Google beefs up your privacy tools in its mobile Search app…



(Credit: Google/Alphabet)

With personal data breaches regularly in the news these days, you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering where the affected companies like Facebook or Google stand on the issues of privacy and security. It’s important to know what companies have information about you, who they can transfer the info to, how long that it’s kept, and what control you have over their access.

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Hot on the heels of Apple unveiling its privacy education mini-site, Google is bringing some improvements of its own, in the form of streamlined personal data management tools in its Search app (Android, iOS), and on the mobile and desktop versions of Google.com. The changes for the apps are arriving “in the coming weeks,” but the web version begins rolling out today.

Eric Miraglia, a director in the company’s Privacy and Data Protection Office, adds in the announcement, “Next year, we’ll expand this to Maps, followed by many other Google products.”

In the announcement, Google displays the upcoming app version, where there will be a new hamburger menu in the upper left corner, which opens a panel containing a number of links, like your app settings and a entry labeled “Home” that will take you back to main search page in the app, no matter where you are in it.

But the interesting addition here is the entry labeled “Your data in Search,” which takes you to a hub within the app where your search history has been consolidated for your review. Here, you can see what you’ve searched for, and when, and there’s a pin indicating that location data may be available as well.

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Here, you can quickly wipe all your search history data, check “relevant privacy controls,” and get information about how Google uses this data. For search deletion, Google’s announcement shows two options: “Delete last hour” and “Delete all search activity.”

Furthermore, you can also toggle Web & App Activity, which can store the data related to your use of Google apps and services; Voice & Audio Activity, which helps Google apps like the Assistant recognize your voice; and Ad Personalization, which determines how targeted Google’s ads are.

Ordinarily, these privacy tools were a couple layers beneath your Google Account hub, which itself isn’t an especially well-known access point. By putting them right in the hamburger menu of one of their core apps, Google appears to be getting more sensitive about the public’s concerns about personal data and how Silicon Valley leverages it.

Takeaways

  • Google announced today that it’s revamping its Search app and adding a tool to its main website where you can more easily access your search history and delete it.
  • The web version begins rolling out today, and the app version will be released “in the coming weeks.”

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