How Google Can Do Better

I will be one of those that will admit that Google is integrated a great deal in my life. I use many of Google’s Services, and don’t see myself leaving at all. Yes, I know – Google gets to target ads at me, but let’s face it, everything has a price to it, and at least Google is honest about it.

However, Google could do better. By being such an active user with many of Google’s Services, I can probably point out some of the flaws, and how to solve them. I will go down the line in the various services in alphabetical order.

Android/Chrome OS

This is probably where Google is its own worst enemy. Any one can acquire a copy of either OS, and install it on their hardware. First, I see no value in Chrome OS. Simply put, Android can do everything that Chrome can do, and already has a strong developer base. Asus has proven that Android OS can function in a netbook style design with their transformer line of Android tablets. Yes, Chrome is more secure, and everything runs on Google’s servers, but if you are lacking an internet connection for what ever reason, your device is essentially crippled.

As for Android, the OS is wonderful. It has so much potential, but in comparison to iOS, Android is its own worst enemy. Companies like LG, Samsung, and HTC can pretty much slaughter the OS by slapping their own UI enhancements, and then the carriers get to slap their own s**tware on the phone which now means that a developer and carrier has to approve any upgrades to the OS. A smart phone is like a small computer, and as any computer if you do not update the OS, you leave yourself open for security holes. The only way a consumer will be able to update the OS when the carrier, and manufacturer refuses to is if they root the device which requires the consumer to be tech savvy enough to do so. This of course voids the warranty and insurance.

Right now, the only way a consumer can have a reliable update path is to buy a Nexus. There is only one line of Nexus phones. Google needs to set their foot down and require that all Android phones have the option to be able to be updated without carrier and manufacturer intervention. Each phone will submit its specs to Google, and if the phone can handle the update, it will push to the phone. If a manufacturer wants some stupid overlay on the UI, they can do this by installing a launcher. The consumer can choose to uninstall. The Play Store can make sure than TouchWiz will only be available on Samsung phones if this is how Samsung wants it. The same can apply to carrier level apps. I should not be forced to keep T-Mobile apps on my phone when I have no need nor desire for them just because I paid $500 for my phone that was sold by T-Mobile.

Last, Google needs to have a competent media player. The reason why I like iOS, is that I can create smart play lists, and sync those playlists and META data on a two way sync with my computer. So, why can’t Google provide a media player that offers this. Yes, I know, I can drag and drop music into a play list, but I should be able to create a smart playlist. Even Windows Media Player can do this. So, even if Google doesn’t want to develop a program, they should be able to allow the Android based phones to support two way synching for iTunes, and Windows Media Player. This will provide a much better competition to iOS devices. iOS strong point in comparison to Android is the integration with media. Android simply fails in this. You have to buy additional software for the phone, and sometimes the PC to get it to work as it should with all media players and PCs nowadays.

Google Drive

Used to be Google Docs, and for the most part it still seems to be Google Docs. At least from my actions, I can not seem to make Google Drive a dedicated network drive letter, and its web interface still has problems even with Open Document Formats. In addition, trying to find out the amount of space used and what is available is not as simple of a process.

So, what should Google do? First, it should revamp its desktop software to allow it to function as a network drive. I should be able to right click on a file and send to my Google Drive. I should be able to see my Google Drive as a drive icon on my computer. I shouldn’t have to open the Explorer (Windows) interface to hunt down Google Drive to push files to it.

In addition, Google Drive should have an office suite. Yes, I know – Google’s dream of the future is to just use a web interface, but that will require a nearly global internet connection, and in today’s world it is impossible. To have a constant internet connection means a higher internet bill.

GMail

Gmail is good at least from what I seen. However, GMail seems to not let you change your email address that is seen. Yes, you can edit the reply to address, but I should be able to set a verified address to show instead of my GMail account. Everyone knows my frank@pilone.name, and I don’t need nor really want people to know my Gmail address. So, why is it that Google will force me to disclose this provided I use their mail services. For the meantime, I continue to use my regular address rather than choose to use my address as a forwarder to my GMail account.

Google needs to allow people to use a non-free account to show as their address rather than a reply too address. If they did this, I will instantly set up my email to forward and receive my email with GMail.

Play

I am not even going into how stupid the name is. You have Play Books, Play Music, Play Movies, Play Subscription. Simply put Play says nothing beyond the subsection you have to read in addition. And since they are dedicated apps on the Android device, it makes even less sense. However, the policy with regards to apps, and refunds is downright disgusting. If you purchase an app from the store, you have 15 minutes from the time the app has been purchased to return it. If the app misbehaves with the phone, you have no time to trouble-shoot or even contact the developer. And if it is a large download, and took 10 minutes to download on your cellular connection, you have less than 5 minutes to use the app and decide.

What would be better for Google, the developer, and consumer is to have the consumer pay for the app. In three days, the app will prompt if there is a desire to keep it. If the consumer selects no, the app will be removed from the device, and the charge on the card will not complete. This will give time for the consumer to make sure the app fits the needs, and address any concerns to the developer.

Voice

Any one who calls me calls my Google Voice number. I can change my cellular phone and not have to give people a new number. I could have a home phone, and not have to give people a new number. The nice thing is as long as this number is used which it is – the number is free. I can set up groups to ring certain phones, or even GTalk directly. This will mean if I had GTalk installed on my computer, a person can call my phone, and theoretically, I could answer it on my computer. Sounds like a perfect solution, right? WRONG. First, Google Voice is only available in the US. That is fine for United States users, but the rest of the world is missing out on the Google Voice goodness. Next, while Google Voice supports iNUM, the standard ITU rules don’t seem to be recognized. On top of that, there is no way to acquire an iNUM telephone number. And then the rules are ass backwards. You set rules based on the phone rather than based on the group. That means if I want a group to have a certain rule, I actually have to get another phone number, set it up with Google Voice, and place the rules. Once finished, I then have to associate the group with that number.

First, Google Voice needs to expand its coverage. As Android becomes more popular in the world, this could leave a global coverage if they can get Google Voice in everyone’s hands. By integrating in the global telecommunications network, they can also provide more competitive pricing which means people are more likely to use their service for international calls. This could also allow Google to provide a premium service. Let’s assume they expand into the UK. They can provide a free UK number to UK residents and allow a US telephone number to be available for a small fee. The same can go for people I the United States. They should also offer +883 numbers to all Google Voice users. This could raise the awareness of iNUM phone system, and may even help put pressure on the local telcos to support this number that is ITU standard. And maybe they should also support prepending the + when a +883 number is dialed. For example, if a Google Voice user dials +883 510009990651, they will not connect. If they dialed 883510009990651, they will get through. People are used to dialing the + when making an international call.

As for the rules, why have them associated with the phone number. I understand the rationale. You should be able to set the phone to ring only at certain times, but why not allow that for the groups as well. If one just uses the three default groups, and wants different times they can reach the one cellular phone number, they will have to get two additional phone numbers to function as forwarders. If rules could be applied to groups, this will be unnecessary. 

Another suggestion will be to integrate with SIP forwarding. Imagine being able to have someone call your Google Voice number, and it forwards to a SIP address. As businesses, and even homes start to move to SIP based services, this will make more sense. And since they acquired Gizmo, they really didn’t do much with the capabilities they provider offered. Doing this will give some credit to acquiring this service especially since Google Voice itself doesn’t support SIP Based systems. Of course, they should.

YouTube

The recommendations have been inaccurate at least in regards to me. In addition, it would seem to show the same ones over and over again even if I remove them from the suggestions Is YouTube so stupid to understand that I am not interested in the same several Lock Up videos after dismissing them several of times? Apparently not. If YouTube offered commercial content, then maybe they will have a better idea of my interests. Maybe they should just buy Hulu.

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