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Android TV is coming to Australia — starting with the Nexus Player which will go on sale at JB Hi-Fi and Dick Smith on Tuesday next week for $129. This is the first device in Australia to offer Android TV, which we announced at Google I/O in 2014 as a new platform that puts Android inside televisions and set-top boxes.

Just by speaking to the Nexus Player remote using Voice Search, discover your favourite TV shows, a new movie release on Google Play, or a cooking video on YouTube and watch them on the biggest screen in your house. You can also use the remote, and the separate game controller, to turn your TV and Android games into a gaming console. (And pick up the game on your smartphone where you left off).

Nexus Player, a collaboration with Asus, can also stream movies, music, and videos, and allows you to cast entertainment from almost any Chromebook, Android device or iOS device to your TV.

Posted by Sophie Verow, Product Marketing Manager, Google Australia

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Around four hundred kilometres inland, the beautiful New South Wales city of Dubbo is home to some of the most dynamic and hard-working small businesses in Australia.

Take the Village Bakery: it was started by the owner’s grandfather in 1918, with a bag of flour in nearby Tooraweenah (population: 239). Almost one hundred years later, it relies on the internet to source new customers, showcase its products and services, and promote seasonal specialities (hot cross bun anyone?). 

Michael Everett, who manages operations at the bakery, says that while baking is not an industry people associate with the internet, technology is now a key part of helping new customers discover the business.


Early riser Michael Everett from Village Bakery makes some final adjustments before another day satisfying Dubbo's appetites

Yesterday we paid a visit to Dubbo to meet the local small business community and help them use the web to grow. It was the second stop of our small business roadshow, in which we have teamed up with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to help Aussie small businesses prosper and grow online.

Over 100 of Dubbo’s small business owners joined us to learn how to get found on Google Maps and Search, create a free online profile with opening hours and photos, generate driving directions to their location and take their first steps with online marketing.



The Member for Parkes, the Hon Mark Coulton MP, joined us and explained how technology is increasingly important for small businesses in his regional electorate, which is the combined size of Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland.

That’s a lot of ground to cover. The good news is, if you jump on the Village Bakery website, you can see where else in NSW you can get hold of a Village Bakery pie for the road.

Posted by Rich Flanagan, Head of Small Business Marketing, Google Australia

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In order to ensure the accuracy of Google Maps, our engineers constantly reassess the Earth’s geospatial data in relation to other objects in the solar system.

Over the past two months, Google Maps engineers in Sydney have discovered that the Earth’s equator is slipping south at rate of 25km per year — much faster than previously thought.

Movements in the equator are caused by changes in the Earth’s tilt, called Milankovitch cycles. A degree of movement is not unexpected but the speed of this movement has alarmed scientists, who have expressed concerns about the impact on migratory birds. Dr Derek Muller, the scientist behind the popular YouTube channel Veritasium, explains in this video what’s behind the alarming slippage.  

Current modelling suggests that the northern-most point of Australia, Cape York, could enter the Northern Hemisphere as soon as 2055.

Regardless of where the equator moves to, there are some things we will never change. In Australia, we will always call the season after Summer “Autumn”, not “Fall.” We will refuse to spell colour “color”, even when referring to that dress. And, we will keep surfing at Bondi Beach in January, even if the water drops below zero Fahrenheit Celsius.

UPDATE: Happy April!

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Editor's note: This is a guest post by Head of the Bureau of Communications Research and Chief Economist, Dr Paul Paterson. 

Since establishing the Bureau of Communications Research (BCR), I’ve taken a keen interest in the role of information and communications technologies (or ICT) in driving productivity and, more broadly, our economy. Economists have long recognised the importance of technological innovation in generating and sustaining growth in productivity. This is well understood in industries like manufacturing where the use of new technologies and processes has tangible benefits. The widespread impact that more embedded technologies such as information and communications technologies (or ICT) can have on service industries and the economy is less-well understood. It is clear there are impacts and that they are substantial, but unpacking the benefits of ICT and like technologies from other factors, and their ongoing accurate measurement and analysis, remains elusive.

The 2015 Connected Continent II report, prepared for Google, discusses how digital technologies are transforming our economy, and the opportunities these technologies present. The report notes that increasing access to and use of ICT is not only further changing the way consumers and businesses interact, but also how businesses and industries are organising themselves. It provides some very useful firm-level analysis of trends in this area.

Significantly, the Connected Continent report acknowledges the difficulty in compiling, accessing and analysing data and information on the impact of ICT. ICT is disrupting conventional market structures and processes, and it is critical to future national growth that firms and governments understand these developments and harness the opportunities these innovations provide. As the Department of Communications’ independent economic and statistical research unit, we in the BCR are undertaking work to address this. We’ve established a project to update, improve and broaden the measurement and analysis of the digitisation of the economy and its effects on productivity performance. This work will highlight to stakeholders the economic significance of ICT and related technologies and, importantly, inform the debate and public policy development process.

We’re also working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics on a review of ICT data and statistics, and will be working with other stakeholders including the new Digital Transformation Office on opportunities to further engage the benefits of ICT. Stay tuned for more from us on this.

See our second leading indicators report to see what changes are happening in consumption patterns, industry growth and industry investment in the communications sector. Email us on bcr@communications.gov.au for more.

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The internet could have been purpose-built for Australia. It has connected us with the world, given us new opportunities to export our smarts, and helped our businesses transform to meet the needs of consumers around the world.

It has also put everyday Aussies firmly in the drivers’ seat, giving us all access to almost infinite information at the click of a mouse, giving us the ability to source products and services (and compare prices!) more easily, and opened up a world of new entertainment options.

We have proven to be such keen adopters of the internet and other technologies that it’s actually getting harder and harder to separate the digital economy from the rest of our economy, because digital is being embraced everywhere from healthcare to education, from agriculture to the delivery of government services.

That said, we’re always up for a challenge as are our friends at Deloitte, which is why we decided to update our 2011 report The Connected Continent, with a new methodology to measure the digitally-enabled economy’s increasing influence and spread.

The Connected Continent II numbers are in, and they’re big. Put simply, the digital economy is on fire.

  • The digitally-enabled economy contributed $79 billion (or ~5%) to GDP in FY2013-2014, making it larger than the agriculture, retail or transport industries 
  • It has grown by a whopping 50% since 2011 - faster, in fact, than Deloitte predicted back in 2011
  • What’s more, it could be worth $139BN by 2020 - primarily due to projected growth in e-commerce
  • FY2013-14 saw a $45BN productivity boost thanks to digital 
  • And the consumer benefits derived from digital are worth about $75BN - up 20% on 2011 

Of course, the numbers only tell some of the story. At Google, we’re lucky enough to hear first-hand about the small businesses that are experiencing rocket-propelled growth thanks to the web, and the non-profits that are using technology to make a huge difference in the delivery of their services. It’s these organisations, forming the backbone of our economy and our society, that stand the most to gain - and that’s why government and the business sector alike need to make sure that the opportunities described in this report are embraced with both hands.

The digitally-enabled economy is on fire. It’s a powerful engine that is driving growth and productivity gains in all sectors in Australia. Now, we have to make sure we don’t take our foot off the accelerator, because the best is yet to come.

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It's one thing to watch a robot being built. It's quite another to see it being built by a team of fourteen year olds.

Last week, Sydney Olympic Park played host to a sports event like no other - the FIRST regional robotics competition. Google has long supported FIRST and, together with Macquarie University, we were really pleased to help bring this competition to Australia

Over 1,000 students from Australia, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and the US competed to build robots that could finish a number of different challenges. This included teams from schools all over Australia, like the awesome crew from Blacktown Girls High School below.

The Blacktown Girls High School team show off their 'Ultimate Moving Machine'

The FIRST Awards recognise design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and entrepreneurship. But most of all, they inspire young men and women to be science and technology leaders.

They teach students the computational skills they will need for the economy of the future - whether they end up working in computer science, banking, medicine or any number of other fields that are rapidly digitising.

The Sydney Olympic Park crowd watches on as students control their robots

Students participating in FIRST are 10 times more likely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics at university. This is especially important for Australia, where our Chief Scientist has identified that Australia is lagging the world on STEM.

Building a robot is a lot of fun. It's also a vital part of preparing our kids for the jobs of the future. The next FIRST event is the Duel Down Under in June. To find out how to get involved, click here.


Posted by Sally-Ann Williams Engineering Community & Outreach Manager, Google Australia

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[Cross-posted from the Android Developer blog]

Whether it's a way to track workouts, chart the nighttime stars, or build a new reality and battle for world domination, Google Play gives developers a platform to create engaging apps and games and build successful businesses. Key to that mission is offering users a positive experience while searching for apps and games on Google Play. Today we have two updates to improve the experience for both developers and users.

A global content rating system based on industry standards 
Today we’re introducing a new age-based rating system for apps and games on Google Play. We know that people in different countries have different ideas about what content is appropriate for kids, teens and adults, so today’s announcement will help developers better label their apps for the right audience. Consistent with industry best practices, this change will give developers an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to their users and help improve app discovery and engagement by letting people choose content that is right for them.

Starting now, developers can complete a content rating questionnaire for each of their apps and games to receive objective content ratings. Google Play’s new rating system includes official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) and Classificação Indicativa (ClassInd). Territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display an age-based, generic rating. The process is quick, automated and free to developers. In the coming weeks, consumers worldwide will begin to see these new ratings in their local markets.

To help maintain your apps’ availability on Google Play, sign in to the Developer Console and complete the new rating questionnaire for each of your apps. Apps without a completed rating questionnaire will be marked as “Unrated” and may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users. Starting in May, all new apps and updates to existing apps will require a completed questionnaire before they can be published on Google Play.

An app review process that better protects users 
Several months ago, we began reviewing apps before they are published on Google Play to better protect the community and improve the app catalog. This new process involves a team of experts who are responsible for identifying violations of our developer policies earlier in the app lifecycle. We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks. In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout.

To assist in this effort and provide more transparency to developers, we’ve also rolled out improvements to the way we handle publishing status. Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations.

Over the past year, we’ve paid more than $7 billion to developers and are excited to see the ecosystem grow and innovate. We’ll continue to build tools and services that foster this growth and help the developer community build successful businesses.