Google is beta-testing a program that uses smartphone location data to determine when consumers visit stores, according to agency executives briefed on the program by Google employees. Google then connects these store visits to Google searches conducted on smartphones in an attempt to prove that its mobile ads do, in fact, work.
McDermott notes that this is mostly on Android devices since Google can have near continuous location reporting there, but it does happen on iOS too:
When an iPhone user stops using an app, it continues running “in the background.” The user might not realize it, but the app continues working, much in the same way tabs function on a Web browser.
Google’s namesake iOS app — commonly referred to as Google mobile search — continues collecting a user’s location information when it runs in the background.
He also notes that all Google iOS apps have this “feature”, so be sure to turn off location services for Google apps.
Obviously I hate this kind of thing, especially from Google as they have a strong financial motivation to sell off this information (which is exactly what they are doing with it), but it made me wonder about something else.
How long before Android users get subsidized cell phone plans? Subsidized by Google, with the catch being that Google can push ads to you and turns on these location tracking features by default, no way to turn them off. The user gets low(er) cost cell phone plans in exchange for handing over tons more information to Google and seeing more ads. Seems like this would be a natural direction. I bet it will be hailed as a great humanitarian move from Google and Apple analysts will say Apple must offer similar plans or face sudden death.