Wednesday , August 23 2017

Visiting the Googleplex in Mountain View – 2017 edition


I’ve been pretty lucky in the last few years being able to head to the US to visit Google’s HQ in Mountain View. I’ve outlined my adventures here in the past, but the fun thing about Google is visiting some place new – so here’s the 2017 edition of the Googleplex.

The Googleplex is getting a little long in the tooth by Silicon Valley standards, built in 2009, the first building to go up was Building 41 followed by a bunch more…and I mean a bunch. Google sprawls across building all over Mountain View and beyond – this is the reason that Google has those wonderful Green, Yellow, Red and Blue coloured bikes everywhere.

Firstly though, for any Android fan, outside of Google you’ll first encounter the current Android dessert statue, conveniently located below the Google logo on the side of a building:

As you’re walking around the Googleplex, you’ll invariably find Googlers walking around, or sitting eating in the numerous cafes around the campus. You’ll even find them having meetings while walking and talking, though we’re pretty sure you won’t hear what Android O will be out in the open like that. An interesting tidbit about Googlers is that they’re encouraged to work at least one day a week completely from Mobile, a way to ensure they’re having the same pain points as you when working from mobile.

The main campus is of course accessible to the public but the buildings themselves are off limit unless you have a Googler with you. It can be an interesting experience finding bits and pieces of cool stuff throughout the buildings, but most of the items people want to see have been moved over to Landings Drive where you’ll find the Google Visitor Center Beta.

Landings Drive is where you will also find the Android Statue Garden – but we’ll get to that shortly. In the Visitors Centre you’ll find all the bits and pieces about Google. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s still cool to check out if you haven’t been in there. You’ll find examples of Chromebooks, all their mapping technology which includes a Google Earth demo with a joystick that let’s you fly around the world easily, and you’ll find out who Meng is and why he get’s the BEST selfies. There’s even an office up there where Googlers work. Check it out:

If you’re finished at the Visitors Centre you can go to the Lawn Statues – you know, the statues of the desserts that represent Android updates. They’re actually looking a little worse for wear, but they’re there. I recorded a Periscope Video of the Android Statue Garden which you can see here:

Of course if you want the pics, here’s the pics:

Around the campus there are other random Android statues and you can get up to them pretty closely. I put a couple in the last look at the Googleplex, like the Chrome Android – we’re still waiting for that Chrome Android OS but we’ll take Android Apps on Chrome OS if it’s all you got.

Now of course, once you’ve visited Google, you want a souvenir and what better place than the Google Retail Merchandise Store? The store itself is finally open to the public Monday to Friday, and on days that aren’t when Google I/O is on, it’s not nearly as busy as it is in the Periscope video I recorded:

Around Google, you’re inevitably going to run into a Google Self-Driving Car. With the inception of Alphabet, they’re now all run under the company Waymo – which has now branded the cars.

I’ve seen a fair few of them, but if you can’t find one on the streets, head to the Computer History Museum down the road from the Google Plex and you can have your photo take with one, in fact it’s actually a GIF from a camera mounted there you can email to yourself and don’t forget the gift shop at the Computer History Museum, it’s pretty epic in its own right.

After my now third visit to Mountain View, Google is still a heck of a fun place to visit. Work on their new HQ has apparently reached the breaking ground stage and I’m very much hoping to return to check out that building when it’s completed.

 

Daniel Tyson   Editor

Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it.

Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.

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