Your phone paints Google a picture of where you go
If you have an Android or Apple smartphone or tablet, there's a good chance Google has a fairly comprehensive idea of what you do and where you go every day.
Assuming you have the location history and location reporting settings activated — which you likely will if you regularly use apps like Google Maps, Facebook or Foursquare — and are logged on to a Google account, the various points of reference being recorded can be taken together to reveal a map of your movements.
Using a little-known Google site, you can actually view the data the firm has accumulated about your activities and see it expressed as a shockingly detailed map. Here's how:
First, make sure you're signed in to the same account you use on your phone, then go to this Google website. The default view shows your movements from today.
The calendar on the left allows you to look at a specific day and view your movements. Selecting a greater range of dates (up to a month) lets you spot patterns in your movements. You can zoom in or out as you like and even shift into Google Maps' "satellite" mode for a better view of the surroundings. There's also an option to delete the data.
Apple collects this type of data from its users too, sparking controversy in 2011 when it was found its phone was collecting data from location services even when they were switched off. A similar claim was made against Android shortly after.
As you can see from the images, my personal map not only clues Google in to the fact I often take the train to work and the light rail home again, but also displays the minutia of my exploration through the city on the weekend, or the different routes I might take to the park near my house when walking the dog.
What does your Google location history say about you?