Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New About Google - 12 October 2011


  • Building an amazing mobile shopping experience with Google Commerce Search
    October 12, 2011
    Mobile usage in retail is on the rise—every year we see an increasing number of shopping queries originate from mobile phones. As mobile continues to proliferate, it’s also fundamentally changing the way people shop. Mobile and shopping are made for each other.

    Knowing this, we’re sharing a secret with you: it’s not too late to get your e-commerce site ready for the mobile surge this holiday shopping season. In fact, our newest customer, Timberland, just went live with their mobile-optimized website powered by Google Commerce Search in a matter of days.

    Chris Hardisty, director of Timberland Global E-Commerce, told us: “Our first priority in developing our mobile website was making sure customers had the best experience possible. Shoppers today expect fast and relevant results especially on mobile, where speed and interactivity matter most. Since we launched our mobile-optimized website, we have seen mobile sales grow 20 times faster than our desktop site sales.”


    Today we’re growing the Google Commerce Search family by opening up our new Google Commerce Search Partner Program, and welcoming Branding Brand and Perficient Systems as our inaugural partners. We wanted to make it easier for retailers to adopt Google Commerce Search to help them achieve amazing results and meet their customers’ needs. Through this new program, system integrators, digital agencies and commerce platform providers can partner with us to bring the unique capabilities of Google Commerce Search to their retail clients.

    Branding Brand has worked with Timberland and—earlier this year—GNC to turn their mobile visions into reality. Before they optimized their mobile website, 10 to 15 percent of GNC’s e-commerce traffic came from mobile. Since launching it this summer, there are twice as many visitors using search, and mobile search conversions are up 50 percent.



    If you decide that building a mobile application is the best choice for you, it’s still important to build a powerful search experience that will help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for and engage with your brand. In August, Westfield launched a mobile shopping app powered by Google Commerce Search for its 55 malls throughout the U.S. Alan Cohen, Executive Vice President, Management and Marketing for Westfield, told us “Whether the shopper is looking for a very specific product or general holiday gift items, the ability to search retailer products effortlessly is of real benefit.”

    Ready to get started with your mobile commerce site? With the big holiday shopping season coming soon, we wanted to share some tips based on our relationships with our merchant customers:
    • Every millisecond counts: You can’t deliver an amazing mobile shopping experience to your customers by wasting their time. Shoppers should be able to find the products without unnecessary clicks, typing or other steps.
    • Engage your audience: Search has become highly interactive with suggestions and auto-complete, while mobile allows consumers to touch and engage with their devices in new and fun ways. Combining the two allows you to intrigue your potential customers for instant gratification.
    • Get to the point: Whether someone’s looking for a high-resolution digital camera or orange khaki trousers, you want to make sure that it’s easy to find—with minimal keystrokes, of course. Space is limited on those 3- or 4-inch screens, so make the most of it by providing relevant search results.
    • Bridge the gap: According to our holiday retail user survey, 65 percent of high-end device users report they have used their device to find a business and then made a purchase at that business in person. In other words: mobile provides a great opportunity to drive foot traffic and bridge online and offline sales. You can delight shoppers by showing them when a product is also available in a store nearby—in-line with the search results.
    We built Google Commerce Search just under two years ago to help retailers provide a great shopping experience to their customers, and we’ve had positive feedback from our retail partners on how they’ve been able to increase search revenues, site searches and online conversions while increasing customer satisfaction. Get started now with Google Commerce Search to build a great mobile experience in time for this year’s shopping season.



  • Music Tuesday: National Coming Out Day, Merle Haggard and more
    October 11, 2011
    Wondering what we’ve got cooking this week on youtube.com/music? Now’s your chance to find out -- and be sure to check the music page later this week to get a taste of October’s most significant new releases.

    Out, Proud and...Loud!
    In honor of National Coming Out Day, we assembled a playlist of artists and bands who make great music...and who also happen to have members who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We profile a huge range of musicians, including the wonderfully outrageous Big Freedia of New Orleans’ bounce scene. (She joins a long list of gender-bending New Orleans performers who’ve found acceptance there that they might not have found anywhere else.) Rapper Shunda K of the underground duo Yo! Majesty recently embarked on a solo career -- we feature her second video off the new album today, which includes a cameo from electropop provocateur Peaches. We’ve also got videos from Antony and the Johnsons, Sigur Ros, Girl In A Coma, Xiu Xiu and many more.



    Merle Haggard Recommends
    Country much? The man who invented (with a little help) what became known as “the Bakersfield sound” and went on to become a leading light of the outlaw country movement takes to YouTube today, offering up some of his favorite videos. Haggard is a living legend, and we’re incredibly proud to share this window into his musical world.



    Ryan Adams “Lucky Now”
    Speaking of country music, Ryan Adams was a vaunted darling of the alt-country scene for many years...then he disappeared from the radar. The singer-songwriter is back -- and in fine form -- this week with a new album and a new video.



    Sarah Bardeen, Music Community Manager, recently watched “El Freaky presenta: Raka Rich & Geko Jones in Bogota.”

  • AdWords API now fully supports OAuth 1.0a
    October 11, 2011
    With the release of v201109 we are happy to announce that we now fully support OAuth 1.0a in the AdWords API.

    OAuth is an open standard for authorization. Google uses this standard to allow applications to access a user’s data (in this case AdWords) without requiring the user to give the application their Google username and password.

    In OAuth, an application starts by contacting Google with an OAuth request. Next, the application redirects the user to Google to authorize the request. Once authorized, the user is directed back to the application, which can then upgrade their request token to an access token which the application can use to make requests to Google in lieu of a username and password.

    The client libraries have code to handle much of the OAuth process for you. We have provided code examples in many languages to demonstrate how to use OAuth with the client libraries: DotNet, Python, Ruby, Perl, PHP.

    Please note that making your first request against the sandbox using OAuth will not create accounts for you as described here. Please make your first request to the sandbox using email/password authentication to provision the sandbox accounts and make subsequent requests with OAuth.

    For more information about using OAuth with Google APIs, please see this documentation.

    If you have any questions about using OAuth with the client libraries, you can ask us on the forum.

    Kevin Winter, AdWords API Team

  • Upcoming changes to OAuth 2.0 endpoint
    October 11, 2011
    Author Photo
    By Justin Smith, Senior Product Manager

    In the coming weeks we will be making three changes to the experimental OAuth 2.0 endpoint. We expect the impact to be minimal, and we’re emailing developers who are most likely to be affected.

    We will be releasing these changes on November 15, 2011. This post describes the changes, their impact, and how they can be mitigated.

    Change #1: Error responses for client-side web applications

    The first change relates to the way errors are returned in OAuth 2.0 client-side web applications. It does not impact server-side, native, or device flows.

    The current behavior of the OAuth 2.0 endpoint in certain error conditions is to return the error to the application as a query string parameter, for example:

    https://www.example.com/back?error=access_denied.

    The OAuth 2.0 specification indicates that the error should be returned in the fragment of the response. We are updating our OAuth 2.0 implementation to support the most recent draft of the specification. As a result, we will be changing the way we return errors to applications in the client-side flow.

    As an example, today an error returns to your application as

    https://www.example.com/back?error=access_denied. After this change, it will be returned as

    https://www.example.com/back#error=access_denied.

    There is no mitigation for this change, so your application will have to handle these types of errors in client-side script.

    Change #2: Offline access as a separate parameter

    The second change impacts the OAuth 2.0 server-side flow only. It does not impact client-side, native, or device flows. For context, this flow consists of the following steps:
    1. Redirect the browser to the Google OAuth 2.0 endpoint.
    2. The user will be shown a consent page.
    3. If the user consents, parse the authorization code from the query string of the response.
    4. Exchange the authorization code for a short-lived access token and a long-lived refresh token.
    Once your application has obtained a long-lived refresh token (step 4), it may access a Google API at any time. This means server-side applications do not require the end-user to be present when obtaining new access tokens. We’re calling this type of access offline.

    The client-side flow, in contrast, requires the user to be present when obtaining an access token. This type of access is called online.

    With this change, we will be exposing online and offline access as a separate parameter that’s available only in the server-side flow.

    When your application requests offline access, the consent page shown to a user will reflect that your application requests offline access and your application will receive an access and a refresh token. Once your application has a refresh token, it may obtain a new access token at any time.

    When your application requests online access, your application will only receive an access token. No refresh token will be returned. This means that a user must be present in order for your application to obtain a new access token.

    If unspecified in the request, online is the default.

    A mitigation for this change is described at the end of this post.

    Change #3: Server-side auto-approval

    This change also impacts the OAuth 2.0 server-side flow only.

    In the current implementation of OAuth2, every time your application redirects a user to Google, that user must give explicit consent before an authorization code is given to your application. As a result, sending a user through the flow another time requires them to see the consent screen again. Most applications don’t do this, but rather use the existing server-side flow as it was intended: a one-time association (import contacts, calendar operations, etc.) where the result is a refresh token which may be used to obtain new access tokens.

    The behavior is changing to the following:
    • Users will only see the consent screen on their first time through the sequence.
    • If the application requests offline access, only the first authorization code exchange results in a refresh token.
    To put it another way, consent will be auto-approved for returning users unless the user has revoked access. Refresh tokens are not returned for responses that were auto-approved.

    The next section describes how to mitigate this change.

    Mitigation of offline access (#2) and auto-approval (#3) changes

    If you want to keep the existing behavior in your server-side applications, include the approval_prompt=force and access_type=offline parameters in an authorization code request.

    For example, if the following is a target URL for obtaining an authorization code today:
    https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/auth?
    client_id=21302922996.apps.googleusercontent.com&
    redirect_uri=https://www.example.com/back&
    scope=https://www.google.com/m8/feeds/&
    response_type=code
    You can maintain the current behavior by changing the target URL to:
    https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/auth?
    client_id=21302922996.apps.googleusercontent.com&
    redirect_uri=https://www.example.com/back&
    scope=https://www.google.com/m8/feeds/&
    response_type=code&
    access_type=offline&
    approval_prompt=force
    You may start including these parameters in authorization code requests today.

    Questions?

    If you have any questions or comments, please post on the OAuth 2.0 Group (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/OAuth 2.0-dev). We will be actively monitoring that group and will work to respond quickly.


    Justin Smith is a Product Manager who works on authentication and authorization technologies at Google. He enjoys woodworking, cycling, country music, and the company of his wife (not necessarily in that order).

    Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

  • Two days in D.C. for the winners of the Google Science Fair
    October 11, 2011
    (Cross-posted on the Google Student blog and the Google Science Fair blog)

    Last week, 17-year-old Shree Bose from Fort Worth, Texas, the grand prize winner of the Google Science Fair, visited Washington, D.C. at the invitation of the White House. We invited Shree to write about her experience in the capital. - Ed.

    Adrenaline. I turned around as the brilliantly polished door behind me opened, and suddenly I was face to face with a man I’d seen so many times on television. The President of the United States calmly extended his hand to shake mine and those of Naomi and Lauren, the other two winners of Google’s first-ever Science Fair. He knew about our projects and was genuinely excited to talk with us.

    The Oval Office is more than just a room. It has a palpable aura of grandeur, with the presidential seal in the center of the deep blue carpet and a portrait of George Washington hanging on the wall. The desk, where presidents of the past have contemplated some of the most important decisions in the world’s history, was polished to a gleam. President Obama leaned against it as he talked to us.

    He asked us how we became interested in science, what our plans were for the future and which colleges we were interested in. Smiling, he told us to stick with science. We left the Oval Office feeling like our individual futures were important to the nation’s future; like we could change the world.

    Our trip to Washington, D.C., also included visits to the National Institute of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over our two days, we were given the opportunity to sit down and talk with many of our country’s leaders who have not only been extraordinarily successful in the fields we wish to go into in the future, but who also encouraged us to follow our own dreams. It was more than just meetings; it was inspiration.

    Naomi Shah, Shree Bose and Lauren Hodge meet President Obama in the Oval Office
    Official White House Photo by Pete Souza



  • South African nonprofit benefits from Google Docs and Sites
    October 11, 2011
    We recently met with two nonprofits to learn more about how they use Google Docs and Sites to better manage and share files across their organizations. Today, we're sharing the story of Children Radio's Foundation (CRF), a nonprofit organization based in South Africa. Tom Henry, a CRF volunteer, sits down with the Google for Nonprofits team and tells us why collections and sharing are two of his favorite features in Google Docs. Learn more on Google's Nonprofit Blog.

  • App Engine Premier Accounts and a new release
    October 11, 2011

    By Greg D'Alesandre, App Engine team

    Cross-posted from the Google App Engine Blog

    2011 has seen some exciting releases for App Engine. As the days get shorter, the weather gets colder, and all that Halloween candy starts tempting everyone in the grocery store, we’ve been hard at work on our latest action-packed release.

    Premier Accounts

    When choosing a platform for your most critical business applications, we recognize that uptime guarantees, easy management and paid support are often just as important as product features. So today we’re launching Google App Engine premier accounts.  For $500 per month (not including the cost to provision internet services), you’ll receive:
    • Premium support (see the 
    • Technical Support Services Guidelines for details).
    • A 99.95% uptime Service Level Agreement (see the draft agreement; the final agreement will be in the signed offline agreement).
    • The ability to create an unlimited number of apps on your premier account domain.
    • No minimum monthly fees per app. Pay only for the resources you use.
    • Monthly billing via invoice.
    To sign up for a premier account, please contact our sales team at appengine_premier_requests@google.com.  

    Python 2.7

    PIL? NumPy? Concurrent requests? Python 2.7 has it all, and today we’re opening up Python 2.7 as an experimental release. We’ve put together a list of all the known differences between the current 2.5 runtime and the new runtime.

    Overall Changes

    We know that bumping up against hard limits can be frustrating, and we’ve talked all year about our continued push to lift our system limits. With this release we are raising several of these:
    • Request Duration: The frontend request deadline has been increased from 30 seconds to 60 seconds. We’ve increased the maximum URLFetch deadline to match from 10 seconds to 60 seconds.
    • File limits: We’ve increased the number of files you can upload with your application from 3,000 to 10,000 files, and the file size limit has also been increased from 10MB to 32MB.
    • API Limits: Post payloads for URLFetches are now capped at 5MB instead of 1MB.
    We’re also announcing several limited preview features and trusted tester programs:
    • Cloud SQL Preview: We announced last week that we are offering a preview of SQL support in App Engine. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
    • Full-text Search: We are looking for early trusted testers for our long-anticipated Full-Text Search API. Please fill out this form if you’re interested in trying it out.
    • Conversion API: Ever wanted to convert from text to PDF in your App? Then consider signing up as a trusted tester for the Conversion API.
    Datastore
    • Cross Group (XG) Transactions: For those who need transactional writes to entities in multiple entity groups (and that's everyone, right?), XG Transactions are just the thing. This feature uses two phase commit to make cross group writes atomic just like single group writes.
    Platform Improvements
    Of course, these are just the high level changes. This release is packed full of features and bug fixes, and as always, we welcome your feedback in the group.


    Greg D'Alesandre is now the Senior Product Manager for App Engine after coming back from riding the Google Wave in Sydney. And he's obsessed with chocolate, no, seriously, obsessed.

    Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

  • App Engine 1.5.5 SDK Release
    October 11, 2011
    2011 has seen some exciting releases for App Engine. As the days get shorter, the weather gets colder, and all that Halloween candy starts tempting everyone in the grocery store, we’ve been hard at work on our latest action packed release.
    Premier Accounts
    When choosing a platform for your most critical business applications, we recognize that uptime guarantees, easy management and paid support are often just as important as product features. So today we’re launching Google App Engine premier accounts.  For $500 per month (not including the cost to provision internet services), you’ll receive:
    • Premium support (see the 
    • Technical Support Services Guidelines for details).
    • A 99.95% uptime Service Level Agreement (see the draft agreement, the final agreement will be in the signed offline agreement).
    • The ability to create an unlimited number of apps on your premier account domain.
    • No minimum monthly fees per app. Pay only for the resources you use.
    • Monthly billing via invoice.
    To sign up for a premier account, please contact our sales team at appengine_premier_requests@google.com.  


    Python 2.7
    PIL? NumPy? Concurrent requests? Python 2.7 has it all, and today we’re opening up Python 2.7 as an experimental release. We’ve put together a list of all the known differences between the current 2.5 runtime and the new runtime.


    Overall Changes
    We know that bumping up against hard limits can be frustrating, and we’ve talked all year about our continued push to lift our system limits. With this release we are raising several of these:
    • Request Duration: The frontend request deadline has been increased from 30 seconds to 60 seconds. We’ve increased the maximum URLFetch deadline to match from 10 seconds to 60 seconds.
    • File limits: We’ve increased the number of files you can upload with your application from 3,000 to 10,000 files, and the file size limit has also been increased from 10MB to 32MB.
    • API Limits: Post payloads for URLFetches are now capped at 5MB instead of 1MB.
    We’re also announcing several limited preview features and trusted tester programs:
    • Cloud SQL Preview: We announced last week that we are offering a preview of SQL support in App Engine. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
    • Full-text Search: We are looking for early trusted testers for our long anticipated Full-Text Search API. Please fill out this form if you’re interested in trying it out.
    • Conversion API: Ever wanted to convert from text to PDF in your App? Then consider signing up as a trusted tester for the Conversion API.
    Datastore
    • Cross Group (XG) Transactions: For those who need transactional writes to entities in multiple entity groups (and that's everyone, right?), XG Transactions are just the thing. This feature uses two phase commit to make cross group writes atomic just like single group writes.
    Platform Improvements
    Of course, these are just the high level changes. This release is packed full of features and bug fixes, and as always, we welcome your feedback in the group.


  • Google Prediction API graduates from labs, adds new features
    October 11, 2011
    Author Photo
    By Zachary Goldberg, Product Manager

    Since the general availability launch of the Prediction API this year at Google I/O, we have been working hard to give every developer access to machine learning in the cloud to build smarter apps. We’ve also been working on adding new features, accuracy improvements, and feedback capability to the API. Today we take another step by announcing Prediction v1.4. With the launch of this version, Prediction is graduating from Google Code Labs, reflecting Google’s commitment to the API’s development and stability. Version 1.4 also includes two new features:
    • Data Anomaly Analysis
      • One of the hardest parts of building an accurate predictive model is gathering and curating a high quality data set. With Prediction v1.4, we are providing a feature to help you identify problems with your data that we notice during the training process. This feedback makes it easier to build accurate predictive models with proper data.
    • PMML Import
      • PMML has become the de facto industry standard for transmitting predictive models and model data between systems. As of v1.4, the Google Prediction API can programmatically accept your PMML for data transformations and preprocessing.
      • The PMML spec is vast and covers many, many features. You can find more details about the specific features that the Google Prediction API supports here.



    We’re looking forward to seeing what you create with these new capabilities!

    Feel free to find us and ask questions about these new features on our discussion group or submit feedback via our feedback form.


    Zachary Goldberg is Product Manager for the Google Prediction API. He has a strange fascination with the Higgs Boson.

    Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

  • Google Cloud Storage is out of Code Labs, with new features and lower price
    October 11, 2011
    Author Photo
    By Navneet Joneja, Product Manager for Google Cloud Storage

    Google Storage for Developers is now out of Code Labs, and has a new name: Google Cloud Storage. In addition, we're also happy to announce some new features, and a significant price reduction.

    App Engine File API Support

    When we opened the service to all this summer, many of our customers asked for an easier way to use Google Cloud Storage with their App Engine applications. In response to your feedback, you can now read and write your data via the App Engine Files API, enabling you to quickly build your content management tools, data sharing applications, web games and more using the powerful combination of App Engine and Cloud Storage. This feature is experimental and currently Python-only, but we’re working on adding Java support and additional features.

    Usage Information

    We’re introducing a new API that gives you access to detailed usage information (including network access and storage use data). You can use this feature to analyze your usage, integrate with your analysis systems and build your own value-added applications using Google Cloud Storage. This feature is currently experimental.

    Lower Prices

    We're no longer charging for upload bandwidth into the Google cloud. In addition, we’re lowering our prices across the board and introducing volume discounts for our larger users. We are committed to offering an extremely high quality of service to all our customers. As the product has evolved, we’ve found ways to offer the same great service at a lower cost, so now our prices are lower too. For example, under our new prices, a customer storing a hundred terabytes of data, reading twenty terabytes and writing ten terabytes a month would pay approximately 40% less a month. The difference is even greater for customers with higher usage. Our new prices are retroactive to the beginning of October. Please see our updated pricing here.

    As always, we welcome your feedback in our discussion group. If you haven’t yet tried Google Cloud Storage, you can sign up and get started here.


    Navneet Joneja loves being at the forefront of the next generation of simple and reliable software infrastructure, the foundation on which next-generation technology is being built. When not working, he can usually be found dreaming up new ways to entertain his intensely curious one-year-old.

    Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

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