To help users manage time spend on Android mobile devices, Google may launch a new set of controls to its operating system at its annual developer conference “Google I/O” scheduled to kick-off on Tuesday.
In his keynote address in US’ Mountain View city in California, Indian-origin Chief Executive Officer of Google, Sundar Pichai, was expected to emphasise the theme of responsibility, The Washington Post reported late on Monday.
This anticipated shift is reportedly due to the increased public scrutiny of the industry that revolves around the so-called negative consequences of technology products that are used by people.
“Some of the criticism centres on the suspected addictive nature of many devices and programmes,” the report said.
However, when it comes to family controls, Google is a step ahead with “Family Link” — a suite of tools allows parents to regulate how much time their children can spend on apps and remotely lock their child’s device.
Its rival Apple offers “do not disturb” modes that limit an iPhone’s function overnight or while driving.
Google might also announce new capabilities to its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered Google Assistant to make its products more interactive and helpful.
It might also launch the latest version of Android operating system, called Android P. An early iteration of Android P was released to developers and anyone who owns Google’s Pixel phones in early March.
According to the media reports, the next OS might be called “Android Popsicle”.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai insisted Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee that he runs the U.S. technology giant without political preference.
“We find that we have a wide variety of sources, including sources from the left and sources from the right. And we are committed to making sure there are diverse perspectives,” Pichai told the panel.
Pichai defended the company after accusations from Republican lawmakers that Google has developed online search algorithms to suppress conservative voices.
“There are numerous allegations in the news that Google employees have thought about doing this, talked about doing this and have done it,” Republican committee chairman Robert Goodlatte said.
Republican Congressman Lamar Smith cited a study by P.J. Media that concluded 96 percent of Google’s search results for President Donald Trump were from “liberal media outlets.”
“In fact, not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of search results. This doesn’t happen by accident but is baked into the algorithms. Those who write the algorithms get the results they must want and apparently management allows it.”
Smith also cited a study by “Harvard-trained psychologist” Robert Epstein that said Google’s alleged bias “likely swung” more than 2.5 million votes to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
“Google could well elect the next president with dire implications for our democracy,” Smith added.
“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai said. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.”
Top committee Democrat Jerry Nadler said Republican accusations of bias is “a completely illegitimate issue, which is the fantasy dreamed up by some conservatives that Google and other online platforms have an anti-conservative bias. As I’ve said repeatedly, no credible evidence supports this right-wing conspiracy theory.”
President Donald Trump is among those who have accused the company of censoring conservative content, tweeting in August that Google is “RIGGED” and that “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”
Pichai’s testimony came after he angered committee members in September by declining an invitation to testify about manipulation of online services by foreign governments to influence U.S. elections.
The CEO was also questioned about the company’s planned “Dragonfly” project, a censored search engine for China and “next generation technology” that Congressman Smith said Google is “developing on Chinese soil.”
“This news raises a troubling possibility, that Google is being used to strengthen China’s system of surveillance, repression and control,” Smith said. “We need to know that Google is on the side of the free world, and that it will provide its services free of anti-competitive behavior, political bias and censorship.”
An international group of 60 human rights and media groups submitted a letter Tuesday to Pichai, calling on him to abandon the project, warning that personal data would not be safe from Chinese authorities.