Tag Archives: Google
Google is advising anyone who uses the Chrome browser to make sure their browsers have the latest update, which patches a “high” risk security flaw that hackers are already exploiting on unsuspecting victims.
It’s common practice when bugs are disclosed to not immediately share details of how they work until a majority of users have a security patch. The practice allows companies like Google to notify users, and roll out updates, without tipping off any potential bad actors.
While little is known about how the threat, called CVE-2019-5786, works, Justin Schuh, Google’s Chrome engineering and security desktop lead, tweeted on Tuesday that everyone should update their Chrome browser “right this minute” on every device.
Google Chrome updates are usually automatic, however they don’t always roll out to everyone, all at once. If you’d like to trigger a manual update, you can click the three dots in the upper-right corner of the window, select “Help” and “About Chrome.” This will tell users whether their browser is updated or if they need to restart their device to trigger the updated, patched version of the browser.
The EU’s crusade against hate speech is a long-running issue that has involved threats of new regulation, as happened in Germany, if the big social media firms don’t do more to tackle the problem. As things stand, the companies have signed up to a voluntary code of conduct.
On Monday the European Commission—the bloc’s executive body—said its clean-up drive is bearing fruit. According to its statistics, 89% of suspect content is being evaluated within a day of someone flagging it up, and 72% of the content that is found to be illegal is removed.
For comparison’s sake, those figures were 40% and 28% respectively, back in 2016. The stats come from civil society organizations that monitor take-downs across various EU countries.
“Illegal hate speech online is not only a crime, it represents a threat to free speech and democratic engagement,” said Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová in a statement. “In May 2016, I initiated the Code of conduct on online hate speech, because we urgently needed to do something about this phenomenon. Today, after two and a half years, we can say that we found the right approach and established a standard throughout Europe on how to tackle this serious issue, while fully protecting freedom of speech.”
The European Commission claimed “there is no sign of over-removal,” and noted that content using racial slurs and degrading images in reference to certain groups is only removed in 58.5% of cases.
Facebook is apparently being especially cooperative, assessing 92.6% of hate-speech notifications within 24 hours. This is notable, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently pledged to make Facebook—whose AI isn’t yet fully up to the task—better at properly adjudicating what qualifies as hate speech and what doesn’t. The company’s nature as a conduit for hate speech was highlighted last year by its reported role in the Myanmar genocide.
The Commission’s one gripe on Monday was the lack of transparency and feedback to users, when content gets flagged up and removed—the levels of feedback actually fell over the last year, from 68.9% to 65.4%. Again, Facebook did well here, while YouTube failed quite badly, offering feedback less than quarter of the time.
Google is pouring an additional $ 3.1 million into Wikipedia, bringing its total contribution to the free encyclopedia over the past decade to more than $ 7.5 million, the company announced at the World Economic Forum Tuesday. A little over a third of those funds will go toward sustaining current efforts at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia, and the remaining $ 2 million will focus on long-term viability through the organization’s endowment.
Google will also begin allowing Wikipedia editors to use several of its machine learning tools for free, the tech giant said. What’s more, Wikimedia and Google will soon broaden Project Tiger, a joint initiative they launched in 2017 to increase the number of Wikipedia articles written in underrepresented languages in India, and to include 10 new languages in a handful of countries and regions. It will now be called GLOW, Growing Local Language Content on Wikipedia.
It’s certainly positive that Google is investing more in Wikipedia, one of the most popular and generally trustworthy online resources in the world. But the decision isn’t altruistic: Supporting Wikipedia is also a shrewd business decision that will likely benefit Google for years to come. Like other tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, Google already uses Wikipedia content in a number of its own products. When you search Google for “Paris,” a “knowledge panel” of information about the city will appear, some of which is sourced from Wikipedia. The company also has used Wikipedia articles to train machine learning algorithms, as well as fight misinformation on YouTube.
Even efforts like GLOW—which will now expand to Indonesia, Mexico, and Nigeria, as well as the Middle East and North Africa—can help Google’s own bottom line. When the initiative first launched in India, Google provided Chromebooks and internet access to editors, while the Centre for Internet and Society and the Wikimedia India Chapter organized a three-month article writing competition that resulted in nearly 4,500 new Wikipedia articles in 12 different Indic languages. Smartphone penetration in India is only around 27 percent; as more people in the country start using Android smartphones and Google Search, those articles will make the tech giant’s products more useful. Wikipedia’s blog post announcing Google’s new investment makes this strategy fairly clear, noting that the company also provided Project Tiger with “insights into popular search topics on Google for which no or limited local language content exists on Wikipedia.”
Google is also providing Wikipedia free access to its Custom Search API and its Cloud Vision API, which will help the encyclopedia’s volunteer editors more easily cite the facts they use. Each time a Wikipedia editor adds a new piece of information to an article, they need to cite the source where they learned it. The Search API will allow them quickly look up sources on the web without having to leave Wikipedia, while the vision tool will let editors automatically digitize books so they can be used to support Wikipedia articles too. Earlier this month, Wikimedia also announced Google Translate was coming to Wikipedia, allowing editors to convert content into 15 additional languages, bringing the total available to 121.
These machine learning tools will absolutely make it easier for Wikipedia to reach people who speak languages currently underrepresented on the web. But the encyclopedia is also the reason many AI programs exist in the first place. For example, Google-owned Jigsaw has used Wikipedia, in part, to train its open source troll-fighting AI. The encyclopedia is also used by hundreds of other AI platforms, particularly because every Wikipedia article is under Creative Commons—meaning it can be reproduced for free without copyright restrictions. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa smart assistants use information from Wikipedia to answer questions, for instance. (Both companies also have donated to the Wikimedia Foundation as well.)
Google’s new investments in Wikipedia, specifically in GLOW, will address a genuine problem. The majority of Wikipedia’s tens of millions of articles are in English or European languages like French, German, and Russian. (There are also lots of articles in Swedish and two versions of Filipino, but most of these pages were created by a prolific bot). As the estimated half of Earth’s population that still lacks an internet connection comes online, it will be important that reliable information is available in the native languages people speak. That doesn’t mean, though, that in helping solve these issues companies like Google—or Facebook—don’t also have something to gain.
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Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has launched a new program that will pay its employees to do pro bono work for nonprofit groups for up to six months.
Google announced the new program, called the Google.org Fellowship, on Tuesday. The purpose is to let Google employees take on full-time pro bono work for the organization’s nonprofit partners, which include groups like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Girls Who Code, and Amnesty International.
The company aims to achieve 50,000 hours of pro bono work this year.
The fellowship extends Google’s community service outreach and adds to a growing list of volunteer-based initiatives offered by tech companies. It also helps Google accomplish two goals: aid the community with the company’s expertise—as well as motivate employees and help them sharpen their skills, according to the company’s blog.
The launch of Google’s fellowship came after the company piloted a six-month program in which it sent five Googlers to work with Thorn, a nonprofit founded by Ashton Kutcher that develops technology to protect children from sexual abuse. Through the partnership, Google employees helped build tools to find patterns in data that would assist law enforcement in identifying and locating child victims faster.
Since then, seven Google.org fellows, including software engineers and data scientists, started working with Goodwill Industries International, to which Google.org gave $ 10 million in 2017. Googlers will help the organization get better insight about what works best in their job training programs.
Prior to this program, Google had already offered employees volunteer hours, though a much smaller number, for community service projects.
Google launched GoogleServe in 2008, aiming to encourage employees to participate in community service projects for a day in June. The program also helps match employees’ skillsets to nonprofits’ needs and allows them to spend up to 20 hours of work time volunteering. Last year, more than 5,000 employees volunteered more than 50,000 hours across 400 project, according to Google’s website.
Along the same lines, Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of business software company Salesforce, has a Pro Bono Program that offers employees 56 hours of paid volunteer time annually. Between the program’s debut in 2014 and October 2017, Salesforce employees had volunteered 166,000 pro bono hours with 5,700 organizations.
Twitter also offers a community service day. The #TwitterForGood Day, a biannual event at the company, gives employees the chance to do community service at partnering organizations.
Apple premiered its employee volunteer program in 2015. The Apple Global Volunteer Program helps employees organize and support organizations and events in their communities. The program offers training and tools to help them create and promote volunteer events.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – More than 200 engineers, designers and managers at Alphabet Inc’s Google demanded in an open letter on Tuesday that the company end development of a censored search engine for Chinese users, escalating earlier protests against the secretive project.
FILE PHOTO: Google’s booth is pictured at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
Google has described the search app, known as Project Dragonfly, as an experiment not close to launching. But as details of it have leaked since August, current and former employees, human rights activists and U.S. lawmakers have criticized Google for not taking a harder line against the Chinese government’s policy that politically sensitive results be blocked.
Human rights group Amnesty International also launched a public petition on Tuesday calling on Google to cancel Dragonfly. The organization said it would encourage Google workers to sign the petition by targeting them on LinkedIn and protesting outside Google offices.
Google declined to comment on the employees’ letter on Tuesday as Alphabet shares fell 0.35 percent to $ 1,052.28.
Google has long sought to have a bigger presence in China, the world’s largest internet market. It needs government approval to compete with the country’s dominant homegrown internet services.
An official at China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, who was unauthorized to speak publicly, told Reuters on Tuesday there was “no indication” from Google that it had adjusted earlier plans to eventually launch the search app. However, the official described a 2019 release as “unrealistic” without elaborating.
About 1,400 of Google’s tens of thousands of workers urged the company in August to improve oversight of ethically questionable ventures, including Dragonfly.
The nine employees who first signed their names on Tuesday’s letter said they had seen little progress.
The letter expresses concern about the Chinese government tracking dissidents through search data and suppressing truth through content restrictions.
“We object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” the employees said in the letter published on the blogging service Medium.
The employees said they no longer believed Google was “a company willing to place its values over profits,” and cited a string of “disappointments” this year, including acknowledgement of a big payout to an executive who had been accused of sexual harassment.
That incident sparked global protests at Google, which like other big technology companies has seen an uptick in employee activism during the last two years as their services become an integral part of civic infrastructure.
Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
They hope, though, that you don’t notice when those promises become, well, a little diluted over time.
It’s the thought that counts, after all.
One thought offered by Google when it committed itself to your health was that Deep Mind, its profound subsidiary that uses AI to help solve health problems, was that its “data will never be connected to Google accounts or services.”
Cut to not very long at all and Deep Mind was last week rolled into, oh, Google.
In an odd coincidence, this move also necessitated that an independent review board, there to check on Deep Mind’s work with healthcare professionals, was disappeared.
This caused those who keep a careful eye on Google — such as NYU research fellow Julia Powles — to gently point out the company’s sleight of mouth.
This is TOTALLY unacceptable. DeepMind repeatedly, unconditionally promised to *never* connect people’s intimate, identifiable health data to Google. Now it’s announced…exactly that. This isn’t transparency, it’s trust demolition.
This is, though, the problem with tech companies.
We looked at them as if they were run by wizards doing things we could never understand.
Any time we became even slightly suspicious, the tech companies murmured that we should trust them. Because, well, we really didn’t understand what sort of world they were building.
Now, we’re living in it. A world where everything is tradable and hackable and nothing is sacred.
A world where the most common headlines about the company seem to begin: Google fined..
I asked Google whether it understood the reaction to its latest Oh, you caught us, yes, we’re going to do things differently now move.
The company referred me to a blog post it wrote explaining its actions.
In it, Google uses phrases like major milestone and words like excited.
It also offered me these words from Dr. Dominic King a former UK National Health Service surgeon and researcher who will be leading the Deep Mind Streams team:
The public is rightly concerned about what happens with patient data. I want to be totally clear. This data is not DeepMind’s or Google’s – it belongs to our partners, whether the NHS or internationally. We process it according to their instructions – nothing more.
At this stage our contracts have not moved across to Google and will not without our partners’ consent. The same applies to the data that we process under these contracts.
At this stage.
Oh, but you know how creepily the online world works.
You know, for example, that advertising keeps popping up at the strangest times and for the strangest things.
Within minutes, certain apps on my phone were full of ads for Google’s new Pixel 3 phone. Which I could buy most easily, said the ads, at a Verizon store.
Who would be surprised, then, if personal health data began to be linked with other Google services, such as advertising?
Too many tech companies know only one way to do business — to grow and wrap their tentacles around every last aspect of human life.
The likes of Google operate on a basis of a FOMO paranoia that even teens and millennials might envy.
They need to know everything about you, in case they miss out on an advertising opportunity.
You are not a number. You are a lot of numbers.
And your numbers help Google make even bigger numbers.
Will that ever change? Probably not.
Google announced changes to how it will handle claims of sexual harassment among employees, including making arbitration optional for individual harassment and sexual assault claims. While additional transparency and protection for workers is a sign of progress, the change is incremental rather than transformative, because Google’s arbitration provision still prohibits collective action. Harassment claims will no longer be forced into private arbitration, but only individuals can now bring their claims before a jury.
It’s unclear whether Google, which has a history of confusing its employees around confidentiality, will make the process of opting out clear or easy. Google has become quicker and more responsive to employee concerns. Nonetheless, a publicized email from CEO Sundar Pichai and an accompanying interview in *The New York Times* still seem like the kind of gauzy public relations efforts that motivated 20,000 employees to join a protest last week to demand transparency and meaningful change. *The Times* reported last month that Google executives were allowed to leave with multimillion-dollar exit packages following credible claims of harassment against them.
Arbitration agreements can be used to obscure harassment allegations and protect serial abusers because employees are required to resolve disputes privately with an arbiter, who is typically paid by the company, rather than in open court. In Silicon Valley, forced arbitration agreements, nondisclosure agreements, and confidentiality clauses are routinely included in employment contracts, just as nondisparagement agreements are tied to severance packages and private settlements.
Organizers of last week’s walkout are disappointed with Google’s response, which they found defensive and dismissive toward their demands for equity. The changes signal the power of collective action, but organizers said they were not consulted ahead of the announcement. They said Google ignored concerns about discrimination and the rights of contract workers, indicating the company wants to continue operating as it has in the past, with transparency stressed in name rather than action. An internal Google website is tracking worker sentiment about whether demands—such as employee representation on the company’s board, which Pichai seemed to brush off—were met.
Google held a company-wide meeting for employees following the announcement. “Overall I felt the town hall was primarily the leadership team centering their own feelings as a performative show of appearing to listen, while substantively ignoring” concerns about gender and racial discrimination, and instead focusing only on harassment, says software engineer Irene Knapp, who participated in the walkout, and also introduced a shareholder proposal to tie executive pay to diversity goals at Google’s last shareholder meeting.
Knapp says it’s unclear whether Google can effectively fulfill the changes it promised. “The leadership team is congratulating itself already, before anything they’ve announced has even been launched—they wouldn’t let any of us get away with that.”
Last week’s walkout was unprecedented in terms of support from Google’s 94,000 employes. Although a wave of worker dissent has been rolling through Silicon Valley’s corporate campuses, it has been difficult to gauge what portion of the workforce shares those concerns.
Pichai’s announcement was delivered in a company-wide email. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes,” he wrote alongside a rough outline of plans, such as providing a transparency report “around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes.”
In the same paragraph outlining the arbitration change, Pichai stressed existing worker protections. “Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you,” he wrote.
But over the past couple of years, both employees and enforcement officials from the Department of Labor have questioned Google’s confidentiality policies, including a lawsuit that alleges the company’s internal process for investigating leaks is illegal. “This change looks like a step in the right direction,” says James Finberg, an attorney with Altshuler Berzon pressing a class-action lawsuit alleging gender bias in pay and promotion.
“Mandatory confidential arbitration can protect repeat sexual harassers, and result in more women becoming the victims of those harassers. Permitting women to file public lawsuits lets people in the company know about the bad behavior. Lawsuits, as opposed to individual arbitration proceedings, also permit women to band together, share resources, and bring about system change,” Finberg wrote in an email to WIRED.
He says the experience of one of the named plaintiffs in his suit, Kelly Ellis, is consistent with the report in The Times. “[Ellis] ended up changing departments, and eventually leaving Google, because a senior manager had been harassing her, and the company’s response was not to move him but to move her. Many women’s careers have been harmed by management not taking such complaints seriously and saying that it was their problem, not the problem of their accuser.”
The change to its arbitration policy brings Google in line with other influential tech companies like Uber and Microsoft, which have altered their binding arbitration policies in the past couple of years in response to disturbing revelations about sexual harassment from women and, in particular, women of color.
At Uber, too, changes came only as a result of internal protest from employees like former engineer Susan Fowler, attempts to sue the company, and public scrutiny over the abhorrent behavior of Uber executives.
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On Thursday, thousands of Google employees walked out on their jobs to protest how the tech giant handles sexual harassment complaints. The organizers, Claire Stapleton, Tanuja Gupta, Meredith Whittaker, Celie O’Neil-Hart, Stephanie Parker, Erica Anderson, and Amr Gaber, made their demands known at The Cut.
Unlike the coal miners in the 1800s, every Google employee could find a new job and walk away. And there are literally millions of people who apply to work there every year and would happily take these jobs without Google conceding a single point. This puts Google in a much stronger position than these employees think. But, let’s go through the demands and talk about what would really happen in this situation.
1. An end to Forced Arbitration.
Forced arbitration is unpopular–and for good reason. Arbitration is decidedly pro-employer. Employees who do recover in arbitration receive substantially less money than those who win in court, at least according to one study. However, going to court is risky and can be terribly expensive for both sides. While you might win the jackpot if you win a court case, you also may face a company who is far more willing to fight in order to prevent that jackpot and to prevent others from deciding to sue as well.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of forced arbitration in Epic Systems Corp. v Lewis, so abandoning forced arbitration is unlikely to happen any time soon. The company has too much to lose and little to gain.
The demands that people be allowed a witness is common in unionized organizations, where employees are allowed a union rep. This may be something the employees can win on. However, the chances of Google being able to swiftly deal with a sexual harassment case decreases if an employee is allowed to bring her attorney to any meetings. A co-worker or employee representative is much more likely to be allowed.
2. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
Importantly, this is not about fairness in opportunity, even though they use the phrase “opportunity inequity” this is about fairness in the outcome. They want, specifically, “women of color at all levels of the organization.” Sounds lovely, but there simply aren’t as many women of color who want to do and are qualified for tech jobs as there are other people. When you demand women of color at every level, you’re seriously lowering the possibilities. This demand, if met, would require promotions and hiring based on skin color and gender rather than merit. Not something a smart company wants to do. It’s also illegal under federal law.
They also demand data on pay. As a supporter of transparency in pay, I can get behind this. But, I also give a caution–the employees may not like it when they see it. Once that data goes public within the company, it’s likely someone will leak it to the internet. Google employees will lose public support when it’s clear that the people whining about unfair pay are earning more than most people.
Internally, even with the data “masked” if you break it down far enough, employees will be able to figure out which line of data matches which co-worker. While I’m not opposed to that–it certainly keeps managers honest at raise time–Google employees should make sure that is what they want.
All the additional information, such as information on leaves of absences puts you into dicey privacy issues. While the organizers are probably thinking along the lines of seeing how having a baby impacts one’s career, people take leaves of absence for many other medical and personal reasons. Google would be wise to keep limits that could possibly expose confidential medical issues.
3. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
This sounds great! After all, this walkout was prompted by the $ 90 million severance package paid out to Andy Rubin, after he was accused of sexual harassment. Google admitted Rubin wasn’t the only person to leave–48 other people have been fired for sexual misconduct over the past two years.
However, if you start to include names on this report, you’ll find people far less willing to simply take severance packages and walk away. Rubin claims he’s innocent. Naturally, given his status, his departure was never going to remain confidential. A junior-level person, though, may not be willing to walk away quietly without a fight. And that means accusers’ names will come out as well. They would be wise to think through unintended consequences.
If your goal is to punish and shame, transparent harassment reports are the way to go. If your goal is to get the harassers out of the company, confidentiality may be better.
4. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct.
This demand is something every company, big or small, should implement. It should be simple for any employee, intern, or contractor, to file a complaint. There’s no reason a technologically advanced company like Google shouldn’t have this up and running.
That said, a reporting tool is only as good as the people using it. And it’s critical that all reports are thoroughly investigated.
5. Promote the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and appoint an Employee Representative to the Board.
These are demands that sound good on paper, but aren’t really something that plays out. A Chief Diversity Officer doesn’t have an equivalent role to the Chief Marketing Officer or the Chief Financial Officer. Elevating the position doesn’t change that. It’s important to remember the goal of the business is to be profitable–not to be diverse. And, for what it’s worth, universities have found that pouring money into diversity officers don’t actually increase faculty diversity. What does work is encouraging minorities to enroll in Ph.D. programs.
Likewise, Google doesn’t create the tech ready workforce. The universities do. And the universities don’t create students ready to learn, the public schools do. If Google were interested in increasing minority representation they would put money into public schools.
In a company the size of Google, an employee representative won’t be the solution that they expect. A single person to represent the employees is something that signals virtue but doesn’t likely help anything.
Even if Google concedes to all these demands (which they won’t) the changes will be superficial.
Alphabet’s “moonshot” unit, X, has lost one of its hotshots. Per Axios and CNBC, director Rich DeVaul left the company yesterday without any exit package, following claims detailed in an extensive New York Times piece last week about rampant sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior at the company.
According to that report, DeVaul told a female engineer who was applying for a position at X that he and his wife were polyamorous. Then he invited her to the Burning Man festival, where he asked her to remove her shirt for a back rub. She agreed only to a neck rub, then discovered later that she didn’t get the job. DeVaul claims X had already decided not to hire her, and he didn’t know she was unaware of this when she came to the festival.
The star of that Times piece was Andy Rubin, Android’s creator, who left Google four years ago with a $ 90 million exit package after allegedly—he denies it—coercing an employee into performing oral sex on him. The company’s protection of Rubin went unreported until last week. There’s also a reference to Alphabet’s now-chief legal officer, David Drummond, who had a child with an employee working in the legal department; when he admitted to the relationship, which was discouraged under company rules, she was the one who got transferred out of the division.
To protest the events that have been revealed, more than 200 Google engineers are planning a “women’s walk” walkout tomorrow. “I feel like there’s a pattern of powerful men getting away with awful behavior towards women at Google‚ or if they don’t get away with it, they get a slap on the wrist, or they get sent away with a golden parachute, like Andy Rubin,” one employee told Buzzfeed.
Sensibly, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is not pushing back against the walkout, telling employees in an email that human resources would “make sure managers are aware of the activities planned for Thursday and that you have the support you need.”
“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” Pichai wrote. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society…and, yes, here at Google, too.”
As Pichai noted, Google needs to do more to ensure it takes “a much harder line on inappropriate behavior.” To be meaningful, this will surely have to be a cultural change that involves re-evaluating the consequences for executives who abuse their positions of power, no matter how valuable those individuals are to the company. And whatever the future brings, it’s unfortunate that it took press exposure to bring the company to this point.
A version of this story originally appeared in Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter. Subscribe here.
Look, we won’t waste your time here. There are more important things going on in the world. But if you use any of Google’s G Suite products, you’ll be glad you read this.
You know how every time you want to create a new Google doc or spreadsheet, you have to go into Google Drive, and then click New, and the click on what kind of file you need, and the whole time you’re just thinking about all the other, better things you could be doing with the six seconds it takes to click those clicks? Good news: You don’t have to do that anymore. Instead, just type in doc.new, or sheet.new, or slide.new, or form.new if you’re an edge case, or whatever. And behold! A new file will unfold before you.
It’s not just those! Variants also work, like sheets.new or spreadsheets.new. And yes, it’s a very small advance. But these days, even the little wins are worth celebrating.
There’s no real magic to this; Google’s just taking advantage of the “.new” top level domain registry, which it has operated since 2014 through its Charleston Road Registry subsidiary. (A TLD is the part of the URL that comes after the dot.) In its application at the time, the company said potential uses “may include but are not limited to applications such as media (tv show.new, author name.new) and marketing campaigns (cheerios.new, shampoo.new).”
“The .new gTLD will provide a new mechanism whereby businesses and individuals can differentiate their content by signifying that their offerings are ‘new,’” the application later continues. A little on the nose, but useful!
In one sense, using .new as a shortcut for G Suite files also serves as something of an advertisement; the company said in a very brief blog post that it plans to open up its fancy TLD to everyone next year. Which is to say, as useful as the Google Docs shortcut is, brace yourself for the shampoo ad sites to come.