Dude, where’s my phone? Simple steps to protect your Android device this summer.

This summer we’re posting regularly with privacy and security tips. Knowing how to stay safe and secure online is important, which is why we created our Good to Know site with advice and tips for safe and savvy Internet use. -Ed.

With summer vacation in full swing, you’re likely out and about, using your smartphone or tablet to get answers on the go or check out the latest cool apps and games. But you don’t have to leave safety at home! In this post, we’re sharing a few tips and tools that you can easily set up if you’re on an Android phone or tablet to keep your device—and the contents inside—safe and secure, including a new service that makes it easy to locate a misplaced device.

1. Lock your device screen. Whether you’re on a phone or a tablet, it’s easy to set up a screen lock. This is important to do in case your device gets left in the back of a car, or you’re worried about someone picking up your phone and scrolling through your stuff. You can lock your device with a pin, password, pattern (or even your face!) by going to Settings > Personal > Security > Screen Lock.
2. Protect your phone from suspicious apps. We automatically scan Google Play to block and remove harmful apps. That makes Google Play the safest place to get Android apps. But Google Play can also help protect you even for apps you get elsewhere, like the web or a third-party app store. The first time you start to install an app from an unknown source, a message will pop up asking if you’d like Google to scan the file to make sure it’s not harmful. Tap “OK” to let Google help protect you from harmful apps.

3. Locate, ring and wipe a misplaced device. Have you ever lost your phone in between the couch cushions or left it in a restaurant? Later this month, you will be able to use a new service called Android Device Manager, which can quickly ring your phone at maximum volume so you can find it (even if it’s been silenced), or locate it on a map, in real time, using Android Device Manager. If your phone can’t be recovered, or has been stolen, you can quickly and securely erase all of the data on your device to keep your data from ending up in the wrong hands. The Android Device Manager will be available for devices running Android 2.2 and above, as part of Google Play. You can read the full announcement on the Android blog.
For more advice on how to protect yourself and your family online, visit our Good to Know site, and stay tuned for more posts in our security series.

From TVs to tablets: Everything you love, across all your screens

When I was growing up, my family had a single screen we huddled around every day: the television set in the living room. Nowadays, we “huddle” around multiple screens—laptops, smartphones and tablets—using them almost interchangeably as we navigate through our day. In a world of ubiquitous computing, life would be a lot simpler if we didn’t have to learn new behaviors and interfaces each time we switched screens—if we could have one consistent, intuitive experience no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Today, with the launch of Chromecast and the new Nexus 7 tablet, it’s even more effortless to enjoy content you care about—whether it’s video, music, movies, games—wherever you are, across your devices.

Introducing Chromecast
To help make it easy to bring your favorite online entertainment to the biggest screen in your house—the TV—we’re introducing Chromecast. Chromecast is a small and affordable ($35) device that you simply plug in to your high-definition (HD) TV and it allows you to use your phone, tablet or laptop to "cast" online content to your TV screen. It works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music, with more apps like Pandora coming soon. With Chromecast, we wanted to create an easy solution that works for everyone, for every TV in the house.

Once your Chromecast is set up, you can use your phone, tablet or laptop to browse and cast content to your TV, play and pause, control the volume, and more. But unlike other streaming solutions, you can still multitask—send emails or surf the web—while enjoying what’s on the TV screen. It works across platforms—Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Chrome for Mac and Windows (more to come), so your personal device is also now your remote control.

Cast the web to your TV
In addition to apps like Netflix, you can use Chromecast to bring a broad range of content available on the web to your big screen, thanks to a new feature in the Chrome browser that allows you to project any browser tab to your TV. From sharing your family photos to enjoying a video clip from your favorite news site, it’s as simple as pressing a button. This feature is launching in beta, but we’re excited for people to try it out and give us their feedback.

Google Cast SDK preview for developers
To ensure a great Chromecast experience over time, we've built Google Cast, a technology that enables developers to build consistent, intuitive multi-screen experiences across mobile devices and TVs. Today, we’re launching a preview version of Google Cast with more information for developers on our Google Developers blog. A handful of early developers are already working on enabling Google Cast technology in their apps, so more supported apps are coming soon. And while the Chromecast device is the first instantiation of Google Cast, we expect the technology to be embedded in a range of hardware from our partners in the future.
The new Nexus 7—the sharpest 7” tablet screen ever
Together with ASUS, we took what you loved about the original Nexus 7 and made it even better. The first thing you’ll notice is the sharpness of the screen: the 323 pixels packed into every inch of the screen makes it the world's highest-resolution 7-inch tablet. It’s lighter than ever, with more than nine hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or reading. Nexus 7 now features stereo speakers and virtual surround sound from Fraunhofer (the inventors of the MP3 format), giving you rich and immersive audio.

Android 4.3—a sweeter Jelly Bean
Nexus 7 is the first device to ship with Android 4.3, the newest version of Android. Tablets are perfect for sharing with others, so in Android 4.3, we're introducing restricted profiles, which let you limit access to apps and content. For example, restricted profiles enable parental controls, so certain family members are prevented from accessing mature content. Likewise, retail stores can use tablets to show off product information, and shops can use tablets as point of sale systems. Android 4.3 also now supports Bluetooth Smart technology, opening the door to mobile apps that connect to new devices like fitness sensors. Android 4.3 is rolling out to Nexus devices starting today.

Ready to Play
The new Google Play Games app brings your friends together with the games you love, where you can invite a friend and start challenging gamers around the world, compete for top achievements, and race to the top of the leaderboard. You can also enjoy the world’s largest collection of eBooks, listen to millions of music tracks and immerse yourself in thousands of movies, TV shows, magazines and apps on Google Play. Plus, Nexus 7 comes loaded with your favorite Google apps, like Chrome, Maps, YouTube, Gmail and Google Now.

How to get Chromecast and the new Nexus 7
Starting today, the Chromecast device is available for $35 on Google Play, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. It will be available in Best Buy stores across the U.S. starting July 28. For a limited time, you also get three months of Netflix included. More info available in Google Play.

Nexus 7 starts at $229, and is available in the U.S. beginning July 30 (with more countries coming soon!). Buy Nexus 7 online on Google Play, or check it out at Best Buy, Gamestop, Walmart, Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Amazon, Home Shopping Network, Radio Shack, J&R and B&H Photo. Nexus 7 (LTE) is coming soon with support for T-Mobile and Verizon in the coming weeks. Learn more on our Nexus site.

A new Google Maps app for smartphones and tablets

Today we’re introducing a new Google Maps app for Android smartphones and tablets, also coming soon to iPhone and iPad. It’s a new mapping experience that makes exploring the world and getting to the places that matter to you a lot faster and easier. The app is gradually rolling out globally in Google Play and will be available soon in the App Store.

The new Google Maps for mobile builds on the design we released for iPhone last December and improves on it with a few useful search and navigation features. And it's the first dedicated app for Android tablets and iPads. We’re also retiring Latitude and are making some changes to offline and My Maps which we’ll explain in more detail below.

First, here are a few highlights that make this release stand out:

Explore: Explore is a fast and easy way to visually browse and discover new places without even typing. Simply tap the search box and you’ll see cards showing great places to eat, drink, sleep and shop.
Enhanced navigation: In addition to current traffic conditions, we’ve added two new features to help you navigate around traffic. You can now see reports of problems on the road that you can tap to see incident details. While on the road, Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available and reroute you to your destination faster. This feature is available only on Android and is coming soon to iOS.
Designed for tablets: A dedicated tablet design brings all the features of this new app to Android tablets and iPads, which makes exploring the world from the comfort of your living room much more fluid, smooth and fun.
Reviews, Zagat and Offers: There’s a new 5.0 star rating system that gives you a quick read on how your friends and others rate places like restaurants, bars and cafes. For an expert’s opinion, the Zagat badge of excellence and curated lists are integrated into search results so you can quickly spot the very best places. From “Best Restaurants to meet for a drink in NYC” to “Best Restaurants in the Mission” in San Francisco, Zagat’s there to help you uncover the local gems.
And finally, Google Maps for mobile is a great way to discover valuable Offers from national brands like Macy's, Michael's and Toys "R" Us, labeled right on the map. All these features can make it a lot easier to navigate the world, no matter what adventure comes your way.

One important change you should know about is that Latitude and check-ins will be retired. These features will no longer be a part of the new Google Maps app, and will stop functioning in older versions by August 9. We understand some of you still want to see your friends and family on a map, which is why we've added location sharing and check-ins to Google+ for Android (coming soon to iOS). More details about Latitude and check-in changes can be found in our help center.

The offline maps feature for Android is also no longer available. Instead we’ve created a new way for you to access maps offline by simply entering “OK Maps” into the search box when viewing the area you want for later. Finally, My Maps functionality is not supported in this release but will return to future versions of the app. People who want to create powerful custom maps can still do so with Maps Engine Lite on desktop.

Helping you find great places is what we love to do. And as more of us use mobile phones and tablets in our daily lives, information that’s useful to you isn't just about what you need, but also where you might find it. Today’s update is an exciting step forward for Google’s maps—one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go.

Update July 16: The new Google Maps app for iPhone and iPad is now live. Visit the App Store today to download it.

*The new Google Maps for mobile is compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean Android devices and iOS 6+ when available. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.

Live from Google I/O: Mo’ screens, mo’ goodness

This morning, we kicked off the 6th annual Google I/O developer conference with over 6,000 developers at Moscone Center in San Francisco, 460 I/O Extended sites in 90 countries, and millions of you around the world who tuned in via our livestream. Over the next three days, we’ll be hosting technical sessions, hands-on code labs, and demonstrations of Google's products and partners' technology.

We believe computing is going through one of the most exciting moments in its history: people are increasingly adopting phones, tablets and newer type of devices. And this spread of technology has the potential to make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world—whether it's simply helping you in your daily commute, or connecting you to information that was previously inaccessible.

This is why we focus so much on our two open platforms: Android and Chrome. They enable developers to innovate and reach as many people as possible with their apps and services across multiple devices. Android started as a simple idea to advance open standards on mobile; today it is the world’s leading mobile platform and growing rapidly. Similarly, Chrome launched less than five years ago from an open source project; today it’s the world’s most popular browser.

In line with that vision, we made several announcements today designed to give developers even more tools to build great apps on Android and Chrome. We also shared new innovations from across Google meant to help make life just a little easier for you, including improvements in search, communications, photos, and maps.

Here’s a quick look at some of the announcements we made at I/O:

  • Android & Google Play: In addition to new developer tools, we unveiled Google Play Music All Access, a monthly music subscription service with access to millions of songs that joins our music store and locker; and the Google Play game services with real-time multiplayer and leaderboards. Also, coming next month to Google Play is a special Samsung Galaxy S4, which brings together cutting edge hardware from Samsung with Google’s latest software and services—including the user experience that ships with our popular Nexus devices.
  • Chrome: With over 750 million active users on Chrome, we’re now focused on bringing to mobile the speed, simplicity and security improvements that we’ve seen on the desktop. To that end, today we previewed next-generation video codec VP9 for faster video-streaming performance; the requestAutocomplete API for faster payments; and Chrome Experiments such as "A Journey Through Middle Earth" and Racer to demonstrate the ability to create immersive mobile experiences not possible in years past.
  • Google+: We unveiled the newly designed Google+, which helps you easily explore content as well dramatically improve your online photo experience to give you crisp, beautiful photos—without the work! We also upgraded Google+ Hangouts—our popular group video application—to help bring all of your real-life conversations online, across any device or platform, and with groups of up to 10 friends.
  • Search: Search has evolved considerably in recent years: it can now have a real conversation with you, and even make your day a bit smoother by predicting information you might need. Today we added the ability to set reminders by voice and we previewed “spoken answers” on laptops and desktops in Chrome—meaning you can ask Google a question and it will speak the answer back to you.
  • Maps: Today we previewed the next generation of Google Maps, which gets rid of any clutter in order to put your individual experience and exploration front and center. Each time you click or search, our technology draws you a tailored map that highlights the information you need. From design to directions, the new Google Maps is smarter and more useful.

Technology can have a profound, positive impact on the daily lives of billions of people. But we can’t do this alone—developers play a crucial role. I/O is our chance to come together and thank you for everything you do.

Google Keep—Save what’s on your mind

Every day we all see, hear or think of things we need to remember. Usually we grab a pad of sticky-notes, scribble a reminder and put it on the desk, the fridge or the relevant page of a magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re like me you probably often discover that the desk, fridge or magazine wasn’t such a clever place to leave the note after all...it’s rarely where you need it when you need it.

To solve this problem we’ve created Google Keep. With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.

If it’s more convenient to speak than to type that’s fine—Keep transcribes voice memos for you automatically. There’s super-fast search to find what you’re looking for and when you’re finished with a note you can archive or delete it.

Changing priorities isn’t a problem: just open Keep on your Android phone or tablet (there’s a widget so you can have Keep front and center all the time) and drag your notes around to reflect what matters. You can choose the color for each note too.

Pro tip: for adding thoughts quickly without unlocking your device there's a lock screen widget (on devices running Android 4.2+).

Google Keep is available on Google Play for devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich and above. You can access, edit and create new notes on the web at http://drive.google.com/keep and in the coming weeks you'll be able to do the same directly from Google Drive.

Celebrating Google Play’s first birthday

Accessing digital entertainment should be simple, whether you like to read books on your tablet, listen to music on your phone and computer, or watch movies on all three. That’s why one year ago today we launched Google Play, where you can find and enjoy your favorite music, movies, books and apps on your Android phone and tablet, or on the web.

Google Play has grown rapidly in the last year, bringing you more content in more languages and places around the globe. In addition to offering more than 700,000 apps and games, we’ve partnered with all of the major music companies, movie studios and publishers to bring you the music, movies, TV shows, books and magazines you love. And we’ve added more ways for you to buy them, including paying through your phone bill and gift cards, which we're beginning to roll out in the U.K. this week.

Since no birthday is complete without presents, we’re celebrating with a bunch of special offers across the store on songs, TV shows, movies and books. We’re even offering a collection of games with some fun birthday surprises created by developers.

It’s been a busy year, but we’re just getting started. We look forward to many more years of bringing you the best in entertainment!

Making the cloud more accessible with Chrome and Android

If you’re a blind or low-vision user, you know that working in the cloud poses unique challenges. Our accessibility team had an opportunity to address some of those challenges at the 28th annual CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference this week. While there, we led a workshop on how we’ve been improving the accessibility of Google technologies. For all those who weren’t at the conference, we want to share just a few of those improvements and updates:

Chrome and Google Apps
  • Chrome OS now supports a high-quality text-to-speech voice (starting with U.S. English). We’ve also made spoken feedback, along with screen magnification and high-contrast mode available out-of-the-box to make Chromebook and Chromebox setup easier for users with accessibility needs.
  • Gmail now has a consistent navigation interface, backed by HTML5 ARIA, which enables blind and low-vision users to effectively navigate using a set of keyboard commands.
  • It’s now much easier to access content in your Google Drive using a keyboard—for example, you can navigate a list of files with just the arrow keys. In Docs, you can access features using the keyboard, with a new way to search menu and toolbar options. New keyboard shortcuts and verbalization improvements also make it easier to use Docs, Sheets and Slides with a screenreader.
  • The latest stable version of Chrome, released last week, includes support for the Web Speech API, which developers can use to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their apps. At CSUN, our friends from Bookshare demonstrated how they use this new functionality to deliver ReadNow—a fully integrated ebook reader for users with print disabilities.
  • Finally, we released a new Help Center Guide specifically for blind and low-vision users to ease the transition to using Google Apps.

  • We added Braille support to Android 4.1; since then, Braille support has been expanded on Google Drive for Android, making it easier to read and edit your documents. You can also use Talkback with Docs and Sheets to edit on the go.
  • With Gesture Mode in Android 4.1, you can reliably navigate the UI using touch and swipe gestures in combination with speech output.
  • Screen magnification is now built into Android 4.2—just enable “Magnification gestures,” then triple tap to enter full screen magnification.
  • The latest release of TalkBack (available on Play soon) includes several highly-requested features like structured browsing of web content and the ability to easily suspend/resume TalkBack via an easy-to-use radial menu.

These updates to Chrome, Google Apps, and Android will help create a better overall experience for our blind and low-vision users, but there’s still room for improvement. Looking ahead, we’re focused on the use of accessibility APIs that will make it easier for third-party developers to create accessible web applications, as well as pushing the state of the art forward with technologies like speech recognition and text-to-speech. We’re looking forward to working with the rest of the industry to make computers and the web more accessible for everyone.

More movies and TV shows from Twentieth Century Fox coming to Google Play and YouTube

Google Play and YouTube offer the latest new movie releases and your favorite TV shows to enjoy on your Android phone or tablet and on the web. But you’ve been missing one critical thing…Stewie Griffin. We’re happy to share that Stewie, “Family Guy,” and more than 600 other titles from Twentieth Century Fox will soon be joining the catalog for you to rent or buy on Google Play and YouTube.

Today you can buy Fox’s new release Prometheus in HD, available three weeks ahead of the Blu-ray, DVD and video-on-demand release. And over the next few weeks you’ll be able to rent or buy your favorite Fox movies like X-Men, Ice Age and Black Swan, and TV shows like “Glee,” “Modern Family,” “New Girl” and many more.

These new titles will be available first in the U.S., and we’ll be bringing them to more countries soon. We’re now working with all six of the major film studios and many independent studios to bring you the best new releases and your favorite classics to rent or own.

Google Drive: Updates for iOS and Android

Every day, more and more people are choosing to live online and get things done in the cloud. Helping to make this experience as seamless as possible, Google Drive is one place where you can create, share and keep all your stuff. Drive is available on the web, as well as Mac, Windows and Android and iOS.

Updates for iOS
Starting today, if you’re using the Drive app on your iOS device you can also edit Google documents, just as you can with the Android app. From your iPhone or iPad, you can create a new document, edit an existing one or format text. And, just like on your computer, you’ll be able to see other people’s edits instantly as they’re made.

You’ll also notice other new improvements to the iOS Drive app. For example, you can now view Google presentations on your iPhone or iPad, including speaker notes, full-screen mode and the ability to swipe between slides. You can also create new folders, move files into folders and upload stuff (like photos and videos) from your device directly in the Drive app.

Updates for Android 
We’re also updating the Drive app for Android phones and tablets today. You can now add comments, reply to existing comments and view tables in your Google documents. And you’ll have the same new abilities to view presentations and organize your stuff as your friends with iPhones do.

More to come... 
Looking ahead, we have plenty more planned for the Drive mobile apps—including native editing and real-time collaboration for Google spreadsheets. Stay tuned.

Get Drive in the App Store for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and visit the Play Store to get the latest on your Android phone or tablet. To learn more about Google Drive, visit drive.google.com/start.

Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Senior Product Manager

(Cross-posted on the Enterprise and Drive blogs)

Half a gigameter of biking navigation in 12 countries in Google Maps for Android

Whether you’re a seasoned century rider or a casual beach cruiser, finding the best biking routes can be a challenge. That’s why today we’re bringing mobile biking directions and navigation to the 10 countries where we launched desktop biking directions last month (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK). Plus, we’re adding turn-by-turn, voice-guided biking navigation to Google Maps Navigation (beta) in every country with biking directions. Mount your device on your handlebars to see the turn-by-turn directions and navigation, or use speaker-mode to hear voice-guided directions.
Turn-by-turn biking navigation in Copenhagen

We know there are lots of ways to get from here to there, which is why in 2010, we added biking directions to Google Maps in the U.S. and Canada, and continue to work to bring more biking features to more places. Today, there are more than 330,000 miles (equal to more than 530,000 kilometers, or half a gigameter) of green biking lines in Google Maps. Dark green lines on the map show dedicated bike trails and paths with no motor vehicles, light green lines show streets with bike lanes and dashed green lines show other streets recommended for cycling. Biking navigation even helps you avoid steep hills.
Bike layer showing recommended streets for cycling in Stockholm

Where Map Maker and biking directions are both available, riders can add bike trails, lanes and suggested routes to Google Maps, helping to create a more comprehensive map for everyone living in or visiting their community. Thanks to the contributions of members of the biking community like Todd Scott and our partnership with nonprofits like Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we’ve added bike data for hundreds of cities and trails to Google Maps in the past two-and-a-half years.

When you’re pedaling from Point A to Point B, we hope biking navigation will make Google Maps for Android more useful to you.

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Voice Search arrives in 13 new languages

“Norwegian restaurants in New York City.” I can type that phrase fast, but I can say it even faster—and when I’m on the go, speed is what I’m looking for. With Voice Search, you can speak into your phone to get search results quickly and easily. Voice Search is already available in 29 languages, and today, we're bringing support to 13 new languages for Android users—bringing the total to 42 languages and accents in 46 countries. In fact, 100 million new speakers can use Voice Search now, with the addition of:

  • Basque
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • European Portuguese
  • Finnish
  • Galician
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Norwegian
  • Romanian
  • Serbian
  • Slovak
  • Swedish

Each new language usually requires that we initially collect hundreds of thousands of utterances from volunteers and, although we’ve been working on speech recognition for several years, adding these new languages led our engineers and scientists to tackle some unique challenges. While languages like Romanian follow predictable pronunciation rules, others, like Swedish, required that we recruit native speakers to provide us with the pronunciations for thousands of words. Our scientists then built a machine learning system based on that data to predict how all other Swedish words would be pronounced.

This update has already started to roll out, and will continue to do so over the course of the next week. How you get started with Google Voice Search depends on what kind of phone you have. If your phone runs Android 2.2 or later, and you see the microphone icon on the Google Search widget on your homescreen, all you have to do is tap the icon to start a voice-powered search. Otherwise, you can install the Voice Search app from Google Play. Note that you can only speak one language into the app at a time, and you may need to change your language settings to use one of these new languages.

As with other languages we’ve added, one of the major benefits to Google’s cloud-based model is that the more people use Voice Search, the more accurate it becomes.

(Cross-posted on the Android blog)

Google Maps now has schedules for more than one million public transit stops worldwide

Since 2005, we’ve collaborated with hundreds of transit authorities around the world to make a comprehensive resource for millions of riders to find out which bus, train, subway or tram can take them to their next destination. Today, Google Maps has public transportation schedules for more than one million transit stops worldwide, in nearly 500 cities including New York, London, Tokyo and Sydney.

Public transportation information is especially useful when it’s in the palm of your hand. Today we’re releasing an update to the Google Maps for Android app (version 6.10) which makes this transit information even more useful. We’ve made some changes to the Transit Lines layer, so that you can select a specific mode of public transportation (train, bus, tram or subway) to display on the mobile map, hiding the other modes. This is helpful in areas where there is a tight concentration of several types of public transit.
Left: Mobile map with all modes of public transit shown; Right: Transit Lines layer in Subway mode

We’ve also updated the layout of station pages to be more useful. Open it by tapping on the name of the station on your mobile map.

Updated station pages show you departure times, lines serving the station and the distance to nearby stations.

In addition to these new transit features, we’ve updated region highlighting, My Places and Location History displays in Google Maps for Android:
  • Now, whenever you search for a city or postal code, the borders of that region are highlighted.
  • Under My Places you’ll notice we’ve added new tabs, which will help you access all your information from a single place; from your saved maps for use offline to your starred places and Custom Maps created on your desktop.
  • If you enable Location History, you’ll be able to browse the places you’ve been on a daily basis with an updated Location History dashboard.
Whether you’re looking for schedule and fare information, directions by public transit or nearby stations, Google Maps puts comprehensive, accurate and useful transit information at your fingertips. Update to the latest version of Google Maps for Android in the Google Play store.

Android @ I/O: the playground is open

(Cross-posted on the Official Android Blog)

Last year at Google I/O, we talked about momentum, mobile and more. This year, we’re picking up right where we left off. More than 400 million Android devices have now been activated—up from 100 million last June. And twelve new Android devices are activated every every second—that’s more than 1 million a day. Today, we’re rolling out a new version of Android called Jelly Bean, adding more entertainment to Google Play, and introducing two powerful—yet distinctly different Nexus devices to bring you the best of Google.

Jelly Bean: simple, beautiful and beyond smart
Jelly Bean builds on top of Ice Cream Sandwich. It makes everything smoother, faster and more fluid. For example, notifications are now more dynamic: if you’re late for a meeting or missed a call, you can email or call directly from notifications. The keyboard is smarter and more accurate, and can predict your next word. And voice typing is faster, working even when you don’t have a data connection.

We’ve redesigned search from the ground up in Jelly Bean, with a new user interface and faster, more natural Voice Search. You can type your query or simply ask Google a question. Google can speak back to you, delivering a precise answer, powered by the Knowledge Graph, if it knows one, in addition to a list of search results.

Today’s smart devices still rely on you to do pretty much everything—that is, until now. Google Now is a new feature that gets you just the right information at just the right time. It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or your favorite team's score as they’re playing. There’s no digging required: cards appear at the moment you need them most.

Starting in mid-July, we’ll start rolling out over-the-air updates to Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom and Nexus S, and we’ll also release Jelly Bean to open source.

Google Play: more entertainment
Google Play is your digital entertainment destination, with more than 600,000 apps and games plus music, movies and books. It’s entirely cloud-based, which means all of your content is always available across all of your devices. Today our store is expanding to include magazines. We’ve been working with leading publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith and more to offer magazines like House Beautiful, Men’s Health, Shape and WIRED.

Now, you can also purchase movies in addition to renting them. And we’re adding television shows on Google Play—in fact, we’re adding thousands of episodes of broadcast and cable TV shows, like "Revenge," "Parks & Recreation" and "Breaking Bad," from some of the top studios, like ABC Studios, NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures. You can play back movies and TV shows on all your Android devices, through Google Play on the web, and on YouTube, and soon we’ll bring the experience to Google TV devices.

Movie purchases, TV shows and magazines are available today on play.google.com, and will roll out to Google Play on devices over the coming days.

Nexus 7: powerful, portable and designed for Google Play
All of this great Google Play content comes to life on Nexus 7, a powerful new tablet with a vibrant, 7” 1280x800 HD display. The Tegra-3 chipset, with a quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU, makes everything, including games, extremely fast. And best of all, it’s only 340 grams, lighter than most tablets out there. Nexus 7 was built to bring you the best of Google in the palm of your hand. Hang out with up to 10 friends on Google+ using the front-facing camera, browse the web blazingly fast with Chrome and, of course, crank through your emails with Gmail.

Nexus 7 comes preloaded with some great entertainment, including the movie "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," the book “The Bourne Dominion,” magazines like Condé Nast Traveler and Popular Science, and songs from bands like Coldplay and the Rolling Stones. We’ve also included a $25 credit to purchase your favorite movies, books and more from Google Play, for a limited time. Nexus 7 is available for preorder today from Google Play in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, and starts at $199 in the U.S. It will start shipping mid-July.

Nexus Q: It’s a sphere!
It's great to be able to take your entertainment with you wherever you go, but sometimes you want to ditch the headphones and enjoy music with friends and family. So we’re introducing Nexus Q, which combines the power of Android and Google Play to easily stream music and video in your home—all controlled by an Android phone or tablet. Designed and engineered by Google, Nexus Q is a small sphere that plugs into the best speakers and TV in your house. It’s the first-ever social streaming device—like a cloud-connected jukebox where everyone brings their own music to the party. Available first in the U.S., you can preorder Nexus Q today from Google Play for $299, and it will ship mid-July.

If you own one of the 400 million Android devices out there, you already know that it’s much more than simply a phone or tablet. It’s your connection to the best of Google—all of your stuff and entertainment, everywhere you go. Now you have a new version of Android, more entertainment and a growing portfolio of Nexus devices to choose from—all available in Google Play. The playground is open.

Google+ for Android: polish and performance

We continue to work toward a simpler, more beautiful Google, and today we're accelerating these efforts with a new Google+ app for Android phones. The update includes lots of highly-requested features—like the ability to start a hangout on the go, and to edit posts inline—as well as a stream that celebrates the rich content shared across Google+. In all cases we're building for a mobile future, and we're excited about what's ahead.

Start a hangout from anywhere, and ring the folks that matter most
With Hangouts we want to help people connect face-to-face-to-face—at any time, from anywhere. Of course, there's really only one device that's always by your side—your phone—so we've invested in mobile hangouts since early on. Today we're adding another important feature to the mix: the ability to start a hangout directly from your mobile device.

To get started, tap “Hangout” in the (new) navigation ribbon, add some friends and tap “Start.” We'll ring their phones (if you want), and if someone misses the hangout, they can ring you back with a single tap.

Share your favorites, and feel awesome afterward
When you share with your circles, we owe you an experience that's both intimate and immersive. Your time and your relationships are precious, after all, so your posts should make you feel proud. Today's new Android app takes this to heart, with full-screen media in the stream, conversations that fade into view and instantly-touchable actions like +1.

Do more, in less time
We think you’ll find today’s app nicer to look at, but we’re also making it easier to use. Improvements include:
  • A navigation ribbon that slides in and out, providing quick access to just about everything
  • The ability to download photos directly from Google+, and turn them into wallpaper
  • The chance to edit posts inline, in case you make any mistakes while on the go
The update is available now from Google Play (version 2.6), so we invite you to download Google+, and let us know what you think!

Selected screenshots from today’s new Android app

Crossing the 50 billion km mark and giving Google Maps for Android a fresh look

Every day, millions of people turn to Google Maps for Android for free, voice-guided GPS navigation to guide them to their destination. So far, Navigation on Google Maps for Android has provided 50 billion kilometers of turn-by-turn directions, the equivalent of 130,000 trips to the moon, 334 trips to the sun, 10 trips to Neptune or 0.005 light years! When getting to your destination matters most, Google Maps for Android will get you there:

A new look for Navigation on Android 4.0+ phones
In today’s release of Google Maps 6.5 for Android we’ve redesigned the Navigation home screen in Android 4.0+ to make it easier to enter a new destination or select from recent and favorite locations by swiping left or right.

Left: New Navigation home screen   Right: Navigation in Google Maps for Android

Crisper, faster maps for high pixel density devices
If your device has a high pixel density screen, such as those on Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Droid Razr and others, you’ll now get higher resolution map tiles that take better advantage of the pixels-per-inch on your screen. The result is a crisper, less cluttered map that is easier to read:

Left: Previous style Right:New style in Google Maps 6.5 for Android

Compare our new map on the right to the previous map on the left. The road network is easier to see, less obstructed by labels, and has more color contrast. At more zoomed-in levels, you’ll notice a more controlled amount of maps labels to avoid cluttering the map and blocking out street names. The new style also helps maps react faster to panning, zooming and twisting.

You'll start seeing the new style as you navigate around new areas on the map; however, you can see these changes immediately by clearing your cache from the Maps settings.

Pick your preferred public transit mode and route option
Google Maps 6.5 for Android now lets you choose to prioritize a particular transit mode (such as the bus or subway) and route option (like taking the recommended route, one with fewer transfers or one with less walking). Whether you just need to get somewhere as fast as possible, or you want to avoid the risk of a missed connection or you prefer not to tire your legs, you can get the transit directions that best suit you. Transit directions and schedules are available for 475 cities around the world.

To start using Google Maps 6.5 for Android, download the update from Google Play. Learn more about how to use other great features of Google Maps for Android on the redesigned Google Maps YouTube channel that has 12 new videos available today.

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Introducing Google Play: All your entertainment, anywhere you go

Entertainment is supposed to be fun. But in reality, getting everything to work can be the exact opposite—moving files between your computers, endless syncing across your devices, and wires…lots of wires. Today we’re eliminating all that hassle with Google Play, a digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet. Google Play is entirely cloud-based so all your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again.

With Google Play you can:
  • Store up to 20,000 songs for free and buy millions of new tracks
  • Download more than 450,000 Android apps and games
  • Browse the world’s largest selection of eBooks
  • Rent thousands of your favorite movies, including new releases and HD titles
Starting today, Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore will become part of Google Play. On your Android phone or tablet, we’ll be upgrading the Android Market app to the Google Play Store app over the coming days. Your videos, books and music apps (in countries where they are available) will also be upgraded to Google Play Movies, Google Play Books and Google Play Music apps. The music, movies, books and apps you’ve purchased will continue to be available to you through Google Play—simply log in with your Google account like always.

To celebrate, we’ll be offering a different album, book, video rental and Android app at a special price each day for the next week in our “7 Days to Play” sale. In the U.S., today’s titles include the collection of top 40 hits Now That's What I Call Music 41, the popular game Where's My Water, the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and the movie Puncture for just 25 cents each. In addition, you'll find great collections of hip-hop, rock and country albums for $3.99 all week, detective novels from $2.99, some of our editorial team's favorite movies from 99 cents, and our favorite apps from 49 cents.

In the U.S., music, movies, books and Android apps are available in Google Play. In Canada and the U.K., we’ll offer movies, books and Android apps; in Australia, books and apps; and in Japan, movies and apps. Everywhere else, Google Play will be the new home for Android apps. Our long-term goal is to roll out as many different types of content as possible to people around the world, and we’ll keep adding new content to keep it fresh.

To learn more, head over to play.google.com/about or keep up with the latest on our Google+ page. If you’re headed to Austin later this week for South by Southwest, come to the Google Village to see Google Play in action. We can’t wait for you to try Google Play and experience a simpler way to manage your entertainment.

Introducing Chrome for Android

In 2008, we launched Google Chrome to help make the web better. We’re excited that millions of people around the world use Chrome as their primary browser and we want to keep improving that experience. Today, we're introducing Chrome for Android Beta, which brings many of the things you’ve come to love about Chrome to your Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phone or tablet. Like the desktop version, Chrome for Android Beta is focused on speed and simplicity, but it also features seamless sign-in and sync so you can take your personalized web browsing experience with you wherever you go, across devices.

With Chrome for Android, you can search, navigate and browse fast—Chrome fast. You can scroll through web pages as quickly as you can flick your finger. When searching, your top search results are loaded in the background as you type so pages appear instantly. And of course, both search and navigation can all be done quickly from the Chrome omnibox.

Chrome for Android is designed from the ground up for mobile devices. We reimagined tabs so they fit just as naturally on a small-screen phone as they do on a larger screen tablet. You can flip or swipe between an unlimited number of tabs using intuitive gestures, as if you’re holding a deck of cards in the palm of your hands, each one a new window to the web.

One of the biggest pains of mobile browsing is selecting the correct link out of several on a small-screen device. Link Preview does away with hunting and pecking for links on a web page by automatically zooming in on links to make selecting the precise one easier.

And as with Chrome on desktop, we built Chrome for Android with privacy in mind from the beginning, including incognito mode for private browsing and fine-grained privacy options (tap menu icon, ‘Settings,’ and then ‘Privacy’).

Sign in
You can now bring your personalized Chrome experience with you to your Android phone or tablet. If you sign in to Chrome on your Android device, you can:
  • View open tabs: Access the tabs you left open on your computer (also signed into Chrome)—picking up exactly where you left off.
  • Get smarter suggestions: If you visit a site often on your computer, you'll also get an autocomplete suggestion for it on your mobile device, so you can spend less time typing.
  • Sync bookmarks: Conveniently access your favorite sites no matter where you are or which device you’re using.

Chrome is now available in Beta from Android Market, in select countries and languages for phones and tablets with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. We’re eager to hear your feedback. Finally, we look forward to working closely with the developer community to create a better web on a platform that defines mobile.

(Cross-posted from the Chrome blog and on the Mobile blog)

10 Billion Android Market downloads and counting

One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing. This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads—with a growth rate of one billion app downloads per month. We can’t wait to see where this accelerating growth takes us in 2012.

To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with some of the Android developers who contributed to this milestone to make a bunch of great Android apps available at an amazing price. Starting today for the next 10 days, we’ll have a new set of awesome apps available each day for only 10 cents each. Today, we are starting with Asphalt 6 HD, Color & Draw for Kids, Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro, Fieldrunners HD, Great Little War Game, Minecraft, Paper Camera, Sketchbook Mobile, Soundhound Infinity and SwiftKey X.

Of course, none of these apps would have existed if it weren’t for the developers who created them. Every day, these developers continue to push the limits on what’s possible and delight us in the process. For that, we thank them.

Please join us in this 10-day celebration and check in every day to see what new apps our developer partners are making available on Android Market—for only a dime.

(Cross-posted on the Mobile blog and the Android Developers blog)

Google Music is open for business

Last May at Google I/O, we launched Music Beta by Google with a clear ambition: to help people access their music collections easily from any device. Music Beta enabled you to upload your personal music collection (up to 20,000 songs) for free to the cloud so you could stream it anywhere, any time. Today, the beta service evolves into a broader platform: Google Music. Google Music is about discovering, purchasing, sharing and enjoying digital music in new, innovative and personalized ways.

Google Music helps you spend more time listening to your collection and less time managing it. We automatically sync your entire music library—both purchases and uploads—across all your devices so you don't have to worry about cables, file transfers or running out of storage space. We’ll keep your playlists intact, too, so your “Chill” playlist is always your “Chill” playlist, whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or phone. You can even select the specific artists, albums and playlists you want to listen to when you're offline.

Purchase and share
We also want to make it easy and seamless for you to grow your music collection. Today, we added a new music store in Android Market, fully integrated with Google Music.

The store offers more than 13 million tracks from artists on Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and the global independent rights agency Merlin as well as over 1,000 prominent independent labels including Merge Records, Warp Records, Matador Records, XL Recordings and Naxos. We’ve also partnered with the world's largest digital distributors of independent music including IODA, INgrooves, The Orchard and Believe Digital.

You can purchase individual songs or entire albums right from your computer or your Android device and they’ll be added instantly to your Google Music library, and accessible anywhere.

Good music makes you want to turn up the volume, but great music makes you want to roll down the windows and blast it for everyone. We captured this sentiment by giving you the ability to share a free full play of a purchased song with your friends on Google+.

Exclusively on Google Music
We’re celebrating our launch with a variety of music that you won’t find anywhere else, much of it free. There’s something for everyone, with a variety of free tracks to choose from:
  • The Rolling Stones are offering an exclusive, never-before-released live concert album, Brussels Affair (Live, 1973), including a free single, “Dancing with Mr. D.” This is the first of six in an unreleased concert series that will be made available exclusively through Google Music over the coming months.
  • Coldplay fans will find some original music that’s not available anywhere else: a free, live recording of “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”, a five-track live EP from their recent concert in Madrid and a remix of “Paradise” by Tiësto.
  • Busta Rhymes’s first single from his upcoming album, Why Stop Now (feat. Chris Brown), is available for free.
  • Shakira’s live EP from her recent concert in Paris and her new studio single, “Je L’Aime à Mourir” are both being offered up free.
  • Pearl Jam are releasing a live album from their 9/11/11 concert in Toronto, free to Google Music users.
  • Dave Matthews Band are offering up free albums from two live concerts, including new material from Live On Lakeside.
  • Tiësto is offering up a new mix, “What Can We Do” (feat. Anastacia), exclusively to Google Music users.
Artist hub
Whether you’re on a label or the do-it-yourself variety, artists are at the heart of Google Music. With the Google Music artist hub, any artist who has all the necessary rights can distribute his or her own music on our platform, and use the artist hub interface to build an artist page, upload original tracks, set prices and sell content directly to fans—essentially becoming the manager of their own far-reaching music store. This goes for new artists as well as established independent artists, like Tiesto, who debuts a new single on Google Music today.

Starting today, Google Music is open in the U.S. at market.android.com, and over the next few days, we will roll out the music store to Android Market on devices running Android 2.2 and above. You can also pick up the new music app from Android Market and start listening to your music on your phone or tablet today. And don’t forget to turn your speakers up to eleven.