Automatic captions on YouTube

UPDATE 11/24/09: Full-length video of our announcement event in Washington, D.C. has been posted to YouTube and is embedded at the bottom of this blog post. We have included English captions using our new auto-timing feature. Enjoy.

Today, here in D.C., we announced the preliminary roll-out of automatic captioning in YouTube, an innovation that takes advantage of our speech recognition technology to turn the spoken word into text captions. We also announced that if you have a transcript of your video, you can upload it to YouTube and we'll time the captions for you.

This is useful for anyone who is deaf or hearing impaired, but it will have broader effects as well. For example, YouTube captions can be automatically translated, making video more accessible across languages. And while we've had the ability to manually caption videos for a while, automatic captions and automatically timed transcripts lower the barriers and, we hope, helps open YouTube to everyone.

Indeed, with 20 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, captioning YouTube through purely manual means would be very difficult. That's why we're excited about today's announcement. Please note that only 13 YouTube channels will feature automatic captions at this time so that we can gather feedback, but all video owners will be able to upload transcripts and automatically time them. Ken Harrenstien, the software engineer who led this project, describes today's announcements in more detail on the Official Google Blog.

Visit our Picasa photo album for more pictures from the event.

This morning's introductions were also exciting because over 60 accessibility leaders from the National Association of the Deaf, Gallaudet University, AAPD and other organizations joined us to be the first to learn about these new features. We made the announcement in our Washington office, in fact, just so that they could be here to give our engineers their direct feedback.

Have a look at the video below to learn more about what was announced today, and check back here tomorrow for full video from the event. You can bet it'll be captioned—we'll be uploading the transcript of the event to YouTube, which will turn it into captions that are timed just right.

Virtual Vint in Egypt

(Cross-posted from the European Public Policy Blog)

It's been an exciting week here in sunny Sharm El Sheikh at the Internet Governance Forum. A highlight for us on the final day here in Egypt was when our chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cert participated via video. In his presentation, Vint emphasized how the forum brings together "a remarkable assembly of people concerned about the Internet and its use on a global scale." He spoke about the huge advantages in human knowledge fostered by the Net - and warned of the many dangers, from spam to outright fraud, that threaten to undermine its true potential.

We laid out our positive conclusion of this international gathering in a blog posted yesterday. At today's 'Taking Stock' session, the overwhelming sentiment in the room was one of strong support for continuation of this multilateral Internet stakeholder forum beyond its current 5-year term. Vint regretted for his "inability" to attend this year's meeting and forcing the delegates to "put up with Virtual Vint." But he vowed to be present in person at next year's Forum. We too are looking forward to participating in next year's Forum in Lithuania, and we commend Kenya for having offered to host a 2011 Forum.

A status check on the Internet Governance Forum

Delegates from around the world are in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, this week for the annual Internet Governance Forum. This is the fourth year of the IGF, meetings started by the United Nations, the mandate of which is to encourage discussion about cross-cutting international Internet policies. The big question is whether this forum ought to carry on beyond its five-year trial run, which ends next year. We think it should.

Some say that because IGF talks are non-binding, they're ineffective. We think the opposite is true. The unfettered nature of the IGF, while sometimes chaotic, gives it real power. It encourages active participation and free and open discussion. It's this openness and robustness that makes the IGF valuable.

Not that it's always easy, of course. Anyone can attend, anyone can speak, a government official has the same access to the microphone as a civil society representative, a small business as a diplomat. Multiple panel sessions run simultaneously, with delegates choosing the issues that deserve their attention, attendance and time. In fact very much like the internet with no central control but an open platform with choice of direction in the hands of the user and participant.

The IGF thus fosters a textured debate that can serve as an early warning system, alerting stakeholders to important emerging issues. At Google we've used these exchanges to influence our thinking and improve our services. But we've also seen debate influence specialized institutions like ICANN.

We find the healthy debate at the IGF invaluable. We hope it will continue to be a critical forum for important Internet policy issues like open access, Internet abuse, free expression and privacy.

Modifications to the Google Books Settlement

Last year, we joined with a broad class of authors and publishers to announce a settlement agreement that would make millions of out-of-print books available to students and readers in every part of the U.S., while forging new opportunities for rightsholders to sell access to their books. Tonight we submitted an amended version of the Google Books settlement agreement to the court.

We've traveled all over the world together with the authors and publishers to talk with people about our agreement, and over the last two months, we've read the many letters and briefs written to the court. We've also had discussions with the Department of Justice about the settlement.

The changes we've made in our amended agreement address many of the concerns we've heard (particularly in limiting its international scope), while at the same time preserving the core benefits of the original agreement: opening access to millions of books while providing rightsholders with ways to sell and control their work online. You can read a summary of the changes we made here, or by reading our FAQ.

We firmly believe in the promise of the agreement, as do our many supporters. As Sergey Brin recently wrote in a recent op-ed, "even if our cultural heritage stays intact in the world’s foremost libraries, it is effectively lost if no one can access it easily."

We're disappointed that we won't be able to provide access to as many books from as many countries through the settlement as a result of our modifications, but we look forward to continuing to work with rightsholders from around the world to fulfill our longstanding mission of increasing access to all the world's books.

If you'd like to hear more, you can join Chairman of the American Association of Publishers Richard Sarnoff, Authors Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken and me for a public conference call at 9:15 PM Pacific/12:15 AM Eastern to discuss our amended agreement.

You can find more perspectives on the agreement from authors and publishers here and here.

UPDATE (2:40AM ET): For a replay of the call, use the following phone number and passcode:

Toll free: 888-203-1112
Replay Passcode: 3915040

We've removed the outdated conference call number from the post.

Locking SafeSearch

(Cross-posted from Official Google Blog)

When you're searching on Google, we think you should have the choice to keep adult content out of your search results. That's why we developed SafeSearch, a feature that lets you filter sexually explicit web sites and images from your search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, SafeSearch helps you avoid content you may prefer not to see or would rather your children did not stumble across. We think it works pretty well, but we're always looking for ways to improve the feature.

Today we're launching a feature that lets you lock your SafeSearch setting to the Strict level
of filtering. When you lock SafeSearch, two things will change. First, you'll need to enter your password to change the setting. Second, the Google search results page will be visibly different to indicate that SafeSearch is locked:

Even from across the room, the colored balls give parents and teachers a clear visual cue that SafeSearch is still locked. And if you don't see them, it's quick and easy to verify and re-lock SafeSearch.

To use SafeSearch lock, go to the "Search Settings" page on Google. For detailed instructions, check out this video.

We hope you and your family find exactly what you’re looking for in Google search results — and nothing more.

Making health-related ads more useful

This afternoon we're taking part in the Food and Drug Administration's public hearing to discuss the online advertising of regulated medical products on the Internet. The two day hearing - being live cast and Tweeted - is intended to help guide the FDA's policy decisions, especially in the areas of social media tools and search.

We think it's an important conversation and we share their goal of better understanding how to promote medical products online in a non-misleading and balanced manner. That's why at today's FDA hearing, we proposed a new Google ad design for FDA-related approved products that highlights an extra line of text clearly stating important risks, with a link to even more information for consumers. We think this new format will help set a clear standard for advertisers and give users important information.

The Internet, and how people use it, has changed a lot since the FDA last examined access to online health information in 1996. On Google alone, we've seen health condition searches increase several times over. What this tells us is that people find health related searches - and the ads they return - useful. We think this new ad proposal for FDA-approved products will make those searches even more helpful.

Apply for a summer 2010 Google Policy Fellowship

Internet policy wonks are different. When the weather gets colder and most people think about planning their July beach vacation, we think about what's going to be on July's docket at the FCC, or what tech legislation will be moving through Congress. Good news is, we're not the only ones.

Every year Google helps place aspiring Internet policy thought leaders with organizations that are leading the debate on big ideas like spreading broadband access, protecting free speech, closing the digital divide, and keeping users safe online.

If you're in college or grad school and you're like us, you won't want to miss the chance to become a summer 2010 Google Policy Fellow.

Fellows spend ten weeks working on policy issues critical to the future of the Internet and its users at one of our outstanding host organizations, including: American Library Association, Cato Institute, Center for Democracy and Technology, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet Education Foundation, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, The Citizen Lab, Creative Commons, Future of Music Coalition, Progress and Freedom Foundation, Technology Policy Institute. We're also thrilled to welcome for 2010: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and National Hispanic Media Coalition.

You can take a look at some of the great work these groups have planned for this summer and learn more about the program at our website.

We can't wait to hear from you, so get going on your application, which is due Monday, December 28.

World Bank public data, now in search

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

When we first launched public data on, we wanted to make statistics easier to find and to encourage debate based on facts rather than intuition. The day after we launched, a friend who worked at the World Bank called me, her voice filled with enthusiasm, "Did you know that the World Bank also just released an API for their data?" Excited, I checked it out, and found an amazing treasure trove of statistics for most economies in the world. After some hard work and analysis, today we're happy to announce that 17 World Development Indicators(list below*) are now conveniently available to you in Google search.

With today's update, you can quickly access more data with a broad range of queries. Search should be intuitive, so we've done the work to think through queries where public data will be most relevant to you. To see the new data, try queries like [gdp of indonesia], [life expectancy brazil], [rwanda's population growth], [energy use of iceland], [co2 emissions of iceland] and [gdp growth rate argentina]. For example, if you search for [internet users in the united states], you will see the following chart at the top of the results page:

Clicking on the result will bring you to an interactive chart where you can compare the United States with other regions around the world. We've also added a new feature to enable you to embed these charts in your own website or blog by clicking on the "Link" button in the upper right-hand corner of the chart page. You have the option to either embed the chart with static data, or you can also set the chart to update dynamically when new data becomes available. To give you a sense of what these charts look like, we've embedded the chart below comparing Internet users in the United States and South Korea:

We hope this new data and our new embedding feature will help facilitate quick and easy access to public statistics. There are still many other data sets and sources out there, and we're excited about the possibilities for the future. If you're a data publisher interested in making your data more easily discoverable in Google, please contact us.

* Complete list of World Bank indicators currently available: CO2 emissions per capita,Electricity consumption per capita, Energy use per capita, Exports as percentage of GDP,Fertility rate, GDP deflator change, GDP growth rate, GNI per capita in PPP dollars, Gross Domestic Product, Gross National Income in PPP dollars, Imports as percentage of GDP,Internet users as percentage of population, Life expectancy, Military expenditure as percentage of GDP, Mortality rate, under 5, Population, and Population growth rate.

Google Voice invitations for Blue Star Families

(Cross-posted on Google Voice blog)

Military families face dozens of challenges every day. The life of a military spouse and a military family is never easy. It's a life of sacrifice and patience, but it's also one of pride and patriotism.

To help families better stay in touch with their loved ones, this Veterans Day we're partnering with Blue Star Families to give priority Google Voice invitations to the families of U.S. service members involved in the organization. Blue Star Families is a group of military spouses from all over the country who work hard to educate civilian communities and leaders about the hardships faced by military families.

Military families encounter unique challenges and frequent separations, so staying in touch is vitally important. With one Google Voice number, families won't have to worry about missing calls from service members abroad.

Google Voice can make communication one less worry for these families, and hopefully bring them a little bit closer to their loved ones.

Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall

If you used Google today you may have noticed we highlighted a LIFE Photo Archive slideshow commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Check it out, if you haven't already. The photos are a powerful reminder of how the Berlin Wall stood as both a physical and symbolic boundary between communist East Germany and democratic West Germany.

Debating the future of innovation at the Supreme Court

This afternoon the U.S. Supreme Court considered oral arguments in Bilski v. Kappos, a potential landmark case in intellectual property law that will determine what kinds of business methods and software processes deserve patent protection.

The case has to do with two businessmen who sued the Patent and Trademark Office after it denied them a patent on a method for hedging risks in energy commodities trading. In a 9-3 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs, holding that abstract ideas and mental processes are not eligible for patent protection. Under the law, a patentable method must either be tied to a particular machine, or transform an article from one state to another.

This case is critical to the future of innovation in the United States. A recent flood of patents on business methods and abstract software processes has contributed to uncertainty and an explosion of expensive lawsuits. The Constitution permits Congress to create patent laws "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts," and we support patent rules that effectively further that goal. But awarding patents on abstract ideas and processes, like the claim at issue in the Bilski case, poses a serious threat to innovation, job creation, and economic growth.

An editorial in Sunday's New York Times hits the nail on the head:
"Patents perform a useful function, promoting innovation by ensuring inventors the right to profit from their creations for a period of time. But overprotection through patents is as dangerous as under protection. It can stifle competition... Not every bright idea should be protected as a property right."
Earlier this year we joined a number of companies in filing an amicus curiae brief, asking the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court's decision and the original intent and language of the law. The revolution in information technology should be built on innovation, not litigation.

Investing in a mobile future with AdMob

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

We're happy to announce today that we have signed an agreement to acquire AdMob, a mobile display advertising company based in San Mateo, CA. AdMob is a great Silicon Valley story — founded in 2006 by Omar Hamoui when he couldn't find good ways to generate traffic for his mobile site. Over the past few years, Omar and his talented team have built a thriving company with great mobile advertising products, and we are looking forward to having them join the Google team and work with us on the future of mobile advertising.

We've written in the past about how mobile phones are becoming an increasingly indispensable part of our daily lives, and we continue to see how great devices with full Internet browsers and vibrant app marketplaces are driving an explosion of usage. In fact:
  • iPhone and Android users browse the Internet more often than anyone else [Morgan Stanley], contributing to Google's 5x mobile search growth over the past two years
  • And a quarter of these same iPhone and Android users spend nearly 90 minutes per day using applications on their devices [AdMob]
Despite the tremendous growth in mobile usage and the substantial investment by many businesses in the space, the mobile web is still in its early stages. We believe that great mobile advertising products can encourage even more growth in the mobile ecosystem. That's what has us excited about this deal.

For publishers of mobile websites and applications, this deal will mean better products and tools and more effective monetization of their content — allowing them to focus more on their users and less on how to generate revenue.

For advertisers who want to reach users when they are engaged with mobile content, this deal will bring better, more relevant ads and greater reach. It will also mean more interesting, engaging ad formats.

Last, but certainly not least, we believe users will benefit from this deal — through more mobile content and through better mobile ads that deliver useful information. And that's good for all of us. For more information, check out this site that we've set up about the deal.

Transparency, choice and control - now complete with a Dashboard!

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of Google Dashboard. Have you ever wondered what data is stored with your Google Account? The Google Dashboard offers a simple view into the data associated with your account — easily and concisely in one location.

Over the past 11 years, Google has focused on building innovative products for our users. Today, with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data. In the past, we've taken numerous steps in this area, investing in educating our users with our Privacy Center, making it easier to move data in and out of Google with our Data Liberation Front, and allowing you to control the ads you see with interest-based advertising. Transparency, choice and control have become a key part of Google's philosophy, and today, we're happy to announce that we're doing even more.

In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we've built the Google Dashboard. Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings. Today, the Dashboard covers more than 20 products and services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts, Latitude and many more. The scale and level of detail of the Dashboard is unprecedented, and we're delighted to be the first Internet company to offer this — and we hope it will become the standard. Watch this quick video to learn more and then try it out for yourself at

Next steps in cyber security awareness

Last week I joined several industry experts to speak at a cyber security panel on Capitol Hill organized by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and sponsored by the Committee on Homeland Security. The conversation focused on things everyday Internet users can do to help protect their computers and stay safe online. Given that we just wrapped up our observation of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I thought I'd share some of the key recommendations from the panel:

What are the most important things we all need to do to protect our computers and mobile devices?
You should have the same expectations when using the Internet as you would when exploring a city: you don't give your credit card to the person selling watches on the street just because you recognize the brand, you don't let your kids wander around by themselves and you don't give personal information unless you know who's getting it. If an offer is "urgent" or seems too good to be true, take a step back and research the offer. Add a password to your mobile phone, and browse cautiously on open WiFi networks as you would when using a computer.

What are the most common misconceptions about cyber security?
Many dangerous websites are not designed to be dangerous. In fact, most of the sites that serve malware (malicious software) are innocent sites that have been compromised in one way or another. Your computer isn't necessarily safe just because you're avoiding sites that contain adult content or pirated software. Use reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, and keep your computer operating system and applications updated with the latest software versions.

How do I know if my computer or network has been compromised?
First, disconnect it from the Internet. Take note of any slowness, and if you're not sure how to proceed, get someone with technical expertise to check your network logs for high traffic appearing during times when you're not using the computer. When in doubt, contact a computer support expert.

As President Obama recently stated, cyber security is a shared responsibility. At Google, we recognize how important awareness and education are because many online security threats can only be avoided if we work together.

We spent the month of October exploring cyber security and talking about how to use Google products in a more secure manner. If you haven't seen them already, take a look at the posts we've released over the last month:
Be sure to share the tips you find most helpful with others, and remember to stay safe online.

Bridging the digital literacy gap

It's important that parents and educators help kids to develop healthy, safe, and responsible online habits. But this can be a challenge, even for the tech-savviest families.

That's why we're launching a tour with iKeepSafe to help parents and educators across the country become more involved in kids' online activities. To kick-off the tour, we're sponsoring a panel discussion on Capitol Hill to address some of the key issues around digital media literacy, including how to talk to kids about maintaining their online reputations.

Over the past year, we've been working with the PointSmart.ClickSafe. Task Force to help policy leaders get up to speed on many online safety topics. This initiative is a direct outcome of the recommendations the group released in July.

"Playing and Staying Safe Online"
An expert panel discussion on how to help kids become responsible members of the digital community.

  • Dr. Michael Rich, Director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health
  • Dr. Harry Bloom, Director, California Technology Assistance Project
  • Lt. Joe Laramie, Director, Missouri ICAC Task Force
  • Darlene Faster, COO, Center for Social and Emotional Education
  • Marsali Hancock, iKeepSafe President
With special presentations from Google and WoogiWorld.

When: Tuesday, November 3, Noon - 1:30pm
Where: Room B-354, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Lunch will be served.

Please click here to RSVP.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow on Capitol Hill. Stay tuned for more announcements about when we'll be coming to your local community -- and in the meantime, check out our new instructional videos to about how to help your family stay safe on the Web: