Skip to Content
© Martinmark |
Smartphones & gadgets

Google Maps for iOS gets sneaky new feature

Even after years of updates, Apple’s Map app still doesn’t cut it as the go-to navigation app for a lot of iPhone owners. And thanks to a host of features and a simple interface, it’s understandable when they choose to use Google Maps.

Although you may find Google Maps ideal as is, Google continuously tries to improve user experience with the addition of features and upgrades.

Over the years, that’s included traffic alerts for delays, such as construction or car accidents, and displaying the posted speed limits. Tap or click to learn how to use Google Maps to make holiday travel easier.

While those features are made to draw attention to what’s happening around you, there’s a new feature coming to iOS that does the opposite. Here’s a closer look at this sneaky new add-on.

Travel in obscurity

Incognito mode, which is already available in Google Maps for Android devices, is the same one used for the Chrome browser and YouTube app. Like its browser counterpart, the feature is meant to keep your activity from being tracked and logged.

While this option allows you to travel without easily being tracked by someone else, it also brings several limitations. Once enabled, Google Maps won’t leave any search or location history logged to your saved timeline. It also won’t update your shared locations and it won’t use your activity to personalize Maps.

RELATED: Find a better walking route with one of Google’s coolest new features

Incognito mode isn’t so secret

Yes, Incognito mode will prevent someone from finding information about your driving habits or learn your destinations if they search your iPhone; however, Incognito mode does not mean your data is entirely anonymous or completely hidden. Google explains:

Turning on Incognito mode in Maps does not affect how your activity is used or saved by Internet providers, other apps, voice search, and other Google services.

That’s right, your map data is available to Google, advertisers and other third parties for marketing purposes. This warning is similar to that of Incognito mode for Chrome, which stipulates websites, employers and internet providers can all view your browsing history.

Access to your data by outside organizations is not the only limitation of Google Maps’ Incognito mode. According to Google, some of the features not available in this secret approach include:

  • Commute
  • For You
  • Location History (this will be paused for the entire device, not just Maps.)
  • Location sharing
  • Offline Maps
  • Notifications and messages
  • Media integration
  • Search history
  • Search completion and suggestions
  • Google Maps Contributions
  • Your Places

Going incognito

Whatever your reasons for using Incognito mode, the feature is simple to turn on and off. Launch Google Maps and tap on the profile icon next to the search bar, then click Turn on Incognito mode. After you read through Google’s pop-up notice, click Close.

You will know you are in Incognito mode when you see the icon with binoculars. Once you no longer need to use this secret mode, click on the binocular icon and tap on Turn off Incognito mode.

There’s an alternative

Whenever you connect to the internet, protecting your data is paramount. Unfortunately, Incognito mode doesn’t offer you a solid defense against outsider access.

As an alternative to Incognito mode, we recommend you utilize a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, any time you search the web or use a location-based tracking app like Google Maps.

A VPN is a sophisticated privacy tool that anonymizes your data and prevents your location from being monitored by companies or accessed by hackers. Protect your privacy with the VPN Kim trusts: ExpressVPN. Get three months free when you sign up for one year at

Although you can keep your travels on the down-low from those closest to you, don’t expect Incognito mode to be the answer to total data protection.

cryptocurrency e-book hero

New eBook: ‘Cryptocurrency 101’

Don't want to lose your dough to crypto? Check out my new eBook, "Cryptocurrency 101." I walk you through buying, selling, mining and more!

Check it out