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11 questions with web creator Hetal Vasavada

22 September[ —]

Hetal Vasavada of Milk & Cardamom is a New Jersey native who bakes and blogs from her adopted home of San Francisco, CA. Her cookbooks have been reviewed by The Washington Post andThe New York Times, among others, and she’s even been a contestant on “Masterchef USA.” Before you say wow, consider the fact that she’s also a new mom. Double wow! We talked to Hetal about her tips, goals and history as a web creator. 


What do you think makes a web creator? What does your average day look like?

A web creator is anyone who shares their art or skill via social media or the internet. My average day consists of creating and working through an editorial calendar, recipe writing, photographing and editing images, and finally, going through lots and lots of emails! 


What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?

I only work on recipes that get me excited to be in the kitchen! I usually start by writing down the type of recipes I need to create (Diwali, Christmas cookies, etc.) and then writing down feelings and visuals that bring me back to those moments as a kid. From there I start thinking about recipes that could best represent and evoke those exact feelings. My inspiration comes from my family, events and cultural aspects of my childhood, and more. 


How did you get your start?

I started off in the healthcare industry and made the change to food about five years ago. I had an unusual beginning to my new career due to being on “MasterChef USA,” which kind of gave me the confidence to pursue a career in food. Once I was off the show I started working as a recipe writer and developer for startups in the Bay Area and worked on building up my blog and social media following. 


At the end of the day, what is the ultimate goal of your site? 

Create a record of recipes and thoughts that my daughter can go back to and make when I’m long gone. 


What is something that motivates you?

Talking to my community and seeing how much they enjoy or relate to my food experiences. I really enjoy interacting with the community I have created on the web. 


What’s the best part of your job?

Getting to eat everything I make! 


What’s the worst part? 

Eating all the failures while recipe testing. 


What tools do you use to make your stuff?

Canva, Adobe, Snapseed, Wordpress, and Unfold!


If there was one product or service that could make your life easier what would it be?

So many! An all in one social media post scheduler which does video and photos. An app that automatically schedules in old posts/recipes based on trends and reposts. For example, if chocolate chip cookies are trending this week, it will take an old chocolate chip cookie recipe of mine and repost it to social media with a prompt for me to update the caption. And a sponsored post manager (like Asana but specifically for paid sponsorships) so I can keep track of all the brand requests, needs, contracts and invoices.


What advice would you give someone trying to make it in your industry?

Create dishes unique to you and find your niche and explore every angle of it! 


Name five other people, blogs, brands, or websites doing awesome stuff in your field or beyond.


TheChutneylife.com

LoveLaughMirch.com

Zheelicious.com

ChocolateandCheesePlease.com

DiasporaCo.com


Web Creator Spotlight | Abby Mills

22 September[ —]

“Where did she find that outfit?!” is something you’ll probably think within minutes of meeting Abby Mills, the blogger behind the vintage fashion and lifestyle blog Clothes & Pizza. The next thing that pops into your head might be “she literally has the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen.” 


Abby Mills is a style icon, but that’s only part of the picture. She’s also a CEO, photographer, model, copywriter, accountant and salesperson all rolled into one.


Which is really just to say … she’s a web creator. But exactly how does one person do all that stuff and still have time for anything else? Read our interview with Abby to see how she turned a passion for vintage finds and deep-dish delights into a thriving life on the web.

What does your average day look like?

No two days are the same, but they are generally a mix of unglamorous behind-the-scenes work like answering emails, shooting photos, writing for my blog and real-time sharing on Instagram stories and elsewhere throughout the day). Most of the time I am in sweats (especially these days), writing or planning future work. But my content is a pretty authentic reflection of my life, so I show the unglamorous casual stuff too.


Right now, I wear all the hats: I’m the CEO, photographer, copywriter, accountant, head of client services, salesperson, and janitor. Which is great because I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. But it’s bad when I can’t blame Susan for drinking the last cup of coffee without putting another pot on.

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After all the nuts-and-bolts business stuff, how do you get into the flow creatively? 


The more I stay off the internet, the better. I find it hard to focus on my own creative process if I spend too much time looking at what other people are doing. There are so many talented folks out there doing really unique and creative things. And while that can certainly be inspiring, I think it can also lead to a lot of second guessing, or copycatting, if you aren’t careful. 


I don’t approach content creation from a purely *creative* standpoint, I actually think about it more from the standpoint of the function it serves. I.e., what problem does this piece of content solve? How does it answer a question, or alleviate a pain point, or unlock a new idea for my community?


So I usually start with the problem, and then build the content around the best way to answer that problem. For example, if my community is having trouble styling graphic T-shirts, I create a styling video that shows three unique ways to style a graphic tee.

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The bag really ties it all together. So, how did you get here?


A few years ago I celebrated a bunch of big life milestones in a span of a few weeks—I turned 30, got married, and started a new job in a new industry. I had wanted to start a blog for years (like a decade). And I figured I might as well tack another big thing onto a series of big things. 


It was important to me to have a blog outside of social media. A place on the internet that I own outright. So I started my website and my Instagram account at the same time. 


I went into this industry pretty naive and inexperienced in the content creation world. It took me a few years to feel like I found my niche, and start to hit my stride. This industry changes really fast. There’s no blueprint for how to be successful, and no one way to “do it right.” Which is awesome because it means there’s room for lots of people and lots of viewpoints. But it’s also challenging 


I have really enjoyed learning how this industry works, at the same time that the industry is coming into itself. We are definitely building the plane while we’re flying it, but it’s a fun ride.


If there was one product or service that could make your life easier, what would it be?


I love the idea of a web-based place to share ephemeral content. Or a place to take ephemeral content (like from Instagram stories) and make it into something else. Or even have the ability to archive it for public access. I can’t tell you how many DMs I’ve gotten that are questions related to expired IG stories!


On that note, what Google products/services do you already use?


All the things. I would not be able to manage my business without the combo of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs/Sheets, and Google Drive. I maintain my content calendar and track my deadlines in Google Calendar. I manage my outreach, contacts and finances in Sheets. And store/deliver my deliverables in Drive. I’ve found Docs to be a great way to collaborate with my clients as they can add edits, comments or approvals directly to my content before it goes live, without a lot of friction.


What’s the best part of your job? What about the worst part?


[The best part is] being my own boss, having my own autonomy to work on whatever I want (try new forms on content, experiment with different creative outlets) and only work with clients/brands who I believe in. I never have to take on a project that I’m not 110 percent stoked on. The worst part is probably turning off, or unplugging. Because my content is an extension of my life, it’s sometimes challenging to draw a hard separation. There are of course many things about my life that I don’t share with my online community—I keep my family and friends private, for the most part. But I genuinely love connecting with my community over all sorts of things. Setting boundaries at any job is difficult, but it’s especially difficult when part of your job is sharing your life and being a resource to people. 


At the end of the day, what is the ultimate goal of your work?


This is so cheesy, but it’s probably helping people. I see my content as helpful to both my community (individuals who follow me) as well as the brands I work with. I tend to seek out new/small/indie brands, and really love sharing them with my community and being a part of growing their customer base. As an entrepreneur, working with other entrepreneurs is really inspiring for me.


I have always had unusual and particular taste—I love finding the best unique things, and discovering new brands who are really changing their respective industries. Sharing these brands with my community feels like a win-win-win to me. 


I’m passionate about mentorship and advocacy in all areas of my life. And my digital presence is an extension of that passion. I really love supporting other creators, helping them recognize the value of their work, and ultimately sharing how they can monetize their business. I really enjoy giving back to the blogging community—and sharing things I wish I had known back when I started. For example, I do donation-based mentorship sessions, where all the money goes to organizations supporting civil rights and social justice initiatives. 


What is something that inspires you every day about the web or in general?


I’m really inspired by all the different formats of technology that people use to connect with creators and communities—it’s pretty endless. Longform video, shortform video, podcasts, blogs, ephemeral content, etc etc. I’m at the point in my content creator “career” where I don’t feel pressure to jump onto every new format (I never did Snapchat or TikTok). I focus on doing a few things well, and not spreading myself too thin.


I also love learning about new brands who are using technology to change the fashion industry. For example, I’ve recently discovered this shoe company called Hilos—they 3D print the soles of each shoe (no gluing or nailing multiple parts together) which ultimately produces less waste and lowers their carbon footprint (pun intended). 


What advice would you give someone just getting started? Or, what would you go back and tell yourself having learned all you’ve learned so far? 


Maybe this is the same answer for both questions, but I think a lot of people go into the creator space without knowing what they’re doing, which makes sense because it’s a relatively new industry, and creative people usually just want to *create*. So they look at all these other people who seem to be super successful and they think “Oh, I have to be like that person. I have to take photos like them, or emulate that kind of style.” I feel like I did that as well, and it took me a while to figure out my unique perspective, and my approach, and my own style of content. So if I could go back, I’d want to just embrace who I am more and my unique point of view, what really makes me me. And I would just go with that right from the start. 


The creator space I work in, the fashion space, is very saturated so the more you can embrace what makes you different the more successful you will be. Just you being you will give you an element of uniqueness (and authenticity) and people will connect to that.


Web Creator Spotlight | Coley Gaffney

22 September[ —]

Think of a job in the food business and Nicole Gaffney—a.k.a. Coley—has likely had it. Since dropping her 9-5 job in 2010 and beginning a catering business, she’s been a contestant on “Master Chef,” opened her own smoothie and acai shop, Soulberri, in her hometown of Brigantine, NJ and even published her cookbook, “The Art Of The Smoothie Bowl.” Along this journey, Coley has captivated audiences online via her blog Coley Cooks, where fans and everyday cooks can find Coley’s amazing recipes. 

We chatted with Coley to learn more about how she’s built her businesses by channeling her passion for cooking with a little help from the web.

Tell me how you got started in the food and drink space.

I’ve been involved with cooking pretty much my whole life. I grew up in an Italian family and we got introduced to cooking at a really young age. I really took to it and always wanted to be a chef when I grew up. 

I had worked a couple jobs in sales that I wasn’t loving and previously had always worked in the food & drink industry really since my first job scooping ice cream. I finally decided that I needed to pursue it. 

It was in 2010 I quit everything and I went to culinary school and I started a private chef business. I live at the Jersey store so we get a huge influx of people in the summertime. I found myself obscenely busy in the summer and unable to enjoy anything and it was just crickets in the winter. I’ve always been a fan of food blogs and wanted to start one as a hobby. It was an outlet for me to focus on the foods that I love to cook.

It was a year or two after I started my blog that I went on the TV show “The Next Food Network Star” and that opened up a lot of doors for me. About six months after the show had ended, I had stopped doing catering / personal chef [work] and was focused on blogging and my YouTube channel and it’s been all uphill from there. 

What does an average day look like for you now?

The cool thing about what I do is that everyday is a little bit different. I try to wake up around 7 a.m. to work out, have my coffee, check emails and social media. By around 10 a.m. I settle in and work on my blog, if I'm posting a new recipe I'll edit some pictures, or do some writing and work on recipes. 

I have the smoothie shop (SoulBerri) so we have meetings with the managers, to see how things are going. Then I’ll make a trip to the grocery store to pick up what I need for dinner later. I try to do my food photography later in the day: (1) because the lighting is better and (2) because it’s what we are having for dinner. 

I also do quite a bit of work for a major shopping network, representing two different companies on air a couple times a week. So for those episodes I’ll get all my hair and make up ready—nowadays we aren’t going to the studio so I’ll get all the food prepped, the kitchen cleaned up and ready to record. That’s  usually some time late in the afternoon so after that, I’ll make dinner, clean up and watch some Netflix with my puppy.

Were there mentors along your path? What did you learn from them?


Bobby Flay has been a mentor to me. I met him on the set of “Food Network Star,” he was one of our judges and he actually has a restaurant in Atlantic City which is five minutes from me. He comes here to do events every so often so I’d go to his events and eventually we developed a friendship. 


He’s given me so much great advice and explained the industry to me more, pulling back the curtains. He’s been a great friend and a great mentor and I look up to him a lot. When it comes to celebrity chefs, I don’t know if there’s anyone much bigger than Bobby. 


How do you measure return on investment? 


It’s mostly getting traffic to my blog because I’m making money on ad revenue. The more traffic that I can get to my blog the better. When it comes to working with different brands and getting sponsorship they just want to see that you have a big following and know that you are getting a certain amount of page views per month or followers on social media


Are there particular blogs that you follow and inspire the type of content that you look to put out there?


Yeah Definitely! I started blogging because I was such a big fan of blogs, there are so many big ones that a lot of people know. Smitten Kitchen. Deb, everything she posts looks so good. I feel like we have the same exact taste in food so she’s constantly inspiring me. 


AlsoHalf Baked Harvest which is run by Keegan Gerrard—her photography is so beautiful and artistic, it’s been really inspiring to me with my own food photography. I’m constantly learning new techniques with food styling and lighting. It’s cool to look at what other people are doing and being artistically inspired by that.


What resources do you use to learn more about blogging? 


There’s a blog called Pinch of Yum and they’re one of my favorites. Great recipes but they also have blogging resources for people that are looking to become food bloggers. Pinch of Yum also has a photography course and that’s one of the first courses that I took when I started really getting serious about blogging. So easy for me to get started to learn about food photography. Really get in there and practice because if you're not practicing you're never going to learn anything.
coleycooks.png

How have you accommodated to remote blogging? What type of equipment do you recommend people get if they are on a limited budget and starting their own project? 


I’m just using my computer for Skype sessions. One thing that network appearances often require is being hardwired to the internet with an ethernet cord because you do have such a limited amount of time to be on air. If you do have something that’s really important, make sure you're hardwired in. Also lighting is really important, natural light is great but it’s also so up and down, you don’t know what you're going to get and it changes when the sun goes behind a cloud. So investing in a decent light is worth it. A good headphone or microphone set is also really good to get as well. 


What’s next for you in the short term? Are there any larger projects that you're working on that you’re looking forward to sharing?


This one’s on a personal level but my husband and I are building a house. My husband is an architect and this has been a dream of ours for a long time. We bought a lot of land on the water last year and we’ve been in the design process. We’re actually going to be breaking ground next week which is really exciting. 


I want to make sure I include a lot of that in my content and share that with my readers and followers because it’s something that people are interested in. Especially the kitchen design, a few years back we redid the kitchen in our current house and I shared that content with my followers and they really liked it. 


Once we’re in the new house I'm excited to ramp up my content creation even more and get back into creating videos because we’ll be in a brand new house on the water that will be super modern and Scandinavian, unique and I’m going to want to show it off so I cannot wait! 


Last question. If you could have one meal as your last meal what would that be?


There’s so many things that I love! Chicken milanese which is a thin breaded crispy chicken cutlet, with a simple arugula salad with fresh tomatoes, lots of lemon, shaved parm. Now that I'm thinking of that it sounds kind of boring—who wants to eat a salad for their last meal! Maybe it’d be a really good burger and fries—can’t go wrong with that!


Create compelling Web Stories on WordPress

22 September[ —]

Web Stories bring a familiar full-screen, tappable story format to the wide audience of the web. Now it's even easier for creators to create and publish Web Stories with the new Web Stories for WordPress plugin. We introduced the beta version of the plugin earlier this year, and after  incorporating your feedback and adding features, it's now available for everyone within the WordPress plugin directory.

Web Stories for WordPress plugin

The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to get started in seconds. And for those who want to take full control of their stories, the plugin includes comprehensive visual editing capabilities, a re-envisioned visual media gallery, image masking, gradient editing, saved colors & styles and many more design features.

drag_and_drop.gif

And since we’d like you to start with rich, high-quality media when designing a story, we’ve collaborated with Unsplash to make their extensive high-quality photo library just a click away, as well as Coverr, giving you high-quality, free stock video right from the editor.

unsplash2.gif

The plugin also comes with fully designed templates to help you get started faster. And you can find resources and tips for creating a compelling Web Story on wp.stories.google, your home for the plugin.

Web Stories in WordPress.png

You can download the plugin to your WordPress admin right now, and try it out. We’ll add more templates, stock media integrations and features in the near future. In addition, Web Stories for WordPress is open source and welcomes contributions from the community, whether directly to the code or requesting product features and enhancements. Tell us what you think in the plugin directory comments, and share what you make with us by Tweeting at us or tagging us on Instagram.


We’re encouraged to see the way Web Stories have already enabled creators to engage with their audiences in this more visual and engaging format, and we’re eager to see what this new format can do for WordPress and the web at large.


A community for web creators to grow and get inspired

22 September[ —]

In the last 20 years, the capabilities of the web have grown tremendously, but it’s also become more complex. Figuring out how to configure, manage and monetize your own site can be difficult, especially if you’re not technically savvy. Social media apps, and the massive growth of mobile phones, are popular because they make it easy to create and share content online—but that doesn’t always translate to the web, even though it has the widest audience of almost any platform on the internet. 

We want to help with that. 

Today we’re launching Google Web Creators to provide tools, guidance and inspiration for people who make awesome content for the web. In addition to this blog, you can check us out on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

A web creator could be a blogger, a photographer with a website, or a journalist—anyone who places their content on the open web. And while web creators may have different backgrounds, industries or areas of expertise, we think we can all learn from each other. By building a community of web creators, we aim to create a place where people creating for the web can learn, be inspired and grow.

In the coming months we’ll be sharing a lot of ideas and guidance to help those already creating on the web, as well as those interested in getting started:

  • Guidance on how tools from Google and others can help

  • Profiles of people in the creator community who are already producing great content

  • Tips and tricks on how to be successful

To start, we’ll be featuring web creators like Abby Mills, a vintage fashion and lifestyle blogger, Hetal Vasavada, a Masterchef contestant who blogs about food and travel, and Cole Gaffney a cookbook author who shares recipes on her site. We’re also highlighting more than 20 different web creators who inspire us on our new Twitter handle, @webcreators

We’ll also launch interactive forums like office hours and (virtual) events to answer your questions directly and build the community. For now, our YouTube channel is a great place to start to learn more. We’re excited to connect with all of you.

Welcome to Google Web Creators

Jimmy Fallon and Google support NYC small businesses

22 September[ —]

These days, nearly all businesses have experienced some sort of disruption to their day-to-day operations, from reduced hours and customer demand to disrupted supply chains. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses are finding ways to adapt and support their local communities—especially right here in New York, the city that thousands of Googlers and I call home. And who better to take us for a tour of a few beloved New York spots than “The Tonight Show” host and native New Yorker, Jimmy Fallon?

To kick off National Small Business Week, we teamed up with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to visit some of Jimmy’s favorite New York City small businesses. Along the way, he shared ways that you can help out the small businesses near you.

Lakou Cafe.gif

Lakou Cafe in Brooklyn uses its Business Profile on Google to post updates for customers and to show that it offers takeout options, sells gift cards, accepts donations, and more.

Jimmy and “The Tonight Show” introduced us to Sabrina Brockman of Grandchamps and Cassandre Davilmar of Lakou Cafe, the owners of two Brooklyn restaurants in his backyard. Like Jimmy, Cassandre and Sabrina have pitched in over the last couple of months to support World Central Kitchen, a not-for-profit devoted to providing meals for those in need. Together, Sabrina and Cassandre have donated more than 11,000 meals to healthcare workers, first responders, protesters and families in need since May. 

Small business owners like Cassandre are also finding ways to reach customers and keep them informed, using digital tools like their free Business Profile on Google. Lakou Cafe updated their Business Profile with takeout options, and added buttons to sell gift cards and accept donations.

We also joined Jimmy at GupShup, his go-to Indian restaurant, a family-owned spot in Manhattan founded by Jimmy Rizvi. GupShup has partnered with World Central Kitchen to provide nearly 12,000 meals since May to frontline workers and hospitals. Jimmy Fallon reminds us how important it is—and how easy it can be—to support local businesses by giving a rave review (fun fact: he loves GupShup’s Crispy Okra and Guacamole).

You can also book reservations, order take out, post photos, buy gift cards, and more to support your local businesses directly from Google Search and Maps.

Are you a small business owner?

If you own a small business and are looking for free tools and training to grow your business, visit grow.google/smallbusiness

And if you’re a small business based in New York state and don’t have an e-commerce presence yet, Google has partnered with COOP to help 150 qualified New York small businesses set up and promote an e-commerce site in preparation for doing business during the holidays. Application opens Monday, September 28 at the MainStreet ONLINE website.


Need a dose of Disney+? Just ask!

22 September[ —]

Disney+ is a one-of-a-kind experience that transcends generations. Whether it’s a classic like Snow White or the new, live-action series The Mandalorian, Disney+ has something for everyone to love. And starting today, you can navigate Disney+ content on Google Assistant-enabled Smart Displays, like Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, in select markets around the globe—just by using your voice. 

If you have a Disney+ subscription, simply link your account in the Google Home or Assistant app and you can play movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and more. Say, “Hey Google, play ‘The Mandalorian’ on Disney+” to start streaming instantly. You can also already cast Disney+ from your compatible mobile devices to your Nest Smart Displays and Assistant-enabled devices by opening the streaming service’s mobile app and tapping the Cast icon, or stream anytime on your Android TV.

And there are more ways Google is bringing the Disney experience home: 


Dress up your Mini as Mickey 

Our friends at OtterBox created a custom base accessory that lets you give your Google Home and Nest Mini Mickey Mouse makeovers. Just clip your device into the base to showcase Mickey’s iconic ears in any room. 

Google Home Mini Otterbox Mount.jpg

Journey through the world of “Frozen” 

Join some of your “Frozen” favorites—Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and Kristoff—around the campfire as they tell legends exploring the world of “Frozen 2.” You can hear these stories on Google Assistant-enabled Android and iOS phones, smart speakers and Smart Displays. To get started, just say, “Hey Google, tell me a ‘Frozen’ story” and you can pick which character you’d like to narrate.

Whether you’re indulging in nostalgia or experiencing a new generation of movies for the first time, Google now makes it easier than ever for everyone to enjoy Disney. 


Make tracking your work easier than ever with Tables

22 September[ —]

I’ve been in the technology industry for a long time, including 10 years at Google. And during my years in the workforce, I’ve always had a difficult time tracking projects. Our teams stored notes and related tasks in different documents. Those documents always got out of date. We’d have to manually sync data between them. And I’d spend a lot of time coordinating between team members to prioritize and update statuses. I spent more time keeping track of work than actually working! 

Tracking work with existing tech solutions meant building a custom in-house solution or purchasing an off-the-shelf product, but these options are time-consuming, inflexible and expensive.

That's why we built Tables, a user-friendly, intuitive work tracking tool, as part of Area 120, Google's in-house incubator for experimental projects. Tables helps teams track work and automate tasks to save time and supercharge collaboration—without any coding required.

Save time, work smarter

Tables, with other teams at Google, is investing in automation. For Tables, this means Bots. With Bots, teams can easily schedule recurring email reminders when tasks are overdue, message a chat room when new form submissions are received, or move a task to someone else’s work queue when the status is changed.

Tables

Tables helps teams track work, no matter the task at hand.

Prior to Tables, you'd have to do a lot of manual work: check multiple different sources of data, collate it all together and then copy and paste it into another doc to hand it off. Tables makes automating these actions quick and easy, saving teams time and making collaboration seamless.

Integrated with Google

Getting started with Tables is easy. You can import data right from Google Sheets, share data with your Google Groups and assign tasks to your existing Google contacts. 

It’s time to spend more time working and less time tracking it. That’s why today, we launched the beta version of Tables in the U.S.—with both a free and paid plan. Now you can work more efficiently and collaborate easily, no matter the task. Get started today or visit our website to learn more. 


The newspaper app helping Japan’s elderly population

22 September[ —]

Japan’s elderly citizens often live alone, and many have little regular contact with other people. That social isolation not only puts their health at risk, but also makes them more vulnerable during natural disasters, and to scams like fraud and extortion.


Regional newspaper Iwate Nippo wanted to do something to help elderly residents of Iwate (Japan’s second-largest prefecture) access life-saving services and help them feel more of a sense of belonging in their communities. With funding from the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge, they developed Iwapon, an app created specifically for their older subscribers. 


The app’s safety features include a monitoring system that alerts family members if their relative hasn’t used their phone for more than 24 hours, information on suspicious calls or texts and a disaster information center to notify residents about threat levels and shelter locations during floods, storms, earthquakes and other severe weather. 


But Iwapon also fights social isolation in other ways—for example, by connecting residents to local businesses through virtual coupons, sharing local community and school updates, and giving them the chance to speak to an “on-demand” journalist about any concerns or questions they might have. 


To find out a bit more, we talked to Takuya Watanabe, manager of the digital media strategy division at Iwate Nippo.

How did the idea of Iwapon come to life?

As a local newspaper, we inform people about community problems like social isolation, and we also feel a responsibility to help address them. We already work closely with the police and local government. We regularly receive advance information about natural disasters, evacuation plans and details on fraud and suspicious behaviors to look out for. We thought an easy-to-use app would be a simple way that we could deliver this important information to people at risk, as quickly and accurately as possible.

What has the reaction been to the app?


The app was downloaded thousands of times within only six months. But the impact went beyond that. Monthly new subscribers for the online newspaper increased by more than 50 percent, and local businesses have approached us to become sponsors. Most importantly, the atmosphere within the company has changed. The app has helped increase cooperation within the editorial, advertising and sales departments. It’s also had a huge positive impact on the motivation of younger employees. 

What’s next for Iwate Nippo and Iwapon?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected many local businesses. We are planning to support small- and medium-sized restaurants and shops in the area by promoting them in the app. After the pandemic, the challenges facing our region are changing day by day. Through the app, we will continue to work with the community, tackle local challenges and contribute to protecting the safety and lives of people in our prefecture. 



Our work to move data portability forward

21 September[ —]

Editor’s note: Google and the Data Transfer Project recently submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about data portability. Ahead of tomorrow’s “Data To Go” workshop with the FTC, we’re sharing an overview of our work along with some updates.


When it’s easy for people to move their data to competing products, the pressure is on us to build the products they like best. And that’s how it should be: we want people to use our products and services because they prefer them, not because they feel locked in.


This principle is at the heart of Takeout, our data portability tool that helps people export copies of their data from more than 70 Google products, including Gmail, Drive and Photos. Today there’s an average of more than two million exports per month from Takeout with more than 200 billion files exported in 2019. 


People use Takeout for lots of different reasons: backing up their data, getting a bird’s eye view of what’s in their account, or moving their data to a different service without first downloading it onto a device. We first supported direct transfer of data archives in 2016, and since then have launched a scheduled export service, as well as the ability to transfer photos directly from Google Photos to Flickr and Microsoft OneDrive. Today we’re announcing that we’ve added more granular controls, so you can transfer specific albums, rather than your entire library. Millions of photos have already been transferred since we began to roll this out.
Data portability

Improving data portability through the Data Transfer Project

The principles that underpin Takeout also apply to the Data Transfer Project (DTP), an industry-wide effort that we founded and continue to lead with Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple.


In many ways, DTP is an extension of the direct transfer functionality that we’ve had in Takeout for years. It’s an open-source data portability platform that enables people to move their data directly from one service provider to another. This can help people test a new service, or move data if they have slow or metered connections, like a mobile device in an area without access to high-speed broadband. Downloading and re-uploading data can be expensive, if not impossible, under those types of conditions. 


Along with our partners in the project, we’ve brought other companies into the fold and moved the project forward. In 2018, Google gave the first public demo of the first prototype of the Data Transfer Project, showing how easy it could be to move cat photos between two services. Last fall, we launched the first publicly-available direct transfer built with Data Transfer Project code, enabling people to move their Google Photos library to Flickr. With the addition of Microsoft OneDrive as a destination earlier this year, and today's announcement of a photo album selection feature, we’re continuing our commitment to making portability more practical and widely available. 


People should be able to use their data with the services that they like best, whether they’re made by established companies, upstarts with brand new products, or anything in between. The more services that join the Data Transfer Project, the more practical it becomes for people to try new services—so we encourage companies of all sizes to check it out and get involved. Details on how to participate are on the website. We’re looking forward to continuing our investments in Takeout, the Data Transfer Project, and data portability more broadly for many years to come.

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