Google dives deeper into privacy at I/O 2021

Google adds password-protected photos folder, location privacy updates and more

At I/O 2021, Google showed off a few privacy updates coming to Android devices.

The Mountain View, California-based company is launching new privacy controls and bringing them to new apps.

For instance, Google will now let users quickly delete the last thing they searched for. To do this, head to the Google app, tap your profile, and in that menu, there will be an option to delete the last 15 minutes of history.

Another update, which will come to Pixel phones first, is the ability to save photos in a password-protected folder in Google Photos. For example, if you have sensitive images in your photo album, you’re now able to keep them private. This feature will roll out to Android phones at some point or another, but Google hasn’t revealed when yet.

Location Privacy

Google is also adding more privacy controls to Maps. The platform will now remind you when it keeps note of somewhere you’re going and will easily allow you to delete that last saved location or manage location history.

Further, the search company is adding the ability to limit which apps can detect your precise location. For example, you can allow Uber or Instacart to know your exact location, but your weather app will see your nearby location. For example, your weather app will know that you’re in a certain neighbourhood in Toronto, but not your exact location, whereas an Uber driver will know precisely where to pick you up.

With Android 12, Google is adding a privacy dashboard where users can easily revoke permissions and disable camera or microphone access for specific apps. You can also view a timeline of when different apps have used the microphone or camera. Further, Google is adding new privacy toggles in the Quick Settings menu, which allow users to disable the camera and microphone sensors across all apps, sort of like a kill switch.


Google says it’s aiming to phase out passwords. While the feature will release very slowly, the company will move users to two-factor verification and make it the default option. However, passwords won’t disappear yet. In fact, the company is bringing even more security to its Password Manager.

With Automatic Password alerts, Google will notify users if anything is suspicious with their passwords. Additionally, the Mountain-view company is bringing a Password Import feature, allowing users to export all passwords from another account or another platform and import them into your Google Password Manager.

Google is also bringing new technology to the table with a feature that utilizes Duplex. The company will let users change passwords automatically across multiple different sites. This means the Password Manager will tell you if corrective action is needed, and from there, you’re able to change your password. This feature is U.S.-only at launch.

Google is also placing an emphasis on differential privacy, an anonymization technique that powers data in platforms like Google Maps. This allows you to get beneficial information about how busy, for example, a store location is, without revealing any personal or individual user information.

This protects individual data and privacy while still delivering personalized, helpful experiences to users.

Image Credit: Google