Your Google Maps Location History will soon be stored on your devices

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 18, 2023
Updated • Dec 18, 2023

Google is making an important change to the Timeline feature of Google Maps. The feature is powered by the Location History setting and allows users to remember places they have been to in the past.

Up until now, information about these places was saved in the Google Cloud. Soon, the information is stored on the user's device on Android and iOS instead to improve privacy and give users more control over the feature.

Timeline allows users to revisit places they have been to in the past. This may help them rediscover places as well as routes and trips taken in Maps. Location History is a broader feature that helps users "get better results and recommendations" according to Google. You could use it to locate a missing phone among other things.

Location History submits quite some data to Google when enabled.

Google users may check out Timeline in any web browser by visiting this page. The page offers a timeline view of activities, provided that location history is on and that the user is signed in to a Google account.

Tip: you can check out my guide on disabling Google Location History here.

Google Timeline local Location Data

One positive effect of the change, at least in the United States, is that Google won't be able to provide law enforcement with this location data. So-called geofence warrants allow law enforcement in the United States to gain access to location data from companies like Google for specific area.

In other words. If you happen to be inside an area with a geofence warrant, your location data may be shared with law enforcement by Google.

Google Map's Timeline feature requires user activation. On Android, users find the setting under Settings > Personal Content > Location Settings. The page reveals if location and location history are on or off.

There are also options to delete a range of location history or configure automatic deletion rules.

Speaking of which, the default automatic deletion rule is 18 months currently. Location data is deleted after 18 months under this rule. Going forward, Google is going to change this default value to 3 months.

Users who require the longer retention may change it to 18 months or even turn off automatic deletions entirely.

Google Maps users who use the Timeline feature may back up the data to the Google Cloud to access it on all their devices. Backups are end-to-end encrypted to Google and the data won't affect storage quotas of the account.

Google will also introduce an option to delete the activity related to specific places and locations directly from Google Maps. The feature, which will roll out in the coming weeks, allows users to remove traces from Maps.

A new "delete" button next to visits removes the place from history. Useful if you want the place to disappear from your activity.

Access to location controls is being added directly to Google Maps as well. A tap on the blue dot on Google Maps, which highlights the current location, displays location history and timeline settings next to the usual options to get directions or pin the location. This option improves the visibility of the feature on Google Maps.

Google announced the change on its The Keyword blog and plans to roll it out over the course of 2024 to Android and iOS devices. Users will receive notifications when the feature becomes available.

Now You: do you use Google Maps and its Timeline feature? Which maps app do you favor?

Your Google Maps Location History will soon be stored on your devices
Article Name
Your Google Maps Location History will soon be stored on your devices
Google changes where the location history of Google Maps' Timeline feature is saved. Soon, the data will be stored on user devices and no longer in the cloud.
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  1. Nett said on January 21, 2024 at 7:21 am

    So how am I supposed to view/edit my timeline in real-time on a desktop like I currently do?? I hate this new update!!

  2. yiha said on December 19, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    sorry I dont believe it, google and apple already too much lied and lying

  3. Haakon said on December 18, 2023 at 9:15 pm

    Martin, please post up an article when this feature goes live. My Timeline is in “not saving visits and routes” mode. Given local-only data storage, I’d like to use it when it does.

    Anyhow, here’s a classic example of the slapped together, convoluted, crap shoot history of the google android UX.

    While Martin is correct for his device, I have no Settings > Personal Content > Location Settings on my device. It’s Settings > Location and there’s no Timeline in there or anywhere else in Settings. A search on “timeline” returns nada.

    Timeline for me is accessed in Maps settings (that dot with a letter) as “Your Timeline” which presents a history swipe panel with a “Review settings” link. The Timeline header meatball menu is where “Settings and privacy” can be selected. “Location History” on or off gets to the Google Account > Activity Controls screen where one can scroll to Location History. Where, overall, the word “timeline” does not exist.

    Of course, that means I could use Settings > Privacy> Advanced > Activity Controls if I knew that’s where the “timeline” thing lives as well.

    And Web & App Activity must be on.

    That may be the same for you. Or something completely different from mine or Martin’s.

    Thanks for another great article.

  4. Tachy said on December 18, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    They’ve done the same with device pairing. Instead of pointing the phone at a QR code that came up on my pc, now they nag you to stay signed into a google account on the PC.

    The QR code option is still there but now it’s hidden and you must bring it up, after first figuring out how to find it, every single fucking time you want to pair the phone.

    I never leave it paired. I only pair it briefly when I want to paste some images or links from my PC into a text or when I want to write a long text without spell checker auto mutilating my words.

  5. ECJ said on December 18, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    Google should also prevent Android apps from perpetually harassing users to enable Google Location Accuracy (Improve Location Accuracy) – which sends data to Google.

    Some apps will keep displaying the below Android prompt every single time the app is opened, despite the app already being allowed access to use precise GPS location while in use.

    “For a better experience, turn on device location, which uses Google’s location service”

    The way the prompt is worded is also misleading, as it sounds like it’s enabling GPS (device location), but it’s not, it’s enabling an additional Google service – one that isn’t required for GPS to function – and it will be enabled for the entire Android operating system, not just for that particular app.

    No matter how many times “No, thanks” is selected in the Android dialogue box, it will keep coming back every-single-time the app is opened. Enabling Google Location Accuracy is not required for GPS to function, as the app has already been allowed access to use precise GPS location, but the apps will keep harassing users anyway – despite this setting allowing data to be sent to Google. And when it comes to location data, it’s not possible to be anonymised, despite the claims.

    From what I can gather, app developers who use Flutter’s location plugin will be imposing this nonsense on all their users.

    It should not be possible at an operating system level for app developers to perpetually harass users in to enabling a global setting like this. This is not consent, it’s abusing the end users lack of awareness what this is and is misleading and fraudulent.

    1. bruh said on December 18, 2023 at 5:33 pm

      I get this sometimes on my S4 mini, funny how it’s still a problem now lol

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