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Google testing a rename of Incognito mode in Chrome for Android

Chrome 69 earlier this September marked the 10th anniversary of the browser with a Google Material Theme and smarter Omnibox. In recent months, Google has also been contemplating a rename of Incognito mode to “Private” mode.

Back in July, Chrome Story spotted a Chromium commit and bug report detailing an experiment to change “the word “Incognito” to “Private” for users in select countries.”

The goal is to understand whether changing the string to a more commonly-understood word increases usage of the feature.

Earlier this month, Chrome 70 for Android gained a flag titled “Alternate incognito strings” that swaps out Incognito mode to “Private” throughout the app. Today, some users (via Android Police) are seeing “Incognito tab” renamed to “private tab” in various menus in the browser, including overflow and when holding down on URLs. Meanwhile, the New Tab page notes “You’ve gone private” instead of “You’ve gone incognito.”

Notably, this experiment is only for Android and not other platforms according to the flag. This minor change is very straightforward and explicitly captures what users should do when they want to browse without leaving history, cookies, site data, and other activity.

If it’s rolled out, it would suggest the experiment’s success in increasing usage. However, it would be somewhat of a shame to rename this iconic feature of Chrome just after the browser’s 10th anniversary. ‘Incognito’ is not too uncommon a word in day-to-day usage, and many users by now understand the basic conceit of browsing covertly.

So far, we have not spotted this A/B test live on the Beta, Dev, or Canary versions of Android. Coincidently, this name coincides with Google Keep just getting a rename to “Keep Notes.”

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: