Google’s latest update has revealed a game-changing upgrade for Android with a dark twist: Google’s AI will now read and analyze all your private messages, going back forever.

According to Forbes, “there’s understandable excitement that Google is bringing Bard to Messages”, giving users a “personal assistant within your messaging app.” However, the true reality of the situation is much darker: with Bard’s newfound presence comes a newfound power to analyze the private content of messages “to understand the context of your conversations, your tone, and your interests.”

So what does this mean for us?

As Forbes points out, “here comes the next privacy battlefield for smartphone owners”. With several AI eavesdropping scandals fresh in users’ memories, many are immensely wary of new upgrades in terms of tracking transparency and app permissions. It will be an immense challenge for Google to convince users that this new upgrade does not automatically open new and far more dangerous doors that threaten their privacy.

Moreover, that is not the only potential possibility that Bard may bring to Android devices. Message requests will be sent to the cloud for processing, with its data stored for 18-months, persisting for a few days even if you disable the AI. While anonymized, these can be used for training and seen by humans. Thus, just like all other AI chatbots – including ChatGPT – users must be wary of what they send.

However, one potential balm to this development is the fact that this revolves around message analyses. This content now falls under the end-to-end encryption shield, and so if AI is used, the ideal situation would be where it has an on-device AI processing, which means that data will never leave your phone.

However, while Google often defaults to the cloud in order to analyze user content, Apple is in a much stronger position to conduct on-device analyses. According to the Financial Times, as recorded a few days ago, “Apple’s goal appears to be operating generative AI through mobile devices, to allow AI chatbots and apps to run on the phone’s own hardware and software rather than be powered by cloud services in data centres.”