Google Knows Where You're Going, Starts Showing Where You've Been

Google Maps Now Privately Lists People's Location Histories

By Published on .

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.

A screenshot of Google Maps' new timeline feature.
A screenshot of Google Maps' new timeline feature.

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.