A Giggle at Google’s Googly Goggles

Google insults my Mum. A needlessly long retort to that, basically

I’m always excited when there’s anything new and Google related on Android Market. Usually the big bucks they throw at apps make them the biggest and best around. Maps is amazing (despite the fact they won’t give the Brits navigation), Search by Voice is unnervingly accurate and Sky Map is built to bring out the star gazer in everyone. Great was my surprise then, to find that the God of all things search had managed to botch up a perfectly fantastic idea.

Google Goggles is just about the most stylish app Android has ever seen, not exactly difficult but impressive nonetheless. The idea behind it is that you can search for things by taking pictures of them. Fair enough. Pretty straightforward, seemingly innovative and probably useful, right? Wrong. Firstly, there’s nothing straightforward about making a handheld device recognise almost anything in the world. Secondly, this had already been done on Android a little while back with a little known app called SnapTell. Thirdly, only a few minutes with this application makes you realise just how redundant it is to anyone with fingers or a voice- and with Goggle being a mobile phone app, usually the owner tends to have both.

The first thing which alerted me to the likelihood of disappointment in Goggle was the massive amount of apologies they made for its abilities before I’d even tried it out. Running through the first few pages before it lets you take a photo was like walking through a leaking nuclear research facility towards the core where Satan lay lurking in a teddy twisting a pair of handcuffs in his hoofs. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of warnings. When I eventually reached the very glossy interface, I have to say I was in two minds- despite having already been told in no uncertain terms that this was very unlikely to work on anything interesting, it just looked so shiny!

Oh but it got shinier! After snapping my Mum’s face, the screen went all Terminator meets Knight Rider. I was suitably sci-fi geeked out and couldn’t help feeling a glimmer of anticipation that this app was actually about to save my whole life. Sadly, no. After a short time the phone returned me a series of results which were definitely not my Mum, but did feature the same colours. The result it had settled on (mostly due to the poor lighting in my HTC Magic’s photos) was a picture of a sunset. Wow, how beautiful, you might say- comparing someone to a sunset is just like Shakespeare and he was totally a genius. I was slightly unsettled by the thought that Google fancied my Mum until I realised that it had actually compared the orange roundness of the Sun with the orange roundness of my Mum’s face. Naughty Google Goggles.

In fact the real pleasure of Google Goggle won’t be found searching for people, or animals, or clothes, or furniture, or cars as it openly admits- but it does search books and dvds fairly accurately and that’s no mean feat. The only thing is that SnapTell does it already, and it actually does it a bit better by searching a long list of sites and shops for price comparisons- the only really useful thing you can do with the technology at present. But Goggle had one more plagiarised trick up its sleeve. It also did a fair job of mimicking a decent augmented reality app using the GPS and compass. Shame is that Layar 3.0 does a better (and 3D) version of this. Bad times Google Goggle.

Let’s be honest, if you can’t search with your fingers, you’re more likely to want to search using your voice. With Google having already catered to both of these necessities Goggles is just about the most redundant app on my phone, and I have Hypnotic Spiral installed. And this scathing review is what you get for cussing my Mum. Who’s laughing now Google? Probably you, you’re pretty rich…

Charles Thompson

 

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One Response to “A Giggle at Google’s Googly Goggles”

  1. Hi there. Serious activity. I does not anticipate this on a Wednesday. This is a superb tale. Many thanks!

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