Who tracks your online whereabouts and activities more than Google? Not Apple. Not Amazon. God, maybe. As if there are not enough ways for Google to track you, thanks to a bevy of user friendly applications that phone home regularly, the search engine giant has another one.
How many ways can you phone home to friends? Skype. That’s owned by Microsoft but at least it works on nearly every popular device, from desktop to notebook to mobile. For Apple’s customers there’s FaceTime which works so well that’s it’s now a verb. The only negative is this. FaceTime is on Apple’s Mac, iPhone, and iPad and doesn’t show up on Windows or Android.
What’s in between Skype and FaceTime?
Google. The latest is Google Duo which is much like FaceTime. Duo is a video calling app that looks, feels, and works much like FaceTime, except that it works on Android devices and the iPhone. Other than tracking all the new cells your body makes each day, I’m not sure what Duo does that isn’t being done elsewhere.
There’s Google Voice, Google Talk, and Google Hangouts. Now Google Duo. But there’s no Duo on Windows or Mac, a place where Skype rules. Duo is true one-to-one video calling and it comes with end-to-end encryption. But, unlike Skype or FaceTime, Duo wants your phone number.
Google specializes in making simple to use applications whose sole purpose is to track whatever you do.
Duo has a nifty feature called Knock Knock, which simply lets you see the live video of whoever is calling you before you answer the incoming call. That way, you can see who’s calling before answering, but it only works on the Android version, not iPhone. There’s also a built-in switching system so you can start a video call on Wi-Fi at home and continue to conversation while heading out the door to the car. The connection sticks when transferring from Wi-Fi to cell and back.
The end-to-end encryption probably (you never know with Google) means the company cannot transcribe your conversations, but it also means Google knows where you are who you’re talking to; as well as when, and how often.
Duo’s launch brings up another issue with how many ways people can contact me on my iPhone these days. Seriously, we’re running into a crowd of connectivity apps. Back in the day, the Mincey Plantation had a single telephone for everyone in the house. Then, along came cell phones and everyone had a way to call everyone or anyone.
These days it’s even worse. Not only is there the cell phone number, but there’s Mail, Messages, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Line, WhatsApp, and dozens of other apps which purport to keep us connected to friends, family, loved ones, and co-workers. Do we need that much disparate connectivity? Duo adds another but this one is from yet another company that loves to track their users for profit.