Image for article titled All New Privacy Settings Google announced at I / O 2021Photo: Google

I adjusted to Google I / O this year while keeping privacy in mind. Chalk it up to the most recent drama of Facebook exec-became-Apple-employees-became-unemployed-employees Antonio Garcia Martinez, who said famous in 2018::

“Here’s the reality: most people don’t care about privacy. Media elites take care of it, underemployed eurocrats take care of it. And the entire data protection industrial complex – there are a number of very loud voices that keep beating the drum and building media careers. “

He’s right, but I wouldn’t take such an accusatory tone. It’s true, most people haven’t really thought much about privacy, just because they haven’t been made to think about it. They would reuse passwords anywhere because they didn’t know how to better create and store them. They wouldn’t log in to receive notifications about compromised accounts, having no idea they could. They didn’t care who was doing what with their data as long as they could surf the web, read email, and play games without interruption. But it changes.

I’m glad that more and more mega-platforms are putting privacy first, but there is still so much more to be done to hold the hands of those who just use their devices without really thinking about data security or privacy. So that’s the lens – not the Google lens, that’s something else – through which I viewed today’s I / O keynote. And I found some interesting tidbits that were worth discussing (beyond the usual PR of how Google keeps your data on the device whenever possible and doesn’t sell your data to companies, etc.).

Lock pictures in Google Photos

It’s great that Google is bringing the concept of locked folders right into Google Photos. I wish they had also added that they plan to “roll back our decision to wipe your Google Photos free storage” back to their suite of announcements today, but they didn’t. Oh.

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This means that you can now create a kind of “private folder” where you can store any photos that you don’t want other apps to touch. These photos will also not appear in your photo feed in the app. So you no longer have to accidentally stumble upon something you didn’t want to show, such as showing your best cat pictures to your friends.

I leave it to your imagination what types of photos to reserve for this new, protected space.

Already use a password manager (and change compromised passwords on the fly).

Google is adding a new import tool to its Chrome-based password manager that allows you to save logins to a CSV file in the tool. We’ve got to the point where you don’t have a good reason not to use a password manager, and this should make it easier to start with (or switch from something else).

What’s more, Google’s password manager now makes it even easier to change your compromised passwords – with one caveat. If the password manager allows it (not all websites and services are supported) you can skip straight to the password reset page if you have a less secure account. Google won’t change the password for you, unlike the always helpful password change tool that you can find in the paid tool Dashlane App. Even so, it’s just another way to get people (you) to do something important (change your broken passwords) with minimal effort.

Quickly delete what you just did on google-dot-com

Image for article titled All New Privacy Settings Google announced at I / O 2021Screenshot: David Murphy

In the Google Search app, you’ll be able to quickly tap your little profile icon in the top right corner and use an option to debut to clear the last 15 minutes of your activity online. If you have an extensive history that you want to clear, you have to do it the old fashioned way (or remember that incognito mode exists).

I assume this is true for both Android and iOS, but Google didn’t have any details to share.

Adjust privacy settings while apps are using them

Image for article titled All New Privacy Settings Google announced at I / O 2021Screenshot: David Murphy

Another nice addition that Google is adding to its apps is a clearer reminder of when apps are using features that may put your privacy sensors on alert. For example, consider when Google Maps uses your location history, for example to suggest places to check out. A small icon will now appear on the maps that allows you to toggle location history on and off. You don’t have to search through all sorts of settings menus to find them.

Google only shared this one example on I / O, but I’m curious to see what other privacy options will be added to the other apps (and how much time it will take to trigger them).

Control your microphone and camera from the quick settings on Android 12

I love that Google basically built a kill switch for your device’s camera and microphone right into Android 12 (now in a beta preview). Basically, you will now see two new options in Android’s swipe-down quick settings:

Image for article titled All New Privacy Settings Google announced at I / O 2021Screenshot: David Murphy

Tap either option to prevent all apps from using your camera or microphone, regardless of what permissions you’ve given them previously. Disable the setting and your permissions will continue as normal.

On top of that, Android 12 gets this beautiful new privacy dashboard that shows you exactly when and which apps have accessed various data (including Google’s built-in apps).

Image for article titled All New Privacy Settings Google announced at I / O 2021Screenshot: David Murphy

Leave that unwanted moment behind with Google Photos

Ah, memories. Who doesn’t like it when an ex shows up on one of these “remember that day”? Prompts you get on the social web? At least in Google Photos, you will soon be able to either erase entire memories (if you particularly hated them), change the name of the store, or remove individual photos in a store in case you liked everything about that great trip you’ve been on but the one Person you went with.