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Chrome on iOS is getting a great new feature to keep incognito tabs private

Published Jun 22nd, 2021 9:13PM EDT
Chrome iOS update
Image: Jacob Siegal/BGR

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When it comes to protecting our data and ensuring our privacy, the companies that make the software we use to browse the internet can never introduce too many safety features. There’s simply no such thing as overkill, which is why Chrome users on iOS devices will be pleased to learn about a new feature in testing, and everyone should now have access to it.

As spotted by Bleeping Computer earlier this week, Google has added the ability to lock incognito tabs behind Face ID (or Touch ID, for the iPhone and iPad users with older devices). Chrome incognito tabs are great for keeping embarrassing searches or websites out of the browser’s history, but they aren’t of much use if someone happens to borrow your phone and open the Chrome app. With this feature, it’s possible to keep your incognito tabs private, even when you forget that they’re open.

Presumably, this feature will eventually make its way to the settings menu so that everyone can easily access it, but for now, it’s still an experiment, so you’ll need to follow these steps to enable it:

  1. Open the Chrome app on your iPhone or iPad, type chrome://flags in the address bar, and tap on the blue button that says go on the keyboard.
  2. You should now be on a page called ‘Experiments,’ and from here, you need to search the flags for ‘Device Authentication for Incognito.’
  3. Open the drop-down menu beneath the flag and select Enabled.
  4. Close and reopen your Chrome browser.
  5. Once Chrome has reopened, head to Settings > Privacy, and you should see a toggle labeled ‘Lock Incognito Tabs When You Close Chrome,’ which you should enable.

After you flip the toggle, you’ll get a quick Face ID prompt, and from now on, every time you leave the Chrome app and come back to try to open an incognito tab, you will be presented with a blank screen that features a single button reading ‘Unlock With Face ID.’ You have to tap on the button to activate a scan, and once the phone recognizes your face, it will open the hidden tabs.

You can easily disable the feature at any time in the settings menu or remove it from the app entirely by going back through the steps listed above and disabling the flag on the Experiments page. We are not sure when or if the feature will roll out, but everyone should be able to test it now.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.