If you’ve ever wondered where you were last week, you can use your iPhone or iPad to view your location history. And if you use Google Maps, you can find very detailed information about your whereabouts.
All major tech companies and apps have some form of location tracking feature. Everyone from Apple, Google, Facebook, to Twitter does it. Each company uses the data in different ways.
Apple, for example, only collects a pool of significant locations that you have visited in the past and claims it doesn’t share this data with anyone. Google, on the other hand, keeps a detailed track of all your activity, especially if you use Google Maps.
If you open Google Maps’ Timeline view, you’ll be able to see exactly where you traveled on a given day—even if you didn’t use Google Maps for navigation—thanks to background location tracking.
Both these services opt you in by default, but you can disable location tracking if needed.
First, let’s talk about finding the location history on your iPhone or iPad. Open the Settings app and tap on “Privacy.”
From here, select “Location Services.”
Scroll down on this screen and tap on “System Services.”
From the next screen, select “Significant Locations.”
Here, locate the “History” section, which collects and groups places based on how often you’ve visited them.
If you wish to clear the history, you can scroll down and tap on “Clear History.” If you want to stop location tracking on your iPhone or iPad, go to the top of the screen and tap on the toggle next to “Significant Locations.”
When you tap on a location collection from the “History” section, it will show you a visual breakdown on the next screen. You’ll see the map of all locations at the top of the display.
Select one of the visits to see a detailed view of the area you visited. The detailed view will also show the time of your visit and the mode of transport along with the date.
Apple stores a limited amount of location history data and doesn’t let you browse through the data in a timeline view. Google, on the other hand, has a detailed Timeline view that lets you browse through the roads you traveled through and the places you visited on a given day.
If you use the Google Maps app on your iPhone or iPad for navigation, you can use Google Maps’ Timeline feature to access your location history.
Google Maps’ ability to track your location depends on your privacy settings. You can choose to allow Google to track your location only when you’re using the app or to always track your location in the background. You can change this setting on your iPhone or iPad by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Google Maps.
If you want, you can also disable the Location History feature from your Google account settings (we’ve outlined the steps below).
The Google Maps Timeline page can be accessed on the web on your iPhone, iPad, or computer. For the best viewing experience, try to use a laptop or a desktop computer. You’ll see the map of the world with some places highlighted. Here, you can pan around and click on a location to see the available data points.
In the top-left corner, you’ll see the timeline interface. From here, you can pick any date to see the detailed breakdown of your travel data. On the right, you’ll see the route you took in the map view.
On the left, you’ll see the timeline view with details of the places you visited, the time of the visit, and how long you stayed at a location. If you use Google Photos, you’ll also see all your images from your trip here.
If you don’t want Google to collect and store this data (it helps to improve Google’s suggestions and search results in Maps), you can disable the Location History feature altogether.
On the Google Maps Timeline page, you’ll see a location history section in the bottom row. It will say “Location History Is On.” From this section, click on the “Manage Location History” button.
From the next screen, click the toggle next to “Location History” to turn off location tracking.
While this stops the Google Maps app on your devices from tracking your location, some Google apps will still store time-stamped location data. You can disable this activity by turning off Web & App Activity in settings.
Now that you know how to look up location history on your iPhone and iPad, remember to bring it up next time you’re wondering where you went and what you did on your last vacation. While Apple might not have precise data, rest assured, Google Maps will.
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