Incognito mode spotted in YouTube app

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Youtube’s Incognito mode
Incognito mode in the YouTube app would make it a snap to keep your video history on the downlow.
Photo: freestocks.org/Pexels CC

It may soon become easier to keep private some of the videos you watch in the YouTube app. Google is reportedly testing an Incognito mode for this service.

This is a confidentiality feature already common in web browsers, but not in video streaming. But many people use their iPhone’s YouTube to research topics they prefer not everyone know about. It can be as innocent as looking for help with a birthday gift.

The Incognito mode allegedly spotted in the Android version of the YouTube application temporarily stops the app’s own History from being updated. 

When going into this mode, a pop-up supposedly says, “Your activity from this session will be cleared and you’ll return to the account last used when you exit Incognito or become inactive. Your activity might still be visible to your employer, school, or Internet service provider.”

Incognito, not invisible

As the pop-up note indicates, Incognito mode doesn’t truly mask the user’s online activities. It just keeps the phone or tablet from making a record of sites or videos it’s displaying.

It’s little use for hiding illegal activities, but this mode can bring a bit of privacy when doing research one doesn’t want the world to know about. Teens investigating sexual identity on a shared device is an often-cited example.

A close approximation of this is already possible. In the YouTube app’s Settings are checkboxes for both “Pause watch history” and “Pause search history.” However, these are hardly prominent, while an Incognito option would be much more visible.

At this point, it’s not clear when Google intends to make Incognito mode available to all users of the free YouTube app. It’s already in the Chrome web browser for iOS, and in the Google app. Apple Safari’s Private mode is essentially identical.