The Google I/O 2019 Keynote Was a Push to Privacy That We Needed
by Samra Anees
With social media and all kinds of mobile devices becoming completely integrated into our lives, there are rising concerns about the privacy surrounding the data that we may or may not know is being collected on us. Apps track our location, listen to our conversations, suggest ads on their apps based on search history, the list goes on—it feels like nothing is private anymore. This year at Google I/O, the keynote announcements acknowledged this concern by unveiling products that are a push to a little more privacy for the user. They aren’t tools that will rectify the data privacy situation overnight, but they represent a step in the right direction to users feeling like they’re gaining back a little more control and privacy with their apps and device.
This blog examines some of the privacy-focused product announcements made at Google I/O 2019.
Incognito Mode is Coming to Maps and Search
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Incognito Mode is coming to Maps, and later this year to Search. Incognito Mode on Maps will allow for more location privacy by blocking Google from associating the places users look up or travel to from their Google accounts. Google has also made it very easy to go on and off of Incognito Mode—it can be activated and deactivated by tapping the users’ icon at the top of the app.
Although Incognito Mode already exists on Chrome, it will be rolling out to general Search as well for those users on FireFox, Safari, etc. Again, this will stop Google from associating searches to user profiles, ensuring a little more privacy for the user.
Auto Delete—Will It Reduce Your Digital Footprint?
Google’s Auto Delete feature is another privacy-focused feature that was announced during yesterday’s keynote. Auto Delete gives users the option to automatically have their web, app, and location data deleted periodically. Once enabled, Google will automatically clear your location data that an app may have been storing—whether you realized it or not.
This feature clicks reset on our data history every few months and reduces users’ data footprint, at least by a little bit.
Privacy Updates for Google’s Home Security Solution, Nest Secure
Seemingly in response to past concerns surrounding Google Nest Secure’s microphone capabilities not being disclosed to consumers, Google made sure to emphasize the updates to the Nest Secure system. Now, Google is making privacy commitments to users that outline how the Nest security devices work, and how devices can be managed and controlled in hopes of gaining back consumer trust. The devices can now also be fully unplugged to ensure even more privacy and protection from any possible discrepancy from the microphone or camera features in the future.
We still have a long way to go in terms of privacy, but moves like the ones by Google discussed in this blog are shedding light on the need for more privacy control features in our devices. Every day, more and more data is gathered on every person through methods that we aren’t always aware of. For this reason, more visibility into our data footprints and gaining back control will come as a relief to people and become more of a requirement as time goes on.