googlemonitoring

Privacy-minded folks won’t like this: word on the street is that the Internet giant Google is readying a new app for iOS and Android devices that will reward people for tracking their mobile habits and patterns.

Dubbed Mobile Meter, the software has reportedly been conceived to give Google a much deeper insight into how owners of smartphones and tablets use their devices.

This is especially eyebrow-raising given Apple’s tight control of its ecosystem. In order to persuade people into installing Mobile Meter on their devices, the search monster will ostensibly reward people in exchange for their mobile trends. More tidbits right below…

The Mobile Meter program is said to be voluntary so you’ll have to opt-in before you start collecting those rewards.

Engadget has the scoop:

Engadget has learned that the company is readying a new mobile service that compensates users if they allow their mobile behavior to be monitored.

We’re told that the project, known internally as “Mobile Meter,” utilizes iOS and Android apps that intelligently monitor app usage and web browsing habits and send the data back to Google.

The article stopped short of detailing what the rewards might be.

Although a Google spokesperson wouldn’t comment on “rumor and speculation,” it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Google’s intelligence on desktop users is far more superior compared to their knowledge of rival mobile platform users such as those on iOS.

Now, Google already collects some anonymized data from third-party apps which incorporate its AdMob and AdSense advertising technologies. Furthermore, it gains far more valuable insights into iOS users by analyzing usage logs generated by its iOS apps such as YouTube, Gmail and Maps (by the way, you can opt-out from stats sharing anytime via in-app settings).

But not all apps use Google’s mobile advertising technology: Apple is gently pushing registered iOS developers toward using its own iAd solution. And because iOS isn’t a probe in your pocket like Android is, it’s really not trivial for Google to collect rich data on iOS users’ mobile habits when they’re not using the company’s iPhone and iPad apps.

Although Google will “anonymize all of the information it collects to ensure the privacy of its panelists,” I smell a potential privacy scandal in the making.

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In related news, Google’s feeling the heat over its newly-updated Terms of Service to allow your Google Account profile image to appear not only in Google products, but in reviews, advertising and other commercial contexts across the web (see below).

In what essentially boils down to selling users’ endorsements to advertisers, Google is hoping to counter Facebook, which for at least a year has been showing personalized social ads featuring your friends’ photos.

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These display ads are called Shared Endorsements and won’t apply to users under 18.

Google’s pitch is interesting:

Feedback from people you know can save you time and improve results for you and your friends across all Google services, including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising.

For example, your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. And the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google.

Only the people you’ve previously agreed to share content with can see your endorsements.

The new policy and Shared Endorsements are slated to go live on November 18, but don’t worry – you can always opt-out here.