Why Google Maps is set to delete your location data – and how to save it

Google Maps application

Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Google is making some big changes to Maps that will affect anyone who uses the app to plan trips, get directions, and visit previous destinations.

In recent times help page update, the company has revealed some changes in store for Maps users, most notably that users’ location data will be saved on the device instead of in the cloud. Google also notes that the Location History feature, a log that shows you all the places you’ve visited in the past, will now be called Timeline.

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Of these changes, saving your location data on your device is the most impactful. Google always stores your data in the cloud, where it’s linked to your account and available across all your devices. That setup is certainly convenient, but it raises privacy concerns because it means Google can access your data. Instead, saving your location history to each device is intended to improve your privacy and security.

But these changes also brought with them some problems.

Because your Timeline location data will now come directly from your mobile device, this information will no longer be accessible on your computer through the Google Maps website. So essentially, Google is removing the Timeline feature for the web, so you’ll only be able to use it on your mobile device.

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According to an email Google sent to users, as spot by Android Police, the new changes will take effect on December 1 this year. Until then, users will have to set up new Timeline settings — if you miss the deadline, Google will attempt to migrate the last 90 days’ worth of trip data to the first device you log in. Any older location data will be automatically deleted.

If you have a long history of tourist locations on Google Maps that you want to keep, here’s what you need to do.

How to save your location history

Make sure you’re running the latest version of the Google Maps app on your iPhone or Android device. Tap your profile icon in the upper right and select your timeline.

On the Timeline screen, tap the three-dot icon at the top, select “Settings and privacy,” then tap the setting for “Automatically delete location history.”

You can now choose to automatically delete activity older than 3 months, 18 months, or 36 months, or choose not to automatically delete your activity altogether. Whichever option you choose, make sure to do so before December 1st to avoid losing valuable travel data.


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