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Brilliant new Chrome security feature on iPhone is a great reason to ditch Safari

Published Feb 12th, 2021 4:48PM EST
Chrome new feature
Image: Google

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  • Google recently updated the Chrome Beta for iOS devices with a new security feature.
  • Select beta testers of Google’s mobile Chrome browser are now able to lock their incognito tabs behind Face ID or Touch ID, depending on which iPhone model they have.
  • Google expects to release Chrome 89 to the public early next month, but it’s unclear if the Face ID feature for incognito apps will be ready to roll out by then.

As easy as it is to stick with the default apps on your iPhone, you’re missing out on a whole world of stellar third-party options if you never expand your horizons. For example, despite Chrome’s dominance on desktops and notebooks, it still trails the market share of Safari by a huge margin on mobile devices in the US. Safari certainly isn’t a bad mobile browser, but it also can’t match some of the best features from its top rival.

As spotted by The Verge’s Tom Warren on Twitter, the latest Chrome Beta release for iOS devices includes a new feature that allows users to lock their incognito tabs with Face ID or Touch ID. Of course, most modern iOS devices have Face ID and not Touch ID, but Google seemingly wants to ensure that every iPhone owner that uses Chrome can take advantage of this new security measure, even if they haven’t upgraded recently.

“You can add more security to your Incognito tabs with Touch ID or Face ID,” reads the changelog. “When you return to the Chrome app, your Incognito tabs will be blurred until you confirm it’s you. To turn on the feature, go to Settings > Privacy > Lock Incognito tabs when you close Chrome.”

Although this feature might not come in handy very often, it would take some of the suspense out of handing a friend your phone and then realizing that you have an Incognito tab open in Chrome that you might not want anyone else to see. If they were to accidentally stumble upon the tab somehow, they wouldn’t be able to view the content of the tab without a face scan. So you won’t have to worry about them seeing anything they shouldn’t.

Chrome 89 should roll out to the public in early March, but there’s no guarantee that the new Face ID and Touch ID security feature will be ready by the time Google is ready to release the update. Also, while the update is available to everyone who has access to the Chrome Beta, 9to5Google notes that there is a server-side element to the testing of the feature as well, which means that not everyone on the latest version of the beta will see the feature. It might still be a ways out, but it’s always nice to see Google bring more privacy to its products and services.

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.