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Google Chrome For Android Will Let You Fingerprint Lock Incognito Tabs

Bad news for folks who like to snoop around on other people's phones.

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What you need to know

  • Google Chrome on Android has a new feature that can hide your Incognito tabs behind biometric authentication.
  • A fingerprint verification screen shows up after you exit a private session and relaunch the browser.
  • It’s not widely available yet, but Google has quietly added a flag with which you can turn on the feature.

You can now lock incognito tabs on Google Chrome for Android behind your fingerprint. If you have incognito tabs open and you leave Chrome or lock the device, you will need to verify your identity to see those tabs on return. You can either use your fingerprint or PIN to unlock them.

When locked, Chrome will show a grey screen with the incognito icon at the center. An “Unlock Incognito” button brings up the device’s screen lock sheet. “Verify it’s you,” the sheet says, with the option to use your fingerprint or PIN. You can also continue browsing the regular tabs without unlocking the incognito tabs. A ” See other tabs” button under “Unlock Incognito” lets you do that.

This Chrome Incognito lock screen also features an overflow menu at the top-right corner, which is its usual place in Chrome. It contains options to close all incognito tabs or enter Settings. As 9to5Google notes, Google should have locked the former behind the fingerprint as well. It may be misused otherwise.

Google is rolling out fingerprint lock for incognito tabs

Incognito mode is useful to prevent the browser from tracking your online activity. It will not save your browsing history, cookies and site data, and any information you enter in online forms. Of course, your internet service provider or the websites you visit may still track you. But traces of your activities aren’t saved on the device. With the new Feature, your incognito tabs are hidden from people who have access to your phone as well.

The ability to lock incognito tabs is rolling out with Google Chrome version 105 for Android. It may also show up on an older version of the app. You should find a new menu to “lock incognito tabs when you leave Chrome” under Settings > Privacy and security. If this setting is not available to you, go to chrome://flags (copy and paste on the address bar) and enable the following flag: #incognito-reauthentication-for-android. You can search for the flag if you can’t locate it.

Once enabled, the aforementioned setting menu should show up after a relaunch of the browser. Toggle this setting on, which will require you to verify your identity, and you’re good to go. Incognito tabs will now be locked as soon as you exit Google Chrome. It will require your fingerprint or the PIN to unlock. Google should soon make this Feature available to everyone by default, without needing to manually enable the flag.

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9to5 notes that this capability is available on Google Chrome version 105 for Android, suggesting that a wider rollout is imminent.

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