Google Maps has become an almost indispensable tool in navigating the world and it has become the go-to solution when trying to locating unfamiliar places. More often than not, however, people probably don’t like it if it happens the other way around, with Maps and, therefore, Google, being able to locate and track your activities. Just like in web browsers, Google promised at I/O 2019 back in May that it will be providing an Incognito Mode for Google Maps. Five months later, it’s finally happening, at least for Android users.
Of course, Google Maps will still need your actual geographical location in order to properly place you on the map, just like how web browsers still need your IP address or some pieces of browser data. Incognito Mode doesn’t actually make you invisible. It only makes you virtually untrackable.
Google’s new support page lays out what Incognito Mode does and does not do to protect your privacy. Any search you make or browsing you do in Google Maps won’t be saved, for one. It won’t use those data to personalize your experience, which means it might look like you’re using Maps for the very first time. It also won’t send you notifications while in Incognito mode, so you might need to be more aware of your surroundings or schedules in that case.
It also makes clear that Incognito Mode isn’t a bulletproof privacy shield. Particularly, ISPs will still have access to your activity as data packets pass through their networks. Curiously, if you use Google Maps via third-party apps or Google Search, some data and activity may also be recorded as if Incognito Mode wasn’t working at all.
Turning Incognito Mode on or off on Android is as easy as tapping your profile picture in the Google Maps app and tapping the option. It seems to be a server-side update so don’t be surprised if it isn’t there yet. If, on the other hand, you do depend on Google’s personalized experience, don’t forget to turn it off after your secret rendezvous.