Google Assistant Is Testing A Feature That Raises Privacy Concern.

Despite storing our voice data, the Google Assistant doesn’t allow users to interact with the Android device from the lock screen. While that excludes general questions, the majority of the phone’s functions, such as calling a person, are blocked until the holder unlocks the device.

It seems like this Google might loosen up on lock screen restrictions in the near future. An A/B test picked up by 9to5Google shows Google Assistant Beta app (version 10.28) sending a text directly from the lock screen.

As one can see in the screenshots below — initiating the “send a text” command is allowing a person to send an SMS, even when the phone is locked (evident by the lock icon on the top).

Being part of an A/B test, the feature is not widely available. Upon testing this new feature on our Pixel 3 running Android Q, we were still getting “Unlock to Continue.” Currently, it is unsure if this will be rolled out in the next Google Assistant version.

If at all Google rolls out features for the public, it will undoubtedly raise many privacy concerns. Google Assistant is still weak in recognizing voices. This feature would bring in the possibility of strangers sending texts from the users’ phones without their consent.

While voice commands are convenient and efficient, Google and other assistants need to focus on striking a balance between privacy and providing features.

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