08 Jul 2015

Google announces new features

With more than 1 billion active Chrome, Gmail, YouTube and search users, Google is ingrained in our daily lives. At the annual developer conference, the Internet giant announced new offerings that will delve the company even further into our lives.

The most obvious example of this was the announcement of its new photo service, Google Photos. The service offers users a way to store, organise and share their photos and videos, and most impressive of all, it would be doing all of this for free. Google is offering this service for free as it plans on collecting user data from it.

This approach is how Google has been able to offer Gmail for free over so many years, by using the data collected from the email system to help advertisers reach their target audience (and thus making Google a more attractive place to place ads for advertisers). The information contained within the photos that you upload and store on the service will offer rich insights about you to Google, and this data is worth more to the organisation than the cost that Google will invest on storing it.

Consider for example that you take a trip overseas to Thailand and upload your photos to the Google Photos service. Google will then know that you like travelling in South East Asia, where you like to stay while travelling, what food you eat while there, and so on and so forth. That information could then be passed on to a travel company that might gently nudge you to book your next trip with them.

Google also launched a new payment service, Android Pay to counter Apple Pay. This service allows customers to pay for goods using their mobile devices both in app and at a physical store, rather than cash or credit cards. This again offers the information giant a wealth of opportunities to collect data on its users – where they shop, what they spend money on – and then use that data to enhance the value of the services pitched to those same customers by Google’s commercial partners.

At the conference, Google also announced a new operating system called Brillo and a communication standard called Weave, that will give Google an “in” into the phenomenon that is the Internet of Things.

Weave will allow everyday devices and objects to connect to the Internet, while Brillo will allow those same devices to communicate with other Android devices. For example, it will be possible to install an electronic lock, which can then be controlled using a smartphone. This is technology already available on the market, but Google’s move into this area will put the company at the centre of this technology revolution. The overarching goal is that Google will standardise the technology and will eventually become the underlying system of all our interactions with technology in the future.

As is standard for Google these technologies will be offered at a low cost and will be open to its very large developer community base. Google’s goal here is simply to be the underlying platform as much as possible, so that it can collect, and then use, as much complete data on individuals as possible. People everywhere will sign on for all of these services for the convenience and feature sets they offer and Google will continue to ingrain itself in it’s user everyday lives.