4/30/2010

Integrating virtual keyboards in Google search


You’ve spilled coffee on your keyboard. The a, e, i, o, u, and r keys have stopped working. Now try to search Google for the nearest computer repair shop. The pain of typing on this broken keyboard is similar to what many people searching in non-English languages feel when trying to type today. Typing searches on keyboards not designed for your languages can be frustrating, even impossible.

Our user research has shown that many people are more comfortable formulating search queries in their own language but have difficulty typing these queries into Google. (Try typing नमस्ते on a keyboard with English letters.) To overcome the difficulty they face in typing in their local language scripts, some people have resorted to copying and pasting from other sites and from online translation tools. But there’s an easier way — a virtual, or “on-screen” keyboard, lets you type directly in your local language script in an easy and consistent manner, no matter where you are or what computer you’re using.

Virtual keyboards let people type directly in their local language script and don't require any additional software.

Last year, to make text input easy for people across the globe, we introduced a virtual keyboard API through code.google.com. This allowed developers to enable virtual keyboards on any text field or text area in their webpages. Today, we are taking this effort one step further by integrating virtual keyboards into Google search in 35 languages.

A virtual keyboard on www.google.am to input Armenian text (the query term is [armenia])

If you use Google search in one of the languages listed below, you’ll see a small keyboard icon show up next to the search field, on both the Google homepage and search results page. Clicking on that keyboard icon brings up a virtual keyboard in your language. You can input text by either clicking on the on-screen keyboard or pressing the corresponding key.

You can find out more information on how to use the virtual keyboard in our help article. If you use Google in a language not listed below and feel that your language will benefit from a virtual keyboard, let us know by voting for your language. We hope virtual keyboards help you find information more easily — especially those of you who speak/type/read in non-Latin scripts.

Languages with integrated virtual keyboards
Albanian
Arabic
Armenian
Basque
Belarusian
Bosnian
Bulgarian
Catalan
Croatian
Czech
Finnish
Galician
Georgian
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Kazakh
Kirghiz
Macedonian
Malayalam
Mongolian
Persian
Polish
Russian
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian
Swedish
Tatar
Thai
Turkish
Ukrainian
Uzbek






Connect with your "neigh"bors using Google Places


This is the second post in our Small Business series about entrepreneurship and the various Google tools you can use to establish and improve your business presence on the Internet. Here, you’ll learn how Google Places (formerly called the Local Business Center) can help you attract and be discovered by customers in your area for free. -Ed.

As a local business owner, one of the things that sets you apart is your ability to make personal connections with your customers because of your passion for what you do. Letting people know who you are and what your business is about is a vital part of finding customers, building lasting relationships with them and helping your business succeed. Google Places helps business owners like you to manage your online presence and supplement your Place Page with all the information that helps people decide to visit you — from basics like hours of operation and address to helpful extras like videos, coupons and special announcements.

To give you a firsthand account of how Google Places can help a small business grow and succeed, I’ve invited Danya Wright to share her experience:
I first began riding horses at age six. Ever since then I knew that I wanted to spend my life working with horses and sharing my passion with others. I had jobs working for several barns and riding programs around Arizona, but always dreamed of having a school of my own.

Two years ago, I finally realized my dream and opened Specialized Training and Riding School — S.T.A.R.S. of Horsemanship. At S.T.A.R.S., we offer lessons to riders of all ages and skill levels, provide therapeutic horse training services for those with disabilities, and train Special Olympics riders. Our property is a 10-acre scenic environment for our students and horses. But because we’re located in a rural area of Gilbert, AZ, this also presents a big challenge: I don’t have the advantage of “window shoppers” or drive-by traffic. Without a storefront, those who do pass by may not realize that my stable is open to customers. Whenever I want to find a local business, Google Maps is my resource, so I wanted to make sure my business appears there too.

I did a little research and quickly found Google Places (which was known as Local Business Center when I first signed up). Within a few minutes, I was able to update the S.T.A.R.S. Place Page to add key details about my business, like exact location and contact information. And I could mention the special services we offer like group classes, private lessons, birthday parties, Scouting events, parent-child sessions and so on. Now when a company’s looking specifically for a team-building venue, they can find my business easily.


Since avid equestrians can be quite particular about facility details, I wanted to make sure that my Place Page included all of the specialized information that’s relevant to my target clients. Now when you search on Google, you can be taken to our Place Page to see photos that offer preview of our stables and even meet Salty, one of the horses. You can also find a coupon to help provide a little extra incentive to come try out our lessons if you’re new to horseback riding.

Since I started using Google Places six months ago, my business has grown tenfold from what it was before — I’ve gone from averaging around 10 to 15 students to now serving more than 100. To be honest, I had just figured that new customers would trickle in over time, but it’s boomed far beyond my expectations. And now I can spend more time with horses and riders, and less at the computer!







4/29/2010











love these photos by Mai Tanaka

i had korean food for dinner tonight, yum!

and now i'm having an allergy attack in the middle of the night :-(

congratulations to Ebony for making the change to move to Tokyo!!
おめでとう you lucky girl




4/28/2010

Alis volat propriis: Oregon’s bringing Google Apps to classrooms statewide


Growing up in the late seventies in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, technology wasn’t really a part of my educational life. My teachers graded printouts and the idea of collaborating with my classmates on a project anytime, anywhere just wasn’t possible. Not to mention, we didn’t have a computer at home and working on the Internet was still a pipe dream for a middle schooler.

Things have changed since I was in middle school of course, and there are people working hard to bring technology into classrooms to help students learn and teachers teach. Today Oregon is taking a huge step in that direction — they’re the first state to open up Google Apps for Education to public schools throughout the state.

Starting today, the Oregon Department of Education will offer Google Apps to all the school districts in the state — helping teachers, staff and students use Gmail, Docs, Sites, Video, Groups and more within their elementary, middle and high schools. School funding has been hit hard over the past couple of years, and Oregon is no exception. This move is going to save the Department of Education $1.5 million per year — big bucks for a hurting budget.

With Google Apps, students in Oregon can build websites or email teachers about a project. Their documents and email will live online in the cloud — so they’ll be able to work from a classroom or a computer lab, at home or at the city (or county) library. And instead of just grading a paper at the end of the process, Oregonian teachers can help students with their docs in real time, coaching them along the way. It’s critical that students learn how to use the kind of productivity technology they’ll need throughout their lives, and Oregon is helping students across the state do just that.

It blows my mind to think about how far technology in the classroom has come since I was in school, and how far we still have to go to make sure kids in classrooms everywhere have access to these tech resources. Cloud computing tools like Google Apps are one way teachers, schools — and now a whole state — are addressing the issue. Oh, and alis volat propriis? That’s the Oregon motto. It means “she flies by her own wings” — makes perfect sense for a state heading to the cloud.






4/26/2010


here are three magazines i bought the other day. two of them are interior design magazines to help with ideas and organization tips for your Japanese apartments. and the other one is a great mens fashion/life magazine with everything from clothes, food, grooming tips, hobbies, and entertainment.


(these first 7 pictures are from the mens magazine.)


(does this bonsai shop look familiar to you? its the shop in Tokyo called Sinajina that Iinekore mentioned in her trip to Japan, which was originally mentioned by the Tokyoite herself, Hikisan!)


(...and the rest of the pictures are from the interior magazines. i love all these living spaces. they remind me a bit of Muji, with it's simple layouts and emphasis on sunlit rooms with house plant decor)


today i need to: clean my room, do the laundry, water my plants, cook myself a nice meal, then maybe watch a relaxing dvd on this fine afternoon.

ps: thank you all for your amazing comments on my last post. it was sooo interesting to read all your little quirks about yourselves! some made me really laugh out loud! ...and also how majority of you are completely opposite from me when it comes to liking sweets! i cannot handle it! hahah, but i must admit, there is this amazing Japanese cheese-cake at this Japanese confectionery/restaurant that makes me melt inside. but thats only because it's not sweet at all! its very light and you can cut through it like tofu. おんなかすいた!




4/24/2010

This week in search 4/23/10


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 announced a number of new developments:

Search for specific TV show episodes

As more and more full-length content is going online, we're making it easier to find the content you want by providing a more structured experience when you search for TV shows. This week, we launched a way to search for specific TV show episodes as part of this effort. Now, when you search for your favorite TV show in Google Videos, check the lefthand toolbar for “Episodes”. By clicking on the links in the Search Options panel, you can browse by season to see all episodes, and drill down to see all sources for a specific episode.


Example searches: [desperate housewives] and [the simpsons]

Image support for RSS gadgets

For many of you who use iGoogle as your homepage, RSS feeds are a great way to get the latest news content, blog updates, recipes and celebrity gossip. And because pictures enhance the online experience, this week we added image support to our iGoogle feed gadgets for people in the U.S. We now support "Slideshow view" as well as "Headline and lead story view." You should notice the change now on your iGoogle page, and you will be able to edit the display setting of each feed by choosing "Edit settings" in the dropdown menu for your feeds.

Slideshow view

Headline and lead story view

Example feeds: [CNN], [the economist], [entertainment weekly], [national geographic]

Google Places

Also this week we announced that the Local Business Center is becoming Google Places. With one out of five searches on Google related to location, we wanted to better connect Place Pages (which launched last September for more than 50 million places globally) to a tool that enables businesses to manage their Google presence. With this change, business owners will benefit from several new ways to expand their online presence, while making it easier for you to make better decisions about local shopping. From real-time coupon updates to interior photos of businesses on place pages, these ongoing enhancements will make local search all the more useful to you. The launch of Google Places is just the beginning of Google becoming more local. If you're a business owner and want to learn more, check out google.com/places.

Example place page: [mission mountain winery]

Hope you enjoy this week's features. Stay tuned for what's next!