WAZIPOINT Engineering Science & Technology: Enhancing Privacy: Google Pixel's New Feature Protects Your Selfies from Unauthorized Access

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Enhancing Privacy: Google Pixel's New Feature Protects Your Selfies from Unauthorized Access

Google Pixel

Google Pixel users now have the option to safeguard their data from unauthorized access when sending their devices in for repair, thanks to the introduction of a new "repair mode." 

This feature, recently announced by the tech giant in a blog post, allows for the protection of privacy and ensures efficient repairs. 

According to a new help page on Google's Pixel Phone support site, repair mode functions by establishing a pristine Android installation in a designated partition with restricted functionality, while preventing access to the owner's personal data.

Google stated that while in repair mode, access to Google Play, Messages, Text-to-Speech, and Google Search is disabled. Additionally, other apps intended for technicians are made available exclusively in repair mode, as per Google. 

"We're pleased to see Google introducing this feature that eliminates the concern and inconvenience of sending in a phone for repair," stated iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, commenting on the new Pixel feature. "Most repair techs are trustworthy individuals who simply aim to assist you in getting your device functioning again. However, it can be unsettling to grant access to your phone to a stranger, and repair techs should not require access to your data to verify the functionality of speakers or cameras."

Google has stated that repair mode can be employed for both walk-in and mail-in repairs. Any changes made to the device in repair mode, excluding system updates, will be reversed once repair mode is deactivated.

Additionally, Google has cautioned that utilizing repair mode does not guarantee that a technician will refrain from wiping the entire device if necessary. Repair mode does not prevent this action from occurring.

Google's help page emphasizes that if parts impacting storage require replacement during the repair, the technician is obligated to erase the phone's data even if repair mode is enabled. Therefore, Google advises Pixel owners to perform a full backup before sending the device in for repair.

Repair mode can be accessed in the Settings app under the System menu on compatible Pixel devices. To use this feature, your device must be running Android 14 with the December 2023 update or a newer version, and you must have at least 2 GB of free space available. It's worth noting that Google is not the first company to introduce such a feature. Samsung added a similar maintenance mode to Galaxy devices with the release of One UI 5 in October 2022.

In addition to repair mode, Google has also introduced a few other self-repair features. One of them is the Pixel Diagnostic app, which can now be launched from the phone keypad. However, accessing the app is not straightforward. Users need to open the Phone app and dial *#*#7287#*#*, which initiates a USSD session. From there, users can follow the onscreen prompts. A user manual for the app is available to provide further guidance.

Furthermore, Google has redesigned its repair manuals to be more user-friendly for third-party technicians and DIYers. These changes aim to make it easier for individuals outside of Google's official repair network to troubleshoot and fix their Pixel devices.

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