Getting to work on diversity at Google

We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts. So, here are our numbers:
There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities. For example, women earn roughly 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics make up under 10 percent of U.S. college grads and collect fewer than 5 percent of degrees in CS majors, respectively. So we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in education.

Among other things, since 2010 we’ve given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls. And we’ve been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science. For example, this year Google engineer Charles Pratt was in-residence at Howard University, where he revamped the school’s Intro to CS curriculum.

But we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be—and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution. To learn more about our work on diversity—for our our workforce, for the web and for the tech leaders of the future—visit

Better data centers through machine learning

It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with saving energy. For over a decade we’ve been designing and building data centers that use half the energy of a typical data center, and we’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy use even further. In our pursuit of extreme efficiency, we’ve hit upon a new tool: machine learning. Today we’re releasing a white paper (PDF) on how we’re using neural networks to optimize data center operations and drive our energy use to new lows.

It all started as a 20 percent project, a Google tradition of carving out time for work that falls outside of one’s official job description. Jim Gao, an engineer on our data center team, is well-acquainted with the operational data we gather daily in the course of running our data centers. We calculate PUE, a measure of energy efficiency, every 30 seconds, and we’re constantly tracking things like total IT load (the amount of energy our servers and networking equipment are using at any time), outside air temperature (which affects how our cooling towers work) and the levels at which we set our mechanical and cooling equipment. Being a smart guy—our affectionate nickname for him is “Boy Genius”—Jim realized that we could be doing more with this data. He studied up on machine learning and started building models to predict—and improve—data center performance.
The mechanical plant at our facility in The Dalles, Ore. The data center team is constantly tracking the performance of the heat exchangers and other mechanical equipment pictured here.

What Jim designed works a lot like other examples of machine learning, like speech recognition: a computer analyzes large amounts of data to recognize patterns and “learn” from them. In a dynamic environment like a data center, it can be difficult for humans to see how all of the variables—IT load, outside air temperature, etc.—interact with each other. One thing computers are good at is seeing the underlying story in the data, so Jim took the information we gather in the course of our daily operations and ran it through a model to help make sense of complex interactions that his team—being mere mortals—may not otherwise have noticed.
A simplified version of what the models do: take a bunch of data, find the hidden interactions, then provide recommendations that optimize for energy efficiency.

After some trial and error, Jim’s models are now 99.6 percent accurate in predicting PUE. This means he can use the models to come up with new ways to squeeze more efficiency out of our operations. For example, a couple months ago we had to take some servers offline for a few days—which would normally make that data center less energy efficient. But we were able to use Jim’s models to change our cooling setup temporarily—reducing the impact of the change on our PUE for that time period. Small tweaks like this, on an ongoing basis, add up to significant savings in both energy and money.

The models can predict PUE with 99.6 percent accuracy.

By pushing the boundaries of data center operations, Jim and his team have opened up a new world of opportunities to improve data center performance and reduce energy consumption. He lays out his approach in the white paper, so other data center operators that dabble in machine learning (or who have a resident genius around who wants to figure it out) can give it a try as well.

Just press go: designing a self-driving vehicle

Ever since we started the Google self-driving car project, we’ve been working toward the goal of vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving. Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.

We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them. Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that's an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people.

It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, “What should be different about this kind of vehicle?” We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections. And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.
A very early version of our prototype vehicle, and an artistic rendering of our vehicle

We’re planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and later this summer, our safety drivers will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls. If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. We’re going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as we hope, we’ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely.

If you’d like to follow updates about the project and share your thoughts, please join us on our new Google+ page. We’re looking forward to learning more about what passengers want in a vehicle where their number one job is to kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Through the Google lens: search trends May 16-22

This week people searched to learn more about unfamiliar faces and rising stars—on TV, courtside and even on our homepage.

Winner winner, TV dinner
People gave their “w” and “o” keys a workout this week as they turned to search to ask “who won…” in the season finales of reality show competitions “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars.” After Josh Kaufman won "The Voice," many searched to watch some of Kaufman’s past performances on the show, like [stay with me]. Meanwhile on “Dancing with the Stars,” searches for ice dancer [meryl davis] were almost as high this past week as in February, when she won an Olympic medal in Sochi. Fans of Davis looked to find out if she’s dating her “DWTS” partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy: searches for terms like [meryl davis maksim] and [meryl davis boyfriend] have been trending.

Basketball’s surprise star
NBA fans met a fresh face this week at the NBA Draft Lottery. The designated representative of the Milwaukee Bucks was Mallory Edens, the daughter of the team’s new co-owner. And, even though the Bucks slid to the #2 pick (after having the best odds to land #1), it seems Mallory pretty much won the Lottery anyway. And she wasn’t the only one who became an overnight sensation at the NBA’s annual festival of ping pong balls and sealed envelopes: searchers also looked for information about [anjali ranadive], the daughter of the Sacramento Kings’ owner, who was also at the draft.

In other sporting news, the [preakness 2014] raced to the top of the Google charts last weekend with more than 1 million searches, as Kentucky Derby-winning California Chrome won the second of three races on the way to the coveted Triple Crown. Looking ahead to the Belmont Stakes, fans are searching for [california chrome belmont] and [california chrome odds].

Inventions and discoveries
The subjects of not one but two Google doodles were on people’s minds this week. On Monday, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube with an interactive, 3D doodle. Presumably after killing a few minutes (or hours) of their workdays trying to solve the vexing puzzle, people searched to learn [how to solve the rubik’s cube] as well as [rubik’s cube record]. Then searchers looked for information on [mary anning], the paleontologist who was depicted uncovering a plesiosaur skeleton on our homepage on Wednesday. It’s fitting that Anning’s birthday celebration happened this week, since dinosaurs were already trending, thanks to the discovery of a new [titanosaur] dinosaur thought to be the biggest ever discovered.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [rei compression sack] and [smokestack sf]

Bright ideas for an even better Bay Area

Local nonprofit heroes are making a difference in our community, and we want to do more to support them. As part of that mission, we recently launched a Bay Area Impact Challenge with a question: working together, what can we do to make the Bay Area an even better place to live?

Provide training and job opportunities for people with disabilities. Match surplus medical supplies with community clinics. Bring mobile showers and toilets to the homeless. These are just a few of the nearly 1,000 thoughtful and creative proposals we received.

A panel of community advisors—Honorable Aida Alvarez, Secretary Norman Mineta, Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, Reverend Cecil Williams and Barry Zito—joined Googlers to narrow down the pool to the 10 top finalists. Each project was selected for its community impact, ingenuity, scalability and feasibility.

Now we need your help deciding which projects to support. Which one do you think will make the biggest impact in our community? Vote now for the four ideas that inspire you.

Your votes will decide which projects get up and running in a big way—with $500,000 going to each of the top four projects, and $250,000 to the next six. An additional 15 nonprofits that entered the Challenge have already received $100,000 each in support of their work.

Cast your vote by 11:59 p.m. PST on June 2, and join us in celebrating the community spirit that makes the Bay Area a great place to call home.

Android for all and the new Nexus 5

Just in time for Halloween, we have two new treats for Android fans. First, we're excited to unwrap our latest platform release, KitKat, which delivers a smarter, more immersive Android experience to even more people. And second, we're introducing Nexus 5—a new Nexus phone developed with LG.

The first thing you’ll notice about KitKat is we’ve made the experience much more engaging: the book you're reading, the game you're playing, or the movie you're watching—now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see.

Bringing more Google smarts to Android
Behind the polish on the screen is the power under the hood. Take the Phone app, which for most people hasn’t really changed since the days of flip phones. Now, we’re making calling easier than ever, by helping you search across your contacts, nearby places, or even Google Apps accounts (like your company’s directory), directly from within the app. And with the new Hangouts app, all of your SMS and MMS messages are together in the same place, alongside your other conversations and video calls, so you’ll never miss a message no matter how your friends send it. This is just a small taste of KitKat—learn more on our site.

Google has always focused on helping users get immediate access to the information they need, and we want to bring this same convenience and power to users on Android. With the new Nexus 5 launcher, Google smarts are deeply integrated into the phone you carry around with you, so getting to the information you need is simple, easy and fast. Swipe once from the home screen to get Google Now literally at your fingertips. Put Google to work for you by saying “OK, Google” to launch voice search, send a text, get directions or even play a song you want to hear. And in the coming weeks, we’re enhancing Now with important new card types that bring you information about contextual topics that interest you such as updates from a favorite website or blog.

Reaching the next 1 billion users
Building a platform that makes mobile phones accessible for everyone has always been at the heart of Android. Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn't benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints. With KitKat, we've slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.

Introducing Nexus 5
Along with our sweet naming tradition, we also introduce a new device with each platform release to showcase the latest Android innovations. For KitKat, we partnered with LG to develop Nexus 5 -- the slimmest and fastest Nexus phone ever made. Its design is simple and refined to showcase the 5” Full HD display. Nexus 5 also keeps you connected at blazing speeds with 4G/LTE and ultra fast wifi. The advanced new lens on Nexus 5 captures more light for brighter night and sharper action shots. And with optical image stabilization, you no longer have to worry about shaky hands and blurry pictures. A new HDR+ mode automatically snaps a rapid burst of photos and combines them to give you the best possible single shot. Learn more on our site.

Nexus 5 is available today, unlocked and without a contract, on Google Play in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea (and coming soon to India), starting at $349. Just in the time for the holidays, Nexus 5 will be available soon at the following retailers: Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack.

Android 4.4, KitKat, which comes on Nexus 5, will also soon be available on Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

How’s that for a treat?

How not to get tricked: Your favorite online safety tips

Whether it’s defending yourself from identity thieves or removing bad software from your family’s computer, it’s important to know how to stay safe online. Over the course of the past few months, we’ve explored the simple steps you can take to help keep yourself, your family and the web safer. And in celebration of October's National Cyber Security Awareness Month, for the past 30 days we’ve posted a daily tip on how to #staysafe online.

Even though our favorite month of the year is about to end, it’s good to know how to stay safe all year round. Here are the top five most popular tips from the month:

Security and privacy are important and Google provides tools to help you protect yourself and your information. For example, 2-Step Verification adds another layer of security to your Google Account. Google+ Circles and YouTube settings help you control what you share and keep your information private if you want to keep it to yourself. Verify Apps helps protect your phone from malware, and Android Device Manager will ring your phone and locate it on a map to help you find your device if you lose it (and remotely delete your information from the device if you can’t get it back).

For more information on how to stay safe and improve your online security and privacy, visit our Good to Know site, which has more information and details about Google’s tools and helpful advice on staying safe.

Google+ Hangouts and Photos: save some time, share your story

We could all use more time for ourselves, and less time figuring out technology. So today's improvements to Google+ Hangouts and Photos aim to take a lot of the work out of messaging, video calling and photo editing.


Hangouts enable conversations among close friends, as well as broadcasts with the entire world. Today we're improving both:
  • Hangouts for Android now supports location sharing and SMS. This way you can send a map of your current location (vs. finding and typing an address), and you can send and receive SMS (vs. switching between apps). Animated GIFs also play inline.
  • Broadcasters can now schedule Hangouts On Air, then promote them with a dedicated watch page. Once you're live, Control Room lets you moderate the conversation with eject and remote mute.
  • In both cases, the video calling experience is significantly improved. It's now full screen across mobile and desktop, and it fixes and enhances webcam lighting automatically.

From left to right: location sharing; SMS support; and animated GIFs

From left to right: schedule your Hangout On Air; promote it with a dedicated watch page; and moderate the conversation with Control Room

From left to right: video call before lighting fixes; video call after lighting fixes

The Android app and video calling features will be available in a few days, while the On Air improvements will roll out over the next few weeks.

Photos and videos

Photos and videos capture life's most precious moments, but it’s way too hard to save, organize, edit and share your stuff. Google+ can make things easier, automatically.
  • For starters, full size backups and background sync are coming soon to Google+ for iOS. This way you can backup your photos as you take them.
  • In addition, finding your photos is actually fun. We now recognize over a thousand different objects—from sunsets to snowmen—so you can just type what you’re looking for, and find matching items in your library.
  • Auto Enhance improves each photo you add to Google+, and now you can now dial the enhancements up or down. If you’re already processing your images elsewhere, you can choose to exempt an album entirely.
  • If you like to edit on the go, then you’ll enjoy Snapseed and its new HDR Scape filter. While high dynamic range (HDR) imaging requires multiple photos to create its effect, HDR Scape can deliver similar results with a single tap.
  • We’re also adding Analog Efex Pro to the Nik Collection (still just $149). With it you can reimagine your images using classic cameras and processing methods—from toy and medium format to wet plate and vintage.

From left to right: photo searches for "beach", "sunset" and "snow"

From left to right: original image; Auto Enhance at "normal"; Auto Enhance at "high"

From left to right: original image; image enhanced with Snapseed HDR Scape

Auto Awesome can help bring your story to life in creative ways. Today we’re adding three new techniques:
  • Action. Maybe it’s your child’s first gymnastic meet, or you’re skateboarding with a friend. Action can take their tumble or half pipe trick, and create a strobe-effect photograph.
  • Eraser. When you’re taking pictures of landmarks, people and cars often get in the way. Eraser can take a sequence of these photos, and erase whatever’s moving to give you a “cleaner” image.
  • Movie. Movie produces highlight reels from your photos and videos—complete with effects, transitions and a soundtrack—automatically. You can share the movie as is, or dive into the editing process to customize even further.
From left to right: sequence of action shots; Auto Awesome Action

From left to right: sequence of images with people in the way; Auto Awesome Eraser

All of today’s photo and video improvements will be available this week. Auto Awesome Movie works on certain devices with Android 4.3+, but all the other app features are widely supported.

With 540 million people active across Google each month, 300 million people active in just the stream and more than 1.5 billion photos uploaded every week, the Google+ community is growing faster than we ever could have imagined. Today’s updates are our way of saying “thank you”—we hope they save you time, and help you share your story.

New AdSense Data in the Core Reporting API

Google AdSense is a free, simple way for website publishers to earn money by displaying targeted Google ads on their websites. Today, we’ve added the ability to access AdSense data from the Google Analytics Core Reporting API. The AdSense and Analytics integration allows publishers to gain richer data and insights, leading to better optimized ad space and a higher return on investment.

In the past, accessing AdSense data using the Analytics Core Reporting API has been a top feature request. We’ve now added 8 new AdSense metrics to the Analytics Core Reporting API, enabling publishers to streamline their analysis.

Answering Business Questions
You can now answer the following business questions using these API queries:

Which pages on your site contribute most to your AdSense revenue?

&metrics=ga:adsenseCTR,ga:adsenseRevenue,ga:adsenseECPM &sort=-ga:adsenseRevenue

Which pages generate a high number of pageviews but aren't monetizing as well as other pages?

Which traffic sources contribute to your revenue?

Reporting Automation
By accessing this data through the API, you can now automate reporting and spend more time doing analysis. You can also use the API to integrate data from multiple sites into a single dashboard, build corporate dashboards to share across the team, and use the API to integrate data into CRM tools that display AdSense Ads.

Getting Started
To learn more about the new AdSense data, take a look at our Google Analytics Dimensions and Metrics Explorer. You can also test the API with your data by building queries in the Google Analytics Query Explorer.

Busy? In that case, now’s a great time to try these Analytics API productivity tools:
  • Magic Script: A Google Spreadsheets script to automate importing Analytics data into Spreadsheets, allowing for easy data manipulation. No coding required!
  • Google Analytics superProxy: An App Engine application that reduces all the complexity of authorization.

We hope this new data will be useful, and we're looking forward to seeing what new reports developers build.

Posted by Nick Mihailovksi, Product Manager, Google Analytics API Team

Get your multi device strategy off the ground

As tech-savvy consumers, we’ve all contributed to the growth in online traffic coming from mobile and tablet platforms, and as publishers you've likely heard the importance of adapting a multi-device approach to cater for this growing trend. But exactly how important is it? How do you develop a multi-device strategy? And how does all of this equate to increased revenues for you? 

Over the coming weeks, we’ll run a series of posts that aim to answer exactly that. We’ll explore building mobile solution options to suit you, and also explain how you can use AdSense to monetize your mobile sites or AdMob.

Where are your users coming from?
We're living in a multi-screen world where users expect to have access to information, people, and computing power from any screen. Here are just a few findings from a recent survey*:
  • 81% of consumers use their smartphones while also watching TV
  • 66% use their smartphone at the same time as their laptop
  • 83% of mobile users said that they wouldn’t leave home without their smartphone
  • 63% of users said that while they may not make their final purchase through a mobile, they would definitely use their phone to gather info and help them with their purchasing decision. 
To see how these shifts in consumer behavior are relevant to your site, check the Platforms report in your AdSense account. It’s a good idea to pull a comparison report and track the growth in your percentage of mobile and tablet users over the past quarter or year. Chances are, you’re going to see a shift away from desktop with more of your online content being reached via tablet and mobile. If your site isn’t designed to cater for this growing market then now is the time to start building your multi-device strategy. And we’re here to make you aware of some of the options open to you! Join us next week when we’ll be covering a range of mobile solutions to help you discover the right one for your business.

If you’d like to learn more about what we’ve discussed today, you can also check out a recording of our recent Hangout, “Mobile - The Time is Now”.

*Study completed by Google in collaboration with Sterling Brands and Ipsos, on a sample of 1,600 users, (2012).

Posted by Federico Gomez Kodela - Mobile Specialist
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