Latest Gboard beta asking users for screenshots to ‘help improve Autofill’

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The latest preview of Google’s Android keyboard briefly tested a new Assistant-powered voice typing experience last week. That has since disappeared, but Gboard is now asking beta users to screenshot their current screen to “help improve Autofill.”

In using Gboard 10.0 this week, we experienced two instances where Google asked us to “Help improve Autofill” upon entering a text field. This pill appears in the suggestions row, with a tap explaining how:

As a beta user, you can help improve autofill by submitting a screenshot of this application screen. That screenshot is anonymous and will be deleted in 8 days.

The first option is “Take screenshot,” while “No” dismisses the screen. If you’re never going to participate, “Never” presumably opts you out of ever getting prompted. The second you start typing, the bubble immediately disappears.

For most users, taking a screenshot of private conversations in the service of feedback is one step too far. As seen in the screenshot above, we got this message in Slack. Google says screenshots are “anonymous” — which presumably means it doesn’t get tied to your Google Account, but there is a lot of context present in any capture. It’s also not clear whether human reviewers are sifting through the images or machines.

The other occasion we were prompted by Gboard was when entering a label in the Google Clock app. Users might be more willing to submit information in that and similar cases, but there still might be sensitive information visible.

This request for screenshots to improve Autofill joins Gboard’s differential privacy approach to improve voice recognition and typing models in an anonymous manner.

More about Gboard:

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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