time in Tilt Brush, mocking up what the scenes, characters and interfaces look like. It’s such a special way to get used to the space you are about to inhabit, and allows for dramatically quicker iteration in terms of understanding scale, size, physical aesthetic, and practicality.

Posted: June 27, 2017, 4:00 pm

Editor's note: Over the last year, we’ve introduced new ways for students to develop important future skills with Chromebook tools, including active listening and creativity. Yesterday at ISTE we announced our latest bundles in this series, curated in collaboration with educators. In this post, we dive into the STEM tools on Chromebooks bundle, designed to help students become makers and inventors. Follow our updates on Twitter, and if you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 to learn more and demo these tools for yourself.

Students everywhere are exploring important concepts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with a level of sophistication that’s rising every year. They’re also developing skills like problem solving and collaboration that they’ll need in higher education and, eventually, in their careers, while being exposed to real-world opportunities to be makers.

“If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, building students’ skills, content knowledge and fluency in STEM fields is essential,” the Office of Innovation & Improvement, U.S. Department of Education noted in a statement in January, 2017.

To help school districts provide more STEM opportunities to students, we’re now offering a bundle of STEM tools on Chromebooks, designed to to help students become inventors and makers. These tools are available at a special discounted price and may be purchased alongside Chromebooks or independently from U.S. Chromebooks resellers.

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Let’s take a deeper look at the tools in the STEM bundle.

The Dremel 3D40 3D Printer was developed by Bosch, a company that has made reliable tools for builders and hobbyists for over 80 years. About the size of a microwave oven, a 3D printer “prints” solid objects, layer by layer. The 3D40 3D Printer supports design tools such as Tinkercad and BlocksCAD, that help students create three-dimensional versions of just about anything they can dream up.

Michael Miller is a K-5 technology teacher and high-school computer science teacher for Otsego Public Schools in Otsego, MI. “Students are being exposed to technology that’s now used in a lot of fields. Medical, dental, the food industry—they’re all using 3D printers,” he says. “It will definitely make students more future ready.”

Miller uses a 3D40 3D Printer with Chromebooks in his elementary and high school classes. Depending on the class, students use the tools to create anything from a light saber to a miniature model of a Wright brothers’ airplane. From components for robots to mouthpieces for flutes, his students bring a range of personal interests to the design and printing process.

It brings what they imagine in their head into their lives. Michael Miller Technology teacher, Otsego Public School

Although students often work on individual projects, Miller encourages them to solve problems together as a team. “If they need help, I expect them to look to their neighbor first before coming come to me.” Miller also sees how 3D printing can be a way to engage female students, who are often underrepresented in STEM fields today, as well as students who are less likely to speak up in class. “I had a high school student—a very reserved student—and it helped him feel more ownership in the class. It gave him a greater sense of belonging when he could make something.”

The littleBits Code Kit combines block-based visual coding, powered by Google’s Blockly, with programmable physical “bits” that are electronic color-coded building blocks that snap together with magnets. Using the Code Kit, which is designed to be accessible to a wide range of grades, students have fun building and coding games, all while learning the foundations of computer science. The kit also comes with lessons, video tutorials, getting started guides and other resources for educators and students.

Rob Troke, a computer science teacher at James Denman Middle School in San Francisco recently took a sixth-grade class to I/O Youth at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. There, his students used the littleBits Code Kit to program light and sound patterns on a physical Bit. They quickly learned about programming logic such as loops and variables.

“I was happy to see how engaged the kids were,” he says. “It maintained their interest the entire hour, whereas with other apps and tools, I’ve seen the novelty wear off after 15 minutes.”

For some students, having a physical object linked to a coding activity helps bring additional context to computer science. It also brings electrical and mechanical engineering, often overlooked subjects in K-12, into the classroom. “Having things to play with, to figure out what they are, what they do, is extremely helpful… it’s like robotics, but without the robot,” Troke says.

Dremel’s 3D40 3D printer and littleBits Code Kit, along with free programs created by Google—like CS First and Applied Digital Skills—help bring STEM concepts to life in creative and tangible ways. To learn more about these and other educational tools, please visit g.co/educhromebookapps, check out the websites, or contact your school’s Chromebook reseller. And follow @GoogleForEdu on Twitter to see all that's launching at ISTE.

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Posted: June 27, 2017, 1:00 pm

When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.

We believe the European Commission’s online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data shows that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches.

We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay.

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When the Commission asks why some comparison websites have not done as well as others, we think it should consider the many sites that have grown in this period--including platforms like Amazon and eBay. With its comparison tools, reviews, millions of retailers, and vast range of products from sneakers to groceries, Amazon is a formidable competitor and has become the first port of call for product searches.  And as Amazon has grown, it’s natural that some comparison services have proven less popular than others. We compete with Amazon and other sites for shopping-related searches by showing ever more useful product information.

When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for. Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller--it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.

Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.

Posted: June 27, 2017, 10:15 am

Today Anki, a consumer robotics and artificial intelligence company, announced Cozmo Code Lab, a simple and intuitive visual programming language that allows Cozmo owners to easily program their robot. Code Lab for Cozmo is based on Scratch Blocks, making it the first toy built for kids with the platform. Anki previously released a Python SDK to allow programmers to control Cozmo; and now they’re opening that capability to kids using Scratch’s familiar grammar.

We introduced Scratch Blocks last year, as a collaboration between Google and the MIT Scratch Team to develop a new generation of graphical programming blocks. Scratch Blocks is part of a broader effort focused on software toolkits that enable developers to create consistent, high-quality programming experiences for kids everywhere. Coding is more than just a set of technical skills, it’s a valuable tool for everyone. We want to empower kids to imagine, invent and explore what’s possible with coding and technology so they learn skills they’ll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way.

We caught up with Anki’s co-founder Hanns Tappeiner to learn more about Cozmo Code Lab, developing with Scratch Blocks, and why Anki is passionate about providing new tools for kids to learn about coding and programming for robotics.

Pavni: What was your first programming experience and how did that inspire you in the creation of Cozmo Code Lab?

Hanns: My first programming experience was when I was nine. I played a lot with Legos and always wanted to build a robot. In 1988, on my 9th birthday, my dad gave me a grey box. It was about the size of a shoe carton stuffed with (back then) cutting edge electronics. It converted signals from a PC’s Parallel Port to motor signals for Lego motors. Once attached to a computer, I was able to program the robot by writing code in Quick Basic, an old programming language. I built a loading crane “robot” that could load and unload toy cars from a little truck. That was just the start for me but I was hooked on the idea of robots and writing code. Today I’m excited to see the possibilities with Cozmo and what kids will program with Code Lab, as well as ensure they’ll learn skills similar to what I did with this first toy—not just coding, but also how to problem solve.

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Hanns' first robot

You have a history of launching great tech-enabled toys. Why did you decide to open up Cozmo for programming by kids?

We feel that robotics is in a different phase than other industries. In some ways it’s more nascent. So we want to help anyone—regardless of age or expertise— to learn more about programming and robotics, and start contributing. We want to create a platform for robotics developers to create the future, just as the development tools for mobile devices like Android have done for app developers. That foundation does not yet exist for robotics. With Cozmo we are making a huge step into that direction.

Anki can do so many powerful things, like recognizing pets. How does coding enable kids to experience everyday items in new and powerful ways?

Cozmo is controlled by more than 1.6 million lines of code, but when combined with Scratch Blocks, programming Cozmo becomes as accessible and fun as playing a game. We believe that’s a key step in helping kids to get inspired to learn and create using Code Lab. Kids can learn programming skills, but many of them do it for fun. In app stores, Cozmo isn’t even listed under programming, it’s listed under games.

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Cozmo and Cozmo Code Lab

Any interesting insights around the product design and development process for Cozmo?

We initially thought Cozmo would be most interesting for kids and young adults, like students, but adults in general also love Cozmo because of its unique entertainment experience. And with our Cozmo SDK, we’ve delivered a new and easy resource for people to tap into robotics and AI. This engagement has been great, and it’s led us to make adjustments along the way. We gave tech enthusiasts, makers, and hackers the Cozmo SDK, but they needed to know a little about Python. With the launch of Code Lab, we hope to empower everyone with tools to learn more robotics, coding, and problem solving.

What was the most surprising that  kids coded during user testing?

Kids create a ton of awesome projects after just a little bit of time with Code Lab. One play tester, a 9-year-old girl (the same age I was when I programmed by first robot), wrote a piece of code that programmed her robot to watch her room. She put Cozmo on her desk, and he watched the door. Every time her parents came into her room Cozmo would play a happy animation, but when her little brother walked in, Cozmo would play an angry animation. She had a bit of experience with Scratch, but not with robots. She had an idea, wrote this piece of code, and found a way to make it meaningful for her, in this case to keep her brother out of her room. It’s amazing to see.

What do you hope kids learn from Cozmo Code Lab?

I hope they get excited about writing code and the future of robotics. Kids using Cozmo are usually already excited about Cozmo, but now they can create great content for him. In the long run, they’ll be the next generation of engineers and creators so we hope they truly get excited about the possibilities.

Learn more about Scratch Blocks and what other developers are creating on the Scratch developer site.

Posted: June 26, 2017, 7:00 pm

It’s become increasingly important for journalists to deepen their digital skills for reporting, but finding dedicated time to invest in learning can be a challenge.

To address that challenge, the News Lab has launched a series of advanced online learning programs focused on helping journalists quickly develop skills across key disciplines in digital journalism—on their own time. We’ve worked with Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Poynter Institute for Media Studies and Journalism and Media Studies Centre at The University of Hong Kong to develop this content, focused on serving multiple languages, regions, and topics. We're offering this content as an evolution of the lessons currently offered on on our site.

We have partnered with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to offer advanced online learning programs in both Spanish and Portuguese. The programs will include courses on verification, fact-checking, and immersive storytelling (e.g. VR, 360). Students who complete the required coursework can receive a certification from the Knight Center. The first course will be offered in Portuguese and will focus on fact-checking digital content.

In collaboration with the Knight Foundation, the American Press Institute, and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, we will be supporting e-learning webinars, self-paced courses, and monthly training workshop opportunities on Poynter’s NewsU training platform. The content will include tutorials on digital tools like DocumentCloud and lessons on Google’s tools for journalists like Maps and Fusion Tables. We hope to offer journalists a holistic view of how these tools could work together in a real news environment.     

And in May, the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong relaunched its five-week MOOC, Data Journalism Fundamentals, with additional language support. Produced in partnership with Google News Lab and top news organizations in Asia, the MOOC targets students and journalists of all levels of experience. Students can now take the course in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, and Hindi. Case studies from newsrooms in Asia and data stories by leading international media organizations are also featured. More than 6000 students have participated in the original MOOC since it launched last year, and enrollment is expected to re-open in the fall with additional languages and content.

Students can earn a free certificate for the course through Hong Kong University by completing all required assignments. Students who complete the project will also get the chance to showcase their work on the JMSC website as well as receive expert critique by the instructors.

For more information about our training offerings and to sign up for these programs, visit https://newslab.withgoogle.com/training. We plan to bring more trainings of this type in the coming year, so let us know in the comments or email us at newslabsupport@google.com with suggestions for other topics and formats.
Posted: June 26, 2017, 5:00 pm

Twenty years ago today, Harry Potter began his journey from a closet on Privet Drive to the castle at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and—Alohomora!—he unlocked the imaginations of Muggles everywhere.

Conjured up by author J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" (called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" in the U.S.) has sold more than 450 million copies in 79 languages since its initial publication on June 26, 1997. The worldwide pop-culture phenomenon grew to include six more Harry Potter books, a few literary spinoffs, a movie franchise, and a hit two-part play.

To celebrate this anniversary, Google Earth’s storytelling platform, Voyager, takes you on a global tour (no portkey needed) of real-world places inspired from and by the Harry Potter universe. As fans might expect, the journey begins at Platform 9 ¾ at London’s King’s Cross. Other stops include the London market that stands in for Diagon Alley in the films, the Edinburgh cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote, and the Orlando amusement park where Muggles can buy a wand, ride a Hippogriff and drink some butterbeer.

Grab your broomstick and take flight with Google Earth’s Voyager.
Posted: June 26, 2017, 4:00 pm

Editor's note: This week our Google for Education team will be joining thousands of educators at the annual ISTE conference in San Antonio. Follow along here and on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Technology is transforming how students learn and the skills they need to succeed.


Today at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, we’ll be highlighting new tools and programs built to empower students to explore, build and think critically as active learners. Look out for a deeper dive on each of these announcements on the blog throughout this week.

Students as inventors and explorers

  • Recently we announced a new browser-based version of Google Earth that makes it easier than ever for teachers to bring the world into the classroom using Chromebooks. Today we are excited to introduce 10 new stories in Google Earth Voyager, our new storytelling platform, built specifically for the classroom. We collaborated with National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue to create beautiful, curated Voyager stories which offer students a new perspective on the world. We’re also unveiling new classroom activities for teachers to get started today. This week, Google Earth will become an additional service for Google for Education users, which can be managed by IT administrators through the Google Admin panel.

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Google Earth knowledge card of the Alamo, not far from the ISTE 2017 conference!


  • We’re always looking to highlight great educational content on Chromebooks that can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom, while also fostering skills of the future. Today we’re announcing a collection of STEM tools for Chromebooks -- Dremel 3D40 3D Printer and littleBits Code Kit -- that schools can purchase at a bundle discount from their Chromebook reseller. These tools bring engineering into the classroom and help students become inventors.


  • Coming soon, the Expeditions app for Cardboard and Daydream will offer a self-guided mode so anyone can access more than 600 virtual field trips on their own. Students and teachers will be able to pick an adventure to anywhere—from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China—and see details on points of interest highlighted on cards. We hope that this encourages exploration and personal education, making it easy to learn using virtual reality.

Students as critical thinkers and responsible digital citizens

  • In addition to the bundle of STEM tools announced above, we are offering a discounted bundle of media literacy apps on Chromebooks, Scrible and eSpark Frontier. The tools are designed to support students as they research and write using contemporary online information and help students form opinions about the media they consume.


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Impact Portraits paint a picture of school success with Chromebooks and G Suite

Today, we’re sharing seven new Impact Portraits from school districts across the U.S. The districts range in size and demographics from Florida’s Brevard County, which covers a diverse coastal area with 73,000 students, to upstate New York’s Amherst Central, with 2,944 students.


One thing these schools have in common: they're using Chromebooks and G Suite to drive measurable improvements in everything from reading skills to AP diploma graduation rates. In the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, for example, Indiana’s measure of third grade reading skills has grown by 10% since adopting Chromebooks. Check out g.co/EduImpact to find all of the Impact Portraits, and stay tuned for a closer look at the collection later this week.


The school districts whose Impact Portraits we’re sharing today include:

Look out for a deeper dive on each of these updates on our Keyword blog throughout this week. If you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 in the expo hall. And check out our teaching theater sessions—taking place in room #214D—where educators and Googlers will be giving short presentations throughout the conference.

Posted: June 26, 2017, 12:30 pm

Winter and summer. George and Amal. Barbie and Ken. These classic duos were among the top searches from this week.

Changing of the seasons

This Wednesday was summer solstice in the northern hemisphere—which means in other parts of the world, winter is coming. The cities searching the most for “first day of summer” are in Southern California (don’t they have good weather all year?), while New Zealanders are searching the most for “first day of winter.” And around the world, people are searching 3,200 percent more for summer than winter.

Is it hot out here, or is it just me?

For some, summer was a little too much this week. It was so hot in Phoenix, AZ that planes couldn’t take off safely, prompting searches like “too hot to fly in Phoenix, “Phoenix airport delays,” and “Phoenix high temperature today.” Other U.S. cities that were searching most for weather: New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York.

Bambinos and amigos     

George and Amal Clooney welcomed twins earlier this month, but this week people were more interested in George’s other big news: the sale of his tequila company, Casamigos. Top-searched questions included, “Where can I buy Casamigos tequila?” “How much is a bottle of Casamigos tequila?” and “Who bought George Clooney’s tequila?” In fact, search interest in tequila shot 350 percent higher than vodka.

Meat lovers are ticked off

Doctors are reporting that bites from the so-called Lone Star Tick can cause red meat allergies. But is it real? How can people avoid it? And why is it called the Lone Star Tick? These are the questions people are curious about. Most people searching for the lone star tick (named for a star-shaped mark on its back) aren’t actually in the Lone Star state—the top states searching were Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and Maryland.

Ken gets a makeover

This week, Mattel unveiled a new cast of Ken dolls, the biggest revamp since 1961. These new Kens come in different shapes and sizes, including “broad” and “slim” body types, leading searchers to look for “dad bod Ken doll” and “diverse ken dolls.” But in the end it wasn’t Ken’s new bod that had people searching—it was his hairstyle. One new Ken is sporting a highly-contested accessory from the past few years: the man bun. The internet couldn’t resist satirizing man bun Ken’s personality, fitness habits and political leanings, and search interest in "man bun ken" spiked 300 percent higher than “dad bod Ken.”

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Posted: June 23, 2017, 5:45 pm

Editor’s Note: Alan Inouye leads public policy for the American Library Association, and today he tells us about a new partnership with Google that will equip librarians to offer coding programs for kids in their communities

Emily Zorea is not a computer scientist. She’s a Youth Services Librarian at the Brewer Public Library in Richland Center, Wisconsin, but when she noticed that local students were showing an interest in computer science (CS), she started a coding program at the library. Though she didn’t have a CS background, she understood that coding, collaboration and creativity were  critical skills for students to approach complex problems and improve the world around them. Because of Emily’s work, the Brewer Public Library is now Ready to Code. At the American Library Association, we want to give librarians like Emily the opportunity to teach these skills, which is why we are thrilled to partner with Google on thae next phase of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative—a $500,000 sponsorship from Google to develop a coding toolkit and make critical skills more accessible for students across 120,000 libraries in the U.S.

Libraries will receive funding, consulting expertise, and operational support from Google to pilot a CS education toolkit that equips any librarian with the ability to implement a CS education program for kids. The resources aren’t meant to transform librarians into expert programmers but will support them with the knowledge and skills to do what they do best: empower youth to learn, create, problem solve, and develop the confidence and future skills to succeed in their future careers.

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“It always amazes me how interested both parents and kids are in coding, and how excited they become when they learn they can create media on their own--all by using code.” - Emily Zorea, Youth Services Librarian, Brewer Public Library

For libraries, by libraries

Librarians and staff know what works best for their communities, so we will rely on them to help us develop the toolkit. This summer a cohort of libraries will receive coding resources, like CS First, a free video-based coding club that doesn’t require CS knowledge, to help them facilitate CS programs. Then we’ll gather feedback from the cohort so that we can build a toolkit that is useful and informative for other libraries who want to be Ready to Code. The cohort will also  establish a community of schools and libraries who value coding, and will use their knowledge and expertise to help that community.

Critical thinking skills for the future

Though every student who studies code won’t become an engineer, critical thinking skills are essential in all career paths. That is why Libraries Ready to Code also emphasizes computational thinking, a basic set of problem-solving skills, in addition to code, that is at the heart of connecting the libraries’ mission of fostering critical thinking with computer science.

Many of our library educators, like Jason Gonzales, a technology specialist at the Muskogee Public Library, already have exemplary programs that combine computer science and computational thinking. His community is located about 50 miles outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, so the need for new programming was crucial, given that most youth are not able to travel to the city to pursue their interests. When students expressed an overwhelming interest in video game design, he knew what the focus of a new summer coding camp would be. Long-term, he hopes students will learn more digital literacy skills so they are comfortable interacting with technology, and applying it to other challenges now and in the future.

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“Ready to Code means having the resources available so that if someone is interested in coding or wants to explore it further they are able to. Knowing where to point youth can allow them to begin enjoying and exploring coding on their own.”- Jason Gonzales, technology specialist, Muskogee Public Library

When the American Library Association and Google announced the Libraries Ready to Code initiative last year, it began as an effort to learn about CS activities, like the ones that Emily and Jason led. We then expanded to work with university faculty at Library and Information Science (LIS) schools to integrate CS content their tech and media courses. Our next challenge is scaling these successes to all our libraries, which is where our partnership with Google, and the development of a toolkit, becomes even more important. Keep an eye out in July for a call for libraries to participate in developing the toolkit. We hope it will empower any library, regardless of geography, expertise, or affluence to provide access to CS education and ultimately, skills that will make students successful in the future.

Posted: June 23, 2017, 5:00 pm

Google’s G Suite business is gaining enormous traction among enterprise users. G Suite usage has more than doubled in the past year among large business customers. Today, there are more than 3 million paying companies that use G Suite.   

G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service. Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free.

The value of Gmail is tremendous, both for G Suite users and for users of our free consumer Gmail service. Gmail is the world’s preeminent email provider with more than 1.2 billion users. No other email service protects its users from spam, hacking, and phishing as successfully as Gmail. By indicating possible email responses, Gmail features like Smart Reply make emailing easier, faster and more efficient. Gmail add-ons will enable features like payments and invoicing directly within Gmail, further revolutionizing what can be accomplished in email.

G Suite customers and free consumer Gmail users can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate. As ever, users can control the information they share with Google at myaccount.google.com.

Posted: June 23, 2017, 4:00 pm

In the heart of Istanbul, where I was born and raised, is the Hagia Sophia, a breathtakingly beautiful monument with a storied history. Over the centuries it has been a cathedral, a mosque, and a museum. When you stand inside, you see Arabic calligraphy alongside Christian relics. From afar you see its minarets surrounding a Byzantine church. While each visitor identifies in her own way with the Hagia Sophia, it gives everyone a sense of wonder.   

For me, the month of Ramadan is similar. It’s a month when Muslims take time to reflect on their own paths of personal and spiritual growth. While this experience is unique to each individual, the act of giving back to one’s community is shared by Muslims the world over. In Turkey there is an expression: “We are created equally, but our lots in life are given differently.” During Ramadan, Muslims from all walks of life help those in their own communities who are less fortunate.

In this spirit, I want to share the story of Russell Khan, the co-founder of Honest Chops, an organic butcher shop in New York. Honest Chops, like countless other Muslim-owned businesses this Ramadan, is giving back to its community by donating 10,000 pounds of meat to local nonprofits. Particularly heartwarming for me is that Google’s free online business listing—which allowed Honest Chops to be found on Search and Maps—helped Russell grow his business and his impact.

I’m proud that Google played a role in helping Russell grow his business. Digital skills—social media, building a website or putting a business on the map—empower people to bring their ideas to life in and for their communities. That’s why Google provides digital skills training in countries around the world. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where I work, we’ve trained 5 million people in digital skills since 2014, and 40 percent of those participants are women. Think of how many people could benefit from a Russell in their community. You can learn more about getting your business online at g.co/GetYourBusinessOnline.

As the month of Ramadan comes to an end, I encourage us all to reflect on the meaning of community. The values of this holiday transcend all religions and cultures, and I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me—and Russell.

Ramazan'ınız mübarek olsun. Happy Ramadan!

Posted: June 23, 2017, 7:15 am

Virtual reality helps creators bring their audiences to new, amazing, and even impossible-to-visit places. As a viewer, you get a whole new angle on shows, sports, and concerts you care about. You can walk around the Eiffel Tower, dive to the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, or get a new perspective by meeting people face-to-face in a way that isn’t possible with a flat view of the world.

We know that virtual reality videos can be really powerful, which is why we have invested in supporting 360 and VR formats for over two years. And today, VR video is the most popular way to experience VR. But, we’ve heard from creators and viewers who want to make and see even more immersive videos on YouTube. So, we’ve been working with Google’s Daydream team on a brand new video format, called VR180, that we believe will make VR content even easier to create.

VR180 videos focus on what’s in front of you, are high resolution, and look great on desktop and on mobile. They transition seamlessly to a VR experience when viewed with Cardboard, Daydream, and PSVR, which allow you to view the images stereoscopically in 3-D, where near things look near, and far things appear far. VR180 also supports livestreaming videos so creators and fans can be together in real time.

Introducing VR180 GIF

For creators, you’ll be able to set up and film your videos the way you normally would with any other camera. And, soon, you’ll be able to edit using familiar tools like Adobe Premiere Pro. From vlogs, to makeup tutorials to music videos - your videos will work great in VR.

But supporting the format is just the beginning. We want to make cameras that are easy to work with too. The Daydream team is working with several manufacturers to build cameras from the ground up for VR180. These cameras are not only great for creators looking to easily make VR content, but also anyone who wants to capture life’s highlights in VR. They will be as easy to use as point-and-shoot cameras, for around the same price. Videos and livestreams will be easy to upload to YouTube. Cameras from YI, Lenovo, and LG are on the way, and the first ones will hit shelves this winter. For other manufacturers, we’re opening up a VR180 certification program and Z CAM will be one of our first partners. Learn more and sign up for updates at vr.google.com/vr180. If you can’t wait to try these out, eligible creators can apply to loan a VR180-enabled camera from one of our YouTube Spaces around the globe.

VR180 will unlock opportunities for anyone looking to easily make VR memories. We're just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible and look forward to seeing your new videos!

Posted: June 22, 2017, 8:15 pm

Need a fresh perspective? It’s all yours, courtesy of #teampixel. From a Buddhist monastery in Russia to a picturesque lighthouse in North Carolina, to the best swing set … ever, here’s your weekly look at some of the “Pixel perfect” images shared by Pixel users on Instagram.

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Left: @ahwagner - Lines on lines in Bodie Island, NC. Right: @alasdairwillson - Ivolginsk Datsan monastery, Russia
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Left: @glitchlov3 - A patch of blue in St. Petersburg, Russia. Right: @heydavina - Stopping for lunch in Manhattan, NY
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@canvasoul - Silhouettes against the sky
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Left: @mrtroiano - Puffins in the Faroe Islands. Right: @monp54 - Making friends in Fairy Glen, Scotland
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Left: @michilyons - Summer = sparklers, in Maplewood, NJ. Right: @randomitguylv - Montana Redonda, Dominican Republic
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Left: @oliverbock - Liverpool, meet reflecting pool. Right: @willfungus - A dizzying staircase at Nagoya Castle, Japan

If you’ve got a Pixel, share your photos with #teampixel—we might feature them on Keyword and Instagram.

Posted: June 22, 2017, 5:00 pm

Editor’s note: This is an abbreviated version of a speech Kent delivered today at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

For as long as we’ve had legal systems, prosecutors and police have needed to gather evidence. And for each new advance in communications, law enforcement has adapted. With the advent of the post office, police got warrants to search letters and packages. With the arrival of telephones, police served subpoenas for the call logs of suspects. Digital communications have now gone well beyond the Postal Service and Ma Bell. But the laws that govern evidence-gathering on the internet were written before the Information Revolution, and are now both hindering the flow of information to law enforcement and jeopardizing user privacy as a result.

These rules are due for a fundamental realignment in light of the rapid growth of technology that relies on the cloud, the very real security threats that face people and communities, and the expectations of privacy that internet users have in their communications.

Today, we’re proposing a new framework that allows countries that commit to baseline privacy, human rights, and due process principles to gather evidence more quickly and efficiently. We believe these reforms would not only help law enforcement conduct more effective investigations but also encourage countries to improve and align on privacy and due process standards. Further, reducing the amount of time countries have to wait to gather evidence means would reduce the pressure to pursue more problematic ways of trying to gather data.

Current laws hinder law enforcement and user privacy

The U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) governs requests for content from law enforcement. Under ECPA, foreign countries largely have to rely on diplomatic mechanisms such as Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) to obtain content that is held by a company in the United States. The last data we’ve seen suggests that the average wait to receive content through the MLAT process is 10 months, far too long for most criminal cases. While law enforcement waits for this data, crimes could remain unsolved or a trial might happen missing key evidence.

The current legal framework poses a threat to users’ privacy as well. Faced with the extended delays under the MLAT process, some countries are now asserting that their laws apply to companies and individuals outside of their borders. Countries asserting extraterritorial authority potentially put companies in an untenable situation where we risk violating either the law of the requesting country or the law of the country where we are headquartered.

We are also seeing various proposals to require companies to store data within local borders as a means to gain easier access. There are a host of problems with this: small, one-off data centers are easier targets for attackers and jeopardize data security and privacy. Further, requiring businesses to build these data-centers will raise the costs for cloud services, erecting significant barriers for smaller companies.

The legal ambiguity concerning cross-border law enforcement requests has also created complications for law enforcement in the United States. Last year, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to determine the reach of ECPA search warrants issued under the now out-of-date statute. The Court ruled that under existing law, an ECPA search warrant cannot be used to compel service providers to disclose user data that is stored outside of the U.S. But even those judges agreed that ECPA should be updated by Congress to reflect the new reality of today’s global networks.

Principles for reform

Our proposal to address these challenges for domestic and international law enforcement, for companies, and for users has two core principles:

First, countries that honor baseline principles of privacy, human rights, and due process should be able to make direct requests to service providers for user data that pertains to serious crimes that happen within their borders and users who are within their jurisdiction.  

While the U.S. cannot solve the problem on its own, and many countries have blocking regulations, policy reform in the US is a necessary first step. We’ve been pleased to see serious debate around ways to update digital evidence laws in Washington on this issue.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice presented legislation that would amend ECPA and  authorize U.S. providers to disclose records and communications content to foreign governments that adhere to baseline due process, human rights, and privacy standards. This legislation would be the critical starting point for the new framework of direct requests.

ECPA should also be updated to address what data is available using an ECPA search warrant in a way that serves broader public policy objectives. Law enforcement requests for digital evidence should be based on the location and nationality of users, not the location of data. A key component of this reform is the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA), which Google supports. ICPA provides a unique opportunity for Congress to update laws governing digital evidence both for investigations in the U.S. and abroad. While refinements to ICPA may be necessary, we believe the principles upon which ICPA is based are sound.

Second, provided that countries can meet baseline standards and the U.S. amends ECPA, the next step would be for the United States and foreign governments to sign new agreements that could provide an alternative to the MLAT process. The bilateral agreements that could be authorized by the legislation put forward by the Department of Justice provide a promising avenue to improve global privacy standards and create a pathway for foreign governments to obtain digital evidence for investigations.

We’re ready to do our part

We know that this will be an involved process. It’ll require action here in Washington and in capitals around the world. However, we can’t accept the complexity of action as a reason for inaction in addressing an important and growing problem.

Our proposal asks for a lot of movement from governments. But we recognize our role as well. Google is ready to work with legislators, regulators, civil society, academics, and other companies to progress these proposals and make sure that we get this right. And I look forward to conversations that we’ll have in Washington, D.C. and beyond in the months to come.

Posted: June 22, 2017, 9:00 am

Ommmmmm, it's International Yoga Day. While your Assistant might not be able to do an Eagle Pose, it can help you relax, learn about yoga poses and be the calming presence you’ve been looking for.

YOGA

  • If you’re an aspiring yogi, the first step is getting on the mat. Ask your Assistant on Google Home to “Add yoga mat to my shopping list.” 
  • Once you've got your mat, you can ask your Assistant on phones, “What’s a downward-facing dog pose?” or ““Show me videos of a downward-facing dog pose.”
  • Looking to set the mood? Ask your Assistant on Google Home to “Turn the temperature to 80 degrees,” or “Dim the lights,” when you’re ready for Savasana. 
  • Interested in learning about the history of yoga? Ask your Assistant on Google Home “How did yoga start?” or “What does yoga mean?”
  • Or maybe you want to meet other like-minded yogis: Ask your Assistant on phones to “Find yoga classes near me.”

For the love of yoga and whatever else makes you happy, go out there and find your zen! Namaste.

Posted: June 21, 2017, 7:00 pm

In March of this year, SAP and Google partnered to advance innovation, agility and global reach for enterprises adopting the public cloud. As part of our collaborative development and solutions integration, we are working on a data custodian model that allows customers with specific needs to manage sensitive data on a public cloud platform.

To fully benefit from cloud computing, enterprises need to store and process their sensitive data on public cloud platforms, while complying with regulations and managing unauthorized access risks. Enterprises often need to address these requirements as part of a broader governance, risk and compliance solution for the public cloud. 

The data custodian model

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) already offers robust security capabilities and extensive compliance with public cloud security and privacy standards. To further increase customer trust, the data custodian model allows SAP, a trusted enterprise solution provider, to act as the custodian of the customer’s data on GCP. This provides greater transparency and separation of controls.

With the data custodian model, we envision enterprises defining a set of controls about how they want to handle their data on GCP, then relying on SAP, as the data custodian, to continuously monitor compliance to these controls and manage exceptions as needed. A current focus is on data access transparency for GCP services that store or process customer data. In the coming months, SAP and Google will continue to work together to enable custodian oversight and control over handling customer data on GCP. 

What are the benefits for customers?

Enterprises can benefit from the data custodian model in several ways. They can leverage SAP’s deep knowledge of GCP’s security approach, controls and workflows instead of building that expertise in-house. With SAP as a data custodian, customers have additional confidence that their data is accessed and stored in compliance with their defined data sovereignty, privacy and protection policies.

In addition, with this partnership, SAP and Google are extending and integrating their product portfolios, including GCP and G Suite to provide even greater value to customers. Look to SAP and Google to continue to collaborate on solutions like the data custodian model to enable the next generation of digital services.

Posted: June 21, 2017, 4:00 pm

Every June, we celebrate GoogleServe—a month-long campaign to empower Googlers to volunteer in their communities. Googlers have clocked more than 200,000 hours during GoogleServe since it first began in 2007, and the program has inspired a culture of giving and volunteering all year long. As we celebrate our 10th annual GoogleServe, we’re talking with Seth Marbin, the Googler who first came up with the idea.

Keyword: How did the idea for GoogleServe come about?

Seth: I joined the Search Quality team at Google 11 years ago. I was inspired by the company’s culture, social mission, and the belief that any employee could dream up the next big idea. In 2007, our VP of Culture Stacy Sullivan asked Googlers for ideas on how to maintain our unique culture while the company doubled in size. My work with AmeriCorps and City Year taught me that volunteering can bring people together and break down social barriers, so I proposed a global day of community service (which I called Google-palooza!). Googlers jumped on board immediately, and 3,000 Googlers from 45 offices participated in our first GoogleServe.

How has GoogleServe changed over the years?

Well, for starters, it’s a lot bigger! And it’s inspired Googlers to serve beyond the month of June. Googlers now volunteer a quarter of a million hours each year outside GoogleServe, through Google.org programs.

We still provide hands-on help to schools, soup kitchens and homeless shelters, but we’ve evolved GoogleServe to connect Googlers’ professional expertise to nonprofit and community needs. For example, software engineers participate in hackathons, and our recruitment and staffing teams review resumes and conduct interview skills trainings for people who are unemployed or underemployed.

There are 20,000 Googlers volunteering this month. How do you pull off such a massive undertaking?

We work with great partners who ensure that our volunteers have meaningful experiences. For example, HandsOn Bay Area—which helps Googlers find volunteer opportunities—has been a fantastic and committed partner from the beginning. When we came to them in 2012 with 5,500 Google volunteers, we maxed out their capacity to help. They didn’t have the infrastructure to deal with a group of our size, but over time they adjusted and scaled their model so that they could continue working with us. It’s been such a pleasure to watch their evolution, because we wouldn’t be able to run GoogleServe without them. Our partnership was even written about as a case study for Harvard Business School.

What have been your favorite projects over the years?

My favorite projects tap into Googler expertise, align with our company values—like supporting women in tech—and have a lasting impact. U.S. Googlers have volunteered with schools and nonprofits to host Made with Code events, inspiring thousands of girls to consider careers in computer science. In two days of coding, 10 Googlers helped the OpenAustralia Foundation give two million people access to Planning Alerts, which notify residents about local construction and demolition projects. And a team of Googlers in our Seattle office helped launch a mobile app to enable RealChange homeless newspaper vendors to accept digital payments.

How has GoogleServe impacted Googlers?

I’ve found that many Googlers start out with one GoogleServe project and then discover a deeper passion for serving the community. Rebecca Howarth, who helps lead GoogleServe in the Bay Area, told me it’s the single most important part of her career at Google—and it’s not even her “real job.”

For some Googlers, the impact has been so great that they’ve committed their careers to community service. In 2012 Megan Wheeler joined our team as a 20 percenter (Googlers can dedicate 20 percent of their time, outside of their day job, on projects that they’re passionate about), and now she runs the program globally as part of her full time role on the Google.org team.

And it inspires others to continue to serve beyond Google. Former Googler Tory Faries participated in a GoogleServe project in 2010, helping to paint a youth homeless shelter in San Francisco. She was so inspired that she became a weekly volunteer at the shelter. Years later, she has helped to build and lead the global volunteer program at Airbnb.

How has GoogleServe influenced Google’s culture?

When Stacy sent out her email 10 years ago, I believed that a commitment to community service would keep our culture strong no matter how big the company became, and I still believe that today. GoogleServe connects Googlers to causes and community organizations they care about, but it also connects them to other Googlers they wouldn’t have met otherwise. Those bonds are the reason people continue to volunteer with us, and why GoogleServe has become such a big part of our company culture.

Why have you dedicated your career to service?

Community service has always been a part of my life. My wife and I met doing community service and we even incorporated it into our wedding! Before the ceremony, our guests planted seeds on an organic farm that grows food for low-income families. And my kids are a part of GoogleServe too—my daughter Kaia was born just before the first GoogleServe and she and my younger son Jahan have attended a GoogleServe project every year.

So while I’ve always had a passion for service, being a part of the GoogleServe founding team and Google.org honed my life’s mission: to serve and help others serve, to build a better, more compassionate, inclusive, peaceful and just world. I feel incredibly fortunate to work on this every day at Google with an amazing team of passionate colleagues.

What’s your advice for people outside of Google who are interested in starting a volunteering program at their company?

Launch and iterate. Don’t wait for all the details—just get your idea out there and invite others to join in. Volunteering is good for company culture, good for our communities, and good for the world. There’s a growing movement of social intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs working to create positive social change, and there are many case studies and guides that can help anyone create change in their local community.

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Kaia Marbin helps her dad during a GoogleServe project in 2011
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Kaia & Jahan Marbin are ready to get their serve on this year
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Googlers in Dublin help clean up at a local park (2010)
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Providing AdGrants support to nonprofits in 2016
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Singapore Googlers volunteer at a beach clean up project
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Planting a community garden in Hyderabad (2009)
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Googlers in Nigeria partner with a graduate school during GoogleServe in 2015
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Painting a school in Mexico (2011)
Posted: June 21, 2017, 4:00 pm

There’s a common phrase among reporters: “The news never sleeps.” This is why many news outlets rely on cloud-based productivity tools like Google Docs and Sheets to share information, check facts and collaborate in real time. And The New York Times is no exception.

In May 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a new health care law affecting millions of Americans. To report the news as fast as possible, The Times’ editorial team used Sheets to tally and display House votes in real time on NYTimes.com.


Engaging voters with the Sheets API

“People want to feel connected to the decisions their legislators make as soon as they make them,” said Tom Giratikanon,  a graphics editor at The Times. But rules in the House chamber make reporting on how every representative votes in real time difficult. Photography is restricted on the assembly floor, and there is a delay until all votes are displayed on the House website—a process that can sometimes take up to an hour.

To get around this lag, Giratikanon’s team used the Google Sheets API. The editorial team dispatched reporters to the chamber where they entered votes into a Google Sheet as they were shown on the vote boards. The sheet then auto-populated NYTimes.com using the Sheets API integration.

Says Giratikanon: “It’s easy to feel like decisions are veiled in the political process. Technology is a powerful way to bridge that gap. Sharing news immediately empowers our readers.”

It’s easy to feel like decisions are veiled in the political process. Technology is a powerful way to bridge that gap. Tom Giratikanon Graphics Editor, The New York Times
House votes

How it worked

To prep, Giratikanon tested the Sheets integration ahead of the House vote. He created a sheet listing the names of legislators in advance, so his team could avoid typos when entering data on the day of the vote. Next, he set up the Sheet to include qualifiers. A simple “Y” or “N” indicated “yes” and “no” votes.

After a few practice rounds, Giratikanon’s team realized they could add even more qualifiers to better inform readers–like flagging outlier votes and reporting on votes by party (i.e., Democrats vs. Republicans). The editorial team researched how each of the 431 legislators were expected to vote in advance. They created a rule in Sheets to automatically highlight surprises. If a legislator went against the grain, the sheet highlighted the cell in yellow and the editorial team fact-checked the original vote to reflect this in the article. Giratikanon also set up a rule to note votes by party.

As a result, The Times, which has roughly 2 million digital-only subscribers, beat the House website, reporting the new healthcare bill results and informing readers who were eager to follow how their legislator voted. 

NYT GIF

Try G Suite APIs today 

You can use Sheets and other G Suite products to help speed up real-time reporting, no matter the industry. Get started using the Sheets API today or check out other G Suite APIs, like the Slides API, Gmail API or Calendar API.

Posted: June 20, 2017, 5:00 pm
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