Google introduces new default auto-delete settings for location and YouTube history.

Article Edited by | Jhon N |


Today Google is introducing a handful of new privacy-focused tools, as Google CEO Sundar Pichai vowed in a blog post that the company's products should keep information only "for as long as it is useful and helpful to you."

The default auto-delete functionality is amongst the new features. Google launched a new tool last May that allows users to automatically delete the location and search history data. Users could dictate from within their Google Account that Google should delete its history after three months or 18 months, and the company later expanded that feature to YouTube as well. From today on, Google will make certain users auto-delete the default.

Those who first switch on their location history (which is off by default) will have their auto-delete option set to 18 months by default, while web and app activity (which includes Search) is set to 18 months by default for new accounts. For the history of YouTube, auto-delete is set to 36 months by default for new accounts or for those that first activate their history on YouTube.

In their settings, the user can change these defaults, so that auto-delete is completely deactivated or the time frame is set to three months.

It's also worth noting here that those who already have their location history, web and app activity, and YouTube history turned on, won't have any of their settings changed - but Google said it will "actively remind" them of the auto-delete option via in-app alerts and emails.

Google is also making access to incognito mode easier elsewhere. Indeed, incognito mode has been baked into Chrome 's browser for over a decade, but the company added it to YouTube in 2018, followed by Google Maps a year later, allowing users to temporarily stop their search activities from being saved to their Google Account. Starting today in the Google iOS app, and later with Android, users can access incognito mode by long-pressing their profile image in Search, Maps, and YouTube. Previously, it could only be accessed by clicking the main menu behind the photo of the profile.

Additionally , Google said it's working on a tool that will allow all Google apps to remain in incognito mode, though it stopped short of revealing how this will work or when it will be available.

Other updates include a new mechanism to access controls on the Google Account from within Google Search. For example , a user will soon be able to search for "Google Privacy Checkup" to create a user-specific dialog box that will guide them through their settings tweak process.

Google also announced it's sunsetting its Chrome extension Password Checkup - launched last year - in the coming months and making it part of its Security Checkup service, which it first introduced back in 2015. Password Checkup warns users if there has been a data dump involving their login credentials for any website. Google said the feature has been used by more than 100 million people since it launched as an add-on for Chrome last February. In the months to come, Password Checkup was baked directly into Chrome and Google's password management tool that is available for all accounts, meaning it doesn't really need to exist as a stand-alone Chrome extension.

Finally, Google open-sourced its differential privacy library back in September, which is concerned with collecting value from big data while maintaining the privacy of people whose data is being used. The library was initially limited to C++, but today Google has confirmed that it is expanding it to additional programming languages, including Java and Go.