Google probably already knows your interests, hobbies, age, relationship status and everything you’ve updated online.
And if you’ve been using a Gmail account or any of Google’s apps, there’s a likely chance that Google has stored some of your location data in its systems.
It isn’t a surprise that Google is utilizing its location services to track Google Maps users. After all, the company knows your every move online, so it is also keeping a detailed record of your offline activity.
Google’s Maps website shows where you and your smartphone have been. It breaks down the locations by the day, proving that it’s more than just aware of your location by keeping an extremely detailed record of your every movement.
This kind of tracking was first reported by TechCrunch back in 2013, but several Google Maps users are still unware that this location tracking feature is recording their offline movements with such eerie detail.
However, all this tracking depends on whether you have enabled these settings associated with your Google account: location history and location reporting.
This feature gives apps like Google Maps, Foursquare, Google Now and other similar apps access to your location. Whenever an app suggests something nearby, such as the location of a business, or helps you find the nearest Italian eat out, it does so with the help of Location Reporting.
This feature keeps track of the places you’ve been to, and any address you enter or navigate to. For example, it breaks down ‘work’ and ‘home’ locations so Google Now can provide an estimated commute time or provide traffic data in between those places. Switching this feature off still provides traffic information, but Google stops guessing your next location based on your previous location searches.
For users who don’t want to be paranoid by Google Maps, here are step-by-step instructions for how turn off the settings that enable Google to track your location:
To delete your location history
- Go to Google’s web page to see your location history
- Enter a time period to view – 30 days at a time
- Choose the period you want to remove/delete
- Click ‘delete history from this time period’. This link will be on the left side of the page
- If you’ve connected multiple Google accounts, check the history of each one
Turn off location tracking on Android
For individuals who own an Android device or have signed up to Google Now, their detailed location data is beamed to their Google accounts, where it can be stored for several days, even months. Location tracking on Android can be switched off through the following steps:
- Go to the Settings application
- Scroll down on the screen and select the ‘Location’ section
- Tap ‘Google Location Reporting.’
- Turn ‘off Location History.’
Note: For enhanced privacy, you can also switch off ‘Location Reporting’, but this will prevent location-tracking apps such as Google Maps from functioning properly. Specifically, the downside of turning off location tracking on Android is that Google Maps and other services making use of your location data won’t work properly, or ask you for permission every time they want to track your position. If you still want to enjoy location services but don’t want your every move stored in Google’s servers, disable Location History, but leave Location Reporting activated.
Turn off location tracking on iOS
The failure of Apple’s iOS Maps prompted iOS users to stick with Google Maps, which means Google is also tracking their location in great detail. Location tracking on iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone and iPod Touch can be turned off through these steps:
- Open the Settings application
- Scroll down on the menu to the ‘Privacy’ section, and choose ‘Location Services.’/li>
- Turn off all Location Services by turning the top slider to ‘off’ – or scroll down to the bottom to turn off location-tracking apps one by one, such as Google Maps/li>
- Now choose ‘System Services’ to prevent location data from accessing certain features, such as location-based advertisements, disable Frequent Locations, or turn off the ‘Popular Near Me’ feature/li>
Apple also explains the process on one of its support pages (in case you need to read more, or are running an outdated version of iOS). Do note that when you disable these features, you’ll be prompted every time an app wants your location information, or it just won’t function properly.
Are you concerned about how much Google knew your movements?