Google to resurrect Bump app as "Copresence," like Apple's AirDrop without privacy

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2014
Bump, an app developer Google acquired last year, is bouncing back under the codename Copresence, an effort to deliver AirPlay-like file sharing that appears to be deeply integrated with Google+ Hangouts, sparking new privacy concerns.

Bump app


Google's latest efforts to take nearby file sharing cross-platform from Android to iOS was profiled by Android Police, which described it as a "cross-platform version of Android Beam."

Android Beam is the NFC transfer system for Android that Google debuted in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich three years ago alongside Google Wallet. It uses an NFC 'bump' to configure a slow Bluetooth connection to transfer videos and other files between nearby users.

Samsung later introduced its own proprietary "S-Beam" that replaced Android Beam's slow Bluetooth link with WiFi Direct, but still used NFC in its initial "bump" configuration.

Both protocols' use of NFC to "bump-initiate" a file transfer played upon Bump, a popular iOS app from 2009 that used geolocation and accelerometer data between two devices to similarly set up a file transfer as an alternative to email or SMS.

There is no Bump

After NFC failed to gain traction, Google acquired Bump in September 2013, canceled its apps and turned off its servers, rendering what was once one of the most popular mobile apps (with more than 125 million downloads) worthless to all of its users.

However, by that time Apple had incorporated its own AirDrop feature into iOS 7. Rather than using a physical bump or an NFC tap, AirDrop uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE for efficient discovery of nearby users and Bluetooth+HS to allow wireless sessions to jump to WiFi for much faster data transfers."There's no need to wander around the room bumping your phone." Apple's Craig Federighi

Apple had earlier released AirDrop for Macs in OS X 10.7 Lion using different technology, because at the time Bluetooth 4.0 was not widely available. In the latest OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Apple now supports iOS-style AirDrop connections between Macs and iOS devices.

This summer, Apple's head of software Craig Federighi introduced an expansion of AirDrop-related features linking Macs, iPhones and iPads under the banner of Continuity, stating that "AirDrop is the easiest way to share with people around you. There's no need to wander around the room bumping your phone."

While Apple has added NFC to iPhone 6 models, it only supports Apple Pay, preventing Google from porting its NFC-based Android Beam concept to iOS. The company has, however, developed an iOS version of Google Wallet that doesn't require NFC.

Apple has no apparent interest in making AirDrop work with Android devices, instead supporting file transfers via email or SMS. While Google could replicate AirPlay-style features using Bluetooth, most of its own Android installed base doesn't support the modern Bluetooth LE, which Apple began rolling out in 2011 while Google was focused on NFC.

Google ambitions are high

Using technology acquired from Bump last year, Google could not only bridge the gap between iOS and Android, but can also monitor every transaction that occurs to harvest data on user's behaviors.

Some of the Bump technology is protected in an IBM patent that Google reportedly now owns, creating a curious extension to the company's history of both benefiting from and demonizing patents.

"Besides basic information exchanges," Liam Spradlin wrote for Android Police, "it's unclear what other functionality may be coming in the future, but from our previous rumors it seems Google's ambitions are high."

Darrell Etherington, writing for TechCrunch stated that Google Copresence "would likely sport a strong integration with its Hangouts chat application, based on the graphics uncovered in the Services APK."

Google Hangouts--which is comparable to a combination of Apple's Messages and FaceTime, but with more collaborative group features--have already been ported to iOS, creating a cross platform tool to entice users to plug into Google's services.

However, while Apple's AirDrop, Continuity Handoff (below), Messages and FaceTime features are designed to sell Apple hardware, Google makes its money from collecting and selling user data and user-facing ads.

Continuity Handoff


If it can gain broad adoption, Google's cross-platform Copresence features would give the company deep access to every document, photo, contact and map location that users share, because Bump's technology requires a server side-connection to work.

Apple has increasingly made user privacy a top selling point, noting that it the company isn't even interested in mass data collection tied to user profiles that defines modern social networks like Facebook and Google+.

The price of celebrity when you are the product

Google's efforts to monetize its Android user base with deep links between the company's public services and social profiles has resulted in a variety of privacy concerns, including one highlighted by ZDNet blogger Violet Blue earlier this year.

A transgendered woman who upgraded her phone to Android 4.4 KitKat was surprised to find that Google had folded SMS into Google+ Hangouts after the company looked up her new Google profile and advertised it to a coworker she texted.

"KitKat did indeed out me to a coworker. I am freaking out," the woman tweeted. "Somehow I didn't think through the potential consequences of Google+ embedding itself ever deeper into stock Android stuff."

She also noted, "I'm just glad I live in a state where it'd be illegal to fire me."

The column stated that "Google's response was that her outing was 'user error' - Google blamed her, the user for not understanding the new, confusing integration."

The outing occured just weeks after Google revealed plans to begin scraping user's Google+ profile photos for use in advertising in a program it called "shared endorsements."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 136
    It better work for ios 3.1.3
  • Reply 2 of 136
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    "Copresence" - the name is just creepy. :no:

    Orwellian.
  • Reply 3 of 136
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,002member
    I initially laughed, but on reflection Orwellian is apropos.
  • Reply 4 of 136
    Great!

    Now Google is monetizing "sharing."
    [LIST]
    [*] I wonder how many malicious hackers will use this to spread malware to iOS from the Swiss cheese platform.
    [*] I wonder if we will see ads when we share.
    [/LIST]

    I have been successfully converting friends and family to Apple for years. Thank goodness.
  • Reply 5 of 136
    As linked in the article:

    Google's efforts to monetize its Android user base with deep links between the company's public services and social profiles has resulted in a variety of privacy concerns, including one [URL=http://www.zdnet.com/google-outed-me-7000025416/]highlighted[/URL] by ZDNet blogger Violet Blue earlier this year.

    [B][I]The linked article is absolutely a must-read.[/I][/B]
  • Reply 6 of 136

    Copresence

    Wherever you are, we are, too.

  • Reply 7 of 136
    Just released free AirSputnik http://www.mobilesputnik.com/airsputnik/ doesn't require Bluetooth or server-side. It just works over WiFi and allows to share and show files and photos among Andoird, iOS and Windows on PC in the same LAN. No privacy risks related to the cloud services, just directo one-to-many communications as never before Bumps, Wi-Fi direct and other previous generation technologies.
    P.S. Big players don't require additional efforts to be on the radar. Hope this comment attract attention to the young startup which is already made something real new.
  • Reply 8 of 136
    robm wrote: »
    "Copresence" - the name is just creepy. :no:

    Orwellian.

    entropys wrote: »
    I initially laughed, but on reflection Orwellian is apropos.

    I disagree.

    "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."

    Oceania's government didn't know what you were thinking.
  • Reply 9 of 136
    We are the Google. Lower your firewalls and surrender your data. We will add your personal pictures and thoughts to our databank. Your information will be sold to suit us. Resistance is futile.
  • Reply 10 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RobM View Post



    "Copresence" - the name is just creepy. image



    Orwellian.



    Haha, yeah, I totally agree. Someone in the marketing department over there needs to get fired.

  • Reply 11 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RobM View Post



    "Copresence" - the name is just creepy. image



    Orwellian.



    "Big Brother is copresent."

    Yes, Winston Smith would recognise our world...

     

    A.

  • Reply 12 of 136
    Quote:


    After NFC failed to gain traction


  • Reply 13 of 136
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,484member
    DED, thanks for the heads-up of a [B]rumor[/B] and your take on what the rumor might mean, what Google might [B]possibly[/B] be able to do with it and how it [B]might [/B]work[B] if [/B]Google designs it to do so. All according to rumor. Or not. And throw in some half-truths for good measure, ie " [B]collecting and selling user data[/B] [I]and[/I] user-facing ads.", or "Google demonizing patents."

    Gotta start the FUD early, nip this stuff in the bud. No sense waiting for facts to get in the way of a good ol' Sunday click-bait opportunity .

    We've seen all this before. ;)

    So here's a couple of actual facts I dug up with a simple and quick search about the service as it now stands should Google choose to release it.

    DED says Google will be collecting and monetizing your personal data including location if you use it.
    ...but according to the CoPresense API discussion with the developers "[B]We can't really leak any location information for a user since don't have any information about the user[/B]."

    DED says it's going to be integrated deeply into Google+ and Hangouts, stealing "every document, photo, contact and map location that users share"
    The same Google feature developers say "[B]Any dependencies on Google+ or GAIA (used with Hangouts) have been removed completely[/B]".

    https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/forum/#!topic/apps-dev/_qA49Do3Deo

    Oh, and no "bump" needed because it won't use NFC to initiate a connection.
    "We recently launched the Copresence API to whitelisted apps in M38. It allows the exchange of short messages with nearby devices, proving copresence by audio token exchange. As we start to partner with other groups to build apps on top of it, we're setting up an automated testing framework to verify that messages are delivered correctly across devices and platforms."

    As one of the reviewers writes "The copresencePrivate API is actually a misnomer - that API really should have been called whispernetPrivate. The only purpose it serves is access to the Whispernet pNacl module via Chrome - Copresence just happens to be its only user :)"

    EDIT: Some of the development discussion has apparently now been removed, but supposedly available in one of the developers own Google+ pages. If I find it I'll post the new link.
  • Reply 14 of 136
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

    Copresence

    Wherever you are, we are, too.


    btw-

    There is no 'Private Sector'...

  • Reply 15 of 136
    formosaformosa Posts: 261member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by asterion View Post

     



    "Big Brother is copresent."

    Yes, Winston Smith would recognise our world...

     

    A.


     

    Copresence is double plus ungood.

  • Reply 16 of 136
    scineram wrote: »

    NFC ?Pay is gaining traction now although everywhere most retail clerks insist it either doesn't work or no one uses the terminals. The retail clerks are all astonished that those terminals work. I just returned from a Chevron station where the clerk insisted that mobile payments don't work. I told him I just used it last week. He continued to insist that it doesn't work. He look dumbfounded when ... it just worked.
  • Reply 17 of 136
    I opted out of Google's ecosystem for a reason.

    You can have my data when you pry it out of my cold, dead iPhone.

    I don't think we really need to concern ourselves with Copresence. Clearly the majority of Google users don't use many Google services such as Google Wallet. Copresence will likely be just another victim of poor implementation and deployment.

    If Copresence is successful it will never be used with my devices as I consider the threat to serious.
  • Reply 18 of 136
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,411member

    I disagree.

    "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."

    Oceania's government didn't know what you were thinking.

    Whether they knew or not, there was/is thought-crime.
  • Reply 19 of 136
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,484member
    I opted out of Google's ecosystem for a reason.

    You can have my data when you pry it out of my cold, dead iPhone.

    Who's your service provider for your iPhone?
  • Reply 20 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RobM View Post



    "Copresence" - the name is just creepy. image



    Orwellian.



    "Copresence" happens to be an anagram of "Creep cones"

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