Google Now has been out for a while now and the verdict is, awesome. What the software does is simple; it learns from your search behavior and provides information without you having to ask for it like sports updates and flight schedules. That is not all however; Google Now offers location based information such as how long it should take for you to get home from your location or local restaurants. The question now becomes does this “mining” of our personal information cross a line? Is the service offered worth the privacy you’d give up?
Invasion of Privacy?
Google Now has so much to offer at the price of a little privacy, but how high is that cost really? To some, the idea of someone watching your searches and trying to guess what you need before you type anything is really creepy. However, at the moment the program doesn’t feel too invasive, but that may be due to some limitations of the service. It seems like Google has held back some of the features and advanced applications from users to avoid this very issue. From a mobile development standpoint, Google Now has the potential to be extremely beneficial.
What It Does
Google Now is meant to give you “just the right information at just the right time.” When you are at a bus stop, it gives you the bus schedule. When you are out of the country, Google Now tells you what time it is at home and offers the latest info on currency exchange rates. Google Now will learn the location of your “Home” pretty quickly (and ask you to confirm it) and will show you how long of a drive you have to get home no matter where you are.
Google Now uses your search data as well as location data and history to achieve this. Searching for a restaurant or location will result in a card displaying with the driving time to the locale. A simple search for Flight times to make sure your plane is on time will grant you a card displaying just that information as well.
These are a few of the current uses of the software, however when it is in full force it could be even more impressive.
Where Could This Go
The imaginations of mobile developers are running at full force with the possibilities of Google Now. Thinking about what more Google Now could do with even more of your data is not just creepy, it is awesome. With access to emails, messages, and more Google Now could anticipate events, plans, goals, and ideas. The fact is that we are slowing losing our privacy, but with Google Now you are the won benefiting from it rather than the other way around.
Toe On The Line
Google seems to be toeing the line at the moment. If Google started to dig through peoples individual emails they would freak out. Watching what Google can learn from nothing more than search and location history is fascinating, but many are going to be against the intrusion. As Google elects to expand Google Now’s limited 12 “cards” we will see if going will push too far.
What does this software mean for mobile development? Could be nothing, could be a lot. The fact is that offering these kinds of results can open a lot of doors and create many ideas. With the innovation from mobile developers in today’s world, I would be surprised to see nothing come from it.
What I Think
When I look at what Google Now does and what it can do, I, like many mobile developers, get excited. I see an amazing service that requires personal information to offer it rather than an invasion of my privacy. I would much rather see my personal information mined for my benefit rather than someone else’s. I feel that this technology is a step in the right direction; however it would be nice to limit the invasiveness of the program. We all like our privacy and keeping as much of it as we can is important.
Google Now is an awesome program that has much potential. Google already tracks search data on their browser, so all you are really giving up for it is location information. For many, Google is already taking too much. For others, privacy isn’t important. In the end, we are seeing some powerful innovation from Google and are getting a good view of the future.