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Soon, iOS users will be able to tap Google Maps for navigation and location searches without revealing their personal data. In a blog post, Google today announced that Incognito Mode, a privacy feature revealed earlier this year that recently came to Maps on Android, will arrive on iOS in the coming days. Inspired by the Chrome browser’s feature of the same name, it prevents places from being saved to a signed-in Google Account.
Enabling Incognito Mode is as easy as tapping through a profile picture in Maps: You’ll see a toggle to turn it on or off. When it’s enabled, locations you search for and navigate to won’t be linked to your account. Additionally, you won’t see personalized features within Maps (like restaurant recommendations based on dining spots you’ve been to previously), and your location history won’t be updated continuously.
Alongside Incognito Mode, a bulk delete tool that removes multiple places from Maps’ timeline — a running list of places you’ve been — will roll out to both iOS and Android users starting next month, Google says. With it, you’ll be able to quickly find and delete multiple spots from your timeline and location history all at once.
“It’s our goal to help you stay informed about your location history. If you’ve chosen to turn location history on, you’ll receive periodic email reminders that let you know what data you’re saving, and ways you can manage it,” wrote Google Maps product manager Marlo McGriff.
In related news, Google this past summer announced rolled out a setting that lets you delete location data automatically. From within the Google Account dashboard on mobile and the web, a drop-down option allows you to select one of two windows — 3 months or 18 months — specifying how long you’d like to retain data. The control also covers web and app activity (for example, things searched and browsed in Google services like Discover on Android, Maps, Search, and Google Play), and Google says that any older data will be deleted on an ongoing basis.
Those improvements come shortly after the rollout of YouTube’s Incognito Mode, and roughly a year after Google revamped Security Checkup with “personalized guidance” tailored to individual accounts and launched predictive phishing protection in Chrome. In late 2018, the Mountain View company said it would begin activating security alerts for G Suite admins by default if it believes a company’s systems are being subjected to a government-backed attack. And more recently, Google brought personal data controls — including a new data history view-and-delete feature — directly into Google Search.
The search giant’s renewed focus on privacy features follows several high-profile headlines over the past year, such as the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal. A Wall Street Journal report last summer revealed that Google+, Google’s social network, failed to disclose an exploit that might have exposed the data of more than 500,000 users. Following the news, Google announced that Google+ would formally shut down for consumers in August 2019, following a 10-month wind-down period.
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