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Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Price of Google's New Conveniences? Your Data

Nitasha Tiku

For the past 20 years, Google’s mission has been to organize the world’s information. Increasingly, the information it serves up is ordered around you—your browsing habits, where you go, who you talk to, what you say, and what you search for.

The trend came into stark relief Tuesday at Google’s annual developer conference, where the company introduced a suite of new services that, frankly, sound awfully convenient. Take Google Lens, a visual search tool that “proactively” surfaces information about the objects around you, or Google Assistant, which thanks to its new “continued conversation” feature, doesn’t need a wake word every time.

“You open the camera and you start to see [Google] Lens surface proactively all the information instantly and it even anchors that information to the things that you see,” said vice president Aparna Chennapragada, demonstrating how the feature, which will soon be built in to phones from other manufacturers, can identify everything in your friend’s apartment, down to the Zadie Smith book on her coffee table. The company told WIRED that Lens begins working when you open the camera app.

Want to catch up on the news? “What’s cool is that I didn’t have to tell the app that I follow politics, love to bike, or want information about the Bay Area, it works right out of the box,” Google’s Trystan Upstill told the crowd, while introducing personalized recommendations in Google News.

Looking to go out? “With zero work, [Google] Maps is giving me ideas to kick me out of my rut and inspire me to try something new,” said vice president Jen Fitzpatrick, introducing new restaurant recommendations that automatically pop up in Google Maps, along with a score called “Your Match” that combines Google’s machine learning “with the information that I’ve added—restaurants I’ve rated, cuisines I’ve liked, and places I’ve been to.”

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