Upgrading from Google Hangouts to Google Chat

First, starting today, people using Hangouts on mobile will see an in-app screen asking them to move to Chat in Gmail or the Chat app. Similarly, people who use the Hangouts Chrome extension will be asked to move to Chat on the web or install the Chat web app. In July, people who use Hangouts in Gmail on the web will be upgraded to Chat in Gmail.

While we encourage everyone to make the switch to Chat, Hangouts on the web will continue to be available until later this year. Users will see an in-product notice at least a month before Hangouts on the web starts redirecting to Chat on the web.

For most people, conversations are automatically migrated from Hangouts to Chat, so it’s easy to pick up where you left off. However, we encourage users who wish to keep a copy of their Hangouts data to use Google Takeout to download their data before Hangouts is no longer available in November 2022 by following these instructions. You can visit the Help Center for more information on the differences between Chat and Hangouts, the migration timelines, and why we recommend downloading your Hangouts data.

Discounts and prizes for small business heroes

Every business has a story: how they started, how they persevered, how they’ve adapted over time. Small businesses are where we have our birthday dinners, find the perfect unique gift for the friend who has everything, and take our favorite shirt with a giant stain to be saved (again). No matter where you live, small businesses are central to our lives and they show up for us in countless ways.

So we’re marking this International Small Business Week with a few new ways to support small businesses, including exclusive product discounts, our first Heroes of Small Business sweepstakes and business scholarships through our partnership with StartOut.

Our commitment to Asia Pacific’s small businesses

Technology can help businesses grow — but only if the people who lead and work for those businesses have the right skills. Today, on Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day, we’re reaffirming our commitment to Asia Pacific’s small businesses — and putting education and training at the center of our efforts to help them succeed and grow.

Since 2015, we’ve trained 8.5 million MSMEs across the region through our Grow with Google programs and partnerships. We stepped up these efforts when the global pandemic hit, and we’ve seen the impact of working more closely with governments and other businesses to close skills gaps and create opportunities. Our Saphan Digital program in Thailand has trained over 100,000 small businesses, while the Accelerate Vietnam Digital 4.0 initiative has trained 650,000 people. But we recognize there’s much more work ahead to ensure that MSMEs are prepared for longer-term economic and technological change.

How tech can support transformational growth in Africa

This week, I was privileged to be in Kigali, Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (‘CHOGM’) – a forum that brings together government, business leaders and NGOs from around the world to discuss how to improve the lives of the over 2.5 billion people living in the 54 independent countries that make up the Commonwealth.

Africa is facing multiple challenges. While Covid was first and foremost a health crisis, the economic impact continues to be severe for parts of the continent. The war in Ukraine has added further pressure on supply chains and food security. And Africa’s rapid population growth – 60% of the population will be under 24 by 2025 – creates a further pressing need to generate economic opportunity and ensure people and families can earn a living.

Despite the challenges ahead, the mood at CHOGM was optimistic, focusing on the collaboration and solutions that can help Africa’s economic recovery. For me, harnessing technology is key to that.

I grew up in Zimbabwe, then a Commonwealth country, and discovered the possibilities of the world of programming as a highschooler. Since then I’ve always been fascinated by the role technology can play in creating opportunities and helping to solve large-scale societal problems. My position at Google allows me to focus on how technology can benefit society, and I feel fortunate that it’s taken me back to Africa after just five months in the role.

Google first bet on Africa with the investment in Seacom cable in about 2005: I remember hearing about it from my friends at Google at the time. Two years later, Google opened offices on the continent, and has been a partner in Africa’s economic growth and digital transformation ever since – working with local governments, policymakers, educators and entrepreneurs. Our mission in Africa is to unlock the benefits of the digital economy to everyone – providing helpful products, programmes and investments.

Africa’s internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025 – 5.2% of the continent’s GDP – bringing prosperity, opportunity and growth. African governments and businesses must turn that opportunity into a reality: integrating technology into the economy, ensuring no one is left behind, and emerging stronger from the current challenges.

Ensuring affordable internet access

Most crucial to this is affordable internet access – a precondition for digital transformation, but still a barrier today. Across Africa, only 18% of households have an internet connection, and data costs remain a major obstacle. By actively promoting infrastructure investments, including in rural areas, Governments can support people to get online and harness the economic growth and benefits that will come with that.

Google is already working in partnership with African governments to do this. We’ve enabled over 100 million Africans to access the internet for the first time through our affordable Android devices, and plan to invest $1 billion over the next 5 years in projects that will help enable Africa’s digital transformation, including our state-of-the-art Equiano subsea cable.

The cable, which lands in Namibia in the next few weeks, will provide twenty times more network capacity by connecting Africa with Europe. It will run through South Africa, Namibia, Togo, Nigeria and St Helena, enabling internet speeds up to five times faster and lowering connectivity costs by up to 21%, in turn supporting growth and jobs.

Investing in people

Those accessing the internet need to be able to use it and transform their lives leveraging it. Working with tech companies and NGOs to foster digital skills developments, governments can ensure people can participate fully online.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, made a commitment in 2017 to train 10 million Africans in digital skills. To date, Google has trained more than 6 million people across Africa through Grow with Google in partnership with local governments, and given $20 million to non-profits helping Africans develop their digital skills. Moreover, Google has committed to certifying 100,000 developers – and so far has certified more than 80,000. Last year, a Google study showed the developer ecosystem in Africa is growing. There are nearly 716,000 professional developers across Africa – of which 21% are women; numbers we hope to contribute to.

Investing in startups

Alongside digital skills, governments need to encourage entrepreneurs and startups – a crucial part of Africa’s economic growth and jobs creation. There has never been a shortage of entrepreneurs in Africa – what is needed are the tools, including technology, and financing to enable them.

Last year, we announced an Africa Investment Fund to support startup growth across Africa. Through the Fund, we invest $50 million in startups like SafeBoda and Carry1st, and provide Google’s people, products and networks to help them build meaningful products for their communities. This is on top of our existing work on the Startups Accelerator Africa, which has provided more than 80 African startups with equity-free finance, working space and expert advisors over the last three years. We also launched a Black Founders Fund in 2021, supporting Black African Founders like Shecluded, a digital financial growth resource and service startup for women.

Using technological innovation to solve systemic challenges

Advances in technology are increasingly enabling solutions to development challenges, and with 300 million more people coming online in Africa over the next five years, the possibilities are endless. Digital finance, for example, can be used to address the barriers preventing nearly a billion African women from banking – while advances in AI have made it possible for Google to Translate more languages, including Luganda – spoken by 20 million people here in Rwanda and in neighboring Uganda.

Technology offers Africa a tremendous opportunity for growth, prosperity and opportunity. I’m hopeful that working in partnership, we can continue to make an impact and build on Africa’s digital revolution.

It’s time for more transparency around government data demands

We’ve seen NDOs issued in cases where the user is already aware of the investigation, and even of the legal demand itself. Similarly, we’ve seen NDOs issued covering legal requests for the data of well-established reputable organizations, even though notifying the organization is highly unlikely to do harm. And we’ve seen some NDOs that might have been initially justified lasting years beyond the investigation, in some cases indefinitely.

Your Chromebook now works better with your other devices

Easily access your recent photos

When you’re trying to stay on task, there’s nothing more distracting than switching between your phone and your laptop to get something done. Last year, we introduced Phone Hub, a built-in control center that lets you respond to text messages, check your phone’s battery, turn on tethering and more, all from your Chromebook.

With the latest update, you’ll now also have instant access to the latest photos you took on your phone — even if you’re offline. After taking a picture on your phone, it will automatically appear within Phone Hub on your laptop under “recent photos.” Just click on the image to download it, then it’s ready to be added to a document or email.

No more sending yourself emails with pictures or going through multiple steps to get an image from your phone to your laptop. The next time you’re recapping yesterday’s hike in an email to your friends, you can easily add your best photos to the message, without ever having to pick up your phone.

Meet Nathalia Silva, a Cloud Googler and DEI leader

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and how they prepared for interviews.

Today’s post features Nathalia Silva — a Toronto-based program manager on the Google Cloud Learning team, and a leader of two employee resource groups supporting Latino Googlers.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Google?

I work on the Google Cloud Learning team, whose mission is to train and certify millions of people on Google Cloud. As a program manager, I oversee processes that help design learning content, offerings and solutions for Google Cloud professionals. Outside of my core work, I’m a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocate, Star Wars fan and soccer lover — Fluminense is my favorite team!

How did you first become interested in tech?

I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, a beautiful city in Brazil. My mom and dad always believed in the power of education, but good high schools are expensive in my hometown. They both worked hard to provide access to a quality education for me and my brother. Through my parents’ efforts and the support of my grandparents, uncles and aunts, I was able to attend an engineering university. Once I got there, I earned an academic scholarship to study in Toronto. After moving to Canada, most of my new friends were computer science students. They used to tell me about their projects and assignments, which inspired me to start studying computer science and eventually join the tech world.

Why did you apply to work at Google?

While working with local tech communities in Toronto, I met many Googlers who always spoke highly of their jobs and the company culture. This made me want to join the Google family. I also always wanted to work at a global company that fosters curiosity, and Google definitely does that. Most of my teammates love traveling and learning about different cultures — just like me!

Spyware vendor targets users in Italy and Kazakhstan

How Google is Addressing the Commercial Spyware Industry

We assess, based on the extensive body of research and analysis by TAG and Project Zero, that the commercial spyware industry is thriving and growing at a significant rate. This trend should be concerning to all Internet users.

These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house. While use of surveillance technologies may be legal under national or international laws, they are often found to be used by governments for purposes antithetical to democratic values: targeting dissidents, journalists, human rights workers and opposition party politicians.

Aside from these concerns, there are other reasons why this industry presents a risk to the Internet. While vulnerability research is an important contributor to online safety when that research is used to improve the security of products, vendors stockpiling zero-day vulnerabilities in secret poses a severe risk to the Internet especially if the vendor gets compromised. This has happened to multiple spyware vendors over the past ten years, raising the specter that their stockpiles can be released publicly without warning.

This is why when Google discovers these activities, we not only take steps to protect users, but also disclose that information publicly to raise awareness and help the entire ecosystem, in line with our historical commitment to openness and democratic values.

Tackling the harmful practices of the commercial surveillance industry will require a robust, comprehensive approach that includes cooperation among threat intelligence teams, network defenders, academic researchers, governments and technology platforms. We look forward to continuing our work in this space and advancing the safety and security of our users around the world.

A search for bold ideas to drive climate action

Google has been committed to climate action for decades — and during that time, we’ve learned that we can have the biggest impact on our planet by working together. That’s why we’re launching a $30 million Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate Innovation — an open call for ambitious projects from nonprofits and social enterprises that accelerate advances in climate information and action, driven by open data, AI, machine learning and other digital tools.

We’re leading by example at Google by setting a goal to achieve net-zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain, including our consumer hardware products, by 2030. We’re going even further for our data centers and campuses, with a moonshot goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by the end of the decade. Our work to procure clean energy around the world not only helps us decarbonize our own operations, but also greens the local grids where we’re based, benefitting entire regions.

But when it comes to solving a problem as big and urgent as climate change, we get more done when we partner together. So we’re using our technology to make critical climate data available to everyone. Cities are using our Environmental Insights Explorer to better understand their emissions data, solar potential, air quality and tree canopy coverage. Customers are using innovative new tools in Google Cloud like Carbon Footprint, which helps companies accurately measure the gross carbon footprint of their cloud usage. And Google users can make more sustainable choices with information like the carbon footprint of their travel — whether finding flights with lower carbon emissions or choosing fuel-efficient driving directions in Google Maps.

How Sales Academy helped three women founders grow

What inspired you to apply for Google for Startups Sales Academy?

Sanskriti: I’m at the point as a founder where I need to move the business beyond individual impact. With THRIVE, now I have a framework I can use, instead of just instinct, as I grow the business.

Saloni: I’m always eager to learn. Sales Academy felt like school in the best way: combining theory and practical application. This is particularly helpful for entrepreneurs since your brain is all over the place when you’re running a business and you’re always time-poor.

Shilpa: I am not a sales person by nature. I used to struggle with reading cues and nuances in conversations. Sales Academy taught me how to gauge the interest of a person by reading what they say versus what they mean, and how to talk about the benefit of my product, rather than just the feature.

What’s the biggest takeaway you’ve had since joining Sales Academy?

Sanskriti: It made me more confident. I also notice myself having longer conversations and ending most conversations with a solid next step.

Saloni: I’m usually a very direct person and so I tend to avoid small talk. However, with help from Sales Academy, I am making more of an effort to humanize my conversations. It has not only helped me with my conversations, but also made it possible to structure things like handling objections for my entire team.

Shilpa: Sales Academy helped me understand the difference between my product’s features and its benefits very clearly, and helped me communicate that difference to my clients and colleagues in Swayam. Another wonderful benefit that I got is in addressing clients’ objections in a structured way.

How did it feel to participate in a program specifically for women founders?

Sanskriti: It was a very powerful training session. When it ended, I started a WhatsApp group to stay connected with and continue to support the other founders who went through the program.

Saloni: It was highly rewarding without being time intensive. The facilitators did a great job of being mindful and respectful of time, and structured each session incredibly well.

Shilpa: Since the whole cohort was female, it was easy to bounce a few thoughts on gender discrimination we face with clients, and I realized that I am not alone in this! Knowing others face the same issue really helped to put client interactions in a different perspective to better handle them.

Learn more about other Google for Startups programs such as our Accelerator: Women Founders on startup.google.com.