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Google Crowdsource: what you need to know

Amid last week's IFA happenings, Google launched Crowdsource, a "collaborative contribution" app which aims to tap the collective wisdom of users to improve its services. From translations to maps and handwriting recognition, Google wants your brainpower (and free time). Find out what it's all about here.  

What is Crowdsource?

Crowdsource is a free app created by Google with the purpose of bringing more user feedback into its services. The algorithms Google employs for certain tasks, such as image identification, aren't as sophisticated as the human mind, and there are plenty of opportunities for users to make these Google products even better.  

How does Crowdsource work?

Upon installation, Crowdsource asks you to select the languages you are fluent in. The app then shows five different panels relating to Google tools that you can contribute to. These are: image transcription, handwriting recognition, translation, translation validation and map translation validation. 

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You'll be able to help Crowdsource best if you are fluent in more than one language. / © AndroidPIT

When choosing a service to collaborate on, each asks the user to help in a different way. In the transcription of images, for example, you must type the correct name found in an image. In the handwriting recognition, you must transcribe the on-screen text. It's mostly easy (for humans) but it's occasionally tricky and it's here you can understand why Google's computer algorithms might have struggled. 

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The five aspects of Crowdsource that you contribute to (left). / © AndroidPIT

The translation validation is where the user must define which translations of a certain expression or word are most accurate (or completely wrong). The translation collaboration is simpler: just translate certain phrases into a language you are fluent in. Of course, to provide assistance here you must be fluent in more than one language. 

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Handwriting (left) and translations (right): two areas Google needs human support. / © AndroidPIT

The main idea of this app is to cover holes left by Google's – admittedly very clever – algorithms. It's a 'wisdom of the crowds' effect which will increase the accuracy of its services. But it will be interesting to see the adoption rate of the app.

So far it has had less than 50 thousand downloads and an average of 4.3 stars. How are users, who generally want everything free and without adverts, going to respond to this in the long-term? Why would they rate this app highly, when the results are so nebulous?

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By way of reward, Google simply gives you a tally of your contributions so far. / © AndroidPIT

If you use this app, you may benefit from the improvements you make to the Google services in the long run, but in the short term, the most the app will give you is a 'good' feeling, perhaps. This app is banking on the kind nature of its users.

I find this reliance on altruism a little strange given that Google already has an app, Google Opinion Rewards, which has a financial incentive for user feedback. It works slightly differently, but I don't see why the same reward scheme could not be applied.

With all that in mind, if you're eager to give Crowdsource a try, hit the button below to download it. 

Crowdsource Install on Google Play

What are your thoughts on Crowdsource? Let us know in the comments.

Written with contributions from Rui Maciel of


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  • I would definitely use the app regularly if it had the incentive-driven aspect Google Play Rewards boasts, but in the name of altruism I expect I will still contribute to this regularly, as I have been with Local Guides.

  • My first thought too: "No Google Play credit???"

    definitely spoiled by Google opinion rewards. barely get surveys anymore though....

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