2023, June 29
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Security
·
10 min read
·
Matt S.

How to Turn On Incognito Mode on iPhone: Private Browsing

Learn more about incognito mode on your iPhone. Click on the tabs icons and click Private to enable private browsing mode, or click on a new incognito tab.

If you were to dig deep to uncover just how much of your personal information online advertisers and big data companies have collected, you could be in shock. Sadly enough, this happens constantly while browsing the web on our iPhones or other smartphones. Advertisers and companies make a lot of money from analyzing personal data and using it to create better products and services. At the same time, there's a risk for such data to fall into the wrong hands (Here's an example).
Luckily, you can avoid a lot of tracks with the help of incognito mode on your iPhone or private browsing. Skyda is keen to help you stay safe online, so we created this up-to-date guide for better, more secure browsing on your Apple smartphone. Let's begin!

What is the incognito mode?

Incognito mode - meaning

The word incognito is actually Italian with Latin origins. Dictionary.com says that it originated in 1630-40s Italian-speaking lands. It has several meanings, but the most relevant to our article is the main one – Having your true identity concealed.
Regarding browsing, incognito or private browsing mode should help conceal our true identity. Well, that's not entirely true. It's the biggest misconception about incognito mode, whether on iPhone or another device. The private mode doesn't conceal your digital identity from websites.
It stops your iPhone and the browser app from storing and/or associating your browsing activity with your user identity. To put it in simple terms:
Incognito mode will stop your browser and device from collecting/storing your browsing history, inputs, passwords, etc.

Why does my browser keep browsing history, passwords, etc.?

For the most part, collecting such data is aimed at helping your browser create a better user experience. Here are a few reasons why internet browsers may store this information:
  • Convenience. A well-organized browsing history allows users to revisit websites that they frequent. It eliminates the need to retype URLs, making navigation more efficient.
  • Autofill & Password management. Browsers store and keep passwords and data to speed up form and page filling. This feature saves time by automatically entering frequently entered information, speeding up the process.
  • Personalization. Browsers can use your visit history and stored data to offer personalized experiences. This can include ads, suggesting websites based on browsing patterns, tailoring search results to your habits, etc.
  • Synchronization of devices. Nowadays, you can use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or other browsers on multiple devices. By syncing your browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks across multiple devices, you can have a consistent experience, keep up-to-date and enjoy better entertainment, easier work as well as much more.
  • Account recovery. Stored passwords on the browser could assist in account recovery if you forgot your login information.
There are also some performance improvement benefits with frequently cached files, but it's more relevant to desktop and computer users rather than browsing on iPhones.

How does it work?

Every browser utilizes the same or very similar mechanisms for its own incognito mode. Let's use Google Chrome's incognito private browsing mode as an example.
When you open Chrome, you should then open an Incognito window. This starts an incognito/private browsing session. It can remain open entirely separately from your regular browser tabs. Now when you turn on incognito mode on Chrome:
  • No browser history, cookies, or site data & information entered in forms is saved on your device.
  • After you close an incognito session, other people with your device can't know what sites you visited, what data you entered, etc.
  • You open each site as a new user by default, not signed into any accounts or platforms;
But it's not totally bulletproof. If you are using private browsing mode, your school, workplace, and/or ISP (internet service provider) may still be able to know your activity. The same goes if your iPhone has an equipped and enabled parental tracking software.
Check out this chart by Norton to better understand what Incognito mode does and doesn't do.

Activating incognito mode: a step-by-step guide

If you haven't tried it out yet, or want to improve your privacy on the browser, here's a step-by-step guide on incognito mode activation for iPhone users. We have separate guides for Safari, Chrome & general guidelines for other browsers.

Using incognito mode on Safari

  • Open Safari.
  • Click on the Tabs icon.
  • Tap the number or chevron icon to show Tab Groups.
  • Click Private (hand icon) to enable Private Browsing Mode.
  • Go on browsing. Safari incognito mode is now on!
To know whether private browsing is on, check the address bar. In regular browsing modes, it appears white or gray. However, the address bar is black or dark when Incognito mode is on.
To turn off private browsing, close all tabs and Safari, switch amongst the Tab Groups or use the phone icon and tap Done.

Using incognito mode on Chrome

  • Open Chrome on your iPhone.
  • Tap More [***].
  • Tap on New Incognito Tab. This should open a new incognito tab.
  • The icon with the glasses and the hat is very recognizable. It indicates an open incognito tab.
  • Besides, the tabs and browser interface are black/dark in incognito mode.
This is how it should look.

Using incognito mode on other browsers

Whether using Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, or any other browser, the incognito mode is usually enabled by opening the tab selection or through the settings interface. It's generally easy to find yet operates entirely separately from your regular browsing session.
If you can't find it, refer to the browser website or FAQ sections for relevant information.

Is incognito mode on iPhone genuinely safer, or is it just a trick?

Since we've uncovered that even with private mode on Safari enabled, your school, employer, and ISP can track your activity, questions can arise about whether it's genuinely safe. It could be a clever decoy to help improve the browser's reputation.
Well, not exactly, but it's essential to understand that incognito mode has limitations and doesn't provide 100% 360-degree, super-mega-wholesome-awesome security.
When you don't use incognito mode or private browsing, your iPhone's browser typically collects various types of data during your browsing sessions. This can include:
  • Browsing history – URLs you clicked on/opened, addresses you entered, searches you've done, etc.
  • Cookies and preferences – your preferences on specific sites, credentials, cart details for shopping, etc.
  • Passwords & autofill data – your browser can help you store, keep, and manage passwords for every platform you sign up on or log in to.
  • Cached files – right now, websites and platforms have a lot of different files, systems, and interactive features (stylesheets, scripts, etc.). To reduce load times and improve site speed, browsers can cache specific files.
  • Session data – a combination of items relevant to the categories above or not associated with them. Such data helps with user experience.
Let's compare it to incognito mode on your iPhone browser.
  • Browsing history isn't stored.
  • Cookies aren't kept.
  • Form and autofill data aren't stored.
  • Files aren't cached.
  • Session data isn't stored.
With that being said, the following can't be stressed enough, so we'll repeat.
While incognito mode offers more privacy during your browsing session on iPhones, it does not make you completely anonymous online.
  • Incognito mode browser data is still stored by your ISP (usually due to their legal obligations).
  • If your browser is managed, the manager can see the data (Learn more).
  • Incognito mode can't protect you from phishing, malware, or other threats.

How to browse & communicate privately on iPhone

So, we've discussed what incognito mode is, how it works, and what it does and doesn't do. Since private browsing has limitations, privacy-focused iOS users should be familiar with some additional measures that can be taken for a better and safer user experience. Let's look at them.

Use relevant factory features

Take advantage of built-in privacy features on your iPhone and web browsing applications.
Utilize features like Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) on Safari to enhance privacy and limit cross-site tracking.

Opt out from cookies when you can

For EU users (due to GDPR) and people browsing online, don't rush to accept when prompted to opt out from cookies. To increase the security of your data and not diminish privacy, opt out of receiving cookies or select the option to block third-party cookies when prompted. This helps prevent websites from tracking your activity and collecting data about your browsing habits.

Avoid putting too much personal info when signing up

When you sign up for services, create profiles for games, or start an account, only provide strictly necessary personal information. Minimize the data you share to limit potential risks and protect your privacy. Be cautious about sharing sensitive details unless it is essential for the service. Otherwise, you put your privacy at risk.

Use a VPN

VPN can limit what 3rd party cookies and websites can know about you. Instead, your browsing history and habits are only known to the VPN service provider, and the website only sees the data of the VPN, not that belonging to you personally.
A VPN helps mask your IP address and secures your data while browsing, making it harder for others to track your online activities and ensuring a safer communication experience.

Download Skyda – the go-to choice for E2E-encrypted messaging on iPhone

We all use browsers to read info, communicate with others, and even get news. However, the current state of the world wide web leaves much to be desired in terms of privacy. There are huge risks of phishing, malware spreading, and even man-in-the-middle attacks that threaten to steal your data regardless of browsing mode.
Skyda seeks to change that by allowing you to communicate in total security with E2E encrypted & even secret chats. It's available for Android, and the iOS app is coming to App Store this year! (Learn more)

FAQ about private browsing on iPhone

Is incognito mode enabled on my iPhone by default?

So, if it offers better protection, you might wonder whether it's on by default. The answer to this is no.
You need to open the incognito or private mode to do a private search on an iPhone online.

Can I avoid detection using incognito?

You can avoid detection only from someone who is using the same device. After you close the session, no one on your device can know what you've been up to.
However, the incognito mode does not bypass paywalls or prevent websites from detecting if you've visited them before. Some websites may still enforce paywalls or use other means to track visits, even if you're on Private modes.

But I heard Apple takes security very seriously; why do I need private browsing on my iPhone?

While Apple prioritizes security and privacy, private browsing on your iPhone still offers additional benefits. This is especially relevant because Apple and every other browser developer (except Safari) are independent of one another.
Private browsing mode prevents the browser from storing browsing history, cookies, and other data, ensuring greater privacy and anonymity. It can help protect sensitive information and prevent others from seeing what you do online. Private browsing also helps avoid personalized search results and targeted advertisements based on your browsing habits. It is especially great if you access sensitive information, seek sensitive information, or have a shared device/profile.
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