If you have a terrible memory, lose things a lot, often black out from drinking or some combination thereof, Google is about to become your new savior. If you like the idea of keeping your data private, however, you may want to prepare yourself.
In a blog post Tuesday, Google product manager Gerard Sanz shed light on a feature called Your Timeline, which the company has started to introduce to its Android and desktop users. Using data taken from your devices' Google account sign-ons, Your Timeline lets you look, step by step, at your entire Google Maps location history. If you use Google Photos, Your Timeline will be even more specific: It will include photos you took that day of the places you visited.
It's "a useful way to remember and view the places you've been on a given day, month or year," Sanz wrote. "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."
Or, taken another way, Google is now Sting: Every step you take, they'll be watching you.
In action, it looks like this:
Sanz noted the feature only works if you enable Google Maps to keep track of your location; he also said the data is private and only available to the user. Friends, family or the general public won't be able to stalk your every move — just you.
As PC World pointed out, this feature is already available by going to the My Account tab on your Google dashboard. The difference now, however, is it will now be much easier to access, "right from the Google Maps menu on the desktop or Android." (There's no word on when it will be available for iPhone users.)
Privacy concerns: Ostensibly, one would use this feature like a daily journal: "Today, I went to get my hair cut. Yesterday, I went to Subway. Last week, I went to that awful bar with that awful person I really don't like." It could be useful for people who aren't good at remembering the places they've been (but would like to be better), or if you misplace something and want to retrace your steps.
Sanz provided assurances of privacy, writing, "You control the locations you choose to keep, [and] you can easily delete a day or your full history at any time. You can edit any place that appears in Your Timeline, including removing a specific location." But it's important to keep in mind that your data can be used in ways you may not be comfortable with or even aware of, and Your Timeline is no exception.
Still, for those users that are willing to take that risk, Your Timeline is a nifty documentation tool — perfect for showing your future grandchildren which hip, cool bars you used to go to.