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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Anderson, SVP of product at DogVacay. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., DogVacay is a service that connects dog owners with local pet sitters. Learn how the company partnered with Google Maps to deliver localized pet sitting services.

At DogVacay, we help people find the perfect home away from home for their dogs while they are away. People across the U.S. spend billions of dollars on boarding for their furry friends, and we want to offer a better solution than current commercial options. The way we see it, dogs are happier in a loving home where they receive customized care, rather than sitting in a crate at a kennel with limited human contact.

Our business has struck a nerve — we have more than 15,000 hosts in 3,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada since we launched in 2012. To help pet owners find the best host nearby for their pooches, we use Google Maps.

With Google Maps, which we integrated with the help of SADA Systems, DogVacay allows pet owners to locate hosts nearby simply by typing in a zip code or street address. Potential hosts are pinpointed on an interactive map linking to profiles that detail the pet sitter’s experience, certifications, price and other details. Many of our guests have told us they like the ability to quickly find sitters nearby — sometimes only blocks away. Our Concierge Team has even helped people find dog sitters in their own buildings in New York City.
There’s an enormous number of dog lovers who want to provide excellent care and a loving home for animals while their owners are away. DogVacay and Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find these hosts right in the owner’s neighborhood. In addition, we’ve made the search options extremely customizable to our customer’s needs, offering services to elderly or sick dogs in need of special care.

We’re always looking for ways we can expand our offering, and Google Maps plays a big role in providing hyperlocal services that help keep dogs (and their owners) happy!

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Today at the Google for Entrepreneurs Global Partner Summit, Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Technical Infrastructure & Google Fellow announced Google Cloud Platform for Startups. This new program will help eligible early-stage startups take advantage of the cloud and get resources to quickly launch and scale their idea by receiving $100,000 in Cloud Platform credit, 24/7 support, and access to our technical solutions team.

This offer is available to startups around the world through top incubators, accelerators and investors. We are currently working with over 50 global partners to provide this offer to startups who have less than $5 million dollars in funding and have less than $500,000 in annual revenue. In addition, we will continue to add more partners over time.

This offer supports our core Google Cloud Platform philosophy: we want developers to focus on code; not worry about managing infrastructure. Starting today, startups can take advantage of this offer and begin using the same infrastructure platform we use at Google. For example, Headspace is helping millions of people keep their minds healthier and happier using Google Cloud Platform for Startups.

Thousands of startups have built successful applications on Google Cloud Platform and those applications have grown to serve tens of millions of users. It has been amazing to watch Snapchat send over 700 million photos and videos a day and Khan Academy teach millions of students. We look forward to helping the next generation of startups launch great products.

 For more information on Google Cloud Platform for Startups, visit http://cloud.google.com/startups.

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The workplace is undergoing a significant shift away from the old, isolated cubicle to an always connected, collaborative approach. More people than ever are working together from any device or place, with cloud-based tools that help them connect, collaborate and quickly bring ideas to life.

On October 1st, innovative business leaders and tech experts will explore this trend and the future of work at Google’s first Atmosphere Live event. In true digital fashion, we’re taking a fresh approach by hosting it entirely online, sparing attendees the travel and hassle of typical conferences. We’re turning a traditional in-person event into an any-person experience. You’ll get the chance to participate and interact by voting, asking questions and using our social media visualizer—all from the comfort of your desk, couch or anywhere else. The future is about working how you want, so we’re bringing you that freedom as you learn and take part with your peers.
The agenda includes Google’s Sundar Pichai talking about bringing game-changing products to market; Claire Hughes Johnson discussing Google [X] moonshot thinking for self-driving cars; Urs Hölzle on next-generation cloud technology; and Vivek Wadhwa talking about inspiring workplaces. Breakout sessions will focus on human resources, marketing, IT and product development, featuring the insights from forward-thinkers from Trulia, All Saints, Whirlpool, Avery Dennison and Chico’s. They’ll weigh in on subjects ranging from employee productivity to customer engagement to workplace technology in the age of Cloud Computing.

We hope you’ll join us for one of our biggest work events of the year. So charge your devices, mark your calendars for October 1st and share your thoughts, impressions and questions using #atmosphere14 on social media. Register today and we’ll see you there.

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(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog, Google Drive Blog and the Google for Education Blog.)

Imagine trying to keep track of another person’s real-time edits in a document—using only your ears. Or trying to create a table from spreadsheet data—without being able to clearly see the cells. Whether you’re backing up a file in Drive or crunching some numbers in Sheets, it should be easy to bring your ideas to life using Google’s tools. But if you’re blind or have low vision, you may need to rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers and Braille displays—and that can make working in the cloud challenging. While screen readers can parse static webpages (like this blog) relatively easily, it’s much harder for them to know what to say in interactive applications like Google Docs because the actions they need to describe are much more complex.

With these reasons in mind, today we’re announcing some improvements to Drive and all our editors—Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms—specifically designed with blind and low-vision users in mind.
Improved screen reader support in Drive and Docs 
In June, we introduced a new version of Drive that’s sleeker, easier to navigate and much faster. But just as importantly, the new Drive also includes better keyboard accessibility, support for zoom and high-contrast mode and improved usability with screen readers.

Across Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms, you’ll find that it’s now much easier to use a screen reader, with nicer text-to-voice verbalization and improvements to keyboard navigation. You’ll also notice other updates, including:

  • Support for alt text on images in Docs, so you can tell a screen reader what they should say to describe an image 
  • Better support for using a keyboard to edit charts and pivot tables in Sheets 
  • Additional screen reader improvements specifically for Docs, Sheets and Slides, including support for spelling suggestions, comments and revision history 
  • The ability to quickly search the menus and perform actions in Docs, Slides and Drawings (and soon Sheets and Forms)—even if you don’t know the action’s key sequence 
Collaborating with others is easier too: in Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings, screen readers announce when people enter or leave the document, and you’ll now also hear when others are editing alongside you.

Refreshable Braille display support 
If you use a Braille display, you can now use it to read and enter text in Docs, Slides and Drawings. Even if you don't use a Braille display, with Braille support, your screen reader’s settings for character echoing are automatically followed. Enabling Braille also dramatically reduces the lag between when you press a key and when it’s announced by your screen reader, and improves the announcements of punctuation and whitespace. Learn how to enable Braille support in our Help Center.

Get up and going faster
The first time you use a screen reader or a Braille display, getting up to speed can be a daunting task. But it’s simpler with new step-by-step guides for Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawings.
You can also access the in-product “Help” menu at any time without interrupting your work, or use the updated shortcut help dialog to easily search through keyboard shortcuts if you don’t remember them.

Finally, we’re offering phone support for Google Drive accessibility questions. If you get stuck, visit support.google.com/drive to request a phone call and someone from our team will reach out to you.

What’s next
As Laura Patterson, CIO, University of Michigan puts it, "The latest improvements in Google Drive and Docs for users of assistive technology are a major step forward and exemplify Google's commitment to making their products available to all members of our community.” We’re pleased the community has welcomed these improvements, and will continue to work with organizations to make even more progress.

Everyone, regardless of ability, should be able to experience all that the web has to offer. To find out more about our commitment to a fully accessible web, visit the new Google Accessibility site at www.google.com/accessibility.

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Marvel and DC Comics, Star Wars and Star Trek, Emacs and VI—we all have our favorites. And then there’s iOS and Android, each with dedicated fans. Regardless of which you prefer, there’s no reason your device of choice should get in the way of your work.

 Alongside our Android device management solution, we’re introducing iOS Sync for Google Apps giving you and your company the increased security needed to protect your files, emails, documents and more on your favorite iOS phone or tablet. iOS Sync is integrated right into the Gmail and Google Drive apps for iOS, so you don’t have to take any action to download an additional app. And iOS Sync will support iOS 7, 8 and, of course, the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

 As part of iOS Sync, you’ll get the following additional security measures:

  • Manage Google Apps: Set a policy that prompts employees to enroll their device when they log into Google Apps such as Google Drive and Gmail
  • Configure WiFi networks: Distribute WiFi passwords and certificates to employees so they can easily connect to trusted networks. 
  • Support for existing policies: Manage password requirements, data encryption and camera policies, as well as actions like remotely wiping a device, activation approvals and blocking devices. 
iOS Sync will be available for Google Apps for Work, Google Apps for Education and Google Apps for Government beginning next week. Administrators should go to the Admin console to enable these new functions.

Work from anywhere, safely on your favorite device while keeping your work information secure with Google’s mobile management tools.

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Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Bhagwat Patil, Head IT of EMCO Limited. Read more about EMCO’s move to Google Apps here.

As one of the leading players in energy transmission and distribution, EMCO Limited sees immense opportunities in India’s rising power sector. With the country’s energy demand expected to reach over 315 gigawatts by 2017, the industry is currently valued at more than $600 billion. In order to meet this opportunity, we need a digital collaboration strategy that allows us to keep pace with the market.

EMCO Limited’s solutions and products are marketed to over 50 countries worldwide so we interact constantly with our overseas partners and customers to collaborate and innovate across product lines and business segments. We compared various technology solutions and tested them for security and remote access for our employees. Encouraged by the positive results and employee feedback, we decided that Google Apps for Work would be the best fit for our business.

With Google Apps, employees feel better equipped to run projects across country borders. They can respond to customers faster and collaborate with team members easily. The management is able to access shared information about project timelines and progress to stay on top of multiple projects. Our employees are no longer strapped to their desktops and laptops. With Google Apps available on mobile devices, we can respond to customers and partners, across time zones, from anywhere and at any time. Using Google Hangouts, our teams can now conduct group video conferences worldwide. Anytime there’s an issue to resolve, we can quickly jump onto a Hangout, regardless of where team members are located. This has reduced our overseas communication costs.

We also share large file-size plans and proposals through Gmail and Google Drive. Previously, we were concerned that data sitting on users’ local drives could not be adequately accounted for in the event of computers being compromised or damaged. Google Apps alleviated this concern. With our data stored in the cloud and not on-premise, we feel better prepared to address challenges like hardware failure or even natural disasters. On the backend, Google Apps’ cloud-based model resulted in significant time and cost savings. Previously, the IT team spent a lot of time backing up data for storage and recovery purposes. Google helped take this task off the team, freeing them up for more strategic tasks.

Overall, Google has helped us to communicate better. Google Apps offered us a single, cost-effective platform to stay connected with employees, partners and customers anytime, anywhere. With Google Apps powering our business, we at EMCO are confident about strengthening our business in India and across the globe.

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Posted by Hidetomo Aramaki, Vice President of Innovation & IT Strategy, ANA Group

Cross posted on the Google for Work Japan blog

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Hidetomo Aramaki, Vice President of Innovation & IT Strategy at ANA Group (All Nippon Airways, Co., Ltd.), a Japan-based airline operating more than 1,000 flights each day.

As Japan’s largest airline we have lots of moving parts to manage. And we don’t just mean planes and passengers. We’re a global organization with more than 40 departments across the world. While we’ve always had a strong sense of teamwork, we’ve run up against some walls as our company has grown. So in March 2013 we switched to Google Apps for Work so all our 49,000 people - in the air, on the tarmac and in our offices — could use a communications and IT platform that supports our culture.

The move was a big part of our broader “Work Style Innovation” program which is designed to connect our employees around the world as one team and provide better service to our customers. Since moving to Google tools, we’ve been able to launch some new initiatives with a level of staff input that was previously unimaginable. It used to be difficult to get input from multiple departments on big projects, but now we can upload project documents to Google Drive and teams can simultaneously make edits and instantly share issues. This was very helpful when we overhauled our international flights reservation system — a company-wide project.

(Press "CC" to turn on English captions)

The ability to connect departments and employees around the world was also key during the redesign of our new uniform. This was the first change to our uniform in 10 years, and we found it really easy to share designs and pictures of staff wearing uniforms through Gmail and Drive with our New York-based designer. No matter where we were, or what device we were on, we could make adjustments to files and discuss everything from breathability to elasticity with Google Hangouts.

Being able to access files from anywhere using Google Drive has been great for our safety teams too. If maintenance staff at Haneda Airport see a problem they’re not sure how to solve, they take a picture of it right from the tarmac with a tablet and share it with the global team. Other maintenance and safety experts review the images and can give advice from wherever they are. The new process results in problems getting fixed faster and an overall increase in our safety standards.

As well as improving work processes and communication, tools like Google+ have been great for supporting internal communication. We have some really active Google+ communities for working mothers and fathers to share stories, advice and experiences.

Our industry demands information at jet speed. Google Apps helps our employees share ideas, opinions and updates no matter where in the world they happen to be, so that time zones and language barriers don’t hinder our ability to work well together and we can better serve the customers who fly with us.