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 has Come Out with a New Site Feature that Makes Traveling Easier

Google has come out with a new landing page called “Trips”, which has all of the necessities to help you plan your next getaway. It consists of the app, Google Trips, as well as Google Flights, Google Hotels, and a few more. This makes it easier for the user to plan one trip using all of Google’s provided travel-related products starting from finding a destination to vacation packages and travel guides.

Even if you don’t use the tools Google provides, you can still sketch out your itinerary, see the weather reports, confirmation codes, and so much more for your trip on the “Trips” site. “Trips” has been spread out within Google’s products (i.e. Maps, Flights, Hotels, etc.). For instance, when you make reservations, the reservation will pop up on Google Maps, showing your reservation confirmation on the page.

When planning your vacation using the “Trips” site, you also get access to Google Maps’ Explore tool, allowing you to track flight prices by using Google search. According to Google, this will soon apply to hotels as well.

Google stated that the “Trips” site will be available to use through Google Maps soon. “Trips” is now live, but Google has not stated how it will impact the mobile app and their TripIt competitor for showing itineraries.  

Google’s Got You Covered for this Busy Thanksgiving Holiday

As you’re preparing to travel and visit family and friends this holiday season, Google wants to make your Thanksgiving a little less stressful. As we all know, Thanksgiving traffic is an inevitable headache, but with Google Maps’ recently published trends report on which hours are busiest for travel, shopping, and leisurely activities, you can now plan ahead.

According to Google’s blog report summary, traffic is busiest between 3-4PM the day before Thanksgiving and gets better in the morning hours of Thanksgiving day. The report also recommends leaving during the morning hours of Friday or Sunday for your travel back home, as traffic tends to get heavier during the afternoon hours after the holiday ends.

Image Source: Google

Google has also made it simple to track which locations and attractions are busiest during this week. Visit volume to bakeries and grocery stores tend to get higher around noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Shopping centers and movie theaters also tend to have higher volumes of people around noon on Wednesday and Black Friday.

Image Source: Google

Additionally, Google has provided plenty of resources in case your Thanksgiving doesn’t go according to plan (e.i. burning the turkey). Google Maps allows you to search for needed stops along your trip, share your ETA with loved ones, save your parking location, avoid the lines for that shopping trip, and much more!

Whether your heading to the airport or hitting the road this week for travel, Google Maps is determined to get you to where you need to be, stress and worry free.

Google is Taking Us Under the Sea

If you’ve ever wanted to go whale watching but fear seasickness, Google may have just found a solution. In fact, you may be able to go more than whale watching. Just in time for World Ocean Day on June 8th, Google’s latest blog post has announced a deeper view of our planet, providing underwater Street Views in 40 different places. We now have the opportunity to witness marine wildlife in their natural habitat – the ocean.

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Screenshot via Google Street View of ‘Great Barrier Reef’
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Mola Mola fish courtesy of Google Street View

Google has launched this project in partnership with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Chagos Conservation Trust in efforts to preserve our Earth’s life support. Since oceans make up 70% of our planet’s surface, it is crucial to be able to map changes and watch how it evolves due to Climate Change, pollution, and overfishing. For example, Google mapped the Great Barrier reefs first in 2014 and have updated images with how it looks present day. Climate change has brought an increased number of storms and raised the water temperatures, bleaching the reef white. In efforts to inspire people to become more aware and knowledgeable about our largest natural resource, Google has released imagery of exotic marine locations such as Bali, The Great Barrier Reef, the Bahamas, and American Samoa and Chagos Islands. It even appears as if you’re swimming next to Great White Sharks in Australia, sea turtles in the Soloman Islands, or the mysteriously large Mola Mola fish in Bali. More locations are in the works, Google says.

“As the ocean changes, we must change with it by creating new technologies, to help document the state of the ocean today and how it changes in years to come. Working closely with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, we’re announcing a select group of new partnerships for our underwater Street View program to map and publish more imagery of our ocean and water systems for the world to understand and explore.” – Google’s Ocean Program

 

Conquer that underlying desire to explore the depths of the ocean by checking out the undersea maps on Google Earth – and you can do it all without even touching a drop of water.