Google unveiled a slew of new privacy, safety, and security features today at its annual developer conference, Google I/O. The tech giant's latest initiatives are aimed at protecting its users from cyber threats, including phishing attacks and malicious websites, while providing more control and transparency over their personal data.
Here is a short list of the newly introduced features -
- Improved data control and transparency
- Gmail Dark Web Scan Report
- Effortlessly Delete Maps Search History
- AI-Powered Safe Browsing
- Content Safety API Expansion
- About this Image
- Spam View in Google Drive
Among the newly introduced features, the first on the list is improved data control and transparency. Google has unveiled an update for its Android operating system that allows users to better control location sharing through apps installed on their devices.
"Starting with location data, you will be informed in permission requests when an app shares your information with third-parties for advertising purposes," Jen Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of core systems and experiences, said.
"You can use this information to decide if you want to approve or decline location sharing for each app so you're always in control."
Android 14, besides providing granular control over the media that apps can access, brings with it a new API that allows developers to limit accessibility services from interacting with their applications and ensure that only Google Play Protect-validated applications have access to users' data.
"This adds more protection from side-loaded apps that may get installed and are trying to access sensitive data," Google's Ronnie Falcon said.
In addition, the company said it's expanding dark web reports to all users with a Gmail account in the U.S. to alert if their sensitive data is circulating on sites not indexed by search engines.
The feature, which was initially made available to Google One subscribers in March 2023, makes it possible to scan the dark web for personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers, and seek appropriate guidance.
A third privacy-focused option launched by the tech giant is the ability to delete recent searches from Maps with a single tap as opposed to removing the Maps search history from Web & App Activity.
Other notable features include a new Safe Browsing API and a Spam view in Google Drive that's analogous to Gmail and automatically segregates potentially harmful files or abusive content, which can then be reviewed by users.
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The upgrade to Safe Browsing entails a real-time API that alerts of fast-emerging low-reputation and malicious sites, thereby thwarting potential phishing attempts from threat actors who set up short-lived pages to sidestep blocklist-based checks.
The search behemoth further said it's expanding its Content Safety API to flag child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in video content, alongside debuting an "About This Image" tool that offers users with more context to ensure reliable access to trustworthy information.
"'About this Image' provides you with important context like when an image or similar images were first indexed by Google, where it may have first appeared, and where else it's been seen online like a news, social or fact checking site," Fitzpatrick said.
The updates come a week after Google enabled passwordless sign-ins using passkeys across Google Accounts on all platforms.
Last month, the tech giant also enacted a new data deletion policy that requires app developers to offer a "readily discoverable option" to users from both within an app and outside of it.
(The story has been updated after publication to highlight additional privacy and security features introduced by Google in Android 14.)