Other than free software and being tracked incessantly for the rest of your life, there’s not much to not like about Google. Like Apple, they’re a rags to riches story. Like Apple, most of their money comes from a single product line. Like Apple, the company logo is playful. Like Apple, Google’s executives think they know better than their users.
Long ago, when it became apparent that as a user I was more a part of Google’s product than an customer, I decided to ditch most everything Google on my Macs, iPhone, and iPad. No Google Maps. No Google search engine. No Google Docs, of course. I keep YouTube around because mindless entertainment.
This week I came across a Google app I cloud love if they would do it the way Apple does apps, but it’s likable enough to, well, like. It’s called Google Trips. It’s pure Google. Free. And not quite fully baked. What you get is a single app that manages reservations data, day travel plans and recommended sites, and can be used without an internet connection.
Most of the time Trips can pull in flight data, car rental information, as well as hotel confirmations, as well as restaurant reservations. From Gmail. That’s the caveat. Trips is limited to 200 popular destinations but expect more over time. It’s like a basic travel guide of nearby places while you travel.
Not only can you drop in reservations information, Trips has categories for daily todo lists, food and drink, nearby places to get around, and items you need to know, including currency, emergency numbers, and more. Trips even displays how long it takes to walk to nearby destinations, lists opening times for restaurants (helpful in Europe).
The way Google works is interesting. The company grabs data and tracks everything, including you. Then it massages the data and spits it out as free and inconspicuous apps for iPhone and iPad and Android device owners to use, then collects even more data from users.
That means Gmail, although free, is more of a tracking device. Ditto for Google’s search engine, and nearly every app the company publishes for free. They’re essentially tracking devices that Google uses to gather data and then sell to advertisers.
Since much of what Google does I find personally offensive if not dangerous in the 21st century, I use Google sparingly, mostly while traveling, keep a single Gmail email account but never share it with friends (Google can trace back to you many ways) and always use a VPN account to access the internet from public Wi-Fi spots.
Google Trips is nice, though, and I wish Apple had something similar. Maps is good from what’s nearby, but having an app that gathers just travel and destination data would be a big plus.