You have surely read about this nightmare in a criminal story: “Where have you been on the fourth of April last year, evening time?”.
Now you can answer this question.
Google is following you. And it remembers where you were.
Here is how to find out more
Open a new tab in the Google browser, and proceed to Google Maps https://www.google.com/maps/
Then open the options menu. Click on the horizontal three stripes in the left upper corner, as shown below.
Then click on the “your timeline” menu item, and then you see this timeline:
The blue vertical bars represent the number of location snapshots that Google has taken on each day of the month. If this timeline is completely empty then switch to another one of your Google accounts and look there. Or you have not yet activated your location history.
As it does not matter from a data protection point of view whether you have an active location history or not, I have activated the display of my location history a long time ago. This is how it works: on your smartphone, open the Google Maps app. Menu Timeline/More Settings. Make sure you see “Location is on.”
How to go back one year on your timeline
Having done so, when I click on the blue timeline bar for “04 April 2018”, Google Maps shows me this:
In other words: Google knows that I took my motorbike to ride from home to work. The ride is 11.5km long, and it took me 20 minutes. I arrived at our Singapore office at 10:30am, and I stayed there until 14:40pm.
And so on.
You can also click on the time points on the highlighted route in the map window and the program would show you when I have been there.
Google knows where you were on any date, any time of the day, how you got there, and where you went next.
How the Tracking Works
This is because if you use any free app on your smartphone, whether it is an Android phone or an iPhone, these apps would send location pings to Google Playstore. This is how the programmers of the free apps get paid.
Do you now finally understand that there is no free lunch in this world?
Call to Action
This takes you only 3 minutes of your time.
Follow the steps above and find out yourself where you have been one year ago.
Then find out yourself what you will do next time when you want to fly under the radar.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
Martin “Invisible” Schweiger