If you are a Chrome user, you have probably fired up its Incognito Mode a time or two, whether out of curiosity or to hide your online activities—you know, like when you're birthday shopping, right? Suuuuure. Anyway, we're not judging when or why you might use a private browsing session. We are just here to tell you that Google is making Incognito Mode in Chrome better than it already is.
As you might already know, going Incognito means Chrome will not save your browsing history, cookies and site data, or any information you enter into online forms. It will keep any files you download and bookmarks you create, but otherwise it offers a sense of privacy, at least for the most.
What you might not be aware of is that some websites actively check if you are browsing in Incognito Mode. They do this by attempting to use the FileSystem API that applications use to store files. Websites can't access it during an Incognito browsing session, but by attempting to, they can figure out if you are browsing in a private session. See the screenshot above for an example.
Google never intended for websites to be able to easily detect private browsing sessions, and so it is closing this loophole. According to an internal design document obtained by 9To5Google, Chrome's developers have decided to get rid of the FileSystem API.
"Since there’s no adoption of the FileSystem API by other browser vendors, it appears to be only used by sites to detect incognito mode. By making this harder, hopefully the overall usage of the API goes down to the point that we can deprecate and remove it," the documents states.
In its place, Chrome will create a virtual file system using RAM when in Incognito Mode. This would essentially flip the trick back onto the website, making it more difficult to tell how a user is browsing.
If all goes to plan, this will roll out in Chrome 74 as a flag that users can enable, and then be pushed out in Chrome 76 or later as the default option.