1. Dave-in-Decatur's Avatar
    Ambassador Evil Monkey has posted a guide to Google Now that is very helpful: http://forums.androidcentral.com/amb...oogle-now.html. I'm slowly giving it a look.

    The voice actions, at first glance, seem useful and not very creepy. I easily got it to text people that S Voice was unable to locate in my Contacts. But then it popped up a list of supposedly relevant Web articles and ads based on what I'd said. Whaa? Could be useful as a relatively hands-free way to send a one-sentence text, but I want it to leave me alone after the text is sent.

    It's the "cards" that I'm more dubious about, though. These are apparently pro-active information that pops up with, for instance, the status of a flight you searched for, or the travel time to a meeting you have coming up. Google accesses your Google Calendar and other data to do this automatically, without your asking a question. This is where the creep factor begins, IMHO.

    I looked at the Get Google Now information that comes up when you select the Google app, and learned that Google Now depends on, among other things, location history: i.e., Google tracks me wherever I go. "Google," the information solemnly avers, "won't share your location history with other users or marketers without your permission." OK, but what will Google itself do with my information? "Data is used by Now," it says at the very end of the information, "under the Google Privacy Policy." So before I turn on Google Now, I'd better read that policy very carefully and decide whether I'm comfortable with having Google looking over my shoulder all the time.

    I haven't made that decision yet, and truthfully I don't trust Google at all. So I'd like to ask the kind Monkey, and anyone else who uses it, whether you've ever had Now pop up a card that made you say, "Hey! I didn't mean for them to know that!" Or does it ever pop up ads based on your current location? IOW, in the experience of people who've tried it, is the convenience of Google Now worth the trade-off in having Google tracking, recording, and preserving all the information it can get its greedy little hands on about what you do online? Because I can't believe Google is offering this service just to be helpful to us. They're planning to make money off our information somehow, I suspect.
    08-31-2013 01:16 PM
  2. EvilMonkey's Avatar
    Thanks for the compliments on the guide.

    I'm not overly paranoid about Google collecting info. If there was a scale of 1-10 (1 being don't care at all and 10 being you don't want to give Google anything) I probably fall into the 3-4 area....I barely care. Google provides a lot of cool services to me (for free), and I don't mind giving back so they can show me an ad for Best Buy in my area vs. Best Buy in another state (as an example).

    And obviously Google doesn't provide this stuff because they are just so kind. They make nearly all their money from advertising, so the more they know about you, the more they can target advertising, and the more they can charge for said advertisements (or the more companies will buy advertising space/views).

    Ad for the cards, I love the trade off. Like in my guide I mention it knew I needed to leave for a meeting because their was traffic on my way. Without knowing my location I wouldn't have gotten that. Same with traffic....maps is nice cause it provides traffic conditions, but it's able to do that by crowd-sourcing people's phones as they're driving.

    It's also not like any other company doesn't gather as much as they can about you....it's just Google is really good at it.

    I don't tend to have any web or location history that I wouldn't want popping up, but you can always turn that stuff off (or use incognito tabs). I could see borrowing someone's phone and seeing a card for "Time to Sally's Strip Club" for instance....and that could be embarrassing.
    tgp likes this.
    08-31-2013 01:32 PM
  3. Farish's Avatar
    Nothing is secure. As people discovered over the last couple months, whatever you felt maybe secure, really isn't.
    08-31-2013 02:14 PM
  4. Dave-in-Decatur's Avatar
    Thanks for the reply, Evil M. I think people's feelings and opinions about this vary quite a bit. Heck, my own vary from time to time! For instance, I don't mind ads showing up in some apps on my phone. I know that's how the developer is getting paid for their work, and if there's a paid ad-free version of an app I use a lot, I'll buy it. But the main reason I don't mind ads appearing is because I never look at them. Same as on my TV. :begin rant: Frankly, I think advertising is the biggest con of modern times--not the advertisers conning us (though some of them do), but the media companies conning the advertisers, like anybody actually buys anything because the saw an ad for it! :rant ends:

    Nevertheless, I don't want to see ads specifically tailored to where I am at the moment, or to what I've been doing recently. People (rightly, IMO) get bent out of shape about the government inspecting our e-mail and phone records, but if a private company knows what block I'm on and that I just texted my wife to ask where we should eat tonight, I'm supposed to be cool with that? :begin rant: I think that's where we are all fooling ourselves and being fooled, thinking that government has control while businesses are benign and powerless. Who's running whom? I ask. :rant ends:

    That's interesting about the traffic info. I live in a metro area with an increasing number of traffic cams, and I assumed Google was tapping into them rather than our phones. I'll have to remember to be more public-spirited and turn on Location Services when I'm out and about.

    I would be interested in hearing from anyone who feels they've had a bad tracking experience with Google Now, just for my own information, to know how bad it can get. It may be, though, that people who use Now don't mind the intrusion by definition, and therefore don't consider what I'd call a "bad experience" bad. You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to; and the Big G knows which one of us says which. Hmm.
    08-31-2013 02:25 PM
  5. tgp's Avatar
    I'm not overly paranoid about Google collecting info. If there was a scale of 1-10 (1 being don't care at all and 10 being you don't want to give Google anything) I probably fall into the 3-4 area....I barely care. Google provides a lot of cool services to me (for free), and I don't mind giving back so they can show me an ad for Best Buy in my area vs. Best Buy in another state (as an example).
    That's the way I feel. I really don't care if they want to waste their server storage on my data. Not that I would volunteer to give it to them, but the return via Google's services is worth it to me.

    It's also not like any other company doesn't gather as much as they can about you....it's just Google is really good at it.
    This is exactly what I've said. All the companies collect all the data they can, but Google is the one who knows how to use it. Compared to Google, the others are like a dog chasing a car; he doesn't know what to do with the car once he catches up to it.
    08-31-2013 03:00 PM
  6. Dave-in-Decatur's Avatar
    Here's a more specific question about Google Now. A friend of mine says he found that it would pop up cards not just as reminders but to suggest things it thought he might want to do based on where he was and where he had recently been. Suffice it to say the suggestions were not on-point enough for him to keep Google Now activated. Has anyone else experience this and found it helpful to them?
    09-03-2013 09:30 PM
  7. Dave-in-Decatur's Avatar
    OK, I'm waking this back up to report after finally using Google Now for a bit, mainly on a trip to the other coast for a family gathering.

    First off, I did not find ads popping up, as I'd feared, within Google Now. There were suggestions for nearby places to go sometimes, almost always costing more money than I'd spend even if I'd been interested. But this does not (yet, at least) seem to be primarily an advertising tool.

    WRT some specific functions: The one thing I found consistently helpful was getting flight statuses, both for family members I was meeting and for our own returning flight. I asked for specific flights, and got quick, accurate results. But I think I could do that with just Voice Search, minus Google Now and its location-and-calendar-based actions.

    I tried a variety of My stuff settings, and am unimpressed. For instance, under Sports I selected my favorite NFL team. I got card reminders of the weekend's upcoming game for a couple of days beforehand, but never got a card with the score after the game! Then there's weather, which I have turned on in Notifications, but for which I do not receive cards on any regular or even predictable basis

    The main thing that seemed interesting to me was card notifications for travel times to places I was going. It gave me one or two of these; I presume I could have gotten more by putting more places I was going to into my calendar. But Now's most consistent activity was showing me (at seemingly random moments) cards for travel times to places I'd been the day before and wasn't going back to. That was pretty useless. I can't really imagine relying on this as a business tool, though some online reviewers seem to do so successfully.

    Overall grade: C. Summary metaphor: It's a cute pony, but I wouldn't ride it to work every day.
    10-30-2013 07:47 PM

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