Google app on iOS, also its official search app, offers a neat way to both search and keeping yourself in the loop for anything that might interest you. It also provides a highly personalized user experience on your iPhone. The app seamlessly collects and collates your activity under the hood. Those nifty, useful, and tailored information cards on your feed won’t show up on their own otherwise.
However, it might not be in your best interest to have specific activities displayed either while performing a search or as updates on the Google app feed. Moreover, if you share your iOS device with someone else, things can get quite tricky, especially when it comes to an activity of a private nature.
To stop that from happening, you need to clear your browsing history. However, it can be a bit confusing to do so, especially since the app stores your activity both locally and online. And then there's the matter with cached site cookies, which also pose a risk to privacy and security.
So without any further ado, let’s start by deleting your locally stored activities, move on to removing your history from the Google servers, and then wrap up by clearing the Google app cache.
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Clear On-Device History
Regardless of whether you are signed into the Google app or not, the record of your past searches and visited websites always remains on your iPhone. That is done to bring up suggestions faster while performing similar activities but can be highly detrimental to your privacy.
There are a couple of ways to get rid of your browsing history — either by removing individual searches/visited websites or deleting the browsing history in its entirety.
Note: If you are signed into the Google app, your browsing activity is also copied over to the Google servers. The next section provides specific details on how to remove history that's stored online.
Clear History by Activity
Deleting activity on an individual basis is quite useful if all you want to do is remove particular searches or sites of a personal nature. While you can delete them from Recent Searches while typing in a query on the Google app (swipe left on the item and tap the Trash icon), the following method displays all locally stored history, thus letting you delete unwanted activities at your leisure.
Step 1: Tap the gear-shaped icon at the upper-left corner of the Google app to bring up the Settings panel.
Step 2: Scroll down to the section labeled Privacy, and then tap on History.
Step 3: Tap View On-Device History.
Step 4: Swipe the item that you want to remove to the left, and then tap Delete. Repeat for any other activities that you might want to remove.
Deleted searches or visited websites won’t show up immediately on top of the suggestions list anymore when performing a search via the Google app.
Clear History Entirely
If you want to delete all the searches and website visits history from your iPhone, the following steps show you how to do that.
Step 1: On the Settings panel of the Google app, tap History, and then tap Clear On-Device History.
Step 2: Tap Clear On-Device History again on the confirmation pop-up box.
All past browsing history should no longer show up when performing any form of search.
Clear History from Google Servers
If you are signed into your Google Account, then the Google app also transmits your activity and records them on the Google servers. While deleting on-device history helps stop past activities from showing up when performing searches, your personalized feed isn't affected since the app uses what's recorded online for that purpose.
Therefore, you need to delete any unwanted browsing history from your Google Account too. The app offers two ways to do that — specific activities using keywords or huge swathes of recorded history with the help of preset/custom time frames.
Note: The app also displays browsing activity conducted using Google Search done via web browsers as well.
Specific Activities Using Keywords
The Google app lets you check out all recorded activity and delete select items immediately. But unlike on-device history, the app creates separate listings each time an activity is performed, which means that you will have to remove multiple entries at times. To stop this process from becoming tedious and time-consuming, you can instead use keywords to filter out your history.
Step 1: After tapping History from within the Settings panel of the Google app, tap My Activity.
Step 2: You should now see the Google app's My Activity screen, which lists all browsing activities performed using Google Search starting from the current date.
Simply enter a keyword into the search box and tap Return/Enter, and you should see matching activity show up underneath.
All filtered browsing history can be removed in a single go — tap the Ellipsis (three-dot) icon next to the Search bar, and then tap Delete Results on the menu that shows up.
Delete Activity by Time Frame
The Google app also lets you remove browsing history stored on its servers using custom or pre-defined periods. There's also a setting to remove recorded history in its entirety. However, keep in mind that deleting all activity will stop the app from delivering a personalized experience until it relearns your browsing patterns from scratch. Do that only if you have lots of private searches dating back over long periods in time that you would rather have removed.
Step 1: On the My Activity screen, tap the Ellipsis icon next to the search bar (without having anything inserted in it), and then tap Delete Activity By.
Step 2: Select a timeframe using the pull-down menu under Delete By Date. Alternatively, you can set a custom duration with the two additional menus further below. Tap Delete to remove all browsing history that falls within the specified time.
Tip: To delete all browsing history, use the All Time option on the Delete By Date menu.
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Clear Cached Cookies
The Google app also lets you sign into sites just like you would do on an ordinary browser. And it also remembers you on subsequent visits, which means that the app allows websites to store cookies locally on your device. Hence, this might pose a security issue when handing over your device to someone else.
Further, sites can also place cookies that can track your browsing activities, thus imposing a huge threat to user privacy. You can, however, remove this cached data pretty easily.
Step 1: On the History panel, tap the option labeled Clear Third Party Cookies.
Step 2: On the confirmation pop-up box, tap Clear Third Party Cookies again to get rid of the Google app cache.
Note: After clearing your cookies, any sites that you were logged in earlier would prompt you to sign back in again.
Bonus Tip — Stop Recording History
Rather than clearing out your browsing activity, there are a couple of other ways to stop the Google app from remembering your past searches. The first method involves turning off the toggle next to On-Device History, located under History on the Settings panel. This prompts the app to stop recording your browsing activity locally.
However, your activity is still recorded into your Google Account if you are signed in, which means that your personalized feed is affected. And it doesn’t stop cookies from being stored on your device indefinitely either.
The second method is far more convenient — Incognito mode. Turn it on from the Settings panel, and no activity will be recorded locally or online. The browser even deletes the web cookies automatically once you exit the mode. To enable searching and surfing in Incognito, tap your profile icon, and then tap Turn On Incognito.
The mode works similarly to the Incognito tabs present in Google’s Chrome web browser. Don't forget to make maximum use of it whenever you want to search for anything highly personal.
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The Google app is a phenomenal addition to the iPhone, making use of Google’s advanced search algorithms to generate a useful feed, and rarely disappoints in what it comes up with. But not all searches are ideal from a privacy standpoint, and you now know what to do just in case you performed an activity that doesn’t reflect well on you. And don't forget to use Incognito mode to save yourself the trouble next time around.