With Google, Everyone Can Have 15 Minutes of Anonymity

  • Joanna Benson
  • 17 Jul 2021

Have you just searched for something you don’t want available in your search history? With the updated Google app for iOS, you can pretend you never did it. One tap and the last 15 minutes of your browsing and googling will be cleared. It’s great if you are not the only one using the device, and you don’t want to share with them your search details as well.

This innovation is meant to protect the user’s privacy, like many others in 2021. This one, though, has some functionality of a time machine: it provides anonymity after you have entered your search request, not before, and reverses what’s happened. It’s been anticipated since this spring when Google announced it at its I/O conference. And now iOS users are receiving it – another step in the race between Google, Apple, and other browser developers. 

To use this feature, you need to tap on your profile icon and quickly remove the last 15 minutes – simple as it gets. If you want to do your searching for a longer time, though, you better activate Incognito mode and browse the web in Incognito tabs for as long as you want. In addition, there is an Auto-Delete feature that clears your search history every 3, 12, or 18 months. Similar as they are, these features provide quite different ways of using; so if you first did your searching and only then thought others might see it and find it inappropriate, you can erase it. Not from the sites you are visiting, maybe, but from your local story.

Alas, so far, it is only available on devices running iOS. But Google promises to roll out this new feature for Android as well. It may be harder to implement because of the unmeasurable variety of Android devices, but Google will try. At least, it has promised to roll it out this year. It’s not clear yet which Android devices will receive it and which are too old for this stuff.

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