Google recently announced a few new features that give users more control over their data, including three new privacy options for Google Maps, YouTube and Google Assistant, as well as a new tool for monitoring password security. Here’s a quick rundown of each of the new features, how to find them, and why you may want to try them out.
Google Maps incognito mode
Google will soon be adding an incognito mode to Google Maps that will allow users to search and navigate to locations without saving their activity to their accounts. Google Maps’ incognito mode will be rolling out to the Android app first over the coming weeks, though it’s expected to launch on iOS shortly after.
We don’t know exactly how this will be toggled in the Google Maps app just yet, but the reason for its inclusion seems pretty obvious, as it provides users immediate control over how much of their location history is collected and shared with Google—pretty much the exact same reason why the incognito modes found in Chrome and YouTube exist. While you can already delete location history and Maps activity from your Google account, and you can even disable your device’s GPS settings entirely, an incognito mode is much more convenient.
YouTube history auto-deletion
YouTube already gave users granular control over their watch and search history, but you can now delete YouTube data every few months if you prefer.
This feature already exists for web and location activity, and it works the same way on YouTube. Users designate a recurring timeframe for their history to be deleted—currently every three or 18 months—and Google will automatically clear all saved data at that point.
You can set this up right now by going to your Google account’s My Activity page for YouTube, then clicking/tapping the “Choose to delete automatically” link and select the interval that works for you. However, if you would prefer to manually delete your YouTube history (either en masse or selectively), or even pause activity tracking on YouTube altogether, you can find out how to do so here.
Delete recent Google Assistant commands
You can now tell Google Assistant to delete your recent voice activity with simple voice controls, like, “Hey Google, delete what I just said,” or “delete what I said on [date.]” Unfortunately, you can only delete previous voice activity from the past seven days this way, but older Google Assistant data can be easily managed and cleared in the Google Assistant app or in your Google Account’s My Activity menu.
Despite being limited to only the past week of activity, we’re happy to see Google finally catch up to Amazon’s recent updates to Alexa and let you verbally instruct Google Assistant to delete your history.
Google password checkup
Lastly, Google is now directly integrating its password protection tool into its Password Manager. The password checkup monitors your login data and alerts you if:
A password is too weak,
You’re reusing the same password too often,
Or if your account credentials match any that have been listed in data breaches.
To run the checkup, go to passwords.google.com and click the “Check passwords” link, then click “Check Passwords” again on the next page. You’ll be asked to confirm your identity by signing into your Google account. The checkup will take a few moments to run, and then give you a report card with suggested changes, if any.
Some readers may be sceptical of giving Google access to your login information, but Google at least appears to be taking steps to keep your accounts safe. Google’s official announcement for the new password checkup feature stresses that the process is fully encrypted and Google does not collect, share, or let the company see your password data.
Whether you take Google’s word for it is up to you, but it does seem to be aware of the potential security concerns. That said, you can look into another password manager instead if using Google’s password tolls makes you squeamish, and if you’re feeling really uneasy, you can always quit Google altogether.