Google launches Private Compute Services as a Play Store app
Google announced the “Private Compute Core” during I / O in May as an effective renaming of “Device Personalization Services”, now called “Android System Intelligence”. This was followed by “private compute services” last month, with this component now available as an app on the Play Store.
The Private Compute Core is where features like Live Caption, Now Playing, and Smart Reply work in isolation from the rest of Android and apps. This is important for constantly sensitive audio and language processing, as well as notification reading capabilities.
Android guarantees that sensitive data processed in the Private Compute Core is not shared with any application without your taking action. For example, until you tap on a smart answer, the operating system keeps your answer hidden from both your keyboard and the app you’re typing in.
Private Computing Services in September was announced as a way for these privacy-preserving Android features to “use the cloud without compromising your privacy.” This could involve downloading new ML and speech recognition models, as well as the latest song catalogs. With PCS, these cloud updates can happen just as privately.
Google today released a Private Compute Services update and began popping it up in the Play Store with a new green icon that somewhat complements Android System Intelligence’s. It goes from version 1.0.3x to 1.0.4x and appears first for Pixel devices on Android 12.
Android prevents any functionality inside the Private Compute Core from having direct access to the network; but machine learning features are often improved by updating models. Private Compute Services helps features get these updates through a private path. Features communicate through open source APIs to Private Compute Services, which stripes credentials and uses a suite of privacy technologies, including Federated Learning, Federated Analytics, and Private information retrieval, to maintain privacy.
The screenshots in the list provide a high level overview and show how you can “check when your phone connects to the network and see how it keeps your information private and why”. A timeline view is implied by the graph below, but such a capability does not appear to be available today in the system settings after the update.
Going forward, Google plans to release the source code for private computing services to allow for external audits.
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