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Google CEO Sundar Pichai at Google I/O. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Alongside new products and features, Google Tuesday announced a series of moves designed to offer users more privacy. The move builds on an announcement last week that it would allow users to automatically delete their location and activity history.

Why it matters: The changes come as Google, along with other tech giants including Facebook, is under pressure to give people more control over what personal information online platforms collect and store.

Details: Google is adding private "incognito" modes to Google Maps and search, which won't link queries or data to a user's profile. It also plans to add a one-touch method to get to account settings in its key apps to make it faster and easier for users to change privacy options.

  • For Google-made hardware, the company says it is publishing new privacy commitments making clear what information its devices collect, where it is stored and what Google will do with the information.
  • Security and privacy will also be key areas of focus with Android Q, the next version of Android. Google says more than 50 features relate to that area, including making it easier to change settings for location and other sensitive information. Users will also get finer controls over when apps can use location information, similar to an option available on the iPhone. Google will also make it easier to automatically get security updates without needing to reboot the phone.
  • As for the auto-deleting of data, Google said the new control is available today for web and app activity and coming next month to location history.
  • Later on Tuesday, Google announced two additional features. One aims to provide more control over tracking cookies used in Chrome and also attempt to prevent other means of fingerprinting users. The other promises to give users more details on the data Google uses to personalize ads for its own properties and on its publishing partners.

What they're saying: At Google's I/O developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai referred frequently to the need to improve the privacy options for consumers. That, he said, also includes exploring ways to deliver the same features with less personal information.

  • "We always want to do more for users, but do it with less data over time," Pichai said.

Yes, but: Google also introduced a new Nest Hub Max smart display that includes a camera and facial recognition features. Google says that the facial recognition will be done on-device and the data will remain there.

  • It's worth noting that Google specifically didn't include a camera on the first Google Home Hub "so that it was comfortable to use in the private spaces of your home like your bedroom."

Go deeper: What Google knows about you

Go deeper

31 mins ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

2 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.