With regulators and the tech media taking an ever-closer look at user data privacy and fake news, the Google Chrome browser itself has come under scrutiny lately, with version 69 including a feature that would automatically sync your browser activity when you logged into Gmail or another Google service. Today with version 70, Chrome has now separated syncing and Google account logins -- although the sync feature is still enabled by default.
If you don't want the desktop version of Chrome (Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS) to automatically sync when you log into things like Gmail, YouTube, or Google Docs, tap the three-dot menu in the upper right, select Settings, type privacy in the search bar, and click the slider next to "Allow Chrome Sign-In."
A notification should pop up in the lower left, prompting you to relaunch the browser for the change to take effect.
Being automatically opted into syncing in Chrome 69 caused concern among some data privacy advocates. Google responded by announcing ahead of time that it would be addressing the issue in the next version of the web browser. However, keeping syncing enabled by default may not assuage the cybersecurity community.
Aside from addressing potential privacy concerns, this new feature will also be handy for G Suite users whose administrators have disabled syncing. In Chrome 69, G Suite users would see an error message next to their profile pic, because the browser was trying to sync but the administrator was blocking it. (G Suite is the business version of a Google account and includes more storage, premium tech support, and custom email addresses.)
Blocking syncing is not uncommon with G Suite, because it helps keep sensitive business info on-site.
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So if you are a user who is logged into your Google account but not syncing, you will see two new buttons on the menu that pops up when you click on your profile picture in the upper right. "Turn on Sync" and "Sign Out." There will also be a "Not syncing" message next to your pic.
How to get the update to Chrome 70
For the Windows and Mac versions, your copy of Chrome should automatically detect and download the update to version 70, though it may not indicate that the update is ready to actually install. To check your status, tap that three-dot menu again, then Help, then About Google Chrome.
If the update is available, it will start downloading automatically, if it hasn't already. When it's finished, the browser will prompt you to restart it. The update can't be installed otherwise.
To avoid losing your open tabs when you close Chrome, you can set it to always re-open them when you open the browser. Go to the Settings menu again, type startup, and click the radio button next to "Continue where you left off." You can also press Ctrl+Shift+T to re-open a closed tab (Command+Shift+T on Macs).
On Android and iOS, you can't force an update check in Chrome, so you'll need to wait for Google to send the update to you.
- Version 70 of Google Chrome is now out, and it features a handy adjustment to web browser syncing.
- In Chrome 69, syncing was enabled whenever you logged into a Google service like Gmail or YouTube, but you can now choose to not sync by clicking on a slider in the browser's Privacy & Security settings.
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