Tone Death – should Google stick to Search Engines?

Search Engine Giant Google have announced their new Extension – “Tone” – Will it live up to expectations? 


Google Search Bar

Google are once against flexing their muscles and showing the world what they can do, but have they gone too far this time?

Tone”, the most recent Google Chrome Extension/App, allows for two computers to share a web page with one another by emitting a sound. For this to work, both devices must have the extension installed on their browser and be within earshot of each other, say in a public library…

The user can then click the icon on their task-bar to emit the sound and share their current webpage with another extension downloader. The second user would then receive a notification and must give permission to accept the webpage.

The general reaction to the update thus far has been mixed. Some are claiming that it is the coolest thing that Google have done, in terms of extensions at least. It presents Google Chrome users with the ability to share content without having to actually talk to another person or use any of the saturated instant messaging services.

Others have remarked major flaws with the idea, in both theory and practice. Although the extension claims to work with any computer, Mac’s are reportedly having issues when hearing the tone transmitted by a PC.


Mixed Feelings

So there appears to be inconsistencies. One experiment of the new extension suggested it could even work through headphones, when another claimed it doesn’t work at all, regardless of how high their volume is turned. What appears to be clear is although the idea itself is being accepted as “cool”, the execution requires significant fine tuning.

Is this an example of technological assistance taking things a bit too far? Even as an avid encourager for all things digital, especially when considering most of Google’s ideas both practical and exciting (turning Google Maps into Pacman was a particular favourite as a way to procrastinate!). However, discomfort sparks with the presumed undesired want, or inability, to talk to the person sat next to you. Surely Google Chrome users are quite competent at telling the person they are within proximity of to look at a particular website, rather than needing to emit a noise out of their computer to do so.

In some circumstances it could work well. As Google employees Alex Kauffman and Boris Smus suggested in the company’s research blog, the extension may prove a useful asset within a classroom environment, where many computers are operating simultaneously and require a degree of organisation.

Yet there will still remain concerns about how it would work in a public environment. Would one sit in an internet café and inadvertently project a sound to all those present? Would random computers on a train be bombarded by notifications for just having this extension installed on their web browser?


Obviously there are going to be many further concerns raised as the extension becomes increasingly used and publicised, and Google will surely have to iron out all of these issues before it can be described as a roaring success or a revolution for node-to-node communication. Yet there will forever be naysayers.

One would much rather poke the arm of a random commuter on the 9:12 from Brighton to London Victoria and show him the amazing image of a cat in a bowtie, rather than make a concerning sound out of my laptop that sounds like a failed Police Siren.

CJ Carver, Social Media Manager signature for clockworkTalent

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