Google Digs Up Android Privacy Settings It Buried, Congratulates Itself - I/O 2019

Google had a change of heart and realized the very core of its business model is in need of a revamp if we are to stand any chance of having even an ounce of our digital privacy protected from erosion in the long term... just kidding, that will never happen. It did dig up the privacy settings it buried on Android, though, which is basically the same thing and proves how awesome and consumer-friendly it is - according to Google, naturally.

As of this Tuesday, the company is pushing out a series of updates to some of its apps that will allow users to access their privacy controls with a single tap, hence cutting out quite a few steps standing in one's way toward a weak feeling of some vague notion of privacy being protected in certain scenarios. Yes, the firm that got sued for being all too happy to use any excuse to ignore privacy settings explicitly telling it not to track users is now claiming it made it easier for you to access those same settings because obviously they're the most effective way of having your online privacy protected.

Once the new series of patches is rolled out globally, which is expected to happen by the end of the day, most Google-made Android apps will support one-tap access to privacy options associated with one's Google Account. The implementation of the functionality is essentially a carbon copy of how select Google websites behave on desktops and manifests itself in the form of a profile picture that doubles as a shortcut to that elusive screen allowing you to specify some scenarios wherein Google won't do everything in its power to harvest the last bit of personal data from your Internet activities.

As you might imagine, this doesn't work as well on smaller smartphone screens seeing how the area triggering the interaction is much tighter, not to mention the fact that Google obviously doesn't outright tell you tapping the icon will result in an action that's in any way related to privacy protections. Still, the icon itself is a new addition to most apps from the company's Android portfolio so quite a few users are likely to notice it and see what it does. The change will soon be live in Gmail Contacts, Google Pay, and Drive, assuming that's not already the case with your device. Chrome Google News, YouTube, Maps, and Google Assistant will gain access to the same functionality by the end of the month, Alphabet's most valuable arm confirmed.

A somewhat more significant upgrade that ties in to Google's move to streamline privacy accessibility in its mobile solutions is the Incognito mode the company just added to the Android version of YouTube and Maps.

Ultimately, it's not like the fact Google is feigning interest in the general public's online privacy can make the current state of affairs any worse and our digital selves any more exposed to manipulation and aggressive monetization techniques than they already are, but it's way, way too late for the Alphabet-owned company to turn Android into a privacy-focused operating system.

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About the Author
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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]