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Google Play and Android Have Gone into Full On Stalker Mode

On Monday, a security researcher named Mustafa Al-Bassam took to Twitter to detail a rather unsettling story. It started when he walked into a McDonald's, only to find that his Android was suddenly recommending the app.

Coincidence? Absolutely not. As Al-Bassam found out, with a bit of further investigation, Google Maps will automatically pick up your location, and even if you delete it from the phone, Google Play will carry on tracking you through the background service. This is a feature which Google refer to as 'location awareness', allowing a more 'contextual experience'. In layman's terms, this means that Google Play automatically knows where are you are, constantly.

If you try to switch the location awareness off, it'll be switched off on all your other apps as well, and if you remove Google Play you'll have to update all your apps manually. This essentially means that you have to wade through a bog of tedious hassle if you'd rather that the all-seeing-eye wasn't following you everywhere you went, weeping app recommendations from its colossal, API-laden ducts.

The idea, supposedly, is to turn your phone into a personal assistant, one which can set your calendar, let you know about events you might want to attend, help you book flights and so forth. That sounds nice in practice, but Google, Facebook, Apple and others seem to think that in order for that to work, it basically has to know where you are 24-hours a day. And of course, the fact that this means it can also share you data with various affiliated advertisers and ad developers is sheer coincidence right? RIGHT!?

It's easy to understand how functions like these can be useful, but you have to trace the line between useful and intrusive, and then ask yourself if it's really worth it. For example, I was using Apple Maps recently, typing in a friend's address, only to find it popping up automatically because I'd sent him something on Amazon and the address was in my emails. That saved me all of about 20 seconds, and for that Apple went digging around in my inbox. Do I have anything to hide? Not as such, but that's not always going to be the case.

This whole automated future thing seems more and more certain with each new development, from drones to self-driving cars to Siri and Cortana. Do we really want all this stuff done for us, though? If you've ever seen Wall-E, you'll know what that could easily become.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Google Play and Android Have Gone into Full On Stalker Mode Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, September 15, 2016 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Turn off location and "Location History" in Maps. Problem solved.


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