Jelly Bean
Sep 11th, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

Is Google Now Freaking You Out Yet?

I recently did something I’ve wanted to do for a while: Nexus up. I am now addicted to my new Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7, and it’s a completely different feel than previous versions of Android. The Nexus ecosystem still doesn’t feel as smooth and seamless as iOS, but it’s as close as it’s ever been. Google’s even baked some magic into Jelly Bean with Google Now.

Google... Now all up in my shit.

Google Now is difficult to describe other than it being a total creepster. That’s right, it’s totally obsessed with me all stage-5-clinger like. All up in my grill and shit.

See I’ve figured it out. Google, whose start date I’m not 100% sure of yet, has been collecting data on me for thousands of years. Moreover, they’ve probably been doing the same thing to you as well.

If you don’t believe me, be sure to check out this fabulously terse example from DuckDuckGo, the alternative search engine that competes with the big ol’ G itself.


Google Now Is Android’s “Magic Factor”

You know those Apple commercials that always promote their new product as magical? Those things work. They make me want to buy something Apple. Google Now is Android’s “magic factor” — that thing that will and does make Android devices the envy everyone who doesn’t have it.

Google Now is the physical manifestation of Google’s data collection on you. It’s the collective knowledge of things you’ve searched for, the places you go, your behavior and you.

Google knows where you've been, what you've been doing.

The scariest thing is the behavior tracking, which for the most part is pretty dead-on. Location tracking is sort of like agreeing to a privacy policy — you don’t really ever think about it. But to see your location data displayed in map form is a testament to how much your existence is measurable and trackable.

Google Now predicts the information that I need. So, if I’ve done a Google Search for something like Ikea, Google Now will find the closest store. Google Now knows when I get off work and already has my route home tracked and cross referenced with traffic data. In other words- it’s smart.

It’s still freaky. Google Now isn’t the end-all, be-all predictor of my actions, and it gets a lot of things wrong or only halfway correct. But it’s just the start. Google Now has already been described as more than an app but an entire platform.

Behind all Google Now's cuteness lies a hungry, scary data machine.

Google Now: Freaked Out Yet?

Let me make it clear that I will, in no way, discontinue my use of this app; it’s great, but does border on invasive and a little bit scary. The question is- are you freaked out? Do you worry late at night about privacy issues and whether Google has the best of intentions? Or are you basically taking the apathetic “Meh” policy that I’ve adopted?




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