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Pixel 3a helped me see my vacation through a new Lens

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me on every birthday she wanted me to have a big goal in life: Travel to as many countries as my years on Earth. And though I'm far from that ambitious target, my mom did instill a major travel bug in me. 

Settling in at the Casa Oaxaca hotel. 


But no matter where I travel, I struggle with the same issues many people face: pricey phone bills, subpar photos, a language barrier and, well, getting extremely lost.

So when I traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico last month, I sought out ways to combat these typical tourist problems. And thanks to my Pixel 3a, I was able to make real progress for the next time I visit more countries on my bucket list. Here’s how I did it. 

Navigating on Maps without pricey data fees

Even when I’m traveling, I like to be able to use my phone the same way I would at home. (Meaning, a lot.) For this trip, I decided to set my phone up with Google Fi so I could have unlimited international usage and great coverage. At the end of my trip, my phone bill netted out to be a fraction of my typical charge when I travel internationally.

Thanks to my cheaper data plan, I was also able to navigate with help from Maps. I’d never admit it myself, but some people might say I’m bad at directions. (Okay, a lot of people might say that.) In any case, I really leaned into using Live View in Google Maps, a tool that literally has a big blue arrow staring at me on my screen, pointing me exactly in the direction I should go. Even when in rural areas, outside of cell service, I was grateful to be able to use Google Maps in offline mode—like when I visited the Monte Alban ruins.

Taking in the beauty of Monte Alban with friends.

When ordering a juice from a mercado stand, I was able to use Translate in Lens to decipher many of the blends, opting for a juice that promised benefits for my skin. 

A new way to break down the language barrier 

I’m ashamed to say my Spanish isn’t great, so I put the Pixel 3a to the test. Could it magically help me speak a new language? 

Within the camera app, there’s a nifty feature in Google Lens that allows you to hover over text in another language for real-time translations. This came in handy in bustling markets, local restaurants and juice stands that only had menus in Spanish. Even if you don’t have a Pixel phone, you can download the Google Lens app on other Android or iOS devices to try it out yourself.  

The Google Assistant also came in handy when I needed language help. It was easy to ask the Assistant questions like, “Hey Google, how do you say ‘where is the bathroom’ in Spanish?” and get help converting costs from pesos to dollars.

Taking my vacation photos to the next level

In a city as beautiful as Oaxaca, I knew I’d be leaning heavily on the camera quality of the Pixel 3a. I snapped photos throughout a cooking demo making tortillas from scratch, and used features like portrait mode and Night Sight to make the most out of my vacation pics. Here are just a few highlights: 

My Pixel 3a was the ultimate tour guide

I know, I know, it’s just a phone, but I have to say I feel indebted to my Pixel 3a for showing me such a special time in Oaxaca. I think I’ll take it to my next dream travel destination: Japan. 


Accelerating Europe’s clean energy transition

Europe has long been a leader in renewable energy. Last year, policymakers passed an ambitious set of reforms to take things to the next level, setting a new goal of meeting 32 percent of Europe’s energy needs from renewables by 2030. Google fully supports this ambitious target, and is committed to helping the continent reach its energy and climate goals. One way we can do so is to share successful strategies that we have used to purchase renewable energy for our own operations in Europe. 

The European Commission has published a new case study on Google’s renewable energy purchasing. It describes the motivations, principles and methods behind our purchasing in Europe, where we have signed 14 power purchase agreements (PPAs) to purchase electricity from 900 megawatts of wind and solar projects, enabling €1.2 billion in investment across the continent.

As the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world and the second largest in Europe, we believe corporate PPAs can play a significant role in helping Europe reach its clean energy goals. As the study shows, renewables not only are an important part of solving for climate change, but also make business sense. In an increasing number of geographic areas, renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy available. Competitive and stable renewable energy prices allow us to reduce our costs and hedge against price increases in the future, which helps us plan the growth of our business.

The case study also provides policy recommendations to encourage more corporate renewable energy purchasing. They include revising policies to drive down the cost of renewables, ensuring that corporate renewable energy buyers receive certification (known as “Guarantees of Origin”) for the electricity that they procure and encouraging cross-border PPAs so that competitive renewable electricity produced in one country can be easily purchased in another.  

Google’s work with the European Commission builds on our broader commitment to helping all companies secure a clear and easy path to purchase renewable energy. Last year, we helped launch the RE-Source Platform, a broad coalition of companies and NGOs working to accelerate corporate purchasing of renewables in Europe. 

This year is an important one for renewables in Europe, as member state governments create national plans to accelerate their energy transition over the next decade. We’re grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the European Commission to help expand corporate renewable energy sourcing. We hope this case study can help policymakers recognize the important contribution of corporate PPAs to their climate and energy goals, and encourage more companies to explore how cost-effective renewable energy can meet their business needs.


Maintaining the integrity of our platforms

Protecting our users and the integrity of our platforms is essential to Google’s mission. My team works with others across Google to detect phishing and hacking attempts, identify influence operations and protect users from digital attacks.

When identifying and preventing threats, we exchange information with industry partners and law enforcement, and also apply our own internal investigative tools as well as intelligence from third parties.

Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.

We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.

Separately, we are continuing our work to protect users against online security threats. This week, Google announced that we have taken action to protect users in Kazakhstan after credible reports that its citizens were required to download and install a government-issued certificate on all devices and in every browser. This certificate enabled the government to decrypt and read anything a user types or posts, including intercepting their account information and passwords.

These actions are part of our continuing efforts to protect the integrity of our platforms and the security and privacy of our users. Each month, our Threat Analysis Group sends more than 4,000 warnings to our users about attempts by government-backed attackers or other illicit actors to infiltrate their accounts. This is the warning we send if we detect such an attempt:

In addition to identifying and detecting the source of threats, we also integrate the most advanced security measures into all of our products so that users are protected automatically. To that end, this month we announced an expansion of the Advanced Protection Program to Chrome to provide extra security for that program’s users when they’re downloading files online. We also just introduced that program as a beta for enterprise customers. Our ​improving ​technology has also enabled ​us to ​significantly ​decrease ​the ​volume ​of ​phishing ​email, and we've rolled out significant protections in Gmail that detect and block over 99.8 percent of attachment malware.

Our teams will continue to identify bad actors, terminate their accounts, and share relevant information with law enforcement and others in the industry.


The mobile challenge, and how to measure it

Does your mobile website have a lower conversion rate than your desktop version? As some people are spending up to 70% of their time on mobile, imagine how much additional revenue you could gain if the conversion rate levels were the same. 

A recent report showed that mobile conversion rates are 47 percent of the levels achieved on desktop. As more and more of your customers are using mobile devices, you need to ensure your mobile conversion rate is keeping up, and maintain your revenue.


One way you can monitor your mobile website performance is by reviewing your Relative Mobile Conversion Rate (Rel mCvR), which is calculated by dividing the mobile conversion rate with the desktop conversion rate.

The high traffic share for mobile, with lower conversion rates, will show your stakeholders that there is a gap the company will need to bridge by improving the mobile site.


Mobile and desktop conversion rates are influenced by two main parameters. The first is traffic influencers—this can be things like channel mix, marketing campaign, seasonality. The second is the performance of the website, for example UX and site speed. Any of these can cause your mobile or desktop conversion rate to go up or down.


The benefit of using Rel mCvR to evaluate your mobile performance is that traffic influencers tend to not impact the metric. Why? Because the same campaigns and seasonalities will reach both mobile and desktop versions of your website, a good marketing campaign will make both the mobile and desktop conversion rate go up but leave Rel mCvR stable. When you evaluate the metric over time, it will show us if we have improved our mobile website.


Things to keep in mind when evaluating Rel mCvR: 

  • Always keep an eye on your desktop conversion rate. If Rel mCvR has an abnormal peak, check if it’s due to the desktop having a technical problem that made the desktop conversion rate decrease. 

  • Track your Rel mCvR weekly. Because the metric is based on your entire website’s performance, driving improvement will take time. Reviewing your data daily can be too volatile, look for the large movements over time instead.

  • Be mindful of that companies with physical stores may never reach 100 percent in Rel mCvR, as mobile is often used for doing research before or while visiting a store. 70 percent is a good target to start with.

How to improve your mobile site and Rel mCvR


A better user experience on your mobile site leads to increased revenue and better Rel mCvR. To get there, I recommend you start A/B testing on your mobile site to improve your mobile conversion rate. It’s through A/B tests that you become guided by your customers and provide what they need. 


Start with these three steps: 

  1. Review the process of conversion optimization in the Optimize Resource Hub. 

  2. Get inspired by what other companies have done.

  3. Set up your first test–for free–in Google Optimize


When you’re focused on improving your mobile site with conversion optimization and A/B tests—your Rel mCvR will start to show your progress.


The Assistant turns your Smart Clock into a digital photo frame

The Lenovo Smart Clock comes with the Google Assistant, so it can help you better manage your morning and evening routines. When you’re not using your Lenovo Smart Clock, the screen can now turn into a digital photo album, displaying pictures from your Google Photos account or featured photos provided by Google. 

But that’s not all. There’s now an optional setting for Continued Conversation that lets you have a natural back-and-forth conversation with the Assistant (starting in English). After you initially trigger the Assistant with a request, the Assistant will stay active for long enough to respond to follow up questions so you don't have to say “Hey Google” as often. The Lenovo Smart Clock also works with most cameras that work with the Assistant, so you can always see on the device who is outside your front door when your hands are full. 

You’ll be getting all of these new features as part of an automatic software update rolling out this week. The Lenovo Smart Clock is now available for sale in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Australia, and Japan, and will be coming soon to India and other countries.



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