While the web is full of legitimate, creditable resources, anyone can buy a domain and fill it with undocumented, unreliable information. If the person doing this is good at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, they can make their pages show up toward the top of Google searches, lending some degree of seeming credibility. But, according to a new paper from Google, the search engine may, at some point, be able to use factual accuracy as a significant factor in a page’s search ranking. And that’s a huge deal. Have We Voluntarily Given Too Much Power and Trust? People tend to trust Google, and this trust is what gives Google power over information. The search engine has worked so well that we’ve come to reduce the other ways we seek information. While that’s our fault, and not Google’s, do we (and should we) trust the company to not just to find us the information we ask for, but also determine which information is true? Or is it simply no different than the faith we used to place in the printed word, in encyclopedias and libraries? Truth and Truthiness Even Google critics will agree that a more factual web would be beneficial, but Google will have to convince those critics that it can actually do so. The Google paper claims that determining factual accuracy is pretty easy for their computers. When presented with a “fact,” Google servers have millions of reference points they can use to crosscheck that information. Theoretically, the truth never changes, but what we perceive to be the truth certainly does. Consider fundamental shift in understanding that the Earth revolves around the sun, and vice versa. Would new thinking and theories that contradict established “truth” find it harder to gain acceptance? Would Copernicus and Galileo be as remembered today if they’d had to convince Google’s computers that their new ideas were correct? What about Einstein, or Hawking? Keep Using Your Head I’ll admit to being one of those who thinks we should always watch the watchmen, keeping them honest. But, in this case, I am not sure it’s Google we should be watching; we should be watching ourselves. Google is only one of the world’s most influential tech companies because we made it such. I think the real concern is not that Google will do something evil or wrong, but that all of us will let our critical thinking slip just a little bit more because “of course it’s true—it’s the first result on Google.” And if you don’t think that can happen, just ask any teacher how many times their students cite Wikipedia as a credible resource. Did You Know You Can’t Google “Gullible”? Some would say that the Internet in general is making us less skeptical, and more likely to believe everything we read. It’s more likely, though, that the Internet is just making it a lot easier for people who do believe everything they read to out themselves. Should Google apply fact checking to its search algorithm, we do need to apply the same degree of healthy skepticism toward Google’s version of the truth that we apply to any other source. That would mean that no, we shouldn’t trust Google’s information without question—but then, who should we trust without question? Photo Credit: Carlos Luna/Flikr The Netherland’s data protection agency said Google is facing a massive fine of up to 15 million euros ($18.5 million) if the search giant fails to end what the agency argues is a violation of Internet users’ privacy. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) says Google is failing to uphold basic European tenets of privacy for citizens through browsing history and location information that targets users with customized ads. The Battle for Privacy Europe, unlike the United States, pushed forward with efforts to stem the growing power of the search giant this year. The DPA gave the company through February to handle the request and change its policies on collecting data from web users. The current fight stems from privacy guidelines introduced in 2012. In the intervening two years, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain and now the Netherlands put Google under investigation for failing to meet those new standards. “This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch DPA. At issue is Google’s data crawling from searches online, via email and third-party tracking, or “cookies,” and customized advertising, which European nations are hoping to curtail. “This combining occurs without Google adequately informing the users in advance and without the company asking for consent. This is in breach of the law,” the DPA said. In order to comply with the new regulations, Google must tell users of actions that target personal data and inform users of how the search giant plans on using the information. Google must also garner consent from users to target ads. Google shies away from such actions, arguing that is an infringement on freedom of speech and the ability to search all information available. Right to be Forgotten This is not the only battle between Google and European nations. Earlier this year, the European Union passed the “Right to be Forgotten” directive, allowing users to request certain site are removed from search results. The “Right to be Forgotten” ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) took effect over the summer and the backlash over links removed sparked controversy over Internet searches. At the initial center of the fight with Europe, Google delisted many suspect web pages, including an article from “The Guardian.” The article is now back online, as Google faced a lot of backlash from perceived manipulation of the requests. Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond criticized the ruling but said they would continue to follow it and take down links as part of the “right to be forgotten.” “When it comes to determining what’s in the public interest, we’re taking into account a number of factors,” Drummond wrote, also saying they weren’t taking down pages relating to politicians, celebrities, or other public figures. This supports the ECJ ruling that states the ruling should only affect private citizens and Drummond claimed they’d be checking sourcing before removing links as well. He also argued Google plans to look at whether a certain page removal request “involves political speech; questions of professional conduct that might be relevant to consumers; the involvement of criminal convictions that are not yet ‘spent’; and if the information is being published by a government. But these will always be difficult and debatable judgments.” Europe vs. Google Could Determine the Future of the Internet Privacy concerns and online security are firmly at the center of technology and Internet discussions. The battle between Europe and Google should be one of the most important Internet issues to watch going forward. For Google and its supporters, Europe is infringing on freedom of speech vis-à-vis the Internet, but regulators and the European Court see things differently and are continuing to put pressure on the world’s largest tech companies. Many experts and tech workers are watching to see how the top brass at Google deal with these crises. With so much of our private data stored electronically, ensuring who controls and makes policy decisions is the new battlefront. For Google, customized ads and search data are vital to their revenue stream, but for citizens whose information is used and published online, more strict regulation is desirable. In Europe, the future of the Internet is playing out, in courtrooms and in public opinion. Image by Mark Knol/Flickr If there’s a single word to properly describe Google, it may be “ambitious.” Once only a search engine, the company’s current mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Part of that accessibility has come in the form of making broadband Internet access available to as many users as possible. In 2011, Google launched Google Fiber, a gigabit-capable fiber optic broadband network, in Kansas City. Now an Internet provider in addition to all of its other roles, the company is actively expanding its fiber network, and is now in talks with 34 cities around the country. Supply Is More Expensive Than Demand But not even Google has the resources to build a fiber network for the entire nation, as it requires physically installing countless mile after mile of fiber cable. As of 2013, Google’s investment in Kansas City’s fiber network alone was $94 million. The cost of building a nationwide fiber network could be as high as $140 billion. It’s that kind of potential cost that prevents a more rapid adoption of broadband Internet, so any technology that would reduce that cost is worth investigating. Not surprisingly, one of the companies leading the way in looking for those alternatives is Google. In recent filings with the FCC, Google asked permission to experiment with wireless frequencies capable of transmitting data at speeds exceeding current gigabit fiber. “From a radio standpoint it’s the closest thing to fiber there is…look at it as a possible wireless extension of their Google Fiber wireless network, as a way to more economically serve homes,” wireless engineer Stephen Crowley said. Repeating An Existing System If you think high-speed wireless already exists, you’re right, but only to a point. Gigabit Wi-Fi does indeed exist, but these small-scale networks are still connected to the outside world via wired connections. Google is proposing something much larger in scale than current wireless broadband connectivity. Transmitting data from the desktop in your living room to the tablet in your bedroom is one thing; sending it across a whole city is another. Contrary to what one might assume, rural residents, typically the most affected by the cost of fiber network infrastructure, may not benefit most if Google’s experiments prove successful. Millimeter wave transmissions work best over short, line-of-sight distances. So the technology may be far more useful for lowering the cost of building new fiber networks for densely populated cities rather than bringing broadband to the countryside. Power to the People or to Google? Assuming the experts are correct about Google’s intended use of these portions of the broadcast spectrum, it’s still going to be quite a while before you’re surfing the Internet on a wireless gigabit network. At most, it sounds as if the technology Google has in mind is only in the experimental stage, if not just theoretical. But more users accessing the Internet from wireless devices like tablets and laptops, gigabit-capable wireless seems like a natural progression, as engineers build technology to accommodate user behavior and preferences. Google may be the natural choice to explore this technology, but some already feel that the company is becoming too powerful. At least one government official in Germany, in addition to publishers in that country and France, believe that it may be time to break Google up into smaller entities. Of course, Germany has no power to affect Google within our own country, but there are those in our own country who feel the same way. If Google succeeds in its mission—organizing all the world’s information, and controlling access to it—such incredible power could be abused. Are you eagerly waiting for Google to bring gigabit speeds, whether via fiber or wireless, to your area? [zipfinder] In the late 1990s, my local school district’s Internet “expert” was extolling both the grandness and greatness that the Internet could deliver. Among those new and innovative means of finding information on the World Wide Web was search. Thinking back to that period, the nascent beginnings of the global interconnectedness that the Internet has created, it is sometimes hard to believe that the number of search engines could not be fit on one hand. Search was a competitive and fast-moving arena where each company, from AltaVista to WebCrawler, battled for each of us to input an idea, a name, or a concept, in the search form on their homepage. AltaVista has come and gone. Today, the battle is largely between Google and, to a small degree, Bing. For all intents and purposes, Google has revolutionized the “search” concept. While Google – and its supporters – claim a freedom of information never before witnessed in human existence, the reality is a bit more nuanced and different. In many ways, while Google was destroying the competition and establishing the modern search engine that has largely dominated the past decade, it has outgrown itself. Google is no longer a company solely based on search, instead it is a major media company that attempts to redevelop and establish a new world order in its name and image. Why, one might ask, is this a problem? Google, after all, indexes the Internet and those billions upon billions of pages that exist in order to enable users like us to find the information most relevant. On the face of it there is not a fundamental problem with providing this service. Where Google has succeeded and others in the past failed, is in the monetization of search. By indexing web pages with their unique and much more in-depth algorithm to find information online, Google discovered that by categorizing the searcher – read: you and me – they have been able to cash in where others did not. Online advertising and personal information – including your search history – has given Google a unique perspective on Internet culture and its happenings. For the past decade since Google finally stood atop the summit of the Internet world, users’ information has itself been indexed and stored, and sold to third parties, for the purpose of targeting advertisements to users that bring in massive amounts of revenue for the Mountain View-based Internet giant. Last summer’s “Right to be Forgotten” ruling by a European court has led to a debate over free speech. Opponents of the European Union’s decision to allow individuals to request that certain old and outdated information about themselves to be taken down from searches by Google and Bing has led to a debate over whether this will lead to a weaker, less democratic Internet. I would argue, however, that Google has become the Internet Patriarch, whereby a few programmers and management decide what is the most important, the most relevant, the right information to be handed out to users. Google brings in billions of dollars annually and uses its financial and online status to determine what each individual sees online based on their search history. But there are alternatives being developed that aim to attack the search status quo in order to deliver us from the perceived evil of one corporation choosing what is important and what is not. Among those alternatives is a new start-up currently in stealth mode being developed by a group of former Google, Apple, and Oracle web gurus who believe the Internet can be a unifying democratic concept once again. Their goal is to show the world that search and the Internet as we know it today is one that gives the powerful a step up in the battle to unseat Google as the domineering force it has become. To do so, these programmers are creating a new search, one that allows individual users to take back control of search that is void of one set of restrictive algorithms, one set of thinking that purports one idea or news item as more important than another. This, they believe – and I would agree – is part of the new wave of democratizing the Internet movement that has slowly emerged in Silicon Valley as a competitor to the establishment that Google has come to symbolize. “What we are seeing right now is the fruition of a lack of oversight on the Internet,” said one of the programmers, who left Google because he believed the company’s data collection methods infringed on basic human rights. “It enables companies to amass massive amounts of information about their users, people who search online, and their personal data.” I can only hope that these new efforts will be successful and that this group of young, maybe idealistic, programmers will be able to change how we see search. As it stands today, search has outgrown itself; from a useful concept in the mid-1990s to the gigantic stature that Google has encompassed in its rise to Internet domination since the early 2000s. It is no longer about information, even as Google and its supporters criticize any effort to chink away at the armor of the search giant. Today, search is about money and growth. But it shouldn’t be. It should be about the power of one individual, wherever they are searching from, to discern information relevant to their being. Instead, search has morphed into a concept based on one company’s ideas for “civilization.” As Dan Gillmore concluded earlier this year in his Digital Being column in The Guardian: “The situation will only get worse if we don’t take what we learn and insist – to the politicians who represent us and the companies we patronize – that the details of our lives are not theirs to buy and sell. I don’t believe we get the society we deserve, but we do get the one we allow.” [zipfinder]
Photo: If you thought the world was smart now, prepare for the super intelligence spurred by Google’s latest life-changing project: the physical web. The physical web aims to assign objects and devices with an easily detectable and accessible URL that allows your smart device to connect and communicate with the world around you.

How the Physical Web Works

While the physical web will ultimately function as a rebuttal of individual smart apps, it is currently run as an app that tries to not feel like one. Instead of having to directly interact with the app, the physical web functions in the background and monitors beacons as you pass them. Rather than receiving endless notifications about smart objects you pass, you only see these accessible objects in a list when you are interested in browsing. The list is ordered like a typical Google search and takes into account your browsing history, preferences, and location, to personalize the list of objects around you. For example, connect to the URL of a bus stop, and you can find out the bus schedule for the day and when the next bus is due to arrive. Connect to a vending machine or parking meter and you can pay using a mobile wallet. Walk into a store, and its URL allows you to automatically integrate your in-store and online shopping experiences. Scott Jenson, a designer on the project, says, “Our core premise is that you should be able to walk up to any ‘smart’ physical object (e.g. A vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car) and interact with it without first downloading an app. The user experience of smart objects should be much like links in a web browser: i.e. just tap and use.”

Why You Should Care About the Physical Web

This project has a number of implications for everyday interactions. The physical web immediately connects you with everything that’s around you, from establishments to inanimate objects. This means you’ll have more information available to you than ever before right in the palm of your hand. Constant connection with the world around you means being better able to plan your day, improve communication, take care of chores, entertain yourself, and accomplish any number of tasks more easily. This type of connection leads to a number of shifts in culture. For example, the physical web’s human-to-object connections may usher in the responsive city movement. Matt Stempeck, a contributor to the Harvard Business Review, explains, “A responsive city is one where services, infrastructure, and even policies can flexibly respond to the rhythms of its denizens in real-time.” The term “responsive city” is taken from a book by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford that highlights the eventual intersection of government with the technology citizens use daily. This movement means an integration of government information, devices, and services with people’s behaviors that intends to improve the functionality of a city as a whole. Essentially, the physical web and responsive cities would make The Internet of Things a reality.

Are Apps a Thing of the Past?

Apps are currently the primary components of connections and interactions between humans and devices, but that may not always be the case. In the future, a service like the physical web will reduce the fragmentation and disconnect we experience every day using multiple apps to accomplish tasks. Instead of having an app to control your living room lighting, another to control your stereo system, and another to control door locks, the physical web would give you direct access to each item from a single interface. This doesn’t necessarily mean all apps phase out as the physical web moves in. You will probably still have games and organizational apps that won’t connect to other objects and thus might not connect with the physical web. Along with the advent of the physical web, the app industry will likely take a hit, particularly companies who spent time and money developing individualized apps for their products and services. App developers will find themselves shifting mindsets from individual apps to thinking in connectivity patterns as they link objects with smartphones and larger networks on the physical web.

The physical web signifies a new wave of technology and communication destined to change the world and how you interact with it for decades to come. Still in infancy stages but available through open-source coding, the physical web shows promise for a new way to connect with each other and the objects and devices that comprise people’s day-to-day lives.

[zipfinder]
Navigating the thin line between the public’s right to know and an individual’s right to privacy has always been tricky business, and the recent “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling by a European court hasn’t made it any clearer. In early May, the court ordered Google to remove search results deemed “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” as per a private individual’s request. With such a game-changing decision on the books, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of this controversial ruling and its impact on the availability and transparency of information. “Right To Be Forgotten” on Par With Censorship From the perspective that people searching for information should have the right to access everything that has, at one time or another, been posted about a specific topic, company or individual, the ruling seems tantamount to censorship. And censorship controlled by individuals who may have motivation to hide bad behaviors of the past that may be relevant to current searches. For example, a dental hygienist who was investigated for selling prescriptions multiple times might feel she has good reason to want that information removed from search results, as it could bias potential employers and others who find that information. However, for future employers and the general public’s safety, one could argue that such information remains relevant no matter how old it is and how sorry the offender now is. An additional caveat to the ruling is the impact on newspapers and other media outlets whose publications may be inadvertently censored because links to articles may no longer be listed in search results. Regardless of a media outlet’s scruples or reputation, if a link containing an individual’s name is requested for removal and approved, that publication has now had its contents repressed by an entity other than its editor or publisher. This could be considered to compromise the First Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees freedom of the press. Ruling Allows Individuals to Protect Their Image No doubt we all have an unflattering picture, cruel comment, or perhaps even an inaccurate statement or two about us living somewhere on the Internet – and once it’s out there, there’s no getting it back. But this ruling changes that. For teenagers who post every moment and random thought without consideration of the long-term impact, the “Right to Be Forgotten” might seem like a godsend once those teens have grown up and want to join the adult world without a chronicle of their teenage malaise following them forever. It seems unfortunate that information posted online can stick to you indefinitely, and this ruling definitely opens the door for change when it comes to cleaning up a messy online presence after an individual has changed course and no longer wants to be perceived a certain way. No Easy Answer Taking away the right of people to have access to all the information in order to make an informed decision is a slippery slope. While parents or overly enthusiastic online posters may feel like rejoicing at the opportunity to wipe away embarrassing or potentially damaging parts of the past, the larger implications are frightening. Google was under heavy scrutiny for slanting search results in order to cater to the most popular views and opinions. By adding additional ways to influence the results in a Google search, the problem of providing unbiased information to help an individual reach a conclusion is exacerbated. In the information age it is inconceivable that “Right to Be Forgotten” is even an option. Public interest should be held above a private individual’s embarrassment. And in the case of inaccurate or libelous information, there are already avenues in place for an individual to clear their name and help correct public perceptions. Perhaps the silver lining is that this ruling only applies to Google. Individuals seeking access to information that has been de-listed by Google can use other search engines. However, with more than three million searches per day, as of September 2013, it seems obvious that unless Google users switch search engines, they are likely to encounter an ever-shrinking world view. [zipfinder]
Find Edwin on Google+ Photo: Carlos Luna/Flickr Google’s influence on society is both unparalleled and poorly understood. At last count in September of 2013, the company served over 3 billion searches per day. Most of us use Google, and we’re far more likely to click the top few results. If Google is determining what we’re more likely to read, and if reading can change belief, then Google’s algorithm can change millions of beliefs daily. I myself have changed beliefs – and in one case my entire worldview – based on what I found through Google. I’m happier for it, but I can’t help thinking a few different top results may have changed the course of my life forever. Most people either don’t know or don’t care how Google chooses results, as long as they find what they’re looking for. That might be fine when you’re looking for an address or a cake recipe, but are we comfortable with an unknown algorithm subtly influencing which political and philosophical opinions are most relevant and silencing opposing voices?

Google and the Spiral of Silence

A “spiral of silence” occurs when a system pushes one opinion into obscurity.

spiral-silence

The popular social sharing site reddit is an example of a spiral of silence. When users post a new link or comment, other users vote on whether they like the content or not. Reddit sorts content by popularity, voting a comment up results in more visibility and thus a higher chance of being voted up further. If users vote a comment down quickly most people will never see it. Despite “reddiquette” encouraging users not to downvote for disagreement, users’ inherent confirmation bias means the most visible content appeals to reddit’s overall demographic and the demographics in its sub-sections. Downvotes push unpopular arguments so far down the page that casual readers rarely ever see opposing viewpoints. Google’s algorithm works exactly the same way, albeit more subtly. Links are like votes. Because unpopular opinions have fewer sites and fewer proponents, they get fewer votes in Google’s eyes, while popular opinions end up with more votes to share and thus more exposure. Sites with unpopular opinions already have less visibility because they’re being shared less, but the search engine actually compounds the lack of visibility by ranking these sites lower.

The rich get richer, the popular get more popular

Google has always ranked sites by their popularity. One of Google’s primary advantages over early spam-infested rivals was its use of PageRank – an algorithm developed by Larry Page – to determine which sites and pages were being linked to most often. Sites with more links pointing to them tend to rank higher, and their outgoing links count for more than less-popular sites. The logic for using popularity metrics to rank results is simple: if other legitimate sites like a page enough to link to it, it’s probably not spam. If hundreds of sites are linking to a page, it’s more likely to appeal to you, too. Google has become more and more sophisticated in the way it ranks sites, but they have never stopped relying on popularity metrics. A recent Moz study found that popularity metrics – links, shares, etc. – remain the highest correlated factor to earning a top spot in a Google result. Google representatives have said they tried excluding links as a factor, but doing so made search results far worse. Google’s algorithm remains fundamentally biased towards the majority view: the less popular your viewpoint, the less likely it is to show up. The less visibility you receive, the less likely you are to get links or shares, and the spiral continues downward.

Real impacts

Consider the search on Google.com for, “does god exist?” – 4 of the top 5 results argue or imply god does exist, and the other is a neutral Wikipedia article. 70% of page 1 argues for the existence of god, 20% against, and 10% neutral. Google’s output isn’t far from the American view on religion according to Pew.

does-god-exist-sm

Click for full results

Not every search will reflect majority views, of course. The words you use can easily skew a search towards what you’re looking for. “Is abortion wrong,” for example, yields a lot more pro-life results, and “is abortion right” yields more pro-choice results. Google will also personalize and localize results it thinks you’ll want: for example, the search above may appear different to you based on your location, search history, and friends. Eli Parser calls the later the “filter bubble” – a related and equally-disturbing trend. The filter bubble effect actually helps reinforce the spiral of silence, making differing opinions even less likely to show. Google justifies showing you popular and personal results because the results are more relevant: these are things you are more likely to be interested in. Google says, essentially, “We’re just giving the people what they want.” I understand the business need to increase personalization, but I also worry that feeding the majority their own view on important social issues could lead to a culture with increasingly stagnant opinions.

Social consequences

Google certainly isn’t the only site silencing minority views with an algorithm side-effect. Nearly all search engines prioritize results on popularity. Facebook and Twitter are more likely to show you well-liked posts. Among sites intended for information discovery, all of the most popular sites use popularity in some form or another to rank what you see. This realization should be a little frightening, and search engines so far have escaped the scrutiny of social observers. The trend today is toward more popularity data and integration resulting in more clicks. Marketers realized long ago that personalizing what you see to match your current interests and beliefs means you’ll be more likely to click, read, and return. This is why Google gathers data about you and Facebook personalizes your news feed. If showing you information you already agree with is as profitable as it seems, we’re headed for a world where our most-used online services are afraid to offend us by disagreeing.

Potential technical solutions

Search engines like Google don’t want to stop using popularity metrics because they would be less able to filter out low-quality pages, but existing and developing technology may offer a way to show diverse opinions without cutting links out of the equation. Google owns a number of patents designed to understand how we feel about a subject. One machine learning patent even handles understanding different words in different contexts: “For example the word ‘small’ usually indicates positive sentiment when describing a portable electronic device, but can indicate negative sentiment when used to describe the size of a portion served by a restaurant.” Google also offers tools to create a sentiment analysis model. Google could combine sentiment analysis with an existing feature (“query deserves diversity” or QDD) that shows topically diverse results when the algorithm detects ambiguity. Google may eventually be able to detect controversy and show results that deserve diverse opinions.

Responsible web search

Limiting our exposure to conflicting views is dangerous. When journalism was booming in the 1920s, many realized that what newspapers wrote and published had a great influence over society and culture. It was easy to write what their readers wanted to read – playing to their existing biases and beliefs. Many journalists worried that papers were neglecting less-common beliefs and avoiding difficult criticism. Movements like civic journalism grew out of the idea that journalists and editors had a responsibility to do more than report the facts. Socially responsible journalists actually tried to improve public discussion, and in many cases they succeeded. Their coverage of the civil rights movement was highly influential, and led many to reconsider long-held biases. The responsibility is ultimately ours to honestly and openly challenge our own beliefs, but maybe our search engines have a social responsibility, too. [zipfinder] Illustration by Kurt Michelson Find Carson on Google+   Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past month, you’ve heard about the release of Google’s new phone, the Nexus 5. If you have been under said rock, rub your eyes and do a Google search for “Nexus 5 reviews.” You’ll find over 250 million results. Granted, not all of these results are reviews, but you get the picture. Just how many different perspectives do we need to hear?

How Many Reviews Will Compare the Nexus 5 to the iPhone 5s?

Almost every review makes a head-to-head comparison between the two phones. Every new smartphone always gets that initial hype of being the one to take down the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy line has experienced it, and now the Nexus 5 is getting that title. Don’t believe me. In a review written by Joshua Topolsky of TheVerge.com, the first question he wants to answer is whether or not the Nexus 5 can stack up against the iPhone 5s. Over at Heavy.com, they highlight a section in a review made by TrustedReviews.com that compares the Nexus 5 to the iPhone 5s. They say the Nexus 5 “looks and feels great, without any of the flashy, budget-busting bits…like the iPhone 5S.” Then head over to Versus.com, and their entire review is based on a side-by-side comparison against the iPhone 5s. Highlighting the list is that the Nexus 5 actually has more apps than the iPhone 5s. The list goes on and on. We get it, tech world. It’s the Nexus 5’s turn to take down the iPhone. Thanks for the heads up.

The Apple Detractors

There are plenty of people who want to see Apple be taken down. We’ve seen it with computers, tablets, and phones. My personal favorite was seeing people considering the Motorola Xoom to be the iPad killer. Basically, these types of reviews will take any product and somehow come to the conclusion that it is going to take down its Apple counterpart. Low and behold, we have these for the Nexus 5. The Computer Business Review (CBR) wants to give us the “lowdown,” on Google’s iPhone killer. This “lowdown” includes their top 10 features that they feel make the Nexus 5 better than the iPhone. They start the list with “Google Now,” a digital assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. I’m sure the feature is great, and makes a good addition to the phone, but is this what makes the Nexus 5 an iPhone killer? A program that already exists? The Nexus 5 certainly has better features than this, but the CBR can’t help but proclaim Google’s digital assistant bests Siri. Does anyone even use Siri anymore? Then, there’s an article from Northern Voices Online, titled “LG Nexus 5 leaked service manual makes it look like iPhone 5S killer.” A service manual is enough evidence to prove the Nexus 5 is better than the iPhone? Hyperboles at their finest. Anything to bring down mighty Apple.

So What Exactly is the Nexus 5?

Does anyone write a review about just the phone itself? The answer is yes. Over at Gizmodo, they give consumers an overview of the phone, and how it stacks up as an Android phone. They do mention the iPhone a few times, but it is never a “clash of the titans” comparison. They do a great job of highlighting specs, improvements, and overall capabilities. A product review that actually reviews the product? Who would have thought?

Bottom Line

Will the Nexus 5 take down the big, bad iPhone? Who knows. I do know one thing though. It is impossible to tell at this moment. We only know what the phone is capable of. Reviews should be more focused on that. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. What are your impressions so far? Photo by Hiroshi Ishii
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