I’ve recently purchased a Google Nexus 7 tablet. After putting in my Google credentials I played around the new features. One of these, and rather good it is too, is Google Now.
To quote Wikipedia…
Google Now is an intelligent personal assistant available for Google’s Android operating system… Along with answering user-initiated queries, Google Now passively delivers information to the user that it predicts they will want, based on their search habits.
It does this in the form of cards with useful information in. The first thing it did was use GPS to work out where I was and show weather. It also showed me a map of where I was and asked if this was home – I set this to be the case and then clicked on “More cards”. Two more appeared. One showed my journey to work from home and it asked me if this, indeed, was the journey to work. The second card was the journey from my house to my older daughter’s – 55 miles each way.
The latter is important – I have my own way of getting there that SatNavs (and Google Maps) doesn’t ever recommend – in fact even trying to plot the route I’ve found to be impossible as it always thinks it knows a slightly different way. So the fact that it was now showing me my EXACT route was important – the penny just didn’t drop for a few days.
How did it know these routes? At that point my Nexus hadn’t been on either of those journeys and I’d never used Google Maps to navigate along those routes. The answer is either intriguing or chilling, depending on your view – my Android phone. I have it with me on these journeys and it’s obviously been tracking my movements and reporting back to Google.
Personally, I’m not bothered – and as a result it’s given me some useful information – but I know a lot of people are. Does Google track you? Unless you avoid Google and all its products entirely, probably.