- Something to smile about: A 5,000-mile walk across Asia, guided by Google Maps
- Supporting people with disabilities through outreach and accessibility tools
- Thanksgiving gone Google
Posted: 19 Nov 2012 02:00 PM PST
Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. For U.S. Marine Sgt. Winston Fiore, it was a news article about the International Children's Surgical Foundation (ICSF) and Dr. Geoff Williams, who provides free facial-reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft lips/palates in developing countries. Although cleft palates are quite correctable, if left untreated the deformity can cause serious health issues. Many children don't have the surgery because the cost of each procedure ($250 USD) is out of reach for their families.
Trekking along: Winston, standing in front of a durian fruit stand near Sematan, the westernmost town of Malaysian Borneo
Out on the road, Winston's Android phone and Google Maps became "the hub" of his entire operation. He used Google Maps to find accurate and easy-to-use walking directions everywhere he went, whether it was through remote villages and farms, down tiny dirt roads, or across rice paddies and desolate sugar cane fields. "Walking directions in Google Maps were critical to my trek. The directions were accurate and efficient—it's essential to take the shortest route when you're walking 20-25 miles each day," said Winston. "But the best part was being routed onto roads and trails through areas I otherwise never would have discovered with, say, driving directions, or even a physical map."
View the complete map of Winston's journey on his site
In addition to using Google Maps, Winston relied on many other Google products during his trek. He used Google Latitude to keep his family, friends and supporters informed of his whereabouts, and MyTracks to record his speed, distance and the places he visited. He also used Google Translate to communicate with locals, and in one case found it essential: when bit by a stray dog outside of Bangkok, he typed "I got bit by a dog, can someone take me to a hospital?" into his app. A taxi driver took him to the hospital, where he got 11 shots!
Today, after walking 5,000 miles in 408 days, Sgt. Fiore completes his journey, with more than $65,000 raised for ICSF. The money will help to fund more than 200 life-saving surgeries for children in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. If you'd like to contribute to the International Children's Surgery Fund and Winston Fiore's effort, we encourage you to visit smiletrek.org.
Posted: 19 Nov 2012 11:35 AM PST
Globally, there are approximately 285 million visually impaired people in the world—and each one of those people has networks of family and friends. Increasing the accessibility of products impacts not only the millions of people with disabilities, but also the lives of the people connected to them.
It's because of the wide impact better accessibility tools can have that we partner with organizations like the Vision Serve Alliance, which brings together the CEOs of U.S. nonprofits that serve the blind and visually impaired to network and share best practices.
On Thursday, November 8 we welcomed 63 of these executives to Google's San Francisco, Calif. office. There, we showed how we're making Google's products more accessible to blind and visually impaired users. We also shared insight into Google's culture—our commitment to openness, transparency and encouraging Googlers to bring their whole selves to work.
The attendees talked with representatives from the Google self-driving car team about the technology's potential impact on mobility for the blind and visually impaired, as previously demoed by Steve Mahan from the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center. Other teams of Googlers also joined the event to demonstrate accessibility features in products like Chrome and Android. Chromevox is a screen reader that's built into Chrome OS and the Chrome browser. Android's built-in accessibility features include text-to-speech, haptic feedback, gesture navigation, trackball and directional-pad navigation, all of which help visually impaired users navigate their mobile devices.
In line with our efforts to empower all people with disabilities, on December 3 we're celebrating the International Day of Disability in Google offices in North America. We'll have 7-minute flash talks about how Google's work on accessibility empowers different communities, and a global product accessibility improvement day where Googlers test our products for accessibility bugs.
Posted: 19 Nov 2012 09:56 AM PST
Thanksgiving is about sharing, giving thanks and connecting with family and friends. Yet, all too often we get caught up in the holiday rat race—the mad dash to the airport, the supermarket, the mall—and forget to take time out to enjoy the holiday.
To kick off the holidays this year, we wanted to crank up the fun and tone down the stress. So we did a little planning for you and created a one-stop-Google-shop to get you through the week.
With tools like recipe search and YouTube cooking videos that show you the right (and wrong) ways to carve a deep-fried turkey, Google can help you master your Thanksgiving meal with lots of laughs along the way. You can also join members of the Google+ cooking community for cooking lessons over live hangouts. Learn how to make new dishes like pumpkin brulee for the sweet tooths at the table or mix things up this year with a vegan-friendly feast.
Though we can't control the skies and guarantee a turbulence-free flight home, we can help minimize the time you spend waiting around, with real-time flight updates. Download the Google Search App to get flight updates on the go. And don't forget to download TV shows, music and more from Google Play to stay entertained on board.
Of course, for those of you who couldn't make it home this year, you can still get everyone together with Google+ Hangouts. Try scheduling a hangout to video chat with up to nine people you'd otherwise miss this holiday.
Whether you're rooting for the Cowboys or the Jets, Texans or the Patriots, we can help you stay on top of all the scores and stats. If you're on the run, ask for real time scores or game details using Voice Search on the Google Search App.
This year Black Friday starts on Thursday, with Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us all kicking off sales on Thanksgiving night. To help you get a head start on the deal-seekers, try our new shortlists, a super-simple alternative to sharing lists of links or bookmarks, as well as 360-degree imagery for many of the season's hottest toys on Google Shopping. For those of you brave enough to face the masses at the store, use indoor Google Maps to get in and get out of the mall fast.
By putting all your favorite Google features in one place, we hope we can help make things just a little bit easier this Thanksgiving—giving you more time to make memories with those who matter most and enjoy every last bite of that much deserved pumpkin pie. Visit our Thanksgiving hub to get started.
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