Google Search results optimized for feature phones in Arabic and Hebrew -- 40 languages now supported

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | 6:30 PM

Forty-language support is an important milestone for a product at Google. We are very excited that by adding support for Hebrew and Arabic, our new optimized mobile Search experience is now available in 40 languages for feature phones.

We launched in 38 left-to-right languages in July, bringing the comprehensiveness of Google's web search to mobile users around the world. Now Arabic and Hebrew speakers will also be able to benefit from universal search results on their mobile devices.

As a reminder, the new search results format provides more complete support for the universal search results you're familiar with on your computer. This means that News, Image, Blog, Video and Product Search results blend right into your results pages when available and relevant to your query. Also, many of your favorite Google Search features now appear in the first result in order to provide direct answers to your searches.



The bright side of sitting in traffic: Crowdsourcing road congestion data

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | 8:40 AM

This post is the latest in an ongoing series about how we harness the data we collect to improve our products and services for our users. It is cross-posted from the Official Google Blog. - Ed.

What if you could do a little something to improve the world during your daily drive to work? Here are a few ideas: tell everybody in the city when you're stuck in slow-moving traffic; warn the drivers on the freeway behind you that they should consider an alternate route; tell the people still at home that they should spend another ten minutes reading the morning news before they leave for work; tell your city government that they might want to change the timing of that traffic light at the highway on-ramp. Of course, you can't just get on the phone and call everybody, and your one traffic report from your one spot on the road might not help much anyway. But if everybody on the road, all at once, could tell the world how fast their car is moving, and we could make it easy for anybody to check that information on their computer or cell phone, well — then we'd be getting somewhere.

If you use Google Maps for mobile with GPS enabled on your phone, that's exactly what you can do. When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you're moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers. It takes almost zero effort on your part — just turn on Google Maps for mobile before starting your car — and the more people that participate, the better the resulting traffic reports get for everybody.



This week we're expanding our traffic layer to cover all U.S. highways and arterials when data is available. We're able to do this thanks in no small part to the data contributed by our users. This is exactly the kind of technology that we love at Google because it's so easy for a single person to help out, but can be incredibly powerful when a lot of people use it together. Imagine if you knew the exact traffic speed on every road in the city — every intersection, backstreet and freeway on-ramp — and how that would affect the way you drive, help the environment and impact the way our government makes road planning decisions. This idea, which we geeks call "crowdsourcing," isn't new. Ever since GPS location started coming to mainstream devices, people have been thinking of ways to use it to figure out how fast the traffic is moving. But for us to really make it work, we had to solve problems of scale (because you can't get useful traffic results until you have a LOT of devices reporting their speeds) and privacy (because we don't want anybody to be able to analyze Google's traffic data to see the movement of a particular phone, even when that phone is completely anonymous).

We achieve scale by making Google Maps for mobile easy to install and use, and by making it easy for people to provide information about their own vehicle speed. There's no extra device to plug into your car and no extra software to buy. Google Maps is free and works with most cell phones, and the number of cell phones with GPS is rising every day. Some phones, such as the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the Palm Pre, come with Google Maps and traffic crowdsourcing pre-installed (the iPhone Maps application, however, does not support traffic crowdsourcing). Google is fortunate to have a lot of people using our products, and that scale helps make our products better.

We understand that many people would be concerned about telling the world how fast their car was moving if they also had to tell the world where they were going, so we built privacy protections in from the start. We only use anonymous speed and location information to calculate traffic conditions, and only do so when you have chosen to enable location services on your phone. We use our scale to provide further privacy protection: When a lot of people are reporting data from the same area, we combine their data together to make it hard to tell one phone from another. Even though the vehicle carrying a phone is anonymous, we don't want anybody to be able to find out where that anonymous vehicle came from or where it went — so we find the start and end points of every trip and permanently delete that data so that even Google ceases to have access to it. We take the privacy concerns related to user location data seriously, and have worked hard to protect the privacy of users who share this data — but we still understand that not everybody will want to participate. If you'd like to stop your phone from sending anonymous location data back to Google, you can find opt-out instructions here.

We've already been able to provide useful traffic information with the help of our existing mobile users, but we hope that is just the start. As GPS-enabled phones and data plans get less expensive, more people will be able to participate. Crowdsourcing traffic gives us a way to harness bits of location data from our users and give it back to them in a form they can use to make impactful decisions that affect their free time, their pocketbooks and the environment. The more people use it, the better it will get. So next time you're sitting in morning traffic, turn on Google Maps for mobile and let someone else know they can hit the snooze button one more time. Tomorrow morning, they might do the same for you.


YouTube Mobile App Expands to Five New Languages

Friday, August 21, 2009 | 4:28 PM

We're happy to announce that the YouTube Mobile Application for Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 devices is now available in five new languages. We now support users with localized content in Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Swedish, and Czech. This brings the total number of languages the app supports to 12.

YouTube's Mobile Application makes it easy to quickly load and watch high-quality YouTube videos on your mobile phone, even in weak coverage areas. To get the update or to try the app for the first time, simply visit m.youtube.com/app in your phone's browser.

We'd love to get your feedback, so visit our forum if you have questions or want to chat about YouTube mobile.

Posted by Robin Norvell, Mobile Consumer Operations

Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server now available

| 10:07 AM

If you have a corporate BlackBerry smartphone, you might be interested to know that the Google Apps team has just made the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server available for download. This connector makes it possible to use Google Apps email, calendar, and contacts with corporate BlackBerry phones' built-in applications.

If you manage IT for your organization, you'll want to read the Enterprise team's blog post that details the Google Apps Connector.

If you don't manage IT but you want your company to adopt Google Apps and the Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, tell your IT team that it's time to "Go Google".

"Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens."

Thursday, August 20, 2009 | 1:30 PM

Today we're pleased to announce a new Google Labs application for Android-powered devices in the US called, Listen. Listen quickly finds podcasts and web audio relevant to your searches, lets you stream over-the-air or download for later, and subscribe to fresh content from your favorite feeds and searches. In short, Listen helps organize the world of audio information and makes it easily accessible anytime, anywhere. And if you agree with the Jimi Hendrix quote that is the title of this post, then Listen may actually make you wiser, too.

Listen lets you stay informed even while engaged in other activities. Our colleagues use Listen as a personal audio-magazine while exercising, commuting, gardening, cleaning, dressing, cooking, and more*.



It's simple to get started. Just go to Android Market on your Android-powered device and search for "Listen". Install the application and search for anything you would like to listen to. For inspiration, try hitting "Popular searches" from the home screen. This will show some of the fastest-rising audio searches that people are making now. Tapping one of the results reveals content that you can play, queue for later, or subscribe to.

So search for, subscribe to, sit back and listen to thousands of podcasts from your phone. Remember that this is a Labs launch, so we are particularly eager to get your thoughts and feedback below. For more information, take a look at our Google Labs page.



*driving, shopping, eating, farming, laundering, shaving, vacuuming or hoovering, traveling, waiting, toileting, mowing, remodeling, grooming, collecting, raking, swimming, refinishing, painting, sewing, hiking, walking, resting, jogging, loafing, pet sitting, ice fishing, packing, paving, digging, sweeping, recuperating, cementing, guarding, waking, darning, watering, watching, inspecting, moving, envelope stuffing, constructing, mending, baking, scrap booking, jack hammering, mopping, maple sugaring, patrolling, demolishing, horse grooming, ironing, biking, dog walking, ranching, restocking, fishing, sanding, polishing, and mailing.

New Image Search Results for Feature Phones

| 1:16 PM

Earlier this year, we launched new Image Search results for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Since then, we've rolled out the new format to iPhone and Android in 28 countries. Now, the new Image Search results pages are also available for most other phones in 38 languages.

The image results are tightly packed, making optimal use of the screen space on your phone and allowing you to scan eight to fourteen images on a single results page. Clicking an image leads to a details page, which not only shows a larger thumbnail, but also lets you either visit the web page hosting the image or view the image itself in full size. Moreover you can navigate the search results using "next" and "previous" links. These features are designed to make browsing and searching for images on your phone easier and faster.

How to use Image Search:
1. Go to google.com and click on “Images.”
2. Do a search query. The results page shows related images, clicking on an image loads the details page.

3. The image details page shows a larger thumbnail and links to the original website and image. You could also navigate to other results using "Next Image" link.

The Iterative Web App: Outbox for Emails in Limbo

Thursday, August 13, 2009 | 9:50 AM

On April 7th, we announced a new version of Gmail for mobile for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Among the improvements was a complete redesign of the web application's underlying code which allows us to more rapidly develop and release new features that users have been asking for, as explained in our first post. We'd like to introduce The Iterative Webapp, a series where we will continue to release features for Gmail for mobile. Today: Outbox.

With the web-browser-based Gmail for mobile we launched in April for iPhone and Android-powered devices, you can compose mail even when you're offline. That means you can write an email when there's no wireless connection, like in a subway or an airplane. And when you hit send, the message will be sent when the phone's network connectivity gets re-established. But what if you'd like to view the message that you just "sent" while still offline? Where can you find those 'sent but not actually sent' emails? Before today, the answer was "nowhere."

To solve this problem, we're now introducing a new feature, called Outbox. Outbox is a new label that appears in the menu when you have queued messages stuck on your phone and presents a read-only view of the subject of those messages. So if you want to make sure the previous message was sent before writing a follow-up mail, you can go ahead and find it in Outbox. Please note that you can read only the subject, not the body, of messages in Outbox.

To try out Gmail for mobile, visit gmail.com in your mobile browser. This version of Gmail for mobile supports iPhone/iPod touch OS 2.2.1 or above, as well as all Android-powered devices, and is available for US English only. To make it easy to access your Gmail account, try creating a home screen link.

by Heaven Kim, Product Marketing Manager, Google Mobile