Yesterday I got a reminder of how deep smartphones and tech companies have gotten into our lives. After spending a day volunteering at the C4Q office, I got a text from my wife asking me where I was. When I opened the Hangouts app I saw an option to share my current location. This is the first time I’ve seen a contextual behavior in Hangouts. I’ve seen it before in other apps - a Gmail alert telling me I forgot to attach a file when the text has “please find attached” or Google Calendar defaulting to a weekly repetition if I put “weekly” in the meeting title - but this is the first time I’ve seen it happen in Hangouts. Basic contextual behavior is relatively simple to support and can just require a simple word search but it has incredible potential as more and more data gets collected. Our smartphones are with us wherever we go collecting data each step of the way. Right now the behavior is formulaic and standardized but soon enough our phones will act as personal assistants - keeping track of everything in our calendars while understanding everything we have going on. This has the potential to drastically simplify our lives but we may be making a Faustian bargain in the process.


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