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This Week in Google 256
Mike Elgan: It’s time for TWiG, This Week in Google. Leo’s in Hawaii, drinking a beverage with a tiny umbrella in it. My name’s Mike Elgin and I’m filling in for Leo. Jeff and Gina are here and will be sifting through the aftermath of last week’s Google IO. Stick around, This Week in Google is next.
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Mike: This is TWiG. This Week in Google, episode 256. Recorded July 02, 2014
A Machete, a Shotgun, and a Votive Candle!
It’s time for TWiG, This Week in Google, where we cover all things cloudy and Google-icious. With us today is the usual cast of characters. I am not Leo LaPorte, that’s the bad news. The good news is we have Jeff and Gina with us. Starting with Jeff Jarvis, professor of journalism at City University of New York. And I heard on this show you’ve been recently anointed with total professorial powers, and cannot be touched.
Jeff Jarvis: Oh yes that’s true. And I’m tenured too.
Mike: That too, why not? We should have tenure here at TWiT, that’d be great. Author of Public Parts, What Would Google Do, and Guttenberg the Geek. You also blog at buzzmachine.com. I love your blog, and always have. I’m glad I’m here on this show. I was listening to the show and it’s great to be here. Somebody will hear me when I talk back at you guys. And Gina Trapani, creator of thinkup.com. Host of TWiT’s All About Android. And founding editor of LifeHacker. How are you doing, Gina?
Gina Trapani: Hello. Great to be here!
Mike: How come I didn’t see either of you at Google IO?
Jeff: Because you were busy working, Mike.
Mike: I don’t remember that.
Gina: It was a busy couple of days.
Jeff: It was. You know, the greatest thing: Day 2, I went to a session, this and that, but I would just stand in the hall and honest to God, one after another of you magnificent TWiT fans would come up and say, Jeff Jarvis I’m a fan of TWiG. And we would take pictures and I could’ve spent the whole day just talking to TWiG fans. It was wonderful.
Mike: Those are definitely our people aren’t they? At Google IO.
Gina: It was pretty awesome. The one time you feel like a celebrity. I had people stopping asking to take pictures with me too. This is crazy. I was telling my mom and she was like what. I was like yea mom, for real.
Mike: Same thing for me. You take one step out the door in the streets of San Francisco, and you are nobody. So that was a lot of fun. Google is buying or has bought Songza, a music play service that competes with the likes of all the music services. To me in terms of functionality, in terms of its sense of curation, I think it competes very closely with Apple’s Beats music service. Kind of. Jeff and Gina, why did they buy this? Let’s start with you, Jeff. Why did they busy this?
Jeff: They need music, as simple as that. I think they can go cheaper than Apple has gone with Beats. And these music services are going to get snapped up because they have an audience.
Mike: Does Google need cheaper? They throw around billions of dollars like it’s nothing. And here, they probably spent more than $39M. The valuation was pegged somewhere around $15M. There’s apparently competition.
Jeff: That’s Padre’s chocolate budget.
Jeff: It’s not much and I think the truth is that at times, Google does know it’s build or buy. And at times, Google knows to buy, not build.
Mike: You obviously have an intimate familiarity with Google. The secret’s also Songza’s human curation. That doesn’t sound like a Google thing to me.
Jeff: As we learned in the organization of IO, humans are not Google’s specialty. I’m joking, I was very happy to be there. I’m not complaining at all. Just a little joke, for the good. Songza, I don’t use it. So I don’t know much about it. Gina, do you use it?
Gina: I don’t use Songza, but I do use Google Play music, a lot. It makes sense to me that Google would look to snap up a company like this for a relatively small price, in Google’s scale, financially. That can help them improve their… I listen to feeling lucky radio, a lot. That’s basically what I do at this point, just go onto Google Play music. It has my music, it knows what I like. I press I’m Feeling Lucky, and it’s pretty good most of the time. So an acquisition like this makes that better, it makes a lot of sense.
Mike: One of the crazy things about Songza is that it changes the playlist based on your context. And that is a very Googley thing. It’s also advertisers-supported, that’s a Google thing. The context even goes so far as a deal they have with the Weather Channel, that changes the songs based on the weather. Based on your weather.
Jeff: Well of course Mike, if this was bought by Facebook because they know when you’re sad because they made you sad. So they play you sad music then play you happy music to make you happier. So they’re manipulating your feelings constantly, right.
Mike: I’m so glad you brought that up. Let’s talk about that. This really chaps my hide this Facebook thing. For a number of reasons. Yesterday, we talked on Tech News Today. We were talking to the person, Cashmir Hill at Forbes that broke the story that in fact when they, in 2012, when they actually tested the feature to see if they could make people sad or happy based on what they’re tweeting in their feeds. They didn’t actually have explicit language in the terms of service, talking about research and the sorts of things that they in fact did. Facebook countered to that saying it’s all about improving the service. That’s always been in terms of service. So that’s one problematic aspect to this. But to me, this is an example of Facebook so… and probably Google too, which is… they’re so used to messing around and determining what we see and what we don’t see. The reasons for doing that are not as important to them as it probably is to the public. To actually effect people’s moods, Gina do you use Facebook at all?
Gina: I do use Facebook and I thought about this a lot. And my first gut reaction I’m sad to admit, it was very much the sort of…
Mike: It made you sad?
Gina: Yea it made me sad. I kind of took this technologist view where well company’s A-B test things all the time, right. So many products they’re constantly tweeking. Google does this. Everything is run on an algorithm, everything is data-driven based on reactions and clicks. Everything’s being adjusted. So it didn’t surprise me at all that Facebook did this. I was a little surprised by the outcry, and the ethics of it. I suppose the idea that users should have been informed in a more explicit way, makes sense to me. But I think there was a lack of empathy about the communication about this. The communication should have been clear. The terms of service wasn’t enough. These folks should have been let know. But at the same time, I was kind of like this is constantly going on. How is this different than A-B testing a headline or an email subject line? Which goes on constantly.
Jeff: Exactly. And every marketer out there, every entertainment, every politician, and political campaign, does the same thing. But it’s kind of a techno-panic thing again. Facebook was tone-deaf in the communication, you’re absolutely right about that. They got caught rather than being open about this. And there have experiments in the past. I remember Yahoo had a great lab that was A-B testing behavioral impact on people. I’m not against that in theory. But when it hurts your business because of the way it’s discovered, then that’s just stupid. And I think Sheryl Sandburg has basically said that. That they certainly had a communications problem on this.
Mike: I think this is slightly different than your garden variety techno-panic. And I’m always with you on the techno-panic argument Jeff that you make. But in this case, actually making people sad on purpose. That’s an exaggeration. They didn’t make that many people that sad for that long.
Jeff: But Mike, that’s what every chic-flic does.
Mike: But people know it. I think a big part of this story that’s interesting is the degree in which people are not aware that algorithm, noise filtering goes on. But let’s talk about the techno-panic aspect of it. Let’s say they discovered, which in fact they did, they came to the conclusion. One of the conclusions in the paper that was published around this, is that in fact mood is contagious. If they can tweek your news feed to be happier or sadder, you send to post things that are happier or sadder. There’s some question whether it’s good signs, whether that’s a legitimate conclusion. But that was their conclusion. So let’s say that’s true and let’s say they did conclude that and that’s the conclusion. So maybe Facebook wants to make your news feed a happy place. Maybe they decide as a matter of policy… and this is the part that really bothers me. Nobody knows what their algorithms are. They even got rid of the name. It’s like in the Soviet Union when the erased people from the photographs. Too many people were throwing around the E-word, edge-rank. So they basically said it’s not called edge-rank anymore. It doesn’t have a name. So now we can’t really talk about it all that clearly. But they do have secret algorithms that nobody is aware of that they’re changing constantly, they’re testing them constantly. What if Facebook or some other social network decided to deliberately improve the service by making it everybody happy? Jeff, is that a techno-panic reaction as well?
Jeff: Well no, I’ll be an old tabloid guy. I’ll play into this an panic you more. There was a hedge fund and I wrote about this in Public Parts. A computer scientist at the University of Indiana tracked six moods and their opposites with various keywords. And found that he could predict the daily ups and downs in the Dow Jones with more than 99% accuracy. So guess what happened. A hedge fund hired his butt. And they created a new hedge fund based on this. Now the next step behind this is of course you’ll try to manipulate the mood of the country because you’re going to arbitrage that mood. And if you read the wonderful Michael Lewis book, Flashboys, which I do recommend. It’s phenomenal. It’s not beyond Wall Street and marketers to do exactly that and to profit from that. To effect the mood of the country for one reason or another. So yea, that’s possible, but at some point there are hills in the world and at some point we’ll figure it out. This reminds me going back to the early days of television and advertising. And I’m old enough to have been around almost then. When the panic of the time was there was subliminal advertising and things were shot at us, convince us, buy deodorant. You stink, you stink! And you start to believe it. Well it was never really true. If we really believe that we are as a people such sheoples, that a Facebook news feed could affect truly our entire mood and thus the country, then we got bigger problems, I think. Gina?
Gina: Yea, I mean. It’s hard because I feel like a lot of my friends would be very upset with me for saying this right now. A lot of my friends, particularly in community management are really upset at the fact that Facebook did not communicate this and they’re overusing their power. This is a power relationship. And manipulating emotions is on that circle. But I mean, if Facebook tweeks their news feed to make people happier when they use Facebook, how is that different than anybody building any product who’s trying to create a better user experience. Right? Think about any sort of experience with a product, of course the maker is trying to make people feel happy or compelled. And the advertising manipulates our emotion. Music and movies manipulate our emotions. I think we know that, and also this finding that emotions are contagious. I mean is this news, really? I mean, we’re empathetic beings. Do we need a study on Facebook to find out that if you guys are sad, then I’m also going to feel sad? Or if you are joyous and happy and upbeat, that’s not going to be a little contagious? It just didn’t seem like news to me. I don’t know. What do you think, Mike? You seem a little more critical about this.
Mike: I’m critical for two reasons. The first reason is that they don’t make a super easy way for us to just turn it off. Google doesn’t either. With Google, you can do noise filtering. You can choose a little bit or a lot. But you can’t say give me everything. I want the ability to just throw a switch that’s right there. And everybody knows about that switch. Or I just say give me the fire hose and then maybe I can decide for myself it’s too much. I want some noise filtering and some help. Of course Facebook does now allow you to granular control of this, I want more of this, less of this. I don’t want to hear from this person, whatever. That exists for power users. For the most part, this whole algorithm thing, you mentioned that lots of things make us happy or sad. Stories make us happy or sad. I think we go to stories to feel happy or sad on purpose. Whereas noise filtering is based on an assumption of ignorance by the public. Facebook knows that we want to believe that everyone that follows us will see everything we post. And we want to believe that everything that comes to us in our news feed is everything that we…
Jeff: That’s a whole other business issue. Where Facebook is charging for access and you don’t know what, unless you pay them. Which is a whole issue. But on the other hand at Google Plus, they don’t do the charging thing. But of course no one of your millions of followers see everything that you write. They have an algorithm that is trying to improve the service. They’re robbed.
Mike: Yea. It’s the same solution that I would give to half the problems that we talk about on these shows, where we’re complaining about companies. I want transparency and control. I don’t want a complete absence of transparency and I don’t want the removal of control. And that’s essentially more or less what we’ve got right now. And I think that it’s one thing to do nosie filtering and just okay we trust Facebook to determine what our relationships are. Essentially that’s what they’re doing. They’re saying you know you never like anything on Mildred’s page, you never comment. So therefore, you’re not going to see anything from Aunt Mildred anymore. And we’re severing that relationship. And you think that you still have that relationship and just, somebody’s being quiet. Or they’re out of sight out of mind. But they’re determining your relationships. That’s the difference.
Jeff: That’s a different issue from happy or sad. There’s an algorithm filtering et al, and you’re objecting that algorithm filtering et al. Which means you object I think to both Facebook and Google Plus. In that sense.
Mike: I’m objecting to the lack of transparency. They should be really clear about it. Because I talked to newbs all the time and everybody’s on Facebook, right. That’s the social network for everybody. The vast majority of people I talk to are like really, they do that? They have no idea that there’s noise filtering on Facebook. No idea.
Gina: What I want is you go to Facebook and there are buttons, Facebook make me happy. Facebook make me thoughtful, make me angry, make me melancholy. I’ll get kittens or…
Jeff: Gina, that’s what cats are made for.
Gina: It’s true. All upworthy when I want to feel full and happy.
Jeff: I will believe how I will feel after I hit this button.
Mike: Wouldn’t that be…
Gina: I think with an emotion, Facebook.
Mike: Make me feel nothing, Facebook. So let’s talk about Android One, the reference platform that Google announced at Google IO. This is for the next billion. They said it’s for the next five billion, I thought that was a reach. For the next billion, what this is talking about is that there are low-cost phones are a necessity for many countries in the world and many places of even wealthy countries. Is that a horrible experience or is that a pretty darn good experience? And Google says they want to make it a really good experience even if this phone costs between $100-$200 unlocked. So Android One is their referencing platform solution to this. They’re starting out launching in India, and of course this will be rolled out across the globe. They’ll be competing with all kinds of other companies, going after this space. And to me, I think that this part of the conversation is part of another story that we’ve got in the run down here. Which is the idea that Google is feeling really compelled these days to lock down the experience. To not allow skins. This is the same thing with Android TV, Android Auto, Android Wear, and Android One. These are all theoretically versions of Android and you’re not allowed to put your own custom interface on it. Is this something that’s going to come to the regular version of Android, do you think? What do you think, Gina?
Gina: Well to me, I would have framed it a little bit. I think rather than locking the One Android experience, I think that Google is planting the flag and saying this is the reference experience. This is a good Android experience. We’re trying to create a model. Google knows that Android is the mobile operating system that’s going to go out to the next billion people, to the rest of the world. They don’t want to leave the decision of what that experience is like to other manufacturers. You’re going to load on AOSP, with none of the Google add-ons. They want to be first at that experience. I think it’s great. I think Android is a great thing. Certainly, I don’t think being locked down is a good thing, and certainly I’m pro on Android being open-sourced. And I’m pro other companies, even if it’s big companies like Amazon or Microsoft, building a layer on top of Android. But I really like that Google’s taking the lead on defining what a good Android experience is for their next users.
Mike: You think this will increase, Gina, or decrease Amazon forks or the kind that you see in China? Where you see huge numbers of Android users never used, the Play store for example, they’re not using the regular version of Google. This increase or decrease that? Because on the one hand it’s companies who make phones might be like well if I can’t put on my own stuff then I don’t want to play. That would increase the forks and on the other hand if it’s really compelling and they really have all the specs locked down and it’s easy and low-cost to do and you can make a lot of money, you can decrease it. So which way do you want to go?
Gina: I think the more Android users there are, the more forks they’re going to be. And the more users they’re going to be. Better for Google, and better for everybody. I think Android will be the first experience of getting online for a lot of people, and I think that opens up opportunities even for other manufacturers. But you’re right, it could go both ways. I think it’s a good thing for Android. It means more Android for everyone, not just more Google Android.
Jeff: I think they’re trying to have the cake and eat it too. And they may just accomplish it, just as Google can. They get a lot of crap for the fragmentation. So this is a way to deal with that. But yet, the open horse is out of the barn, and as Gina said, a lot more version of that. And you can kind of have a choice. I was at a Doich Evelen conference in Bahn two days ago and I was talking to the head of a gigantic Indian public broadcaster there. And was talking about One in India and he kind of shrugged and said we already have Android phones for $50. And we’re an inch away from having tablets for $100. And so, they’re not knock off Android, they’re Android products at lower prices. Or you can say I want the quality experience and that’s not going to cost me a lot more. But I have a choice. By the way, I want one of these Android One phones. I just can’t wait to play with it and see how good it is.
Mike: Where would you get one in your neck of the woods?
Jeff: I don’t know. My next trip to India, I’ll stop by and buy one in the airport.
Mike: Would you buy me one, please? I think Google learned a lot from its experiences with the Moto G and also the Google Play editions of the Samsung phones, the high-end phones. And I think they have gotten a lot of confidence that they really know what they’re doing often times more than the OMs know. And so it’s really an interesting initiative I think, that so many companies are going after these markets. And I’m curious to see how low they will go. Like you said they’re $50 phones. How low could they possibly go? $25 phones, $20 phones? Could be really crazy, still people struggle to pay the data rates in some of these countries. And that’s an entirely different issue that Google in fact is potentially in a position to do something about that as well. But let’s talk about the right to be forgotten. I know Jeff that this is one of your many hot-button issues. It’s one of mine too. The reason we’re talking about it again today is that this went into effect: Google is actually making stories and information forgotten, meaning that they’re removing them from the Google search index. And the Guardian had a really good piece by James Ball, talking about specific articles that were de-indexed on the Guardian newspaper. So this is a case, a very strong and clear case that really shows the reality of this ruling by the E.U. Here are articles on the Guardian’s newspaper site which cannot be found with the European search. Jeff, does this…?
Jeff: This is exactly what I’ve been screaming on this show. And I know probably most of the Americans… and I go off crazy about the Europeans and the Germans on these issues. I don’t mean to besmirch everybody with the same thing but was a God-awful decision. And it’s now coming home to roost. One might argue that Google has very cleverly, if not cynically de-indexing news stories for just this purpose. But fine, it proves the point. Both Guardian and now the BBC as well have had stories de-indexed for no good reason. There’s nothing liable or wrong about them, somebody didn’t like them, didn’t like what was said about them. And there’s a whitewashing that is now enabled by the court. But more than that, it has an impact on free speech and freedom of the press. And my hope now is that not only Google, but also especially the Guardian and BBC, will go sue at the European court to protect the freedom of press and freedom of speech. Yes, those stories still exist on their site, but people can’t find them because Google was ordered by a government to take them down. On behalf of people who didn’t like what was said about them. Well that effects the speech of those who said it. And that is the tool of tyrants, and it is shocking that this would come out of Europe, of all places with its history. It just shows an absolute lack of understanding of how to tyrants use the ability to change history.
Mike: Absolutely and I couldn’t say it better. That’s exactly how I feel about it. And there’s another element to this as well, that’s really upsetting. A search index exists to reflect what is on the internet. It’s a card catalogue, a terrible metaphor, but it’s a card catalog for the library of the internet. And essentially what they’re doing is they’re ordering Google to have a search engine that’s increasingly, and remember this is cumulative, as they’re continuing erasing…
Jeff: 10,000 request a day.
Mike: Exactly. The search engine that everybody uses will not reflect what is actually on the internet. We’re trying to have a society here, and here we have a government mandated requirement that search engines not reflect what is on the internet. It’s a horrible state of affairs. Now if they want to go after the Guardian and try to sense with the Guardian, fine go for it. There are free speech protections in place in most countries. Certainly in Europe, and certainly in the United States. So go try that. Try to erase pages and when you actually are enough of a tyrant to ban actual articles that have been published by the Guardian newspaper, then Google can change its search engine to reflect the fact that they’ve been censored. But this idea to go to the search engine and say you know what, we’re just going to make it so people can’t find it. This is really outrageous and…
Jeff: I was delighted that Google notified those whose articles have been taken down. Although there is no appeal to this. From Google, this is an unappealable decision by the European court, nor from those whose articles are de-indexed. And so suddenly now your article is taken down because some subject of your article or your blog post has asked to be taken down because they don’t like it, they say it’s irrelevant, they say it’s no good. Google notifies you, there’s no appeal on behalf of the censored party here. And that’s wrong too. This is such a numb nuts decision, as dangerous as can be. When I was at the Google big tent event, full disclosure, Google paid for my way over and not for me. About three weeks ago, what shocked me as I sat in the room, I was a lone voice almost. Fighting against this decision, Google obviously wasn’t crazy about it either. Politicians and people in the room, it just sounds cynically okay, what’s wrong with being forgotten, it’s okay. No, because it effects speech. I’ll shut up now.
Gina: I agree with you guys but devil’s advocate on the card catalog thing; I don’t think that Google’s index is a representation of everything that exists on the internet. Google’s filters, spam filters, pornography, it ranks based on its own internal factors, which is not transparent. Like I said, I agree with you about the right to be forgotten and stuff, but Google makes a lot of other judgment calls about what content to show up in its results. Particularly on the first page. This isn’t a new thing for them. I saw the interview in the Times where I think it was age, oh we’re going to have to make these decisions about whether or not, a judgment call, should we take this thing out of the index. Google is already doing that. That’s what Matt Cutt’s team does, right? So again I’m playing devil’s advocate and I agree with you guys but I do want to bring that up.
Jeff: The important point, Gina, then we get to the question. When I was at Doich Chevelle, my second trip to Germany in a few weeks, I was kind of debating and it was frustrating. We weren’t allowed to, but Tina was the head of Bachelor Springer which has been a major Google foe. And argued about this, and he brings up this argument of so called search neutrality. Which I said on this show it’s an absurd concept because that equals only noise. So you’re right, Google does make decisions based on relevance, authority, freshness, page rank, certain criteria was taken down like porn. Those who asked for transparency are also asking for them to be gamed, so there is not transparency of it. That’s all given in the case. What makes this case different I think, Gina, is that you have Google ordered by a government to follow these orders to take down these things from people who are the subjects of fans. Then there is no appeal, there is no appeal for the person who has been taken down. I think it’s qualitatively different from an algorithm that prioritizes things.
Gina: I think you’re right.
Mike: There’s another dimension to it as well that’s related to the one you mentioned, Jeff. Which is that when these things happen by the request or action of people in the public, what will inevitably happy, and this is a very un-European thing, generally speaking democracy in Europe and the United States differs in its emphasis where United States tends to emphasize freedom over equality. Whereas in Europe, especially France, they tend to emphasize equality over freedom. And here’s a case where they’re de-emphasizing equality because who are the people who are going to request that information be taken down. It’s going to be politicians, billionaires, wealthy people. Smithers, get my bad reputation cleaned up. They’re going to have these reputation management companies that are very expensive go and take this and get rid of whatever they can. Whatever bad news or bad opinion, or whatever it is they don’t like. They’ll attempt it, and so over the years if this is allowed to stand, what will happen is there will be an imbalance in terms of the reputations and the good and bad information based on class, wealth, and so on. And that is to me, an extraordinarily European result.
Jeff: Really good point.
Gina: Yea, that is a good point. Although there is already an access issue around class and the internet. People who don’t have access to the internet don’t have a reputation. But I agree, that this could worsen it.
Mike: There’s another case, and I’m not sure if you guys talked about it on this show. I don’t recall hearing it. It happened in Canada, where a judge in British Columbia ordered Google to block not only existing websites, referencing a company, but all future references to that company.
Jeff: And not just in Canada, but around the world.
Mike: That was the chilling part of it, wasn’t it. Because once you have a precedent, where for any reason a government, a national government can essentially block something to the whole world or get out of the country. Well this is the greatest thing ever for China, for Iran, for any sort of authoritarian country, you can imagine. And what do you do? Ultimately, this is just going to get worse and worse. The other part of this decision that was pretty awful, the Canadian decision, was that it applied only to Google. No other search engines were required to adhere to this ruling.
Jeff: By the way, that goes back to the right to be forgotten. We haven’t heard yet, because that decision does apply to Bing, and Yahoo. And I’ll be interested, I haven’t heard what they’re doing with this. As I said when we started this discussion, I don’t know this but I would suspect that Google prioritized the order of its take-downs. Knowing that taking down press stories would get attention from the president, and we need that. And I’m fine with that. If it’s done for clever reasons, then cool. We are talking about it because the Guardian and the BBC wrote about this. Now it’s time to go and ask what Bing and Yahoo are going to do about this. And it’s time to see whether there is any means of appeal to this. A, we’re starting to learn that Google will give notice, but will notice be given by all parties to those who are taken down. There’s no apparent means of appeal, and is there an opportunity for these censored parties to go and now sue for their own freedoms. We’ll see. This was a dumb decision that’s only going to get dumber.
Mike: Absolutely horrible. Well, the big story I think that remains un-discussed on this show because you guys both came rushing to the studio last week from Google IO. And they didn’t start handing out watches out, right? So we haven’t talked about Android Wear.
Gina: We did not.
Mike: So let’s go around the horn and find out, Gina, what do you think of Android Wear?
Gina: Man, I love this thing. I’ve got the LG G-Watch, and I’ll tell you. My tweets say hardware is bad and software is amazing. That’s coming from something who loves Google Now, I live in Google Now. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at at night. The fact that I have kind of Google Now and notifications on my wrist, it means I just don’t look at my phone as much throughout the day. And that’s what I like. I don’t want to be the person who’s got their face buried in their phone all day. It’s very light-weight. The software is really delightful to use. A little rough around the edges and they need to make some improvements. I don’t use the voice control as much as I thought I was going to do. This is just a kind of text messages, notifications system for me. But I really love it, and I can’t wait to get the 360. I think that’s when the hardware has a shot at catching up. And I won’t feel quite like I feel like a nerd watch. But I am wearing this watch.
Jeff: How was the hardware flimsy, Gina?
Gina: You know I just think that the shape of the face, and it just feels kind of plasticy. It just doesn’t feel like a nice watch, it feels like I’m wearing this plastic old Casio. It kind of screams nerd watch.
Mike; It’s comfortable though, right?
Gina: It’s comfortable and it’s fine. It just looks like I have this computer on my wrist. And I would like for it to just look like I have a watch on, a nice watch. So I’m excited about the 360.
Mike: An underappreciated fact about the 360 is even though you can agree, Gina, the LG G-Watch is very light. The 360 is significantly lighter.
Jeff: Oh really?
Gina: Oh. I wouldn’t have expected that.
Mike: It kind of looks pretty heavy. So Jeff, what do you think of yours?
Jeff: I also got the LG. I’m also wearing it every day and I’m also loving it. I’m coming to big conclusions about my world and our world of news with it. Because I think that the primary benefit for me so far has indeed been news updates. So I saw supreme court decisions coming across. Generally, news companies are actually ironically awful at updates. They either do too many or don’t do any at all. So far, I’m getting Guardian updates, I think New York Times updates, and Circuit updates on this. And they’re using them sparingly, they pretty much work. It’s pretty much valuable. I’m finding the user interface still fairly clunky. Trying to get around and do stuff, it constantly tells me I have zero steps when by God I’ve been walking. I have to go turn on Fit. I wish there was other things that I could have it update for me. The most fundamental weakness to me in this, is that I use my chime still. I haven’t updated it in a few days. But I use it because it can tell my sleep. This doesn’t do my sleep. But worse than that I have to charge it every night, so I don’t have a watch on knowing the time and I’m blind without these. So when I was in a hotel room the last few nights, I needed to have a clock, I don’t know what time it is. And I’m jet-lagged. Not having this on at night to me is an issue. It’s almost like you need to have two of them, a day version and a night version. And soon we will. I agree with Gina. I’m looking at my phone less. I’m finding it comfortable to wear this all the time. I said on the show last week that I think the computer is going to migrate from the phone to this device. And this becomes our identity and our primary computer. And everything else is a sleeve of it. And we’re seeing transition to that in terms of how Android is now the master of all. I haven’t used the voice either and it’s funny because it seems too stupid. I was on the plane coming back and I dictated a tweet on my phone. I didn’t feel weird about that. But I feel weird about doing this. Especially starting with this, okay Google. And it also isn’t great at hearing me, I don’t find. Now I’m trying to get it to go to that, and I can’t get it to go back to the home. Okay Google! Oh, it did it. Search for Gina Trapani. No, in the audit… see.
Gina: That seems really awkward.
Mike: What’s interesting I think to me about the experience in wearing it is that it immediately becomes clear that yes, smart watches. We’re all going to be wearing them. It’s such a great place for information, for notifications. It’s a great place for Google Now. Google Now really never had a place before. You had to go find it. You had to go seek it out. Say, I’m going to use Google Now at this point. That’s not how Google Now needs to be used. It needs to be ambient. It needs to be just kind of there. And now it’s just there. It’s on the wrist.
Jeff: I’ve got an experiment. Okay, Jarvis! Oh, it didn’t work.
Gina: Oh it didn’t work. That’s sad.
Mike: It works for us if we say it. You usually reply, what, what do you want? But what’s amazing to me is that this is an app, and I’ve said this on a couple other shows on TWiT. It’s the first platform with a killer app, which is Google Now. Right out of the box, it has its killer app, done.
Jeff: Well said.
Mike: And just wait till the apps come. July 7th they start coming out. In a year from now, how many apps are going to be out there and what are they going to be able to do? It’s really exciting that it’s already so useful. It’s already so comfortable to wear. Especially if you’re using Google Glass where you have to psyche yourself up when you’re going into the public. You can just wear this thing around and really relax. Use it in sort of an invisible way without making a big scene.
Jeff: Has anyone outside your two geek circles, was too obvious you just came back from IO… any setting with a waitress or somebody on the street, has anybody come up to you and asked what’s that?
Mike: Nobody has. It’s completely invisible.
Gina: My daughter noticed it. She saw me fiddling with it and she’s one. So she touches it a lot. Because she sees me touching it, so that’s kind of funny. Her favorite thing to do is to turn it off. And Jason and I were talking about this last night, if you have kids especially young kids, it’s very sensitive to touch. So the baby touches or picks it up and her clothes brush it, it comes on. I actually did just fall in bed last night with it while it was on. And it kind of hit the pillow and came on and lit up. My wife was not happy about it. It’s not a good sleeping thing. Especially in the dark where the screen gets really bright. She was like get that thing off of you. I was like oops, sorry.
Jeff: My wife thinks it’s dumb and that it is on all the time. She thinks it should be blank. But my watch has the time on it. The other problem is I cross my arms like this and it turns it on all the time. And that’s a pain.
Mike: It goes buzz and it like buzzes. I do that all the time. I do this and all of a sudden it’s buzzing. Is that a notification?
Jeff: What about the Motorola? It seems to have a stem spot. Is that a button?
Mike: It’s a button that turns it on and off. You can reset it and kind of reboot it. It’s unnecessary because you can do that obviously… the LG G-Watch has no physical buttons. So yea, it’s a button that turns it on and off. I think they wanted that mechanical watch…
Jeff: Did you get the LG, Mike?
Mike: Yea, I have the LG.
Jeff: Did anybody around you get the Samsung? What did Jason think of the Samsung. Have you compared?
Mike: We did it on Before You Buy yesterday. He likes it a lot. There’s pros and cons, generally the Samsung is a little cheaper. Just under $200, this is $229. The Samsung has a brighter screen. A smaller battery but longer battery life. Because it uses a screen that doesn’t light up pixels if it’s not using those pixels it doesn’t use any energy on those pixels. It’s a great watch, he likes it a lot. It’s a little bulkier, there’s a little more chrome. I think it’s a little bit of a wash.
Jeff: Are the watch faces the same on both?
Mike: That I don’t know.
Jeff: By the way, they’re really mostly ugly as sin. Which one are you guys using? I’m using this one.
Mike: I use that one too. It’s nice and basic.
Jeff: I wanted to get a really nice fool you this is a real watch. And they’re pretty ugly. Which one are you using, Gina?
Gina: I’m using Neon, which is a little hipster for my taste. But it was the closest I could find. It’s a little designy and bright, but it was the closest I could find to something I like. You’re right, I would like to see more watch faces. It’s got the time and it’s kind of hard to see.
Jeff: Some of them are really ugly, like this one.
Mike: What’s the deal with that? It’s like Peter Macs or something. It’s like psychedelic 70’s, it’s like a children’s show from the 70’s. It’s really quite horrible. And this is another example of…
Gina: That’s the one I’m using. It looks like a children’s show from the 70’s, with the number coming out. It was the least bad one I thought. That’s an opportunity. The watch faces are definitely an opportunity.
Mike: This is another example of how the Moto 360’s probably going to dominate. They’ve already had a contest for people to source crests or awesome cases.
Jeff: So there is going to be open-source design. We can download watch faces if we like, right?
Mike: I’m almost certain that that is the case. And a year from now they’re going to be tens of thousands of watch faces to choose from. And so that’s going to be kind of cool. The ones out of the box for the LG G-Watch are pretty slim pickings if you want a good looking watch, I thought.
Jeff: I can’t wait for the Rolex knock-off. Watch face.
Mike: Absolutely. Well, one of the questions that somebody wrote about this week is a question of whether or not Android Wear validates or makes obsolete Google Glass. They have similar functions in terms of their app extensible, notification oriented, Google Now oriented. Wearable devices. The biggest difference I think besides the fact that Google Glass fits on your face is that Google Glass has a camera that you point at everybody. And that’s the biggest controversial point on Google Glass. Is this the end of Google Glass as a consumer product? Obviously Google Glass may have a life with vertical integrated business device, but is it over for Google Glass because of Android Wear? What do you think, Jeff?
Jeff: That was my argument on the show last week. It obsoletes two thirds the functions of Google Glass. Notifications and instructions or directions. And far more convenient, far better structure. I don’t want that up here. I think Google Glass does show the power of having a camera so that Gina has often complained, your baby sees you not some box in front of your eyes. And the images that you’re taking are of what you actually see. I think that’s proven to be valuable. But clearly it is going to have to come with a red light and a siren that says, okay okay I’m taking a picture now. And a way to notify people that it’s there, and so I see Glass knows cameras of some sort coming. Completely separate from the functionality of Android Wear. And I wouldn’t mind having that either. I think it has journalistic opportunities. I don’t think the other functionality works very well up here. Gina?
Gina: I do agree that Android Wear, the watch, is a much more appealing product or most consumers that gives you most of the functionality of Glass. I don’t think Glass is dead. I think it’s a niche market. I imagine going to Coney Island and I’m about to get on the Farris wheel, and they say, do you want to rent a pair of Glass to take video. Or I’m going to get on the zip line. It’s an experience thing, sort of the camera on your head thing. That’s not something you need on a daily basis. Even being able to speak to your big computer is not something that people really want. I think the watch is… people want a way to stay in touch without constantly being buried in their phone. I think that’s a problem. I think it’s an issue. I think Microsoft has done commercials about people falling into a mall fountain or just staring at their phone all day. I think for people that are hyper-connected, the watch is a much more appealing product especially because people don’t stop and ask you about it. And it’s not banned in theaters. I don’t think Glass is dead but the watch is definitely more…
Jeff: The big question is, with Larry Page the big question is, if this is emasculating, is this? For those on audio I was saying to Larry, looking at your phone was emasculating. Somehow Google Glass was not.
Mike: Might have been Sergay.
Gina: That was an educational moment for me because I didn’t realize that emasculate could mean something other than gender-related. It actually means weakening. And I think they were trying to say it makes you less present in the world. Just was a bad choice of words or maybe it was a good choice, we’re still talking about it. That was a while ago, wasn’t it?
Mike: I think we can all agree that the comfort level of using Android Wear is very high. Surprisingly high. And that differentiates it massively from Google Glass which is a little uncomfortable. It was really cool at first, still cool. I like Google Glass because you can take pictures. I wear it when I’m trail running. I see a deer and I take a picture. And the picture comes out as a little tiny picture of a deer that nobody cares about. It would be kind of cool to be able to do that if there is an alien invasion and I get abducted or whatever. I’m going to have some good video. For the most part I’m loving the Android Wear and I think we all do. I’m really looking forward to the apps. Again, that’s coming next week. Speaking of new platforms, Gina have you got a chance to play with Android L’s developer preview?
Gina: Oh man, I have not had a chance to play with it. And it’s because my Nexus 7 is a little too old. And I don’t have a Nexus 5. My wife does and I wanted to swap with her. I can install the preview but my co-host last night, we had Ram Amadeo from Arch Technico who has written extensively about the L preview. He said it’s not ready to be your daily driver. I got a kid in day care, my phone’s got to work. My phone can’t crash, I need phone call. So I have not installed it because I just don’t have the hardware laying around to test it out. So we did a nice long review last night on All About Android. It’s beautiful but it’s still rough. It very much is a preview. It’s not a beta, it’s a developer preview. But it’s killing me because man does it look good. The material design is amazing. But unfortunately I’m going to be developing in the simulator for now. I’m sure there are a couple of L’s laying around in the studio, Mike?
Mike: Not that I’ve seen. I’ll check. Jason has one. I haven’t talked to anybody here who’s looked at that. But you’ve obviously been reading about it and you’ve been talking a lot about it. For those watching and listening who are not super familiar on the material design, can you explain exactly what that is and why you’re excited about it?
Gina: I’m not a designer but the idea of material design is the idea that design of Android is kind of card-based design. Which we’ve already seen in Google Now. The idea is the card, and the movement is very tactile. The design of the interface and the items of the interface behave as if they’re objects in real space. So there’s this idea of height and Z-index so cards can be above the rest of the interface very naturally. Things don’t just teleport from one point to another. They slide and shift. You have this hero image that you saw, and just contracts as you scroll up. Everything is extremely smote and fast. And it behaves as if… it’s cardstock… as if they were cards on the table and can move them around. Except that they can change shape obviously because it’s digital. You have nice shadows and buttons that can overlay. It’s a complete overhaul of Android’s this fall. Which right now is hollow, so the material design is a success for the hollow and it takes over the entire interface of Android. And any apps that use the default theme will also get the material design updates. And as far as I can say, it’s beautiful and fast. There’s this beautiful revolution of morphism and flat design. It’s flat design, but it’s even better because it feels very natural. The idea that your brain thinks about objects and space the way they actually act in physical space. And try to create that experience on the phone and make it more intuitive. What I’m seeing, just the previews and videos and screenshots, they’ve done a really nice job and I’m really excited about converting my app over to material design. Which means that Google did their job at IO. That’s the whole idea, to convince developers and get them excited about this new theme, this new design.
Jeff: Quick question, Gina on that. When you redesign your app for that, does that mean it’s yet more fragmentation? That all the earlier versions of Android won’t be there. How much effort does that take and what’s the payoff?
Gina: It depends on how much customization you do. So my app is a to-do list, it’s very simple that uses standard Android UI, elements, lists. And scrolling, the hamburger menu or the flat-out menu. These are default UI widgets or objects that Android provides. And I didn’t do a whole lot of customization. For me, it’s very simple. For apps that have custom designs that aren’t kind of your standard Android stuff, it’s a little harder. Maybe you don’t switch to material design at all and you decide to design your app completely custom. For the most part, all these improvements on material design, you get mostly for free. If you’re already using default Android widget UI elements, you get these updates for free, which is really nice.
Jeff: That was a phrase used a lot last week at IO. You get them for free. It doesn’t mean the obvious otherwise you’d pay for them. What does it mean?
Gina: It means there is no extra effort on my part as a developer. I don’t have to recompile my APK, I don’t have to write new source code. It just runs, just works. That’s when they were saying if you’re on Android and your app has notifications on android. It works on Android Wear, because Android Wear just detects those notifications. For free, meaning no more extra cost of investment on my part.
Mike: It’s really fascinating to see Google’s rapid transition from essentially ignoring and almost having a contempt for everything that resembles design just a few years ago, to being so good at design. Their apps have been busy for a while. Their iOS apps have been beautiful for a while. The design of Google Plus is very nice and the card’s interface is beautiful. And now this! They’ve just gone from the back of the class to the front of the class. And it’s really great to see. They finally understand that design isn’t about decoration, it’s about user-ability and user happiness, really.
Gina: We tell this on the web too, right? Android iteration of revolution has been this sped up process that we saw on the web. Back in the day, Google was a list of blue links. It was like the default browser blue. We see a lot more design. I look at the new modern apps like Google Heat. This is gorgeous! What they did here. When they launched forever ago, I think Larry would Photoshop the Google logo themselves. They’ve come a long way and I feel like the Android evolution has been an accelerated version of what we’ve seen on the web.
Mike: Speaking of things that you get for free. What is your current thinking on project vulta? It sounds great right out of the bat. Project vulta is a huge initiative that will enable Android devices to really be carefully with battery life. It will extend battery life, essentially that will be the end result for Android users with the same battery and the same everything else. The phone will last longer between charges. There are downsides to it of course that it turns off services. It doesn’t do anything super magical. It just manages things that are running. For example, it won’t launch something that requires an internet connection. And there’s no connection available. But what you’re thinking with the developer about project vulta. Is this something that’s going to be transformative or could this be problematic? What are you thinking about this?
Gina: To me itsounds like advantages that you also get for free. When you’re developing for a mobile app, you have to think about things like slow connections intermittent connections, and non-existing connections, and small screens, and low processing power. And if Android the system can help me manage that better, my app doesn’t work if there’s no internet connection, it’s a bad user experience. If the user launches the app and it says sorry, right? It handles that for me, that’s great. Bring it on. That’s less work that I have to do. There’s certain problem that every mobile app has to deal with. Particularly when you’re around intermittent connections and bad connections. And anything that Android the system can handle, I’m like bring it on. That’s great. If your app is so battery hungry that vulta is killing it on a regular basis, that’s more motivation to me as a developer to optimize even more.
Mike: That’s a great point. Well, I think we should do the Google change log if we have the timpani’s ready and the trumpets. So why don’t we launch into that?
[Voice]: The Google change log.
Gina: This is a relatively light change log post IO. We do have a couple little things. First, this was spotted by Android central. Google Voice for Android now has emoji support. So, you can send all your happy faces that you want. I tried it out today. It works really great for Google Voice for Android. However, I think I got, I think it’s pronounced Moji-Baki. Is that what it’s called? On the web, Google Voice on the web, I did not see my emoji. But it does work from Google Voice to regular SMS carrier and back. So that’s a welcome edition for those of us who like our smiley faces. Let’s see, video hangout no longer are required to plug in on the desktops. So Google is officially deprecated the hangout plug-in for Chrome. A developer in Canary channel loads a Chrome browser. Meaning that hangout’s video functionality is completely built into the browser. So this is going to roll out to all Chrome users next week. It’s really nice. Just means you don’t have to install an extra extension. Sad news for Orchid users. Remember Orchid? It was pre Google Plus.
Mike: Another words, you Brazilian viewers…
Gina: Yes bad news for Brazilian. Google is shutting down Orchid. First social networking effort back in the day acquired. I guess they had… they launched it in 2011. I’m sorry, not 2011, that’s Google Plus. Sorry about that.
Mike: 2004 I believe. 10 years ago.
Gina: So yea they’re shutting it down to focus on other social networking business like YouTube blogger, and Google Plus.
Jeff: I do believe Kevin Marks did work for them at one point.
Gina: You might be right! You might be right.
Mike: It was a 20% time project and I used it at the beginning and pretty soon everything was in Portuguese.
Jeff: It was also big in India for a while.
Mike: Yea, still is. Or was I guess. They’re shutting it down on September 30, I believe it is.
Jeff: There’s nothing you can do to transport your friends to anywhere else. They’re just gone.
Gina: You can export your profile posts and photos using Google Take Out from Orhid. And that will be available until September 2016, so you’ve got some time if you have some work to you.
Jeff: I understand they’re getting rid of it. I don’t have a problem with them. Remember I tried to talk about this long ago. When my daughter was on the American girls psyche. I’ll be coming to you soon, Gina. I think Mattell owns the company and the site. And it was a safe place where they could have friends. And they just killed it. It was like destroying the town. You have a bit of a social responsibility platform for community. Then you kill the platform and the community goes vrum.
Gina: There’s no space for them to go to anymore. It is, you really need someone to make an organized move over. I feel like even beyond Google Take Out, Google could create an Orchid community on Plus, or create some sort of office space.
Mike: I’ve heard that they are going to provide a tool, that’s not available yet, to actually automatically transition Orchid profiles to Google Plus profiles.
Jeff: You’re losing your friends too. You’re losing things that are important to you. Again, I understand why they’re doing it. They kill things that aren’t working. We’ve been making Orchid jokes for years. But still, there’s some responsibility to a community when you start it, and I think that’s an issue going forward.
Mike: You said it was okay for Facebook to sever my relationship with Aunt Mildred. What’s the difference here? I don’t know anybody in Brazil. Is that it, Gina? Is that the change log?
Gina: One last shut down. This was actually a feature that wasn’t available here in the U.S. But Google actually introduced SMS for hangouts, on the web. Of course we know that it exists in hangouts for Android. So they had offered that, and up until now that feature was available in India, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Ukraine, Congo, and other countries in Africa and Asia. They are currently shutting that down as well. They’re saying that the service will be discontinued. For all the regions, it just says that service is unavailable. I’m not sure what’s going on there. We saw quite a bit at Google IO about getting text messages from Android on to Chrome OS. I would love to see that actually just in Chrome so you don’t have to be on a Chrome Book to get that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw another iteration of getting SMS on the desktop for everyone soon. But for now, that experimental feature for those countries is no longer available.
Mike: And there were stories related to this, before we play the trumpets again, that, we’re, talking about evidence that Google is going to be moving Google Voice people to hangouts and building some of the Google Voice functionality and Hangouts, and in there somewhere would be another way to integrate SMS with hangouts. but I have to be honest, I read multiple articles and none of them were all that clear, and I still am not certain about exactly what the evidence is and what the information is and what, what’s going to happen. But I think that logically speaking, it makes a lot of sense that Google Voice be folded into and integrated with hangouts and some of the Google Voice functionality, hopefully all of the Google Voice functionality; I’m a Voice user; there are certain things in Google Voice that I really would rather not live without, and, and if they’re going to move it to hangouts, bring all that stuff.
Gina: I hope, I hope…
Jeff: The only thing I have to say is, I am, to this day, I am confused about SMS and hangouts.
Jeff: And, and I end up sending, I end up sending a message to my son on his Google account instead of his phone, and I….
Mike: It’s all very, very confusing; there are many things about hangouts that are confusing. For example, why can’t they turn off people calling me from Pakistan in the middle of the night? Like, why can’t they turn that off?
Mike: Yeah, it happens to me all the time, from all over the world, and I just can’t figure out how to turn it off. But, this whole SMS thing, when they first launched it, I believe it’s still the case; a person’s SMS is treated like a different person from that person as you know them on Google Plus, Gmail, and so on...
Mike: And, it’s very easy to mix them up, and, but the other thing, the story that Gina’s talking about, as I understand it, is it’s not that, it’s not the use of SMS via Hangouts, it’s the transmission of Hangout messages via the SMS system.
Jeff: Right, Right
Mike: So it’s super complicated, nobody knows what’s going on with Hangouts, and SMS, and, it’s terrible because Google needs to fix this. Hangouts is super essential to what Google is trying to accomplish, and they need to make it clear, and easy, and frankly, more Facetime-like, or more iMessage-like, I guess I should say, where, where basically, you just send someone a message, and the, you know, the company takes care of how it gets there. And if, you know, everyone is using the Hangouts, fine, it goes by Hangouts, but if not it goes by SMS, fine, but it’s all, you know, sort of, behind the scenes. I don’t want to have to stress out about who I’m contacting, how I’m contacting them, and I don’t want people calling me in the middle of the night.
Gina: Yeah, I, I totally agree. I mean, we’re still waiting for the unified messaging platform that Google promised you know, it was like two IOs ago. And I don’t know with Google Voice, I mean, I hope, I hope, I hope they build it into Hangouts. It feels like Google Voice is either on the edge of getting killed, or this amazing rollup upgrade into Hangouts where everything just works. I feel like if Google shuts down Voice, it will have a worse situation on its hands then it did when Google Reader closed, because I think that there’s a very strong and vocal user base…
Gina: …Of power users who love Voice, and who used it for a really long time. But I don’t think that most people know what Voice is, but I think that the people who do know what Voice is, or folks like us, who switch phones and, and, and who are, who are privileged in that way, and have that need for the one number to rule them all. so I hope that they don’t shut it down, because I think it will be a serious P. R. issue if they do.
Mike: And for those watching or listening who are not familiar with the feature set of Google Voice, essentially the killer feature; there are many features; the killer features are that you can add multiple phones, you can have, have landline phones, cell phones, and they’re all attached to your single Google Voice number so people call, and you can determine which phones ring, whether they all ring, whether none of them rings between certain hours, you can block, callers so if you’re, you’re getting, you know, telephone spam, you can block that number, and Google will lie for you, and tell those callers that it’ll play a, a fake “this number is no longer in service” recording, which is crazy, really, that they’re, that they would be willing to lie by copying the official telephone systems , “no longer in service” message. Ah…and features like that. But that’s really great you can swap out other numbers and you can have a lot of control over your numbers. That’s how phones should work, really. That’s how contacting people on the phone should work. So yeah, please keep all of those features, if you’re going to move into Hangouts because those are very, very powerful and yeah, like you said, people are passionate about Voice because, because it’s, you know, you start using it, and you, you just, you need it.
Gina: You can’t take it back.
Mike: Absolutely. We have a closer for the change log. Shouldn’t we play that?
Gina: Thank you, Chad!
Mike: Awesome. Well. Okay, let’s talk about the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Google’s’ Street View appeal. Now just to set up the story, some time ago, a few years ago, a couple years ago, Google was caught harvesting data from people’s home wifis, small business wifis; their Street View cars roamed through the streets, and just sucking down data, taking, in some cases, passwords, anything it could. It turns out that you know, Google officially threw a rouge engineer under the bus, saying that this project was something done without official corporate authorization. They should have copped to the fact that it’s possible for employees to do things like that, without the company’s knowledge or permission. but, but the, the Supreme Court basically said, and Google was sued, they lost the lawsuit, Google wanted the Supreme Court to look at it, and the Supreme Court said no. And that’s the end of it. So there is no higher court than the Supreme Court…
Jeff: Well, well, I think that this was, and I, I, didn’t read the, I, I saw the stories quickly, but as I recall, this allows the, Google was trying to stop the case from going on, this now allows the case to go on, so I don’t think it’s fully…
Mike: okay, okay…
Jeff: So I could be wrong about that, Chad will correct me, as I know you will if I’m wrong.
Mike: Yeah, okay. That’s a good point. But I want to talk about the question, and, and, truth, truth be told, I’m hoping, Jeff Jarvis, that you’ll be one of the only people in the world to, to will agree with my, my opinion on this. but my opinion is essentially this: the, the way that this story has been characterized in the press, since this was first uncovered, is that Google Street View cars were driving around, and reaching into people’s homes, and reaching into their wifi, routers and, grabbing information. When in fact, the way that works is that the wifi information, is under the control of the owner, theoretically, whether that is encrypted or not encrypted, whether it’s password protected or not password protected, and those things are broadcast out into the street, into the public street. And a car passing by, every, everything that passes by is going to be washed over, by these waves, by these, you know, by electromagnetic radiation, essentially, and, so the, the idea that you would pay attention to it, would, that you would see it, that you would capture it, is similar when, if you open up a wifi network and the restaurant next door, you can see their wifi password, that , you, you’re actually connecting to their router, to a certain extent that their, that information is coming to you and you’re seeing it, right. So to, to capture and record what is on a public street, essentially is not polite, it’s not nice, they shouldn’t have done it, as they’ve admitted, but it doesn’t seem to me like a, a, a super wrong thing to do, either. It’s kind of as if, it’s literally like, somebody put a big TV set in the window, facing out toward the street, with their personal password on it, and then having somebody walk by and go “huh” writing it down, and them getting in trouble for writing it down. The person who is control of that information broadcast it into the public’s sphere, and so it just doesn’t seem as wrong as it sounds, on its face. What do you think, Jeff?
Jeff: I, I,I agree, and, and, and we’ll talk about back when this case happened, it, it, it in the US and Europe, this stuff is broadcast on public and open airwaves. You’re right, it was stupid and rude and unnecessary for Google to take it, but, but it’s also been the case in techno-panic land, that people have argued that Google had some great conspiracy to do this. And, and just the absurdity of that, you know, the, the, the odds that something of value is going to be caught with the, on the day when the car happens to drive by in three minutes and catches something, and the idea that Google had any business model for doing anything with this data, is absurd. Also, people were ignorant about the fact that there are other companies besides Google that capture wifi router addresses so that they can be used in geo-location software that we are all depend upon. And that’s all okay, nobody talks about that, that’s not a big deal, the problem is that Google took too much data, and that data was absolutely useless, they were stupid to take it, it caused them he P.R. hell, and now legal hell, but there was no possibility of a business conspiracy behind it, and it’s once again the case of an ignorant court, or set of courts, that, that don’t know enough about the technology, to understand how to rule to the principle. They’ve had an impact on the definition of “public,” now, and just as the, the case against Google Street View in some countries, especially in Europe, have an impact on the notion of what is “public,” that’s going to have, I think, a precedent that could be harmful in other cases.
Mike: Gina, do you have a view on, on this? Do you have an opinion one way or the other?
Gina: I agree with you guys, I mean, Google was obviously a bug in the software that, that, prevented the software from discarding that data, right? I mean, they were supposed to be just collecting the access point information, not the data that was passing to and from it, right? and look, there was a bug in the software, they collected, they collected the data, I think they did it by mistake, that’s what they said, and you know, look, this is the reason why Google blurs out faces in Street View pictures, right? And why we redact personal information from public documents like, you know, they should have, they should have discarded it, they didn’t; they made a mistake. The law that they reportedly broke that was the Federal Wiretap Law, right? Yes…
Mike: Which is absurd!
Gina: Yeah, the Federal Wiretap Act, which, you know, I think that indicates a misunderstanding of technology as these cases, as there is so often is in these kinds of cases, so I mean, look, this is, this is the case that, that means that the FCC is going to be babysitting uh, uh, Google for like, the next twenty years. Right, aren’t they doing privacy audits of Google for the next twenty years, because of this?
Gina: You know, I, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, and I know, Jeff, I’m sorry. (laughing) I think it’s, I think it’s good that Google’s, aware, that, you know, buggies, buggy software, or something that they’re doing in the interest of their business could, could, could, could have these, these kinds of, these kinds of effects, but uh, but yeah, this, this seems like a bummer ruling and I, I, I think they should have heard the appeal.
Mike: Yeah, I Agree.
Mike: Well…why don’t we do our picks and tips, and number of the week, who normally goes first on this show is it Leo, or Gina, do you go first?
Mike: Alright, go for it.
Gina: Yeah, I think I usually go first.
Jeff: Always ladies first.
Gina: (Laughing) So, this tip comes from the Google Operating System blog, covering Google, particularly our products. And it’s just a little, just a little tip. The new Google maps came out quite some time ago, but, if you have thought about the old Google Maps, or you miss the old Google Maps, there’s a little short url or a secret url that can take you to the old, classic Google Maps. And that is Google dot com slash local. I gotta tell you, I haven’t looked at the old Google Maps in a really, really long time; I went to this url today just to kind of check it out, and it felt like I was just seeing an old friend. I was like, “Ahh, yes, this!” I think there a few things of the new Google Maps though; it tries to be a little too smart, a little too predictive for me. Sometimes, I’m like, fumbling around, trying to figure out how to get to one view or the other. So it was kind of cool to see the old Google Maps. This url might not work for very long; I’m sure they’re going to phase out the old Maps, the classic Maps, soon, but if you haven’t looked at the old Maps after using the new Maps for a while, go to Google dot com slash local, and you can enjoy a little bit of nostalgia.
Mike: Gina, I am totally using this as my default view for Google Maps for as long as I can; here’s why: I hate the new Maps because the, the, the, the card on the upper left hand corner…
Mike: …Always covers, and I try to get rid of it-
Mike: And I kinda lose control, and it’s frustrating…
Jeff: Exactly, same here.
Mike: So thank you-
Gina: Yes, yeah.
Mike: Thank, Thank you for that tip.
Mike: I’m, I’m absolutely going to make this my default, uh, Google Maps view. So, Jeff, what do you have number-wise?
Jeff: I want to mention, two things real quick: one, I just want to mention this just quickly that Google is offering free lessons in coding to thousands of women and minorities and it couldn’t happen soon enough. Not only have Google and Facebook and other companies revealed their less than stellar uh, diversity numbers, but, but, also, just culturally, we’re seeing, just a…a rat-a-tat-tat of cases of women being treated badly in, technology companies so the only solution to that is to have more people doing it. Now I want to plug one of my students out of Brynier, one of my graduates, has a business called Skill Crush, that teaches women how to code; and the more we have, the better, right, Gina?
Gina: Absolutely, love Skill Crush.
Jeff; but the number that I wanted to go over this week was that Google, uh, uh, is so far, Google Cloud Platform is eight for eight in World Cup predictions. So who needs to watch the World Cup when you have Google?
Mike: Exactly. That’s my point exactly. I’ve been, I’ve been, oh man, I’ve been, I’ve been trash talking soccer, in general ,for this…
Jeff: Zero-zero. Zero-zero. Zero-zero. It was so funny, when I was there, I was in Frankfurt the other night, coming back here, and it was before the Germans were going on, and so people were out, at restaurants and on the streets, just like, TVs were everywhere. The funny thing was to listen; soccer sounds like such a painful sport, because it’s constantly, all you hear from a distance is “oohhh!”
Gina: For three, for three hours! And nothing happens!
Mike: Jason and I were going yesterday, Before You Buy, during the Belgium-USA game. And we hear these enormous cheers, coming out of the break room, and we thought, “Oh, you know, the U.S. must have scored,” No, the U.S. sort of, kind of, almost scored, and that was like, super exciting, apparently.
Mike: That, the ball got within the general proximity of the goal. Yeah, it’s awful, I, I just can’t do it. Yeah, you know, I’m not a sports guy anyway, and if it’s soccer…
Jeff: You just got to complain…
Mike: It’s, oh boy, I hear it on Google Plus, I have so many friends all over the world and they have these big arguments about whether it’s called football or soccer, you know, we, we had a big pissing contest yesterday about how many English speakers, native English speakers, or people who speak English fluently as a second language, use soccer versus football, and uh, it was, it was a very, an interesting conversation, but it always comes up, these conversations about which, what’s better, you know, American football or international football, always end, with the Australians saying,” Ya, you know what? Rugby. That’s the best sport in the world.”
Jeff: The important sports news of the day is that Fedderer won. Yeaaah!
Mike: Yeah, there you go. Ok listen: do my, do my tool. there is a kick-starter project that I would love for everyone to back so that I can buy it, called Pelty. Pelty is a speaker that is powered, not by plugging it in, it’s not powered by batteries, but by a single candle. An one candle will play your, and it’s Bluetooth, so there’s no wires visible, there’s nothing visible, and it will play for eight hours with one little votive like candle. This is great for the coming apocalypse, the, the end of the world where there is no electricity, and all you need is a shotgun, a machete, and one of these, and you should be fine, in the post, post-apocalyptic…
Jeff: Mike, has anyone told you lately that you have too much disposable income?
Mike: (Laughing) Ah….maybe. But this is a, this is, this is kind of cool.
Mike: Not only does it play music, but it creates a kind of ambience.
Gina: (Laughing) Date night!
Mike: There you go. And look, there’s the hook right there: there’s an android phone. So…
Jeff: You’re going to get confused; you’re going to start burning your phone by putting a candle under it.
Mike: That’s right, that’s right. Well, you know, and, and if I do that I’ll have to get a new phone, and I’ll be fine anyway. You know, like you said, too much disposable income.
Jeff: Too much disposable income.
Mike: Well that concludes this week’s edition of This Week in Google. Thank you, Jeff and Gina; thank all of you for tuning in, today.
Jeff: Thanks, Mike.
Gina: Yeah, thanks, Mike.
Mike: Boy, Leo makes this look easy, and it is not.
Mike: He makes it looks so easy.
Jeff: What are you trying to say we’re difficult to deal with?
Mike: Yes I am! No, I’m not, you guys are wonderful, I love the show, I, I’m, I’m the biggest fan of this show, and always have been, for a, a long time. I either love to either be on the show, as I have once or twice before, and hosting it is absolutely fantastic, because I get to talk back, I get to engage with you guys, but I never miss a single word of this show, I absolutely love it. Jeff Jarvis is Professor of Journalism, the city of, University of New York, and author of Public Parts: What Will Google Do and Gutenberg the Geek, he blogs it buzz machine dot com, thank you so much Jeff Jarvis. Gina Trapani is creator of Think UP dot com, host Twit’s All About Android, with the lovely and talented Jason Howell, as well, founding editor of LifeHacker, thank you so much, Gina Trapani.
Gina: Thank you.
Mike: We do This, we do This Week in Google every Wednesday one PM Pacific, four PM Eastern, that’s two thousand UTC, you can watch this show live at live dot twit dot TV, or you can subscribe to the show twit dot TV slash twig; there are many, many subscription options available. Thank you for joining us today; Leo and the gang will be with you next time on TWiG!