Google already knows better than most how we use the internet. Now it wants to dig a little deeper and monitor your app usage as well. Engadget has learned that the company is readying new mobile apps that compensate users if they allow their mobile behavior to be monitored. We're told that the project, known internally as "Mobile Meter," utilizes iOS and Android apps that intelligently monitor app usage and web browsing habits and send the data back to Google.

Google refused to comment, as it usually does on what it considers "rumor and speculation." However, our sources tell us that the Mobile Meter program will be totally voluntary. Participants will be required to give their consent (or opt in) before joining. Google isn't the first to reward users to gather mobile trends either: Nielsen has been conducting research into mobile trends with an Android app.

Google already passively collects data to improve its apps and resources. The Google Maps app, for instance, regularly feeds back location metrics to enhance the service. Since Google won't comment, we don't know exactly which app and web metrics it intends to track with Mobile Meter. However, it will presumably enable the company to evaluate the different habits of Android and iOS users, gaining an important insight into Apple's ecosystem. We're also told Google will anonymize all of the information it collects to ensure the privacy of its panelists. Given Facebook and Google's previous mistakes, where private information was made public, Google will need to be transparent over how the opt-in service uses the data it gathers.

Update: Google has now confirmed development of the new apps, which it says are part of its Screenwise market research project that began rolling out last year. The Mobile Meter apps will replace an older method that allowed panelists to participate, helping Google measure media consumption across all screens but with more accurate results on mobile. Both the Android and iOS apps will be submitted to their relevant app stores in the near future, although only panelists will be able to actually use them. The company notes that while there isn't an open call for volunteers right now, it recruits for panels on an ongoing basis and compensation varies based on the panels people participate in.