One Account, All of Google

One Account. All of Google.

I love that phrase. "The cloud." It's something we all see, some of us everyday, and yet we don't quite grasp the full meaning of those words. And that meaning is important. It's a very large part of Google's strategy and it is tantamount to understanding several of the 'grievances' that many users seem to have with Google and its services.

But above all, it's about Google's cloud and what it does for you, your data, and Android.

Let's take a look at what it really means.

All your things in one place

Icons for Google's many services

All Google services, including many Android services, link back to your Google Account. Your Google Account is what gives you access to most of these free Google services in the first place, and because you need only one account to access all of these various services, it helps unify your experience across these many services.

One login brings everything to your devices.

All of the data for your account — your Drive files and G+ photos and Play Store purchases — sits together in your account data on Google's servers. This is why one of the first steps of setting up an Android device or the Chrome browser is to log into your Google account. So all of your data, apps, and content comes together the way you like it on your device and it's all in one place for you.

Because you have a Gmail, you already have a Play Store account, even if you don't have an Android device to load up with apps. I started purchasing songs and videos in Google Play before I even had an Android because of the "One Account, All of Google" approach.

All your things everywhere

Add a Google Account

Because I have a Google account and my Google Account gives me the full Google ecosystem on just about any device I pick up, the videos I spend my hard-earned money on can be viewed from Android, iOS, or any PC with internet access (and Flash, accursed accursed Flash). I can log into any computer at work and play my videos just as easily as I could pull up my writings in Drive and keep drafting articles.

This is especially important, as it is one of the ways that Google has managed to become as popular an ecosystem as it is: Google doesn't care as much about what platform you use to access your Google Account so long as you're using a Google account. You don't even have to own a device to have and enjoy the Google experience. So long as you can log in somewhere - work, internet cafe, friend's house - you can use Google's many services.

All your things secured

That said, because one account gets you into all of Google, that means if that one login is compromised, you're in for a bad time (especially considering how many Google Accounts have credit cards tied into them). That's why good password habits and two-step authentication are important.

Google AuthenticatorUse it. Use it! USE IT!

And yes, the notion of all your Google account data sitting in a nondescript server in a farm somewhere around the world may seem slightly unsettling in this paranoid post-Snowden era, but a few quick things to remember here:

  • Google has nothing to gain by betraying our information to hackers.
  • Google complies with the government only when necessary and needed. They are not volunteering information willy-nilly, and they are not schtupping for the NSA.
  • These are web services, Google is a web search company first and foremost, and as such there will always be some degree of information that they have to keep in order for you to use their services.
  • Smartphones as they stand today likely would not exist, much less function the way they do without the existence of the cloud services that make them smart, useful, and desirable to consumers.

If you are well and truly paranoid and do not wish to utilize any Google service, you can disable it, and each service has its own privacy controls to let you control your information as much as it realistically possible. I trust Google with my data, just as millions of other users, schools and corporations do, but we are vigilant and we know that if and when Google violates that trust, we can take our business elsewhere.

Unity: why (I think) the Google+ profile isn't evil

Mr. Jingles eating pie.Does this look like the pie-eating face of evil to you?

Since everything in Google links together through that one account, it makes sense that you have one identity throughout all of those sites and services. And while the days of your Google identity being your Gmail address were cool, if a bit more spam-filled, that time has come to an end. With Google+ handling Google's social identities, I can use my Google Account to interact and engage anyone across the internet, on YouTube, in the Play Store, and of course on Google+, and the worst they can do is attempt a Hangout with me.

One account, all of google applies to social services as well.

Now, I'm not asking you to dive headfirst into Google+ and start engaging communities, but Google+ is the 'social layer' of Google. But it makes sense that if you want to do social things on Google's many services that you use one unified social profile, with one name and one picture. YouTube is free because of Google and ads, so using Google's login and social profile for it is a small price to pay, and the same goes for posting reviews and recommendations in the Play Store.

The only thing that isn't everywhere ...

Four words that spawned a thousand heartaches...

Now, there is one small caveat to the whole "your things in one place, everywhere" argument, and it's my most used Google app: Play Music. Even Play Movies are available wherever I log in and whatever device I add my account to, but Play Music is another matter. And it is a bizarre and strange thing to say that the music industry has more damning demands than the film industry in terms of regulation and restrictions.

Something is missing. It's leaving a hole in my heart, and my headphones.

Now, I'm perfectly happy with the ten device limit. I'd be able to get by with five, if it really came down to it. But the deauthorization limit means that there comes a point when I'll log into a new device, and everything won't be in one place. And that hurts because not only am I not getting the music that I pay for, to say nothing of the seven thousand songs that I own and uploaded to the service, but because it means that I am not getting 'all of Google' with my one account.

I hope this is sorted out soon. I don't understand what industry lobbyist thought this would cut down on piracy or account sharing, but we know and Google knows that this isn't helping anyone, and it's going to drive many a hardcore Android user away. And it fragments the Google ecosystem.

What it means at the end of the day

One of the many newsroom computers. 4x3, anyone? This is a work computer. There are many like it, but this one is mine... For today, anyway.

But as it stands, I have not hit my limit yet. Each time I come home to visit my parents and utilize their superior appliances, I log into my mother's computer and hop straight back into my writings in Google Drive. Each day when I go to work, I don't know which computer I'll be logging in on, if I get one at all, but whatever computer it is, once I'm logged in to my Google Account, it's my computer, and my things are right there waiting for me. Google and the cloud have the power to make any computer mine, if only for a little while, and it's a godsend.

One account, all Chromebooks. All computers

It's also why Chromebooks are being so well received by the schools across the country and around the world that have turned to them for simple, relatively cheap means of getting kids online, engaged, and learning. If a kid drops a Chromebook or karate chops it at lunch, he can be set up on another machine in less than five minutes and lose barely any of his work. As a cloud-centric system, his machine will automatically resume the settings and setup of the old one, and he can get back to writing his book report on Percy Jackson. All thanks to one account.

 

Reader comments

Google and the cloud: all your things in one place

40 Comments

Yes, it is, but don't worry! It lets me see the stars better and the clouds rain on the trolls below.

Posted via Android Central App

Give + a shot, it's much better and less spammy than FB or Linkedin, more informative than Twitter and generally less trolls, other than in anything relating to politics or international affairs, those posts are always full of ignorant trolls pushing agendas

Hell I came here from the Android Central G+ post about this

Are they really trolls, or just people expressing a different opinion? I'm a conservative, who often engages "the opposite camp" on various topics throughout cyberspace. I debate, discuss, and even argue ... but without taking any personal potshots {well, once or twice maybe, when things got really heated}. Yet during the course of these exchanges, there are those who break out the "troll" word the moment I offer a differing opinion. Sure, plenty of "real" trolls abound. But I think, perhaps, not quite so many as some people are convinced. Especially in the political arena. Anyway, just my opinion.

X-9 = 2B^3

Love it.... Store your contacts on Gmail... pictures on Google + and /or Picassa.. music on Google play music... And backup apps on Google play store... Anytime I get a new phone or tablet once I sign in everything is there...

Google could definitely do a better job of device backup. Apple does this right. You could back up all your settings, docs, applications, photos, organization, most importantly data/app data, etc via iTunes or iCloud. The late two things mentioned Google doesn't have a solution for as of yet for Android devices. Also I've had a gmail account from back when it was invite only. I don't appreciate all the pop ups trying to get me to sign up for Google+ or everything they made it necessary to have a Google+ account for. Essentially they're trying to force you to sign up for the service when you may have no interest in it.

This is exactly why I don't trust google. I don't use g+ or google docs or really any google services other than gmail and play store. So does google get revenue from artificially inflating the user base of their services cuz that essentially what their doing I've never used half these services but according to google I'm a user anyway. So can I opt out of being tied to services I don't use? And if so why isn't it an opt in instead? And mostly it's their buisness model that scares me selling my info or search history to advertisers is creepy. Apple does similar things but they make their revenue off of hardware and services so they have no need to give up my info for monetary gain and that's the way I like it. They get paid for the devices and services I use not the ones THEY think I should use.

I'd suggest learning exactly how Google works before letting the paranoia set in...

"So does google get revenue from artificially inflating the user base of their services cuz that essentially what their doing I've never used half these services but according to google I'm a user anyway."
They're not inflating anything - if you have a Facebook account but only use it for Messenger and never post anything, you're still counted as a Facebook user. If you have a Google+ profile and have posted using it within the past 30 days, then they legitimately count you as an active user. If not, then nothing.

"So can I opt out of being tied to services I don't use? And if so why isn't it an opt in instead?"
You're not tied in to anything. You can use as much or as little of it as you want. You opt-in by using the service. If you don't want it, don't use it.

"And mostly it's their buisness model that scares me selling my info or search history to advertisers is creepy."
Google don't sell your data to advertisers, they don't need to, and it'd be a pretty appalling business model if they did!
Google has companies come to them and ask them to place their adverts for them. Where Google place them is (within reason) entirely up to them. All the companies want is people to click through them and purchase their products and services being advertised.
For sake of argument, let's say I've been e-mailing my sister about purchasing a bike for my nephew. Google (along with every other e-mail provider out there) scans the text of my e-mail and realises I've been talking about purchasing bikes; BMXs and mountain bikes. Their servers then trawl through the list of advertisements that they have available and find ones related to those bikes and displays them. If I happen to see something I like the look of, I click through and purchase.
I'm happy because I have the bike I wanted, the company is happy because they got the sale, and Google are happy because they get paid a cut from that sale ($0.02 for example).

At no point does the company know anything about me until I put my details in to make the sale. All Google are doing is serving me advertisements which might be of use to me based on what I'm doing.

"Apple does similar things but they make their revenue off of hardware and services so they have no need to give up my info for monetary gain and that's the way I like it."
The same hardware and services that Google sell as well?
I would suggest ceasing using the internet. In fact every form of technology. Period.
The adverts which appear on iOS apps? Served to you by Apple, a 'hardware' company.
The adverts appearing on Facebook/Twitter/etc...? Served to you by a 'services' company.
The difference is that all of those are rather less transparent about what they do with your information than Google is.

"They get paid for the devices and services I use not the ones THEY think I should use."
Google only get paid for the adverts that you actually click on while using their services.
If you use Google all day, every day and you don't click on a single advert (or have them blocked), then Google gets nothing from you in revenue. They might get your information, which they can then use to improve the service you receive, but they don't get any money from you.

As a footnote, Google+, unlike Facebook, Twitter, etc.... has no advertisements.
Nor will it, because it doesn't need them - it's paid for by the rest of Google's services, of which only a few (Gmail, Maps, Search, YouTube) actually have adverts in the first place.

PrinterElf has perfectly described your misunderstanding. As for Google, I find every service useful and better than offered by others, some people just seem to never give it a try, because they've heard some stupid rumor.

Hollar at me when Android finally gets an iOS like backup and restore feature. If you go from an old iPhone to a new one, all you need to do is sign in to get the new iPhone to come back exactly like the old iPhone (app organization, wifi settings, app data, passwords, etc.). On android you sign in and get your google apps data back and you get your apps redownloaded but you don't get app organization, wifi settings, and other related data back. Google is known as the end all be all cloud company but they still have not developed an effective back up system yet.

Well... hmm. I recently replaced my HTC EVO LTE with a Moto X. Signed in to my Google account, and a short time later all my apps, app settings (including Nova Launcher), wifi history and sign-ons, passwords etc. were on the Moto X and working same as on the HTC device. All I did was sign in via Google and stuff downloaded. Can't imagine the process being any simpler or smoother.

Maybe this (Android-Google) hasn't worked for you as described, but it sure seemed like an effective backup system to me.

Actually that might be just because you have a Moto X. It has an app called Motorola Migrate that transfers all the data from your previous phone. That does not come standard with most android devices. I don't know about other oems but nexus devices only auto-dl your apps; it doesn't sync any of the data (so your candy crush high score would be gone if you're not signed on to facebook) so you have to go in an recreate your settings manually.

You must be using some third party or oem solution this is not standard on android phones. Nexus devices only download apps.

Actually they do have this. On nexus devices. If I lost my nexus 7 tomorrow, I could go ahead and buy another one or use my protection plan to get another nexus 7 and then sign in and it would download my settings pretty much cloning my old nexus 7. I could also just backup my nexus 7 using titanium backup and then chuck it out the window and pick up a new one and flash my old nexus 7 rom to the new one and clone it. The real difference between apple users and android users in my opinion? Ease of use. You're looking for something that's easy to use and does just enough of what you want for you to be happy to shell out money for what is essentially a premium feel. Which is great. However, I have use apple devices that were buggy. Iphones that simply didn't have enough on-board storage for their OS or all of the apps that the people who owned them "needed". I have seen phones crash trying to use the feature you're describing. What I want is a device that does what I want when I want that I con customize to my needs and my whims. And I want a lot of options. Apple products simply don't do that for me. And while I wouldn't say that android or google are perfect, I would say that the reason I choose them over apple every time has a lot to do with my ability to interact with the service.

I went from a Nexus 4 to a Nexus 5 and my settings did not come back. I selected the option for Google to back up data with a Google account and it still was not as good as iCloud. If your phone came back exactly the way it was before then you are using some third party backup solution. Google's backup does not restore everything. I have tried numerous times without success.

I have always found this to cause issues with my iPhone so I never sync anything but photos, contacts, and email. When I tried letting it restore a full backup, the new iPhone was buggy.

Also, if rooted, you can make a titanium backup (pro) backup of the entire contents of your phone and then backup

Your custom launcher works the same way (options to save on phone, off phone, or both. Even to drop box or the like).

After you get a new phone (or flash a new rom on your old phone), you restore the backup and do the same for your custom launcher (Nova!)

And your new phone or setup will be identical to the old.
Tibu restores faster than Google as well -so the whole process, from new rom or be phone to done can be very quick certainly less than 20 minutes for the the average phone!

Posted via Android Central App

All this is true..but far from simple. "if rooted" alone adds a significant level of complexity and FUD to many. I have bought Titanium, am fairly technically adept and still do not feel confident that I have TB set up properly to restore everything including all my HTC scenes, sideloaded apps, etc. And I would have to root a new phone just to get started. Google backup re-downloads my apps from appstore but hasn't reliably restored all the settings of those apps. Ditto for HTC backup.
. The one restore that DOES work for me is a complete nandroid backup. But that only works to restore to the identical phone.

Granted -There is some complexity in rooting. For me it has always been worth the time in research and doing it. You can put nandroid bu on your SD card put the SD card in another phone and use TIBU to restore from that nandroid as well. Yet another option. . .

None of this is as simple as just signing into your account and have everything come back as it was before. Every one of you Android fans state some round about way to make android behave like iCloud but it's not the same.

Don't think Android ...users... are looking for an iCloud type solution.

The iCloud approach and Google auto-restore function are similar. Google restore function requires fewer steps or account "log ins" than an Apple /iCloud restore. With Google just do one login onto your phone during initial setup and you're done!
You're automatically restoring (albeit slowly!).

With iPhone you have about three more screens to go through, and at least one more account log in to do. Also, you may have to use two different log ins (one for apps and one for iCloud if you are sharing apps with another users in the house for example).
So, iCloud can demand a bit of thought in the restore process as well ;-)

I do wonder why Google doesn't backup and restore the wallpaper automatically like Apple. (although it may now adays, since I it has been a while since I used Google restore).

Oh, one more annoyance! In Apple/iCloud, when you restore your Iphone, you won't have your photo stream restored to that new/fixed/restored iPhone. it's gone -- start over. All the photos will still exist, and are safe in the camera roll, but iCloud won't restore the photo stream feed to the phone. Kind of strange logic but I am sure there is some logic to it.

Google is awesome, love all of the apps available and use nearly all of them on a daily basis. Google play music is brilliant, and helps as I dnt have to have all of my music stored on my moto G.

Posted From My Awesome Moto G

Yes, but I miss a real photo backup on Google Drive. I don't want that my photos are uploaded (privately) to a social network. This is the reason why I use FolderSync... and I miss also a desktop stand alone application for Hangouts.

I can't stand Google+, you're one misclick from starting an account and having your personal photos uploaded to that crap. With all my clients ready to be seen. I like Google, but there needs to be an option of what you want to use. I really can't stand G+ and that stops me from logging onto Google.

Posted via Android Central App

Well even if you do join G+ you don't have to let your pictures get uploaded. Its an opt-in like most things at Google.

Posted via Android Central App

Just logged on and I have 3,000 views on my Google plus account thst I have never made, granted there's no photos or info of me, but options is all I ask for.

Posted via Android Central App

"But it makes sense that if you want to do social things on Google's many services that you use one unified social profile, with one name and one picture."

Exactly. In the other hand, if you prefer not to mix personal and social services you can create separate accounts. Just delete the Plus account that is linked to your Gmail account and create another one for those services that require a Plus account (rating apps, YouTube, etc.).

It is not a matter of trusting Google or not. It is about not mixing incompatible missions. I use Google for helping on my personal mission (staying organized and near-confidential communication). But the mission of a social network is not compatible with keeping things confidential. Their mission is about sharing. And even if I were on control on what is shared, it is simply not correct to have them together. This is like having a single person running all purchases, receiving and account payable in company. They may assure you that they will not steal, but good management practice say that you don't do that, because they are incompatible missions. Of course, some kids that do not know what Enron is would say that SOX controls are paranoia too.
And no, you can't prevent Google from splashing your app reviews to known people in Google Plus. They were surprised that I can see what they installed in their Android. They weren't aware that Google would tell me. It is not as confidential as some people assume.

"If a kid drops a Chromebook or karate chops it at lunch, he can be set up on another machine in less than five minutes and lose barely any of his work. ... he can get back to writing his book report on Percy Jackson. All thanks to one account."

This is what I want to do with my kid and my Chromebooks, but she can't get a Google account until she's 13. I gave her a supervised account, but she can't use Drive (e.g. Google Docs) in the supervised account. Have you overcome this issue?

I'd love to see the Android Central app include cloud save in order to preserve the read/unread status of stories across devices!

Posted via Android Central App

The goal may be unification however the execution is sometimes exactly the opposite. As one example: where are your photos right now? Google+ Photos? Picasa Web Albums? Drive? Why don't all the Google storage locations show up in Gallery?

The point is that fragmentation is still happening at Google.. Chrome vs Android anyone?

Posted via Android Central App

"This is especially important, as it is one of the ways that Google has managed to become as popular an ecosystem as it is: Google doesn't care as much about what platform you use to access your Google Account so long as you're using a Google account. " Do they fully support Windows 8 devices (desktop and phone) yet?