Google Maps Has Been Tracking Our Movements for Years. Now, That Data Will Be More Accessible to Us Than Ever

After past scandals, Google is taking steps to improve and is now giving users greater control over their data on Google Maps.

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Google Maps location history is like any other tool. You can view it in both a negative and a positive light. Some people see it as Google spying on us, while others appreciate the ability to look back at their past travel routes.

This location data can be very helpful, and Google has provided options to automatically delete it if you don’t want to keep a record. In 2019, Google introduced an Incognito mode for Google Maps, and the company has recently made even more significant changes to give users more control over their location data and privacy.

Location history, which is initially disabled by default, powers the Google Maps Timeline. This timeline has been a tool for users to manage their location history, allowing them to delete or disable it entirely. Additionally, users can edit their timeline to correct any errors in their travel routes or visited places.

Google now offers new privacy controls for users who have location history enabled. In the near future, this information will no longer be stored on Google’s servers in the cloud but on your own device.

This gives users full control over their data, allowing them to delete all or part of it at any time and activate or deactivate the function whenever they want.

Google Maps

When users activate location history for the first time, the option to auto-delete this data after three months will be enabled by default. Any information older than that will be deleted automatically and in a way that's transparent to the user.

This is a significant change from the previous configuration, which stored the data for 18 months. However, users will still have the option to store the data for a longer period if they choose.

In the near future, users will also have access to more detailed control over the specific places they’ve been. In Google Maps, users will be able to search for any site and, if desired, delete related searches, addresses, or visits to that location.

In addition, the blue dot that marks our location in Maps now has more options. By tapping it on the screen, you can see if your location history or timeline preferences are enabled, and can change those settings from there.

These changes allow you to deactivate this type of record of your activity if you wish. They also seem to aim at giving users more control over privacy. The company hasn’t behaved too well in this area in the past, as when it kept collecting location data even after users had disabled the location history option. Now, these measures certainly seem to be a step in the right direction, quite literally.

It’s important to note that once you delete data from the cloud in Google Maps, it’s deleted forever, so downloading a copy of that data might not be a bad idea if you want to access it in the future. In any case, the transition to this new model where data is stored on your phone and not in the cloud is excellent news for those concerned about privacy.

Related | Google Maps vs. Apple Maps: What Features Do They Have and What Are Their Main Differences?

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