TORONTO – If you use Google Maps on your mobile device, you should already know that the app collects all of your location data by default; but a new feature – which allows you to retrace every step you have taken – may still come off as a little creepy.
Dubbed “Your Timeline,” the feature allows you to see all the places you have visited on Google’s virtual map – in other words, “voyeuristically stalk yourself like there’s no tomorrow,” as Gizmodo’s Chris Mills aptly put it.
The feature has already begun rolling out to Maps users on Android and desktop.
Google is touting it as a way to keep track of your daily routines and to revisit places you might want to remember – perhaps that cool little café you stumbled upon while on vacation in a new city.
Others have suggested it might be a great way to marvel at what route you took while stumbling home from the bar.
Those who use Google Photos are also able to geotag their photos to certain locations.
But keep in mind, if you have already turned off Google’s location history option you won’t be able to use the feature.
In a blog post announcing the feature, Google noted it has many privacy features in place to keep your location data safe.
“Your Timeline is private and visible only to you; and you control the locations you choose to keep. This means you can easily delete a day or your full history at any time,” read the post.
“You can edit any place that appears in Your Timeline, including removing a specific location or giving a frequented spot a private name.”
Google’s location tracking capabilities aren’t new – the tech giant has always stored its users location data, unless users opt out. The Your Timeline feature just displays the information in a more visually pleasing map-based form.
If you don’t want Google to store your location data you can opt out:
- Go to your “My Account” page
- Click on “account history”
- Turn off the “places you go” option
You can turn off location services all together for Google Maps on your smartphone, but that means you won’t be able to use the service.
If you do chose to use the feature, it’s worth pointing out that having a good, strong password on your Google account is a good idea — considering your most visited locations will be stored in your account.