One antihistamine or two? Google is making sure hay fever sufferers can answer that question in double quick time, thanks to the new addition of pollen measurements in search results. Plug an allergy- or pollen-related query into your Android smartphone and search results will now include a simple breakdown of current and predicted pollen levels. The new type of rich card result is populated by data from The Weather Channel, and as always, you can get more detailed info by tapping on the card itself.
Search within the Google app and you’ll also be prompted to turn on notifications. Your phone will hit you with a reminder if the pollen count is creeping particularly high in your area so you can dash to the nearest store and grab a pocket-pack of tissues before you start streaming from every facial orifice.
After canceling a town hall meeting intended to address the fallout from an anti-diversity memo, Google (GOOGL, +1.24%) CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the importance of women in tech jobs while speaking at a coding event for girls at the company’s campus.
“I want you to know there’s a place for you in this industry,” Pichai told a crowd of young women on Thursday, according to the Verge. “There’s a place for you at Google. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here and we need you.”
Pichai was speaking at the Technovation awards that honored teams of young women coders from all over the world. The months-long competition involved teams of girls developing apps to solve issues in their communities.
“At Google, we are very committed to building products for everyone in the world, and I think to do that well we really need to have people internally who represent the world in totality,” he said. “So it’s really important that more women and girls have the opportunity to participate in technology, to learn how to code, create, and innovate.”
His comments follow an explosive week at Google after an employee circulated a memo slamming the company’s diversity efforts and saying that women may not be as good at tech jobs as men due to biological differences. The software engineer, James Damore, was fired by Pichai on Monday. The document sparked a heated debate inside and outside of the company on sexism and diversity in Silicon Valley.
Google canceled the scheduled town hall Thursday after concerns that employees were being harassed after their questions were leaked online, according to Recode. Pichai told employees he still plans to address their concerns about the company.
Shockwaves continue to rattle Google after the company fired an engineer who posted a lengthy screed suggesting that women are genetically less capable than men of working in high-tech.
On Thursday afternoon, Google CEO Sundar Pichai informed staffers in a companywide email that a town-hall meeting to discuss diversity issues was canceled after individual employees were singled out online — and several had expressed fears for their personal safety.
“We had hoped to have a frank open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward,” Pichai wrote in the memo, sent shortly before the meeting’s scheduled 4 p.m. PT start time. But questions submitted by staffers beforehand “appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally,” he wrote, and some employees were “concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”
Google’s firing of the engineer, James Damore, has rallied conservative agitators who are angry about what they perceive as the internet giant’s suppression of free speech and persecution of the male employee.
On Wednesday, right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos posted the Twitter bios of eight Google employees — who apparently had criticized Damore’s memo — on his Facebook page, with the comment, “Looking at who works for Google, it all makes sense now…”
Pichai in his memo Thursday wrote, “In recognition of Googlers’ concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion. So in the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”
Damore has spoken out since his firing, airing his grievances against Google. In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, he accused Google execs of “trying to smear my image rather than just looking at the evidence” and said he felt “betrayed.”
Google on Monday released a memo from Pichai to employees, in which the chief executive said that while the company values critical discussion of its diversity programs, parts of Damore’s essay crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai wrote.
The former Google engineer, whose controversial memo has triggered a nationwide debate on gender differences and diversity efforts in technology, defended his views in an interview on Wednesday with Bloomberg Television, saying company executives are smearing him in its wake.
James Damore, who until Monday worked as an engineer on video and image search at Alphabet’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, said he initially shared the 3,300-word memo internally a month ago. But it was only after the memo went viral that company leaders banded together to make him an outcast, he said on Bloomberg TV. When he initially circulated the memo, “no one high up ever came to me and said, ‘No, don’t do this,’ even though there were many people who looked at it,” Damore said. “It was only after it got viral that upper management started shaming me and eventually firing me.”
The memo, which was leaked to the public over the weekend, argues that conservative viewpoints are suppressed at Google and that biological differences between men and women explain in part why so few women work in software engineering. Even if someone in Google management had agreed with some of the arguments put forth in his piece, they wouldn’t have felt safe speaking up, he said.
“There was a concerted effort among upper management to have a very clear signal that what I did was harmful and wrong and didn’t stand for Google,” Damore said. “It would be career suicide for any executives or directors to support me.”Damore also said that some Google employees who expressed support for him have been contacted by human resources.
“That’s absolutely untrue,“ a Google spokesman said about the claim. The company declined to comment further beyond a memo that Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai wrote to employees on Monday, which said that “to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
Google employee James Damore has been reportedly fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” The senior software engineer authored a 10-page “manifesto” condemning Google’s diversity efforts and claiming men are biologically more predisposed to working in the tech industry than women. In an internal memo to Google employees, CEO Sundar Pichai says he has cut his family vacation short to return to work and tackle the issues raised in the manifesto.
Arguing that “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate,” Pichai notes that part of the screed crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Specifically, Pichai says “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
Pichai will now face the difficult task of balancing what he calls strong support of “the right of Googlers to express themselves,” against those who violate the company’s code of conduct in the process. While a large majority of Google employees reportedly expressed disgust at Damore’s internal document, not all employees disagreed with it. “Clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group,” says Pichai, “including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.” You can read Sundar Pichai’s full memo, below:
This has been a very difficult time. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.
First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”
The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being “agreeable” rather than “assertive,” showing a “lower stress tolerance,” or being “neurotic.”
At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo—such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all—are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics—we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.
The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree—while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct. I’d encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.
I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group—including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.
Last month, we heard rumors that Google was planning to relax its ban on real-money gambling apps in the Play Store, but after reaching out to Google we didn’t get a response either way. With an update to its developer policy page, Google has now confirmed that some of these apps are going to be allowed on the Play Store in the UK, Ireland, and France.
The gambling apps will be subject to a strict application process if they want to get in, meeting the requirements outlined on the content policy page. Most importantly, the company developing it will have to prove they have a valid gambling license in the country they wish to distribute the app. That includes complying with all local laws and industry standards. There must also be robust measures in place to restrict under-age gamblers and prevent use in other territories outside the country of issue.
Other stipulations prohibit the use of any Google payments services, so you won’t able to gamble with Play Store credit through IAPs. The apps must also be free to download in the first place. As a final precaution, all gambling apps will be required to display prominent information regarding responsible gambling practices.
At the same time, Google is also softening its stance on gambling related adverts in other Play Store apps. The ads will have to comply with local industry standards and meet licensing requirements. Perhaps the most restrictive rule is that which precludes the ads from being seen by anyone under the age of 18, which should out rule their use in any apps without an age restriction. The same rules on responsible gambling information apply here, too, and it’s also not permitted to advertise real-money gambling in a simulated gambling app. While Google may have loosened its policies substantially, it seems they should still be able to exert a considerable amount of control.
Google is getting rid of its landmark Instant Search feature, which automatically populates search results as you type in a query, according to Search Engine Land. Instant Search was first introduced back in 2010 under the guidance of Marissa Mayer, then the company’s vice president of search and user experience. It was a pivotal change in not just how users experienced Google, but also how they used the internet to seek out knowledge. Google estimated at the time that it would collectively shave off millions of seconds per hour by surfacing results as fast as possible and cutting down the time it takes to write out an entire query.
Now, however, more than half of Google searches happen on mobile, with the scales continually tipping away from desktop as time goes on. On mobile screens, Instant Search doesn’t make as much sense given we use our fingers and virtual buttons to interact with software, and trying to load a results page on top of the onscreen keyboard isn’t exactly good user experience design. In a statement given to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson explained the change:
We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.
Now, recommended search results powered by auto-complete will show up in the standard drop-down menu, but the results page won’t render in real time. Users have always had the option to turn off Instant Search, but now it appears it will be gone for good to create a consistent experience across desktop and mobile.
Google CEO and freshly appointed Alphabet board member Sundar Pichai was typically guarded during yesterday’s Alphabet earnings call, but he did disclose a nice number for us to look forward to. By the end of 2017, said Pichai, there will be 11 Android smartphones on the market that support Google’s Daydream virtual reality platform.
Daydream turns compatible smartphones into standalone VR systems: you just need one of Google’s Daydream View headsets to hold the device, together with the accompanying touch controller, and you’re away. I’ve used Daydream with a Google Pixel, and its big distinction from the larger PC-tethered alternatives like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is in just how light and comfortable it is. Obviously, a Daydream phone is also much more portable and versatile too, but for me the standout feature is that I can wear that headset without it feeling heavy and tiring after only a few minutes.
As things stand today, there are only four Daydream-compatible models to choose from: Google’s own Pixel handsets, Motorola’s Moto Z, Huawei’s Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9, and ZTE’s Axon 7. Samsung famously announced Daydream support will be coming to its flagship Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, and that’s just started rolling out as a software update. With Pichai’s disclosure this week, we can expect at least a couple of as-yet-unannounced Daydream devices beyond the predictable refresh of the Pixel lineup in the fall.
Google’s famously simple homepage with its logo and single search box on a white background is set to undergo a radical change for the first time since its launch in 1996, with the addition of Google’s interest and news-based feed.
The feed of personalised information, which has been a mainstay of Google’s mobile apps for Android and iOS since 2012 along with a home-screen page on Google’s Nexus and Pixel smartphones and tablets, will become part of the main desktop experience in the near future, the Guardian understands.
On Wednesday Google announced it was deploying further customisation to the feed, which took over from its Google Now personalisation in December, using the company’s “advanced machine-learning algorithms”.
Shashi Thakur, vice president of engineering at Google said: “You’ll see cards with things like sports highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more. And now, your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world.”
Users will also be able to follow topics straight from search results for things such as sports, movies, music and celebrities, showing updates on those topics in the feed.
Google said the new additions to the feed would roll out to US users immediately and internationally in the next couple of weeks.
While most of the new features are iterative, with some form of them available in the Google search apps already, the addition of the Google feed to the main desktop sites will mark one of the biggest changes to Google’s approach to search.
Google once had a personalised homepage called iGoogle, which resembled other web portals of the day and was available from May 2005 and discontinued in November 2013. But iGoogle was only shown to those who were logged in and had selected to use iGoogle, rather than the default simple search box Google homepage.
How it will look and work on the desktop and whether it will include the search company’s voice assistant Google Assistant is not yet known. The feed is likely to require users to log into Google to see it, and will probably resemble the tablet experience of the Google feed, with multiple card-containing columns with news posts, event updates and more. The mobile feed also contains things such as boarding passes and calendar events based on things taken from Gmail and Google calendar.
Google already had a desktop experience for Google Now on its Chromebooks, which include the search box and the feed containing everything that’s currently displayed on mobile devices. Rolling out that experience to the main Google.com homepage would almost instantly turn it into the biggest web portal available, dwarfing stalwarts Yahoo and Microsoft’s MSN and Bing.
There’s a good chance you’re hungry for information you didn’t even know you wanted, but Google knows — and the tech giant is going to spoon-feed it to you.
Google is following in Facebook’s footsteps, with plans to redesign its popular search page on mobile phones so that you’ll get something similar to the social media site’s News Feed. Only Google’s will just be called “feed.”
“Google search should be working for you in the background even when you’re not searching,” says Ben Gomes, vice president of engineering, who spoke at a news conference at Google’s San Francisco offices. “It should be looking for information on the Web to give you information that’s important and relevant to you to further the interest that you have.”
Starting Wednesday, if you use the Pixel smartphone or the Google app (for Android and iOS), you’ll see this personalized feed. It will continually draw from what Google has learned about you across its suite of products — such as Search, Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, the Google home assistant and Chromecast.
Google and Facebook — which both make their money by selling advertising — are in a constant tug-of-war. Google has tried and failed to build a hit social network, but this new product could draw more eyeballs.
Engineering leader Shashi Thakur explained how it is fundamentally different from the competition: “It’s not really about what your friends are interested in, which is really what other feeds might be.”
Say you have a secret passion for woodworking: Relevant articles will show up in your feed. On the other hand, if you’ve been reading up on herpes that shouldn’t show up in the feed, because Google is using technology to filter out “potentially upsetting or sensitive content.”
When it comes to political interests — take health care overhaul efforts — what you get on Facebook or Twitter is heavily influenced by your social network, which could push you into groupthink. Thakur says the Google feed breaks you out of that, because it’s based on the same search algorithm that crawls and ranks the entire Internet, not just what your friends share.
“We are trying to provide a variety of perspectives on any given topic,” he said. Although in the near future, a spokesperson says Google does plan to add a like button to posts, so that users can actively indicate what they want to see.
Aside from Pixel phones and the Google app, the feed soon will appear in your smartphone browser when you go to Google’s search page. The company does not plan to include this feature on desktop browsers. Gomes and Thakur declined to say if Google would include advertisements in the feed.