Google Chrome works like a charm on the iPhone. It’s rock-solid performance-wise. It sports a superb user interface tailor-made for single-handed navigation. It syncs data across devices seamlessly. Yet Google’s name often lingers around serious concerns with privacy.
Compared to other browsers, Chrome also lacks major privacy-related features. You will surely miss Safari’s ability to use content blockers. Or the always-on Private Browsing mode in Brave. But don’t worry. You can still safeguard your privacy while using Chrome at least to a certain extent. Let’s check out how.
1. CLEAR BROWSING DATA
Chrome saves tiny bits of information called cookies to your iPhone. Cookies help websites remember your log-in sessions and preferences so that you don’t have to start all over from scratch each time you revisit them.
But they are also used for other purposes. Certain cookies can follow you across sites and track what you are up to. Websites save cookies to target you with advertisements, but you never know what else the data could be used for.
2. USE INCOGNITO MODE
If you hate the idea of deleting your browsing data manually, use Chrome’s Incognito mode instead. It’s similar to Safari’s Private mode; it deletes both the cookies and your history once you are done browsing.
To start using Incognito mode, open the Chrome menu, and tap New Incognito Tab. Or you can switch to Incognito mode via the Chrome tab switcher. You can then start to surf privately.
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3. MANAGE SYNC SETTINGS
Chrome Sync is an amazing feature that lets you continue your web browsing on any platform that supports Chrome.
But it also brings about a fair share of privacy-related issues. For example, do you want your autofill data, passwords, or open tabs to be available across other devices? What if someone else has access to them?
That’s why you must manage your Chrome Sync settings. It’s highly customizable, so take advantage of that.
4. CHANGE SEARCH ENGINE
Google is the unrivaled king of search engines. Yet again, this is Google. And Google doesn’t respect your privacy. Luckily, there are other search engines best suited for private browsing such as DuckDuckGo, Qwant, and Startpage.
5. DISABLE SEARCH SUGGESTIONS
Chrome generates autocomplete suggestions whenever you search for something. It’s a useful feature, but it also poses a risk to privacy.
Your keystrokes are transmitted in real-time to the default search engine to generate these suggestions. And that is unnerving. Your data might be used to identify you based on your typing patterns.
Thankfully, you can disable this feature. Head over to Chrome Settings > Sync and Google Services. Then turn off the switch next to Autocomplete Searches and URLs.
6. DISABLE LOCATION SERVICES
Lots of websites — including Google — like to know of your exact location. This is a privacy nightmare. Unless a site actually puts that data to good use and provides you with a personalized experience, it’s best to stop your iPhone from sending out your location data all the time.
Head over to iPhone Settings > Chrome > Location Services. Select Ask Next Time if you like to manually provide or decline access whenever a site asks for your location info.
7. DELETE ACCOUNT DATA
Your Google Account keeps a record of the activity of all Google apps and services that you use. This includes details about sites that you’ve visited while using Chrome.
Why does Google do that? To offer better autocomplete suggestions, make relevant recommendations across Google apps, serve you with targeted advertisements, and so on.
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8. DISABLE ADVERTISEMENTS
Chrome doesn’t support content blockers, so you don’t have the luxury of blocking privacy-invading trackers. You can, however, block ads with a workaround that involves modifying the DNS servers of your Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
That should also help block at least some of the trackers out there. It’s a lengthy process; the following guide should walk you through it.
9. DISABLE SUGGESTED SITES WIDGET
Chrome features two nifty Home screen widgets — Quick Actions and Suggested Sites. The first one gives you easy shortcuts to common actions. But the second one brings up sites based on your browsing activity. This isn’t ideal when pulling up your list of widgets around others. Here’s how to turn it off.
10. DISABLE LOCK SCREEN SUGGESTIONS
If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, here’s how to stop Siri from making suggestions based on Chrome.