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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Google Announces Maps Incognito Mode and More Privacy Controls

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Today, Google is announcing a plethora of new privacy and security features: Incognito Mode for Google Maps, auto-deletion of your YouTube history, voice privacy controls in Google Assistant, and Password Checkup built into Google’s password manager.

First up: Google Maps is getting Incognito Mode soon. Google says it will start rolling out on Android later this month, with support for iPhone and iPad coming soon. Just like using Incognito Mode in YouTube, you can search for locations in Google Maps and view them without those locations being added to your history. They won’t be used to personalize your experience.

When this feature arrives, you’ll be able to tap your profile photo and then turn Incognito Mode on. Google didn’t say whether this feature is coming to the Google Maps website for desktop, but you can always open Google Maps in an Incognito window in Chrome for desktop.

YouTube History auto-deletion controls.

YouTube is getting auto-delete, a feature that’s already available for your Google account’s location history and web & app activity. When you enable it for your YouTube History, Google can automatically delete your YouTube watch and search history every 3 months or 18 months—whichever you choose.

You’ll get some of the benefits of personalization, but YouTube won’t build up a years-long history of your interests.

Deleting what you said to Google Assistant via voice.

Google Assistant is getting better voice controls. Rather than digging through Google’s app or website to delete things you’ve said to Assistant, you can now say “Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you” or “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.”

Google says this feature will arrive in English next week and for other languages next month.

Password checkup in Google's password manager.

Google’s password manager is getting better, too. Password Checkup is arriving in Google’s password manager on the web. Just like similar features in password managers like LastPass and 1Password, it’ll want you about which passwords are weak, which you’ve reused across multiple websites, and which were discovered to be compromised in a data breach. You then know which passwords you should consider changing.

The password features are arriving in Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is apparently October. A Google/Harris survey found that 66% of Americans reuse the same password for multiple sites and that only 12% of Americans use a password manager. It’s good to see Google’s password manager getting more and more capable.

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