Barcelona: Mobile First

Thursday, February 25, 2010 | 12:07 PM

Last week at Mobile World Congress, where more than 55,000 people gathered in Barcelona to see what the coming year holds for mobile phones and computers, Eric Schmidt had the unique opportunity to reflect on achievements in the mobile space, and to discuss what lies ahead - both for the industry and for Google. With the continued growth of smartphone usage -- increasing by more than 30% year over year, with mobile web adoption proceeding at a rate that is eight times faster than the equivalent point ten years ago for the desktop, with more than half of the new Internet connections coming from mobile devices -- it's clear that we're experiencing a fundamental shift in how we access information.




So how did we get here and what's in store?

Back in December, I pointed to the convergence of three trends: computing, connectivity, and cloud computing. Eric described these in more detail last week. Basically, devices are getting smaller, faster, cheaper, and more powerful; the same is true of processors. Today, roughly 700 million public servers are connected by the Internet, and this pervasive connectivity is being driven further into our daily lives, as evidenced by individuals, companies, and even the US Embassy in Beijing increasingly relying on services like Twitter to constantly share information. Finally, cloud computing not only is essential for storage of sophisticated amounts of data, which can be accessed by multiple devices, but also is paving the way for a new generation of applications and powerful, interlinked systems. These three waves are not new, nor is their intersection. What is new, however, is that the point of intersection is now a phone - a phone that's blazingly fast, is connected to the Internet, and leverages the power of the cloud. Comparing today's possibilities with what was possible 25 years ago, and then thinking ahead 25 years from now, it's incredibly exciting to imagine what we might be able to do.

Clearly, the mobile phone is the iconic device of the moment, and we're encouraging a new rule: Mobile First. When we announce new services for desktop computers, such as real-time search, we will debut an equally powerful mobile version. We will take advantage of this new class of smartphone, which is more sensory, acts as an extension of you, is aware of location, and can hear you, speak to you, take pictures and return information in a matter of seconds. We opened the year with a new model for purchasing a mobile phone, and since then, we've also made it possible to see a list of nearby businesses from google.com, developed a web app for Google Voice, made ads more useful by including a clickable local phone number, let you attach location to your Buzz posts, and we're just getting started. You can look forward to seeing support for more languages in Google Search by voice - German is coming soon. We're working to make it possible to take a picture of text and translate it to any of the 52 languages supported in Google Translate, and we have lots of other ideas up our sleeves.

We're proud to be part of this shift and excited to broaden expectations for what's possible on a mobile device.

Update, 5:16PM 3/1/10 - This video has been updated to include an introductory video that played before Eric's speech.

Google Earth now available for Android

Monday, February 22, 2010 | 10:36 AM

(Cross-posted from Google LatLong)
As we hinted at last month, we knew Nexus One was going to be a great platform to showcase the rich (and technically demanding!) features of Google Earth. With a 1GHz processor, advanced 3D graphics, and Android 2.1, Nexus One packs a lot of performance in a thin package. Ever since we got our hands on one, we have been putting it through its paces, drawing complex scenes of 3D imagery, terrain, roads, and other layers, and Nexus One never misses a beat. Now that we have put the final touches on the app, we are happy to announce that the latest member of our family is ready for the world -- Google Earth for Android. This is our fastest mobile version of Google Earth yet, with a smooth framerate and a beautiful 800 x 480 screen.

With the release of Google Earth for Android, we are also introducing the Roads layer, a very popular feature of the desktop version of Google Earth. Now you can get a better sense of where you are with road labels drawn on top of the satellite imagery.



In addition, we have taken advantage of the integrated voice recognition capabilities of the Android platform to provide the best Google Earth experience yet -- a pocket globe that responds to your every command. Try speaking "Eiffel tower" or "best burrito Mission district of San Francisco." Maybe you're trying to find some nice lodging for an upcoming getaway to Lake Tahoe. Just say "romantic getaway Lake Tahoe." With Google Earth for Android, we have brought together the convenience of Google Search by voice with the power of Google Local Search to make it easier than ever to navigate the globe and find whatever you are looking for.



As with other versions of Google Earth, you can also browse photos, places, and local businesses, whether it is in your local community or on the far side of the globe. Click on an icon to see photos, videos, and read about prominent places in the world. You can easily customize your version of Google Earth to display the layers that most interest you.

In addition to Nexus One, Google Earth will be available in Android Market on most devices that have Android 2.1 or later versions. So as devices such as Droid get updated to Android 2.1, others will also be able to fly to the far reaches of the globe with a swipe of their finger.

Download Google Earth for Nexus One today by searching for Google Earth in the Android Market.


Shopping smarter with Google Shopper

Thursday, February 18, 2010 | 7:59 PM

We're happy to announce a new Android application called Google Shopper. Shopper lets you find product information quickly by using your phone's camera. It can recognize cover art of books, CDs, DVDs, and video games, along with most barcodes. You can also speak the name of the product you're looking for. Use Shopper to make smart decisions about what to buy, what price to pay, and where to buy it. You can star items for later and share them with friends. Shopper also saves your history so you'll always have product and price information at your fingertips, even when you don't have a signal.

Here's an example search based on the Effective Java: Programming Language Guide.

To see Google Shopper in action, watch this video:


To download Google Shopper to your Android-powered phone, scan the QR Code below, or search for "Shopper" on Android Market. You'll see a green icon for Shopper by Google. Click install and happy shopping!


For more information about Google Shopper, take a look at our Google Labs page. We hope you send us your feedback.

Integrating translation into Google Goggles

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | 11:59 AM

(cross-posted with Google Translate Blog)

Yesterday, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Eric Schmidt and I demonstrated a prototype version of Google Goggles that showcases the potential of integrating Google's machine translation and image recognition technologies. In the video below, you'll see how we use Goggles to take a picture of a German menu and instantly translate the text into English:


You may wonder what's happening in the background. On the simplest level, this prototype connects the phone's camera to an optical character recognition (OCR) engine, recognizes the image as text and then translates that text into English with Google Translate.

Right now this technology only works for German-to-English translations and it's not yet ready for prime time. However, it shows a lot of promise for what the future might hold. Soon your phone will be able to translate signs, posters and other foreign text instantly into your language. Eventually, we're hoping to build a version of Google Goggles that can translate between all of the 52 languages currently supported by Google Translate — bringing even more information to you on the go.

Let the games begin!

Thursday, February 11, 2010 | 10:27 PM

The festivities begin this Friday in Vancouver, and we're all holding our breath to see who brings home the gold. Perhaps you're rooting for Lindsey Vonn or Shaun White or Sven Kramer. No matter who your favorite athlete is, you can keep up with the latest news on your phone.


Just do a search for the name of your favorite sport, and you can see the latest info about game results, schedules, medal count, and more right above the search results. On Android and iPhone devices, our Real Time Search feature will also reveal the latest updates related to the games within the same search results. (We're offering the same info and more for people searching on computers.) Looking for something more in-depth? Follow along using Google News for mobile. You can find quick links by going to google.com/games10/m on your phone.



A new look for Google Search for mobile

| 1:51 PM

We're always looking for ways to improve your user experience with our products. If you use Google Search with a web browser on your Android-powered device or iPhone, you'll see some changes to the look of the buttons and toolbars to a style you may now be familiar with on Mobile Gmail, Latitude, Calendar and Tasks. As with these Google apps, the color contrast of the style now adds more focus to the search results of the page, and the header controls are bigger to make them easier to touch.

The Google logo has been moved up to the top of the search results page, allowing us to increase the width and height of the search box. You can now more easily touch the larger box to enter a new search, the new big bold font makes it easier to see what you have entered, and the wider box helps you see more characters at once.


We have also given our homepage some love. While this got the bigger search box last month, we have created a new search button beside the search box rather than below, so when search suggestions appear, they no longer hide the button.


Just go to www.google.com on your phone to try it out, and let us know what you think.

Introducing Google Buzz for mobile: See buzz around you and tag posts with your location.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | 11:09 AM

Today we announced Google Buzz, a new product that integrates with your Gmail inbox and makes it easy to start rich conversations about the things you find interesting. Google Buzz lets you share web links, photos, videos, and more with those who are important to you. Rather than simply creating a mobile version of Buzz, we decided to take advantage of the unique features of a mobile device - in particular, location. We go through many experiences when we're on the go, and while there are lots of ways to share these experiences with your friends or even the world, there isn't always an easy way to let your audience know where you are when you post. Your location brings valuable context to the information you share. For example, does "Delicious dinner!" mean you're at a great restaurant, or that you had a wonderful home-cooked meal? Your mobile phone, which is with you almost all the time, can help answer these questions.

Google Buzz for mobile allows you to post buzz and keep up with your friends when you're away from your computer. It also uses your location to identify places around you. You can select one of these places and attach it as location tag to your posts, or read what others have posted about the place.

There are several ways to use Google Buzz on your mobile phone:
* Buzz.google.com: This web app provides access to Buzz from your iPhone or Android phone's browser, allowing you to view and create buzz messages. It has two different views: 'Following' view shows buzz from the people you follow, just like Google Buzz in your Gmail; 'Nearby' view shows public buzz that has been tagged with a location near you, and might be from people you don't follow. From Nearby view, you can also select a specific place from the list of nearby places and view posts attached to that place.

* Buzz on Google Maps for mobile: The new Buzz layer allows you to see buzz near you or anywhere on the map. You can post public buzz directly from the layer, and even attach a photo from your phone. Also, try visiting a mobile Place Page to read recent comments or to post buzz about that place. You can access Place Pages from the web app as well, by tapping on the place name in any location-tagged post.

* Buzz Shortcut from Google.com: You will see the buzz icon in the top right corner of the google.com homepage. Just tap on the icon to trigger the posting box.

* Voice Shortcut: The voice shortcut, which is available in the quick search widget on Android and in Google Mobile App on iPhone, allows you to post buzz without typing anything. Just say 'post buzz,' followed by whatever you'd like to post.



When adding location to buzz posts, we focused on places, not just a lat/long location or an address. We wanted to make location information more useful both to your followers and to help others discover information about nearby places. If you don't want to include your location when you post buzz, it's easy to exclude your location and post without it. You also control whether your buzz posts will be public or private - by default or for individual posts. While anyone can access your public posts, private posts are viewable only by the people you choose to share them with.

With Buzz for mobile, we hope you can start interesting conversations about places and be more spontaneous when you are out and about. How many times have you missed a fun event, even though it was nearby? Or a better choice of dessert, just because you didn't know about it? How often have you wondered "Where are you?" when reading a text message from a friend? Now, you can use Buzz to learn that there is going to be a movie night at your favorite park, share with the world that there is an awesome ice cream place right around the corner, or tell your friends about that delicious homemade lasagna.

To start using Buzz for mobile, go to buzz.google.com from your phone's browser. It is currently available for Android and iPhone, but we're working to bring it to other platforms. The Buzz layer on Google Maps for mobile is available on Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, and iPhone (as web maps). Learn more in our Help Center.

Update @4:40PM : For Android users, buzz.google.com and shortcuts are currently available only for phones with Android 2.0+ and we're working to support other versions soon. Google Maps for mobile with Buzz (Maps 4.0) is available in Android Market for phones with Android 1.6+.

The AdSense for Mobile Apps Team goes to Barcelona

Friday, February 5, 2010 | 8:39 AM

This month is the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the mobile industry gathers to present its latest innovations and the coolest new gadgets. As you may know, our CEO Eric Schmidt will be one of the keynote speakers this year, and we recently announced a special Android Developer Lab, as part of App Planet. In addition, I'm excited to let you know that the AdSense for Mobile Applications team will also be on the ground and answering questions. So if you're going too, keep an eye out for us!


AdSense for Mobile Applications
, which launched in beta last summer, allows you to place targeted text and image ads on your apps. The developer toolkit makes it easy to integrate the ads, and you can also filter out ads that you don't want to appear. We'll be hosting two informal sessions - February 16 at 9am and February 17 at 5:30pm - where you'll be able to talk to us face-to-face and ask any questions you may have. Space is limited to 25 people per session, so sign up soon if you'd like to attend.

See you in Barcelona!

posted by: Mike Schipper, AdSense for Mobile Apps team

Bringing more administrative controls to Google Apps for mobile

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | 5:01 PM

Last September we announced Google Sync with push Gmail support and 2-way sync for calendar and contacts for iPhone, Nokia E series, and Windows Mobile devices.

Tomorrow we are taking the next step towards access from any location, on any device by launching new administrative controls that give these devices mobile access to Google Apps. Without having to deploy any additional software or manage enterprise mobile services, Google Apps Premier and Education customers will be able to manage their employees' mobile devices right from the Google Apps administration control panel.

These controls will enable new administrative policies for employees using iPhones, Windows Mobile devices, and Nokia E series phones including:

  • Remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen mobile devices
  • Lock idle devices after a period of inactivity
  • Require device passwords on each phone
  • Set minimum lengths for more secure passwords
  • Require passwords to include letters, numbers and punctuation



For more information on how businesses can take advantage of this new functionality, check out our post on the Enterprise blog.

Take your places and searches to go with Google Maps for mobile

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | 12:24 PM

If you often use both a computer and a mobile phone in your daily routine, it can seem like a hassle when they don't stay in sync. You might spend time on your computer looking for a great used bookstore, only to forget the name of the place when you are ready to get directions from your phone. Sure, you could print directions in advance, but we believe smartphones are "smart" because they save you time. That's why today we're making your phone a bit smarter with the introduction of personalized suggestions and synchronized starring in Google Maps for mobile on Android.


Personalized suggestions make it easy to find places you've previously searched for. For example, imagine you're on your computer and you come across the Place Page for Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe. After reading reviews, you decide to stop in for lunch. When you're ready to go and want to get directions, just open Google Maps on your phone, start typing "mar," and you'll quickly see a suggestion - saving you from re-typing a long query and making it easier and faster to be on your way.













In addition, starring is a great way to save places to access them later. So whether you're standing at Amoeba Music with your phone or making plans to go there on your computer, you can star it so it appears on the map next time you're on either device. When viewing place details, just press the star icon next to the place name; these starred places are automatically synchronized between desktop and mobile, and can be accessed from both the "More" menu on your phone and from the My Maps tab on your computer.













Starring and personalized suggestions both require you to be signed in with your Google account, and your Web History must be enabled in order to use personalized suggestions.With synchronized starring and personalized suggestions, we hope to make your life easier when taking places and searches between your computer and phone. Both features are available in Google Maps 3.4. On Nexus One phones, you'll get this version of Maps after you accept the over-the-air update that started today. For other Android devices, starring and personalized suggestions will soon be available by downloading Google Maps 3.4 from Android Market. Lastly, be sure to check out the newly added "night mode" in Navigation, which will automatically turn on for easier Navigation viewing at night.