Google Drive boosts privacy with Face ID and Touch ID support

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Privacy Screen makes Google Drive just a bit more secure.
The Google Drive Privacy Screen helps you limit access to your personal files.
Photo: Google/Cult of Mac

Support for Apple’s biometric security systems just appeared in the Google Drive iOS/iPadOS application. With this update, users can lock access to this cloud-storage system, and then unlock it with Face ID or Touch ID.

The new security feature that debuted late on Sunday adds an optional Privacy Screen. This prevents someone with access to your iPhone or iPad from also accessing the contents of Google Drive.

Drive keeps users signed into their Google accounts, so all that’s necessary to read or modify what’s stored on Drive is run the application. Before this latest change, the only way to prevent that was manually sign out of your Google account so that a password is required to sign back in.

Enter the Google Drive Privacy Screen

That’s where the Privacy Screen comes in. Users have the option to require Face ID or Touch ID to confirm who they are whenever the app is opened. Or they can put in a slight delay — 10 seconds, 60 seconds or 10 minutes — so that they can switch back and forth between Google Drive and another application without having to reconfirm their identity every time.

As Google phrases it, “Privacy Screen is a new feature that uses Face ID or touch ID to protect your sensitive files from prying eyes.” But the company also warns that there are limitations. This online-storage service can also be accessed through Apple Files, and then this security method doesn’t cover it. Notifications aren‘t protected, nor are some Siri functions.

Google Drive 2.2020.18204 with Privacy Screen is available now on the Apple Store.

It’s not yet known whether the company intends to add this feature to any of its other G Suite apps, like Gmail.