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Google beefs up user-identity safety net for apps

Maker of the Android mobile operating system helps developers build apps that let users easily, safely sign in.

Google has been working to boost the security of its Web and mobile apps. Juan Garzón/CNET

Google wants users to feel safe and secure when accessing websites and apps from their Android devices. It's why Google is encouraging developers will build in security safeguards with its Google Identity Platform.

The Google Identity Platform, announced Thursday while developers are in San Francisco for the first day of Google's annual I/O conference, is a collection of developer-specific software programs, or tools, for adding password management, single sign-in across related apps and websites, and identity authentication.

Google has been working to boost the security of its Web and mobile apps. The company last year started tweaking its search ranking algorithms to encourage more websites to use secure encrypted connections. It also turned on encryption for all Gmail messages last year, ensuring that anyone who intercepts a message while it's in transit sees only gibberish.

Developers can now hook into Google's Smart Lock password manager to save and retrieve their customers' credentials, and use that information to sign them to Android-based apps and websites viewed in the Chrome browser. Users can save their passwords to one device and Smart Lock will populate that information across all their other devices. A few companies are testing the new Smart Lock software, according to Google. Netflix, for example, is using it to keeper users signed in and viewing content even as they switch among devices. Other testers include Eventbrite, Orbitz, Instacart and The New York Times.

The new Google Sign-In tool makes it easy for developers to securely connect their apps or website to users' Google accounts, the company said. For example, customers can use their Gmail, Google Play or Google+ accounts to sign into The New York Times.

And Google's Identity Toolkit provides "authentication in-a-box" that lets developers "do sign-in the right way." However, Google did not actually say what that "right way" might be.

See all of today's Google I/O news here.