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Google Assistant gets an incognito-like guest mode

Google is launching a few new privacy features today that include a refreshed Safety Center that’s now live in the U.S. and coming soon globally, as well as more prominent alerts when the company expects that your account has been tampered with.

The most interesting new feature, however, is a new Guest mode for the Google Assistant on Google-branded devices. Not to be confused with giving guests access to your Google Chromecast, for example, this new Guest mode is more akin to the incognito mode in your browser. With Guest mode on, which you invoke by saying “Hey Google, turn on guest mode,” the Assistant won’t offer personalized responses and your interactions won’t be saved to your account. It’ll stay on until you turn it off.

Typically, the Google Assistant saves all of your interactions to your account.  You can delete those manually or have Google automatically delete them after 3, 18 or 36 months. You can also prevent it from saving any audio recordings at all.

This new feature will roll out to smart speakers and displays in the coming weeks.

Talking about deleting your data, Google today also announced that you will soon be able to edit your Location History data in the Google Maps Timeline.

Also new: when you now search for “Is my Google Account secure” or use a similar query, Google will start displaying your security and privacy settings for you. That’s actually a useful step forward, given that we’ve reached a point where those settings are often hard to find.

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Google delays Android 11 by a month

Google today announced that it is extending the preview period of Android 11 by about a month. So instead of launching a beta this month, as it had previously planned, it’ll release a fourth developer preview today instead. The first beta will officially launch on June 3, during an Android-centric online event it’ll hold in lieu of its I/O developer conference.

“When we started planning Android 11, we didn’t expect the kinds of changes that would find their way to all of us, across nearly every region in the world,” Google’s Android team writes today. “These have challenged us to stay flexible and find new ways to work together, especially with our developer community. To help us meet those challenges we’re announcing an update to our release timeline.”

Google notes that it wants to meet the needs of the Android ecosystem, which has obviously started work on early app testing for Android 11 based on the company’s guidance, with the current environment during the coronavirus pandemic and the other priorities that come with that. Delaying the release by a month seems like a reasonable approach in this context.

Google says developers should target the Beta 1 release date of June 3 for releasing a compatible app to gather feedback from the larger group of Android Beta users. And that group will be larger because, like with previous releases, Google will make over-the-air updates available to users who opt in to the beta and have a compatible device. The list of compatible devices for the beta remains to be seen, but it’ll likely include all recent Pixel phones, starting with the Pixel 2.

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Google starts highlighting virtual care options in Search and Maps

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on virtual care options as both doctors and patients try to reduce in-person visits for routine care as much as possible. Patients aren’t always aware of what’s available to them, though, so over the course of the next two weeks, Google will roll out new features in Search and Maps that will highlight telehealth options.
Hospitals, doctors and mental health professionals can now add details about their virtual care offerings to their Business Profile in Search and Maps, for example. When a patient then searches for them, they’ll see a “ …

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