Google Maps reveals updates aimed at boosting data privacy

The mapping service is introducing new tools to its iOS and Android apps.
The mapping service is introducing new tools to its iOS and Android apps.

Google Maps is updating its incognito mode and introducing the ability to remove locations from a user’s timeline as the app attempts to improve its privacy credentials.

The mapping service will now allow Apple iOS users to search for and navigate to places without that data being saved to their Google account.

Google is also rolling out the ability for Android users to delete in bulk previously visited locations from their in-app timeline.

Google said the changes were the latest step in a plan to improve user control of their data.

Google Maps product manager Marlo McGriff said: “Throughout this year, we’ve focused on making it easier to control, manage and delete your location history information.

“Location history is off by default and you can choose to delete all or part of your history automatically when you turn it on.

“We introduced auto-delete controls so you can choose to keep only three or 18-months worth of data — anything older than that will be automatically deleted.”

Social media and internet companies have come under increasing pressure in the past year to give users more control over their data and to improve their own privacy controls.

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU last year gave more powers to users to control how firms use their data, while a number of high-profile data breaches and scandals involving the likes of Facebook have increased scrutiny on the industry.

Incognito mode has previously been available on Android, but its expansion to iOS will increase the number of users able to access it.

Google confirmed that the rollout of Incognito mode to iOS would begin on Tuesday, with the bulk-delete from timeline feature arriving next month.