Does Google Deserve Any Trust?
August 07, 2012
Sometimes Google has a really hard time announcing new features. Not that all of the things they do just plainly suck like some projects they released the last few years. If Apple would release the exact same product most people would testify that they will, again, change the world, make it a better place and that everyone waited for this feature putting meaning back in life.
I am talking about Google Now. There is a Tech Crunch article titled "Google Now: There's a fine line between cool and creepy". The basic idea behind Google Now is easy to explain. Google tracks your searches, your locations and stuff you do and puts important informations or things they believe to be important for you on your screen. This is not a direct response to the article, even if it is a good introduction. It is more a general rant about the current situation and my experiences of the last few months.
Do we really fear that a computer knows what we are doing? Or do we fear that a company creates a profile about us and sells the informations to a third party? I think not the computers are the problem. But the fact that there is a profile and that other people can gather informations about us freaks us out.
I do not want to make a privacy debate out of this post. I understand everyone who wants privacy. I know that there are people who depend on privacy and anonymity. And I believe everyone should be able to decided how much informations are shared and with whom.
There is a computer. This little thing you use reading this, just in big. You are not judged. You do not have advantages or disadvantages because the computer knows what you are doing, if you would like to sleep with a unicorn or believe in PETA. Why freaking out? Because behind the computer are people. And those people proved that they are willing to ignore your right of privacy.
On WWDC 2012 Apple introduced iOS 6 with a navigation feature. They mentioned that they will collect anonymous user data to improve navigation. It was hardly ever mentioned.
Smartphones send anonymous user data to Apple and Google. You can turn this on in iOS. As far as I know you cannot always turn it off on Android. Please drop me a line if I am wrong, I do not have an Android device to check if it is still active by default. There was always a bit rage but after it was unveiled that Android is also doing it all the fanboys that thought they found the holy grail to flame Apple users became quiet. The "good" company betrayed them. They lost faith. They realized that Googles "don't be evil" slogan is just bullshit these days.
Apple was not always free from guilt. Most of the time people raged because they found something that was not great. And they enjoyed it. But every time there was a concern Apple explained it, showed that the concerns were not necessary or improved the situation so people are satisfied.
Why do most people believe Apple that they are trying to support customers while most people believe Google will screw them over? Because Apple has something called a business model most people understand? Because Google fucked up too many times in the past? Because we are just the cooler fanboys and fangirls?
I would not assume that Google is doing something evil or wrong when introducing new features or new products. This is neither healthy nor will it support development of new things in the long run. We should, of course, always take privacy into consideration, even if it is not important for ourselves. But we should not always judge new products or services from one company before we now the truth about it. No matter if Apple or Google.
Personally I do not like Google. They are, together with Facebook, on the lowest possible position on my "companies I trust" list. Yes, I am an Apple fanboy. But this does not matter. If a new product or service is released we should be neutral. No matter if we love or hate the company behind. It is not easy. It is not always possible to be sure. There is certainly some kind of fear that Google is spying or selling users. And they deserve any mistrust I can imagine. But this does not make the product bad or a bad idea. If we ignore new things because we do not like the company behind it we could miss some great ideas.