Here’s something for the “creepy” file: when you search for local businesses, Google will soon start showing you a graph of the busiest and least busy times to visit. Want to go to the local hardware store? Google will tell you their rush is Saturday’s at 11:00, so you can get up early and buy your sandpaper in peace.
But, wait, you may be saying: what’s creepy about that? That’s kind of helpful, no? It is, until you read on and find out how they’re pulling that off. It’s like this: they’re tracking your phone. Not just yours, per se, but everyone with Google Maps active. Just like they aggregate information to tell you how much traffic there is on the road, so too can they tell how many people are in a location as pinpointed as a restaurant, a gym, or, yes, your local hardware store. By compiling this data, they then calculate the busy and quiet times.
Call me weird, but this makes me uneasy.
What’s more, stores have no special access or say into the traffic patterns that Google reports. If Google somehow gets it wrong and tells everyone a business is jam-packed when it is not, it could have the negative effect of keeping customers away when, in fact, waits aren’t so bad. Don’t like that? Take it up with Big Brother.
Or… turn off your phone.