Chrome browser for iOS is experimenting with a neat feature that will protect your incognito tabs behind a layer of biometric security by blurring the incognito tab cards. The browser will first confirm your identity via Touch ID or Face ID before giving you back access to those incognito tabs. The new feature arrives with Chrome Beta 89 (89.0.4389.48) for iOS that was released on February 10.
“You can add more security to your incognito tabs with Touch ID or Face ID. When you return to Chrome app, your incognito tabs will be blurred until you confirm it’s you,” says the changelog (screenshot below via 9toGoogle). In order to take advantage of the new privacy feature in Chrome for iOS, users have to manually enable the ‘Lock Incognito tabs when you close Chrome’ option from the Privacy section in the app’s Settings menu.
The status of a commit titled ‘Add a setting for incognito authentication’ on Chromium Gerrit is currently listed as Merged, which means it has been approved and will likely make its way to the stable build as well, marking a wider rollout for all Chrome users in the iOS ecosystem. “Adds a new toggle in Privacy settings to enable incognito authentication which prompts the user for face/touch/code-ID,” says the description on Chromium Gerrit.
The new Chrome trick will especially come in handy when another person briefly borrows your phone for a browser-based task, and you comply without closing your current incognito tabs. It is unclear if a similar implementation for Chrome’s Android client is also in development, but it would definitely be a welcome addition.
However, it appears that the feature is not available widely for all Chrome beta testers on iOS. 9to5Google reports that the feature may have been enabled only for a small bunch of users via a server-side switch. It is unclear when the biometric-driven privacy feature in Chrome will be released via the stable channel, as the update situation for Google apps on iOS is currently in a quagmire due to Apple’s new App Store data disclosure requirements for all apps listed on its repository.