New Crowdsource app lets you work for Google for free
With Google's new Android app, you can help the company translate languages, understand handwriting and keep its shareholders happy.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertiseprocessors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, scienceCredentials
I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
The online giant on Monday released a new Android app called Crowdsource that lets you contribute your own suggestions to language translation, handwriting recognition and street sign transcription.
"Each microtask takes no more than five to 10 seconds, so knock away a few the next time you find yourself with a few moments to kill," Google suggests in the app description. "Every time you use it, you know that you've made the internet a better place for your community."
It might be more accurate to say that it makes Google's internet services more useful, not the entire internet, since Google doesn't offer free access to the underlying data of Google Maps or Google Translate. But as a longtime contributor to Google services, I can attest that offering free labor to the company -- or to reviews at Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon -- can give you a little dopamine hit. I've benefited from others' freely donated labor countless times, and this is a way to reciprocate, even if Google shareholders benefit, too.
I've corrected Google Maps trails and streets on many occasions, and just today I answered a bunch of questions about some restaurants I'd visited and uploaded photos of a park I hiked in. And that's just the active work: as I drive around, my Android phone silently improves Google Maps navigation advice and traffic reports.
Google's English-French translation has plenty of raw material to work with for good results, the company said, but that's not true of all languages. But even a small number of new translations and translation verifications can really help Indic language translation, Google said.
Honestly, it's hard to avoid helping companies these days. Just buying something on Amazon tells the company a little bit of useful information for what to recommend to people and how to set prices. Watching a movie on Netflix provides the same kind of data. Giving a song a thumbs-up or adding it to a playlist helps you find it later, but it also tells companies like Spotify, Apple, Deezer and Google what's hot and what's not.