Tagged: Google

Google’s new Account Hub is something every tech giant should copy

Google has rolled out an update to the Google Account Hub on Android, centralizing information about your data, privacy, security, and recurring payments in one place. Given how many other companies hide that data behind different portals, apps, and call-to-cancel phone lines, this should be a model for how every company handles user data going forwards.

The new Google Account controls puts the bulk of your relevant data in one place, with a couple different tabs to handle different categories. You can see basic profile information, data and privacy, security, and payments settings all in different tabs. Security and privacy in particular are the kinds of things that people give up on if they can’t find the right settings easily, so promoting them front-and-center is key to getting more people to actually customize what information they choose to share.

Best of all, there’s also a new search setting that reminds me of the Settings search on Windows 10 or iOS. You can type in the name of a settings section, or just search for a specific action like “change a password” or “delete account” to jump straight to the relevant options. There’s direct access to community help sections, although links to talk to an actual human still seem to be missing.

Keeping people’s confidence in Google’s protection of personal data is obviously key to Google in the current climate. Facebook has been under fire for its handling of confidential information, but the amount of info that Google mines on its heaviest users is truly creepy. Google can’t stop collecting data — that’s its entire business model — but the next-best thing is making people feel like they have control over their data.

“To help you better understand and take control of your Google Account, we’ve made all your privacy options easy to review with our new intuitive, user-tested design,” Jan Hannemann, product manager for Google Account, wrote in today’s blog post on the changes. “You can now more easily find your activity controls in the Data & Personalization tab and choose what types of activity data are saved in your account to make Google work better for you.”

The new Google Account Hub is live on Android right now, and it should roll out to iOS and Android this year.

Google Assistant can now continue conversations with you

Google on Thursday announced that an exciting new Google Assistant feature first demoed at I/O 2018 in May is ready to roll out to US users. Called Continued Conversations, the new feature will let speak multiple commands in a way that mimics real-life conversations between two people.

That’s a pretty huge advancement for the Assistant, as you won’t need to say the usual “Hey Google” before each interaction with a smartphone or smart speaker, as long as all the questions and commands are issued during the same exchange.

So how does this all work? Well, you still have to say “Hey Google,” “OK Google,” or press a physical button to wake the Assistant. Once that’s done, you can have a continuous conversation with the Assistant until you say “thank you” or “stop.” Google offered one such exchange as an example:

So next time you wake up and the skies are grey, just ask “Hey Google, what’s the weather today?”… “And what about tomorrow?”… “Can you add a rain jacket to my shopping list”… “And remind me to bring an umbrella tomorrow morning”…“Thank you!”

The Assistant will stay active for eight seconds at most if it does not detect any new conversation, and the LEDs will be turned on for the entire duration of the conversation to let you know it’s recording. Obviously, if it recognizes that you’re issuing additional commands, it’ll continue to stay active.

To enable Continued Conversation, you’ll have to go to the Assistant Settings on at least one device, then Preferences, and then Continued Conversation. Once you’ve activate it, the feature will be available on all smart speakers set up under your account.

If you want to review your interactions with Assistant, you’ll be able to do it inside Google’s online My Activity section.