Google Glasses: Android smartphone augmented reality for your eyeballs?

Yesterday 36 state attorney generals sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page about Google's new privacy policy which will force users to share information across Gmail, Maps and YouTube to name but a few. "The new policy forces these consumers to allow information across all of these products to be shared, without giving them the proper ability to opt out." The AGs wrote [PDF]:

Even more troubling, this invasion of privacy is virtually impossible to escape for the nation's Android-powered smartphone users, who comprise nearly 50% of the national smartphone market. For these consumers, avoiding Google's privacy policy change may mean buying an entirely new phone at great personal expense. No doubt many of these consumers bought an Android-powered phone in reliance on Google's existing privacy policy, which touted to these consumers that "We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent." That promise appears not to be honored by the new privacy policy. Given the way the new privacy policy is being implemented, i.e., without genuine opt-out options and without pre-purchase notice to users of Android-powered smartphones, it seems these users can only register non-consent by abandoning their phone altogether.

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Speaking of Android smartphones, the Motorola Droid Razr is one of the smartphones slated for the Ice Cream Sandwich OS update, but is currently running Android version 2.3.6 Gingerbread. The latest Razr system version update is 6.12.173.XT912.Verizon.en.US and Android Authority noted the specifications such as "new icon graphics on the Homescreen and Application tray." While I didn't see "Emergency Alert" app or MOG app listed, unless it was listed on forum threads under the generic term "bloat" pushed out with the update, I noticed something new other than the text graphic icon. In fact, I called Verizon tech support but there were no other reports about the change to predictive texting -- that's when you type a word and suggested words pop up under the text box.

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When it comes to predictive texting after the update, or at least I had not previously noticed this, your Gmail contacts are data-mined. For example, if I type the first name of one of my contacts, that person's last name immediately shows up in predictive suggestions. These are full names that I had not ever mentioned in SMS, so I ran through several hundred contacts to test this. Indeed, if I've entered a full name into my contacts, and type the first name, the last name is suggested. Although it won't stop the data-mining or protect your privacy, you can turn off predictive texting. Go to Settings>Language & Keyboard,>Multi-touch> disable Next word prediction. This is also where you can "Clear" all learned words from the user dictionary; otherwise typos or misspellings added to a user's dictionary can be individually edited under Settings> Language & Keyboard>User dictionary.

By the way, for anyone interested, there was a new Motorola Droid Razr all-in-one rooting and hacking utility announced on xda-developers RAZR utility thread.

What's next on the horizon for Android smartphones before 2012 ends? Think Terminator style shades and you may be getting close. Some day when you look at a person while wearing such glasses, if Google recognizes that individual through Face Search, maybe you'll be reminded of their name, or perhaps inside your line of vision it will be suggested for you add that person to Google+?

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The New York Times does not disclose its sources but "several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected 'to cost around the price of current smartphones,' or $250 to $600." These Android-based glasses will "include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone's eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS." Privacy is supposedly being debated by the Google X team which wants "to ensure that people know if they are being recorded by someone wearing a pair of glasses with a built-in camera."

9to5Google reported Google's glasses "heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations....The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users." The glasses "will also include voice input and output."

Fast Company further speculated, these Google Goggles will be used for "Augmented Reality." This might include location-aware data such is used in smartphones, perhaps even "highly specific location-tagged imagery and wireless data acquired as part of its Street View service." However, "the most worrying, but powerful, part of this kind of tech is the ability it would give to Google to get advertising plastered over the whole world--essentially inserting an ad display layer between your eyes and the world."

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