Google Maps has gotten some fun updates recently, and now it’s offering some more privacy-forward tweaks as it adds more ways to control your location data. It starts, as so many journeys do, with that little blue dot in Google Maps: aka, you... or, your current location at least.
Right now, tapping the blue dot in Google Maps offers shortcuts to save your parking or share your location. This update — which I’m already seeing on my Pixel 8 Pro review unit — adds options for device location and location history. You can see at a glance whether they’re on or off, and you can toggle them with just a couple of taps.
By default, your location history is off when you use Google Maps. If you have opted to turn it on, your activity is saved in the cloud and is viewable in the app’s Timeline feature. Google is making a big change here — with a coming update, your data will be stored locally, rather than in the cloud by default. You’ll still be able to manually back up your info to the cloud if you want, though. Google is also shortening the default amount of time before it auto-deletes your location history, too, to three months rather than the previous 18 months. These changes will be coming over the next year.
Another small but important update is arriving soon — the ability to delete all of your data related to a specific location right in Maps. Currently, you can remove a location from your Timeline pretty easily: just tap the “remove” option in the location overview. But if you used Maps to view that location or get directions to it, that data will still exist in your Google Web and App Activity if it’s enabled for your account. Now, Google is adding a simple way to delete all of that related information in one fell swoop.
Google’s blog post says this is useful if you’re planning a “surprise birthday party,” which, I guess, would be. But to me, this seems particularly useful for victims of domestic abuse who might want to quickly erase all of their activity related to a particular location. The way it works now, it might seem like you’ve deleted all evidence of a visit to a place by removing it from your Timeline, but that might not be the case. Google says this feature will be arriving “in the coming weeks.” Until then, you can always check your Web Activity settings and history through Google’s My Activity hub.