Google can spot friends nearby and tell if you're glad to see them

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Steve Dent
August 14, 2015 1:28 PM
Google can spot friends nearby and tell if you're glad to see them

Are you happy that Google's new Play Services software for Android developers is out? If not, one of the new features may tell you to turn that frown upside down. Google's latest APIs for Android apps include "Mobile Vision" face detection and "Nearby Messages" notifications. Mobile Vision works with video or still images to detect faces at any angle or orientation and determine if a person is smiling or has their eyes closed (see the video, below). Google points out, however, you won't be able to go all Enemy of the State, because it's not a facial recognition app.

The other main feature is Nearby Messages that lets you "find and communication with mobile devices and beacons based on proximity," according to Google's Magnus Hyttsten. It's an extension of the "Nearby Connections" services that finds people around you so that you can game with them on mobile. The new service can spot devices using WiFi, Bluetooth and even ultrasonic sound to allow users to share messages, collaborate on content or vote on something. It also includes a beacon API, working in much the same way as Apple's Beacon to find local services and information.

The new features are cool, but a bit creepy, security-wise -- nowadays, folks are understandably paranoid about things like proximity detection and face tracking. We hope that Google implements the necessary security measures, but it's been in the news lately for not doing that.

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