Google Maps and other Google-operated services will start automatically deleting your location history after 18 months, the company announced in a privacy-themed blog post on Wednesday.
While the 18-month expiry already existed as an option for stored personal data, Google said it will no longer store user information an indefinite period of time by default.
Instead, location history will be erased after 18 months unless told otherwise, while web and app activity will also auto-delete for new accounts.
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You can still assign your Google location history to delete every 3 months, or not delete at all, if you'd like. But 18 months will now be the deletion setting by default.
So even if you know how to activate or deactivate your Google location history, Google's new privacy move takes some of the responsibility off its users. It also supports the company's efforts to rebuild trust after facing a backlash last year when everyone realized Google services automatically save location data.
There are arguments for and against keeping your Google location history around. On the plus side, if Google knows your home address and the locations you visit most, it's able to set up navigation between those spots easily.
But others would prefer Google not remember every place they go, especially in case their account is hacked. Some folks also want to avoid targeted ads.
“We continue to challenge ourselves to do more with less, and today we’re changing our data retention practices to make auto-delete the default for our core activity settings,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in the blog post.
Google will also be making incognito mode easier to launch for Google Maps, Google Search and Google Maps. Starting for iPhone users today, and coming to Android users later, a long press on a profile picture will enable incognito mode.
"Privacy is personal, which is why we’re always working to give you control on your terms — whether that’s helping you manage your settings with proactive tools in your Google Account, or making those settings easier to find in our products," wrote Pichai.