Google Maps is about to get a big privacy boost, but fans of Timeline may lose their data

One of Google Maps most popular features, Timeline, is about to become a lot more secure. To give you a quick refresher, Timeline acts as a diary of sorts that keeps track of all the past routes and trips you’ve taken. It’s a fun way to relive memories. 

Utilizing this tool requires people to upload their data to company servers for storage. That will change later this year though, as according to a recent email obtained by Android Police, Google will soon be keeping Timeline data on your smartphone.

Migrating Maps data over to localized device storage would greatly improve security as you won’t be forced to upload sensitive information to public servers anymore. However, due to the upcoming change, Google has decided to kill off Timeline for Web. Users have until December 1, 2024, to move everything from the online resource to their phone’s storage drive. Failure to take any action could result in losing valuable data, like moments from your timeline. 

“Google will try moving up to 90 days of Timeline data to the first signed-in device” after the cutoff date. However, anything older than 90 days will be deleted and it's important to take note of the wording. They’ll “try” to save as much as they can, meaning there is no guarantee Google will successfully migrate everything over if you miss the deadline. It’s unknown why this is the case, although we did ask.

Configuring Timeline

The company is asking people to review their Google Maps settings and choose which device will house their “saved visits and routes.” Their email offers a link to the app’s settings menu, but if you didn’t get the message you can navigate to Google Maps on your mobile device to make the changes there. It’s how we did it.

First, update Google Maps if you haven’t done so already, and then go to the Timeline section, where you’ll be greeted with a notification informing you of forthcoming changes. 

Then, click the Next button, and a new window will appear asking you how long you would like to keep your data. You can select to store the information until you get rid of it or set up an auto-delete function. Users can have Google Maps trash their Timeline after three, 18, or 36 months have passed.

Google Maps' new Timeline menu

(Image credit: Future)

Additionally, you can choose to back them up to Google servers. Android Police explains that this revamped system curates Maps Timelines for each device “independently.” So, if you buy a new smartphone and want to restore your data, using the backup tool is the best way.

What’s interesting is that the Timeline transfer is a one-way street. Google states in a Maps Help page that after the data is moved to your smartphone, you cannot revert back to the previous method. We experienced this firsthand because we couldn’t find a way to upload data to company servers outside of the backup function after localizing storage.

Don’t worry if you haven’t received the email or the Google Map patch as of yet. Android Police says the company is slowly rolling out the changes. Be sure to keep an eye out for either one.

While we have you check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Elon Musk’s Twitter: a timeline of his six months as CEO

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've likely heard plenty about Elon Musk's Twitter takeover. In just over six months as CEO, Musk has tossed the platform into turmoil, but the season of change has yet to finish a-changing.

Musk has now officially stated his intent to step down as CEO, and will be handing the reins to NBCUniversal Executive Linda Yaccarino in late June. 

So, what will Yaccarino inherit when she steps up to the plate? Some would say a golden chalice whereas others would see a poisoned one, given the many controversial changes the platform has seen since it came under Musk's ownership. 

In the ongoing saga of Twitter 2.0, there has been a lot of news to parse through. To help, we've summarized the major milestones and changes the billionaire tech mogul has made to the platform since he acquired it in October 2022.

The first six months of Twitter 2.0 – a timeline

Analysis: So, what now?

Currently, we've no clue if Yaccarino views Musk's vision of Twitter 2.0 as a boon or a burden, but as it stands one thing is for sure; she's got a lot of damage control to do if she has any hope of turning around Twitter's current reputation with both advertisers and its users.

Yaccarino has already proved a divisive choice on several many fronts. Time magazine published an insightful piece discussing the concept of the “glass cliff” – women or other minority figures being hired into senior leadership roles at a time of crisis, setting them up for failure (see: every female UK Prime Minister – not to excuse their actions). This idea becomes especially poignant when you recognize the power Musk will still have over the platform as Executive Chair and CTO, effectively retaining his ability to veto and push through changes in his own vision. 

There are, of course, loyal Musk supporters (many of whom, I expect, make up the majority of Twitter Blue subscriptions) who will unwaveringly support the move just as they do every other hair-brained scheme from the soon-to-be-ex Chief Twit.

However, there is a subsection of Musk's following that gravitated to him as a figurehead for anti-wokeness, a movement associated with the alt-right and purveyors of online anti-social behaviors including misogyny, racism, and homophobia. 

For these individuals, Yaccarino poses a threat; she’s a woman, to start with, but she’s also associated with the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is regularly targeted by conspiracy theorists. Additionally, Yaccarino has previously broadcast left-leaning rhetoric, from promoting mask-wearing and vaccination to tackling fake news.

Conversely, Twitter users have been quick to highlight her close association with former US President Donald Trump, serving a two-year term on the administration's council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition, as well as some of the more dubious accounts she's following.

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Of course, other users were more than ready to point out that Yaccarino also follows a number of left-wing figureheads, including AOC. 

Ultimately,It seems as though neither side is really happy about her appointment right now, but the proof will be in the pudding. For whatever remains of the Twitter we once knew and loved (or at least, tolerated), I certainly hope her slightly muddy political talking points are less newsworthy than the positive change she'll hopefully bring to the platform. 

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