July 30, 2015

See the world in your language with Google Translate

[Cross posted from the Official Google blog]

The Google Translate app already lets you instantly visually translate printed text in seven languages. Just open the app, click on the camera, and point it at the text you need to translate—a street sign, ingredient list, instruction manual, dials on a washing machine. You'll see the text transform live on your screen into the other language. No Internet connection or cell phone data needed.

Today, we’re updating the Google Translate app again—expanding instant visual translation to 20 more languages (for a total of 27!), and making real-time voice translations a lot faster and smoother—so even more people can experience the world in their language.

Instantly translate printed text in 27 languages
We started out with seven languages—English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish—and today we're adding 20 more. You can now translate to and from English and Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. You can also do one-way translations from English to Hindi and Thai. (Or, try snapping a pic of the text you’d like translated—we have a total of 37 languages in camera mode).

To try out the new languages, go to the Google Translate app, set “English” along with the language you’d like to translate, and click the camera button; you'll be prompted to download a small (~2 MB) language pack for each.

Ready to see all of these languages in action?

And how exactly did we get so many new languages running on a device with no data connection? It’s all about convolutional neural networks (whew)—geek out on that over on our Research blog.

Have a natural, smoother conversation—even with a slower mobile network
In many emerging markets, slow mobile networks can make it challenging to access many online tools - so if you live in an area with unreliable mobile networks, our other update today is for you. In addition to instant visual translation, we’ve also improved our voice conversation mode (enabling real-time translation of conversations across 32 languages), so it’s even faster and more natural on slow networks.

These updates are coming to both Android and iOS, rolling out over the next few days.

Translate Community helps us get better every day
On top of today’s updates, we’re also continuously working to improve the quality of the translations themselves and to add new languages. A year ago this week, we launched Translate Community, a place for multilingual people from anywhere in the world to provide and correct translations. Thanks to the millions of language lovers who have already pitched in—more than 100 million words so far!—we've been updating our translations for over 90 language pairs, and plan to update many more as our community grows.

We’ve still got lots of work to do: more than half of the content on the Internet is in English, but only around 20% of the world’s population speaks English. Today’s updates knock down a few more language barriers, helping you communicate better and get the information you need.

Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate

July 27, 2015

Welcoming Lava to the Android One family

The goal of Android One is to ensure that more people have high-quality, up-to-date smartphones — and today we move another step towards that goal by welcoming Lava International Limited, one of the fastest growing mobile handset companies in India. Lava’s first Android One smartphone, the Lava Pixel V1, is now available in all leading national retail stores, multi-brand outlets and online at Flipkart.com starting at Rs 11,349*. 

The Lava Pixel V1 is a stunning phone, available in two striking colors — White-Silver and Gold.
The 5.5 inch wide HD screen is great for watching videos and the slim design packs 2GB of RAM and 32GB Internal memory (further expandable up to 32GB) for all of your favorite movies and music.

Of course, the Lava Pixel V1 also comes with all of the benefits of an Android One phone. First, it runs the latest version of pure Android (Lollipop 5.1), which provides up to 2x better performance and extended battery features. Second, it automatically gets upgraded to the next version of Android (according to Lava's schedule), so your phone stays fast and responsive over time.

Less than one year ago, Google introduced the Android One program in India. Since then, partners have helped to bring Android One to eight additional countries. We’ve been thrilled and humbled by both the progress and the work that’s left to do. But we look forward to continuing our work with partners on Android One and in the Android ecosystem more broadly to ensure that users have great phones with the latest Android innovation.
* The pricing may differ from seller to seller in offline retail stores

Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management

July 22, 2015

Cloud + mobile = supercharged growth for small businesses

India’s small businesses aren’t small when it comes to economic impact. They employ over 106 million people, make up almost a quarter of the workforce, and contribute close to half of the nation’s manufacturing output. As the country looks to drive growth, create jobs, and increase exports as part of the Digital India initiative, we teamed up with Deloitte to see how cloud and mobile tools could help small businesses support these national goals, and the results are striking.

The new report, “Connected Small Business — Unlocking India’s digital potential” finds that businesses that use cloud and mobile tools are more profitable, more innovative, export more, and have happier, more productive staff. Compared to offline businesses, those that use cloud and mobile tools grow 27% annually, are four times more innovative, and are 65% more likely to be exporting.

They’re also job creators — 84% said they’re hiring. With employees at these digitally engaged businesses six times more satisfied with their work and nine times more collaborative, it’s clear that technology decisions are impacting more than the bottom line: they also create happier, more productive employees.

As someone who talks with businesses about how Google Apps for Work has helped their businesses grow, go global, or connect and collaborate with their employees more easily, these findings put some numbers to the great stories I hear everyday.

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Freshdesk employees collaborate on tablets at their Chennai office

Take software startup Freshdesk for example. Founded in Chennai in 2010 with eight staff, they now employ over 450 people and have over 59 million end users — 90% of which come from outside of India. Google Apps has supercharged their team’s ability to meet this rapid growth. With Google Drive, employees work together on documents in real time from anywhere, on any device. While video conferencing with Google Hangouts helps the team stay in touch regardless of timezone or location. 

Or take Bangalore delivery business SpoonJoy: founded in 2014, they now deliver around 3,000 healthy and delicious meals to hungry Bangaloreans everyday. Their team uses Google Apps and estimates that cloud and mobile tools enable them to open their business in a new area in a third of the time it would take without these tools.
It’s not just startups or technology businesses that are reaping these digital dividends. Logistics company Pickingo estimates that having real-time access to delivery information with cloud and mobile tools has increased its orders by around 15%. Manufacturing company EMCO attributes 30% of their business growth to the adoption of digital technology.
Companies that are able to collaborate across teams and even continents are the ones unlocking great ideas that are succeeding in India today. These businesses understand that being digitally engaged goes beyond having a website. They’re enabling their staff to work from anywhere on any device, and are making important business information accessible to them. With India focused on supercharging economic growth and employment, the winning formula could just be the greater adoption of cloud and mobile tools by the country's small businesses.

Posted by Mohit Pande, Country Manager - India, Google for Work

July 9, 2015

Google India’s Code to Learn Contest becomes part of Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan

With the increasing proliferation of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in our life, a basic understanding of Computer Science is becoming an essential part of Education. At Google we are always endeavouring to promote fun and interesting ways to learn computer programming and Code to Learn Contest is one such initiative. Describing the initiative, Google Fellow, Dr Guha said that Programming is not just about computer science. It is a set of tools for kids to explore new ideas, virtually build new things, experience the frustration of things not working and finally the exquisite joy of creating something new from scratch. Programming democratizes the education of innovative thinking.

Code to Learn initiative has been included in the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan - National Innovation Mission. The contest enables students from classes 5 to 10 to develop software projects on subjects of their choice, without writing even one line of programming code! To develop their projects, students can use Scratch and App Inventor - both tools have been developed at MIT. These tools make programming very easy and students are able to tell stories, make animations, build games and create Android apps in a quick and intuitive manner.

The Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan  is the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)  flagship initiative. The program aims at fostering a spirit of inquiry and creativity, apart from inculcating a  love for Science and Math among children. Code to Learn will help kids effectively deploy technology and enhance their interest in Computer Science. The Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan will help in creating a framework for innovation and research in school learning. This will be essential for developing a ‘Digital First’ generation, ready to reap the rewards of Government of India’s Digital India Programme of which Google is a proud partner. The Code to Learn initiative will help in translating Prime Minister Modi’s vision of making India a world leader in digital technologies for it will help kids effectively deploy technology and enhance their interest in Computer Science.

On the occasion of launch of the mission, the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development, Mrs Smriti Irani said that she was grateful to have Google as a partner in Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan for enthusing children about coding and giving an opportunity to winners of the contest to engage with latest technologies and Google engineers at Google campus.

Code to Learn Contest was launched by former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.  He hoped that the mission would ignite the young minds and help develop love for knowledge from an early age and cement India’s leadership in this domain.

We invite school students in classes 5 to 10 enrolled at any school in India to visit the contest website to register for Google India Code to Learn Contest 2015.  Note that due to age restrictions, only parents or legal guardians can register for the contest on behalf of the students.

Submissions are now open at http://g.co/code2learn or http://g.co/codetolearn

Posted by Chetan Krishnaswamy, Head of Public Policy

July 4, 2015

Digitising India - One woman at a time with ‘Internet Saathi’

While women are making rapid progress in adoption of Internet in urban areas of India, women in rural India are getting left behind. Today only 12% of Internet users in rural India are women as per iCube 2014 report. There is a need to address this challenge and empower women in rural India through training and programs that can truly transform their lives. And we are delighted to share the launch of an exciting new partnership with Tata Trusts and Intel to launch an Internet literacy campaign for women in rural India.

The new initiative titled “Internet Saathi” will aim at enabling women in rural areas to use the Internet and benefit from it in their daily lives. We hope that this joint initiative will help us to bridge the technology gender divide, which currently puts women in rural India at risk of getting left behind as the world around them benefits from Internet.

We announced this in Mumbai on 3rd July with our  partners, NGOs and media. The launch was also graced by Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts who lauded the efforts of companies engaged in bringing technology to all sections of society to transform the nation. The initiative will provide basic training on the usage and benefits of Internet for women through specially designed Internet cycle carts that will visit villages to provide easy access to women.

At the launch of Internet Saathi
From L to R: Sandeep Menon (Country Head Marketing Google India), R Venkataramanan (Executive Trustee, Tata Trusts), Rajan Anandan (VP & Managing Director, Google SEA & India), Debjani Ghosh (Managing Director, Intel South Asia), Ratan Tata (Chairman, Tata Trusts)

Built on the back of a cycle, the Cart is modeled on India's traditional distribution system that is used to carry everything from ice-cream to industrial supplies. The operator or the "Internet Saathi" would be akin to the village postman who used to be the single point contact for the village with the outside world both in terms of information as well as communication. Tata Trusts, with its well spread on ground NGOs network, will manage the on-ground rollout with its partners whereas Google will invest in providing the Internet-enabled Carts and the training content.

The  initiative will kick off with 1000 such carts starting from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and will be rolled out across the country eventually reaching out to over 4500 villages covering 5 lakh women across rural India over the next eighteen months.  

The internet Cart would be available in the village for a minimum of two days every week for over a period of four to six months. It will create awareness and also try to ensure that adequate training is provided to use the devices till women are confident of using the devices independently.

Intel who has been a long-term partner of Google India’s Helping Women Get Online initiative will also support the initiative. This new initiative will help us to extend our helping women get online outreach to rural India. Since the launch of this initiative, Google has directly trained over 1.5 million women on the basics of the Internet.

Posted by Sandeep Menon, Country Marketing Director, Google India

June 30, 2015

New ways to beat traffic with Google Maps in India

Ever missed your movie at Priya Cinema because you were stuck in Kolkata traffic? Starting today, Google Maps can help you better plan your drive around traffic and save time on the road by showing you real time traffic information directly on the map. Today’s update to Google Maps brings you new traffic information for 12 cities in India —  Kolkata, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Ludhiana, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Kochi, Madurai, Bhopal — as well as a real time look at traffic conditions across all national highways and expressways in India.

Once the Traffic layer is turned on Google Maps for mobile or desktop, you’ll be able to see routes mapped out in different colors, indicating the different speed of traffic on those roads. While green means there are no traffic delays on the road, orange indicates a medium amount of traffic and red alerts to you beware of heavier traffic congestion.

Being able to see what local traffic is typically like at any given day and time can help you plan your drives easier than ever on Google Maps. If you’re already on the road and in Navigation mode, Google Maps will also use real time traffic information to more accurately estimate your time of arrival, and to provide options for alternate routes if there are faster options available.

We hope this new traffic information within Google Maps will help you in planning your way around local streets and expressways. Happy traveling!

Posted by Suren Ruhela, Director, Program Management

June 26, 2015

Computational Thinking for Educators

How can you map the entire human DNA sequence? Is it really possible that William Shakespeare wrote all of the plays that bear his name? Can one design a computer program that creates novel music compositions?

Answering these questions requires computational thinking, a way of problem solving that educators around the world are using across disciplines. Whatever subject you teach — from computer science to the humanities —  computational thinking can be a powerful addition to your classroom activities. By integrating these skills into all subject areas, you can help better prepare your students to contribute new solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Our new online course, Computational Thinking for Educators, is free and intended for educators working with students between the ages of 13 and 18 who are interested in enhancing their teaching with creative thinking and problem solving. We’ll demonstrate how incorporating computational thinking into your classroom simply enhances what you already do, enriching your lessons and student exploration, even without access to technology. Another benefit to computational thinking is that it may help boost students’ confidence and is especially useful when dealing with ambiguous, complex or open-ended problems.

Like all of our other Google Online Courses, participants will engage with course material through a combination of video and text-based lessons, learning from experts in computational thinking as well as collaborating with other participants. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete a final project applying the skills you’ve learned and share with other educators, earning a course certificate.

We believe all students should learn computational thinking, regardless of subject, age or access to technology in the classroom. As computational thinkers and technology creators, our students will be better equipped to participate and position themselves professionally in a global society. They’ll have the creative thinking and problem solving skills to help find solutions for today and tomorrow’s biggest global challenges.

Sound interesting? Register now and join us as well as other educators around the world as we take on Computational Thinking for Educators. This  course will run from July 15 - September 30, 2015.

Posted by by Aida Martinez, Program Manager