Google Photos: Why iPhone, iPad and Mac Users Should Not Use It

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Google Photos now holds 4 trillion photos and videos, which is more than a billion users . It is preferred by millions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users, who prefer it to Apple’s alternative, which offers better search, more features, and cheaper storage ( at most until June 1). If you are one of them, Google’s recent data harvesting admissions and continued blocking on an Apple privacy measure should be a warning sign that it is time to change.

 

Another week of Facebook’s data harvesting has been a hot topic, with disingenuous app tracking transparency notifications and signal posting being a stark reminder about the invasive nature data held for us. Let’s not forget that Google is an even bigger data empire that was built from the digital marketing gold rush.

After a long delay, Google now has privacy labels filed for all major apps in Apple’s App Store. This includes Google Photos. Google Photos is a stark contrast to the Apple equivalent, just as Gmail, Chrome, and Maps.

Apple Photos Vs Google Photos

APPLE PRIVATE LABELS/@UKZAK

The sheer amount of data Google Photos may collect is staggering, as it has been for years. Google emphasizes that the “App Privacy Labels” show all data that can be collected. However, the data actually collected depends on which features are used. For example, we will collect contact information if you choose to share photos or videos with others. If you purchase a photo book, payment information and purchase history will also be stored. This data would not be collected if the user chose to not share photos or make purchases.

 

Google is quite different. Google makes the majority of its profits by selling you access by showing you ads. Google charges its customers more to show them ads if they are more targeted and tailored. This is the basic premise behind everything we are discussing in privacy. Safari blocks trackers, while Chrome tests its flawed FLoC solution for maintaining its targeted ads machine.

Google explains that “if you look at videos about baking on YouTube you might see more ads related to baking while you surf the internet.” If you search for “pizza”, we may also use your IP address as a location indicator to show you local pizza delivery services.

This may seem harmless but companies like Facebook and Google can create profiles on us that are much more detailed than this. An advertiser can use each datapoint to target the exact audience it is looking for. While we all love pizza, the same data analytics can also be used to shape our opinions and adjust our social media channels to fit our needs. This will keep us online longer, sell us more stuff, and shape our views.

This situation is only exacerbated by every app, platform, and service that feeds them. While Google and Facebook will insist that their apps have privacy labels, this does not improve our experience and their services. It also ensures that their $100 billion plus in ad revenue continues to flow.

So, you can make a view. It’s possible to ask yourself if it’s a coincidence that Google’s privacy labels are so different from Apple’s. Or if it’s just a result of the way those apps work. Apple earns its revenue through selling services and devices. This is not complicated math.

These privacy labels have a twist. These privacy labels distinguish between data linked to you and data not linked to your. Developers can use the data to improve their services, track its usage patterns, and even look at where its apps might be used. The developer can link each data field to your profile, allowing you to see the details.

Apple Photos Vs Google Photos

APPLE PRIVATE LABELS/@UKZAK

The difference between Google and Apple’s photo apps is just as stark. Apple could be better, but the only data Google doesn’t link to your identity are the diagnostics for app crashes. This is how it should be thought.

Google Photos is a complex platform. Users might be required to share their information with Google in order to fully enjoy the features. There is a philosophy behind this. Chrome, Google’s most popular browser, shows the same pattern: too much data, all linked with identities, nothing unlinked. It’s difficult to argue Chrome is fundamentally different from Safari (or the other browsers) in how it angles the differences between photo apps.

Chrome vs Rivals

APPLE PRIVATE LABELS/@UKZAK

It all boils down to trust. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai has assured that “we don’t use information in apps where you primarily store personal content–such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar and Photos–for advertising purposes, period.” But, even if we ignore that advertising/marketing is on Google Photos’ privacy label, advertising is complex, and it doesn’t need to be directly linked to a specific activity to fuel a profile from which hyper-scale data harvesters can derive staggering value.

Google claims that Apple is unique in its ability to pull data from multiple sources. Google encourages users to create Google accounts on Apple devices and elsewhere. This allows them to have a way to store their own unifying data repository for Apple users just like it does on Android OS.

These are the three additional thoughts for Apple users who have Google Photos installed on one of their devices.

First, Apple and Google have different ways of analyzing your photos in order to allow for search, map and categorization. Apple’s Photo App uses machine learning to organize your photos directly on your device. You don’t have to share them with Apple, or anyone else.” This means that analytics are not performed on iCloud’s servers. It is different from other cloud-based photo services like Google.

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All those photos and all the metadata are just another raw information that feeds the all-important, all-encompassing algorithm. This analysis drives targeted ads, drives clicks, builds the profile, and 

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