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The principle behind the advertising products we build at Google is simple: ads are information. But the type of information that ads provide is getting more varied and inventive all the time, and as a result ads are getting more interesting, social and useful.

As advertising evolves, we want to build the tools that make it possible for marketers to connect with customers in meaningful, creative ways. We’ve found that the best way to do that is to focus on the user, test new approaches regularly and listen closely to the feedback of the advertisers using our products. To work closely with advertisers on what comes next, today we’ve launched Google Ad Innovations, where we’ll show you some of our latest ideas around advertising technologies and get your feedback.

One of the new features we’re showcasing is a set of AdWords reports, launched last week, called Search Funnels. These reports can help an advertiser understand whether there are keywords in her account that are helping to drive sales at a later date. At Google Ad Innovations, you can read more about this feature, watch a video walking you through how it works and send us your ideas on how to improve it.

If you’re interested in the future of advertising with Google, pay Ad Innovations a visit — we’ll regularly add tools and features to the site, and we hope you’ll check them out!

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The year was 1986. A gallon of gas cost 89 cents, Paul Simon’s Graceland won the Grammy for album of the year, and the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which governs how law enforcement can access electronic data, was signed into law.

A lot has changed since 1986. Gas is now measured in dollars and Taylor Swift (born 1989) won album of the year. All the while, technology has moved at record pace. But ECPA has stayed the same. Originally designed to protect us from unwarranted government intrusion while ensuring that law enforcement had the tools necessary to protect public safety, it was written long before most people had heard of email, cell phones or the “cloud” — the term used for programs helping people store personal data like photos and documents online. As a result, ECPA has become outdated.

This is why we’re proud to help establish Digital Due Process, a coalition of technology companies, civil rights organizations and academics seeking to update ECPA to provide privacy protections to new and emerging technologies.

Specifically, we want to modernize ECPA in four ways:
  • Better protect your data stored online: The government must first get a search warrant before obtaining any private communications or documents stored online;
  • Better protect your location privacy: The government must first get a search warrant before it can track the location of your cell phone or other mobile communications device;
  • Better protect against monitoring of when and with whom you communicate: The government must demonstrate to a court that the data it seeks is relevant and material to a criminal investigation before monitoring when and with whom you communicate using email, instant messaging, text messaging, the telephone, etc.; and
  • Better protect against bulk data requests: The government must demonstrate to a court that the information it seeks is needed for a criminal investigation before it can obtain data about an entire class of users.
We also created this video to help explain ECPA and why it needs updating:



You can read more about our proposal at our coalition website. In the coming months, we’ll meet with lawmakers, law enforcement officials and others to help build support for modernizing the law.

1986 was a good year, but it’s time our laws catch up with how we live our lives today.

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One way we love to help you make iGoogle your own is with our artist and designer themes — ranging from food and fashion to games and comics. Today, we’re excited to announce a set of new themes, tailored to the world traveler in all of us. These new themes, focused on destinations all over the globe, allow you to experience beautiful landscapes, historic monuments, stunning beaches, iconic cities and other picturesque sites — right from your homepage.

To bring you this imagery, we've partnered with a few leading organizations including National Geographic Society and LIFE, who photograph some of the most breathtaking destinations on earth. Lonely Planet, UNESCO and visiteurope.com have also shared a selection of incredible images.

Here’s a quick preview of some of what you’ll find:

Hopefully, you’re as eager to try out these new themes as we are. Whether these themes remind you of one of your favorite places or allow you to experience a global destination on your homepage, we hope you enjoy them. Bon voyage!

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Have you ever wanted to quickly send a file to a friend who's online? Now you can share pictures, documents and other files directly with your friends while chatting in iGoogle and orkut, without having to switch to email to send the file as an attachment. File transfer works directly in the browser so you don't need to install anything. Just start a conversation with a friend and click “Send a file...” in the “Actions” menu. After you select a file, your friend will be asked if they want to accept the transfer. You can learn more on the Google Talkabout Blog.


You might have noticed that we recently gave iGoogle and orkut chat a face lift. Several tools now have a new home at the top of the chat window. From the new toolbar, you can click the blue camera and phone icons to start video and voice chats with your friends or the group chat icon to add additional friends to a text chat. If you've never used video or voice chat before, all you need is a webcam and microphone attached to your computer and a small plugin application available for free at www.google.com/chat/video.

We're working to bring file transfer and the new toolbar to Gmail too. In the meantime, you can continue to access voice, video and group chat in Gmail from the “Video and More” menu in a chat window.

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This is one of a regular series of posts on search experience updates. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This week we're highlighting a few recent internationalization projects, as well as some improvements to the way you conduct your searches. Here's a summary.

Improved Google Suggest interface & internationalization
In 2008, we launched Google Suggest to help you formulate queries, reduce spelling errors and save keystrokes. Since then, we've made a number of visual changes to Suggest for English-speaking users of google.com, including:
  • Boldface search suggestions to make it faster to scan the list of suggestions and find what you're looking for
  • Adding the "Google Search" and "I'm Feeling Lucky" buttons to the box so they're still accessible even when the Suggest box is open
  • Removing the result counts, which previewed the number of results for each search, to simplify your experience
Given the popularity of these changes, we've just rolled them out in 50 languages across all 170 domains where Google Suggest is available. No matter where you are, we hope you find that Suggest is now faster and easier to use.



Real-time search in more languages
As you've probably noticed, our search results page for Google.com in English now includes a dynamic stream of real-time content from popular sites like Facebook, FriendFeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca, MySpace and Twitter. Since we launched real-time search, we've continued to make significant improvements in the relevance technology. As of today, real-time search is available in 40 languages. Now when you're visiting family in Puerto Rico, or if you speak German and live in Switzerland, you'll be able to see live updates from people on these popular sites as well as news headlines and blog posts published just seconds before.

Refinements for local searches
Whether you're looking for info close to home or while you're traveling, it's now easier to find things to do in the cities you're searching for on Google. Now when you search for a city name, we'll show you popular query refinements for places in those cities. We've found that people like to explore several places during a trip, so when we show one point of interest, we'll also show you related points of interest. For instance, if you're looking for food or a place to stay, you'll also see some of the top category and neighborhood refinements to help you choose a place. This new feature will be rolling out over the next couple days for 200 U.S. cities, and in the coming weeks we'll expand coverage to more cities internationally.

Example searches: [maui], [pikes place market] and [restaurants berkeley california]


Lists in Bookmarks
This week we introduced lists in Google Bookmarks, an experimental feature that helps you easily share sites with friends. With lists, you can sort and categorize your Google Bookmarks or starred search results. Once you've created a list, you can share it with specific friends or make it publicly visible and searchable (lists are private by default). Based on the content of your list, we'll also generate suggestions for related links, so you can discover more helpful info related to a list you're already building. We’re launching lists as an experimental feature, and it is available at www.google.com/bookmarks or by clicking the "Starred results" link on your search results page. From there, select the links you want to share and click “Copy to list.”

Example lists: [welcome to lists] and [seattle sites]


Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more search improvements next week.

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Tomorrow from 8:30 to 9:30pm local time, hundreds of millions of people around the world will switch off their lights and participate in Earth Hour, the largest climate awareness event ever held. As climate change will effect people on every continent, we think a united, global call for action to address the problem is needed.



At Google we’re working hard to be part of the solution for the climate crisis. A first step was pledging to be a carbon neutral company. Our web-based services run in some of the world’s most efficient data centers, we deploy renewable energy where viable, and we buy high-quality carbon offsets to address the emissions we can’t otherwise eliminate.

Even with these efforts, however, there remains an urgent need for clean, affordable electricity. To that end we have a team of engineers working to develop technology breakthroughs that will help make carbon-free electricity an economically viable alternative to electricity from coal.

We’re also putting our experience with organizing information to work, so we can enable others to do projects in the sustainable space. We recently announced, for example, Earth Engine, a computational platform that enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the Earth’s forests. And we’re working with our peers through Climate Savers Computing to cut the power used by computers in half.

We also want to help you achieve your personal energy reduction targets. Most people don’t know their own direct energy footprint, so we launched Google PowerMeter to give detailed, near real-time information about home energy usage. We also like to encourage everyone to set their computer’s power management to avoid wasting electricity when it’s not being used.

It’s tools like Google PowerMeter that my parents wish they had years ago when I was a teenager and living under their roof. They were often exasperated to find the lights on in rooms I’d just left, and it took years for them to convince me that I could choose something to eat without standing in front of the fridge with the door wide open. The point is, I had to learn to become a steward of the environment. We can help many more people take steps toward better care of the environment, and make that learning curve easier to climb.

Turning off the lights won’t solve the climate crisis, but it’s a start. Earth Hour gives individuals a simple, meaningful way to participate in a global call for change. As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message — they want action on climate change.”

So I hope you’ll gather your friends and family and join me, and hundreds of millions of others, in turning off the lights. And please include the light in the fridge.

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This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label "Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

We've been busy over the last couple weeks launching updates to make Google Apps more useful, whether you use Google Apps at work, at school or at home.

Smart Rescheduler Lab in Google Calendar
If you’ve ever tried to schedule time with a group of people who have packed agendas, you know how hard it can be to find a good meeting time that works for everyone. With the Smart Rescheduler, Google Calendar can sift through the details for you. When you need to reschedule an appointment, Smart Rescheduler quickly compares people’s calendars and ranks potential meeting times based on criteria like attendees, schedule complexity, conference rooms, and time zones. You can enable Smart Rescheduler by going to “Labs” under “Settings” in Google Calendar.


Suspicious account activity alerts
To help keep Gmail users and the data in their accounts safer, on Wednesday we launched a new security feature to alert you if our systems detect suspicious activity in your account. When something unusual is identified, you’ll see a warning notification near the top of your inbox. You can choose to view a log of recent activity, and if it looks like your account has been compromised, you can change your password immediately. (And while we’re on the topic of security, we encourage you to brush up on our tips to keep your account safer.) We know that security is also a top priority for businesses and schools, and we plan to bring this feature to Google Apps customers once we have gathered and incorporated their feedback.


Contact delegation
Businesses using Google Apps can use a feature called email delegation, which lets employees appoint delegates who are allowed to read, send and manage email on their behalf. For example, this allows executive assistants to handle email for their managers. As of last Monday, delegates can also access and manage contacts. Now, a delegate can pick contacts from the manager’s contact list when composing a message on behalf of the manager, and keep the manager’s contacts up-to-date.

Google Apps Migration for Microsoft® Exchange
Millions of companies and schools have switched to Google Apps, and we hope to help millions more “go Google” in the near future. To make the transition as smooth as possible, we’ve released Google Apps Migration for Microsoft® Exchange, a server-to-server migration utility that brings email, contacts and calendar data from a legacy Microsoft® Exchange system to Google Apps. This makes the transition more seamless for employees, faculty and students. When they sign in to Google Apps, they’ll see the messages, contact information and calendar appointments from the old system right in Gmail and Google Calendar.

Who’s gone Google?
The number of businesses and other organizations using Google Apps continues to shoot up, and we hit another big milestone by crossing the 25 million user mark. Among those are the 7,000 employees at Konica Minolta, who are using Google Apps to help the company move fast and be more productive.

We’re excited to welcome another string of schools and universities too, including the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the College of William and Mary. Marshall University has a particularly great story: their technology group challenged themselves to deploy Google Apps to over 50,000 students in less than 24 hours – quite a feat when it typically takes large organizations months or even years to make major technology changes. We hope Marshall’s nimble approach inspires others to make the switch!

I hope you're enjoying the latest round of new features, whether you're using Google Apps with friends and family, with colleagues or with classmates. And don’t forget, you can always check the Google Apps Blog for more details and the latest news in this area.

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Since we announced our plans to build experimental, ultra high-speed broadband networks, the response from communities and individuals has been tremendous and creative. With just a few hours left before our submission deadline, we've received more than 600 community responses to our request for information (RFI), and more than 190,000 responses from individuals (we'll post an update with the final numbers later tonight). We've seen cities rename themselves, great YouTube videos, public rallies and hundreds of grassroots Facebook groups come to life, all with the goal of bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities.


We're thrilled to see this kind of excitement, and we want to humbly thank each and every community and individual for taking the time to participate. This enthusiasm is much bigger than Google and our experimental network. If one message has come through loud and clear, it's this: people across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access.

So what's next? Over the coming months, we'll be reviewing the responses to determine where to build. As we narrow down our choices, we'll be conducting site visits, meeting with local officials and consulting with third-party organizations. Based on a rigorous review of the data, we will announce our target community or communities by the end of the year.

Of course, we're not going to be able to build in every interested community — our plan is to reach a total of at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people with this experiment. Wherever we decide to build, we hope to learn lessons that will help improve Internet access everywhere. After all, you shouldn't have to jump into frozen lakes and shark tanks to get ultra high-speed broadband.

Thanks again to all the communities and citizens that submitted a response. We feel the love, and we're honored by your interest.

Update at 5:26pm: The response deadline has now passed. We've received more than 1,100 community responses and more than 194,000 responses from individuals. This map displays where the responses were concentrated as of 1:30pm PT. Each small dot represents a government response, and each large dot represents locations where more than 1,000 residents submitted a nomination. We plan to share a complete list of government responses and an updated map soon.


Update April 15: We've had a chance to parse the list of government response to eliminate additional spam and redundancy. You can find the complete list of government responses on our request for information website. We have also updated the map to reflect the complete list of submissions.

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This is the second post in our series on the future of display advertising. Today, Neal Mohan looks at how new technology can power creativity in the years ahead - Ed.

Imagine you own a popular coffee chain in Denver that you want to promote. On Monday afternoon, it’s warm and 80 degrees in the city. You run a display ad campaign online that offers Denverites a discount coupon for an iced cold latte, with a searchable map embedded in the ad to show local branches, and a real-time feed from people who have tweeted publicly about your newest flavor. That evening, a cold front rolls over the Rockies. Your ad automatically and dynamically adjusts to present a photo of a hot, steaming cup of hot chocolate in front of a warm fireplace, together with a home delivery number and an offer of free marshmallows.

Creative? Absolutely. Impossible? Hardly. You can do this today using technology from Teracent that we’re working to roll out for our clients who advertise on the Google Content Network or who use DoubleClick Rich Media.

There’s no doubt that advertisers today are increasingly seeking to run campaigns that are highly measurable and relevant to users. That’s one of the benefits of advertising on the Internet. But great ad campaigns are about more than clicks or numbers. The best campaigns are so memorable and effective because they make an emotional bond with us. The very best can engage us, move us and make us feel a connection with the brand that’s being promoted. That’s the real creative genius of advertising.

We traditionally think of TV as the most creative advertising media. But display advertising has the promise of a couple of things that even TV doesn't have — the ability to dynamically customize ads in infinite ways and the opportunity to enable a true two-way interaction and dialogue with users.

Here are some examples of how creative ads have been used to drive engagement and deliver great results:
  • An award-winning rich media ad that was created by Euro RSCG for the new Volvo XC60. In addition to an interactive game, photos and gallery, it incorporated a Twitter feed from the New York Auto show. In just three days, the campaign garnered 170 million impressions, 50,000 clicks and 17,000 hours of brand engagement. No other type of advertising format could have come close in driving this type of conversation with a brand's potential customers.
  • A great campaign for Harley Davidson, created by the agency Overdrive. This ad functions almost like a website — with interactive video, Twitter and Facebook Share functionality, as it invites people to send a "Tribute to the Troops" for Veteran's Day. Over 280,000 people clicked to watch the video embedded in the ads and more than 18,000 Tributes were sent to troops from this campaign.

Some in our industry have asked why we aren’t seeing more creative display ad campaigns like these. In our view, it’s definitely not because of a lack of creativity or an unwillingness to experiment. The problem to date has been the lack of tools and technologies necessary to do this at scale across the Internet.

It takes hard work to create, serve and measure the impact of these ads. Under the hood, there’s a lot of technology that needs to come together for them to work seamlessly. Take the Harley Davidson ad: It contains dozens of complex creative elements, integrations with various technologies like Flash, numerous APIs, Twitter and Facebook, and multiple parties involved in its creation and delivery — from the creative agency, to teams at Google, through to the ad operations teams at the publisher. You could spend hundreds or thousands of hours building out creative concepts and ads like this, but ultimately only run them on a few sites because the customization takes so much time to implement across the web.

We believe that technology, by streamlining and eliminating some of the hard work involved, and by offering new creative possibilities, can be a great enabler of more creative ads.

What if it were seamless to serve and run highly creative ad units — not just on one site, but on thousands of sites, and also in videos and on mobile phones? What if it were simpler to incorporate social features in the ad creative itself — such as letting people endorse and spread particular ads or campaigns to their friends? What if you could serve video ads that included simple tools in the ad creative itself that allowed users to easily make their own mashups of your ad, and post and share them with friends?

And what if you could make a few different creative elements for an ad, and then have them dynamically chosen, depending on factors like where the ad’s shown, product availability, time of day and any other variable you choose — just like the coffee ad I mentioned at the start? That way, agencies and advertisers would be able to spend their time building out their creative concepts and ads, and technology can multiply the impact by running it on thousands of sites with millions of variations for every website and user.

Technology is evolving rapidly and will help facilitate all of this in the months and years ahead. What about imagining what might be possible on your phone in a few years? Let’s say you're walking down the street, using an augmented reality app on your mobile phone to see what's interesting around you. In your viewfinder, you see a billboard for a great product — basketball shoes. Using image recognition, the app could recognize that it's a billboard for a particular shoe brand, show an expandable ad for that brand, let you choose to watch a video of one of their shoes in action, display all the nearest stores on an accompanying map, and include a way for you to order a shoe and pick it up on your way home from work.

That’s just one example of what one day will be possible in the world of display advertising. It’s the goal of our display advertising efforts to produce the tools and technologies to allow for this type of unbridled creativity at a grand scale.

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Earlier this month we added stars in search so that you can easily mark and rediscover your favorite websites. Today we’re debuting lists in Google Bookmarks, an experimental new feature that helps you easily share those sites with friends.

Bookmarks are a great way to keep track of your favorite content across the web and we want to help you share them with your friends. To use lists, visit Google Bookmarks at google.com/bookmarks or by clicking “Manage all” in your Google Toolbar. From there, select the links you want to share and click “Copy to list.” Lists are private by default, but once you’ve created one you can share it with specific friends or even publish it to the web. For example, if a friend of yours is visiting Seattle for the first time and you have some local attractions bookmarked, you might want to create a new list for “Seattle attractions” and share it with your friend.


Sharing lists can help you collaborate with your friends on common interests or activities. Let’s say you’re planning a group trip to Paris. With a list, everyone can contribute useful links and resources, such as packing lists, hotel links, flight information and attractions. You could also create lists for your favorite hobbies, and then share them with friends who share your interests. Lists dynamically generate previews for many pages so you can get a sense of the site before clicking.

Lists also help you discover new web content. For example, once you’ve created your list of favorite Seattle attractions, Google will algorithmically analyze your list to identify other potentially relevant links, such as the Seattle Aquarium. Similarly, when we detect that a list is relevant to a specific region, we provide a map of those places and relevant info for each place, such as addresses, hours and reviews.


We’re launching lists as an experimental feature so that we can quickly test it out and get feedback. Visit Google Bookmarks on google.com in English to try it out and let us know what you think. You can also learn more about lists in our Help Center.

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Google aims to provide as much information as possible to users so that they can make informed decisions. For this reason, we have been awaiting a series of decisions by the European Court of Justice that explore the extent to which trade mark rights can be used to restrict information available to users. The first of those decisions was delivered today.

The question before the court was whether advertisers should be allowed to choose keywords freely when reaching out to users on the Internet. In other words, if advertisers are allowed to show advertisements when another company's brand name is entered as a search query.

Trade marks are part of our daily life and culture, helping us to identify the products and services that we may be looking for. They are key for companies to market and advertise their products and services. But trade mark rights are not absolute.

We believe that user interest is best served by maximizing the choice of keywords, ensuring relevant and informative advertising for a wide variety of different contexts. For instance, if a user is searching for information about a particular car, he or she will want more than just that car’s website. They might be looking for different dealers that sell that car, second hand cars, reviews about the car or looking for information about other cars in the same category.

And, contrary to what some are intimating, this case is not about us arguing for a right to advertise counterfeit goods. We have strict policies that forbid the advertising of counterfeit goods; it's a bad user experience. We work collaboratively with brand owners to better identify and deal with counterfeiters.

Some companies want to limit choice for users by extending trade mark law to encompass the use of keywords in online advertising. Ultimately they want to be able to exercise greater control over the infomation available to users by preventing other companies from advertising when a user enters their trade mark as a search query. In other words, controlling and restricting the amount of information that users may see in response to their searches.

Today, the Court confirmed that Google has not infringed trade mark law by allowing advertisers to bid for keywords corresponding to their competitors’ trade marks. It also confirmed that European law that protects internet hosting services applies to Google’s AdWords advertising system. This is important because it is a fundamental principle behind the free flow of information over the internet.

Our guiding principle has always been that advertising should benefit users, and our aim is to ensure that ads are relevant and useful. We will study the decision as we move forward in order to make sure that we continue to deliver advertising that is perceived as both valuable and relevant by our users.

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On January 12, we announced on this blog that Google and more than twenty other U.S. companies had been the victims of a sophisticated cyber attack originating from China, and that during our investigation into these attacks we had uncovered evidence to suggest that the Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists connected with China were being routinely accessed by third parties, most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on their computers. We also made clear that these attacks and the surveillance they uncovered—combined with attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the web in China including the persistent blocking of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger—had led us to conclude that we could no longer continue censoring our results on Google.cn.

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk. Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over.

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.

In terms of Google's wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk. Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them. Despite all the uncertainty and difficulties they have faced since we made our announcement in January, they have continued to focus on serving our Chinese users and customers. We are immensely proud of them.

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Last week we added Haitian Kreyòl as a language to Google search. Visitors to our Haitian homepage can now use search in English, French and Kreyòl.

Haitian Kreyòl is spoken by more than 10 million people in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora in the Bahamas, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, France, French Guiana, Puerto Rico and the United States.

The massive earthquake that recently stuck Haiti took a heavy toll on communication infrastructure (including TV, radio and newspapers). In the weeks following the earthquake, the Internet has become an important tool for Haitians to search for news and information. We previously added support for Haitian Kreyòl to Google Translate and we are happy that Google search can now be used the Haitian people in their native language.

We would like to thank the Haitian volunteers who heard our call for volunteer translators and generously shared their time and knowledge to improve the search experience for all Haitians.



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Cross-posted on the Google Public Policy Blog.

Public=Online is the the rallying cry during this year’s Sunshine Week, an annual event to highlight the importance of open government and the freedom of information. The week is sponsored by the American Society of News Editors, and many editorial boards have echoed the thoughts of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
“...government information ought to be made available to the public as quickly as possible, with a minimum of rigmarole and in the easiest, most accessible way possible--which these days means via the Internet.”
We agree--and what better way to celebrate Sunshine Week than with leading thinkers on government, media and citizen engagement on all sides of the political spectrum who feel the same? Yesterday at our Google D.C. office, the Sunlight Foundation announced its Public=Online campaign.

It’s exciting to see growing support for transparency and to see the progress that’s been made in the last year alone. Every day, through sites like Data.gov and projects like Open Congress, OMB Watch and our Public Data Explorer, more data is available online.

But there’s still a gap between having access to government data and easily understanding what it means. To help fill this gap, Google has partnered with the Sunlight Foundation in its Design for America contest to make government data more comprehensible to the public.

You can learn more and get started on the contest homepage. There’s room for all kinds of folks to participate, and we can’t think of a more fun way to keep the spirit of Sunshine Week going.

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Scheduling meetings is tough, but rescheduling is even harder. We all know how frustrating it can be to try to find just the right time that accommodates everyone's availability and preferred working hours. Throw in different time zones and conference rooms and it goes from painful to excruciating. We'd rather schedule dental appointments.

On the Google Calendar team, we've noticed that when people talk about scheduling they say things like "I'm trying to find a time" or "let's search for a new date." We wondered what would happen if we treated calendaring more like a search problem. Just as Google search applies ranking algorithms to return the most relevant results from the web, we hoped we could rank meeting times based on criteria important to the person scheduling the meeting.


Today we're launching the result of that experiment, a gadget called Smart Rescheduler, in Google Calendar Labs. Once you enable the Lab, you can find a new time for an event simply by clicking on a link. Our schedule search algorithm will return a ranked set of the best candidate dates and times based on the calendars others have shared with you. You can read more about it on the Gmail Blog.

So next time your boss says "We need to reschedule," just smile and say "I'm feeling lucky."

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Since announcing the latest Google Chrome beta earlier this month, we've been excited to receive feedback from our beta users on the browser's new translation and privacy features. Today, we're introducing these features in the stable channel, so that they're widely available to everyone who uses Google Chrome on Windows.

Google Chrome’s translation feature is the latest step in the evolution of translation tools across Google. Just a few years ago, Google’s translation tools consisted of a site where you had to copy and paste text into a box — and it only worked for a handful of languages. Today, our translation technology works across 52 languages and can automatically detect and translate entire websites in less than a second. Chrome's translation feature automatically detects if the language of the webpage you're on is different from your preferred language setting, The browser will then display a prompt asking if you'd like the page to be translated using Google Translate. With one click, you can instantly translate the page, and all of its text will appear in your preferred language. Here's a demo of Chrome's translation feature:



Language detection happens only on your computer, so no information is sent to Google Translate until you choose to translate a page. You can read more about how this feature works on the Google Translate Blog.

In addition, we've introduced new privacy features in this stable release to give you even greater control of your privacy while helping to protect the information that you do decide to share online. You can now manage Chrome's privacy settings via the browser's Options dialog. From these settings, you can control how browser cookies, images, pop-ups and even JavaScript and plug-ins are handled on a site-by-site basis. For example, you can set up rules to allow cookies exclusively for sites that you trust, while blocking them from for untrusted sites. For the in-depth scoop, check out google.com/chrome/privacy or watch our video series on privacy and browsers.

For those of you who already use Chrome, go raibh maith agaibh! You'll soon be updated with these new features. And for those of you who haven't yet tried Google Chrome, download it at google.com/chrome.

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Over the past year, we've highlighted companies around the world who have switched to Google Apps. And that means more than 25 million people have "gone Google", including those at such globe-trotting organizations as Jaguar Land Rover and National Geographic. (You might have seen their Gone Google messages in print.)

Recently we visited one of our newest customers, Konica Minolta, to learn about why they decided to join us. Here's their story:



For those considering a switch to Google Apps, this updated resources page offers a variety of info such as customer testimonials, white papers, links to webcasts and more. Be sure to visit the Google Enterprise Blog and visit google.com/appsatwork, too.

If your company is already using Apps, join the Gone Google community. Put yourself on the map to share your experience and see who else has, yes, gone Google.


After you add yourself to the map, grab a laptop sticker that you can personalize. We're giving them away free for a limited time*. More details here.

*And our lawyers ask us to tell you that the "giveaway offer is void where prohibited and valid only while supplies last" — so hurry!

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At age five most kids can hop, skip and tie their shoes without help. Google Code turns five this week, and while we’re still working on the shoelaces thing, we’ve grown from a simple site for hosting a couple of APIs into a destination for developers to prototype their ideas in a Code Playground, host all kinds of open source projects and find out about our growing family of APIs and products like App Engine, Google Web Toolkit and Android.

To learn more about how code.google.com has come alive over the past five years, check out our post on the Google Code Blog.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Public Policy Blog)

Power. Clean water. The Interstate highway system. It’s easy to forget that the advantages of modern American life result from basic infrastructure investments made by earlier generations.

Tomorrow the FCC will release a national broadband strategy. The plan will set goals for expanding broadband to unserved and under-served areas, promote greater speeds, and drive consumer demand. It will harness this communications technology to urgent national priorities, such as jobs, education, health, energy, and security. In short, the plan will lay the groundwork for investing in America’s future.

Yes, the Internet was invented in the United States. Yes, we once led the world in broadband development. But now, networks in many countries, from Western Europe to East Asia, are faster and more advanced than our own. Long after we recover from this recession, this broadband gap will be a dead weight on American businesses and workers, unless we act now.

As with the space race in the 1960s, America needs a national effort by our scientists, engineers, companies, educational institutions and government agencies. Just like that great national adventure, we need near-term and long-term goals.

Broadband is an essential input to expanding business, education, and healthcare opportunities everywhere. As soon as possible, we need to bring Internet access to every community, from rural America to the inner cities.

But we also need even more ambitious objectives — or “stretch goals” — that test the limits of our ingenuity. When President John F. Kennedy summoned the nation to space exploration, the immediate goal was to send an astronaut in orbit around the earth. But JFK called for “putting a man on the moon” because he knew that dream would inspire Americans to literally reach for the stars.

The private sector has a big job to do, and needs to carry much of the investment. For our part, we plan to build and test an ultra-high-speed broadband network in at least one U.S. community. We are excited by the amount of support our proposed testbed has received from local communities and individuals.

But smart, tailored public policies are critical too. Let’s install broadband fiber as part of every federally-funded infrastructure project, from highways to mass transit. And let’s deploy broadband fiber to every library, school, community health center, and public housing facility in the U.S.

I support a national broadband strategy because ubiquitous broadband connectivity can catapult America into the next level of economic competitiveness, worker productivity, and educational opportunity. But as in the past, we will make this breakthrough by choice, not chance.

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It's been two years since we completed our acquisition of DoubleClick, a leading provider of display advertising technology. This is the first in a series of posts over the next few weeks about our vision for online display advertising in the years ahead. Today, Susan Wojcicki previews the series and looks back at how we've brought Google and DoubleClick technologies together over the past two years. -ed.

The first online display advertisement — a simple, clickable image — appeared online over 16 years ago. Fast forward to 2010. You're likely to see display ads — image, text, video and rich-media formats — on most of the websites that you visit. These ads are crucial to the Internet. They provide information about thousands of products, services and businesses. They help to fund the web content and services that we all use. And they enable large and small advertisers to reach new customers, increase sales and grow their businesses.

I've watched display advertising evolve from a series of simple, static images, to the incredible creative units that we see today. The best display ads today are often like mini-websites with complex animations, stunning graphics or videos, interactive and social elements. As technology enables better ways of matching ads, they're becoming more relevant to the audience that views them and the website that hosts them. In addition, they're bought and sold across the web more seamlessly than ever before.

Our belief in the potential of display advertising has spurred our investments in this area. We started investing seriously nearly six years ago, by offering display ad formats on our AdSense partner sites in the Google Content Network (which now comprises over a million online publishers). About three years ago, we acquired YouTube and began to offer various display advertising options.

And two years ago, we acquired DoubleClick, a leading provider of display advertising technology. Since then, we've been busy integrating the DoubleClick and Google technologies, and unveiling new features to improve display advertising for users, advertisers and online publishers alike. I thought this was a good opportunity to look back on what we've done over the past two years by bringing Google and DoubleClick together.

Helping our advertisers get better results

By combining Google and DoubleClick technologies, we've made significant enhancements to advertising on the Google Content Network. For example, we've offered support for third party vendors, enabled ads to be frequency capped so that users don't see the same ad over and over, introduced view-through conversion reporting and opened a beta of interest-based advertising. Through these enhancements, we believe we can deliver more relevant, measurable ads that create more value for everyone — users get more useful ads, and these ads generate better results for advertisers and higher returns for publishers.

We're also working to provide an integrated solution that enables advertisers and agencies to plan, buy, create, serve and measure display ads across the web, in a single interface. For the longest time, getting a display ad campaign up and running has been inefficient and cumbersome. We've made significant upgrades to DoubleClick's ad serving technology, DoubleClick for Advertisers, adding new measurement and planning technologies, including Ad Planner and Google Analytics. These improvements streamline advertisers' and agencies' online advertising campaigns.

New ways of buying display ads: the Ad Exchange

In September 2009, we launched the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange. The Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace that helps large online publishers, ad networks and agency networks buy and sell display advertising space. The new Ad Exchange is a major step towards creating a more open display advertising ecosystem for everyone. The technologies in the new Ad Exchange — principally "real-time bidding" and "dynamic allocation" — are already delivering great results for participants. AdWords advertisers can run ads on sites in the Ad Exchange, using their existing AdWords interface. This gives AdWords advertisers more high quality sites to run display ads on. Similarly, our AdSense publishers are benefiting from more high-quality display advertisers coming through the Ad Exchange.

Maximizing revenue for online publishers

A few weeks ago, we launched the upgraded DoubleClick for Publishers, to help publishers get the most value out of their online content and improve the process of selecting the ads to appear on their websites. In making this upgrade, we've been focused on combining the best of Google's technology and infrastructure with the best of DoubleClick's ad serving expertise to help generate more advertising revenue for major online publishers. For these publishers, managing, delivering and measuring the performance of ads on their websites can be a hugely complicated process that can have a significant impact on how much money they make from their online content. Ad serving is the core technology that underpins this process.

Unleashing creativity in advertising

There's no shortage of creative marketers with brilliant ideas to engage and reach consumers — from remarkable rollerblading baby videos, to customizable ads featuring interactive Twitter feeds. We launched DoubleClick Studio, a rich media tool that makes it easier for agencies and advertisers to design interactive rich media ads. We've also continued to invest in DoubleClick Rich Media, which enables complex and creative ads to be easily trafficked and served. Ads created with these DoubleClick products are engaging users every day, and frequently appear on the homepage of YouTube, on sites in the Google Content Network and all across the web. To further help marketers run engaging ads across the web, we recently acquired a company called Teracent that developed technology that can tailor literally thousands of creative elements of a display ad, in real-time.

To date, we've put hundreds of thousands of engineering hours into building our display solutions and have partnered closely with advertisers, agencies and online publishers to help them get the best results; and to help users see more engaging and relevant ads. We've also developed controls like the Ads Preferences Manager and a specially-engineered opt-out plugin, so that users have transparency, choice and control over the ads they see.

However, our work in recent years is really only the beginning of what's possible in this area. Across the board, we're building and seeing vast improvements in display advertising technology. These technology improvements will make it far easier to buy ads across the web at scale, create engaging ad formats, measure the impact of ad campaigns in innovative and insightful ways, deliver relevant ads to precisely the right audiences in real-time and maximize the value of publishers' online content. With these advances, we think that display advertising, as a category, can grow dramatically.

Over the next few weeks, we're looking forward to exploring these themes on this blog, and explaining some of the ways that new technologies are helping to move display advertising forward for everyone.

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This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs weekly. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This week's enhancements include:

Locking SafeSearch now in 39 languages
Last November, we announced the option to password protect your SafeSearch setting and filter out sexually explicit web sites and images from your search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, SafeSearch Lock helps you avoid content you may prefer not to see or would rather your children did not stumble across. We're pleased to roll this out globally in 39 more languages. It's easy to set your preference, and once you do, you'll see a visible change to your search page. Even from across the room, you'll be able to see bright colored balls on the top of the screen. Check out this video to learn more.

Microdata support for Rich Snippets
HTML (hypertext markup language) is the core language of the web. And since it was created, HTML5 has become the fifth major revision of HTML. What's different about HTML5? The specification includes a description of microdata, a new markup standard for specifying structured information within web pages. Paritcularly of interest to webmasters, this week we were excited to announce support for microdata for use in rich snippets in addition to our existing support for microformats and RDFa.

By using microdata markup when web pages are created, you can specify reviews, people profiles, or events information on your web pages that Google may use to improve their presentation in Google search results.

To learn more about rich snippets and microdata support, here are some links:
Stay tuned for next week's post on launches, more enhancements and news about search.

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This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label "Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Today’s update includes a handful of experimental features, a bunch from third-party developers and one that lets you build new features yourself. Enjoy!

Fast new windows in Gmail
Working with email in a single window can slow you down, so throughout Gmail there are places where you can launch what you’re doing into a new window and accomplish two things at once. For example, you can search your inbox and compose a new message at the same time. While this has been part of Gmail for a while now, we’ve just made it better by dramatically speeding up how quickly new windows open. No more waiting for the new window “Loading...” bar to finish — now you can do what you do in Gmail faster!


Gmail Labs updates
We’ve made a handful of updates in Gmail Labs, our experimental testing ground where Google engineers can quickly launch new Gmail features and get feedback from users. Based on usage and user feedback, six Labs have graduated to become full-fledged Gmail features: Search Autocomplete, Go To Label, Forgotten Attachment Detector, YouTube Previews, Custom Label Colors and Vacation Dates. We also retired five Labs that weren’t as popular. Finally, we introduced one new Lab: Refresh POP Accounts. If you use Gmail to retrieve messages from another email account with POP, this Lab immediately checks your other account for new mail when you click the “Refresh” link in Gmail.


Calendar Labs updates
We also have Labs in Google Calendar, and we’ve cooked up a few new experiments there as well. Event Flair lets you add custom icons to appointments, Gentle Reminders prevents event reminders from interrupting your flow in the browser and Automatically Declining Events blocks people from double-booking time on your calendar when you’re already busy.


Apps Script Gallery
Google Apps Script is a flexible system that lets you add custom menus, buttons and functions to spreadsheets, as well as make the components of Google Apps work together in new ways. For example, you can trigger a set of automated Gmail messages and add appointments to your calendar based on changes in a spreadsheet. On Wednesday, we made Google Apps Script available to everyone — not just businesses, schools and organizations — and we launched the Apps Script Gallery to share script examples and help you get started scripting.


DocVerse joins Google
We’re always looking for ways to help people transition smoothly to the cloud. With this in mind, last week we acquired DocVerse, a small team that’s built a powerful set of add-ons to help teams work together more efficiently with Microsoft Office. With DocVerse, people can begin to experience some of the benefits of web-based collaboration using the traditional Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint desktop applications that they’re familiar with. Stay tuned for more information about our plans with DocVerse.

More apps for Google Apps
Google Apps customers often decide to move even more of their technology into the cloud, but it hasn’t always been easy for them to find good web-based solutions that meet their needs and to integrate those solutions with Google Apps. This Tuesday, we launched the Google Apps Marketplace to help customers find technology from trusted providers and give developers a platform where they can sell their products. When Google Apps administrators find something they like in the Marketplace, it takes just a few clicks to integrate a developer’s application with Google Apps. Authentication to third-party applications can be handled automatically by Google Apps, and developers’ applications can integrate with and securely share data among services like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. There are more than 50 applications available in the Marketplace today, ranging from accounting and project management apps to graphic design and customer relationship management tools.



Who's gone Google?
We’re pleased to welcome another crop of new businesses and schools to Google Apps. More than 11,000 crew members at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines took flight with Google Apps, and the Sports Basement switched teams from Microsoft Exchange. National Geographic is exploring the world of real-time collaboration, and Hamilton College is learning a few new tricks with Google Apps, too.

Hope you're enjoying the latest round of new features, whether you're using Google Apps with friends and family, with colleagues or with classmates. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

When the first ball of this year’s Indian Premier League cricket season is bowled, fans across the planet will have a front row seat in the world’s biggest online sports stadium. Tonight the Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders will face off in Mumbai at 8pm IST, and the YouTube global community will be able to tune in to the IPL’s YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/ipl) for streaming and on-demand access to witness the start of what promises to be one of the most widely-distributed sporting events in history. Fans can watch matches, highlight videos, player interviews and much more all on the IPL’s YouTube channel.


Named by Forbes as the "hottest sports league in the world" with revenues comparable to the world’s most popular leagues, the IPL season is a 60-match, 43-day tournament that features some of the best talent in cricket today. You can come to YouTube and keep up with the action any time, anywhere and connect with fans across the globe. Watch as the match happens, or if you missed a match, tune in later to see what happened. The entire season will be streamed around the world on YouTube, except in the US, where matches will be time-delayed and made available 15 minutes after the match ends.

On the IPL Channel, you’ll see three tabs:
  • Today’s Matches: This is where you can watch streamed matches as they happen. (Note that the stream will be delayed by a few minutes.) Click through at any time to see the match scorecard.
  • Recent Matches: Catch up any time on the full action of matches that have already happened. Watch Sachin cream the ball through the covers, Warney taking his latest wicket and more.
  • Highlights: If you’re short on time, check in here for short videos of player interviews, match highlights, greatest plays and more.
And for all of you who want to cheer or commiserate with others, check out our Twitter gadget on the channel page to be part of the conversation. You can keep up with the discussion on Twitter with the YouTube IPL hashtag (#youtube_ipl). Share, rate and comment on videos throughout the channel, or upload your own video responses to the action. There's also a link so you can join the Official DLF IPL community on Orkut (www.orkut.com/ipl).

We'll be watching the donkey drops, the five-fers, the flippers and floaters, the half-yorkers and slow sweeps — and cheering alongside you!

* A googly is a kind of pitch similar to a baseball pitch or a bowling throw in the game cricket; a wicked googly would be a really good pitch.

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More than ever, governments around the world are threatening online free expression. Forty countries have taken measures to limit this freedom, up from only a handful a few years ago. Google and YouTube services are or have been blocked in 25 of those nations.

On Thursday night in Paris, we took an important step to highlight this crucial issue by sponsoring the first Netizen Prize (or more elegantly, “Le Prix de Net Citoyen”) awarded by the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. And on Friday, March 12, we’ll be helping highlight the fight for Internet freedom by marking the group’s World Day Against Cyber Censorship on YouTube.

Fittingly, Reporters Without Borders chose to give the first Netizen Prize to the Iranian creators of the website Change for Equality, first established in 2006 to fight for changes in laws in Tehran that discriminate against women. That site has since become a well-known source of information on women’s rights in Iran, documenting arrests of women activists and becoming a rallying point for opponents of the regime.

Over the past year those leaders in Tehran have distinguished themselves — and earned the opprobrium of people all over the world — for their brutal crackdown on the rights of its critics to question their rule. Last year's killing of unarmed Neda Agha-Soltan during post-election protests in Tehran, seen around the world on amateur video, has become a symbol of the regime's ferocity — and the power of the Internet to reveal what governments do not want the world to see.

At the award ceremony in our Paris office, our Senior Vice President David Drummond said that we are at a critical point in the future of the Internet: "All of us have a choice. We can allow repressive policies to take flight and spread across the globe, or we can work together against such challenges and uphold the fundamental human right to free expression.”

David went on to praise the role of NGOs like Reporters Without Borders, the Obama Administration’s commitment to the promotion of Internet freedom and the efforts of all groups that have joined the Global Network Initiative. Under the initiative, major U.S. Internet companies, human rights group, socially responsive investors and academic institutions agreed to guidelines promoting free expression and protecting the privacy of their users around the world. “In the spirit of the undiplomatic American come to European shores," he said, "let me make a plea for European governments, companies and groups to rise to the occasion. Any effort that is limited to the United States is bound to fall far short of its global potential.”

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Like many of you out there, we’re gearing up for the SXSW Interactive Festival, which starts tomorrow, March 12 in Austin, TX. In just a few short hours, dozens of Googlers and YouTubers will be descending on Austin for a packed weekend of panels, demos and parties. Of course, we’ve also got a few fun things up our sleeve:
  • Representatives from Google and YouTube will be speaking on more than 20 panels on a variety of subjects, including open source, mobile, real-time communication and user experience design.
  • At the Google booth, we’ll be doing demos on a wide range of products, including Google Maps, Blogger, Wave, Reader and YouTube, and sessions on building apps for App Engine, extensions on Chrome and accessibility APIs and hacks for Android.
  • On Sunday, our all-day Hackathon will give you the chance to get your hands dirty and build applications using a variety of Google technologies. At the end of the day, we’ll award prizes, including Android phones, for the best apps.
  • We’re sponsoring the festival’s first Mothers’ Room, where nursing moms can go for comfort and privacy.
Finally, we’ll be seeing you at as many parties as we can go to at one time, including Bikehugger’s Mobile Social, where representatives from the Google Maps team will be handing out schwag and dishing dirt on how they built bike directions, the Blogger/Reader party, where you’ll have a chance to chat with members of those teams about new features, and (last but not least) the SXSW Film Closing/Music Opening, co-sponsored by YouTube and VH1.

You can read more about all of the Google happenings on our SXSW website, and follow @googlesxsw on Twitter for last-minute updates and news from Austin. We can’t wait to hit the ground running (or biking), and we look forward to seeing you there!

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In Blogger’s more than 10 years, we’ve learned that blogging is a powerful way for people to express themselves. More than 350,000 words are written on Blogger every minute of every day and over the years we’ve added a bunch of features to ensure that writing those words is as easy, fun and rewarding as possible. Today, we’re happy to announce the launch of the Blogger Template Designer on Blogger in Draft, our experimental playground where you can try out the latest features Blogger has to offer. Instead of creating a lot of new templates that will grow stale over time, we decided to go beyond static templates and reinvent the whole process of designing your blog, making it even easier to express yourself online.

The Blogger Template Designer is our big first step in improving not just our template designs, but all the ways that you can customize the look and layout of your blog. If you try out the Blogger Template Designer, you’ll find:
  • Fifteen new professional templates to start from (and more on their way)
  • Custom blog layouts with one, two and three columns
  • Hundreds of free professional background images from iStockphoto, the leading microstock image marketplace
  • Customizable colors, fonts and more
Check out this video for a peek at what you can do with the Blogger Template Designer:



For more info, check out our post on the Blogger in draft blog. Give the Blogger Template Designer a test drive, and then let us know what you think!