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Direct your own movies in Toontastic 3D with our new Cars 3 and Fruit Ninja themes!

Direct your own movies in Toontastic 3D with our new Cars 3 and Fruit Ninja themes!

As parents, we watch our kids craft stories every day—remixing and reimagining the world around us in fantastic adventures that rival many Hollywood screenplays. The stories we tell them inspire their imaginations—while toys, crayons and sofa cushions become props for their performances.

In January, we released a playful storytelling app called Toontastic 3D for kids (and kids at heart) to draw, animate, narrate and record their own cartoons. Since then kids have created 2.5 million cartoons with 24,000 hours of content. That’s nearly three years worth of swashbuckling adventures, intergalactic explorations, inquisitive science reports and inventive design pitches.

Toontastic works a lot like a digital puppet theater—you simply choose a setting, cast your characters, and play! As you move your character on screen, the app records your animations and your voice as a cartoon video. The built-in characters and settings make creating your cartoon really easy, but like dolls and action figures, they also empower kids to tell great stories.

Today, we’re adding new characters and settings to Toontastic that are sure to spark the creativity of kids around the world. Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s new movie “Cars 3” releasing this week, kids can now create their very own cartoons with Lightning McQueen and Mater as well as new characters Jackson Storm, Cruz Ramirez and Miss Fritter. Two playsets from the film are included—the Florida 500 raceway and the Thunder Hollow demolition derby. Kids can also get an inside look into how animated movies are made with a “behind the scenes” tour of Pixar Animation Studios in the app. “Cars 3” characters and playsets can be added to cartoons until September 30.

Toontastic-cars

With the Fruit Ninja theme, kids can slice their way through new adventures based on the YouTube Red Originals Series Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force from Halfbrick Studios. Taking inspiration from the Frenzy Force series inside Toontastic’s Idea Lab, kids can go on to create their own episodes with the heroes Peng, Seb, Niya and Ralph to battle the Clean Bee.

Toontastic-fruitninja

To create your own Cars 3 inspired cartoons and Fruit Ninja adventures, download the updated release of Toontastic 3D today for Android, iOS, and select Chromebooks. Now start your engines.. er… stories in 3-2-1!

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Families

“Be Internet Awesome”: Helping kids make smart decisions online

As a parent, I’m constantly talking with my two daughters about how they use the Internet. The way they use it to explore, create and learn inspires me to do my best work at Google, where I lead a team making products that help families and kids have positive experiences online. But for kids to really make the most of the web, we need more than just helpful products: We need to provide guidance as they learn to make their own smart decisions online.

This is one of the most significant issues that we all face as a new generation grows up with the Internet at their fingertips. It’s critical that the most influential people in our kids’ lives—parents and teachers, especially—help kids learn how to be smart, positive and kind online, just like we teach them to be offline. It’s something we all need to reinforce together.

With school out and summer break giving kids more time to spend on the Internet, it’s a great time to introduce Be Internet Awesome: a new way to encourage digital safety and citizenship.

Developed in collaboration with online safety experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely, Be Internet Awesome focuses on five key lessons to help kids navigate the online world with confidence:

  • Be Internet Smart: Share with care
  • Be Internet Alert: Don’t fall for fake
  • Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
  • Be Internet Kind: It’s cool to be kind
  • Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out

The program includes a range of specific resources for kids, educators and parents, so everyone has the tools they need to learn and participate in the conversation.

For kids

To help kids learn these lessons in a way that’s fun and immersive, we created an interactive, online game called Interland. It’s free and web-based so it’s easily accessible by everyone, and most importantly, it’s in a format kids already love. In this imaginary world of four lands, kids combat hackers, phishers, oversharers and bullies, practicing the skills they need to be good digital citizens.

For educators

We partnered with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and educators across the country to create a classroom curriculum that brings the five principles of being Internet Awesome to life, at school. To practice being Internet Alert, for example, students can work together to identify whether websites and emails contain signs of a phishing attempt. The lesson plans, activities and worksheets align with the International Society for Technology in Education’s Standards for Students, which educators look toward to define skills for safe and positive action online.

“Building these skills in our students will require ongoing attention as new technologies pose challenges and opportunities for students both at home and at school,”  says Carolyn Sykora, Senior Director of Standards at ISTE. “Be Internet Awesome provides materials educators and parents can use to help students learn about online safety in a fun and engaging way.”

After reviewing the game and curriculum, ISTE has awarded Be Internet Awesome its Seal of Alignment for Readiness. Educators can find the curriculum on the Be Internet Awesome resource hub, or as part of a new online course in the Google for Education Training Center.

For parents and guardians

Without some guidance, having a meaningful conversation about digital safety and respect at home can be really hard. These are sensitive topics and parents may not know where to start. To help make starting the conversation easier, we teamed up with a group of YouTube creators, including John Green, the What’s Inside? Family and MinutePhysics, to launch the #BeInternetAwesome Challenge, a video series that makes talking about online safety fun and accessible. Families can reinforce important lessons at home by signing the Be Internet Awesome Pledge to stay smart, alert, strong, kind and brave online.

My team and I will continue Google’s work to make the Internet a safer, more positive place for kids, and this is an exciting new chapter in our ongoing efforts. Ready, set, Be Internet Awesome! g.co/BeInternetAwesome

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Families, Safety & Security

Google Home and Wifi arrive in the UK

The time we spend at home with our family and friends is special. What if technology could help us make the most of those moments?

Google Home is a hands-free smart speaker powered by the Google Assistant that does just that. Whether you want to get answers from Google, turn up the music, sort out some everyday tasks or control compatible smart devices in your home, all you have to do is say “Ok Google.”

And now, Google Home is coming to the UK.

Get answers from the Google Assistant

Ask Google Home a question, and it will give you the answer by tapping into the power of Google—Search, Maps, Translate and more. A combination of our natural language processing, machine learning and voice recognition expertise allow users to interact naturally with the Assistant on Google Home.

It can also help you with translations and calculations, or deliver a news briefing from publications such as the BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Sun, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Sky News, Sky Sports and others. 

Using the Google Assistant, Google Home can answer questions about your interests, the weather, traffic, sports, finance, local businesses and more. You could ask “Where is the nearest petrol station?” and then follow up with,“When does it close?” The Assistant can also have fun—it can tell you jokes, play trivia or make animal sounds. 

Enjoy your music

Google Home helps you listen to your favorite things, whether you’re in the mood to listen to a podcast or dance around the living room with your little ones. With a simple voice command, you can play songs, playlists, artists and albums from Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn, live radio from the BBC and more.*

If you have multiple Google Home devices, Chromecast Audio or Chromecast-enabled speakers, you can blast the same tune around the house or group them by room with the multi-room feature.

Your everyday tasks and your connected home

There’s never a shortage of things to do in the home, and sometimes it’d be good to have a bit of help with them. Google Home is there for those times—like setting alarms, starting timers, or adding items to your shopping list—and, if you choose, it can even tell you about your schedule.  

Plus, if you have smart devices in your home, you can control your lights and switches from brands including Nest, Philips or Samsung SmartThings. If you have a Chromecast, you can also use voice commands to play Netflix and YouTube on your TV or binge watch your favorite show.** Simply say, “Ok Google, Play ‘The Crown.’”

Your home, your rules

With your permission, Google Home can assist you in planning your day, based on information like your calendar entries or flight information from your Google account. But if you’d rather keep things to yourself, you can turn off personal results any time in the Google Home app with a single swipe.

We know the UK has been patiently waiting for Google Home to arrive and we’ve been working with our favorite partners to give you the best possible experience. We’ll partner with more of your favorite apps and services to help you do more with Google Home over time. And of course, we’ve hidden a few British treats for you to discover. Just try asking Google Home about its hobbies or favorite foods.

Google Home will be available in stores on April 6th for £129 from the Google Store and is also available from Argos, Dixons, John Lewis and Maplin and coming soon to EE. Colored bases will be available for £18 for fabric and £36 for metal on the Google store helping you customise to fit your home

That’s not all…

Introducing Google Wifi

We all know how frustrating it can be when wireless connectivity fails at home, especially if you’re streaming your favorite TV show. Today we’re also introducing Google Wifi to the UK. Google Wifi is a home Wi-Fi solution that works with your modem and internet provider to bring you reliable coverage.

Traditionally Wi-Fi routers haven’t always been built to support the increasing number of devices we use or high bandwidth activities like gaming or watching videos. Google Wifi is a connected system that replaces your current router to bring smarts, security and simplicity to home Wi-Fi to give you consistently strong coverage in your home.

Google Wifi uses a technology called mesh Wi-Fi (something usually only seen in expensive commercial installations). Within our mesh network, each Google Wifi point creates a high-powered connection, and the different Wifi points work together to determine the best path for your data. The result is Wi-Fi coverage even in hard-to reach areas, not just right next to the router.***

To make sure you’re always in control, Google Wifi comes with an app that lets you do things like pause Wi-Fi on kids’ devices (when it’s time to come to the dinner table) and is built to help keep your data safe and secure.

Google Wifi will be available online on April 6th for £129 in a 1-pack and £229 in a 2-pack from the Google Store. It is also available from Dixons, Argos, Maplin and John Lewis and coming soon to Amazon.

Find out more about Google Home and Google Wifi here.


*Google Home is optimised for selected music services only. Subscriptions/payments may be required.
**Netflix subscription may be required.
****Home materials and layout can affect how Wi-Fi signals travel. Homes with thicker walls or long, narrow layouts may need extra Wifi points for additional coverage.

Google Home requires a Wi-Fi network, a nearby electrical outlet, and a compatible (Android, iOS) mobile device. Minimum OS requirements are available at g.co/home/req. Google Wifi requires broadband Internet. Strength and speed of signal will depend on your Internet provider. Each Wifi point requires a nearby electrical outlet. The app requires a mobile device with Android 4 and up or iOS 8 and up.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Families, Google Assistant, Google Home, Google in Europe, Google Wifi, Made by Google
Introducing the Family Link app: Helping families navigate technology together

Introducing the Family Link app: Helping families navigate technology together

The devices we carry every day open up a world of information for us to explore, sparking our curiosity and creativity. But when it comes to our kids using those same devices, it’s tricky. We want them to explore and be inspired as they embark on their digital adventure, but every family feels differently about what their kids should and shouldn’t be able to do on their device. That’s why we developed the Family Link app. When your child is ready for their first Android device, Family Link lets you create a Google Account for them, which is like your own account, and also helps you set certain digital ground rules that work for your family – like managing the apps your kid can use, keeping an eye on screen time, and setting a bedtime on your kid’s device.
Here’s how it works: First, your kid will need a new device that runs Android Nougat (7.0) or higher. Then, download Family Link onto your device and create a Google Account for them through the app. Finally, sign them into their new device, and you can then use Family Link to:
Manage the apps your kid can useApprove or block the apps your kid wants to download from the Google Play Store.

Keep an eye on screen timeSee how much time your kid spends on their favorite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device.

Set device bedtimeRemotely lock your kid’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.

Starting today, parents across the U.S. can request an invite to the Family Link early access program. After receiving an invite, parents with kids under 13 years old can download and try the Family Link app. We’re just getting started, and we’ll be asking parents using Family Link for feedback about how to improve the experience before we make the app broadly available.
While Family Link can help you set certain ground rules around how your child uses their device, it can’t make the apps or services on their phone that were designed for adults kid-safe; it’s up to parents to choose what’s right for their kid. When you make the decision to give your child their own device, Family Link can serve as a tool that keeps you in the loop as they begin to explore.
To learn more about the Family Link early access program and request an invitation, visit our Family Link website.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Families