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What you need to know about your location history timeline

Derek Walter | Aug. 28, 2015
Here's what you can do with Google's saved location information, why it's worth holding onto, or how to get rid of it for good.

If nothing else, your timeline is neat for a look back at past travels or busy days around town. Since I travel a lot, I’ve been able to check my past exploits by seeing where I visited on a specific day. It’s helped me to remember the name of a restaurant or store my wife and I visited. The timeline also settled a few friendly arguments with family members about who went where on a specific day.

Make it all go away

It’s perfectly reasonable if you decide this is just too much data for you to share with Google. Fortunately, one of the upsides of Google building the timeline into maps is that it’s very easy for you to delete any or all of it. Previously, you had to follow a circuitous process to delete all your location history on the web.

When you’re looking at a specific day’s events, just touch the vertical, three-dot button in the upper right and select Delete Day. If you want to wipe the slate clean, from the same menu select Manage location settings and then choose Delete all Location History. You’ll get a dire warning about how this will delete all the location history from your Google account, which may impact Google Now and other apps that rely on this data.

manage google maps history
Delete your history from one day or all time inside Google Maps.

Since Google Now tends to look ahead, serving you travel details, sports scores, and other information about your life, I don’t foresee any major disruption.

Unfortunately, you don’t have any further ability to pick-and-choose what you want to get rid of. You can’t delete one month, a trip, or week, and keep another. It’s either one day at a time or send them all to the digital trash.

If this much data sharing isn’t for you, you’re able to turn off Google’s auto-tracking altogether. Go to Manage location settings and select Google location settings. This will kick you over to Google Play Services, which is the master controller for the data Google gathers (remember, you have to go here to stop sending images to Google Photos). From here you can turn off data collection for any of your Android devices where location history is flipped on.

My recommendation is to live with the activity data collection for a while to find out if you like it. Google’s privacy policy spells out that the data is only for you, but even that may not be enough reassurance. Should you decide to turn off location collection, there’s still plenty of cool stuff in Google Maps to explore.

 

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