Android 12 is bringing a new feature to strengthen the security of data used by machine learning. Jack Wallen explains Private Compute Core.

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Google has gone to great lengths to secure the Android platform, while at the same time creating a platform that is intelligent, intuitive and predictive. To continue to push the boundaries of smartphone technology, Google relies heavily on machine learning. But instead of offloading ML and artificial intelligence to the cloud, the developers have opted to keep it on-device. With this, Android is better able to anticipate a user’s next move or learn their habits (by recognizing and repeating patterns).

It is that functionality that led the developers to bring the computation of ML and AI onto the devices. Imagine the security issues that would be in play if that service was offloaded to a third-party compute platform. In today’s world of constant threat, that would not fly. For that, Google developed the Private Compute Core, which arrived with the release of Android 12.

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As of now (Android 12, beta 4), the Private Compute Core works with three features:

  • Live Caption
  • Smart Reply
  • Now Playing

Prior to Android 12, the AI powering the above features was already found on the platform. It wasn’t until Android 12, however, that the feature was given a dedicated location within Settings. If you go to Settings | Privacy | Private Compute Core, you’ll find all of the available options (Figure A).

Figure A

pcca.jpg

The Private Compute Core settings page on Android 12.

Outside of the features Private Compute Core will bring to your device, one of the more important things it does is store data separate from all apps and services, while making that data available to the operating system when required. For example: When you watch a video with Live Caption, the service that listens to the audio and translates it to real-time, readable captions cannot expose the audio to anyone or any other app. With Private Compute Core at work, that data is processed within its own sandbox, away from everything else, and then the captions are presented for your viewing.

Private Compute core will make it possible for Google to develop and release new features while keeping data safe, private and…

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