Google Maps Timeline Data May Disappear

John Lister's picture

Google Maps is changing the way it stores Location History. It's arguably a boost for privacy but may be a surprise for some users who appreciate the feature.

The change is to the timeline feature that's included in both the desktop and mobile app versions of Google Maps. It lets users see a complete record of all places they've visited while using a mobile device with location tracking switched on.

The feature will also add detail and context, for example including any picture from a visit that are saved in Google Photos, or figuring out when a user went on a trip or vacation. It can be useful for solving niggling, if unimportant, questions such as quickly figuring out when a particular visit happened.

History Now Device-Based

At the moment Google ties Timeline data to a user's account so that they can access their entire history even if they have switched mobile devices over the years. It's now ditching that approach as part of a wider response to privacy criticisms.

Timeline data will stop being backed up to the account and instead will be tied to the specific mobile device. That also means the feature will be removed completely from the website version of Google Maps. (Source:

What happens next depends on user settings. If the user takes no action, the first time they use Google Maps on a mobile device after December 1, Google will load up the Timeline data from the previous 90 days and delete everything before that.

How To Avoid Data Deletion

The way to get round this is to open Google Maps on a mobile device, tap the profile picture, then select the "Your Timeline" option. From here users can choose to keep their location history available. The options include keeping all data until the user manually deletes it, or have the data automatically deleted after three, 18 or 36 months. (Source:

User can also switch on cloud backups through an option in the Timeline feature itself. This means they can transfer their history to a new device later on, though it still won't be available on the Google Maps website.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use the Timeline feature? Would you be disappointed to lose the history? Are you concerned about location tracking?

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repete_14444's picture

Thank you for this info. I don't currently use the Timeline feature because of privacy concerns. Changing Timeline to tie it to the specific mobile device would probably make me try it cautiously.