Google launched the Files by Google app back in 2017 to help with file management on storage-limited mobile devices. Now the app is being updated to add a secure folder for use on the millions of devices that get shared among families every day.
Files by Google forms part of the search giant’s Next Billion Users initiative, which focuses on new products and features for the company’s (you guessed it) next billion users. The Files app is focused on freeing up space on mobile devices, allowing files to be found faster, easily sharing files offline, and backing up files to the cloud. But feedback from over 150 million regular users revealed Files was missing a key feature: the ability to protect personal files on a device that gets shared.
Posting on Google’s The Keyword blog, Joris van Mens and Pranay Bhatia, both of whom are product managers at Next Billion Users, explain how Files by Google now has a new feature called Safe Folder. Google added a folder that can be protected by a four-digit PIN and encryption, allowing important and personal files to be locked away by one user before the device gets used by another. Nobody can access the folder without the PIN, and it automatically locks whenever the Files app is switched away from.
Safe Folder is already rolling out in beta form and should be available to everyone who uses the Files app “over the following weeks.” Google is also keen to point out Files has achieved some impressive storage feats, including deleting “over 1 trillion files of digital clutter,” saving over 400 petabytes of storage space on phones, and on average freeing up 12GB of space every second.