Google is testing the ability to "lock" incognito Chrome tabs using biometrics on iOS

A Google Chrome tab on iPadOS with a message about a new authentication feature
Image credit: 9to5Google

Google is testing the ability for users to “lock” incognito Chrome tabs on iOS and iPadOS using biometrics for enhanced privacy. The feature is currently rolling out for beta channel users of the browser on iOS and is in line with how other apps let users secure information using Touch ID or Face ID. However, though users are receiving the app update, 9to5Google reports that not everyone is able to enable the feature currently.

The way the feature works is that incognito tabs will be blurred in the task switcher or even when navigating back to the browser until authenticated by the user using biometrics. The option to enable the feature will be located in the ‘Privacy’ section in Chrome’s settings, so users running the beta version on iOS can head into settings to see if the feature is available yet.

The feature is similar to the capability present in various third-party iOS apps – such as OneDrive – that lets users secure access to it using Touch ID or Face ID, depending on the device. The introduction of the option for incognito tabs alone is a nifty one, considering that confidential or personal content in these tabs can be secured from being accidentally viewed by people around. Samsung’s browser allows users to secure ‘Secret mode’ tabs using a passcode in a similar fashion.

The feature is beginning to roll out in Chrome 89 beta builds, the version that is expected to be released to the stable channel next month. However, it is not known if the feature will be ready for release by then. Additionally, with most of Google’s apps for iOS not being updated since late November – including Chrome, which was last updated on November 23 and still hasn’t been bumped up to version 88 – thanks to Apple’s privacy labels, it will be interesting to see if the next major release makes it to iOS in time.

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