Last Tuesday, Google introduced Your Timeline for its Google Map website and Android devices. Your Timeline acts as a documentarian of your location history, dutifully recording where you’ve been, when and for how long.
For many, this will probably be a convenient feature to draw upon when you can’t remember where you were when you had those excellent Buffalo wings or that one time you saw something that might make for a great gift. On the convenience factor, Your Timeline will rank pretty high — like bringing up your camera function on your phone without having to unlock it first. And, thankfully, Your Timeline is only viewable by you.
For others, however, it might seem a bit much. And that’s fine. Users should always have the final say on just how much privacy they retain or give up when it comes to convenience features. And those wanting to retain those vestiges of privacy when it comes to location tracking certainly can.
According to Google, you can disable or delete or modify any data retained by Your Timeline. Users can edit the places they’ve visited, give them names, or remove a specific visited spot. You can also delete a day of tracking or delete the entire history of Your Timeline, as well as disable the feature. Additionally, Your Timeline is ‘opt-in,’ that is, location tracking will not be turned on without your permission, which is great news from a privacy standpoint.
There are a variety of reasons why you’d want to track where you’ve been. Keeping track of your habits is one. Seeing how much you’ve worked out in the afternoon is another. But if you feel that location tracking – with any app or device — is too intrusive, you have a few options:
- Review your privacy settings. Every operating system — especially on mobile devices — has privacy settings. Review them regularly. Often they’ll detail what sort of data each application records and explain how you can modify those settings.
- Disable application tracking. Sometimes you may want to use location tracking for one service but not on another. Have no fear: iOS users can disable location tracking by the application by going to “Settings” and scrolling down to “Privacy” and the “Location Services.” There they can pick and choose the applications which can and cannot follow their location. Android users can replicate much of the same by going to “Settings” and “Location.”
- Disable location services. Finally, there are situations where location services are either inappropriate or need to be disabled — particularly when posting publicly to social networks. If you find yourself in one of these situations, head to the Settings tabs mentioned above and flip “on” to “off.”
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