When configuring an Android mobile device, among the various questions proposed to the user there is also the request relating to the activation of the Location history. The Google Maps Timeline is a useful and valuable tool that helps keep track of the beaten paths and places gradually visited over time. It is a bit like the user’s “historical memory” but also that of Google Maps itself, which can for example invite you to review activities and attractions or to provide advice in line with everyone’s preferences. The Google Maps travel they are stored on the Mountain View company’s servers and are accessible from both the mobile application and the Web.
If the Location History appears activejust access Google Maps, tap the small circle at the top right then choose Movements and finally select the day you are interested in to check how you moved. Above, on mapthe wording must appear Location history is active.
From a Web browser, the result is even more effective: this page shows the world map and marks all the places that they are visited over time. By clicking on one of these graphic elements, then on a shop, a hotel, an activity or a place visited, you can go back to the day in which you moved to that area and the precise route.
Be careful of cases in which Maps can turn into a tool for following other people’s movements
We never tire of repeating that correct account managementfrom Google as from any other provider, is the key to avoiding interference in one’s personal sphere and threats to the security of one’s data.
In fact, we have the habit of maintaining the login session active on all the devices we use most frequently, regardless of their type. It often happens that the same device (think desktop PCs) is shared between multiple users.
To avoid being asked for a new one authentication, with each attempt to use your Google account, what you do is authorize the device in use as “trusted”. Despite using two-step verification, sui trusted devices Access to the content of the Google account does not require additional steps and additional checks.
A user who could physically get their hands on someone else’s desktop PC or laptop could follow the movements of others simply by connecting to this page, checking that the name of the other account is on the top right and then clicking on Today. Almost in real time, the list of movements of the other user, the routes taken, the shops where he stopped, the routes taken by car, on foot or by public transport.
How to prevent other users from spying on your movements
The most effective approach to prevent other people from following your movements on Google Maps with the page Timeline, consists of separating the accounts. Each user who uses the operating system on the same device must be able to log in with his own personal profile, without using shared accounts with other users. At the operating system level, each account must be adequately protected with credentials that are not known to other users.
Furthermore, in the case of Windows, you should enable BitLocker encryption with TPM+PIN protection so that the data stored on the storage medium is encrypted. Also access token Google accounts will thus be unrecoverable by anyone who has physical access to the device (think of a notebook).
The setting Revoke everyonecontained in the box Trusted devices of the Google account settings, allows you to request login again on all devices where the same Google account is set up. In other words, no device will no longer be designated as “trusted” and other users will no longer be able to use someone else’s account.
Always referring to the settings of the Google account in use, accessing the section Your devices, you can consult the complete list of devices where the account itself is configured. By clicking on a specific device in the list and then on the button You go outyou can interrupt the session working even remotely.
By clicking on You go outthe logout remotely on the indicated device and access will not be granted unless the correct password is indicated and the password is exceeded two-step verification. Since two-step verification requires the availability of an object that the account holder always has at hand (for example, a smartphone), other unauthorized users will not be able to access the contents of the account.
Export your Google Maps journeys
To date, Google does not provide aAPI (Application Programming Interface) to export your Maps navigation information. However, by connecting to the Google Takeout page, clicking on Deselect everything therefore activating only the box relating to Location historyyou can get files in JSON formatwhich can subsequently be processed, with all the information on the movements made.
After ticking Location historyyou need to scroll down the page and click on the button Next stepselect the option Export once Therefore Create export.
The list of routes and the places visited is prepared on the server side by Google, at the user’s request, then sent via email to the corresponding account.
The structure of JSON files
The heavy file
Records.json contains raw data about the user’s instantaneous position at various moments of time (here is the syntax in detail).
For each piece of information, the system clearly indicates which source is used to estimate the geographical location of the user. In some cases the neighboring WiFi is used, in other cases the information from the telephone cells, in still others the geolocation services (including GPS positioning) as a whole.
Inside the folder Semantic Location History, you will find the history of Google Maps locations divided month by month in JSON format. The advantage is that, in this case, Google also indicates nearby points of interest, shops and places visited by the user. There are names and addresses in clear text: for this reason we speak of a “semantic” chronology because the meaning of each single detection is already specified in the JSON file.
Credit immagine in apertura: Microsoft Bing Image Creator.