February 28, 2013

Books on Google Play arrives in India

Just under one year ago, we introduced Google Play, a digital entertainment hub where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite apps and games on your Android phone or tablet. Today we’re adding books to Google Play for people in India. Books on Google Play now offers thousands of Indian titles, from new releases to classics. It's easy to find great Indian authors such as Amish Tripathi, Devdutt Pattanaik and APJ Abdul Kalam, plus international bestsellers from the world’s largest ebookstore.

Books on Google Play is all about choice: we’re offering many titles and many ways to access and read them, so that your library is literally at your fingertips no matter where you are. You can choose from great titles from award-winning and diverse publishing houses at launch, not to mention the international publishers Google works with around the world.

With Google Play you can read on the device of your choice. And with your books in the cloud you can read on the web, a phone, or a tablet and pick up right where you left off. You will be able to discover, purchase and read books on:

  • Android phones and tablets - you can purchase books in the Google Play Store and begin reading them instantly in the Google Play Books app;
  • your computer - you can purchase and read books on the Google Play store and read in your web browser;
  • iPhones and iPads - you will be able to read books in the Google Play Books app

We’re happy to make it even easier for all Indian book lovers to discover and buy whatever they want to read, whether that’s the next bestseller, a new release from their favourite author or a well-loved classic. Whether you’re a bookworm or casual reader, we hope you find something great to read on Google Play.

Posted by Ajay Malhotra, Strategic Partner Development Manager

February 27, 2013

Google Business Photos Program Now Open in India

Picking the right restaurant to eat out can be a tough decision, and it’s hard to judge a place  based on its written description and reviews. This is why we created the Google Business Photos program, a Google Maps project that allows consumers to see inside a business from their computer or smartphone.  We are excited to announce that the Google Business Photos program is now officially open to businesses in India.

This program gives Google users a virtual tour inside the businesses through interactive 360-degree imagery created using Street View technology. This imagery can be viewed on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ Local Pages. In order to get Google Business Photos, business owners can hire Trusted Agency Photographers to capture the interiors of their premises. Along with taking pictures of layout, facilities, and merchandise, these Trusted Agency Photographers will also capture images of displays on the storefront, like business hours, rating details, credit cards accepted, and posted menus. These photos can help customers get a better sense of what a business has to offer and what sets it apart from others.

If you are an interested business in India, visit http://google.co.in/businessphotos and click on ‘Get Started’.

Before officially launching this program today, we worked closely with thousands of businesses in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkatta and Chennai to pilot this program. Thanks to all the restaurants, bars, retail stores, showrooms and boutiques who welcomed us into their premises. And today, we are pleased to publish these indoor images for the first time.

Here are some of the photos from our collaborations with Indian businesses so far:

Maayin, a shop in Hyderabad
The Palace, a shop in Chennai
Via Milano, a restaurant in Hyderabad
Business owners can also upload their own photos and videos of their business  to local Google+ pages. By building out your pages with visuals and other relevant business information - such as business hours, offers and more - you’ll help potential customers learn more about you and feel like they know what to expect when they actually walk through your doors.

We’re excited about opening up the Google Business Photos Program to India, and we look forward to helping businesses around the country improve their online presence by providing more comprehensive information to their customers.

Posted by Shailesh Nalawadi, Product Manager

February 26, 2013

Join Indian Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, on Google+ to discuss the Union Budget on 4th March 2013

One of the mainstays of India’s political calendar is the annual Union Budget that is presented every February. This year — in a first for the Government of India — the Finance Minister will take to Google+ Hangouts to respond to citizens' questions about the Budget, and discuss the state of the Indian economy with a panel of industry leaders as well as citizens.

On the 28th of February, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will head to Parliament to deliver the Union Budget of India. Four days later, he will turn to Google+ to respond to questions pertaining to the Budget. Check out the event page here: http://goo.gl/4IFSJ and  tune in to the Hangout on March 4, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. IST.

Joining the Finance Minister’s Hangout is a panel of luminaries: Jahangir Aziz, Senior Asia Economist and India Chief Economist, JP Morgan, Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra, and Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President, Google Inc. During the conversation, selected participants will ask the Minister questions — but we’d also like to hear from you before the Hangout.

To ask Mr. Chidambaram a question, head to the In Conversation YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/inconversation), where you can submit your question in the form of a video or as a comment. You can also ask a question through the Google India +Page at google.com/+GoogleIndia by submitting a video or text question using the hashtag #askthefm.

Looking for inspiration for your question? Watch the Finance Minister’s budget speech live on YouTube on the 28th of February at 10 a.m. IST. Then tune in on Monday, March 4th for the Budget Hangout on Google India’s +Page for a unique discussion with the Indian Finance Minister.

We are happy to bring you this Google+ Hangout as part of our continuing efforts to use the Internet for conversations with policymakers.

Posted by Naman Pugalia, Public Policy & Government Affairs Analyst

February 22, 2013

Google+ at the Crease for India v. Australia Test Series

With the India vs. Australia Test Series starting this Friday, February 22, 2013, the cricket season will be well underway, with millions of people tuning in to watch the battle of two brilliant batting line-ups, Indian spinners and Australian pacemen. Here are a few ways for cricket fans to join the excitement with Google and see what your favourite players, coaches, and pundits have to say.

Catch the action behind the scenes with Cricket Club.
Starting this week, some of the world’s best cricketers will be hanging out on Google+, and you can catch the action live on the Cricket Club Google+ page. In the first week of hangouts, Aussie cricket legend Stuart MacGill has put together an all star cast of fiery pundits to give an all-access pass to the day's play. Damien Martyn, Dennis Lillee, Aakash Chopra, Murali Khartik, and Saqlain Mustaq will dial in for a conversation that could surely only happen on a hangout. Tune in to the hangouts every day from February 22 to 26 at 2:30pm IST to join in on the banter.

The first hangout will be on Friday, February 22 at 2:30pm IST. Here’s the invite from Stuart:

Subsequently, every match day from March 2 to the end of the series, we’ll be selecting fans to join in on these hangouts. If you want to be considered for a spot in the hangout, submit a question on Google+ with the hashtag #indvsaus for a chance to be in the hotseat.

You can always subscribe to our YouTube Cricket Club channel if you want to check out videos of the Hangouts after they’ve happened. Also, don’t forget to join the India Cricket Google+ Community to get the scoop from other fans.

Posted by Sandeep Menon, Director of Marketing, Google India

February 7, 2013

Mapathon 2013: Join Google In Creating Better Maps for India

Here at Google Maps, we’re constantly looking to make our maps of the world as comprehensive and detailed as possible. And, in order to create better maps for India, we need everyone’s help. That is why today we’re announcing India’s first ever mapping competition: Mapathon 2013.

Mapathon 2013 — which starts on February 12 and culminates on March 25, 2013 — is an India-wide   mapping contest open to just about anybody who lives in India. We’re inviting Google Maps users from all over the country to help us create better maps for India by adding knowledge of their neighborhoods through Google Map Maker. And there’s something in it for everyone! The top 1000 mappers in India stand a chance to win Android tablets, smartphones, gift vouchers and Google merchandise. The registrations for the competition have just opened, and we’re inviting everyone to join us and get mapping at: http://g.co/mapindia2013

So how does it all work? Google Map Maker is an easy-to-use tool that allows users to add more detail to Google Maps through a few simple clicks. Using Google Map Maker, you can select a specific area on Google Maps and add new information based on your own local knowledge or by referencing the satellite imagery on Google Maps.  With just another click, you can save and submit your input — and once the submitted edit has been verified, the new information will be added to Google Maps.

Google Map Maker was first conceptualized in India, a country where even paper maps have historically lacked in details. Four years ago, a group of Googlers in India led by Lalit Katragadda, Country- Product Head, decided that it was time to team up with users to improve our maps for India in a dramatic way. The core belief was that users know their neighbourhoods, villages, and back yards better than anyone else, and so we designed Map Maker as the tool people could use to update these details onto a digital map. Map Maker is now used across the world and today, what started off as an initiative by the Google engineers is now a project that citizens across India can participate in through Mapathon 2013.

Here at Google, it has always been our endeavour to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. One way we hope to achieve this is by mapping the world, and what better way to do so than by asking users to help ensure that Google Maps accurately reflects the world around them.

To provide better maps for India, we need to build maps for the users, by the users. So join us in mapping India and start by adding in those places you consider important — such as your favorite local dosa joints or a nearby hospital — or by simply updating details of places already on Maps. Registration for the competition is now open and we encourage all of you to sign up at: http://g.co/mapindia2013

Posted by Jayanth Mysore, Senior Product Manager for Map Maker

February 5, 2013

Safer Internet Day: How we help you stay secure online

[Cross posted from the Official Google Blog]

Technology can sometimes be complicated, but you shouldn’t have to be a computer scientist or security expert to stay safe online. Protecting our users is one of our top priorities at Google. Whether it’s creating easy-to-use tools to help you manage your information online or fighting the bad guys behind the scenes, we’re constantly investing to make Google the best service you can rely on, with security and privacy features that are on 24-7 and working for you.

Last year, we launched Good to Know, our biggest-ever consumer education campaign focused on making the web a safer, more comfortable place. Today, on Safer Internet Day, we’re updating Good to Know to include more tips and advice to help you protect yourself and your family from identity theft, scams and online fraud. You can also learn how to make your computer or mobile device more secure, and get more out of the web—from searching more effectively to making calls from your computer. And you can find out more about how Google works to make you, your device and the whole web safer. 

For example, we encrypt the Gmail and Google Search traffic between your computer and Google—this protects your Google activity from being snooped on by others. We also make this protection, known as session-wide SSL encryption, the default when you’re signed into Google Drive. Because outdated software makes your computer more vulnerable to security problems, we built the Chrome browser to auto-update to the latest version every time you start it. It gives you up-to-date security protection without making you do any extra work.

Even if you don’t use Google, we work hard to make the web safer for you. Every day we identify more than 10,000 unsafe websites—and we inform users and other web companies what we’ve found. We show warnings on up to 14 million Google Search results and 300,000 downloads, telling our users that there might be something suspicious going on behind a particular website or link. We share that data with other online companies so they can warn their users.

We know staying safe online is important to you—and it is important to us too. Please take some time today to make your passwords stronger and turn on 2-step verification to protect your Google Account. Talk with friends and family about Internet safety. And visit our new Good to Know site to find more tips and resources to help you stay safe online.

Posted by Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering

Hangouts in Gmail now available in India

Over the last few months, we’ve been rolling out updates to Google+ Hangouts to make it easy for you to connect with friends and family no matter where you are.  Today we're excited to bring Hangouts to all of our Gmail users in India.

You can continue to enjoy 1:1 video chat with any Gmail user, but now you’ll be able to add up to 9 people at once after they’ve upgraded to Google+.  What’s more, with Hangouts you can watch YouTube videos with friends, collaborate on Google Docs, or play games by adding apps from the menu on the left.  If you find yourself with a slow connection, just switch over to ultra low bandwidth mode to keep the conversation going.

To give Hangouts a try, just click on the hangout button at the top of your chat list in Gmail. You can also schedule a hangout with Google Calendar, and use the Google+ app for Android and iOS to hang out while you’re on the go.  


Posted by Victor-bogdan Anchidin, Software Engineer