Google Now: Do You Want Google Using Your Information In This Way?

    July 6, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google is looking to change the future of search by making it less relevant. It’s a pretty bold move, considering that search is Google’s bread and butter. With Google Now, Google wants to give you the information you need before you even have to search for it. Some find the new feature, announced last week at Google I/O, fascinating, and potentially very helpful, while others are a little creeped out by it, and have concerns about the privacy implications. Others simply aren’t keen on the idea of Google making their decisions for them in this manner.

Do you want Google to use your data to personalize your Google experience even further that it already is? Tell us what you think about Google Now.

“Google Now gets you just the right information at just the right time,” Google says, explaining the new feature of Android, included as part of the operating system’s latest version, Jellybean. “It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.”

That pretty much sums it up, but it seems clear that this is really just the beginning of something very big. It may only be offered for this one version of Android right now (though, apparently there are some work-arounds for that). That leaves out a whole lot of Google users, but there’s no way Google will not expand this. We can only speculate at this time, but I can see Google expanding this to the Web, Google TV, and even iOS devices via an app, should Apple allow it. It seems like too big a deal for Google not to get it in front of as many users as possible. Perhaps we’ll see it make its way to older versions of Android, but eventually more and more users will catch up to Jellybean, and future versions of Android anyway. It just may take a little while for that to happen.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s Google promo for Google Now:

Promo videos from Google aren’t always necessarily indicative of the actual product, as we’ve seen from Project Glass (granted, Google was clear about that not being a finished product). The Google Now vid looks to be a pretty accurate reflection of how it works though. Steve Kovach at Business Insider says Google Now puts Apple’s Siri to shame, citing some real life examples of where Google Now is living up to its promises.

“I was in San Francisco last week to cover Google I/O and meet with some other companies in the area,” he writes, for one. “I had a meeting in Mountain View on Friday morning. Google Now sent me a notification about 45 minutes before my meeting that said I should leave if I wanted to make it on time. It even took traffic into account. Incredible.”

“I’m a Mets fan (unfortunately), so a lot of my sports-related Google searches are for the score of the latest game,” he says. “Google knows this, so Google Now automatically sends me notifications with the latest score. I don’t even have to ask anymore.”

“I took the red eye back to New York Friday night, and spent the hours before my flight drinking with some PR friends in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. Based on my search history, Google Now already knew my flight number and kept me updated with gate information and potential delays,” he adds.

Here’s a side by side look at Android’s new voice search capabilities vs. Apple’s Siri.

SlashGear shares a hands-on with Google Now:

The company has been talking about this concept of getting users the info they need before they even know it, for years. That’s truly speeding up the search process, another concept Google has been pushing for years (and one in which Google has accomplished quite a bit with its Chrome browser).

Google Now has 10 “cards” at launch, but Google says there will be more to come. My guess is that there will be many, many more.

Here are the cards it’s starting with (along with the data they access):

1. Traffic (Shown based on current location, location history and Web History)

2. Public Transit (Only shown if location services enabled)

3. Next Appointment (Shown based on synced calendars and current location)

4. Flights (Only shown if location services and Web History enabled)

5. Sports (Shown based on Web History)

6. Places (Only shown if location services enabled)

7. Weather (Only shown if location services enabled)

8. Translation (Only shown if location services enabled)

9. Currency (Only shown if location services enabled)

10. Time At Home (Only shown if location services enabled)

These cards (and any others that might come later) will mean users don’t have to search for quite as many things. If this works like it is supposed to, users will simply become less dependent on search (and perhaps more dependent on notifications). That appears to be fine with Google, as long as Google is still in the driver’s seat.

The fact is that this decreased dependence on search is happening anyway – with or without Google’s help. People are finding more ways to consume information that are sometimes more convenient, or simply more fun, particularly through mobile apps. Google is finding ways to combat this too. One example would be another new Android feature, which lets users find out what songs are playing, using a sound search app, rather than having to enter a text query into Google search (or, of course, use the popular app Shazam).

Here’s that in action:

About Those Privacy Concerns

As you can see from the list above, Google Now card features deliver info based on your current location, location history, web history, and calendar. You may recall earlier this year, when Google consolidated its privacy policies, and essentially made it so the company could easily pass user data from one Google product to the next, as if each product is merely a feature of the one large Google product. That is, by the way, the way Google seems to be approaching things in general (Google+, for example, isn’t just a standalone product, but the “social spine” of the larger Google, according to the company).

That privacy policy redux enables Google to tap into any Google products you might be using, and use what you’ve done there to change how you interact with other Google products. It also, as we can see from Google Now, enables the company to create all new products to make your overall Google experience much more personalized (and possibly better).

But, as you might imagine, this all gives some people an icky feeling.

“Google’s all-knowing Siri-esque personal assistant has confirmed some suspicions, veering from cool feature into creepy stalker territory,” writes Rebecca Greenfield for The Atlantic, for example.

Greenfield pulls another quote from The New York Times’ Jenna Wortham, who says, “It gets weird when Google starts to extend its reach into that territory, because Google already knows so much about us — things like who we e-mail and talk to the most, along with what we search for. When those smaller bits of data begin to get linked together in a more meaningful way, that knowledge can take on a larger, different context.”

Well, I’m going to have to pull a page from the whole early 2012 discussion about the privacy policy. You’re already letting Google have this data. Why not let Google use it in more meaningful ways that can make your life easier?

It’s very likely that Google Now will expand greatly in the coming months and years, and that may not only mean more “cards,” but potentially use of more data from more Google products you use. Do you have a problem with this? Let us know in the comments.

  • Lorin

    If Google has the potential to oogle us in such detail, what is to prevent someone accidentially or intentionally (or governmentally) from misusing that information? Security is not perfect, and I don’t trust Google or ANYONE with that much information. We have seen how court cases can be swung not by truth, but how the truth is woven and spun. This is not good.

  • Kevin

    I also don’t trust Google or any other company with this level of control. I don’t even like the current amount of information companies have and think is there information. I have no problem with searching for information, I don’t want someone makign the decisions for me.

  • http://google.ca Robert

    WITH THESE 2 STATEMENTS : “That appears to be fine with Google, as long as Google is still in the driver’s seat” & “Why not let Google use it in more meaningful ways that can make your life easier?” …

    With “ways that can make your life easier” dumb just got dumber all over again.

    The Old Animal’s tune… “We got to get out of this place”, comes to mind…

  • Jeff Fisher

    I don’t use Google anymore. Now no guns or related items and bubbling and tracking. Who needs them. Also not helping the little stores on Google shopping is showing they got away from what they were.

    DuckDuckGO.com very great search engine. Much better than google.

  • http://upsyourmileage.com tinman

    NO! NO! NO! …………………………………………No!

  • http://www.pro-ops-pdx.com Mike C

    Google puts itself in position to decide what you find on the internet! That removes the freedom of information we’ve came to expect from Google and have been loosing (and missing) for several years now. Google has been my main-stay. Now? I’m looking elsewhere. blekko, and others are not so bent on controlling everything. Anyone watching would have guessed this was coming because – Google’s aim has always been to make us dependent on them. Well, now it’s time to pay the piper. It’s that simple.

  • http://www.sarajchambers.com Sara Chambers

    No, I do NOT want Google to anticipate what I want before I ask!! I already receive way too much junk as a result of someone’s inferring what I want to know from places like Amazon and various other news links. This has the potential to wreak havoc with my inbox and with my use of the computer to research topics of passing interest.

  • http://streemit.net Dan M

    Google already keeps too much information on me and my surfing history. They need to stop being so damned nosy, or at least give us a way to opt out.

  • Joseph O’Brien

    I have no problem with early notice of things that might be important to me.

    I do not want results of inquiries made by me to be tailored to my assumed preferences. My results should be the same as anybody else’s.

  • http://www.ever-so-sexy.com Jenny P

    I most certainly don’t want Google serving results it “thinks” I want. Is this Google megalomania or what? As far as leaving relevancy behind…. from the changes Google has made in 2012 they are already there with non relevance…. the search results are really poor nowadays.

  • http://booksandhealth.com kc

    I’m tired of Google…I think they need to be reigned in. I recently heard someone associated with the organization make a statement that Google will dominate and do what they want until someone says enough is enough…well? destroying small businesses while helping only their own interests through the big business that they either have financial ownership or ties via big dollars through adds etc needs to be stopped.
    No unbiased searches anymore…all is tilted to help only Google. When are all of us small business owners going to stand together and say enough is enough!

    • http://www.wine-fi.com/ Robert

      I’ll stand with you kc !

  • Felix Puttycut

    This is beyond creepy. They already do this in the paid search where broad match searches are likely to pull just about any user looking for any thing. If you ask their search specialists [Googlers] to explain why your ad under apples drew a response for a person searching for concrete they will tell you that it’s all done by computers. They will never admit that it is wrong. Ever. Presumably the man searching for concrete once ate an apple and therefore there is relevance. Do No Evil
    should really be changed. Any ideas Mr. Schmidt?

    • http://www.eugenehybridtaxis.com David

      They changed their slogan a couple of years ago.

  • David

    So they are stealing info from websites-sport scores, news, and whatever else, to show themselves. Stopping people from visiting the websites this info came from and preventing that website from profiting from its users. Great for consumers, awful for business. So I search for a chicken soup recipe and Google gives me one instead of a website with lots of different recipes that also sells spices or cookware that I may have purchased but now don’t even know about. Thanks G.

  • http://www.eugenehybridtaxis.com David

    I’m now reminded of the movie “Idiocracy”. I’m afraid that’s where we are selling headed.

    • http://www.eugenehybridtaxis.com David

      I really hate predictive text. Should have read “I’m afraid that’s where we are headed”.

  • Linda

    DuckDuckGo does NOT record your IP address either. Same with StartPage, both of which I prefer over the nosy Google.

  • AnonyMouse

    Google is coming off as a bunch of moral degenerates, but then flagrantly violates privacy and steals cash through pay per click schemes. Time for Google to Go Away.

  • Howard

    I am not in favor of this idea. We already get a lot of targeted mail that is personalized using names of familiar friends and businesses.
    I believe it should be more anonymous.

  • sj

    It’s really time Google bit the dust – sick of their controlling, intrusive ways and lousy search results. I’m using duck duck go and am perfectly happy with not having my privacy invaded. It is so time Google was brought down. We need an “Occupy Google” movement!

  • A. Breton

    This is another ploy to rid us of our privacy. I would like nothing better than not to be profiled ever! Keep our tastes and likes and habits etc. out of the hands of the ever growing power of google.

  • Not A Number

    Google are essentially taking, for free, a product created by the public and selling it for profit. I think I would like to see Google step into line with most other legitimate consumers and pay a fair financial compensation for the product that is our personal information.

  • David

    I will soon be discontinuing ANY use or contact with Google. The gun issue, privacy concerns, all are very troubling and disconcerting to me. I stopped using them for search already. I really only use Google Earth for scouting my hunting areas. I’ll find my mapping source elsewhere. Perhaps Google will run themselves right out of business.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    When is Google rolling out it’s own version of “Joe Camel”, “Cap’n Crunch”? I can’t wait for “The Goo-Goo Doll”? … or maybe a symbol, “The Search-lite”
    … better yet “The Pusher-Man”.

  • http://www.websupportguy.com Tony

    Google thinks sharing is a one way street. It acts like a selfish two-year-old, wanting to play with everything you have, bit very reluctant to share what it has with you.

    Google’s thinks its decision to not share search keyword data via Google Analytics and GWT for logged in users is protecting user privacy, but what it’s really doing is inhibiting websites from delivering the content you actually want. Apparently “know-all” Google is the only one allowed to do that.

    I spend most of my time analysing keyword data and landing page information and tweaking page content to make sure that users arriving from Google or any other search engine, using a search term, actually arrive at a page that’s going to meet their needs. But the amount of search term data I can access is shrinking every day. Soon I expect there will be almost none.

    But Google still expects me to share my location, device information, etc? No way.

  • http://nichemarketingsite.wordpress.com Gichuki

    Why does Google think that it has to make decisions for everybody surfing the net? Imagine taking the time to collate all the information to your website so that your site visitors can find you easily only for Google to deliver it to a user who only intends to do a search?
    I am also afraid that Google may also come to know that I like spending very little online.

  • Auda

    I do not wish for my information to be used in any way……..!

  • http://incomefromhometips.org bj @ Income From Home

    Not only is it intrusive, but it’s shrinking our world. Do I really want ads for Pizza Hut showing when my intention is to find a great authentic Italian mom and pop pizza joint? This is where it’s all headed.

  • http://xoteria.tv Louis Ferriol

    Great-grandma used to use the expression “getting too big for your britches.” It’s how she wood describe Google’s behavior in the last few years. Google search will lose the familiarity which people depend on. Bing is lost in an identity crisis. Ask is a search what? Yahoo may move to the top spot, it is still Yahoo, even if it does take hints from Google.

  • Bill

    Absolutely not. Contrary to Google’s belief I actually have a brain and can use it. Seriously though, I admit I get really frustrated with the amount of completely irrelevant information that pops when doing a search. Yet, for them to adjust my search results based on my previous search pattern I find very intrusive and dangerous, actually. What if my previous searches indicate I’m a Democrat, and I’m searching for information about a pertinent political issue in order to decide who to vote for. I might miss a very relevant piece of information posted by a Republican, because Google has decided that all I want to read is information written by Democrats, causing me to vote erroneously. That’s a very dangerous line they’re walking.

  • http://www.TruthJournal.co Thomas

    I absolutely do NOT like the idea of Google, Yahoo or anyone else making decisions for me regarding what I want to find, how I want to market, etc. I see such efforts as wasting and killing more of my time than it being of real useful benefit.

  • http://www.Cliffs-Internet-Store.ws Cliff

    Guess it’s time to move back to the planet Pluto so I can get some privacy and peace of mind.

  • Shanti Lewis

    Absolutely NOT !! They should give all search results and not ones that they anticipate the person needs. There are many reasons for this, but often when searching for research or for other reasons, a person looks for the least likely and objective answers, when it is something that a person gravitates to, it is not objective always, its based on their own thinking patterns and so in this way doing this would be a huge and great disservice to the reason why people use Google. There was a man who stated that several of his companions typed in a search term and all of them got different results and those results were based on what Google thought you as a person sought. To me this holds back individuality rather then assisting. The only way to broaden knowledge is to think out of the box and it is rather insulting to think that Google now thinks they know us better then ourselves, in fact, their assumptions are way off kilter. We are individuals and should seek our knowledge OUR WAY, not someone outside ourselves interpretation of what they think we are, stand for, like/dislike, or what they think we need. In fact the internet will become more and more useless to get objective results and I’m thinking will lead to less use of Google or any other search engine that does this. Maybe we may go back to the old ways of seeking knowledge off the net instead of on. Perhaps in many ways we may become more brighter. Their modality of thinking they know what a person seeks in results if more then faulty and believe me the people are frustrated already with this taking place, I see this already happening.

  • http://wizzerdwerks.com Greg Hicks

    I’ve already changed all my browsers homepage to Bing on all my computers because of the difference in the results I get from one building to another. What shows up for me when I search with Google from my home is different than at work. And the 2 locations are 100 feet apart. The only thing that’s really different is the zip code. I want GENERIC WORLD WIDE RESULTS. I want to see the same results for the same search no matter who or where I am. Who do they think they are to tell me what I want? I’m thru using Google for search.

  • Maurice

    No thanks to Google’s idea, they know to much about people as it is and this goes for all search engines and the government.
    Stay out of peoples business, and STOP trying to over simplify computers and software.
    Let people use their brains for more than basic bodily functions, and there head for more than a hat rack…
    Microsoft is also guilty if this in there Windows Vista, and Windows Seven, Go back to Windows XP Pro and fix the bugs, leave it the classic interface and make it better not more pretty!!!

    Just my two cents!

  • http://www.sheboyganspirit.com Jeni

    This is outrageous. Orwellian came to mind first, but as I read every comment here I did take great comfort in knowing I am far from alone in my feelings. Every sentiment of disgust, outrage and ire hit home with me – and the laughs were balm to a stunned and wounded soul.

    I want old search back – even my mom, almost 80, is flummoxed with searching these days. I taught her to use a computer over a decade ago and she took to the fun tasks like a bird to water. Now she always says, “It used to be so much fun, you could find so much! Now it’s a nightmare!” How do you explain all this intrusive garbage to a senior citizen who’s parents survived the nazi regime?

    I refuse to even go online with a cell phone. Someone said when do we say “enough is enough”? I’ll say it: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. People have to stop thinking Google is the only game out there – it’s not.

  • http://www.dbugking.com/ Donald V Dunham

    Google has become communist.

  • David Berkey

    All I want from Google is a search engine that gives me the information I want WHEN I want it. Nothing more.

  • http://boisefoodieguild.blogspot.com Bob Young

    I don’t like it. Already, they redirect our blogs periodically to their advertiser. My readers hate the inconvience and so do I. I will change my blog host if this continues.

  • http://www.adreammassage.com Adream

    I also changed to yahoo search. googles new search results are horrible. i think i can decide what is quality, i do not need a software to decide for me!

  • http://www.dirtworks.net John Meshna

    Ever since penguin google searches suck. I have to hunt and peck several times to find what I want and random items found in search are often more useful than the things you originally went after. I don’t want to be pushed down a funnel based on any past experience. How is a person to grow when even the web boxes you in and judges you and lives with the pretense of knowing who and what you are and what you want? Google sucks now and the killed my business too. I’m starting to shift my advertising to bing and search by other means. google can now take a seat right up on the stage with Monsanto as one of the most hated corporations in the world.

  • http://www.mckennaphotography.com kevin

    I’m sorry, but it just creeps me out. Yes, it’s convenient and everything, but after a while, its annoying and invasive.

  • Kurt

    I already don’t use GMail and almost never use Google to search for the very reason that I don’t want google using either the content of my personal emails or any reaches I make for targeted advertising purposes.

    • Kurt

      I already don’t use GMail and almost never use Google to search for the very reason that I don’t want google using either the content of my personal emails or any searches* I make for targeted advertising purposes.

  • jan

    There are other search engines…..
    Google isn’t going to use my privacy for their benefit!

  • http://www.q3tech.com Q3

    Well its evident that Google is doing all it can to get more and more information about us. The point is, are we getting something equivalent in return?
    I’d say yes. We just have to wait till all these “concept projects” become realities.

  • frank

    Google is the new big brother, I don’t want them to have any of my information…but that seems impossible. They pool this information, they track it, they sell it….whats to keep anyone from USING it.

  • Biggup Yaself

    Yea why don’t you just select and spoon feed me my meals Google? Who in their right mind wants an algorithm doing the thinking for them? Google says “Hey don’t search, we will guess what you need for you and provide our super useful related ads as well!” Joke. Just yet another way to try and force their lame ads down your throat. Not interested. When you get as big as Google does and the shareholders are screaming more profit, I guess the “user experience” really amounts to getting the most revenue out of each and every user at the expense of all their personal information. Less clicks mean people have less choice and chance to leave Google’s sites.

  • http://cyberturfstrategic.com jrae

    Google Now Voice Search is visionary, no matter what feelings it may evoke. Rather than run from it, we have more to gain by suggesting how it can be improved. For example, do we really want Wikipedia to be the source of the info supplied – I’m glad that the source is provided, but how can we ensure info is also drawn from other, perhaps better, sources?

    It’s a remarkable tool that most people are going to embrace, and they’re going to look the other way when privacy issues are raised. Let’s contribute to the conversation of how to refine and improve this tool while we still can.

    • http://www.NaturalDogTraining.INFO Paul Anderson

      Oh yes, and Google will listen to what we have to say, and take our opinions and suggestions into account…

      They are after all, very considerate…

  • http://pronunciationcoach.com Laura

    Not necessary – it is already annoying when I get re-routed to topics that I am NOT looking for on a Google search for example. More customization would be a waste for me.

  • http://www.ellefagan.com Elle Fagan

    I don’t like ANY of them when they get TOO MUCH – when we do with Google-everything, it is too unhealthy – like a monopoly ( and monopoly is illegal ) and full of subtle and potentially dangerous controls, not to mention the “YES” issues with privacy. I mix my online helpers and I change the mix, and keep it mean and lean, since I am an artist who loves technology and not the other way around – although my clients are. It’s our life, whatever we are doing and a health risk if we do it wrong.

  • http://Mabuzi.com kevin

    No, definelty not.

    Search is already controlled and now search will be targeted and paid for on the first two pages of search.

    The current search works and it works well so why change? More Profit??
    Why does Google think they know whats good for me. Surely the customer experience is my feedback to the supplier and then they make changes. But these product changes unannounced or without consultation are poor customer service.

    I oppose ore collection of my personal data, more invasion of my privacy, more reading of my e-mails to achieve search results already changed.

  • http://www.indtx.com Jose

    Hi forum, according with the all the people that have posted a comment here I’m not happy about what Google is doing with our information and hobbies, because everything that we type, can or could be use against our own person, that is why I developed my own search engine website, where the local people can upload files and the general people can search inside them, and my server is closed to Google, I use Google maps API based on coordinates, but the app do not run inside my server I just send the app to a new window and pull the maps, however, the people just use coordinates and do not use information preferences for the searches or queries, I mean Google bring us great tools and apps, but when the best of them is trying to tell you what to search and save that info into a personal Google Profile, of course not, I invite you to develop and mount our own servers and search engines and close them to Google, there are a new way to make Internet, and of course if someone want to crawl or send a spider to my server, I decide if yes or not.

    It is time to a new web, free and (independent?, may be not so as we want to) PRIVATE !!!!

    I put the URL to my site (if Chris Crum allowed me to do it), is in spanish but very intuitive, you can use it, I’m still fix two little problems but it works fine. like someone else posted here, enough is enough, back to the basics =)


    Bye and thanks !!

  • john

    i not will give them any my info, google is evil

  • http://www.zazzle/artnip KSS

    I think it’s going to give everyone more junk to read. Probably going to go right into the spam folder and have no effect.

  • http://www.odysen.com Matt

    Sounds like endless distractions and plenty opportunities for buckets of new ads, oh joy.

  • http://twitter.com/parveshsareen Parvesh Sareen

    Well it is good at some point but the more will be intrusion , it will become more disruptive for the users. As there is always an extent to this kind of exploit, surely it will pose as a threat to the personal life of anyone at later stages.
    Information sharing should be limited so as to protect the privacy.

  • Eddie

    I really enjoy Google Now – it really separates itself from the field. As a young professional it compliments my daily activities very well.

  • Crystal

    I do not want nor have the need for such intrusive technology that has the capabilities to “learn” and then decide when where and how to help me. It has sadly aided the younger generation into being so dependent on tech (doing the work for you)…that many under age 20 cant function without it! TRY IT- Take away one of their cell phones, and web access then tell them to order take out from a local delivery restaurant and to make sure and tip 10% of whatever the total = if they show up on time plus to invite the neighbors….now sit back & watch the show. The comedy soon turns to despair and sadness, if they by chance find the dusty phone book.. thats about as far as they can get, much less then figure out how to pay the guy because they havent a clue if he showed up on time w/o their digital clock and timer/calender on their cell, or how to figure 10%…then without missing a beat they’ll turn to you and ask to use your cell to msg. the neighbors …because walking next door, never even occurred to them.