Where Have I Been? Get Your Answer with the Google Location History Dashboard

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 12:01 PM

When I was young, I used to imagine that there was a string attached to me, and that one day I’d be able to see my whole life’s travels laid out on a globe. Thanks to my phone, Google Latitude, and Google Location History, I’ve been able to pull a virtual string behind me for a few months. Alas, I can’t entertain myself for too long with just a piece of string. Today we’re launching an experimental new view in Beta for Google Location History to visualize your location history in a different -- and hopefully more interesting -- way than just a string of locations.

If you’ve already chosen to enable Location History, the new dashboard view will try to highlight interesting trends from your existing location history, such as trips you’ve taken, places you’ve visited, time spent at home vs. out, and more. Ever wonder how much time you’ve spent at work recently compared to six months ago, or where it was that you stopped on your last road trip? Just check out Location History for some of the answers.

For example, I took a look at my dashboard, and it reminded me that my brother and I watched the Oakland A’s win on the final at-bat on April 17th.

If you’re a road warrior like me, the dashboard can help you remember your trips and where you stopped along the way. Here’s an example of a trip I took to New York to get a little work done and visit some friends just west of Central Park.

Speaking of being a road warrior, sometimes I do wonder how long my string is. I at least know how long it is since I started using Latitude and Location History -- about 21,000 miles or 10% of the distance to the moon!

We’re really excited to make Latitude and your location more useful to you, but we definitely understand that your privacy is important. Just as before, Google Location History is entirely opt-in only and your location history is available privately to you and nobody else. Additionally, you may be asked to periodically re-enter your password when opening any Location History page, even if you’re signed in to your Google Account already (just to make sure you’re really you). Of course, you may always delete any or all of your location history in the Manage History tab or disable Location History at any time.

To try out the new dashboard yourself, enable Google Latitude in the background on your phone, turn on Google Location History, and wait a few days (up to a week) to build up enough history for the dashboard to begin showing information. This is just one interesting way you can do more with your location, but we don’t expect it to be the last. With last week’s launch of the Google Latitude API, we hope to soon see people create even more cool ways for you to choose how to use your location and location history.

The Location History dashboard’s information is still experimental and in Beta so you may notice some initial issues with accuracy around its estimates. We’re working on improving the Location History dashboard and Latitude location updating overall, so you’ll notice improvements for both over time. You may also want to try turning on WiFi or GPS on your phone to improve location history accuracy. Visit our Help Center to learn more or tell us your feedback and questions in our Help Forum. Give us suggestions and vote on other people’s on the Mobile Product Ideas page!


Brian Fitzgerald said...

Very cool... how long before we start to see location based advertising?

Unknown said...

Pandora application already has it. ADs based on location.

Blog O Mine said...

by building up the history you mean Google never stored our location information?

Also, if the history is deleted from our dashboard is it deleted from Google servers as well?

Unknown said...

Whoever you and your brother are must be awesomely amazing for using this and watching the game. I stand in awe of your awesomeness. Go Google.

- Jen from Maryland (with cats)

Derek Gathright said...

I've been logging my own location for the last 12 months at 5 minute intervals, and I totally agree with how neat & useful it is. First thing I did was write some scripts to generate GeoRSS feeds for each data, and import those into Google Maps which draws a line between all the points. Now I can see the 'string' represent my daily travels. I also travel a lot and it is great to be able to remind me of the activities on my trips.

If anyone else is interested in rolling your own geotracker and you are a Sprint user, check out their developer APIs.


They offer opt-in RESTful APIs to obtain a geolocation of a device by phone #. The best part is you don't need any special software running on the phone. It just uses cell tower triangulation. Once you have the data, the things you can do with it are endless.

Now that Google Latitude has an API, I will look at using Sprint's APIs to update the GLat API.

Thanks for a great product!

Steve Withers said...

Presumably any government security organisation could ask Google for this information and we would never be informed? The say "terrorism" and our every move is laid out to within a few feet?

That's more worrying than anything else given the way we have such information abused in recent years.

How does Google handle such requests?

Unknown said...

Another way to look at this is when you need an alibi this service could prove you didn't commit the offense. This of course assumes you are innocent. ;)

aibrahim said...

The Links to API is broken !

rb3m said...

I have a GPS tracker that sort of does this without having to keep my phone on or having to remember to turn it on every few minutes.

It would be great if I could import the track into Location History, though!

Maff said...

A bizarre request...
I was on holiday last month, there's no way I could justify my costs to turn on my phone while there as it would have been connecting to the net all the time. Is there a way to manually add where I've been?
I'd love to be able to look back in a few years time to see where I was.