Samsung's rumored Context sounds like a misstep

Published: February 11, 2014

Right now, we're in the eye of the storm. With the sound and furry that is the Consumer Electronics Show behind us, we can only use this time of relative quiet to see what's still ahead. The storm that looms in front of us, inexorably set upon our path. We must steel ourselves to endure the onslaught of devices that is about to crash down upon us thanks to events like Mobile World Congress, but also due to the single, focused events from the companies gearing up to unveil their new devices.

February is a quiet month in the beginning, but at the end of it we're going to see quite a few new gadgets, phones and tablets make their way to the stage, unveiled for the world to see. And while Mobile World Congress is obviously going to have plenty to see, and plenty of new phones to drool over until they get released, all eyes are currently on Samsung first.

The company behind the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lineups is ready to unveil their next big thing, the next flagship that'll lead the company into more money throughout 2014, and it happens in just under two weeks from now. We'll get to see what Samsung has in store for their Galaxy S5, but more than that, we'll get to see what changes Samsung has made to their hardware and software. Did they listen to feedback? Are they going to shoot for totally revamping their designs, or will they just make some small tweaks here and there?

It's exciting to think about, but even more so because it's so close to fruition.

We've already seen plenty of leaks regarding Samsung's rumored changes to their proprietary software called TouchWiz, and we've heard about their conversations with Google to get things "in order" for future devices -- including the Galaxy S5. They've all been interesting in their own way, and if you've been waiting for Samsung to make some changes to their software (and hardware, maybe), then it looks like the Galaxy S5 could be your gateway device to a life of Samsung-branded devices.

The latest rumor, though, has me a bit on edge. According to a new report, Samsung is building a service called Context, and it's meant to draw conclusions based on a lot of certain things as you use your device. After it pulls necessary information from your usage with the device, it will be able to share that data with applications, which will then let those apps cater themselves to you a bit more personally than ever before.

It's the data that the device, or Context, mines that just sounds troublesome. While at face value the idea that your device could offer a more personal experience based on the things you search for sounds great, there are points where it goes too far. The rumor suggests that Context will also be able to pull information from what you type, as well as collect data from other sensors built into the phone. All in the hope of pointing out a new movie that you might like.

I can't help but think that people are going to rase some eyebrows at the idea their phone is tracking everything they type, especially for something as superfluous as getting a movie recommendation, or something similar. Not when the stores that you get those movies, like Google Play, actually already offer recommendations based on what we've watched in the past. Why would I need to provide even more information, like what I type on my phone, just to get the same results?

Samsung has a track record for looking at services already in place and changing them for their own benefit. So you're not using something made by Google, you're using something made by Samsung. And while earlier reports have suggested that Samsung is changing this method for future devices, thanks to conversations with Google proper, I can imagine that it's going to be a slow-and-steady change, if it happens at all. After all, that's a hard habit to break.

But, what do you think of this Context thing? Would you be okay with your phone collecting data, like what you type, all in an effort to give you contextualized suggestions within apps, or so the applications have more information about you? Or would you prefer to let the stores themselves offer you suggestions, based on your usage -- and your usage only? Let me know!

This Week's "People's Choice Rankings" Best Smartphone

19 Votes
×
16 Votes
×
10 Votes
×
8 Votes
×
7 Votes
×