Parts of Google's I/O developer conference Tuesday could have been downloaded from an Apple event. Speakers touted such privacy features as on-device processing of sensitive data, browser blocking of web tracking, and alerts of smartphone apps using the camera or microphone. "We strictly uphold responsible data practices so every product we build is private by design," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in the opening keynote. "And we create easy-to-use privacy and security settings, so you are in control." But where Apple's business is selling hardware and services, Google makes most of its money from online advertising – a field that's traditionally involved tracking people.
A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. That's a novel direction from the company that defines its mission as "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." But in addition to such new hardware as the $399 Pixel 3a smartphone and the Nest Home Max smart speaker and display, it unveiled some new features that should keep more of your information on the ground instead of in the cloud. The next version of Google's mobile operating system, currently named Android Q but likely to be renamed after a dessert starting with that letter, will promote privacy to a top category in its Settings app to provide a unified overview of which apps get what sort of data. Pixel 3a vs. Pixel 3: Great camera for the price makes Google's $399 phone the better buy Android Q will also require apps to get your permission before accessing your location when you're not using them.
Having to type in a passcode to unlock your smartphone is worse than having the device recognize your face or fingerprint – with one exception. That's if somebody with a badge directs you to unlock your device with one of those biometric identifiers. Courts have held that while law-enforcement officials can't force you to enter a passcode, they can demand that you show your face or touch a fingertip. In one recent case, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent unlocked an iPhone X by holding it up to the suspect's face and asking him to look at it – revealing evidence of child pornography on the phone. That case looks like a criminal getting what he deserved.
Tech columnist Rob Pegoraro answers readers' questions on personal tech and telecommunications. Is there any convenient way to mask that I'm visiting these pages from a mobile device? A. You can easily have Apple's Safari browser impersonate a desktop browser, but you wouldn't know that from Apple's documentation or a glance at this app's own interface. You have a few different ways to invoke this browser-camouflage feature, but the fastest is to tap and hold the reload button in Safari's site-address field. That will expose a menu that leads off with "Request Desktop Site." Tap that command, and the page should reload in its desktop form, without any nags to install its app and, in many cases, with features and content absent from the mobile edition.
Kim Komando tells you how to speed up sluggish home wi-fi. LAS VEGAS -- The connectivity at Black Hat and DEF CON is not where you want to gamble. Both conferences attract thousands of information-security professionals, some of whom will snoop around networks here. A potentially sketchy Wi-Fi or cellular connection does not, however, require carrying a burner phone or cringing in airplane mode. As talks and presentations here outlined, basic precautions help keep you private and secure – precautions some attendees ignored.