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Psst! Google Maps’ privacy-focused Incognito Mode is nearly here

Google’s journey to launch Incognito Mode for Google Maps is an excruciatingly slow one, but it finally appears to be close to launch.

First unveiled at Google I/O back in May, the feature offers a quick-access privacy option that stops your location data from being saved to your Google account.

Using Maps in the regular way means you have to go in and manually erase location data or configure the app to delete it at regular intervals, so Incognito Mode should make the procedure much easier.

On the flip side, however, it means Google won’t be able to personalize Maps for you — such as recommending places to go based on your previous movements — as it’ll have no data to work with.

If that’s not a major drawback and you value your privacy, then maybe Incognito Mode is for you.

Of course, you might only want to turn it on now and again for when you have a meeting or trip you’d prefer to keep secret (we’re not asking) — though be aware that when your phone is on, your wireless carrier will still be tracking your movements.

In fact, Google may still be logging your whereabouts through its other apps, and software on your phone made by other companies could be doing the same, depending on your privacy settings.

Test group

Incognito Mode for Google Maps has recently started testing with a select group of users.

Screenshots obtained by Android Police show how the feature can be enabled in just a couple of taps — the first on your profile image, and the second on the Incognito Mode option that appears. After that, you’ll see a black bar at the top of the display with the words: “Incognito Mode is on,” so that you’re constantly aware of your selected setup. Another indicator is the color of your location marker, which switches from blue to dark gray.

The launch of the test phase means that hopefully, it won’t be more than a few weeks before Incognito Mode finally arrives for everyone. We’ve reached out to Google for more information and will update this piece if we hear back.

Google already offers an Incognito Mode option on its Chrome web browser, and also for YouTube, though the feature hasn’t been entirely free of controversy.

Privacy

In other privacy-focused efforts, Google recently made it possible for users to automatically delete location and activity data from their account every 3 months or 18 months, though it can also be erased manually. The feature can be found in the settings of your Google account.

Online privacy is a hot topic these days, with a slew of tech giants coming under increasing scrutiny about how it handles and uses people’s data. Just a few weeks ago, for example, Google-owned YouTube was hit with a $170 million fine for violating children’s online privacy, while Facebook was recently ordered to pay a far heftier $5 billion fine over various privacy violations.

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Trevor Mogg
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