Tech Start-Ups

How Google accesses other rival apps to improve products

By Juliet Umeh

A new report by The information has alleged that a popular Search Engine platform, Google, spies on other rival applications via an internal programme to improve its products.

The report claims that an internal programme at Google known as “Android Lockbox” gives employees access to data on how Android users interact with popular, non-Google apps like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram.

it said: “When YouTube was planning the rollout of its rival to TikTok in India earlier this month, employees turned to a valuable source of market research: how people in the country were using TikTok and its competitors on Android.”
The programme works via Google Mobile Services, GMS.

It added; “In some cases, such as YouTube in India, this data helps Google advance its own competing apps, say the people, all of whom requested anonymity to speak freely.”

The Google employees can reportedly see “sensitive” data about other apps, including how often they’re opened and for how long they’re used.

Google-owned YouTube is working on a TikTok rival called Shorts, to be introduced by the end of this year.
According to the report, “Google is also thought to have used the internal programme to plan the launch of its TikTok competitor called Shorts.”
“Android Lockbox” works after Google users agree to share information as part of the Android setup process.

However, in reaction to the allegation, Google was quoted to have admitted that it has access to usage data from rival apps.

According to Google spokesperson in a statement said: “Since 2014, the Android App Usage Data API has been used by Google and Android developers who have been authorized by Android OEMs or users to access basic data about app usage such as how often apps are opened to analyze and improve services”.
“The API doesn’t obtain any information about in-app activity and our collection of this data is disclosed to and controllable by users,” the spokesperson was quoted to have said.

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