GTalk Status Icons Become Robots When Using Android


To use an Android Phone you need a Google Account. To use GTalk you need a Google Account. Chances are, you do both with the same account. So when you’re using your Android Phone and logged into GTalk… Google knows it. Only now they’re telling everyone about it:

Turn on Green Robot, a new experiment in Gmail Labs, and you’ll see a robot icon next to people who are currently using Android phones. In the case below, Shirley is online with Android, Nicolle R. is using regular Gmail chat, and Chris I. is currently away but also on Android. Slatka is not an angry robot — she’s online with Android but currently busy.


But what if Slatka is online with Android, busy and ALSO an angry robot? Check mate!

In any case, MG Siegler at TechCrunch brings up the point that – while harmless in this scenario – it provides a glimpse into the beginning of our new age of privacy, or lack thereof. So what side of the fence are you on? Fun little feature or an invasion of your privacy? Either way… it’s in Google Labs and they’re requesting your feedback so hey – your opinion might count for once! Only not.

[Via Official Gmail Blog]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. This whole google spy thing is getting nore than a little creepy…

  2. Fun feature, I’ve been waiting for this and discussing how lame it is that it hasn’t happened yet often w/my irl android friends. Totally not an invasion of privacy, anymore so than showing online with any other messenger. “Holy crap my friends know I’m on AIM right now!!! Omg my privacy!” Not exactly realistic and neither is this. I’m glad my friends will finally know I’m on my android and not on a computer.

  3. There are already status icons in the Android gTalk application (at least on the droid). There are little gray icons to the right of people in your buddy list. Some are mobile phones (for people who are online via some mobile phone client) and some are androids (for people online via android clients).

  4. I think they have it backwards– you should be able to decide whether you want to show up as using a mobile device, instead of other people deciding how you display.

    That would also resolve the privacy issue.

  5. IMO what a stupid feature either way, and I’d lean more toward a privacy concern if I had to chose. Reason being is I really don’t want people to know how I’m logged on to chat. Specially when it comes to an Android device. to many people these days IMO will expect an instant answer seeing as they will think you are right there because you are on via the phone. And if you don’t reply they give you grief about it i’m sure seeing as most people have no patience these days. But really who cares whether or not I’m on my Android device, logged into gmail, or just using gtalk via my comp. So with that said I guess I don’t even see the point of the feature to begin with

  6. How is it a privacy issue? So what if it shows you as mobile, it only means that you are signed in on your phone. It doesn’t tell them where you are… and you still have the option to sign out of gtalk on your phone. Anyone that says this is a privacy issue is most likely paranoid and should probably stick their phone in a plastic baggy and put it in water when they aren’t using it.

  7. Can be turned off in Gtalk on the android phones under settings Mobile indicator. Took me 20 sec to find what is the problem exactly?

  8. AIM has shown you as mobile if you’re on a device for ages now. It was always a useful feature, as people see that you can be reached, but realize it’s on a mobile device so they don’t expect a full IM conversation with you. You still have the option to go invisible. Having the Android icon just shows that you have your phone on you and turned on really. It doesn’t really disclose any personal information, because you could be anywhere and have your phone on. The only personal information it gives away is that you own an Android based phone.

  9. agreed with daniel. this is not anymore of an invasion of privacy than what google itself already is. siegler and the bunch of fairies at techcrunch need to get over themselves. izzyd as well. bloody pansy.

  10. MSN displayed this for years (on a mobile device) and many sites like ebuddy even display in their status that you’re using them (or webmessenger)…
    nobody has cried “privacy!” over that…

    I think it’s a good feature (wouldn’t hurt if phone users could turn it off), but then you’ll only chat with those people if it’s important and not for small talk, cause they’re on their phone

  11. It cool and I like it. It tells me that I don’t have to bother trying to contact my friends house when they’re not there. As for the privacy issue. If you don’t want people knowing, just log out of GTalk, or turn off your phone. And even though they know that you’re mobile they don’t know where you are from this. The only scenarios where this might be an issue is if someone is plotting to steal from your house while you’re gone and waits for your little robot to appear. Or if they’re plotting to senselessly murder you and are waiting for your little dot to come back.

    …maybe I’m putting too much thought into this. Either way, I like it, but it’s not that big of a deal. IMHO.

  12. I agree with Max. It seem backwards regarding who is able to set how this is displayed.

  13. It’s a smart but subtle extension of good old word of mouth marketing. Thumbs up.

  14. This seems no different than facebook knowing what you’re using to post your status. I always have the “via facebook for android” message.

  15. Old tech… Maybe, on a newer platform… As long as the account holder that control over it… Than there is no privacy issue

    This is what Trillian displays for me… Same thing… They should simplify it and make as easy to change or mod as IM Services do now..

  16. I wonder if you can use the google dashboard to manage this?

  17. What privacy? Your entire life is stored in a computer file somewhere. No I’m not some paranoid nut, I’m just stating a fact. Credit reports, banks, utilities, etc.

  18. Oh, the Google Android status is pretty cool, by the way.

  19. What makes this less private? XMPP reports your resource anyway so if you were using an XMPP client you could see if someone was using Adium, Pidgin, the Gmail client, GTalk client, Android client, Meebo, or whatever client they were using to connect. You can even tell if they are using multiple resources like if they were using Adium, Gmail client, and Android all signed in at the same time.

  20. Very cool but would be cooler if it worked on Google talk too and not just the browser.

  21. Who cares? The Google conspiracy is so tiring to hear.


    BUT WHAT ABOT PRIVACY OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

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