Google Timeline Can Remember Everywhere You’ve Been

22 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

First Click: Google already knows if our paths have crossed.

Last night Google announced its new Your Timeline feature in Maps that lets you “view the places you’ve been on a given day, month or year.” Like most things Google does, it feels a bit creepy, if not downright foreboding in the post-Snowden era. It’s not a social feature, as you’re the only one who sees the information… …It’s a reminder of how much freaking data Google has on us if we leave all of our defaults on. Users can access and manage their location history in their account settings The new feature, called Timeline, puts this information onto a map, letting users “visualise your real-world routines, easily see the trips you’ve taken and get a glimpse of the places where you spend your time,” according to Google. But it won’t be long before some enterprising developer (or even Google) offers a way for multiple people to compare location histories and identify dates and places where paths have crossed.

If you’ve got Location History turned on (it is by default, but that’s easy to change in Google’s privacy hub), you can open Maps, and view your “real-time routines”—i.e. voyeuristically stalk yourself like there’s no tomorrow. Just click the side menu on Android, or options button in the search bar on desktop, and ‘your timeline’ is innocently hanging out under ‘my places’. Google frames the option as a way to remember the bar you stumbled across the other day, and all slightly-too-close-to-home jokes about Google’s creepiness aside, I can actually see the uses for Timeline: recalling what you did whilst blackout drunk will be easier, for a start. They can also edit any place that appears their Timeline, including removing a specific location or assigning a private name like ‘Mum’s house’ or ‘My Favorite Running Spot’. There’s also a few other integrations built in: if you use Google Photos to save geotagged pictures, they’ll show up alongside your location trace, for extra nostalgia points.

This is also probably a good time to remind you that Google has a two-factor authentication login option, and if you weren’t using it before, you sure as hell should be now. Or in non-Googler speak…if your significant other knew your phone’s unlock password they could track your movements all the way to the Buckaroo Motel and back, if they wanted to.

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