Google services are everywhere -- but the company's lack of long-term commitment to products and APIs make it tough to know which ones to include in new apps.
At the Google I/O conference in San Francisco last week, the search giant revealed more plans to push its technologies into the lives of essentially all individuals. In this sense, Google's reach and capabilities put it far ahead of any other company in terms of the access it already has to personal information. A typical tech user who relies on a few selected services might well depend on the company for their email, phone, tablet OS, maps, browser, and of course, search. If privacy settings are not locked down, there is almost nothing of immediate importance that Google won't know about that user.
So much information has drawn scrutiny, especially from European authorities, who carefully monitor what Google collects and how it uses the data. As importantly, the EU provides its denizens with the ability to opt out of Google search results. In this sense, the appreciation that you and I are the product Google is selling to advertisers, is far more advanced in Europe than it is in the United States.
With so much information already at its disposal, what more could Google want? The I/O show, which is the company's annual confab for developers, focused on wearable computing. The giveaway was an Android-based watch that could be tethered via Bluetooth to an Android phone. Doing this turned out to be a lengthy exercise in yak-shaving with an end result that made users immediately aware of the dearth of practical apps. At present, you can use such a watch to receive phone calls, tell time, set alarms, and count your steps. Yeah, the net benefit over the phone that sits in your pocket for the whole setup to work is that it serves as a pedometer.
We're still in early days, of course, which is why Google was giving out the watches to begin with. But I suspect wearable computing needs a lot better killer apps to drive demand among users. If it catches on, though, Google will likely know even more intimate details of its users' lives.
Prior to joining Dr. Dobb's Journal, Andrew Binstock worked as a technology analyst, as well as a columnist for SD Times, a reviewer for InfoWorld, and the editor of UNIX Review. Before that, he was a senior manager at Price Waterhouse. He began his career in software ... View Full Bio
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