Google Maps update will let you wipe out past searches and photos in one swoop

Google Maps on phone
(Image credit: Henry Perks/Unsplash)

Google Maps is getting a privacy update that gives users new ways to control their information on the platform. 

First, the app will begin collecting your recent activity into one central location where you can view places you’ve been to in the past, the date you went there, and the amount of time you spent visiting. You’ll be even able to “delete your searches, directions… and shares” in the same hub.

Looking at Google’s announcement, it appears you can delete each entry one by one or the whole thing altogether. A window will pop up on the screen letting you know what’s going to be thrown out. The data packet will include photos, reviews, feedback reports, saved lists, and more you’ve made about a location.

Tapping the blue dot on Google Maps will now bring up a settings menu for the Timeline and Location History features where you can see if either tool has been turned on as well as if the app has access to your device’s location. Timeline, if you’re not super familiar with it, uses data obtained from Location History to keep a record of all the places you’ve been to.

The deletion tool and the blue dot menu will start rolling out to Android and iOS phones over the coming weeks.

Saving the timeline

There is another update; however, it won’t come out until sometime next year. The upcoming feature allows people to save their Timeline recording directly onto their device instead of leaving it up on Google’s cloud. You are, of course, able to delete a part or all of your information at once, if you don’t want to leave a trace behind. Conversely, users can back up their data to the company servers at any time. Everything is encrypted, so no one, not even Google, can take a peek.

Location History is getting a small tweak. Its auto-delete function “will be set to three months by default” rather than 18 months as is currently the case. After that time passes, all saved information will be deleted. If you want to go back to the longer period, you can adjust at any time. 

It’s unknown exactly when the Timeline changes will roll out to Android or iOS in 2024, although Google states you will receive an account notification when it eventually arrives.

Google Maps is full of neat little tricks that most people are unaware of. If you want to know what they are, check out TechRadar's list of the 10 things you didn't know Google Maps could do.

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.