Moar data privacy: Chromebooks may get on-device grammar check

What ironic timing. I’ve been testing some data privacy experiments by not using any “big tech” on my personal smartphone lately. Now, thanks to Chrome Story I see that Google is working on a Chrome OS grammar checking function. Yes, if you use Google Docs or other Google services on your Chromebook, you’ve likely seen grammar checks. The difference with what’s in the works is that it will happen locally on your device.

I actually use Grammarly’s cloud service (shown above) for additional spelling and grammar checks these days. But I’d much rather prefer a native option that works across all of Chrome OS.

This would mean regardless of the app or site I’m using, I’d have much less chance of grammar errors. And given my latest data privacy experiments, I appreciate that the processing would be handled locally on my Chromebook.

Like most new features, the on-device grammar check will at first be hidden by an experimental flag:

At the moment, this flag isn’t even available in the latest Canary Channel of Chrome OS and we’re past the feature freeze of Chrome OS 88. So this could make it into Chrome OS 89, currently expected around March 9, 2021.

This thought about data privacy and using Chromebooks is an interesting one to me. You simply can’t use a Chromebook without a Google / Gmail account, unless you simply use it in Guest Mode. Of course, that’s not very practical.

And since I run a Chromebook site, I accept that Google and the various websites or services I use get some of my personal data. From a work perspective, I obviously won’t be changing things up.

I’m curious what readers think though.

Do you take steps on your Chromebook to reduce the amount of private data you send out? I’m thinking at least some folks use privacy-centric Android or Linux desktop browsers for certain activities, but I could be wrong. Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Moar data privacy: Chromebooks may get on-device grammar check

  • December 1, 2020 at 11:43 am
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    I’ve never really had any issue with the fact that the price of “free” Google service is giving Google the ability to target the advertising that I see. I’ve never been give a reason to find it invasive or insidious, and I have nothing to hide. I also prefer services that don’t use my device’s local storage. That’s how most of the benefits of using a Chromebook of are derived and largely what makes the user experience superior in my opinion. There are a few services that really need to be device-based. For obvious reasons, rapid handwriting recognition and conversion to text is one of those. However, if someone really needs “privacy,” they should always feel absolutely free to opt for a paid service.

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  • December 1, 2020 at 7:10 pm
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    I think the term “privacy” is misused a lot with regard to tech. I personally don’t think it is invading my privacy if my browsing habits are lumped together with other people interested in Chromebooks in order to target me with advertising for Chromebooks. Google does a pretty good job of protecting real “privacy,” which means things like not letting people get at your email, documents, and personal information. What does irk me though is that now Google wants to start charging for various things that were free, like unlimited photo uploads, without in turn providing the advantages that other paid services provide like real customer service that will answer an email or a phone call. It is also frustrating to me to see that so-called “smart” devices and AI are intensely focused on further vacuuming out our wallets instead of improving the product. I find that 90% of the time smart stuff just gets in the way of what I want to do, and yet we are promised more and more of it. Each year Google functionality degrades and now we must start paying for it. For example, the new supposedly simplified camera app is a mess trying to get me to let it decide how to make a good photo–just get out of the way!

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