Google I/O 2021: Privacy, Time Machine, and Androids
This year’s Google I/O conference for developers was privacy-centered like never before. The world is obsessed with privacy. No one wants their data to leak or to be misused. Corporations have to play nice to keep the users’ loyalty. That’s why Google I/O is such a festival of locks, drawers, and controls.
Android 12: PCC Squad to the Rescue
Private Compute Core: remember these words! This spell adds 10 points to your security skill tree. Speaking seriously, Private Compute Core is the new feature of the upcoming Android 12, responsible for keeping personal data private and secure. In short, it lets various services use your data to personalize your user experience, at the same time not letting it away from the phone or tablet. To enable local processing of the data, Android 12 will use special AI-based engine.
A Secret Drawer for Secret Drawings
Now Google Photo will include a private folder where you can keep your most sensitive photos. Place them there and be sure they will not be shown anywhere else or synced with any other app or service without your explicit permission. Many third-party gallery apps had this vault before, but now Google introduces it as a feature for Android devices and Chromebooks. Another security level for your pictures you don’t want anyone to know you keep.
A Secret Place
Okay, some apps need to know your location to make the correct suggestions and to offer you right places and services in your area (or in your language). But why let it know precisely where you are? The new feature will let the user choose whether to give the app exact information about your location (necessary for navigation apps, for example), or just your ZIP code (enough to show you relevant ads). Your precise location will become unavailable for these apps.
Password Manager, Not Damager
The built-in password manager of Google Chrome becomes a much more powerful tool. Now it has a built-in import manager that lets you import passwords from various apps and services without exposing them in the process. Integration with Android apps lets the browser save the passwords you use outside of Chrome (but within Android security system).
In addition, it keeps track of online password databases and alerts the user if even one password he or she uses gets compromised. It suggests you immediately change it – or confirm you are okay with this leak (for example if the password that leaked is no more correct).
Do you want to erase some website from your history after visiting it, maybe accidentally? Well, now you will have Quick Delete. Without cleaning your entire history, it will switch your last 15 minutes of browsing into Incognito mode – retroactively. This will not hide your data from remote collectors, but it won’t be accessible on your device anymore. If it can be controlled by someone else, this measure is enough.
Handing You the Button
The greatest thing about most of these new tools is that they don’t try to solve your security issues for you. No, they hand you new instruments of control, so you decide how to apply them and whether do it at all. How many advertisers think of the end of the world as they know it? They will make it, most of them, and so will we.
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