Google has officially announced that Checks, an AI-powered tool for checking mobile apps’ compliance with privacy rules and regulations, is moving out of Area 120 and into Google’s Developer X division. This comes after Google cut all but three of its projects in Area 120 and shifted the focus to AI projects across the company. The co-founders of Checks, Fergus Hurley and Nia Castelly, will now hold the titles of GM and Legal Lead, respectively, for the product under Google.
Checks uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to scan mobile apps and their code to identify potential violations of privacy and data protection rules. It provides remediation suggestions that would be difficult for humans to execute on their own. Checks is already integrated with Google’s large language models and app understanding technologies to identify and suggest fixes for issues.
A dashboard allows users to monitor and triage issues related to compliance monitoring, data monitoring, and store disclosure support. While the service is aimed at iOS developers, it is not yet clear whether Apple App Store data safety will be added to the mix. Checks is already being used by several customers in gaming, health, finance, education, and retail sectors. The number of customers represented by its customers is over 3 billion.
The founders of Checks believe that the product speaks to an issue that is growing in importance for consumers, which is privacy. With an increasing number of rules and regulations around data protection and privacy, app publishers face potential issues at the front and back end of their apps, making fixes in one area impact another. Checks is one of those ideas that feels incredibly timely, given that it addresses these issues by providing AI-powered solutions.
As of now, it is unclear what will happen to the other two projects that were spared closure after Area 120 changed focus. They include Aloud, a video dubbing solution, and an as-yet-unnamed consumer product from the team that previously built a bookmarking app, Liist. In the meantime, Area 120 has seen some revolving doors, with its former head, Clay Bavor, leaving the company and teaming up with Bret Taylor to work on a mystery startup.