Google Chrome’s incognito mode now conceals media data on Windows 11, macOS, and Android platforms

Image Courtesy: WindowsLatest.com

Google Chrome’s Canary version has a hidden feature that can be activated to protect media content while playing in the browser. In Incognito mode, Chrome will no longer highlight the media content or its metadata in the media controls panel of any operating system. This feature, called “Hide media metadata when in Incognito,” operates at the operating system level. Windows Latest has discovered multiple references to this feature in Chromium Gerrit, indicating that Google intends to bring it to all operating systems where Chrome is available, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS.

Enabling this feature on Windows will prevent Chrome from displaying information such as titles, artists, artwork, and other specifics in the media control or lock screen of Windows 10/11 when playing media during an Incognito session. The screenshot below reveals that Google has replaced the media title with a placeholder text, “A site is playing media.” Chrome’s new feature effectively protects media content (Before and After | Image Courtesy: WindowsLatest.com).

Previously, there was a notable privacy loophole where the video’s title and thumbnail still appeared on the lock screen or media controls when viewing a video in Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode. However, Chrome now hides media data on ChromeOS as well. The feature ensures that embedders can conceal media metadata from the operating system’s media controllers. Instead of the actual data, a placeholder metadata “A site is playing media” will be displayed along with an incognito icon. On macOS, Chrome utilizes the new API to protect media data. This privacy feature integrates with the MediaSessionClient API, allowing it to hide media metadata and fetch placeholder data. It intercepts calls made to the SystemMediaControls API and replaces the original metadata with placeholder content. Chrome’s specific interpretation of this API, known as ChromeMediaSessionClient, is designed to mask media metadata when operating in Incognito mode.

To test this feature, navigate to Chrome Canary’s settings and the Chrome://flags menu. There, you will find a new option called “Hide media metadata in the flags menu when in Incognito.” The option’s description states, “When activated, your OS’ media player will conceal media metadata if you’re in an Incognito session.” It applies to Mac, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, Fuchsia, and Lacros. Once enabled, Chrome will protect your privacy by hiding all media data across Windows 11, Windows 10, Android, macOS, and more. Currently, Google is still in the testing phase, and the feature works best in Chrome Canary. There is a flag available in Chrome stable, but it does not function in our tests.

In other news, Google is working on a new design for Chrome, set to be released in the fall. This new design introduces rounded corners and Google Material to the desktop. Users can enable this design in the Chrome stable version by activating the “Chrome 2023” refresh flags.

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