Last year, Google users could start limiting how long the company could hold on to their activity on apps, the web, and with location logging. But from today, the company will turn on these so-called auto-delete controls by default when people create new accounts and use its services. This is but one of a slew of changes it is making to improve user comfort on its platform.
Now when a first-time user opts into Location History, any journey or visit will only be kept on the logs for 18 months before being deleted. The same goes for Web & App Activity. Soon, YouTube viewing history will also have a default max-out of 36 months — a new option to the 3- and 18-month choices. Existing account holders will not have their settings changed.
Everyone can change these settings at their will by tapping on their avatar in a major Google app like Home and Photos and hit ting Manage your Google Account (or hitting this link if you want to change things up while it's on your mind), scroll to the Data & personalization tab, and check out the Activity controls module.
Talking about the avatar, iOS users on the Google app can now long-press that icon to activate Incognito Mode, saving them a tap. The shortcut will make it to Maps and YouTube as well as Android in due time.
Users are now able to search for "Google Privacy Checkup" and "Is my Google Account secure?" for an easy way to access their personal privacy settings. Plus, Google's Password Checkup extension for Chrome will be shut down on August 31 in favor of being integrated into its Security Checkup center for Google accounts.
Google is framing these moves and others like Gboard's federated learning for auto-suggestions as part of its effort to offer more robust services without using so much data from its users. It also says that it doesn't sell personal data to advertisers. But the fact of the matter is that in most cases, old data doesn't sell as well as new, even real-time data. And with finite server resources — growing, but taxed heavily nonetheless — it may be better off for Google to shed what it can. And for the people who find it a benefit, all the more sweeter.