Google Maps' new 'Your Timeline' feature helps you track your travel history

Your Timeline shows you where you've been on any given day if you're storing your location history with Google.

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Credit: Florence Ion

Google is rolling out a new “Your Timeline” feature for Maps over the coming weeks that is certain to thrill some folks—and horrify others. 

The feature allows you to view your entire location history on Google Maps based on data pulled from your devices when signed-in to your Google account. Google calls Your Timeline “a useful way to remember and view the places you’ve been on a given day, month or year.”

side menu timeline

You can already view your location history by diving into the My Account dashboard for your Google account. The difference now is that it will be available in a more user-friendly manner right from the Google Maps menu on the desktop or Android.

Mashing up your data even further, Google Photos users will also see any photos they took on a given day at a given location inside the Your Timeline feature. If, for example, you visited Coney Island on July 2, as you peruse your voyage around the area that day you’ll see photos next to the entries for the places you took them—assuming you uploaded the images to Google drive, of course.

Why this matters: This is yet another example of what Google can do with your data resulting from the privacy policy changes the company enacted in 2012. It’s commendable that Google is making the data it collects about you easily available to you. And for those who love the idea of maintaining fine-grain journals of their day, this feature will be a perfect fit for taking trips down memory lane. Not everyone is going to be pleased with Your Timeline, however, and Google is taking pains to claim that you are in control of your data.

Your data, your way?

Hoping to fend off any privacy concerns, Google says Your Timeline is private and visible only to you, and only when you’re signed-in to your Google account. You will also only see Your Timeline if you’ve enabled location history storing with Google. Any Google Now user on mobile devices has this feature enabled unless they've manually disabled it.

For more control, the company says you can also delete a specific day, location, or even your full history whenever you want. Locations you frequent can also be named on the map, such as a relative’s house or your favorite coffee hangout.

googlehistory

While all these features sound nice and privacy-protecting, just remember that any of your location data stored on Google’s servers is also available to law enforcement or other interested government parties that file the right paperwork.

That said, there’s no denying that Google Now is an awfully useful service and Your Timeline may also reveal itself to be more handy than you realized—if only to retrace your steps on that day you lost your backpack.

Google didn’t mention in its post whether the feature will come with sharing or embed options. While the more privacy-minded may not like that, others may appreciate the ability to share a specific day or trip on their blog or website.

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