Google’s ‘My Answers’ displays contact phone numbers in SERP
September 28, 2014 - Tech
Google knows everything. Including the phone numbers of the contacts in your phone*.
I know the idea of that sounds creepy and big brother-ish, but I’m into it under the circumstances in which I discovered this “feature”.
I needed to call Tivo, but I hadn’t contacted the company in over four years, maybe more, so I didn’t think to look for their number in my phone’s contacts. On top of that, I was in front of my computer, so it was easier to just do a quick search. More convenient than to pick up my phone, wake it up, and scroll through my contacts.
Google knows that it’s quicker, so they’ve taken it a step further with My Answers (and one or two less clicks) by displaying the contact number when you’re logged into your Google account that’s connected to your Android phone:
We can instantly fetch this stuff for you if it’s in your Gmail, Google Calendar, Google+, or Google Drive. We only show this info to you – encrypted and secure – when you’re signed in to Google.
When I typed in “tivo phone number” (Yes, I know how to spell “number”), Google’s My Answers returned the following result pulled from my Android’s contact:
We’ve already been over why this is quicker than searching through your phone, but this is beneficial even on the desktop. My Answers saves me from me having to click on a website I think I want, scanning the page, or multiple pages, for the right phone number. And Google doesn’t have to rely on their algorithm to see if it’s providing you with the correct number because if you have the number saved in your contacts, it’s very likely the same number you had previously used and currently want.
There’s a lot of concern over Google’s expanding reach into our personal information. And with features like My Answers, they’re creeping into our lives bit by bit. I see “My Answers” as harmless in that though it displays that information on the Google search results page, it does so privately and securely (and only you are seeing that info), much like it replicating your phone screen contact app.
I don’t mind giving Google access to some of my personal information so as to make finding things a lot easier. I know that privacy is a slippery slope, but I’ll save myself for a bigger battle.