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Launceston has always been a forward-looking town. It was the first town in Australia to be lit by hydroelectricity (and the first town in Australia to have underground sewers!). It was also a regional winner of our 2013 eTowns Award, and Launceston small businesses have been quick to see the potential of the web to help them grow.

We recently asked more than 150 small business owners in Launceston whether they thought the Internet would be important to their future growth - and 100% said yes. However, around one third of those business owners also said they didn’t know how to take advantage of this.

So we were delighted to visit Launceston today as the fourth stop on a nationwide roadshow (and that’s not just because of Tasmania’s delicious cheese!). The roadshow, in partnership with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is part of our efforts to help small business around Australia make the most of the web.
Chilly conditions relieved by a warming coffee at our Launceston roadshow this morning 

Our guest Eric Hutchinson MP opened the event for around 120 Launceston small business owners, who then heard how the web could help them find new customers and grow their business. We heard from Lisa Tedeschi, the owner of fashion store Sebachi, who has used AdWords to market her clothes store not just to people in Launceston, but all over Australia. She told us how the Internet had helped her start exporting clothes overseas, to locations as far afield (and fashion-forward!) as Sweden and Belgium.

Sebachi owner Lisa Tedeschi at the Launceston roadshow today 

Lisa’s success is also Australia’s success. Research shows that businesses that are online are twice as likely to be growing and four times as likely to be hiring staff. So it’s vital for Australia that we support small businesses as they look to get online. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes, and you don’t even need a website to start off. To find out more about our free tools, have a look at Google My Business.

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

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Pocket Casts is a leading podcasting app on Google Play built by Australian-based mobile development company Shifty Jelly. The company recently achieved $1 million in sales for the first time, reaching more than 500K users.

According to the co-founder Russell Ivanovic, the adoption of material design played a significant role in driving user engagement for Pocket Casts by streamlining the user experience. Moreover, users are now able to access the app beyond the smartphone -- in the car with Android Auto, on a watch with Android Wear or on the TV with Google Cast. The rapid innovation of Android features helped Pocket Casts increase sales by 30 percent.

We chatted with co-founders and Android developers Russell and Philip Simpson to learn more about how they are growing their business with Android.

Here are some of the features Pocket Casts used:

  • Material Design: Learn more about material design and how it helps you create beautiful, engaging apps. 
  • Android Wear: Extend your app to Android Wear devices with enhanced notifications or a standalone wearable app. 
  • Android Auto: Extend your app to an interface that’s optimized for driving with Android Auto. 
  • Google Cast: let your users cast your app’s content to Google Cast devices like Chromecast, Android TV, and speakers with Google Cast built-in. 
And check out the Pocket Casts app on Google Play!

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(Editor's note: This is a cross post from the Google and Your Business blog. It's Pride Month in the US and this is a post they put together to mark the occasion. We liked it too much not to share). 

No two businesses are the same. And for small business owners, their unique character is vital for their success and keeps their loyal customers coming back.

Hailee Bland Walsh, the owner of City Gym in Kansas City, believes her gym “should be more than a place to workout. It should be a place to belong." She uses Google My Business to share that her gym is a safe place where everyone is welcome.

This message has been especially meaningful for Jake who recently returned to City Gym for the first time after having surgery. For him, City Gym has been an integral part of his transition from female to male, providing a place to explore his changing body and a community of support for him and his friends.

In recognition of LGBT Pride Month, we are excited to share the story of Hailee and Jake, and the power of the web to connect remarkable businesses like City Gym with their people.


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Editors note: This post is the first in a series of guest entries by members of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team, a group dedicated to recording and revealing the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic imagery. These posts will take you behind the scenes of the project and introduce you to the people taking these images.

Australia and Asia Pacific is home to some of the world’s top marine biodiversity hotspots. To celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, we’ve worked with Google to launch our largest ever collection of underwater imagery on Google Maps, featuring 360-degree virtual dives from 20 reefs across the region, including the Philippines, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Australia and American Samoa.
Come take a closer look at how we carry out these underwater surveys by going behind-the-scenes on our dive at Indonesia’s Bunaken National Park, the heart of the Coral Triangle. Often called the “underwater Amazon,” the Coral Triangle is a 5.7 million square kilometer area that spans from the Philippines in the north, down to Indonesia and as far as the Solomon Islands in the east. This giant triangle is also home to 76% of known coral species and over 3,000 species of fish.
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The SVII camera system surveys the remarkable reefscapes of the Coral Triangle (c) Catlin Seaview Survey
Every dive begins with getting our divers rigged up and the 60kg camera off our research boat Makarena and into the water. The SVII is a revolutionary camera system that creates high-resolution 360-degree images of the underwater environment using technology similar to Google Street View. By attaching SVII to an underwater scooter, we can cover distances of up to two kilometers in a single dive, taking about 3,000 images each time. We’ve also added instruments to this camera set-up, including a depth transponder (altimeter) so that we can read the altitude of the camera from the sea floor, which allows us to gather standardized scientific information at a volume and scale which was previously unattainable to the marine science community. Untitled:Users:ben:Desktop:Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 8.48.26 AM.png
Deploying the SVII camera in the waters off Manado (c) Catlin Seaview Survey
We’ve seen large schools with hundreds of reef fish such as butterfly fish (Chaedotontidae spp) or red toothed triggerfish (Odonus niger) cascade down the healthy reef slope. On this particular day, we were lucky enough to be greeted by a dolphin and a free swimming banded sea snake cruising along of one Bunaken Islands’ epic undersea walls.
XL Catlin Seaview divers explore underwater marine life at Bunaken Islands

You can now also explore new locations on the Great Barrier Reef including Mantis Reef and Wishbone Reef. This new imagery joins other Australian imagery including underwater Sydney Harbour and more Great Barrier Reef imagery.

While we could easily spend all day amongst the depths and colors of the Coral Triangle’s reefs, we try to complete our expeditions as early as possible to get started on downloading and processing the images. We’ll tell you more about the data we gather from these 360-degree photos in upcoming posts, but for now, we hope this new underwater imagery available on the XL Catlin Global Reef Record will give anyone with an Internet connection the ability to immerse themselves in stunning coral reefs like never before.

Posted by Dominic Bryant, XL Catlin Oceans Scholar and PhD Candidate at the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland

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We’re inviting school students in years 1-10 to sharpen their pencils, use their imagination and reveal their artistic talent to create a Google doodle depicting their vision for “If I could travel back in time I would...” The winning doodle will be shown on the Google homepage for a day for millions of Australians to enjoy. From today, school students can register to take part.

Since 1998, when Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate they were going to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, Google’s team of doodlers have been creating doodles to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous writers, scientists and explorers.

This year, we’ve lined up a panel of judges who are incredibly passionate about children’s art and education. Judging the initiative will be ARTEXPRESS curator Leeanne Carr and leading Australian artist Bronwyn Bancroft. These judges will select finalists across four age groups: Years 1-3; Years 4-6; Years 7-8, and Years 9-10, whose doodles will be shown online.

We’ll ask the public to vote on their favourite doodles from each age group and the winners will receive fantastic prizes for themselves and their schools, including laptops, tablets and $10,000 worth of technology for the national winner’s school. A Google doodler will select the overall national winner to be shown on the homepage for millions of Australians to enjoy!

During June, we’ll be sending out information packs to every Australian school. To take part, please register your school by 20 July, and all doodles must be submitted by 21 August. Please visit the Doodle 4 Google website for a full listing of all the contest rules and information.

We’re so excited and can’t wait to see the doodles!

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[Editor's note: this is a cross-post from the Official Google Blog].

We've all been there at some point or another…
You just lost your phone and want to wipe your personal information.
You attend an event, and you want to share your photos with some people (but not everyone).
You hesitate as you download another app that's asking for a lot of information.

Everyday, we make choices that affect our privacy and security online. Most people, however, don’t feel they have the right level of control to make these important decisions. According to a recent Pew study, 93 percent of people think it’s important to control access to their personal information, and 90 percent care about the type of information that’s collected about them. But only 9 percent feel they have “a lot” of control over it. We want to change that.

Google builds simple, powerful privacy and security tools that keep your information safe and put you in control of it. At Google I/O, we announced that people will have more control over the information they provide to mobile apps in the M release, the next version of Android. Today, we’re rolling out two significant improvements to our privacy and security tools: a new hub for managing your Google settings called My Account, and a new site that answers important questions about privacy and security on Google.

Privacy and security controls, all in one place
Privacy and security are two sides of the same coin: if your information isn’t secure, it certainly can’t be private. My Account gives you quick access to the settings and tools that help you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide what information is used to make Google services work better for you. It also provides more context to help you understand your options and make the right choices for you.

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Here are some of the things you can do with My Account:
  • Take the Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup, our simple, step-by-step guides through your most important privacy and security settings.
  • Manage the information that can be used from Search, Maps, YouTube and other products to enhance your experience on Google. For example, you can turn on and off settings such as Web and App Activity, which gets you more relevant, faster search results, or Location History, which enables Google Maps and Now to give you tips for a faster commute back home.
  • Use the Ads Settings tool to control ads based on your interests and the searches you’ve done.
  • Control which apps and sites are connected to your account.

We built My Account to be a resource for everyone, even if you don't have a Google Account. Check out your controls at myaccount.google.com.

Answering your questions about privacy and security

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We listen to feedback from people around the world to better understand their concerns about privacy and security. In addition to My Account, we want to help people find answers to common questions on these topics, such as: "What data does Google collect? What does Google do with the data it collects? What tools do I have to control my Google experience?"

Our new site, privacy.google.com, candidly answers these questions, and more. We also explain how we show relevant ads without selling your personal information, how encryption and spam filtering help keep your data safe, and how your information helps customize your experience on Google. Visit this site often to learn about new tools, features, and information that can help you make the choices that are right for you.

When you trust your personal information with us, you should expect powerful controls that keep it safe and private as well as useful answers to your questions. Today’s launches are just the latest in our ongoing efforts to protect you and your information on Google. There’s much more to come, and we look forward to your feedback.

Posted by Guemmy Kim, Product Manager, Account Controls and Settings.

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[Cross-posted from the Android Official Blog]

Whether you’re trying to entertain a toddler on a crowded plane, encourage your child’s newfound love of reading or simply find a movie for the whole family to enjoy, finding the right content should be just a tap or two away. Parents want the best for their kids, but when it comes to digital entertainment, it can be difficult to know what to look for.

Starting today, we’re making it easier to find great family-friendly content on Google Play. Parents can now find family destinations across the Play store, with new features for browsing by age and interests. We’re also providing more useful information about apps and content on Google Play and improved tools so you can decide what’s right for your family.

Follow the family star
On the AppsGames and Movies & TV homepages, you can now tap the Family button to browse our new family-friendly experiences. On the Books homepage, tap the Children’s Books button. Since toddlers and tweens have different interests and abilities, these pages let you browse by age range to find content that’s the best fit for your family. Whether your child is still learning shapes and colors, or is getting into more scrapes than Judy Moody, you’ll find inspiring ideas for every age. What’s more -- top charts, recommendations, and even searches from family homepages are filtered to our family-friendly catalog.
Play with your favorite characters
For many of us, childhood memories include at least one favorite character: a plucky personality from a book, the superhero from a movie or a beloved stuffed animal. Characters are just as relevant today, and Lego, Barbie and other kids and family brands are some of the most popular searches on Google Play. To help you browse Google Play content around a favorite character, we’ve created special pages featuring dozens of top characters from across the globe, like PBS KIDS, Pororo and Peppa Pig. From the Play store app, take a tour through all of our popular characters to find apps, movies, books and more from your family’s favorites.
Empowering parents
When it comes to finding content on Google Play, our goal is to empower parents by giving them practical information and better tools for making decisions. Our new family star badges convey the specific age range that an app, movie or book was designed for. On our app detail pages, you’ll now find a new label telling you when family apps are ad-supported and new locally relevant content maturity ratings. Finally, Google Play has updated parental controls, so you can restrict downloads, purchases or streaming of mature content.
We’re rolling out the new family discovery experience over the next couple weeks, and many of the best-known brands in family entertainment are celebrating along with us. Check out our featured collection of new and exclusive content, including Legacy Games’ Crayola DJ, TabTale’s Cutie Patootie, Speakaboos’ Thomas’s Musical Day for Percy, The Jim Henson Company’s Doozers-Play Along Stories, and more -- just a tap or two away.

Posted by Eunice Kim, on behalf of the Google Play team