Selling user data like search histories and ad engagement is part of Google's business model, which means they aren't obligated to protect user information in their products and services.
Thankfully, the tide may be changing. Recently, Google has rolled out a number of new privacy and security features to its users — some that even stand in direct contrast with how it's done business in the past.
These options allow users to hide and remove their activities from Google's watchful eye — even in apps beyond its web browser and search engine. If you want to enjoy the Google ecosystem without compromising your privacy, here are the latest details on four of the platform's most highly anticipated security features:
1. Incognito Mode comes to Google Maps
Google Maps set the standard for mapping software, but that doesn't mean the program is perfect. One of the biggest critiques it has faced relates to its deep integration with your Google account and how Google harnesses your activity data to sell ads.
This concern may become a thing of the past — at least in regards to maps. As part of a series of rolling security updates, Google has finally introduced a form of Chrome's Incognito Mode into its popular Google Maps software.
When Incognito Mode is enabled, Google stops saving location history and search records in the Maps' app. Additionally, this feature disables auto-recommendations based on your search history.
This update is being rolled out over the next month or so, but Android phones can expect to have early access. Once available, Incognito Mode can be easily accessed from the drop-down menu at the top of Google Maps.
2. 'Hey Google, forget everything you know about me.'
Not to be outdone by Maps, Google's very own voice assistant is getting in on the privacy action with a series of new commands that give users greater control over what the platform knows about them.
Once upon a time, you had to log in to your Google Account settings to make changes or delete stored information, but now you can ask Google Assistant to do it for you. Simply say, "Hey Google, delete the last thing I said" or "Hey Google, delete everything I said in the past week" and you'll have cleared your history out completely. You can specify time frames to your liking, as well as simply purge everything if you choose to.
This feature isn't quite ready yet, but expect it to be rolling onto Google Assistant in the coming months. You won't even have to make any additional changes to your software to access the features. Just stay on top of updates and the new commands will be enabled automatically.
3. Auto-delete your YouTube history
YouTube is finally allowing users to automatically clear their viewing history with this new privacy feature. Now, you can specify how long Google hangs on to the videos you've watched, which will drastically impact the recommendation algorithm. Now, you won't need to worry if watching an errant fishing video here and there will force you to see fishing videos months down the road.
This feature is coming soon to YouTube, but there's no explicit release date set. Google has stated that this feature builds on its existing auto-delete tools for location history and app usage.
4. Make stronger passwords and get help with your weaker ones
Google has also updated its Password Manager application, which now gives suggestions and recommendations on passwords that may be weak or compromised.
The coolest part of this feature is the new alert system that provides you with real-time information on whether a password you've stored was exposed in a data breach. This can help you stay on top of security issues before they even have a chance to harm you.
To access the new Google Password Manager features, all you need to do is visit the application's page. The new features are live and ready as of today!
3 ways to search the web without Google tracking you
“Google” has become synonymous with “finding information.” But even the mighty Google has its drawbacks — especially if you value your privacy. The world’s most famous search site is also known for saving your search history, reading your email and tracking what you click. Before you break out the torches and pitchforks, try these alternatives.