Sunday, December 16

Official Google Blog

Official Google Blog


Japan’s political candidates hang out with voters on Google+

Posted: 14 Dec 2012 08:07 PM PST

Yesterday, the heads of Japan's eight most popular political parties held eight consecutive Google+ Hangouts to engage with citizens across the country ahead of Sunday's general election—arguably the largest (and longest) series of Hangouts with politicians ever! Each of the leaders held a Hangout, including incumbent Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda from the Democratic Party Japan and Shinzo Abe from the Liberal Democratic Party.

Voters asked questions that reflected the most pressing issues on the Japanese people's minds: the ailing economy, social security and the future of energy programs. For instance, one 21-year old student asked a politician about welfare and economic self-reliance, in response to which the politician explained his vision to create more opportunities for young people.

After announcing these Hangouts on November 29, we invited citizens to upload their questions on to Google+ using the hashtag #政治家と話そう ("talk to politicians"). Ten participants representing a cross-section of voters across Japanese society—including a college student from Tokyo, a housewife from Mie prefecture, and a businessman from Shizuoka prefecture—were chosen to join the Hangouts. People who tuned in said that it gave them a chance to witness an in-depth conversation between politicians and voters up close, which is rare in Japan's incredibly short and intense campaign season of 12 days.


These Hangouts are part of Google Japan's effort to help voters get information about the candidates before they head to the polls on December 16. To help voters get access to information about more than 1,000 candidates and 12 political parties, we launched our Japan elections site, called Erabou 2012 ("Choose 2012"), at google.co.jp/senkyo. This site serves as a hub for all latest elections-related information, pulling together candidate profiles and party platforms. If you missed the Hangouts live, you can also watch the recordings there and on the Japan Politics YouTube Channel.

Boost your journalism career with the 2013 Google Journalism Fellowship

Posted: 14 Dec 2012 01:00 PM PST

If you're a student journalist looking to harness the power of technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways, then the first ever Google Journalism Fellowship could help make the summer of 2013 one to remember.

We recognize the value that quality journalism plays in a functioning society and would like to help the next generation of reporters gain valuable skills and experience on the path to creating great content.

This 10-week program will give eight students the opportunity to contribute to a variety of organizations—from those that are steeped in investigative journalism to those working for press freedom around the world and to those that are helping the industry figure out its future in the digital age. Throughout, fellows will gain skills and contacts to help them as they move forward with their careers.

This program will be of particular interest to students studying data journalism, online freedom of expression or new business models for the industry.

Our partners in the first Google Journalism Fellowship are:
For more information, visit our website and apply. The deadline for applications is January 31, 2013.

Winter cleaning

Posted: 14 Dec 2012 08:08 PM PST

Last January, we renewed our resolution to focus on creating beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people's lives every day. To make the most impact, we need to make some difficult decisions. So as 2012 comes to an end, here are some additional products, features and services we're closing:
  • On January 4, 2013, we'll be shutting down several less popular Google Calendar features. You'll be unable to create new reservable times on your Calendar through Appointment slots, but existing Appointment slots will continue working for one year. In addition, we'll discontinue two Calendar Labs—Smart Rescheduler (we recommend Find a time view or Suggested times as alternatives) and Add gadget by URL. Finally, Check your calendar via sms and Create event via sms (GVENT)—U.S.-only features for creating and checking meetings by texting information to Google—will be discontinued today, as most users prefer mobile Calendar apps.
  • Google Sync was designed to allow access to Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts via the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync® protocol. With the recent launch of CardDAV, Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols. Starting January 30, 2013, consumers won't be able to set up new devices using Google Sync; however, existing Google Sync connections will continue to function. Google Sync will continue to be fully supported for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education. Users of those products are unaffected by this announcement.
  • In addition to Google Sync, we're discontinuing Google Calendar Sync on December 14, 2012 and Google Sync for Nokia S60 on January 30, 2013. We're also ending service for SyncML, a contacts sync service used by a small number of older mobile devices on January 30, 2013.
  • The Issue Tracker Data API allows client applications to view and update issues on Project Hosting on Google Code in the form of Google Data API feeds. We'll shut down the Issue Tracker API on June 14, 2013.
  • Punchd is an app that keeps loyalty punch cards on your smartphone. On June 7, 2013, we will discontinue the Punchd Android and iOS apps, and merchants will no longer honor Punchd loyalty cards. Users can continue to earn punches and redeem rewards at participating businesses until June 7, 2013. We remained focused on developing products that help merchants and shoppers connect in new and useful ways.
Technology offers us a way to make a big impact on the world. In 2013, we'll keep working hard to build a seamless, amazing Google experience for you.

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