Written by Mike Holscher
So I was checking out the sidebar menu in Google Maps the other day and came across “Your
Timeline.” Now we all know that both Apple and Google track the Hell out of everything we do
with our electronic devices, but this is very interesting. We all signed up to learn how to make
relevant interactive maps and Google Maps now does this for us for free. The interactive maps
of our “Lives”
“Your Timeline” can be accessed in either the desktop, tablet or smartphone app. It in in the
menu tab. This timeline allows you to see your history by day, month, year and “all time” with a
This image shows general activities for “My Month of March 2016.” Each of the icons on the
screen are “clickable.” As you can see I was at a fair number of pubs that month and I made a
business trip to Southern Oregon. When you click on the suitcase icon, a path of my trip is
mapped out with the hotel I stayed at and all the places I stopped for a certain duration of time.
In this screenshot, you can see “My May 9th” where I traveled to Gabriel Park to GPS map my
class project, stopped at Fred Meyer on the way home and traveled to Newberg for pizza
dinner. The route is erratic, so Google appears to periodically check in.
In this screenshot, you can see how Google tracks “My 4 hours at Gabriel Park” (again very
erratic). I took photos for reference to my Web Mapping project and they are detailed in the
information column to the left of the map. This all shows the date and time of all my actions
In the past I have used my GPS locater on my phone infrequently. Only in the past year have I
left it on all the time, so my interactive map history is limited. Seeing how all this information is
collected and stored, I now understand why other companies are creating their own maps
(Apple) so they can have direct (free) access to Iphone users instead of paying Google for it. If
you think of all the free stuff you can access on the internet, this data collection is sort of a user
fee. I now know why my phone asks if I am interested in travel times to PCC Sylvania on school
days and my favorite pub on nonschool days. It knows my business.
“I have nothing to hide” is the general comment people say to this personal data collection. But
be careful if you do; a boyfriend/girlfriend can see more than a mystery text or phone number if
they are insecure snoopers. And if you use a company phone? The boss is watching. However,
if necessary, you can simply use the three dots on any “day” screen and choose the delete day
option or see below on how to manage Your Timeline in more detail.
Like all things Google, you build these maps but you can’t export the data and the only way to
share your maps is to leave your phone unlocked and accessible to anyone. I am not a
conspiracy theorist, but know the interactive maps you are building. And stay safe out there.
This obviously works on your personal google account.
Here is how to delete your timeline.
Delete all of or part of your Location History
1. Open the Google Maps app .
2. Tap the Menu > Your timeline .
3. Tap More > Timeline settings.
4. Under "Location settings," choose Delete Location History range or Delete all
For more details and management information see:
What you need to know about your location history timeline
5/24/2016 10:52:53 am
I hadn't really thought of this before. It make so much sense as to why I am always being updated on travel times and asked to rate or review places I have been. The part that is most surprising is that our travels are being mapped out, yet me are extremely limited as to what we can do with "our" maps. The real question now is what is Google doing with all of this data aside from seeing who goes where, how often, and helping businesses gain reviews?
5/30/2016 10:08:10 pm
All these big companies brings new apps to the (us) users, with the innocent idea of offering a better service, when in the reality what they do is simply use us as a huge free massive data collectors for their own purpose. There is nothing to do to change that, but what actually we can do is be more conscience and cautious about what we sign or what we agree.
6/2/2016 02:25:13 pm
Aside from the ethics of this, I'm skeptical as to the 'market worth' of metadata that is collected from a userbase. Facebook, Google... how a lot of these companies actually make money is unclear, and a lot of the business models for major tech companies is still dependant on investment capital. It's widely considered that internet advertising is grossly ineffective simply on the basis that the human ego has its focus split between so many tasks when using the internet. In such a state, people tend not to be receptive to messaging and studies show that human eyes, when scanning pages, pay no attention to cluttered and messy ad clusters.
6/3/2016 08:40:04 pm
Thanks Mike... For creeping the crap out me!
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Blog posts are written by students in the Interactive Map Design course at Portland Community College.