The way Google pitches their one-for-all policy, and as shown in their video explainer, anyone using any combination of Google’s services will have a single document, written in plain English, that will tell them how Google can use the information they offer up. In Google’s worldview, that means Google keeps that information from going anywhere outside their servers (unless you want to share it), and that Google will use that information to make their services work more efficiently for you. The prime examples shown in the video are recognizing irregular words you’ve typed before (”Yowza!”), showing better advertising, and, in the grand finale, knowing that you’re going to be late to a meeting you scheduled on Google Calendar, because your Android phone knows where you are, Maps knows how bad traffic is around you, and your use of Gmail or another service shows that you’re not on your way there yet.
“Device information.” Google says it may collect your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information, including phone number, and associate those identifiers with your Google Account.
“Log information.” Among the things Google states it may save in its server logs are your phone number, the number you’re calling, forwarding numbers, times and dates of calls, and SMS routing information. These seem to relate primarily to Google Voice and the free calling features in Gmail and Google+. Google states they’re saved in server logs, but doesn’t clarify who might have access to those logs.
“Location information.” Pretty standard knowledge at this point: Google will use your device’s GPS, Wi-Fi signals nearby, and cell tower triangulation to figure out where you are and serve up local-focused search results and ads.
There are lots of details to find the devil in, if you’re looking for him. The gist I take away from reading over Google’s new policy is that your identity, your true name and personality as you’ve used it across Google’s services, is more important to Google than ever before. Google+ isn’t just a social network where you can post cat pictures, catch up with friends, and perhaps see a few ads that help pay the server bills. Google+, and your associated Google Profile, is, to paraphrase Jeffery “The Dude” Lebowski, the rug that really ties the room together.
That profile, that account, is now the main way that Google decides which search results and ads show up in every service they offer results and ads. You can opt out of personalized ads, but Google will still log all the services on your Android phone as being used by one particular user, not a barrel full of semi-anonymous cookies.
How you see that change depends on what you think Google’s intentions are. Google can clarify what it does with your data, but it’s still up to you on the why part.