Whatever your opinion of Google, it does offer a good range of free tools to help keep kids safe online. One of the best is Family Link, a parental control app for Android that helps parents limit screen time as well as putting some guard rails in place for web searches.
SafeSearch – one of these guard rails – has been around for years. The feature is automatically enabled for anyone under 18 signed in with their Google account, regardless of whether their parent is using Family Link or not. Now, Google is expanding the feature so that it will blur what it deems to be explicit images in search results even if SafeSearch is disabled.
The idea is to help prevent kids seeing inappropriate pictures when searching the web. However, the fact there’s a prominent ‘View Image’ button means curious kids (or anyone else) can still choose to view it if they want to. They’ll also have the option to Manage Settings and switch SafeSearch off if they want to.
Google hasn’t put an exact date on when SafeSearch blurring will be available, but says it will happen “in the coming months”.
This isn’t the only new feature on the way, though.
Soon, iPhone owners will have the option of setting up Face ID so that only they can open the Google app on their phone. The app already has an Incognito mode, as well as the option to delete the last 15 minutes of your search history from your Google account. Adding Face ID means an extra layer of security for your Google data if someone did manage to pick up your phone while it was unlocked.
Back in May 2022 Google announced Virtual Cards. These offer a way to pay for goods and services online without the need to type in the three-digit CVV code on the back of your real card, and therefore help to prevent those details falling into the wrong hands.
Initially those were only available if you had a Capital One card, but now Amex customers can use them too.
Finally, Google’s password manager is getting the option to use a fingerprint scanner (or other biometric authentication) on supported computers before auto-filling passwords on login screens. Plus, that same authentication can be used to show hidden passwords, copy or edit them, meaning you’ll no longer have to enter your main password to do these things.