Rabu, 04 Desember 2013

The power of Search, now across apps

A task as simple as choosing a movie to see can actually be complex — and the information you want can be in several different places, often in apps. You might get your trivia from IMDb, the box office stats from Wikipedia and ratings from Rotten Tomatoes. Starting today, Google can save you the digging for information in the dozens of apps you use every day, and get you right where you need to go in those apps with a single search. Google Search can make your life a little easier by fetching the answer you need for you — whether it’s on the web, or buried in an app.

Getting you there faster
Let’s say you’re getting ready for the holidays but can’t remember the name of that classic Christmas movie you want to show your children. Now, you can use Google search to find the movie and learn more about it in one of your favorite apps.

Helping you find just the right app
Sometimes, the best answer for a search can be an app. Say you want to explore downhill skiing — now, you can just ask Google for downhill skiing apps and get a collection of useful apps.

These new features are rolling out now on Android (through the Google Search app or directly in Chrome and Android browsers). App listings for from Google Play will appear in search when they’re relevant. You’ll be able to search within a select number of apps initially (learn more). We’re working with developers to add more over the coming months (if you’re a developer, learn more). 

This is just one step toward bringing apps and the web together, making it even easier to get the right information, regardless of where it’s located.

Posted by Scott Huffman, VP of Engineering

Senin, 02 Desember 2013

The value of openness in Android security

If you use an Android phone or tablet, there are a lot of benefits that come from Android’s open nature--customization and choice are the most obvious. But an often overlooked benefit of openness is security: by developing in the open, anyone can check Android’s code to verify that it’s trustworthy or discover areas where it can be improved. Furthermore, the security community can even write code to make Android stronger and protect it against unrealized attacks.

Google has always worked closely with the security industry to make the products you use safer and more secure, and we wanted to highlight a few recent examples of that cooperation on Android:

  • Android, now part of the Google Patch Reward Program: That’s right, Google actually pays developers when they contribute security-related patches to popular open source projects, and Android is now a part of this program. As a user, this means that you have the broader security community looking out for you and preventing possible threats, before they are acted upon. 
  • Security improvements in Android 4.4, from the community: In Android 4.4, we reinforced the Android sandbox (which prevents applications from extending outside of their own area and damaging other parts of a device) by putting SELinux into enforcing mode, providing one of the strongest security systems available. The core of SELinux, as well as many of the Android specific extensions have been contributed by third-parties through open source, an example of real security improvements from the community you can use today. 
  • Pwn2Own Mobile, with Android: Android was a contributor to the bounty in this year’s PacSec Security conference, where teams of security researchers tried to exploit popular mobile devices. And while no exploit was found in Android on the Nexus devices provided, we were ready and waiting to create a patch in the event of an exploit! 
The Android team works very closely with the security research community at large to foster public discussions and implement improvements such as the ones above. This openness has helped make the Android phone or tablet you carry with you everyday much more secure.

Posted by Adrian Ludwig, Android Security Engineer

Rabu, 20 November 2013

Introducing Google Play Newsstand - one place for all your news

Staying up on the news can be a daunting task. You have to go to a different website or app for each of your favorite magazines, newspapers and blogs. One place to read and discover all of this would be a lot simpler.

Today we’re launching Google Play Newsstand, a new app for your Android phone or tablet which brings together all of your favorite news sources in one experience. Newsstand puts the news you care about most front and center and presents stories that interest you based on your tastes. The more you read the better it will get. You can subscribe to magazines, newspapers, blogs and news sites and we’ll format and optimize them all for reading on your tablet or phone. With the swipe of a finger, you can browse full length articles, with beautiful images, audio and video right inside the app. You can access these articles even when you’re offline or bookmark them to read later.

Google Play Newsstand offers more than 1,900 free and paid, full length publications that you can subscribe to or follow. Some of these include:

  • Newspaper Subscriptions: Full-length content from some of the world’s top newspapers including The Australian, The Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, The National Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
  • Magazines: Hundreds of HD magazines like Better Homes & Gardens, The Economist, Esquire, Fast Company, Forbes, Game Informer, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Shape, TIME, Vanity Fair and WIRED, from publishers like American Media Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, TIME Inc., and more. 
  • Blogs: Your favorite blogs like Apartment Therapy, Colossal, Cool Hunting, Flavorpill, Saveur Daily, TMZ and The Verge. 
  • News sites: Leading news sites like ABC News, The Atlantic, CBS Sports, CNET, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, The Guardian, NPR, Reuters, The Telegraph, and more.

If you’re in the US, Canada, UK or Australia, the Google Play Magazines app will be upgraded to Google Play Newsstand over the next few days. In all other countries, you can download the Play Newsstand app for your Android phone or tablet from Google Play. If you’re a Google Currents user, you can upgrade to Play Newsstand by downloading the new app. You’ll find all of your favorite news sources will be transferred and ready to read the minute you open it.

Google Play is all about bringing you great content on your phone and tablet. No matter what your interests, there’s something for everyone in Newsstand.

Posted by Mussie Shore, Product Manager for Google Play Newsstand

Kamis, 31 Oktober 2013

Android for all and the new Nexus 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How’s that for a treat?

Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps

Minggu, 08 September 2013

Need to Scale? Subroto Bagchi's "The Elephant Catchers" will almost get you there

I have always been amazed by Subroto Bagchi's ability to combine writing and active public engagements with a successful corporate career. More importantly, he is a good writer, and his books (The High Performance Entrepreneur; Go Kiss the World) have inspired thousands of young Indians to take wings and pursue their dreams.

But, from my perspective , his most important book is The Professional. The rapid growth of the Indian economy has meant that lakhs of young Indians have entered the workforce in the last two decades. But neither the Indian education system nor the Indian social system prepares our young people for organizational life. Subroto's book fills this gap with the most practical set of inputs that I have seen. Institutions of higher learning in India couldn’t do better than conduct workshops around the core principles that Subroto proposes in his book.

 Now, The Elephant Catchers

Subroto's latest book returns to his earlier theme of entrepreneurship but with a twist - this time his focus is on scaling-up and growth. What does it take to make a company scalable? How do your people requirements change? What about organizational values? And external branding?

There are aspects of the book that I really liked. I found Subroto’s candor about the Kyocera fiasco which led to a huge write-off and, ultimately, the departure of Mindtree founder and Chairman Ashok Soota refreshing in an era where the truth is often obscured by corporate spin. Mindtree acquired the whole team developing a new mobile handset from Kyocera on the premise that the new handset was going to be path-breaking and this would give Mindtree a leg up in the R&D and product engineering space (one of the areas where Mindtree has tried to differentiate itself as a company). However, Subroto describes how they made a major error of judgement, perhaps carried away by the exciting prospects of a step jump in that business. Readers who are familiar with our 8 Steps framework would readily see Mindtree’s failure to do any low cost experiments to test the key hypotheses or assumptions related to this new product, as well as the absence of a robust de-risking process as significant gaps in Mindtree’s process.

Another section that I found very useful is on building a sales engine. The best salesmen rarely make the best heads of sales, the skill sets and personalities required for the jobs are very different. When you hire an experienced sales head from another company, s/he will not be used to working alone and will require other people, data and support to be successful, so the total cost to the company is much higher than the compensation paid to the head of sales. And, most importantly, the individual who has been a sales head in another company may not be the best person to create and build a new sales organization. While the challenges in building a sales organization are well known, Subroto does an excellent job of illustrating these challenges based on Mindtree’s experience. This would be invaluable to any small company that aspires to grow beyond the efforts of the founders to build a sustainable sales pipeline.

Strategy, JVs, M&As, and other insights

Subroto makes several other important points in this book. The first is about “strategy.” In Subroto’s view, you don’t need a strategy unless you are seeking a significantly higher growth rate than the industry. While I agree with him that strategy is all about performing much better than the average performer, I would hesitate to connect strategy to growth alone. In my classes, I emphasize that the objective of strategy is achieving sustained, above average returns that exceed the cost of capital. While growth is one part of this, you need a strategy even if you want to achieve distinctive performance on other dimensions such as margins or return on investment.

Subroto emphasizes the important of the emotional connect of strategy. I couldn’t agree with him more - if you want people to get excited about the strategy they need to relate to it emotionally. That’s why a catchy story that communicates the strategy well is much more useful than aggressive numerical targets.

Subroto has interesting views on joint ventures. He is generally not in favour of them. I find it interesting that few Indian business leaders are very gung-ho about alliances. Does this come from a strong need for control? Or, an inherent distrust of others?  Or, because Indian companies often lack a distinctive advantage that they can bring to the table? I haven’ seen any good research on this….

Subroto is skeptical about M&A’s as well. Of course, we know the global stats on the success of M&A’s are not good, and Mindtree’s experience seems to have been consistent with these! But, I wish he had also referred to research shows that the ability to do acquisitions successfully is a capability that has to be learnt, and that there are companies like GE and Cisco globally, and our own Bharat Forge and the Tata group that have over time developed the capability to do acquisitions successfully.

The chapters on how to deal with the media, use consultants and make corporate social responsibility (CSR) a core part of the company’s strategy don’t cover much new ground but are eminently practical and would be useful to the entrepreneur trying to scale up his enterprise.

Two Weaknesses

While the book is eminently readable and has a tone that is Subroto's very own, I found his coverage of two issues unconvincing, or at least lacking in details. In a way the two are related. If you read Subroto's earlier book, The High Performance Entrepreneur, you would recall how Mindtree decided on its core values through a consultative process with its stakeholders. Mindtree was conceived as a warm and caring company; its logo was designed by youngsters from the spastic school.

In The Elephant Catchers, Subroto describes how expertise, being businesslike and adding value became critical attributes as Mindtree tried to scale. This led to a re-definition of Mindtree’s core values as well as a change in the external branding and positioning. But the book doesn't tell you how these changes were effected in the heart and soul of the company. If merely re-stating values changed organizations, change would be child's play. Similarly, for a brand to be successful, it has to be much more than external communication – customers have to experience the brand for themselves in every interaction with the company. But the book doesn’t complete the picture on these points.

From discussions with him, I know that Subroto has very sophisticated ideas on organizational change. He even played the curiously named role of “Gardener” for a few years in which his focus was on building the next generation of leadership at Mindtree. In The Elephant Catchers, he describes how individuals need to scale along with the company, and if they fail to do so they may not be a part of the longterm plans of the company. But, somehow, he hasn’t tied these different threads together, and hence the reader doesn’t get a holistic picture of the change process.

But, I would still recommend this book for its useful insights and triggers for fresh thinking, and above all for an opportunity to hear first-hand from one of the best business storytellers of our time.

Sabtu, 24 Agustus 2013

India Needs More Science Museums: Reflections on a Recent Visit to Hong Kong Science Museum

On a day made grey by the retreating presence of Typhoon Utor, we recently headed to the Hong Kong Science Museum (HKSM). En route, we crossed the majestic sight of Victoria Harbour, and the crowded streets of Tsim Sha Tsui. With its glittering shops and bustling commerce, a science museum seemed somewhat incongruous in Hong Kong, and we were therefore curious to see what happened there.

As we entered the museum, we realized that it is a popular place. There was a loud buzz of young voices and kids milling everywhere. Any doubts we might have had about the relevance of museums in the internet era were dispelled as we saw the excitement there. It wasn’t much different from what I recall from visiting Bengaluru’s own Visveswaraya Museum as a young student many many years ago.

Practical and Contemporary

HKSM is an intriguing mix of high science and very practical stuff. Reflecting Chinese pragmatism, many of the exhibits are closely related to contemporary life. These give a powerful message of how science and technology are intertwined with our daily routine.

Pork is a mainstay of the Chinese diet. HKSM features a set of exhibits on pigs –their different parts, what they are called, how they get converted into different food products, how they contribute to nutrition, and to other uses as well! The exhibits also have some interesting statistics on the millions of pigs consumed in Hong Kong itself every year, and how a large percentage of these are imported from mainland China.

There is a section focused on energy use in the domestic context.  Exhibits give visitors a chance to see which appliances and applications consume the most electricity. The differences between different forms of lighting appear particularly stark. A similar theme is heating, and how different types of heating are energy efficient to varying degrees (e.g. induction heating vs. conventional heating). Mock-ups of different rooms in the house allow visitors to see how much energy is consumed in each.

Reflecting sustainability concerns, there is a section on trash and the re-cycling potential of different forms of trash. Some really interesting questions are on the typical composition of trash, which was the material to be re-cycled first (aluminium), which materials can be re-cycled indefinitely (glass), etc.

There is a section on how different home appliances work. This section includes simple workings as that of the toaster, and more complex ones such as the microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, and washing machine. Each exhibit shows the appliance, what it looks like inside, and the principles behind its working.

Another important section is one on occupational health and safety. This section covers the dos and don’ts in erecting a crane, managing a construction site, etc. I thought the theme is very relevant even if the scope of this section is somewhat limited. (This could be a very valuable section for people in India where we often display inadequate concern to occupational safety issues!).

Considering how different forms of communication have become integral to our daily lives, it was good to see a whole section devoted to telecommunications.  This includes details of how mobile communication systems work (including a nice practice demonstration of how a call is handed over from one cell tower to another), different forms of transmission  such as TDMA, FDMA, etc.

More Conventional Science Museum Exhibits

HKSM has more conventional sections as well. A well-designed section on optics features captivating images created through mirrors and lenses with explanations of how these images are created.
One of the most conspicuous exhibits is a huge and noisy apparatus near the entrance that is operated just a few times each day to show the different types of energy and how they can be converted from one form to another.

Electricity and magnetism is an enduring favourite for it allows some impactful demonstrations of turbines, generators, etc. Automotive and aircraft are well-represented too – highlights include a Mercedes Benz engine and Cathay Pacific Airline’s first aircraft (a Dakota), etc.

It was good to see that HKSM has exhibits professionally designed by companies who make museum equipment as well as practical devices designed by the students of local universities. For example, an apparatus that demonstrates the different features of waves has been made by Mechanical Engineering students of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. A good museum therefore provides important collaboration and learning opportunities for institutes of higher learning as well.

Overall Experience

I liked the way different types of exhibits and sections are mixed up, with more theoretical and informative ones interspersed with the interactive and practical. Of course, HKSM is not free of the challenge of keeping exhibits in working condition – some of the exhibits were not accessible because they needed repair. Somewhat inexplicably, a whole section on nuclear power was closed.

Biology and agriculture are clearly under-represented in the museum. An exception is the large section on soyabean, presented as a  “wonder of China” with impressive statistics on harvests and productivity, but this doesn’t make up for the absence of important fields such as genetics and molecular biology.

When we visited HKSM, there was a stunning exhibition of award-winning wildlife photography in the basement. I am still not sure how exactly this fits in with a science museum, but the photographs were so impressive that I guess no one is complaining. (One photo of two young tigers near a water body at Bandhavgarh National Park was very reminiscent of a scene we saw when we visited the part a couple of years ago).


A few decades ago (in the 1980s?), there was an effort to start science museums and planetariums across India. If I recall correctly, there was even a unit in the Department of Science and Technology to spearhead this effort. But it’s clear that the creation of museums has not kept pace with the growing population.

Though there is a lot that can be done on the internet, the excitement of seeing a working model before your eyes that you can touch and feel is important to spur innovation. Science museums can serve this purpose well. A strong network of science museums would go a long way to supplement the important work that organizations like the Agastya Foundation are doing to spread science education.

Supporting thematic science museums could be a powerful CSR initiative for our leading companies. Why can’t our IT companies contribute to the creation of museums related to the fields in which they work? 

Rabu, 21 Agustus 2013

Here, there and everywhere: Google Keep reminds you at the right time

Notes are a good way to keep track of all you have to do, but most of us need a little nudge now and then. Google Keep can remind you of important tasks and errands at just the right time and place. For example, Keep works with Google Now to remind you of your grocery list when you walk into your favorite grocery store, and nudges you on Thursday night to take out the trash.

To get started, select the “Remind me” button from the bottom of any note and choose the type of reminder you want to add. You can add time-based reminders for a specific date and time, or a more general time of day, like tomorrow morning. Adding a location reminder is incredibly easy too—as soon as you start typing Google Keep suggests places nearby.

Of course, sometimes plans change. If you get a reminder you’re not ready to deal with, simply snooze it to a time or place that’s better for you.


It’s now even easier to get to all of your notes using the new navigation drawer, which includes a way to view all of your upcoming reminders in one place. And for people who want more separation between their home and work lives, the drawer also lets you easily switch between your accounts. 

And finally, we've made it easier to add your existing photos to a Google Keep note on Android. When you tap the camera icon you can choose between taking a new photo or adding one you already have from Gallery.

The new update is gradually rolling out in Google Play, and available now on the web at http://drive.google.com/keep and in the Chrome App.

Posted by Erin Rosenthal, Product Manager