Saturday, January 29, 2011

Orkut is still going strong after 7 years

original post by Eduardo Thuler, product manager

On Monday, we celebrated Orkut's 7th birthday with a doodle. Thanks to you, our users, Orkut is still going strong, and we continue to work hard at improving it for you all.

Since 2005 we've launched more than 30,000 visible and invisible improvements to keep Orkut fresh and useful for you. Some of the more visible of the changes that you may have seen in the last year include photo editing right inside Orkut via Picnik, badges, themes, branded communities and many more. Innovating on features that users would love is important to us, so we were happy to be the first to offer Groups, an easy-to-use privacy dashboard and high-resolution video chat inside Orkut.

Photos and scraps continue to be strong features, and over the last month, we've hit a few records. On Christmas Eve, users shared 93 milion scraps, an all-time high, and on January 3rd after New Years, users viewed 1.6 billion photos, which is almost 19,000 photo views a second. For context, YouTube crossed the 1 billion video view mark in October 2009, and crossed the 2 billion mark in May of last year.

To help us innovate on features and obtain good feedback on possible product improvements we run experiments, much like the Google homepage does. For example, we know that users like to see updates from their friends on orkut. While we usually show about 20 friend updates at most, could it be that more updates are better? To answer the question, we ran an experiment to show 40 friend updates to 1% of our users. While some users clicked on, commented and replied to these updates, we learned that others interacted less due to the increased time it took us to show them the extra updates. In this experiment, we received enough information to realize that more updates were probably not better for our users -- so of course, we decided not to move forward with that idea. On the other hand, most of our recent launches came from successful experiments.

Users also love apps inside Orkut, and spend much of their time playing social games by top app developers such as Vostu (developer of Mini Fazenda, Café Mania), Mentez (Colheita Feliz, Vida nas Passarelas), Studio Sol (Eu Sou, Minha Música) and others. For many of our top developers, Orkut represents the majority of their business, which means, more great games for all of you. A few fun stats to share: Mini Fazenda has 17 million users (and 2.5 billion seeds planted every month!), Café Mania with 13 million users (1.25 billion dishes created every month) and Eu Sou with more than 28 million football-related application installs!

As part of our birthday celebration, we launched an official branded community for Orkut users at and we are releasing a special anniversary theme. Join the community and share your favorite moment on Orkut with us. And if you have a lot of ideas about our products, we're hiring! Check out to find out more. Thanks again to you, our users. [tags:#orkut, #orkut7]

see also

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crazzy about World Cup? check this!
Can you identify this stadium? Are you crazy enough about cricket to stay up late watching the last ball of any match? Do you drive/cycle/walk around a lot and love using maps to plan your moves? If you answered yes to either or both, then come help us map all 13 venues where the cricket world cup matches will be played; on Google Map Maker. Look at this example for inspiration!

Many cricket fans will be visiting these stadiums for the first time, most of them would not have visited your city prior to this. As a true-blue cricket fan and as a connoisseur of your city, it would be great if you could map out the layout of the stadium including
  • Each stand in the stadium,
  • Parking lots in and around the stadium,
  • Nearby areas of interest, etc.
You could add a feather in the cap of your city by also mapping out all important roads leading in to and out of the stadium from all major locations in the city (for example, the road from the airport to the stadium). You can also collaborate with other users mapping in your countries.

Considering the nature of the crowd that will be coming in to the stadiums you might also consider mapping all the waterholes around the stadium along with the best restaurants and hotels (who knows, one of these might even be hosting the teams playing!)

If you need pointers, see how other mappers are going about mapping out their favorite stadiums. And if you are too late to map one of the 13 venues, remember there are other great stadiums you can help with.

see also:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You will not miss any Mails/Chats

Many of us are guilty of constantly switching back to Gmail to check for new messages. And if you're like me, you've probably missed an important chat message because you weren't looking at your Gmail window when it came in. If you use Google Chrome, these days can be over since we just launched HTML5 desktop notifications which display pop-ups whenever a chat message or new email arrives.

To turn them on, click on the Settings link in the top right corner of Gmail and scroll down to the "Desktop Notifications" section. If you just want to get notified about chat messages, or if you use Priority Inbox and only want to get notifications for important messages, you can customize your settings from there too.

This functionality is currently only available for people using Google Chrome, but we're working to make notifications part of the standard Web platform.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You will not miss any mails - New in Labs [Unread message icon ]

original post from Manu Cornet, Software Engineer,

When you're visiting sites other than Gmail, it's easy to find out how many unread messages are in your inbox by glancing at the title of your Gmail tab or window. However, if you have a ton of tabs open, or if you use Chrome's "Pin Tab" feature that hides everything except the tab's icon, it can be tricky to figure out without switching tabs.

If you've ever found yourself in this situation, you may like the new Unread message icon we just added to Gmail Labs. It embeds the number of unread messages you have right into the Gmail icon itself, like this:

To turn it on, go to the Labs tab in Settings, enable this lab, and click the "Save Changes" button at the very bottom of the page. Note that it'll only works in Chrome (version 6 and above) and Firefox (version 2 and above).

Weather on your mobile phone!

original post from Robert Dong, Software Engineer

We'd been wanting to build a fun, useful, app-like way to display weather information on our search results pages in the mobile browser. So we pulled together a user experience designer and team of engineers and built a new weather search results snippet that lets you actually play with the results. To try it out, just go to on your iPhone or Android-powered device and search for 'weather'.

At first glance, you'll see content that we'd previously shown you before: current conditions and a forecast for the next few days. But by moving the slider over the next 12 hours, you can now see a detailed hour-by-hour breakdown of the changing weather conditions. As you do this, keep an eye on the temperature, wind speed and humidity and see how all these conditions are expected to trend across the day. You may also notice that the background color changes throughout the day. Of course, as you scroll further down you'll see our regular web search results for your query.

This new weather search experience is available only in English, but we have more updates on the way. We hope you'll enjoy using it!

see also:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Its Gmail, Print from anywhere!

Let's say you need to print an important email attachment on your way to work so that it's waiting for you when you walk in the door. With Gmail for mobile and Google Cloud Print — a service that allows printing from any app on any device, OS or browser without the need to install drivers — you can.

To get started, you'll first need to connect your printer to Google Cloud Print. For now, this step requires a Windows PC but Linux and Mac support are coming soon. Once you're set up, just go to from your iPhone or Android browser and choose "Print" from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. You can also print eligible email attachments (such as .pdf or .doc) by clicking the "Print" link that appears next to them.

We're rolling this feature out in U.S. English over the next few days, so if you don't see it right away please check back. In the meantime, you can learn more in the Google Cloud Print help center.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Wish you happy birthday Orkut (7th year)

Today marks orkut's 7th birthday, so to celebrate, we released a new doodle in orkut.

We'd like to thank our users, and to let you know we are here working hard on making orkut better for you.

Join our official orkut community to hear about news and updates.

Post from the orkut team

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Google to Launch Groupon Competitor - Google Offers

original post by Ben Parr from

Google is preparing to launch Google Offers, the search giant's Groupon competitor, Mashable has learned. One of our sources has sent us a confidential fact sheet straight from the Googleplex about the company's new group buying service. "Google Offers is a new product to help potential customers and clientele find great deals in their area through a daily email," the fact sheet says.

Google Offers looks and operates much like Groupon or LivingSocial. Users receive an e-mail with a local deal of the day. They then have the opportunity to buy that deal within a specific time limit (we assume 24 hours). Once enough people have made the purchase, the Google Offer is triggered and users get that all-too-familiar $10 for $20 deal for that Indian restaurant they've never tried.

From what we can tell, Google Offers will be powered by Google Checkout. It also includes Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Google Buzz and e-mail sharing options.

Google is actively reaching out to businesses now to get them on board with Offers. It even apparently has a writing team in place to craft the write-up for offers.

Google famously tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion just a few months ago in order to bolster its local advertising business. Groupon rejected the offer though and is instead preparing for a $15 billion IPO.

The search giant clearly isn't giving this market up without a fight, though. With its vast reach, huge resources and brand recognition, it could prove to be a powerful player in the space. We're going to be watching these developments closely. We've reached out to Google for comment.

Below, we've embedded the entire fact sheet Google is sending to local businesses:

Update: Google has responded to our inquiry and sent us the following statement:

"Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new products, such as the recent Offer Ads beta, that connect businesses with customers in new ways. We do not have more details to share at this time, but will keep you posted."

Google essentially confirms Google Offers is real. It looks like Google Offers is in the testing phases, though.

Update 2: We've also learned that Google will pay out 80% of a business' revenue share three days after its deal runs. Google will hold the remaining 20% for 60 days to cover refunds before sending the rest.

original post link: (by Ben Parr, the Co-Editor of Mashable)
see also:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Google TV - News around the Web!

Original post by Olivia Ma, (YouTube News Manager)

Television is stil the main source for the daily news in the home, according to PEW research. Until lately, print and web news content have been absent from the big screen. We've been working with developers to enhance your TV news experience, optimizing both traditional and innovative news sources for Google TV.

  • The New York Times offers daily TimesCast video-news updates alongside video blogs and featurettes.
  • USA Today has improved reading for the big screen: you can browse through the day in photos, stay up-to-date on sports news, and track the world of business.
  • The CNBC News App lets you watch the latest web videos in business news. Follow the markets as they happen and track your personal, customized stock portfolio.
  • The Huffington Post brings together the best of traditional news, the blogosphere and opinion reporting in their sleek News Glide web-app.
  • The Onion covers "the important stories lesser outlets fail to report" through their comedic style.
Video journalism has also proliferated across YouTube. On YouTube Leanback, viewers have access to rich content from channels like the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera English, and NPR. Alongside traditional news sources, YouTube has built a thriving community of citizen reporters. The News & Politics channel, CitizenTube, aggregates video news from across the YouTube community, providing raw footage from the scene of breaking news and unique perspectives from people and places around the world.

On Google TV you can get breaking news from many sources: cable broadcast, the web, blogs, and even citizen journalists.

see also: -

Friday, January 21, 2011

Search and Go with Gmail Labs

Oroginal post by Greg Bullock, Software Engineer from gmail blog

Have you ever found it just a little bit tricky to find what you were looking for on the Gmail Labs Settings page? Scrolling was ok when there were a handful of Labs, but now that there are over 50 it's another story. A lunchtime discussion made us realize that having to rely on the browser's search function or endless scrolling makes it hard to find the Labs features you want. So another Gmail engineer named Manu and I decided take an afternoon and address this. The result is an addition to the Settings page which filters the visible Labs as you type.

You can also link directly to the search results (e.g. if you'd like.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Google TV On Campus

Original Post by Miriam Schneider, Product Marketing Manager (from google tv blog)

Google TV has been popping up on college campuses across the country. We're coordinating with the Google Student Ambassador Program and University Programs to share Google TV with students and faculty.

This initiative began last semester when Google Student Ambassadors hosted Google TV study breaks on over thirty campuses. The ambassadors had students compete to win Sony Internet TVs for their friends and school. They hosted pizza breaks, tech challenges, YouTube marathons and of course, college football viewing parties. The top seven most creative study breaks won two Sony Internet TVs to give back to their college as a reward for their school spirit and
enthusiasm for Google TV.

The momentum from the Google TV study breaks has carried over into the classroom. Already, the web on TV has proven itself as a great platform for
for early education and reading skills with web apps like PBS Kids and Meegenius. However, professors have expressed interest in expanding these opportunities to all levels of learning.

That is why we are announcing Google TV for EDU, a seeding program to support university research. Google TV for EDU asks campuses around the country: how can education change the world of the Web the TV for the classroom. Specifically, we're asking faculty how their research could:
  • Generate new interest in television engineering
  • Make computer science tangible for students
  • Help in the development of smart TV curricula and new educational tools
  • Contribute to in-classroom and distance learning over television
  • Reach a wide audience
We officially launched the program yesterday to select university faculty with experience and leadership in television. These select faculty will receive a Logitech Revue to carry out their research in the classroom. Over the next few months we'll be posting outcomes of their research as well as information on new educational web-apps.

see also:
Top tasks for Google Tasks | Google TV on Campus

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gmail was available 99.984% of the time in 2010

People expect email to be as reliable as their phone's dial tone, and our goal is to deliver that kind of always-on availability with our applications. It's been a couple years since we bloggedabout the reliability of Gmail, so we thought we'd share some changes to our Google Appsservice level agreement (SLA) and some new data. 

Strengthening our SLA
We're pleased to make a couple changes that improve our SLA for our customers. Unlike most providers, we don't plan for our users to be down, even when we're upgrading our services or maintaining our systems. For that reason, we're removing the SLA clause that allows for scheduled downtime. Going forward, all downtime will be counted and applied towards the customer's SLA. We are the first major cloud provider to eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement.

We're also amending our SLA so that any intermittent downtime is counted. Previously, a period of less than ten minutes was not included. We believe any instance that causes our users to experience downtime should be avoided -- period. 

Gmail: 99.984%
In 2010, Gmail was available 99.984 percent of the time, for both business and consumer users. 99.984 percent translates to seven minutes of downtime per month over the last year. That seven-minute average represents the accumulation of small delays of a few seconds, and most people experienced no issues at all. For those few who were disrupted for a longer period of time, we're very sorry, and Google Apps for Business customers received compensation where appropriate. We're particularly pleased with this level of reliability since it was accomplished without any planned downtime while launching 30 new features and adding tens of millions of active users. 

Seven minutes of downtime compares very favorably with on-premises email, which is subject to much higher rates of interruption that hurt employee productivity. The latest research from the Radicati Group found that on-premises email averaged 3.8 hours of downtime per month. In comparison to Radicati's metrics for on-premises email, our calculations suggest that Gmail is 32 times more reliable than the average email system, and 46 times more available than Microsoft Exchange®.1

Fortunately Microsoft Exchange® customers can still benefit from the reliability of Gmail withGoogle Message Continuity. Comparable data for Microsoft BPOS® is unavailable, thoughtheir service notifications show 113 incidents in 2010: 74 unplanned outages, and 33 days with planned downtime. 

Email is much more complex than your home phone, so making it as reliable as the dial tone is no mean feat. Despite our best efforts, we will have outages in the future. But we're proud of our track record so far and we're working hard to make it even better. Every time you reach for your phone you expect it to work. And we believe that is a worthwhile benchmark. 

1. The Radicati Group, 2010. "Corporate IT Survey – Messaging & Collaboration, 2010-2011"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

45º imagery update for various U.S. cities | Google Maps

Original post from Wayne Thai, Geo Data Strategist

We're now well into the new year, and to kick off 2011, the Geo Imagery team has just rolled out some refreshed 45° imagery for a number of places in the United States. So whether you already miss the places you may have visited over the holiday season, or you're looking for new vacation spots to travel to this year, you can now escape the winter weather and check them out virtually from the comfort of your warm and dry home.

Did you ever want to spend an afternoon sailing on a tall ship? Well if you happen to be in Norfolk, VA you can give the American Rover Tall Ship a try.

American Rover Tall Ship, Norfolk, Virginia

If you're not into ships, then you might be interested in the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, AZ where you can check out the beautiful nighttime sky.

Kitt Peak Observatory, Tucson Arizona

If you just want to relax and have a good time, consider having a loot at New Orleans. Mardi Gras is only a few months away!

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

And fans of art can visit the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Salvador Dali's Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

We wish you well as you embark on your virtual trips around the U.S. viewing these and other interesting sites. And stay tuned because there's plenty more to come in 2011!

Full list of cities that've been updated:
Albuquerque, NM
Contra Costa County, CA
Escondido, CA
Long Beach, CA
Norfolk, VA
New Orleans, LA
San Antonio, TX
St Petersburg, FL
Tucson, AZ
Van Nuys, CA

Google Science Fair | Google searching next Larry Page and Sergey Brin

 Cristin Frodella and Samantha Peter, (Education Product Marketing Managers)

Are you a student who loves science? Do you have a good idea for an experiment that you'd like to share with the world? In 1996, two young computer science students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had a hypothesis that there was a better way to find information on the web. They did their research, tested their theories and built a search engine which (eventually) changed the way people found information online. Larry and Sergey were fortunate to be able to get their idea in front of lots of people. But how many ideas are lost because people don't have the right forum for their talents to be discovered? We believe that science can change the world—and one way to encourage that is to celebrate and champion young scientific talent as we do athletes and pop idols.

To help make today's young scientists the rock stars of tomorrow, in partnership with CERN, The LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American, we're introducing the first global online science competition: the Google Science Fair. It's open to students around the world who are between the ages of 13-18. All you need is access to a computer, the Internet and a web browser.

You may have participated in local or regional science fairs where you had to be in the same physical space to compete with kids in your area. Now any student with an idea can participate from anywhere, and share their idea with the world. You build and submit your project—either by yourself or in a team of up to three—entirely online. Students in India (or Israel or Ireland) will be able to compete with students in Canada (or Cambodia or Costa Rica) for prizes including once-in-a-lifetime experiences (like a trip to the Galapagos Islands with a National Geographic Explorer), scholarships and real-life work opportunities (like a five-day trip to CERN in Switzerland). And if you're entering a science fair locally, please feel free to post that project online with Google Science Fair, too!

To enter, register online and create your project as a Google Site. Registration is open through April 4, 2011. Please note: you must get parental or guardian consent in order to compete. You can check out the complete rules here. After April 4, we'll begin judging and will announce our semi-finalists in early May.

The semi-finalist projects will be posted on our online gallery, where we'll encourage the public to vote for a "people's choice" winner. From our list of semi-finalists, we'll select 15 finalists to bring their projects to Google headquarters on July 11 to compete in our final, live event, where world-renowned science judges will select a winner in each age category, as well as a grand-prize winner.

Here's an example of a great science fair project site to inspire you. We asked Tesca, a U.S. high school senior from Oregon, to create it for us based on an award-winning project she's been working on for years. Tesca's objective is to make hospitals more efficient using artificial intelligence—a world-changing goal, to be sure.

So if you think you're the next Albert Einstein, Marie Curie—or Larry Page or Sergey Brin—sign up today for the Google Science Fair. Prove once again how science can change the world!

related / source

Friday, January 14, 2011

Google's reply for gmail task feedback

David Tattersall, Associate Product Manager (from gmail blog)

A few months ago, we asked for your help to make Tasks better by voting on your top feature requests. We were blown away by the number of responses we received, with over 17,000 people participating and an overwhelming 185,000 votes.

Now, we're preparing to tackle some of your top requests. In no specific order, here are the top five feature requests that emerged from the Tasks product ideas page:

  • Ability to create repeating tasks
  • Reminders and notifications
  • Sharable task lists
  • Tasks API and synchronization
  • Visual distinction for overdue tasks
So thanks for all the feedback and stay tuned for changes to Tasks throughout the year. In the meantime, we wish you a productive (and Tasks-filled) 2011!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Google Translate for Android mobiles.

When we launched the first version of Google Translate for Android in January 2010, we were excited about the year ahead. For the first time, we were bringing the capabilities supported on Google Translate—like machine translation, romanization of non-Roman scripts and spoken translations—to the Android platform. We also offered voice input to let you speak the word or phrase you wanted to translate instead of typing it in, and SMS translation so you could translate SMS messages sent to you in foreign languages.

Today, we're refreshing Translate for Android with several updates to make the app easier to interact with. Among other improvements, we've created better dropdown boxes to help select the languages you want to translate from and into, an improved input box, and cleaner icons and layout.

We also want to let you in on an experimental feature that's still in its earliest stages—Conversation Mode. This is a new interface within Google Translate that's optimized to allow you to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language. You may have seen an early demo a few months ago, and today you can try it yourself on your Android device.

Currently, you can only use Conversation Mode when translating between English and Spanish. In conversation mode, simply press the microphone for your language and start speaking. Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in their language, and you'll hear the translation spoken back to you. Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you're saying. Even with these caveats, we're excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages.

As Android devices have spread across the globe, we've seen Translate for Android used all over. The majority of our usage now comes from outside the United States, and we've seen daily usage from more than 150 countries, from Malaysia to Mexico to Mozambique. It's really rewarding for us to see how this new platform is helping us break down language barriers the world over.

Translate supports 53 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and voice input for 15 languages. You can download the application, available for devices running Android 2.1 and above, by searching for "Google Translate" in Android Market or by scanning the QR Code below.

source / related:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Android 3.0 Honeycomb | Preview

Andy Rubin, (VP of Engineering) says

The past few weeks have been exciting ones for the Android team: we recently releasedNexus S and Android 2.3, Gingerbread, and we've even had some of our most popular team members take a trip to space. But we haven't stopped buzzing with excitement: today at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, we previewed Android 3.0, Honeycomb.

Honeycomb is the next version of the Android platform, designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. We've spent a lot of time refining the user experience in Honeycomb, and we've developed a brand new, truly virtual and holographic user interface. Many of Android's existing features will really shine on Honeycomb: refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive. We've also made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.

Honeycomb also features the latest Google Mobile innovations including Google Maps 5 with 3D interactions and offline reliability, access to over 3 million Google eBooks, and Google Talk, which now allows you to video and voice chat with any other Google Talk enabled device (PC, tablet, etc).

Please stay tuned for more Honeycomb news from the Android team. For now, you can get a taste of Honeycomb by checking out this video.