I used to like Google. A lot. They claimed not to be evil, and then frays started to appear, and then David Mitchell confirmed that they were probably evil.
As a proper beginning to this post though, let it be known that I am not an IT privacy or security expert, amateur or even that interested in the workings of such things. I am someone who feels a moral compulsion to complain about big-business and the government, and how they are invading my privacy and the privacy of everyone else. Trying desperately to avoid scoring a Godwin Point so early in the article, I would like you to imagine a point in not-too-distant history (I’m looking at you, 1930s–1940s) and how much worse this period could have been had the government in question had the amount of data about their people as our governments do on us. Imagine if their government had been able to purchase last weeks shopping list from a large company, that illustrated what kind of things you bought, consequently revealing all sorts of things about you.
I transgress though. Admittedly, it is a bit big-headed of me to think that a god-like entity like Google would be specifically interested in my data — they harvest it from everyone and sell the data, share the data, mix it into their favourite cocktails and generally use it for nefarious purposes. It’s like the Soylent Green of the past decade or so. There is always the counter argument: “I get Google for free and in return they get my browsing/life habits”. It makes me a bit uncomfortable — just because I have nothing to hide doesn’t mean that I don’t want it to be private anyway.
Moving on though, to Google Play Services. I have a Samsung phone, which has a model number. It might be an S-something-or-other, and that I don’t know what kind of phone I have seems to be indicative of a non-Apple user. Just saying. Anyway, I have had it for a year or two (again, indicative of an non-Apple user) and it works. Well, at least, it worked. I don’t have very many apps installed — weather, maps, a fitness tracker, eBay, a news website app and the Monty Python Silly Walk game — just basic stuff really — but my phone recently became constipated, like an old person missing out on their daily serving of prune juice. And the battery was lasting for less than 12 hours. So, while waiting a thousand years for my news app to open a couple of weeks ago, a warning thing popped up saying “Google Maps has stopped” — which was odd, since I didn’t have location services switched on, the global satellite thing was off, and I was also not using Maps. I ignored it, and assumed that maybe it hadn’t shut down properly the last time I used it.
In retrospect, this was an optimistic thought, and in subsequent weeks, this infuriating little message kept popping up. I checked the apps section of the phone several times – and not only after the message popped up, but at random, possibly surprising times for the phone and Maps was not running. A few things were running, but nothing that looked like maps, and in my frustration, I shut down Google Play Services. My phone instantly sped up, and the battery lasted quite a long time. Google Play Services is a bit like a zombie though, and kept restarting itself at random times, which I would mostly be made aware of because of the random message that “Maps had stopped”. Again.
This morning, I got fed up with the whole thing and turned to the Internet to find out if I really needed it on my phone.