09th October 2018
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Something no one imagined would be happening in 2018, people are talking about Google+.

As part of “Project Strobe”, Google have been going over third-party develop access to Google accounts and Android device data:

Over the years we’ve received feedback that people want to better understand how to control the data they choose to share with apps on Google+. So as part of Project Strobe, one of our first priorities was to closely review all the APIs associated with Google+.

This review crystallized what we’ve known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.

From this investigation, they found a bug in one of the Google+ People APIs:

Users can grant access to their Profile data, and the public Profile information of their friends, to Google+ apps, via the API.

Basically, the API allowed third-party developers to a lot of your, and your friends information. Including things marked as private.

This sounds pretty bad. And if this was regarding Facebook or Twitter, there would be quite a level of outrage. However, this is Google+, the platform that no one uses.

Which is why I find this statement quite funny:

We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

So no one took notice of the security flaws, because no one actually used the platform. Including developers.

But because of these security flaws, and the really low usage numbers. Google have decided to start the process of shutting down the platform.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August. Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.

My first thought is, when do we see Google’s next idea of a social network? It’s always funny to see what they think can actually complete with the already established platforms.

24th July 2018

Matt Birchler:

…if you want the best Google software, iOS is really the place to be.

That sounds crazy, and maybe for some people it is, but as someone who relies heavily on Google’s software in both my personal and professional life, iOS has been a great platform for getting everything done that I need to do. Not only that, but a shocking amount of Google apps are updated first on iOS or are totally exclusive to iOS for months before going to Android. And with new apps like Files and updates to Siri intents, Google’s apps can interact more closely with iOS than they could in earlier versions of iOS.

I can’t say I’m well versed in the Android ecosystem, but I am aware of it. I pay attention to Google I/O announcements, and of course, there’s an Android developer at work so I have at least some perspective.

The only, or at least the biggest issue I can determine, is the obvious levels of fragmentation. This used to be the argument of app design, and quality, where iPhones used to be just the one size, and Android already had loads of variety.

The fragmentation I think causes these problems is the multiple Android vendors and mobile networks, that introduce needless bottlenecks to the whole platform. Whether it’s a small update that will get ignored by certain manufacturers or a major release which will take extra time for a company like Samsung (just picking one at random) to add their software on top, before shipping it to consumers. I just don’t think the wide varieties of Android phones combine to make a stable ecosystem.

That’s a whole lot different with iOS though because there’s less device variety, a higher percentage of users are on the latest version of the OS, and the App Store is a widely known success. I think this is why Google do so well. Because they can leave the foundation work to Apple, and that leaves them with just the software. And I can admit they can make pretty good software.