Ever asked yourself where you’ve been last Tuesday but simply couldn’t remember? Chances are that if you ask Google, you’ll get the answer (and more). Remember how we’ve talked about Google knowing everything you’ve ever search for and when? Well, that’s not all. Google also knows almost everywhere you’ve been and when!
How does it work?
You know how you carry around your phone in your pocket all day? Or check your email at work? Or even just use your tablet to read the news on the train? As long as you have an internet connection and are logged into your Google account (using either Google Search, Google+ or Google Maps), you’re letting Google know where you are. And as long as Google knows where you are, they will store your location data for all kinds of things (considering you haven’t disable the feature).
Why do they do it?
Apart from showing you where you’ve been and when, Google uses your location data for many other things:
► Better search results based on your location.
If you search Google pizza places or museums near by – say the Smithsonian air space museum, Google will show location based results and even offer you step by step navigation.
► Google Now:
- Traffic alerts (“25 minutes to home”).
- Location based suggestions (“top attractions nearby”).
- Weather reporting.
- Traveling (time, currency conversion, words you should know)
► Better map suggestions, GPS and Navigation
If you start typing a street name on Google maps, it will automatically fill in the most nearby results based on your current location. Your location is also used of course for GPS navigation via apps on your phone such as Google maps or “Waze” – the Israeli crowd-sourced mapping app which was acquired by Google in June 2013 .
► Google Adsense:
Google adsense are one of Google’s main sources of income, and one of the reasons for it’s success is by providing users with targeted ads based on interests, gender, location and more. For example if you’ll search for a hotels nearby, you’ll probably see several Google adsense ads for a specifics hotel at the top of the search results page.
The History location Dashboard
The history location dashboard is where you’ll find all the places you’ve been (considering you had location reporting enabled at the time). In the dashboard you can view:
► Location history for a specific date .
► Your last 30 days locations.
► The distances you’ve traveled.
► Playback animation of your traveled locations.
► Delete history from specific dates.
► Delete history from all time.
Check out your own location history dashboard.
Worried about privacy? You can I opt out.
Google location history is set per device (Android or iOS), meaning you need to turn it on or off for each device and each Google app that reports location. You can also opt out via the settings gear in the dashboard (click on the gear icon and then “Pause”). Learn more from Google about Location in Google Settings and Managing Location Reporting & History.
Gmail uses location history for a different reason.
If you scroll down to the bottom of the page in Gmail, you’ll notice a small link (in the right corner) saying: “Last account activity: 6 minutes ago.” If you click on “Details” a pop up window will appear with recent account activity based on IP address (location). Google uses this data to spot unusual activity on your account and determine whether or not your account has been compromised. If Google spots suspicious activity they will prompt you with an email alert to take action.