People have been using the North Star, sextants, compasses and maps to find our place on the planet for centuries. With the introduction of smartphones, the GPS unit in the device has been used to pinpoint your location with greater accuracy, along with additional information about where you are.
So not only do you know your exact location now, but with the right apps you can find your friends, favorite restaurants, bookstore and more. But Google wants to go a step further by giving you the option of tracking everywhere you have been throughout the day.
Your Timeline from Google Maps will remember all the places you have been. That might sound slightly ominous, but the company assures that you have total control, and the feature is private and visible only to you.
This is an important new feature, because in 2009 Google Latitude let users share their location history with friends. But privacy concerns prompted the company stopped the service.
With privacy a big issue for Google, the company has been quick to point to the privacy control of the new application. You can delete a day’s worth of location data or the entire timeline, if you wish. You can also edit and personalize the names of places and even turn off your location tracking services.
Being able to trace where you have been has many different personal and business applications. As the company explains:
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“A useful way to remember and view the places you’ve been on a given day, month or year. Your Timeline allows you to visualize your real-world routines, easily see the trips you’ve taken and get a glimpse of the places where you spend your time.”
Some of the personal benefits highlighted on the company blog include: show the photos you took when viewing a specific day if you use Google Photos, use Now notifications when there are traffic incidents along your commute and remind you where you parked your car.
However, the app can go beyond personal use. Developers and businesses can integrate the features to create new services as part of an overall solution.
Developers can use Your Timeline in apps to track Alzheimer’s or other patients with cognitive disorders. They can also use it track kids, law enforcement personnel, and other valuable assets.
Businesses can integrate it with existing systems or use it as a standalone product to track deliveries with greater detail, an accountability solution for employees, reminder for vendor locations and more.
Timeline is being rolled out gradually, and it will be available for the desktop and Android. No announcement has been made for iOS.
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