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New Android security features include incognito mode in Maps, more

Additionally, there are new easy-access account settings and a thing called Federated Learning.

Published onMay 7, 2019

Google IO 2019 incognito mode maps

At Google I/O 2019, Sundar spent a large chunk of stage time to talk about privacy, a word that has gained more and more importance as technology enters nearly every region of our lives.

During his remarks on privacy, Pichai discussed several new privacy-centric features coming to Android, Google Search, Google products, and your Google account in general.

More information will come soon, but here are the highlights:

  • Incognito mode coming to Google Maps. You will soon be able to elect to use Google Maps without tracking your data and history, just like you do with Google Chrome’s similar function.
  • Easier access to security/privacy features. When you are using a Google product, a quick tap or click on your profile photo will bring up an easy-access panel which will allow you to tweak your privacy settings (see image above). You will be able to switch accounts, change your data-collection settings, etc.
  • A new system called Federated Learning. Rather than use Google’s servers to process machine learning data, your smartphone can work through the data and then tell Google only the information it needs to know. The example Pichai gave on stage was through Gboard. and learning new words entering the lexicon, like “YOLO.” Normally, the data of you typing out YOLO (along with millions of other people) would go to Google’s servers, get processed, and then go back to your smartphone to recognize YOLO as a word. With Federated Learning, your phone will process the information of you entering YOLO as a word and then send Google just the information (in this case, the word YOLO). Google will then distribute that information to other phones. With Federated Learning, Google is able to distribute new information without actually collecting any of your data — it only collects the final output of your data.

Pichai also talked about two features that the company has already revealed: the ability to auto-delete your data after a certain amount of time and the ability to use your Android smartphone as a security key.

This story is developing and more information will be added soon.

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