Timed to coincide with Safer Internet Day, Google today introduced a handful of new product features across various apps and services, including Google Assistant, Google Fi, Google One and more, as well as partnerships aimed at expanding access to information about staying safe online. Notably, the company says it’s donating $5 million to educational nonprofit Khan Academy for the development of free, online safety lessons. Google is also working with nonprofit policy and political organizations on a new initiative called the Campaign Security Project, which will focus on training political candidates and campaign workers on online safety ahead of the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.
Partner organizations on this latter effort include the Veterans Campaign, Collective Future, Women’s Public Leadership Network, LGBTQ Victory Institute, Center for American Ideas, University of San Francisco, Emerge, Latino Victory and others. Outside the U.S., Google says it’s working with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) on similar efforts.
Across its product lineup, there are also several new additions broadly categorized as “safety” updates.
For starters, Google Assistant’s Guest Mode feature, which stops smart speakers and displays from showing personal results like calendar entries and contacts, will become globally available across nine languages in the next few months, Google says. Once in Guest Mode, you’ll be able to keep your personal information private until you disable it — a solution intended for those times when other people will be around your smart device. In addition, Guest Mode audio recordings won’t be saved to your Google Account. The expansion will cover a range of devices, including Nest Hub Max and Nest Audio.
In the nearer future, Google’s MVNO telecom service, Google Fi — which leverages U.S. networks like T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular — will add a family tracking feature, similar to something like Find My or Life360. Users on Google Fi plans will be able to share their location with their family members in real time from the Fi mobile app, at no additional charge. The tracking can be set to turn off at a set period of time, until the setting is manually switched off, or it can be set to always on. This joins Google Fi’s existing set of family features, which allow adults to do things like set up data budgets for family members or block unknown contacts from being able to message their kids, for example.
Another new feature announced today was actually introduced last week, however. Google notes it’s rolling out its VPN service to iOS devices as part of its Google One premium subscription. Members on the Premium cloud storage plan (2 TB or higher) will now be able to take advantage of the VPN through the Google One app for iOS.
Google is also teasing a soon-to-launch Safe Browsing feature. Starting next month, users will be able to opt into Google’s account-level “enhanced safe browsing,” which provides a broader set of protections against online threats and threats against your Google account, it says. The feature, intended for use by higher-risk users, will be available through your account settings screen or when you take a Security Checkup.