DigitalNews Today: Google New Maps Feature Now Privately Lists Your Location Histories

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Google New Maps Feature Now Privately Lists Your Location Histories

Monday, July 27, 2015

Google has added a new feature to its Maps service that can help make people more aware of the places they frequent and Google's ability to track their whereabouts.

People using Google Maps on their computer or Android phone or tablet will be able to view a timeline listing all the places they've been as well as a map tracing their location history, thanks to an update the company began rolling out on Tuesday.

Being able to view your location history in Google Maps is the latest example of a piece of technology helping people get a clearer view into their lives. This so-called "quantified self" trend has included the rise of fitness monitors to tally how many steps someone takes a day, sleep trackers to record their sleep patterns and even apps that note how much time people spend on specific sites on their computers.

When it comes to the location timeline in Google Maps, people could use the tool to track things like what parts of town they visit the most or how often they go to the grocery store.

Useful as it can be for people to see where they've been, the realization of how well Google knows where they've been might be a little creepy, even though the company keeps that information private and lets people delete all or parts of their location history.

However, Google's ability to keep tabs on people's locations shouldn't come as a surprise. For one thing, Google has to ask people for their permission to track their whereabouts, which individuals can revoke whenever they want.

And Google isn't the only tech company that keeps on where people have been. Apple does too, though the company buries its location history timeline four layers deep within the iPhone's Settings app. Once a person finds the iPhone's Frequent Locations list, they can see the places they've visited most within the past couple of months, including how much time Apple thinks they spent per visit at each location down to the minute.

Google Maps probably already knows everywhere you go, and now it’s putting that information to good use. The company announced a new Timeline feature on Wednesday that turns all that data into a handy recap of your every move, even if it’s also a little creepy to see just how much Google knows.

Timeline turns all your Google Maps activity into a chronological list of locations along with how you traveled to each one, how long it took and how long you stayed there. You can even name specific locations like your parents’ house or a favorite spot in the park so it shows up in Google Maps when you log in. The app will also sync with Google Photos if you use the new service to include pictures you took next to the location and time you took them.

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