5 issues Google must do higher in 2021

Google I / O keynoteSource: Android Central

Google isn’t the same feel-good company it was 10 years ago. But while the “don’t be angry” motto has changed and fewer people consider Google a benevolent overlord, the company is no more terrifying than any other. It’s just fun arguing about technology on the internet.

However, there are plenty of places that Google can get better results. Whether it’s how the best Android phones get even better or how the company deals with pressing social issues, we can all think of a few ways Google can get better.

1. Pay your fair share of taxes

Photos only.  No gimmicks.

Source: Android Central

A little backstory is in place here, but I started with it because it is something all Companies doing business in the US need to start with this. Or start getting sued.

This particular Dutch sandwich only tastes good to mega companies.

For a long time, Google used the so-called “Dutch Sandwich.)” Tax strategy. Google used offices in Ireland, the Netherlands and Bermuda to pay next to nothing for billions of dollars for years. Here’s how it works: money is transferred from an Irish subsidiary to a Dutch capital holding company and then to an Irish company in Bermuda that has the “rights” to use and license Google’s intellectual property. Bermuda apparently has no corporation tax, and all of this was legal until 2014.

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Part of the deal, when Irish tax law changed in 2014, was that Google could continue to evade taxes this way until 2020. Sounds like it’s solved then, doesn’t it? It is not. The incentives offered by the Trump administration have drastically reduced corporate taxes, and the Jobs Act of 2018 allows companies to transfer money earned abroad to the US without paying additional taxes. This means that Google can bring billions into the country without paying taxes and only has to pay about 20% of the US’s income

You might think this is a smart business. You are also likely to pay more than 20% tax. Google has to pay its fair share. Period.

2. Fix tablet apps

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 +

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

First, we’ve had Android tablets that had access to over a million apps that look bad, don’t work properly, or both. Next up, we had Chromebooks and Chromeboxes that can run Android apps on even bigger screens but are still not very good. Now every business is trying to sell us on phones that fold up into a much larger screen and the same problem persists.

Easily fix Android apps for big screens. No more excuses.

This is not an easy thing to fix. Google really has two options: incentivizing developers to make their apps look and feel good on a big display, or blacklisting your big-screen devices from downloading apps that don’t meet minimum quality control standards like Apple does. Even Google can’t afford to pay around a million developers to redesign their apps. If Google tries to block access, Google will be brought to justice again.

But those are the only ideas I can think of. Google has to find a way to do this, and it employs a lot of people who are really smart at such things. Perhaps these user experience experts need to be pulled away from every other project and asked to fix the problem, or more user experience experts need to be hired, or they just need to be poached from Samsung as the first-party apps for the Galaxy Tab Series are great. I don’t have the answers, but Google must have them.

3 Learn to be transparent

Google logo

Source: Android Central

Google does an excellent job of being transparent on some things. The Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for your Google Account are written so that ordinary people who are not lawyers can understand them. We may not like what we see there, but we can at least double-check it before checking the “I agree” box.

Google knows how to be transparent, so it should do this more often.

For other things, however, Google won’t show up until someone starts a conversation. That can backfire – paying people of color to have a photo taken to practice face recognition isn’t a bad thing. If you do it in secret without telling anyone what it did, it looks like a bad thing. Transparency would have fixed this before it even had to be fixed.

Sure, some of the things people get upset about are pretty stupid, like logging into open Wi-Fi hotspots. But others don’t. Google could easily talk about projects that people think are tricky and explain what, how, and why we’re not so nervous when an investigative reporter tells us about them.

4. Correct the diversity image

Timnit Gebru

Source: Getty Images

The recent release of Dr. Timnit Gebru, one of the world’s top AI ethics researchers, is a good example of this. Not because Dr. Gebru is black, but because she worked on Google’s AI algorithms so that they don’t just “think” like a white man in his twenties who lives in a wealthy western country.

Every AI has some kind of bias and removal is a big problem that needs to be addressed.

White men must be represented, but also people of skin color, women and people in third world countries and so on and so forth. The world is a very diverse place, even if some people do not recognize it or even try to deny it. The algorithms that run many of Google’s products need to be able to figure this out, and that is exactly what researchers like Timnit Gebru are trying to achieve.

I don’t think Google is a bad place to work if you are a colored person, a disabled person, or if you fall under some other protected class. But Google has made so many missteps that it certainly looks like it could be for a lot of people. Google needs to work on its image as it benefits not only the company itself, but the programs and initiatives that help protect the rights of people who need to be protected and who deserve it.

5 fix updates once and for all

Pixel update screen

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Yes, updated again. It seems like you can never talk about things Google needs to improve without talking about Android updates.

I’m not just talking about platform updates or just security updates as some ground rules for both need to be included in the crazy rules a phone manufacturer must follow in order to access Google Play. If Google can force a company to put the word “Google” in a certain font of a certain size in a certain place in the sales box, it can also force phone manufacturers to follow some basic rules for updates.

Force phone manufacturers to provide two Android updates and five years of security patches.

Every phone must receive at least two updates for the Android version. I can already hear people thinking that two isn’t enough, but it’s a forced minimum because some really cheap Android phones won’t run very well if you start installing too many platform updates.

This still allows a phone maker like Samsung to promise three (or more). Yes, your Note 9 should have been updated to Android 11. However, there’s a good chance an older Galaxy A phone can’t handle it.

There is no excuse for security patches. 5 years. Minimum. Most Android enthusiasts would never keep a phone for five years, but Android enthusiasts are only a tiny fraction of the total number of people who buy phones. This means more work for Google and more work for phone manufacturers. However, since both companies decided to charge more for phones, they can eat some cash.

This will never happen, but it has to. I’m sure we’ll include this in What Google Must Do Better In 2022 next year as I’ll never shut up on updates.

This is my pick list of where Google could do better. I’m sure there is still plenty of room for even more ways Google can get better in the new year, and I’m sure you can probably imagine some of them. Leave a comment and tell us something she Google is set to fix in 2021.

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