Friday, November 9, 2007

[G] Borsa Italiana pricing data

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Google Finance Blog: Borsa Italiana pricing data

We're happy to let you know we're now able to offer pricing data for Borsa Italiana listings. In addition to news and descriptive data (which we already offer for these listings), you'll now see intra-day market data and charts. You can search for companies by name using the search box, or you can search by ticker. For example, if you'd like to find the current price for stock in Alitalia, you can search for it by name, by RIC as AZPIa.MI, or as BIT:AZA.

As always, if you notice any problems, please let us know. It may take us longer than we'd like to resolve issues, but we do read every report.


[G] Min CPC, Max CPC and Avg CPC clarified

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Inside AdWords: Min CPC, Max CPC and Avg CPC clarified

Recently we posted about a common misconception regarding Minimum CPC (cost-per-click) and how it is determined. Today we'd like to expand on the theme of CPC, and define the other CPC types that you'll see in your AdWords account.

Minimum CPC - also referred to as Min CPC or Minimum CPC bid:
As discussed in our previous post, a minimum cost-per-click (CPC) bid is assigned to each keyword in your account based on its quality (as measured by its Quality Score). The minimum bid is typically the least amount you can pay per click in order for your keyword to show ads. It is important to note that minimum CPC is set by the AdWords system, and not by the advertiser.

Maximum CPC - also referred to as Max CPC:
Maximum cost-per-click (CPC) is set by you, the advertiser, and is the highest amount that you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. You can set a maximum CPC at the keyword or ad group level. If you're interested in a deeper look at Max CPC, you'll find more information here.

Average CPC
- also referred to as Avg. CPC:
This is literally the average amount you pay each time someone clicks your ad. The Avg. CPC you see in your account is determined by totalling the cost of all clicks and dividing that total by the number of clicks.

For example: if your ad receives three clicks, one costing $0.33, one costing $0.38, and the third costing $0.49, then your average CPC for those clicks is $1.20 divided by 3 clicks, or $0.40.

We hope this information will shed a little light on a topic that is sometimes unclear to advertisers, particularly those who have just started with us and are new to the somewhat specialized vocabulary of AdWords advertising.


[G] Crossing team and global boundaries

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Official Google Blog: Crossing team and global boundaries

In my first month at Google, I complained to a friend on the Gmail team about a couple of small things that I disliked about Gmail. I expected him to point me to the bug database. But he told me to fix it myself, pointing me to a document on how to bring up the Gmail development environment on my workstation. The next day my code was reviewed by Gmail engineers, and then I submitted it. A week later, my change was live. I was amazed by the freedom to work across teams, the ability to check in code to another project, the trust in engineers to work on the right thing, and the excitement and speed of getting things done for our users. Engineers across our offices (and across projects) have access to the same code; I didn't have to ask for anyone's permission to work on this.

Since then, I've done my best to use my 20% time on other projects. A few weeks ago, I noticed that our engineering team in India had launched an on-screen keyboard for several Indic languages on Labs. I speak Farsi, and thought it would be useful to make one for myself and ham-zaboonam (that's Farsi for 'people who speak my language'). After launching my latest project for Google Maps, I emailed M. T. Raghunath, the engineer in India who built out the keyboard Gadgets, to learn how I could make one for Farsi. He had already worked with several language experts to create keyboards in 14 Indic languages and had recently included right-to-left support for Urdu and Arabic, which he created with the help of Googlers from our Hyderabad office. He was excited and pointed me to the code. After a week of iteration, you too can now use the Farsi Gadget.

Google has many engineering offices around the world; I currently work in Seattle and M. T. works in Bangalore. We have a lot more engineers than a few years ago when I made the changes to Gmail, but I'm happy to relive the same magic I shared with the Gmail team with a Googler across the globe. By the way, a Kashmiri Gadget is also available, thanks to help from Sarwat Nisa, a Hyderabad-based Googler.


[G] Transit routing up north

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Google LatLong: Transit routing up north

I'm happy to announce we've added directions for Vancouver's TransLink buses, trains, and ferries to Google Maps. Now, any time you search for directions in the Lower Mainland using Google Maps, you'll see a "Take Public Transit" link above the driving directions. If you click on it, you'll see a few ways that you can get to your destination using a combination of buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express. For example, here's a route from Pacific Central Station to Lonsdale Quay:

Since Vancouver is our first Google Transit city in Canada, I made a special trip to meet with TransLink folks and local transit advocates last week. TransLink has big goals for reducing carbon emissions in the region while helping residents and visitors get around (especially during the 2010 winter Olympics), so we're happy to help them reach a broader audience through Google Maps. By sharing their schedule information with us in GTFS format, TransLink will also able to make their route information more accessible to non-English speakers and the visually impaired (Google Maps is available in many languages as well as in a plain HTML version that works with screen readers).

This is another exciting step for us, but our work is far from done. We'll keep you posted on our progress as we continue to work with more transit agencies to bring their routes to Google Maps.


[G] With a touch of style, Gmail gets some new threads

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Official Gmail Blog: With a touch of style, Gmail gets some new threads

Congratulations to Robert Gould, the winner of our Threadless t-shirt competition. With much deliberation, we picked his design out of 420 submitted designs to win a pretty sweet prize package that includes an iPhone and some other goodies. His winning design is entitled 'Hello Dave':

We'd like to thank all the contributors for their snazzy designs - we loved all of them. If you'd like, you can pick up a copy of Robert's winning t-shirt over at Threadless, and even post a creative picture of yourself wearing the shirt.

P.S. We aren't making any money on this; all proceeds go to Threadless.


[G] Site maintenance on November 10th at 10 am

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Inside AdSense: Site maintenance on November 10th at 10 am

Tomorrow, November 10th, our engineers will be performing routine site maintenance. Although you won't be able to log in to your account between 10 am and 2 pm PST, we'll continue to serve ads to your pages and track all earnings in your account as usual.

Our international readers can expect the maintenance to start at the following times:

London - 6 pm Saturday
Kiev - 8 pm Saturday
Chennai - 11:30 pm Saturday
Manila - 2 am Sunday
Melbourne - 5 am Sunday

Some of you have been curious about what our engineers are up to during these maintenance periods. As you can imagine, running the system reliably requires constant nurturing. Some maintenance tasks are more fundamental to the way the system operates and are not easily done on the fly -- as a result, it's most efficient and helpful for us to take the system offline for a few hours. With that in mind, our engineers line up these tasks in advance and implement them during our regularly scheduled downtimes. We hope that these maintenance periods aren't too much of an inconvenience, and we appreciate your understanding.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

[G] To-Do List (the book)

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Blogger Buzz: To-Do List (the book)

Sasha Cagen's To-Do List blog (which you make recognize as a blog of note) has just been released as a book! Both blog and book are collections of, well, to-do lists, mailed or emailed in by people. Think PostSecret meets Getting Things Done.

Watch the trailer, read the blog, buy the book, and make sure that you have an awesome screen name.


[G] Teaching revision writing with Docs

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Official Google Docs Blog: Teaching revision writing with Docs

Some of Google Docs' most loyal users are teachers; we get lots of emails, suggestions, and lesson ideas from you. Based on what you've told us, one of your favorite things about using Docs with your students is that they tend to work harder if their work is transparent to each other. They react well to seeing one another's writing and getting the opportunity to show off just a teeny bit. We've also learned that "writing buddy" programs give kids the opportunity to brainstorm with and inspire one other, while letting them learn crucial editing and interpersonal skills.

Google for Educators has buddied up with the good folks from the Weekly Reader to bring you a lesson on revision writing -- with a buddy. The talented writers at Weekly Reader have worked with teachers all over the country to come up with tips and checklists for incorporating buddy writing in the classroom. And as always, Google Docs allows your students to create their first drafts, fix their mistakes and hone the perfect paper, all while keeping track of each and every comma change, word replacement and new stroke of genius along the way.

Come check out the lesson, grab a few hints on using Google Docs and introduce your kids to buddy writing -- we suspect their collaborations will get your creative juices flowing, too.


[G] New layers in Google Earth

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Google LatLong: New layers in Google Earth

People will find some pleasant surprises in the most recent Google Earth data update. You've already heard about the new "Weather" and "MDG Monitor" layers, but that's not all ...

We have re-organized the data layers in the left-side Layers panel in this new release. The long layer list has been shrunk into a smaller set. Basic information such as roads, 3D buildings, and Weather are at the top. If you are looking for interesting things to do or places to visit, expand the "Gallery" or "Places of Interest" folders and you will find a wide selection of interesting data layers for you to explore.

If you've ever wanted to plan a trip to Egypt, you can now turn on the "Egypt Tourism" layer to see a collection of destinations to visit. You'll even find intricately designed 3D models of some of the famous landmarks.

But if you just want to stick around and hang out with friends and family this holiday season, you might be happy to know you can find good restaurants easier than ever with Google Earth. The data team has recently updated the business listing layers with user reviews. Simply zoom into the neighborhood you want to go to, and you'll see restaurants show up at street level. You can read reviews of the restaurants before you head out. Or if you have some good restaurants to recommend, you can write reviews. To see more things to do, expand the "Places of Interest" folder and check out other local business and recreation information.

We've also added Wikipedia articles in 6 languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Dutch. Other updates include adding all country names in local languages as well as business listings for Australia.


[G] Quick update on the Manage Ads feature

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Inside AdSense: Quick update on the Manage Ads feature

Thanks for all of the immediate feedback on our new Manage Ads feature. Your comments have helped us identify a technical issue causing delays in some publisher accounts. This is not directly related to the capabilities of the new feature, but it has been preventing new ad units from immediately appearing on some publisher sites. We dislike delays as much as you do, so our trusty operations folks are working on fixing the problem and we expect to have things back to normal by next week. We appreciate your patience.

We know you have a lot more to say about this feature and we want to hear your feedback, so please send us your comments and we'll continue to keep you updated on future enhancements.


[G] Now you can cancel that order when you have an "oops" moment

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Now you can cancel that order when you have an "oops" moment

Having second thoughts about that sweater you just ordered? Maybe you want to get a different size, or accidentally entered the wrong shipping address?

Now with Google Checkout you can quickly and easily cancel an order if you want to. Just navigate to the Order Receipt and click the "Cancel" button at the top of the page. This button will be available for up to 15 minutes after placing orders on most Checkout merchant websites. As long as the button appears, you can cancel an order with one simple click -- no questions asked. If the "Cancel" button doesn't appear, you'll need to contact sellers directly.

This button will automatically be enabled on most merchant sites starting today. Sellers will now be able to see in their inboxes which orders are within the 15-minute cancellation window and which orders have been canceled by buyers. Please note that the order cancellation button is currently not available for purchases of digital content. To learn more, refer to our FAQ.


[G] Congrats to Google scholarship winners

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Official Google Blog: Congrats to Google scholarship winners

Google aspires to be an organization that reflects our global audience by supporting a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures, which is one reason we created scholarship programs with both the United Negro College Fund and Hispanic College Fund. These programs provide $5,000 to both undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated academic excellence in the fields of computer science and computer engineering. They're meant to encourage students to excel in their studies and become active role models and leaders. It's our hope that these programs also help dismantle barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. (Read more about the various Google scholarship programs.)

A few other Googlers and I recently volunteered to help select the winners for this year's round. We were inspired reading the scholarship applications; in fact, we identified with the difficulties that these students faced in order to get a great education.

Now it's time to congratulate the 33 winners. This accomplished group of men and women demonstrated excellence in the field of computer science and made significant contributions to their communities. Each person receive $5,000 towards their studies, and they're all invited to attend our annual scholarship weekend, held at our Mountain View headquarters next spring.

2007 Google United Negro College Fund Scholarship Winners
  • Christopher Clark, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Linda Mmayi, American Inter-Continental University
  • Delvin Kelleybrew, Howard University
  • Andrew Pryor-Miller, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Nia Bradley, Howard University
  • Kieran Jordine, Albany State University
  • Shanna-Shaye Forbes, University of Texas, Austin
  • Tanisha Washington, CSU Long Beach
  • Kalifa Llewellyn, Howard University
  • Jason Mars, University of Virginia
  • Hans Anderson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2007 Google Hispanic College Fund Scholarship Winners
  • Nicole Ameche, University of California, Irvine
  • Garrett Brown, University of Michigan
  • Lina Cordero, CUNY City College
  • Carolina Gomez, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Sonny Hernandez, University of Southern California
  • Juan Lang, University of California, Davis
  • David Mireles, University of Texas, El Paso
  • Josh Morales, University of Texas, Pan American
  • Omar Oropeza, University of Texas, Brownsville
  • Hillaury Perez, University of Houston
  • Isaac Persing, University of Arizona
  • Christian Roca, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art
  • Adelein Rodriguez, University of Central Florida
  • Jose Romero-Mariona, University of California, Irvine
  • Amanda Ryan, Victoria College
  • Marlies Santos Deas, Miami Dade Community College
  • Caio Soares, Auburn University
  • Christopher Soghoian, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Oscar Tapia, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Yuly Tenorio, University of California, Berkeley
  • Pablo Guikubi Vanwoerkom, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Joshua Zuniga, Oregon State University


[G] Tracking human development in Google Earth

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Google LatLong: Tracking human development in Google Earth

We're happy to let you know that the MDG Monitor, which launched last week at the United Nations, is now live in Google Earth. You can find it in the 'Global Awareness' folder on the left-side panel.

The Millennium Development Goals aim to:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Back in 2000, all of the countries of the world agreed to reach these goals by 2015. We are now halfway there, and while many countries have made excellent strides, there is still a long way to go. The MDG Monitor makes it easy to track the progress, so we encourage you to take a look at the layer and find out more about what governments around the world are doing (and sadly, in some cases, not doing) to improve the health and well-being of their citizens.


[G] AdWords system maintenance on November 10th

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Inside AdWords: AdWords system maintenance on November 10th

On Saturday, November 10th, the AdWords system will be unavailable from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST due to our regularly scheduled maintenance. While you won't be able to sign in to your accounts during this time, your campaigns will continue to run as usual.

AdWords system maintenance typically occurs on the second Saturday of each month during the above times. We'll continue to update you via the blog as we always have, but you may want to take note of our intended dates and times to help you plan for any scheduled downtimes further down the road.


[G] Energy efficient computing, one state at a time

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Google Public Policy Blog: Energy efficient computing, one state at a time

While we know that the Internet allows people and organizations to operate much more efficiently, the reality is that personal computers, servers and data centers use too much energy. Right now, the average desktop computer is only 50% energy efficient and most servers waste 30% of the energy they use. Typical industry data centers also waste huge amounts of energy on cooling and backup power.

As we at Google looked at how to cut the amount of energy we consume, it became clear that the problem is largely not technological (it's currently possible to make more efficient computers). The problem is due mostly to a lack of a market for high efficiency equipment. Manufacturers would make more efficient equipment if they could be sure that enough people would pay the slightly higher cost (somewhere around $20-$30 extra per personal computer).

So, in a twist on the famous "Field of Dreams" line, Google and Intel led an effort to build a market for high efficient computing equipment, so that manufacturers would come. We created the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) earlier this year, and more than 100 major corporations, environmental groups, universities and other large IT purchasers have joined the initiative and agreed to buy Energy Star 4.0 rated equipment. Participants have also agreed to employ better power management methods to reduce energy usage of existing computing systems. By 2010, we hope this effort will lead to a 50% reduction in power consumption for member organizations.

After working for years in state government, I know that governors around the country are aggressively looking for ways to reduce energy consumption and explore new solutions on climate change. Earlier this week, the co-chairs of the National Governors Association's energy task force, Governors Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota and Kathleen Sebelius from Kansas, not only agreed to have their states sign on to the initiative, but also to recruit other states to join as well. Minnesota and Kansas state governments buy over 8,000 computers a year. Imagine the impact this program can have if we get all 50 states to join.

When I came to Google six months ago to work on state policy issues I had no idea that I would be involved in a project that would make a such a big dent in energy usage. For me it is just one more example of why I like my job so much.


[G] Google Earth for 557 boxing champs

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Official Google Blog: Google Earth for 557 boxing champs

Recently, a group of Chicago Googlers who are passionate about sports came together to find ways to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. We got in touch with folks from World Sport Chicago, who had recently agreed to organize the AIBA World Boxing Championships, and asked them how Google technology could help support this local event with global reach. Together, we came up with an idea to educate fans about the boxers and their home countries through an information overlay on Google Earth, embedding select information about each boxer and their sponsoring country in pop-up windows across the globe.

Then we took this idea further by matching up our software with Accenture's Interactive Wall Technology to make the information even more lively. The Accenture Interactive Wall literally put the power of Google Earth at one's fingertips, so that people could manipulate the globe using their hands. Thousands of fans visited this display during the championships and we're pleased we could play a part in developing this learning tool for them.

When members of the Mongolian boxing team visited and asked how it worked, a volunteer helped them learn the controls, and they were quickly off to explore the planet. In a few seconds, they made their way to Mongolia, and were able to locate the gym back home where they had trained in for these very championships. They were amazed at the technology and the ease of use in finding their homes.

Chris Lobdell, one of our customer solutions engineers, worked closely with Bruno Bowden from the Google Earth team to build this interactive mashup. Using boxer profile information provided by the USOC, Chris merged the profile for each boxer and coach with data about the represented country (population, land mass and currency).

Googlers love a challenge, and this was an interesting one, especially considering the short timeframe in which it needed to be done, the massive information overlay development, and the integration with Accenture's display.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

[G] How's the weather?

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Google LatLong: How's the weather?

A wise man once said, "I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong." When it comes to weather forecasts, this certainly rings true. You always remember that day when you planned a picnic because it was supposed to be sunny and it ended up raining. In the latest release of Google Earth layers, we're letting you play weatherman by publishing a slew of great, dynamic weather data.

If you're running the latest version of Google Earth, you'll notice a new "Weather" folder in the layers panel:

The "Weather" folder contains three sub-layers ("Clouds," "Radar," and "Conditions and Forecasts") and one "Information" link that gives you some background information on the data being displayed. The "Clouds" layer depicts a global satellite mosaic of clouds created on an hourly basis by our friends down the road at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey. As some of the foremost satellite meteorologists in the world, they have implemented various algorithms to make the data as accurate and comprehensive as possible. Click on the "Information" link in the "Weather" folder to see the what time the current clouds image portrays. Please note that there are a couple of hours of latency built into the data. In other words, the image you're looking at is probably from two to three hours ago. For a special visual treat, try zooming in towards the clouds. You'll eventually find yourself below the clouds, at which point you can look up and see the cloud deck above you.

The "Radar" layer contains a near real-time Doppler radar image of the United States, updated every 15 minutes. This data is being fed to us by the folks at We will shortly be rolling out radar for Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe as well. The "Information" bubble contains the time stamp associated with the current radar image. is also providing us with observation and forecast data for nearly 50,000 cities worldwide; that's what you see in the "Conditions and Forecasts" layer. You can zoom around to see the current conditions and forecasts for just about every major city in the world, among other cities. Can you find the world's most extreme weather? What about Base Orcadas in the South Orkney Islands, where, as I'm writing this, it's 23 degrees F with a 26 mph wind, making it feel like 6 degrees? And it's just about summertime there! The current conditions are updated at least hourly (more often in some places), and the forecasts get updated once every few hours.

My favorite feature of this release is something that you won't see in the layers panel of Google Earth itself. We're offering a separate KML network link download of a time animation of the last 24 hours of clouds data or the last 6 hours of radar data. Once you download the file, you'll see a new item in your "Temporary Places" folder in the "Places" panel (either "Clouds Animation" or "Radar Animation," depending on which file you downloaded). Make the animation visible by checking its associated checkbox, then click the "Play" button in the animation control at the top right of your screen and wait for the data to load (even though the resolution isn't as high as the static image, it might take a little while). If you load the clouds animation (be sure to turn off the current clouds image), you'll be rewarded with a beautiful animation of clouds dancing and swirling across the Earth's surface. More than any other data I've seen, the cloud animation turns Google Earth from an artificial virtual globe into a living and pulsing representation of the planet.

We're really excited to share all this great new data with you and have plans to add more down the road. I mentioned adding radar for places outside of the U.S., and we'll also be fully internationalizing the point conditions layer. Enjoy the weather!


[G] Two updates to site targeting

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Inside AdWords: Two updates to site targeting

We'd like to announce two changes to site targeting in Google's content network. First, because site targeting now offers more precise targeting options, we've given it a more appropriate name: placement targeting. Second, we're introducing a new cost-per-click bidding option so you can now pay per click or per impression.

Introducing placement targeting

When site targeting was first introduced two years ago, advertisers could search for specific URLs or topics to find individual sites in the Google content network and run their image and text ads on these sites. Over time, we've introduced other features like targeting by demographics and richer ad formats such as click-to-play video ads. Now, advertisers can target not only websites but also precise subsections of sites, such as the football pages of a news site, the show times section of a movie site, and even a specific ad unit (a block of Google ads) on a particular webpage.

Because of these new changes, we've changed the name from site targeting to placement targeting. The term "placement" can be used to refer to any site or subsection of a site that you choose to target. As the number of placements available for targeting continues to grow, you'll have even greater control over the parts of the Google content network on which your ads appear.

Cost-per-click bidding for placement targeting

With the launch of cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, advertisers can now choose the bidding option that best matches their needs. If the purpose of your placement-targeted campaign is to increase sales, leads, sign-ups, or other conversion-oriented metrics, you can select CPC bidding and pay when users click on your ads. If you want to maximize impressions and increase brand awareness among your target audience, you can select cost-per-impression (CPM) bidding. And you can specify either the maximum price or the average price (with preferred bidding), that you'd like to pay for each click or 1000 impressions.

Along with Placement Performance reports, CPC bidding for placement targeting was one of the most common advertiser requests we received for Google content network campaigns. We're excited to make this feature available as part of our ongoing efforts to increase the flexibility and control advertisers have when advertising on the content network.

If you'd like to get started on placement targeting, you can read more about it here.


[G] Answers to your video units questions

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Inside AdSense: Answers to your video units questions

Since launching video units to U.S. publishers with English-language websites, we've received quite a few emails about this new product. Here are the top 4 questions we'd like to address:

1. I selected "Automated Content" but the videos aren't relevant to my site. What can I do?

Thanks to your feedback, we've implemented a feature to improve content relevance. Before, if you typed in [cars planes taxis], for example, only videos which matched all of these keywords would be returned. If there were no videos which matched all of these keywords, we delivered a default set of videos from the most popular YouTube partner content. We've modified this so that now [cars planes taxis] will deliver videos which have to do with cars or planes or taxis. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of default popular content being delivered to your units. In general, to refine video targeting with the "Automated Content" setting, you should try different keyword combinations to see what works best.

2. Can I select the individual videos that appear in my video unit?

It isn't currently possible to select individual videos for your video units. If you're choosing "Automated Content" for your video unit, you can further refine video targeting by testing different combinations of keywords.

3. I followed your instructions to link my AdSense and YouTube accounts, but my account still shows as "pending". I haven't gotten a confirmation email yet.

You might have to manually link your AdSense Account to your YouTube account. To do so please follow the steps below.
  1. Log in to your AdSense account.
  2. Click the "Account Access" link located under the "My Account" tab.
  3. Under "sites", find "" and click the "grant access" link.
Your AdSense account should now successfully be linked to your YouTube account.

4. Do you offer any other sizes for the video units?

Right now, we only offer the three sizes listed in your account when you generate the ad code -- note that the 'mini' size is larger than what appears on your code generation page. We'll be sure to announce any new sizes and styles as they become available.

Please keep in mind that video units are different from click-to-play video ads; while video units contain YouTube partner videos complemented by standard AdSense ads, click-to-play video ads are ads created by AdWords advertisers in video format. At this time, no in-stream video ads will show in your video units.

To make changes to your video units or try them out for the first time, visit your AdSense Setup page. Thanks again for your feedback, and stay tuned for more updates on video units.


[G] Google on the go

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Google LatLong: Google on the go

In my formative years, I spent countless hours in the backseat of my parents' car listening to them argue about whether or not they should pull over to ask for directions. I love my parents dearly, but I still can't comprehend how we wound up going north on I-95 driving from New York to Florida!

So I was especially excited to work with Gilbarco Veeder-Root to make driving directions and local business information available to people at the gas pump. Access to local information is so vital to our users, and it's especially relevant when they're not at home or at their desks. In the same way that we worked with Jet Blue and Virgin America to provide Google Maps on their flights, we want to make sure people can access the power of Google search whenever and wherever they need it.

And if we can improve a family vacation or two along the way, so much the better!

For more information, check out Gilbarco's press release.


[G] With a little help from your friends

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Official Google Blog: With a little help from your friends

Ever feel like your first idea isn't always your best idea, or that brainstorming with a friend really helps to inspire you? Similarly, when you're writing an essay or a short story, why would your first draft be the best one -- wouldn't you always want to take advantage of input from your pals?

Revision writing is a critical piece of the writing process, and more and more, teachers are using the concept of working with a "writing buddy" to help make writing more fun and collaborative, and to teach students the importance of having support throughout the creative process.

Google for Educators and the talented writers at Weekly Reader have buddied up on a lesson about revision writing, having worked with teachers all over the country to come up with tips and checklists for incorporating buddy writing in the classroom. Our online word processing tool, Google Docs, helps students create their first drafts, brainstorm with and inspire their peers, all while keeping track of each and every comma change, word replacement and new stroke of genius along the way.

Come check out the lesson, grab a few hints on using Google Docs and introduce your kids to buddy writing. We suspect their collaborations will get your creative juices flowing, too.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

[G] Attack of the 20%'ers

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Official Google Reader Blog: Attack of the 20%'ers

At Google, 20% time is core to our culture and today's Reader release incorporates features developed by two engineers in their 20% time. Those two engineers would be us!

Blogroll screenshotSteve Lacey: As a blogger I like to include a blogroll on my site so that friends, family and other readers can take a look at what I like to read. It's also a nice way to give a shout out to the authors of the blogs that I like. However, maintaining a blogroll can be a bit of a pain as your subscriptions ebb and flow.

As a heavy user of Google Reader, I figured that the best way to get a blogroll would be to have Reader generate it for me, based on my subscriptions. This didn't seem to hard, so I chatted to the Reader team and then set about implementing a this feature in my 20% time.

Well, now it's ready for prime time! Head over to the "Tags" section on the settings page, make one of the tags you use for subscriptions public, and click on "add a blogroll to your site." For an example, head over to my personal blog, and you can see my blogroll in action over on the right.

20% time is such a wonderful thing. As well as being able to actually implement my own wishlist in another Google product, I get to play around with technologies that I might not use day-to-day. As a backend engineer, mucking around in frontend code can be refreshing...

iPhone screenshot Dolapo Falola: One of my favorite Google Reader features is the ability to read feeds on my mobile phone. I'm a New Yorker so I'm out and about quite a bit without a computer. Whether it's sitting on a bus or waiting for a table for brunch, Reader provides a way for me to stay informed on news, or to just kill time whenever I can get a cellular or WiFi signal.

As Steve mentioned, 20% time lets Googlers who aren't necessarily working on Reader contribute features. I've been taking advantage of this opportunity to add small (pun intended) features to Google Reader Mobile. Some of the more interesting features I've added are the ability to see trends data on which feeds are viewed on mobile, as well as the ability to change the number of items displayed at once, or disable reformatting linked web sites for mobile phones. The latter in particular is especially useful for iPhone and other smart phones that are capable of properly displaying sites.

This release also includes some additional changes for iPhone users. While the functionality is the same as previous versions, we've changed the user interface to make it easier to navigate and select often-used links. We've also moved the navigational buttons to the top, since it's easy to return to the top of the page by just tapping on the status bar. Enjoy.

It's also probably worth mentioning that as of last week, I'm no longer a 20%'er but a full-fledged 80%'er on the Reader team — working in my 20% time provided me with the perfect way to test the waters and eventually switch projects.


[G] Sunlight Foundation sheds political light on Google Earth

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Google LatLong: Sunlight Foundation sheds political light on Google Earth

It's always inspiring to see the diverse, innovative ways people are using our products. Today on election day, it was especially exciting to come across a group called the Sunlight Foundation that's using Google Earth to 'shed some light' on the activities of Congress. The organization has created a unique KML file that pinpoints nearly 1,500 areas where congressional provisions (or earmarks) are directing funds. Read the USA Today story.

Check out this thought-provoking layer and find out where your tax dollars are being spent. And if you haven't already, don't forget to run out and vote!


[G] A spider's view of Web 2.0

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: A spider's view of Web 2.0

Many webmasters have discovered the advantages of using Ajax to improve the user experience on their sites, creating dynamic pages that act as powerful web applications. But, like Flash, Ajax can make a site difficult for search engines to index if the technology is not implemented carefully. As promised in our post answering questions about Server location, cross-linking, and Web 2.0 technology, we've compiled some tips for creating Ajax-enhanced websites that are also understood by search engines.

How will Google see my site?

One of the main issues with Ajax sites is that while Googlebot is great at following and understanding the structure of HTML links, it can have a difficult time finding its way around sites which use JavaScript for navigation. While we are working to better understand JavaScript, your best bet for creating a site that's crawlable by Google and other search engines is to provide HTML links to your content.

Design for accessibility

We encourage webmasters to create pages for users, not just search engines. When you're designing your Ajax site, think about the needs of your users, including those who may not be using a JavaScript-capable browser. There are plenty of such users on the web, including those using screen readers or mobile devices.

One of the easiest ways to test your site's accessibility to this type of user is to explore the site in your browser with JavaScript turned off, or by viewing it in a text-only browser such as Lynx. Viewing a site as text-only can also help you identify other content which may be hard for Googlebot to see, including images and Flash.

Develop with progressive enhancement

If you're starting from scratch, one good approach is to build your site's structure and navigation using only HTML. Then, once you have the site's pages, links, and content in place, you can spice up the appearance and interface with Ajax. Googlebot will be happy looking at the HTML, while users with modern browsers can enjoy your Ajax bonuses.

Of course you will likely have links requiring JavaScript for Ajax functionality, so here's a way to help Ajax and static links coexist:
When creating your links, format them so they'll offer a static link as well as calling a JavaScript function. That way you'll have the Ajax functionality for JavaScript users, while non-JavaScript users can ignore the script and follow the link. For example:
<a href="ajax.htm?foo=32" onClick="navigate('ajax.html#foo=32'); return false">foo 32</a>

Note that the static link's URL has a parameter (?foo=32) instead of a fragment (#foo=32), which is used by the Ajax code. This is important, as search engines understand URL parameters but often ignore fragments. Web developer Jeremy Keith labeled this technique as Hijax. Since you now offer static links, users and search engines can link to the exact content they want to share or reference.

While we're constantly improving our crawling capability, using HTML links remains a strong way to help us (as well as other search engines, mobile devices and users) better understand your site's structure.

Follow the guidelines

In addition to the tips described here, we encourage you to also check out our Webmaster Guidelines for more information about what can make a site good for Google and your users. The guidelines also point out some practices to avoid, including sneaky JavaScript redirects. A general rule to follow is that while you can provide users different experiences based on their capabilities, the content should remain the same. For example, imagine we've created a page for Wysz's Hamster Farm. The top of the page has a heading of "Wysz's Hamster Farm," and below it is an Ajax-powered slideshow of the latest hamster arrivals. Turning JavaScript off on the same page shouldn't surprise a user with additional text reading:
Wysz's Hamster Farm -- hamsters, best hamsters, cheap hamsters, free hamsters, pets, farms, hamster farmers, dancing hamsters, rodents, hampsters, hamsers, best hamster resource, pet toys, dancing lessons, cute, hamster tricks, pet food, hamster habitat, hamster hotels, hamster birthday gift ideas and more!
A more ideal implementation would display the same text whether JavaScript was enabled or not, and in the best scenario, offer an HTML version of the slideshow to non-JavaScript users.

This is a pretty advanced topic, so please continue the discussion by asking questions and sharing ideas over in the Webmaster Help Group. See you there!


[G] Advertise on more than 1,700 AM/FM radio stations

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Inside AdWords: Advertise on more than 1,700 AM/FM radio stations

Earlier this year, Google announced an important agreement with Clear Channel Radio, the largest radio station group owner in the U.S., to bring access to guaranteed inventory on top-rated AM and FM stations to AdWords advertisers. We're excited to report back that Clear Channel's inventory is now available through Audio Ads in AdWords. AdWords advertisers can reach their target customers on over 1,700 AM and FM radio stations, including almost 700 Clear Channel AM/FM stations. Our entire network averages 12 stations per market in each of the top 50 markets and covers every major station format. Advertisers will also have access to a guaranteed amount of premium inventory across these stations in all prime dayparts and in "Top 10" stations in all of the top 25 U.S. markets.

With access to this premium inventory, advertisers can broadcast their messages to millions of potential customers in markets like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, as well as markets like Boise, ID, Madison, WI, and Spokane, WA. Audio Ads allows advertisers to continue to increase the impact of their AdWords campaigns, even when potential customers aren't online.

Here's a recent comment from an advertiser who's been successful with Google Audio Ads:

Google Audio Ads has allowed us to expand our advertising into new markets we otherwise may not have reached. For our business, small, rural markets are extremely important: Audio Ads makes it easy and efficient to get our message out to these customers.

- Karl Kelman, Marketing Manager, US Airport Parking,

If you're interested in Audio Ads and you'd like to learn more, you can visit the Audio Ads Beginner's Guide or check out the Audio Ads website to listen to sample ads and read success stories.


[G] The road to better path-finding

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Official Google Blog: The road to better path-finding

Way back at the end of 2005, Google Maps' driving directions were on par with other sites, providing basic driving directions in a few seconds. But the nature of the existing system made it nigh impossible to make it faster, add new features, or improve the quality of the routes. And better directions can yield tangible real-world benefits by saving people time and fuel, alleviating frustration, and making travel more pleasant. For all these reasons, it made sense to take a fresh look at the problem and to try to reinvent things such that we could provide a service markedly superior to the status quo.

It's important to us to solve big problems. Automatically finding routes quickly is a hard problem -- especially at a global scale (there are several hundred million road segments worldwide). Even if a routing program is needed to only look at 10% of the map and only examine each segment for a microsecond, it would take tens of seconds to compute a path. Route-finding has to be done automatically because it would be impossibly time-consuming to compute the best routes between all pairs of locations by hand.

Fortunately, we have the tools, technologies, and expertise that make it easier to tackle such hard problems and to build systems for searching large data sets quickly. A small group of engineers (of which I was a part) created the Google Maps route-finding project in Kirkland, WA with the hope of building a world-class system for route-finding. This is the first project I've worked on at Google, and it has given me the opportunity to learn all about the infrastructure we have to build and launch products and features.

We started with the geographic data sets already in use by other groups at Google. Then we designed, built, tested, and deployed a complete route-finding solution in under 12 months. Commutes across the 520 Bridge from Seattle became a favorite test query. As someone with a background in path planning and robotics, it's been great to work on a problem with such substantial theoretical and practical aspects. It took 10 months of hard work, thousands of MapReduce passes, and an uncountable number of lattes to complete.

And 'complete' doesn't really capture it. Our new route-finding system is hundreds of times faster: it can find and describe a cross-continental shortest path in well under a second. Shorter paths can be found proportionately faster.

As evidenced by our 'draggable directions' launch earlier this year, this kind of performance fundamentally changes your Maps experience. It's now possible for you to change your route by simply dragging it or its endpoints. (Here's an example of the above route adjusted to use I-90 instead of WA-520.) No other planning service provides this feature, and it would have been impossible to ship without the massive speedup provided by the system we created.

In the last few months, we've also added other features, like 'avoid highways' and 'estimated time-in-traffic.' Plus, we now cover about 50 countries worldwide. We've raised the bar for what a route-finding system can and should provide. We're pleased with what we've built, and you can expect further improvements in the coming months.

Just recently, the Google Maps route-finding team moved to our new Fremont Engineering office. I'm happy to report we don't have to commute across Lake Washington at all anymore. In fact, nearly half the team cycles in every day! And we're always looking for great people, so if any of this sounds like the kind of challenge you'd be up for, we'd love to hear from you.


[G] The Generosity of Bloggers

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Blogger Buzz: The Generosity of Bloggers

The results are in from the Blogger Challenge on Over 100 blogs and their readers helped to raise $420,000 for classroom projects benefitting more than 75,000 students in low-income communities. For more details and a list of some of the top blogs involved, check out the Official Google Blog.


Monday, November 5, 2007

[G] Simplified ad management is rolling out now

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Inside AdSense: Simplified ad management is rolling out now

Two weeks ago, we gave you a sneak peek of what was in store for November. Now, we're happy to let you know that we've started rolling out our new ad management feature to publishers! As a reminder, this feature will save the settings of your ad units within your AdSense account. That means, each time you want to change the colors, channels, or even the corner styles for your ad units, you can make the changes directly in your account rather than generating and pasting new code. Again, we're still working on rolling this feature out to all publishers, so don't worry if you don't see it in your account yet -- it'll be there soon.

Below are a few answers to questions you might have about this new feature:

How has the process of generating new ad code changed?
On the 'Get Ads' page of the 'AdSense Setup' tab, you'll find the same code generation wizard you've used before. At the end of the wizard, you'll now be prompted to provide a name for the ad unit you've just created. We recommend using a descriptive name so that you'll remember where you pasted this ad unit. For instance, use names like "Homepage Leaderboard," or "Top 300x250, Sports pages." You can find more detailed instructions in our Help Center.

Why do I need to name my new ad units now?
With this new feature, all your new ad code will have a name and an unique ad slot ID. This will help you remember them so you can make changes to them later directly on the 'Manage Ads' page. As noted above, please be as specific as possible when naming your ad units and include information such as location, ad size, and domain.

Will the old ad code on my sites still work?
Any ad code you've generated in the past will continue to work as normal. However, please note that the old ad code will not automatically be updated to include this feature. If you'd like to apply this new feature to your old ad units, you can import the code and save the new settings.

Why don't I see anything after adding a new ad unit to my site?
If you're implementing a newly created ad unit on your site, the ad unit may not appear for up to 10 minutes while our servers are informed about the settings for the new unit. Don't feel like waiting? Simply use the Preview function on the 'Manage Ads' page to check out your updated pages immediately.

I made some changes to my ads, but nothing changed on my site. What happened?
Just as noted above, any changes to the ad unit may take up to 10 minutes to be visible. Feel free to use the Preview function to see your changes immediately.

How do I change the size of my ad units on the 'Manage Ads' page?
Unfortunately, size is one of the few things you can't change with this new feature. To change the size of your ads, you'll need to visit the 'Get Ads' page to generate a new ad unit.

How do I delete some of the ad units I created?
Right now, it isn't possible to delete ad units from within your account. This is designed to help avoid instances where an active ad units might be accidentally deleted. However, ad units that have not generated impressions for 7 days will become 'inactive' and will automatically be hidden. You can check the 'Show inactive AdSense units' box to unhide them.

One last reminder - please keep in mind that this feature only applies to ad code generated from your account at If you create your ad code through one of our partners, such as Blogger,, or Apple iWeb, you'll continue to use the standard ad code.

Want to learn more about this feature? Feel free to check out our complete guide. You might also find our videos on generating ad code and managing your ads useful.

Finally, we'd like to hear what you think about this feature.


[G] Add Google News to Your Site

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Google News Blog: Add Google News to Your Site

If you are a web site owner, a blogger, or a professional site designer, take a look at the latest creation from the AJAX Search API team. With just a few clicks, anyone can configure and add a sleek looking Google NewsBar to their site.

Google AJAX Search API (Beta)
Google Code Home > Google AJAX Search API > Wizards > News Bar Wizard
Start Using the API
AJAX Search Wizards
Developer Guide
Class Reference
Code Samples
Community Samples
Knowledge Base
Developer Forum
Search Google Code
News Bar Wizard - Put Google News on Your Web Page
Embed a news bar on your web page and let your users see headlines and previews of Google News Search results that you've selected. Customize how the news bar should be displayed, and this wizard will write the code for you.

Customize it
News Strip (vertical orientation)
News Reel (horizontal orientation)

Search Expression:
Note: You can either specify a single expression or a comma separated list of expressions
In the news
powered by

Add code to your site

Copy and paste the following where you want your news bar to appear. Do not place it within the ... section of your page unless you plan on relocating the
elements out of this chunk of code.

The NewsBar is designed with your needs in mind. It can be configured in a horizontal mode where it delivers a continuous stream of news headlines to your site. The vertical mode delivers mboth news headlines and snippets. The NewsBar is perfect for your topical sites or blogs. For instance, if you are following the Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton race, try this NewsBar.

If you are a professional developer and want to use some of the more advanced features of the NewsBar, there is a complete developer guide that will walk you through all of the options. If you run a blog on Blogger, the NewsBar is already built in. To add it to your blog, just edit your blog's layout, and add the "Newsreel" page element.

A few controls that might complement your use of the NewsBar are, The YouTube VideoBar, The LocalSearch Control for Google Maps, the Slideshow Control, and the Dynamic Feed Control.


[G] DTrace demystified

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Official Google Mac Blog: DTrace demystified

by Scott Knaster

Now that Leopard is sweeping the planet, you might have heard about its cool new developer technologies, including DTrace, a great tool for observing and debugging software as it's running. If you're interested in learning more about DTrace, check out this terrific MacTech article written by our own Greg Miller.


[G] Better connections with Picasa Web Albums

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Google Photos Blog: Better connections with Picasa Web Albums

A few months back, we made it easy for almost anyone to partner with Picasa Web Albums by launching a free and open API that allows other services to connect to ours.

For Picasa Web Albums users, this means you can now 'automagically' download photos from Picasa Web Albums to partner sites, where you can do things like create animations, make hardcover books, or send photos to and from your mobile phone.

For partners, you can use the API to make it easier and faster for your users to import pictures to your service, which translates to users having more fun and getting more from your service.

Here are five companies that are using our public API to connect with Picasa Web Albums -- you can remotely access your photo collection while using their services: Create ice-cool animations from your snapshots. They call themselves "the end of slideshows," and we can see why. Self-publish hardcover photo books featuring your best photos. They offer the works -- library bindings, custom dust-jackets, even linen hardcover cases.

Picnik: Fast and easy online photo-editing in your browser. Send and receive photos directly from your camera phone.

Eye-Fi: A wireless memory card that adds Wi-Fi to your current digital camera so you can automatically transfer photos directly from your camera to Picasa Web Albums.
Look for more fun and interesting things you can do with your Picasa Web Albums pictures on partner sites coming soon!


[G] AdWords Optimization Tips: More on Negative Keywords

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Inside AdWords: AdWords Optimization Tips: More on Negative Keywords

If you follow our series on Optimization Tips, you know that we frequently encourage using negative keywords to improve your ROI. Specifically, adding negative keywords to your account can help better target your ads, increase clickthrough rates, and lower your minimum cost-per-click. You can read more on how to brainstorm negative keywords as well as how you can use them to improve your account performance in an earlier post. Today, we wanted to bring attention to an important feature of negative keywords that many advertisers frequently overlook when composing their negative keyword list: keyword match types.

You may know about the different keyword match types (broad, phrase, and exact) for the keywords you want to show your ads on. But did you know that negative keywords also run on these different keyword match types? Many advertisers use broad match for their negative keywords, and accidentally filter out too many search queries, including ones that they would have wanted their ad to show on. Let's check out an example below.

Say you own a men's clothing store and you would like to increase traffic to your site by running a special winter holiday campaign for your men's accessories line. In the Search Query Report you recently ran, you noticed that the ads in your holiday campaign for men's accessories are also showing up when users are searching for women's silk scarves. You have the broad match keywords silk ties, wool scarves, and men's gifts in your keyword list, and now you want to add the negative keyword of silk scarves. But which negative keyword match type should you choose? Below is a graph illustrating what would happen if you chose negative broad (-silk scarves), negative phrase (-"silk scarves"), and negative exact (-[silk scarves]) match types.

(Click on image for full-size version.)

As illustrated above, different match types for negative keywords can seriously impact when your ads show. In the first column for negative broad match, you would be losing out on many relevant search queries such as men's scarves and even your own selected keywords of silk ties and wool scarves, simply because the broad match type filters out queries that have either the word silk or scarves. In the last column for negative exact match, search queries containing items that you do not sell like silk scarves gifts and women's silk scarves still cause your ad to show because you are only filtering out the exact match silk scarves.

Using negative keywords effectively requires carefully thinking about how negative keywords will impact your campaign. In addition, you should always monitor your traffic, clickthrough rate, cost per conversion, and search queries to make sure that you are seeing the desired result.

We hope that you've found this tip on negative keywords to be helpful. As always, please let us know which optimization tips you would like to read about in this series.


[G] Bloggers blog, readers donate, students benefit, tomatoes dance

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Official Google Blog: Bloggers blog, readers donate, students benefit, tomatoes dance

Back in early October we announced our support for the Blogger Challenge put on by Now that October has come to a close, it's time to recognize what DonorsChoose, 100+ bloggers and their readers have accomplished: they've raised $420,000 for classroom projects, which will benefit more than 75,000 students in low-income communities.

We promised a nod to those who helped raise the most money for students, so without further ado, here are the Blogger Challenge categories and winning blogs:
We extend our gratitude and congratulations to these winners and all of the participating bloggers for making this a success. Of course, we all owe thanks to their readers for supporting students. Sarah Bunting of Tomato Nation took this to heart and thanked her readers in her own (tomato) way -- enjoy!


[G] Where's my Gphone?

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Official Google Blog: Where's my Gphone?

Despite all of the very interesting speculation over the last few months, we're not announcing a Gphone. However, we think what we are announcing -- the Open Handset Alliance and Android -- is more significant and ambitious than a single phone. In fact, through the joint efforts of the members of the Open Handset Alliance, we hope Android will be the foundation for many new phones and will create an entirely new mobile experience for users, with new applications and new capabilities we can't imagine today.

Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications -- all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile. Through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. We think the result will ultimately be a better and faster pace for innovation that will give mobile customers unforeseen applications and capabilities.

We see Android as an important part of our strategy of furthering Google's goal of providing access to information to users wherever they are. We recognize that many among the multitude of mobile users around the world do not and may never have an Android-based phone. Our goals must be independent of device or even platform. For this reason, Android will complement, but not replace, our longstanding mobile strategy of developing useful and compelling mobile services and driving adoption of these products through partnerships with handset manufacturers and mobile operators around the world.

It's important to recognize that the Open Handset Alliance and Android have the potential to be major changes from the status quo -- one which will take patience and much investment by the various players before you'll see the first benefits. But we feel the potential gains for mobile customers around the world are worth the effort. If you're a developer and this approach sounds exciting, give us a week or so and we'll have an SDK available. If you're a mobile user, you'll have to wait a little longer, but some of our partners are targeting the second half of 2008 to ship phones based on the Android platform. And if you already have a phone you know and love, check out and make sure you have Google Maps for mobile, Gmail and our other great applications on your phone. We'll continue to make these services better and add plenty of exciting new features, applications and services, too.

What would your phone do?