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When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes. Here’s more about what you can expect:

A more focused Google+ experience
Google+ is quickly becoming a place where people engage around their shared interests, with the content and people who inspire them. In line with that focus, we’re continuing to add new features like Google+ Collections, where you can share and enjoy posts organized by the topics you care about. At the same time, we’ll also move some features that aren’t essential to an interest-based social experience out of Google+. For example, many elements of Google+ Photos have been moved into the new Google Photos app, and we’re well underway putting location sharing into Hangouts and other apps, where it really belongs. We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+.

Using Google without a Google+ profile
People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.

So in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change, and you can learn more on their blog. As always, your underlying Google Account won’t be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don’t plan to use Google+ itself, we’ll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.

You’ll see these changes roll out in stages over several months. While they won’t happen overnight, they’re right for Google’s users—both the people who are on Google+ every single day, and the people who aren’t.

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In less than five months, policymakers from around the world will gather in Paris to finalize a new global agreement on combating climate change. Already, many governments are putting forth ambitious emissions reduction goals. And companies are taking action, too, by reducing their own footprints and investing in clean energy.

Reaching a strong deal in Paris is an absolute and urgent necessity. The data is clear and the science is beyond dispute: a warming planet poses enormous threats to society.

Public health experts recently warned that climate change threatens to “undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health,” through forces like extreme weather, drought, malnutrition, and disease. The U.S. government has asserted that climate change poses “immediate risks to U.S. national security,” as increased natural disasters and humanitarian crises fuel instability and violence. And many studies have revealed that critical infrastructure, like electricity and water, is vulnerable to rising sea levels and intensifying storms.

Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of our time. Rising to that challenge involves a complex mix of policy, technology, and international cooperation. This won’t be easy, but Google is committed to doing its part.

Google has been carbon neutral since 2007. Our data centers, the physical infrastructure behind web services used by billions of people, now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of electricity, as compared to five years ago. We are also the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable power on the planet. Just today at the White House, we pledged to triple those purchases over the next decade. In addition, we're a major climate-minded investor, so far committing more than $2 billion to clean energy projects, from America’s largest wind farm to Africa’s largest solar power plant.

We're serious about environmental sustainability not because it’s trendy, but because it’s core to our values and also makes good business sense. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use in the first place. And in many places clean power is cost-competitive with conventional power.

We’re making progress, but averting catastrophic climate change will require significant investment and bold innovations. Google and our private-sector peers are ready to lead. But something fundamental is required: clear policy. The global business community needs certainty to bring climate solutions to scale. We need the world’s political leaders to confirm that investments in clean energy are sound, and that the laws and policies meant to enable such investment will be designed for the long term and rooted in what science tells us needs to be done.

It’s encouraging to see the world’s major economies set ambitious climate targets, but it’s time to get a strong international climate agreement on the books. This December in Paris, it’s imperative that policymakers reach a deal that moves us toward a zero-carbon economy. That’s the kind of future that we’re committed to helping build, and that future generations deserve.

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Anyone up for a look back at the last week on Google Search? We are! Read on to find out what the world was looking for this week.

Bad Blood
Phew, where to start with this one. Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj had a spat over VMA nominations (Taylor was nominated for Video of the Year; Nicki was not), worked through it and made up -- all on Twitter. It was a good lesson in the art of the subtweet, as well as the “sincere apology after responding to a subtweet that wasn’t directly about you” tweet. Searches about the incident topped 500,000.

But Minaj v. Swift wasn’t the only music-related drama to make the list of Trending Searches. Meek Mill, hip hop artist and Nicki Minaj’s significant other, started a Twitter rant of his own, alleging that rapper Drake doesn’t write his own material and inspiring more than a million searches. The two artists haven’t settled up yet, so stay tuned for more on that front.

Last but not least, country stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are calling it quits after four years of marriage and guess what — they both had stuff to say about it on Twitter. More than 1 million searchers took to Google to find out more.

But wait, there’s more
It was the week of the sequel. (The weequel?) James Bond is back -- the trailer for the upcoming “Spectre” was released this week, which got more than 100,000 people searching for the movie. And nearly as surprising as the idea of a shark-filled tornado itself, the Sharknado is back. “Sharknado 3” -- featuring 90s all-stars Tara Reid and Ian Ziering -- aired on Wednesday night and pulled in a cool 500,000 searches.
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Speaking of all-stars (and also of the 90s) remember the days when an NBA superstar could star in a wide-release film with his Looney Tunes pals? Well, it’s happening again. This time, it’s not Michael Jordan, but Lebron James who inked a deal with Warner Bros. The company announced the partnership on Wednesday, leading to 200,000 searches. Reports suggest that while Michael Jordan will be replaced, Bugs Bunny will play himself, though there has been speculation about a case of cartoon patellar tendonitis he’s been coping with quietly for years.

Posted by Megan Slack, who searched this week for [public pools in San Francisco].

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"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." -Special Olympics Athlete Oath

Standing in Soldier Field in Chicago, 47 years ago, Eunice Shriver kicked off the first Special Olympics in history--1,000 people with intellectual disabilities from the U.S. and Canada competed in track & field, swimming and diving. Even though it was a small inaugural event, its historical impact--giving a platform to the civil rights struggles of people with disabilities that were so often overlooked-- was massive. The Games were meant to give children with cognitive disabilities, in Eunice’s words, “the chance to play, the chance to compete and the chance to grow.”

Ambitious, inclusive thinking like Eunice’s is contagious, and has inspired us to support this year’s Special Olympics World Games as part of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. Launched in May, this effort is focused on supporting the development of assistive technologies for people with disabilities around the world with $20 million in Google.org grants. This weekend, to mark the Games as well as the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation that advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities when it was signed into law in 1990, we’re honoring the community in the following ways:

Google Doodle featuring a track and athletes inspired by the Special Olympics


Google Doodle. We’ve created a homepage Doodle that shows a track inspired by the Special Olympics World Games’ "circle of inclusion,” featuring athletes of all backgrounds. In the spirit of getting moving, since we've heard from users that they love seeing doodles on the go, we're now starting to make them easier to see and share on our mobile search results in addition to desktop and the Google app.

Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 logo

Special Olympics World Games. Over the next nine days, the Special Olympics World Games will draw more than half a million spectators to cheer on 7,000 athletes from 177 countries in events from judo to powerlifting to kayaking and more. We’re powering the World Games’ social media nerve center, contributing as a financial supporter and are packing more than 300 Googlers into the stands.

Supporters hold signs to cheer on athletes

Cheer an athlete. If you’re in Los Angeles, come visit us from July 25 until August 2 at the World Games Festival Space at USC’s Alumni Park to support the athletes. For those who can’t make it in person, you can visit g.co/WorldGames2015 to send a cheer to the athletes. Every day during the competition, we’ll decorate the dorm walls of the athletes with your cheers to encourage them to “be brave in the attempt.”

Portrait installation on the stairs at the National Portrait Gallery
Portraits, like these at the National Portrait Gallery featuring leaders Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts, who have campaigned tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities and Tatyana McFadden, who inspires athletes today, will decorate Washington, D.C. this weekend. See the photo gallery
Painting the town. In Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, we’re marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. From men and women like Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities, to President George H.W. Bush, who signed the ADA into law in 1990, we’re telling the stories of 10 great leaders who have fought -- and continue to fight -- for equal rights of people living with disabilities. We’ve installed massive portraits on the stairs of historic landmarks around the nation’s capital and in L.A.’s Grand Park.


Audio description available here
Telling stories. We’re featuring the little-known history of a number of unsung heroes of the ADA movement at g.co/ADA. While people with disabilities benefit from their hard-won battles with every curb cut street corner and closed-caption film, their names are not widely known. We’d like to change that.

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You may have been there before...open your voicemail transcriptions in Google Voice to find that at times they aren’t completely intelligible. Or, they are humorously intelligible. Either way, they might not have been the message the caller meant to leave you.

So, we asked users if they would kindly share some of their voicemails for research and system improvements. Thanks to those who participated, we are happy to announce an improved voicemail system in Google Voice and Project Fi that delivers more accurate transcriptions. Using a (deep breath) long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network (whew!), we cut our transcription errors by 49%.

To start receiving improved voicemail transcriptions, you don't need to do a thing -- just continue to use Google Voice as you have been. For those not using Google Voice but want to give it a try, sign up for a Google Voice (or Google Voice Lite) account here, it’s quick and easy to get started.

Many thanks to the Google Voice users who shared their voicemails, they really helped us make the product better. While this is a big improvement, it is just the beginning and with your input, we will continue improving voicemail transcriptions over time. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing what you link—er, think!

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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for a good, old-fashioned Search trends round up. Read on to see what the world wanted to know this week.

To Pluto and Beyond
It may have lost its planetary title, but Pluto officially became the most distant solid object to be visited by spacecraft as NASA’s New Horizons successfully completed its “flyby” this week. The mission to explore the dwarf giant took a mere nine years and 3 billion miles of space travel and has already returned some truly incredible high-resolution images of Pluto and its moons, including the most epic vacation Instagram of all time. Searches for news about the mission topped 5 million, plus another 100,000+ searches for photos.



Oh baby
In other historic and out of this world news, Louis Tomlinson is the first member of One Direction to announce he’s going to be a dad. While this was likely upsetting news for many 1D fans, it didn’t stop the searches--Louis racked up more than 500,000 of them this week. And, we’ve all got Jimmy Fallon to thank for this week’s most disgusting search trend, a truly horrifying finger injury called ring avulsion. Fallon, who was sporting a bandaged hand from behind "The Tonight Show" desk, explained that he had surgery following a freak accident involving a kitchen counter and his wedding ring. Searchers took to Google to find out more and with search interest in images of ring avulsion up 50x over the last week, we’re willing to bet at least a few of them probably wish they hadn’t.

Awards season...again
Nominations for the 2015 Emmy Awards were announced this week, inspiring more than 200,000 searches. Gone but definitely not forgotten "Parks and Recreation" was the most searched Emmy nominee for a comedy series, though Amy Schumer (whose new movie "Trainwreck" opens today) edged out Amy Poehler as the most searched lead actress in a comedy. In a potential preview of the 2016 Emmy Awards, Rachel McAdams, who co-stars in the new season of HBO’s "True Detective," was searched more than 50,000 times this week.



It was a good week all around, and to play us out, we recommend Wilco’s new album, Star Wars. The surprise, free-to-download release this week resulted in more than 50,000 searches--and a lot of excited Tweedy fans.

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Today is the start of Camp Google—an online summer camp built to spark and satisfy kids’ curiosities, with four weeks of live adventures for students ages 7-10. This post comes to us from Sylvia Earle, marine biologist and Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic and the host of the first week of Camp Google. Tune in to Sylvia’s live event at 12 p.m. PT today. -Ed.

The ocean first got my attention during a family visit to a New Jersey beach when I was three years old—a wave knocked me over! At age 12, a move to the Florida coast made the ocean my backyard, and I loved the abundance of life there—every day I encountered new creatures like starfish, sponges, horseshoe crabs, seaweed, and a wondrous array of small fish that I’d never seen before. I knew from then on that when I grew up I would be a scientist so I could keep exploring, no matter what.

Now I get to share my love for the ocean with a new generation of adventurers as part of Camp Google, a new online camp for curious kids, starting. During each of the four weeks of Camp Google, kids 7-10 can explore different subjects by joining live adventures—from the depths of the Atlantic to the top of one of the world’s most active volcanoes—and doing fun science projects. Today at 12 p.m. PT, National Geographic diver Erika Bergman and I will take kids on the first adventure—a live dive in the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll head to the northernmost part of Florida Reef Tract, the most extensive living coral reef system in North America. Whether it be the Hammerhead Reef or shipwrecks like the Jay Scutti, it will be exciting to see what we’ll find down there!

After the dive, kids can get hands-on with a range of activities to help them understand the science behind what they’ve seen underwater. The activities are designed by the Google engineers who map the oceans with Google Earth, and can be done with simple household supplies. For example, we’ll learn about buoyancy and how things float in the ocean in an experiment with eggs, water and salt, and we’ll explore how dolphins use sounds to see underwater by building a sonar system. As kids complete these projects, they’ll earn camp badges to celebrate the new skills they learned, like conquering echolocation (not bad for summer vacation!). The activities are designed for kids to do on their own, in groups with their friends, or with their families.

Following Ocean Week, kids can jump into Space Week with a NASA astronaut and VSauce where they will help cook up space food and learn how astronauts eat in space. After that, they’ll head to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park with a National Park Ranger and Derek Muller to learn more about how volcanoes form. And camp ends in style with Music Week, where kids can jam alongside Zendaya to learn about why music makes us want to bust a move. We hosts can't wait to explore with you this summer, wherever you might be!

The ocean is vast and a lot of it is unexplored—every time I dive into the ocean there’s the possibility of finding something new. I’m excited to share this spirit of discovery with kids everywhere this summer. I hope through our dive and the rest of Camp Google, we can inspire kids to continue asking questions... and get out there to find answers.

Update July 15: We heard that some of you weren't able to see the live stream—sorry about the rocky waters. But you can now catch the video at http://goo.gl/7pJJUv. After you've heard from Sylvia and Erika, you can learn a bit more about buoyancy and try to make things float yourself!



(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog)

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This week people had the goal of searching for info on the U.S. victory in the Women’s World Cup, as well as a hat trick of technical difficulties at three major organizations. Let’s kick off the trending topics on Google this week:

Victory for the U.S. women
The U.S. Women’s National team claimed a 5-2 victory over Japan in the final of the World Cup this week, and took home a slew of searches along with their trophy. In fact, U.S. search interest in the final match surpassed interest in Game 6 of this year’s NBA Finals! Keeper Hope Solo and forward Alex Morgan topped the trends charts on Sunday with more than 1 million and 500,000+ searches, respectively. But people were also interested in midfielder Carli Lloyd, who scored a hat trick in the final, including one goal from midfield that sent searches for “carli lloyd goal” spiking more than 1,000 percent. The team was honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York City today.

Ground to a halt
Wednesday, a slew of technical issues caused trouble across the U.S., starting with United Airlines. A network outage grounded planes for more than an hour, affecting almost 5,000 flights, and frustrated travelers turned to Google to learn more, making the airline the top searched term on Wednesday with more than 1 million searches. Meanwhile, trading was suspended for hours at the New York Stock Exchange after a software glitch. Top questions during the outage included “How many times has the NYSE closed?” and “When was the last time the NYSE suspended trading?” Completing the triumvirate of tech troubles, the Wall Street Journal’s website crashed this week as well. The (sort of?) good news is that the three incidents seem to be unrelated to each other—or to hackers.
From plane delays to train delays: In the U.K. Thursday, a strike by London Underground workers caused the first complete shutdown of the Tube in over a decade. As Londoners trudged home or crowded into buses, searchers asked “How much do tube drivers earn?” The strike was over a failed agreement about pay and a new “night Tube” service scheduled to start running in September.

Comic-Con
The annual Comic-Con International started yesterday, bringing comic, superhero and sci-fi fans together in San Diego, Calif. for a long weekend of panels, events and other celebrations of all things (proud) nerd. The top Comic-Con topics this week include “Doctor Who” and the new “Black Ops III: Zombies” video game, but there are movie trailers and TV show previews to appeal to even the least geeky among us. A new clip from the final installment in the “Hunger Games” movie franchise drew 50,000+ searches, while the new trailer for the live-action “Goosebumps” movie coming next year has already garnered more than 6 million views on YouTube.

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When Google Earth was first introduced 10 years ago, it immediately stole my heart. Beyond the freedom to fly anywhere in the world, I was captivated by the ability to paint and visualize geographic data on this incredible global canvas.

Drawn to datasets backed by real human stories, I started making my own maps with KML a few weeks after Earth’s release in 2005. For my master’s degree, I used Google Earth to build a virtual representation of a high-tech biological research reserve. Vint Cerf saw my work, which eventually led to a job on the Google Earth Outreach team, turning my passion for telling stories with maps into a career.

2005 was the beginning of Google Earth’s evolution, as well. In August of that year, Hurricane Katrina showed us how useful mapping tools like Earth could be for crisis response efforts. Rescue workers compared before and after Satellite imagery in Google Earth to better locate where people were stranded. And in the years after, with more than 2 billion downloads by people in nearly every country in the world, Earth has enabled people to discover new coral reefs, journey to the Moon and into deep space, find long-lost parents, clear landmines and much more.
Google Earth images of Gulfport, Mississippi's shoreline before and after Hurricane Katrina

The ability to empower groups as diverse as school children and NASA scientists to learn more about the world is what I love about Google Earth. It has the potential to make the planet a far more connected place, if you take the time to explore, discover and share what you learn. So to celebrate how far Google Earth has come and our leap into the next 10 years, we’ve created a few new ways to help you better see places from around (and above) the world.

Voyager
The world is a big place, and it can be hard to know where to begin your virtual journey. Now you can jump straight to the newest and most interesting imagery around the globe with a new layer, Voyager, available in desktop versions of Google Earth.
Different imagery types in Voyager are shown by color

In this first edition of Voyager, you’ll find five sections to explore:
  • Street View: highlights from Street View, including the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon
  • Earth View: striking landscapes around the globe as seen from space (more below)
  • 3D cities: a showcase of cities and towns available in photorealistic 3D (don’t forget to tilt!)
  • Satellite imagery updates: a map of our most recently published satellite imagery
  • Highlight tour: with thousands of Voyager locations to choose from, take a quick tour of a few to whet your appetite
The Kemgon Gompa—available in the Street View layer—is a Buddhist monastery in Lukla, Nepal

Earth View
Looking at our planet from above is not only a reminder of how interdependent our human and natural ecosystems are—it also lays bare the Earth’s staggering and often surreal beauty.
The Hammar Marshes of Iran are an uncharacteristic yet beautiful wetland feature in the otherwise arid climate

Earth View is library of some of the most striking and enigmatic landscapes available in Google Earth. It started as a 20 percent project last year by a few Googlers who enjoyed scouring satellite imagery for these gems. These images soon made their way onto Android phones, Chromecast and Chromebooks as a distinctive kind of wallpaper.
Islands surrounding Cuba seen in the Earth View Chrome Extension

For Earth's 10th birthday, we're expanding the Earth View collection to 1,500 landscapes from every continent and ocean and making it accessible to even more people. The new imagery is available with an updated version of our Chrome extension and a new web gallery. Download high-resolution wallpapers for your mobile and desktop devices, or better yet, print them up for your walls!
The coastline near Ningaloo, Australia in the new Earth View web gallery

Thank you for the last 10 years exploring your world with Google Earth. We hope Voyager and Earth View will unlock a new perspective on our planet. We look forward to seeing what the next decade brings!

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From eagerly-awaited U.S. Supreme Court rulings, to the ongoing debate over the Confederate flag, here’s a look at some of the topics that got people searching this week.

#LoveWins
Whether the query was “marriage equality,” “fourteenth amendment,” or “love wins,” searches related to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry are spiking, with more than 2 million searches for the term “gay marriage” alone. Interest goes beyond the U.S., with “What countries allow same-sex marriage?” and “where is gay marriage legal?” among the top questions.


While today’s “thunderbolt” ruling is capturing most of the attention around SCOTUS, searches for the court have in fact been big all week. Yesterday, news that the Court had upheld a key portion of the Affordable Care Act was met with a 200,000+ search spike, and renewed questions like “How does Obamacare work?” and “Why do Republicans dislike Obamacare?”

Confederate flag
We noted last week that searches related to the Confederate flag increased sharply following the tragic shooting in Charleston, S.C.; and this week, interest in the flag reached an all-time high. Searches were most concentrated in South Carolina, where Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag’s removal from the state Capitol, followed by Alabama, where Governor Robert Bentley ordered the flag’s removal from the Capitol grounds. But searches have been popular throughout the South as people ask questions like “Is the confederate flag racist” and “How many states fly the Confederate flag?” As companies pulled Confederate flag merchandise from their sites and stores, the search terms “confederate for sale” spiked more than 1,000 percent.


Rising stars
Thursday’s 2015 N.B.A. Draft also attracted more than 2 million searches this week and half of the top 20 searches yesterday, with queries for first pick Karl-Anthony Towns spiking more than 1,000 percent. Looks like Minnesota Timberwolves fans had done their research ahead of the selection; Towns was the most-searched prospect in the state ahead of the draft. Other breakout names of the week included actor Tom Holland, who saw 500,000+ searches after he was cast as Spider-Man for the next film in the Marvel franchise. Holland’s home country of the U.K. topped the list of countries looking for details, but Spidey searches from people in the Philippines to the Netherlands show the global popularity of this character, even two years before the movie’s 2017 release.