Saturday, February 11, 2012

[G] Content rules the social media roost

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YouTube Blog: Content rules the social media roost

Today we welcome Paul Kontonis of the International Academy of Web Television and Digitas to get us ready for Social Media Week, with a look at video on the web.

2012 is being touted as being THE year for web video. Between YouTube’s investment in original channels, Netflix’s original content deals, and Tom Hanks partnering with Yahoo on original programming, there is confidence that these investments help make this a game-changing year.

At the center of online video’s success is social. In fact the futures of both social and content are highly intertwined. Content needs social and social needs content. Social allows for the discovery and sharing of content and video gives people something to share and discover through their social graphs.

Social Media Week reflects the global impact of social media on all aspects of business, society, and culture, and content is no different. From the importance of quality and engaging content, to the distribution and measurement, content’s role is highlighted in a series of events listed below.

Guest to the YouTube Blog Paul Kontonis, International Academy of Web Television Chairman of the Board of Directors, and VP/Group Director at Digitas, recently watched “Working with Brands and Content Creators - 2012 IAWTV Awards Panel.”


Friday, February 10, 2012

[G] Syria unrest, Denver snowstorm, earthquake in the Philippines

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YouTube Blog: Syria unrest, Denver snowstorm, earthquake in the Philippines

Everyday on the CitizenTube channel (and @CitizenTube on Twitter), along with our curation partners @storyful, we look at how the top news stories are covered on YouTube. Each week we post a weekly recap of the top news stories of the week, as seen through the lens of both citizen-reported footage and professional news coverage.

Come back next week to see the news unfold on YouTube.

Posted by Olivia Ma, YouTube News and Politics Manager, recently watched "War Torn: An Iraq Veteran's Story."


[G] Drupal Usability Study at Google livestreamed to 100+

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Google Open Source Blog: Drupal Usability Study at Google livestreamed to 100+

I am excited to announce what a huge success the Drupal usability studies were last week! We livestreamed 8 usability sessions using both Google+ Hangouts on Air and and had over 115 people watching live! The exciting conversations taking place in the #drupal-usability IRC channel proved how powerful live events are; the community truly came together through a process of collaborative brainstorming and experiencing the struggles of new users collectively as they happened.

Our usability lab setup was flawless thanks to the masterful help of my friend and coworker Garen Checkley. Jen Lampton from Chapter Three served as the help desk support for study participants during the session. I moderated the sessions and walked participants through different tasks that we created along with the help of Bojhan Somers and Angie Byron.

We divided our study participants into 2 groups to study; one using vanilla Drupal 7 to observe where new users had trouble understanding the the basic system, and one working with a custom Drupal 7 install that already had specific contrib-modules installed and enabled to gain insight into usability issues with specific interfaces, especially the hugely popular module Views."

Currently we are beginning the process of turning our findings into actionable items that we can put into issue queues. The Drupal Usability group will work hard to act on the results of this study to improve Drupal. Recorded videos of the sessions can now be viewed on our YouTube playlist.

Additionally, I have posted a video of my presentation “User Experience for You and Drupal too!” with Jen Lampton from Drupal Camp San Diego (SANDCamp) in an article on my blog. Be sure to check out the video for an overview of fundamental principles of user experience and how UX has evolved in the Drupal community.

When our findings and results from the study become more refined, Garen will write another blog post on this blog to share our findings and some more links. Until then, make sure to get involved with the Drupal Usability group if you are interested in helping to act on the findings of these studies and continue to make Drupal better!

By Becky Gessler, Google Search Quality team


[G] Ship Wars@ Google Waterloo: A virtual battle of intergalactic spacecraft

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Official Google Blog: Ship Wars@ Google Waterloo: A virtual battle of intergalactic spacecraft

On Tuesday, January 24, Google Waterloo opened its doors to engineers from the Kitchener-Waterloo area to participate in the first ever Ship Wars Programming Competition. The brainchild of myself and another Waterloo engineer, Garret Kelly, Ship Wars is a competition in which participants code their own intergalactic crafts in the programming language of their choice, and then battle against each other in a virtual environment. The inaugural competition proved quite popular, drawing nearly 40 participants, ready for battle.

The game itself went through a lengthy series of internal tests and refinements at the Google Waterloo office in the weeks leading up to the tournament. On the day of the event, participants quickly learned how to play and were able to code, test and enter their virtual ships into competition in under three hours. Not an easy feat!

The engineers brought their own machines (mostly laptops, but a few brought in huge desktops) to build and run their ships. After a brief overview of the rules, they were able to get started coding their ships in the language of their choice—some even switched languages mid-way through the event, changing their plan of attack. They were able to control the way the ships moved (direction and speed) and the strength of their weapons, but were only given clues as to how their ship and weapon systems would behave inside the simulation— the rest had to be deduced by playing test matches against example ships. This type of on-the-fly problem solving proved to be a unique and exciting challenge.

To test their ships in battle against other engineers’ creations, head-to-head battle stations were set up around the room. At these stations, participants could see how their ships were shaping up, watch them in action and ultimately decide what changes they could make before the final competition.

Local engineers design their virtual battleships

At the end of the evening, guests were given a tour of the Google Waterloo office while their ships “went to battle.” Thousands of simulated head-to-head battles and 15 minutes later, to the sound of much laughter and raucous cheering, the ship captains saw their results and watched replays of some of the most dramatic battles. Prizes (a Motorola Xoom Tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and a Google messenger bag) were awarded to the designers of the three ships with the most wins. For more photos, here’s a link to our album.

This wildly successful event will be expanding out to a few other Google offices in the near future. Be on the lookout, Pittsburgh and Cambridge: Ship Wars is coming to you next!

Posted by Aaron Kemp, Software Engineer

(Cross-posted from the Technical Programs and Events blog)

[G] Celebrating our history, accomplishments and community during Black History Month

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Official Google Blog: Celebrating our history, accomplishments and community during Black History Month

If you walk down the halls of our New York office, you might learn something about the history of technology. This month, our walls showcase the contributions of Black inventors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in celebration of Black History Month.

Black History Month, which is every February in the U.S., provides us with an opportunity to recognize the history and diversity of the communities where we operate. Yesterday, our midwestern Googlers listened to the music of Michigan’s only Black and Latino Orchestra and next week, Dr. Clarence Jones will be speaking to our Bay-area Googlers about writing Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This is just a small sampling of the dozens of celebrations Googlers are hosting all month long.

Black History Month also gives us a chance to celebrate the diversity of our Googlers and highlight some ways we work with underrepresented groups. One of my favorite examples is the story of the Black Googlers Network (BGN). In June 2006, a group of Googlers looking to connect and foster community among Black colleagues got together to create an internal networking group. The Black Googlers Network started as a mailing list, but quickly grew into much more. Passionate about growing the next generation of Black leaders in the technology industry, BGN partnered with our university programs team to strengthen our relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a result, we’ve not only increased our recruiting presence at these schools, but are now also partnering with HBCU faculty to develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, encouraging more students to pursue degrees in these areas and prepare them for careers in technology.

Members of our BGN are also shaping the way we do business. In May of 2009, two recent grads in our Ann Arbor office saw an opportunity, and what started as an idea bounced around between two twenty-somethings turned into an official Google program. The idea was to help minority-owned small businesses grow their online presence and, just a few months later, the idea became a reality when Accelerate with Google officially launched. The program has since grown into a team of several dozen Googlers, all working to get small, minority-owned businesses online and helping those business owners connect with one another.

Our passionate Googlers, like those behind BGN and Accelerate, allow us to better connect with the Black community and help to create an inclusive and diverse workplace. As we throw dozens of celebrations around the country in our Atlanta, Chicago, Ann Arbor, New York, Los Angeles and Mountain View offices to mark Black History Month, we invite you to join us by following our Google for Students and Life at Google pages on Google+, where we’ll be hosting photos, recaps and hangouts throughout the month.

Posted by Yolanda Mangolini, Director of Global Diversity Talent & Inclusion

[G] Introducing our February “On The Rise” Nominees

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YouTube Blog: Introducing our February “On The Rise” Nominees

Each month, we identify four YouTube Partners whose Channels have experienced significant growth and are on the cusp of really taking off for our On The Rise program. Our February nominees include both entertainers and educators. Need a car repair tip or fun baking ideas? Want to learn about music production, or watch a drawing come to life? Look no further than the Partner videos below.

So, where do you come in? One of these partners will be featured on the YouTube homepage, and you can help them get there. Check out their videos below and vote for your favorite in the top right corner of this blog. In addition to your votes, each Channel will be evaluated on criteria such as audience engagement and Channel optimization to decide which Channel will be featured on the homepage, Facebook and Twitter at the end of the month.

In past months, Partners like ThePortraitArt and CaliforniaTravelTips have seen tremendous growth in their audience thanks to your support. You have until February 17th at 5pm PT to vote for your favorite Channel. Check back to see who secured the homepage feature on February 28th.


Hailing from Los Angeles, Mary’s day job involves creating props and costumes for Epic Rap Battles of History. Her real hobby, though, is drawing - she’s been doing it her whole life. Check out Mary’s channel to witness her talent in motion.


Need creative baking ideas for Valentine’s day, birthdays, or other special occasions? Whether you’re an experienced baker or just learning to bake, Tammy’s channel offers easy-to-follow instructional videos packed with fun ideas and recipes for cookies, bars, and cupcakes.


Dave is passionate about music. He’s in a band, and he’s dedicated his YouTube channel to hosting free music production tutorials. Listen to his original music, learn how to set up a home studio, read music software/hardware reviews, and more on this Telford, England, native’s channel.


Eric is a certified master technician dedicated to the art of auto repair and helping the “do-it-yourselfer.” He attended art school, but then shifted his focus to automotives and hasn’t looked back. Check out his channel to learn how to drive a stick shift, replace a fuel pump, or shim a starter.

If you’re interested in checking out more rising YouTube Partners, visit our On The Rise channel, which features nominees, trending partners and monthly blog winners.

Devon Storbeck and Christine Wang, YouTube Partner Support, recently watched “9 Year Old Jonny Mizzone - How Mountain Girls Can Love - Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.”


[G] Tighten your laces as we head to the “Fastest Track in the World”

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YouTube Blog: Tighten your laces as we head to the “Fastest Track in the World”

The Millrose Games is regarded as the most historic indoor track & field event in the world, and is now coming to YouTube for the first time.

This event serves as a homecoming for the country’s top men’s and women’s athletes aiming for Olympic Gold in London as they sprint to the finish line on the "world’s fastest indoor track." You can watch the Millrose Games livestream in HD on YouTube starting at 1pm PT Saturday, February, 11, 2012. The premiere showcase begins at 3:45pm PT and runs through the famed Wanamaker Mile around 7pm PT.

Highlights of the event include Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt in pursuit of the first sub-minute 500m dash. Also, three of the women slated to run in the 400-meter dash have won Gold at the Olympic Games, so you can watch Sanya Richards-Ross, Natasha Hastings and Mary Wineberg go head to head.

Get your stopwatches ready as the 2012 Millrose Games are expecting to see top talent challenge long-standing records. You can get even more into track and field on YouTube Sports.

Julie Kikla, YouTube Sports, recently watched “Worlds fastest man meets his match.


[G] Celebrating one year of web vulnerability research

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Google Online Security Blog: Celebrating one year of web vulnerability research

Posted by Adam Mein, Technical Program Manager, Google Security Team

In November 2010, we introduced a different kind of vulnerability reward program that encourages people to find and report security bugs in Google’s web applications. By all available measures, the program has been a big success. Before we embark further, we wanted to pause and share a few things that we’ve learned from the experience.

“Bug bounty” programs open up vulnerability research to wider participation.

On the morning of our announcement of the program last November, several of us guessed how many valid reports we might see during the first week. Thanks to an already successful Chromium reward program and a healthy stream of regular contributions to our general security submissions queue, most estimates settled around 10 or so. At the end of the first week, we ended up with 43 bug reports. Over the course of the program, we’ve seen more than 1100 legitimate issues (ranging from low severity to higher) reported by over 200 individuals, with 730 of those bugs qualifying for a reward. Roughly half of the bugs that received a reward were discovered in software written by approximately 50 companies that Google acquired; the rest were distributed across applications developed by Google (several hundred new ones each year). Significantly, the vast majority of our initial bug reporters had never filed bugs with us before we started offering monetary rewards.

Developing quality bug reports pays off... for everyone.

A well-run vulnerability reward program attracts high quality reports, and we’ve seen a whole lot of them. To date we’ve paid out over $410,000 for web app vulnerabilities to directly support researchers and their efforts. Thanks to the generosity of these bug reporters, we have also donated $19,000 to charities of their choice. It’s not all about money, though. Google has gotten better and stronger as a result of this work. We get more bug reports, which means we get more bug fixes, which means a safer experience for our users.

Bug bounties — the more, the merrier!

We benefited from looking at examples of other types of vulnerability reward programs when designing our own. Similarly, in the months following our reward program kick-off, we saw other companies developing reward programs and starting to focus more on web properties. Over time, these programs can help companies build better relationships with the security research community. As the model replicates, the opportunity to improve the overall security of the web broadens.

And with that, we turn toward the year ahead. We’re looking forward to new reports and ongoing relationships with the researchers who are helping make Google products more secure.

[G] Snazzier graphics for more users

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Google Chrome Blog: Snazzier graphics for more users

Every day the web becomes more powerful, allowing developers to create the next generation of beautiful, immersive experiences online. In our latest Chrome Beta release, we’ve made a few enhancements to ensure users have a smooth ride in these graphics-intensive applications. If you want to dig into the details, clip on your pocket protector and head over to the Chromium blog.

Posted by Tom Wiltzius, Associate Product Manager and Snazz Master

[G] Share your Google Earth adventures on Google+

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Google Lat Long: Share your Google Earth adventures on Google+

Millions of people use Google Earth to explore exotic islands, re-visit their childhood homes, and scout out day hikes. Are you one of them? If so, why not share your virtual travel with friends and family?

With the recent release of Google Earth 6.2, you can easily share screenshots of your explorations with the people in your Google+ circles. Give it a try: just open Google Earth, sign in to your Google account via the button on the top right, and click “Share” to send a snapshot of your 3D view to your Google+ stream. Watch how easy it is to share:

We’ve already seen fantastic Google Earth land and cityscapes shared on Google+, not to mention solar systems, ocean topography, Street View scenes, weather forecasts, gigapixel photography and more. If you can find it in Google Earth, you can share it on Google+.

With Google Earth 6.2, you can easily share your Google Earth adventures on Google+.

And if you’re looking to engage with like-minded cartographers, add the new Google Earth +Page to your Google+ circles and share your own Google Earth snapshots with us. Use the hashtag #GoogleEarthSnapshot in your image description and we could include your photo in a community album on Google+!

There’s a world full of geo enthusiasts out there, so check our Google+ page often to share in the exploration.

Posted by Mark Harrison, Community Manager

Thursday, February 9, 2012

[G] Leroy Merlin Spain moves to the cloud

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Leroy Merlin Spain moves to the cloud

Posted by Luis Herrero, CIO, Leroy Merlin Spain

Editors note: Today we are happy to announce that the Spanish Leroy Merlin stores are moving to Google Apps for Business. Our guest blogger, Luis Herrero, CIO at Leroy Merlin Spain, tells us about the move.

Leroy Merlin Spain employees over 8,000 people in 50 stores throughout the country. Our large retail spaces provide self service and sales assisted services across four areas - DIY, building, gardening, and decoration. We’re the leading chain in this sector in Spain offering products, services and solutions to over 27 million customers.

Earlier this year we identified the need to modernize our IT systems, and we were seeking a system that would allow the business to become more efficient. We wanted a unified technology solution that is easy to use and would enable our teams across multiple stores to communicate and collaborate together.

After considering various options in the market, we decided to implement Google’s technology solutions for business. The primary reasons for choosing Google Apps were the speed, simplicity, ease of implementation and the quality of the service offered, together with Google’s wide experience with many other clients.

The adoption of Google Apps for Business is part of our strategy to position our business as a dynamic and innovative company, able to merge the business with one of the most advanced technologies in the market. We see our move as an opportunity for our employees to have powerful and easy collaboration and communication tools, and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve with these tools as we complete the roll out.

[G] Quantifying comedy on YouTube: why the number of o’s in your LOL matter

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Research Blog: Quantifying comedy on YouTube: why the number of o’s in your LOL matter

Posted by Sanketh Shetty, YouTube Slam Team, Google Research 

In a previous post, we talked about quantification of musical talent using machine learning on acoustic features for YouTube Music Slam. We wondered if we could do the same for funny videos, i.e. answer questions such as: is a video funny, how funny do viewers think it is, and why is it funny? We noticed a few audiovisual patterns across comedy videos on YouTube, such as shaky camera motion or audible laughter, which we can automatically detect. While content-based features worked well for music, identifying humor based on just such features is AI-Complete. Humor preference is subjective, perhaps even more so than musical taste.

 Fortunately, at YouTube, we have more to work with. We focused on videos uploaded in the comedy category. We captured the uploader’s belief in the funniness of their video via features based on title, description and tags. Viewers’ reactions, in the form of comments, further validate a video’s comedic value. To this end we computed more text features based on words associated with amusement in comments. These included (a) sounds associated with laughter such as hahaha, with culture-dependent variants such as hehehe, jajaja, kekeke, (b) web acronyms such as lol, lmao, rofl, (c) funny and synonyms of funny, and (d) emoticons such as :), ;-), xP. We then trained classifiers to identify funny videos and then tell us why they are funny by categorizing them into genres such as “funny pets”, “spoofs or parodies”, “standup”, “pranks”, and “funny commercials”.

 Next we needed an algorithm to rank these funny videos by comedic potential, e.g. is “Charlie bit my finger” funnier than “David after dentist”? Raw viewcount on its own is insufficient as a ranking metric since it is biased by video age and exposure. We noticed that viewers emphasize their reaction to funny videos in several ways: e.g. capitalization (LOL), elongation (loooooool), repetition (lolololol), exclamation (lolllll!!!!!), and combinations thereof. If a user uses an “loooooool” vs an “loool”, does it mean they were more amused? We designed features to quantify the degree of emphasis on words associated with amusement in viewer comments. We then trained a passive-aggressive ranking algorithm using human-annotated pairwise ground truth and a combination of text and audiovisual features. Similar to Music Slam, we used this ranker to populate candidates for human voting for our Comedy Slam.

 So far, more than 75,000 people have cast more than 700,000 votes, making comedy our most popular slam category. Give it a try!

Further reading:
  1. Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis,” by Bo Pang and Lillian Lee. 
  2. A Great Catchy Name: Semi-Supervised Recognition of Sarcastic Sentences in Online Product Reviews,” by Oren Tsur, Dmitry Davidov, and Ari Rappoport. 
  3. That’s What She Said: Double Entendre Identification,” by Chloe Kiddon and Yuriy Brun.

[G] Customize your standard reports

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Google Analytics Blog: Customize your standard reports

Designing a good custom report can be challenging, and sometimes all you really want is a slightly different version of a standard report. Using the new "Customize" feature in Google Analytics allows you to tweak our definitions of Standard Reports into your own Custom Reports.

So, what's new?
There is a new button in the action bar on all tabular standard reports in Analytics, labeled "Customize". 

Where to find the "Customize" option on standard reports

Clicking this button loads the custom report builder. From there, you are just clicks away from your own custom report.

An example of a customized standard report

What can I use it for?
Here are some example use cases to get the ideas flowing:
  • New metrics, familiar reports - The best metrics are the ones that provide actionable insights into your business. Try adding different metric groups to your favorite reports to see if how it impacts your view of conversion rates.

  • Drill down into your data - Sometimes, the best route to a particular piece of data is a drilldown not found in any standard report. You could customize the Language report to drill into search terms for a language-by-language comparison of your organic search traffic.

  • Filter to find insights - Ad campaigns can span many networks. Try customizing the AdWords Campaigns report and applying a filter for Ad Distribution Network matches "Google Search" to see your performance on only Google Search. 

What else should I know? 
  • Not all standard reports can be transformed into custom reports. Look for the "Customize" button to see if a particular report can be customized.

We hope you'll gain even greater insights into your data by customizing the power of Google Analytics standard reports to more closely match your business needs.

- Chris Anderson, Google Analytics team


[G] AdWords campaign management – Even better when you share

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Inside AdWords: AdWords campaign management – Even better when you share

Last January, we introduced a new way to manage changes across multiple campaigns with lists, starting with negative keyword lists. These lists give advertisers the ability to create and manage groups of negative keywords in your account and to associate them with multiple campaigns. We’re now pleased to announce two new developments to our lists feature which will sit in a new place in the AdWords left navigation panel called the “Shared library.”

#1. Placement exclusion lists

Exclusion lists, which are similar to negative keyword lists, allow you to create lists of placements to exclude, and associate these lists with multiple campaigns in your account.

For example, let’s say you have a set of particular placements on our Display Network that you don’t want your ads to appear on. Previously, you’d need to add these as placement exclusions to every campaign targeted to the Display Network within your account. With placement exclusion lists, you can create a single list containing these placement exclusions and associate them with any or all the campaigns in your account running on the display network. Additionally, if you wanted to add another exclusion, you’d just have to add it to the list once, and it would automatically apply to all the associated campaigns.

#2. List suggestions

The new list suggestions feature will tell you where you are using the same negative keywords or placement exclusions across multiple campaigns and therefore where it would be useful to create lists for these keywords/placements instead.

We hope these features will help you manage your negative keywords and placement exclusions more easily and efficiently by removing the need for duplication of entities across your account.

Please visit our Help Center to find out more about placement exclusion lists and the list suggestion feature.

Posted by Luisa Lu, Software Engineer

[G] Search Funnels refresh: new and improved interface

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Inside AdWords: Search Funnels refresh: new and improved interface

In March 2010, we launched Search Funnels, a tool that helps advertisers understand the series of search impressions and search clicks that result in conversions.

Since then, we've been tweaking the user interface to make it more useful and usable. We're launching our interface refresh today and want to familiarize you with the new interface so you can migrate smoothly. For the next few weeks you'll also be able to access the previous version (see the left navigation bar under the report list), but we hope you'll take advantage of the improvements in the new version.

Here's a sampling of some of the improved features:

Compare date ranges and see if your funnel has changed year-over-year. Just click on the date range drop down and this menu will appear:

Access drill-down dimensions quickly via tabs. You'll see these tabs at the top left of the Search Funnels tables:

View total conversions and conversion value side-by-side in our histogram reports, now available in all Search Funnels reports:

We've also made it easier to create persistent drill-down filters so you can view multiple reports focusing on the same analysis. For example, if you'd like to do an analysis based on "all the Top Paths where the first click was Campaign XYZ," you can now Save this drill-down and then click through multiple reports. If you no longer want to have this view, just click the "Clear" button above the report title and you'll return to the unfiltered version of the report:

Click "Save" to keep a first-clicked view across reports

Click "Clear" to return to an unfiltered view

We hope you enjoy these new usability tweaks, and happy path analyzing!

Posted by Laura Holmes, Product Manager


[G] An update on the Google bar

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Official Google Blog: An update on the Google bar

Two months ago, we announced our plans to roll out a new design for the Google bar. Our goal was to create a beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google. Based on your feedback, we realized there were some elements of the new bar that we could improve, and with that in mind, we’re introducing an updated version that we believe will provide a better experience.

The new design retains many of the feature changes we made in November that proved popular, including a unified search box and Google+ sharing and notifications across Google. The biggest change is that we’ve replaced the drop-down Google menu with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page.

We'll be rolling out this new version of the Google bar over the next few weeks. In the meantime, we invite you to read about the new design in our Help Center, and send us your feedback.

Posted by Eddie Kessler, Technical Lead