Currently, Private Compute Core in Android 12 holds data for three machine learning features: Live Caption, Now Playing, and Smart Reply. Features inside Private Compute Core don’t have direct access to the Internet, but many machine learning and AI features need to be updated from time to time with new and improved models, and this is where Android’s new Private Compute Services will come into play. Today, Google announced a new suite of services for Private Compute Core that will enable AI-powered features stored in the sandbox to be securely updated.
Private Compute Services will provide a privacy-preserving bridge between the Private Compute Core and the cloud, making it possible to deliver new AI models and other updates to sandboxed machine learning features over a secure path. Google says communication between features and Private Compute Services happens over a set of purposeful open-source APIs, which removes identifying information from data and applies privacy technologies like Federated Learning, Federated Analytics, and Private information retrieval.
Google says they will open source the code for Private Compute Services so that independent security researchers can audit it. However, there’s no timeline on when the code will be publicly released.
Private Compute Core is a secure environment that’s isolated from the rest of the operating system and apps. Data stored and processed within this sandbox isn’t exposed to other apps unless intended by the user. For example, a Smart Reply suggestion will remain hidden from your keyboard and the app you’re typing into until you tap on it.
Apart from the privacy sandbox, Android 12 also adds a Privacy Dashboard that displays a timeline of when apps on your phone accessed sensitive permissions like location, microphone, and camera.