Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks to the media before the opening of the Berlin representation of Google Germany in Berlin on January 22, 2019.
Carsten Koall | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the privacy concerns surrounding his company on Tuesday, and told developers what they can expect in upcoming products.
“Our work on privacy and security is never done, and we want to do more to stay ahead of constantly evolving user expectations,” Pichai said in his keynote address at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference. “We’ve been working on a significant set of enhancements.”
Those include an auto-delete feature — triggered by tapping on your profile picture — which lets users choose how long they want their data to be saved. They can choose a time between three and 18 months, or manually delete their data immediately.
Google is also launch incognito mode to Google Maps later this year, allowing users to keep Google from saving data after they search for locations or use the service for navigation.
It’s been a tumultuous couple years for Google, as criticism about the way the company tracks users has made its way to lawmakers and regulators. Last year, the company acknowledged to a U.S. Senate committee that it had “made mistakes in the past” on privacy matters. Separately, Google was sued for allegedly storing the location data of users even when they turn off the location history setting.
Facebook, Google’s biggest rival in online ads, is facing a fine of up to $5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission related to its alleged failure to gain explicit consent to share user data.
Google’s announcements on Tuesday came as the company launched a number of new devices in its effort to lessen its reliance on internet search and ads.
The company is introducing two new Pixel phones — the Pixel 3A and the 3 XL — starting at $399. Google parent Alphabet delivered a disappointing earnings report two weeks ago and said that smartphone sales declined from the prior year. With the cheapest current Pixel phone priced at $800, Google is now trying to reach a broader audience.
“We want to offer help to people at a bunch of different price points,” said Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services. “We see that as a great opportunity to use some of our core strengths as a company in software and AI and make that available for the mid-range price.”
Google also launched a new home device called the Google Nest Hub Max, which has a smart display with a camera you can use for video calls. The home product, which will be available this summer for $229, joins an already crowded and competitive field of smart home products. It’s also the first time Google has merged its Home products with Nest, which it acquired in 2014 for $3.2 billion.
“We’re renaming all of our products and unifying them under the Nest brand,” said Osterloh.
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