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Google pumps up privacy controls for Android users

Google pushes privacy on Maps and Youtube with auto-delete and password check-up features

Google announced in a blog post yesterday that it will be making Google Maps Incognito Mode available for Android users this month, and launching a host of other privacy control features at the same time.

Google Maps product manager Marlo McGriff states that Google wants to give users more “choice and control” over how their data is managed on the app. The Maps privacy overhaul will also launch alongside an auto-delete feature for Youtube, a so-called “Password Checkup” for Chrome and a privacy-centric update to the Google Assistant.

Enabling Incognito Mode in Google Maps stops your handset from storing information on your location history and whereabouts whilst using the Google Maps app – although it won’t make you untraceable. Any places you visit or search for will simply not be saved for the purpose of creating a “personalised experience.”

It won’t hide your Google Maps data from the world like a VPN does with your browser data, so any apps that use Google Maps in any capacity will still have unimpeded access to any necessary information.

The new auto-delete feature in the Youtube app, meanwhile, allows you to set an expiry date for your data. No need to worry then about someone browsing your recent searches as the function will delete your browsing and viewing history after either three or 18 months (seems a bit arbitrary, but there we go). This feature already exists within the Google Maps app.

Password Checkup will evaluate your password security as part of Chrome’s built in password manager. It functions by scanning your existing list of usernames and passwords to determine which of them are in need of an update, or in a few cases, which have been compromised by third-party data leaks. This feature will be added to Chrome later this year.

Better still, Google Assistant now allows for instant deletion of your search history by simply asking the voice command service to do so. You could say: ‘‘Hey Google, delete my search history’’ and your data will be wiped.

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which rather explains the deluge of privacy control features. Cynicism aside, however, it seems Google is taking a step in the right direction with an effort to give users even more control over their privacy.

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