Google’s New Application Tools for Maps, YouTube, and Assistant Put Privacy in the Hands of Its Users

Image Source: www.iStock.com/IngusKruklitis

Just in time for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant were recently announced to have new tools related to user privacy and security. The new updates to these applications give users more control over what data Google can retrieve, and even gives the option for users to delete already collected data such as within Google Voice Assistant. 

Google Maps has now included an incognito mode to keep the application from tracking which places you search for and where you travel to, this thus giving its application users more control over privacy. Incognito mode also helps to keep users’ personalized recommendations from including any locations that would otherwise be irrelevant. Android and iOS users are expected to have this feature available to their Maps application this month.

Image Source: Google | https://www.blog.google/technology/safety-security/keeping-privacy-and-security-simple-you/

 

YouTube is receiving an update as well, with users now able to choose when the app will automatically delete accumulated history. You can choose to keep your watch history for three or 18 months, or just choose to keep the data until you delete it manually.

Google Assistant is also getting an update that allows users to delete any saved voice data. By saying phrases like “Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you,” or “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week,” to your device, Google Assistant will delete its “Assistant Activity”. Deleting voice data from a while back would require you to go into account settings.

After it was revealed that actual people could listen to voice recordings for the purposes of improving voice assistants, Google, Amazon, and Apple all took action to remedy the privacy situation. Alexa, for instance, was implemented with the option for consumers to choose whether recordings will be reviewed. Two months ago, Apple also stated the suspension of its Siri grading program which similarly recorded user audio. The company commented on how they would incorporate consumer participation choice in the grading program with a future update. 

Image Source: Google | https://www.blog.google/technology/safety-security/keeping-privacy-and-security-simple-you/

 

This Google Assistant feature is expected to be released in all languages by next month. The English commands will be available this month. 

Lastly, Google had released Password Checkup within its Password Manager tool. The Checkup feature notifies its users if their passwords have been compromised from a data breach, weak and need to be strengthened, or whether a password has been reused. Google will be adding this tool to Chrome soon, but users can still take advantage of the feature at passwords.google.com.

Google Asus Reveal Their Smallest PC: Chromebit

In a complicated world, sometimes, simplicity is key. Google and Asus are ready to release their newest work in collaboration – the Chromebit, an $85 computer on an HDMI stick. The Chromebit is a stick-shaped Chrome OS desktop, just slightly larger in length than the palm of your hand. With the HDMI port, you can plug it right into any monitor or TV that supports HDMI connections. From there, all you need is a keyboard and mouse to attain a fully functioning PC.Google-Chromebit

Since it is just larger than a USB drive, you will probably notice a few differences from traditional Chromebooks or PC’s. The Chromebit can hold 16GB worth of storage, mainly allotted for Google Chrome since it is an online-only PC. It doesn’t sound like very much, but it is intended for cloud-based work – all which can be done via the Chrome browser. Google Drive allows you to save documents made on Google Docs or Sheets, and you can access email via Gmail. Everything else you might want to use it for (Netflix, browsing, etc.) is already accessible via the web.

As for a power supply, you will need to have the stick connected to a power source at all times, much like a typical PC tower. Timages_-_chromebithe Chromebit comes with a charging cord since the stick is so small and doesn’t have room for a battery. It does, however, have a USB port at the end of the device. Most people will use this to connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, though it is noted that you can just use a USB hub to connect it to multiple devices.

Due to the limitations in ram and memory, I can see the Chromebit generally being used as a mediahub, potentially for the living room or conference room. Although it’s small and portable, it doesn’t make for an efficient travel computer, since it needs power-supply and a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. But if you don’t have Chromecast already, this could satisfy your online-streaming or basic web-browsing needs. If all you need is an out-of-the-way desktop and some easy browsing, you won’t be able to beat the price. Google Asus Chromebit will be available at Amazon, Fry’s, and Newegg.

 

Email Money Attachments- The Coolest Thing Google Didn’t Announce at I/O

Google’s annual I/O conference was not nearly as epic as last year’s (though, to be fair, it’s difficult to top a skydiving demo of Google Glass). They announced new features for their products; but the one thing they didn’t mention is the new ability to send money through your Gmail account. Gmail users will soon be able to attach money via their bank accounts liked to Google Wallet. Check out their Gmail and Google Wallet Video to see just how easy it will be.

image c/o Google

While we love how cool and convenient this would be, we wonder if consumers will adopt the Google Wallet app. As Google’s product line continues to multiply and a expand in their capabilities, there comes a point where the convenience just doesn’t outweigh the risks involved. So the app’s success will really test the question- Does Google have enough trust from consumers for Google Wallet to be a viable financial tool? Check out Microsoft’s satirical Chrome video  pointing out how Google Chrome is “Now Everywhere”, and not in a good way (it is ironically hosted on YouTube).

On a lighter note, Yahoo user, Transfats, optimistically points out, “Holy #$%$! …. Maybe that guy in Nigeria can finally just send me that damn money from my nigerian relative’s estate.”

 

Postini to be Discontinued by End of 2013

Google’s Postini is a service which takes care of security and archiving for email and web.  Many of our clients currently use Google Postini, but by the end of 2013, Google plans on discontinuing the service. Google has been adding features like email filtering, archiving, and user policy management via Google Vault to make Google Apps practical and compliant for the workplace; so eventually Postini will not be needed as a standalone service.

Image Courtesy of Tech Crunch

In its YouTube video, Google makes it clear that for now Postini users don’t need to change their settings or subscriptions to prepare for the change. We’re going to keep our eyes open for other improvements Google will make to Google Apps to make it a better fit for the work environment.