Google made a lot of noise about its commitment to user privacy at the keynote on the first day of I/O developer conference. Although the company can hardly be seen as the champion of privacy, it seems to be attempting to make a change for better. In the same bid, the company on Tuesday announced the introduction of revised interfaces in several apps and services, which will bring privacy controls to the front. It is looking to offer one tap access to Google Account from all of its major products. The company also announced Android smartphones running v7.0 and above can now be used as security keys for 2FA.
According to Google, it is making it easier to reach Google Account settings from its various products on mobile devices. The company already features your profile picture in the top right corner of its products like Gmail, Drive, Contacts, and Pay to give a quick access to your Google Account. Now, Google is expanding the same to more of its products on mobile, including Search, Maps, YouTube, Chrome, Assistant, and News. The one-tap access will rollout gradually over this month.
Additionally, the company has revealed that it is also expanding support for quick access to Google product specific data within the company's apps. It was originally introduced in Google Search, but is now rolling out to Maps and Google Assistant. YouTube will also be getting it soon.
“You'll be able to review and delete your location activity data directly in Google Maps, and then quickly get back to your directions,” Google explained.
The company has also announced that it is bringing Incognito mode to Google Maps and Google Search and detailed plans surrounding better cookie controls in Chrome. The company is also becoming more transparent and will details which data is used to personalise ads.
AI and privacy
In addition to the above consumer facing changes around user privacy, Google announced how it is using machine learning to improve privacy protections. The company stated that its new Federated Learning AI model makes it possible for Google products to become smarter without user data ever leaving consumers' devices.
“Federated Learning enables mobile phones to collaboratively learn a shared prediction model while keeping all the training data on device, decoupling the ability to do machine learning from the need to store the data in the cloud,” Google said.
Google's Gboard is already using Federated Learning to improve predictive typing and emojis prediction.
Android phone as your security key for 2FA
Google has announced that the ability to use your Android smartphone as security key for the two-factor authentication is now available to all. The feature was originally introduced in beta last month and works on Android phones running Nougat and above. The feature uses Bluetooth on your phone and the device that you are using to sign in to identify the presence of the security key.
“Security keys are now available built-in on phones running Android 7.0+ (Nougat) at no additional cost. That way, your users can use their phones as their primary 2FA method for work (G Suite, Cloud Identity, and GCP) and personal Google Accounts to sign in on Bluetooth-enabled Chrome OS, macOS X, or Windows 10 devices with a Chrome browser,” Google wrote in a blog post. “This gives them the strongest 2FA method with the convenience of a phone that's always in their pocket.”