Google apps are following user’s movements even if they turn off the location tracking setting, according to a new investigation. The Associated Press probe claims that some of Google’s iOS and Android will continue to store location data even if the “location history” setting is paused.
The report – which has been independently verified by computer science researchers at Princeton – claims simply opening the Google Maps app on iOS and Android will timestamp the location. Likewise when opening the Weather app. Even web searches for queries completely unrelated to location will add your location to Google’s timeline feature the investigation found.
This contradicts Google’s own privacy page, which says turning off Location History means the places you go are no longer stored. However, Google effectively confirmed the report in a statement to Bloomberg on Monday evening, admitting it uses location data to “improve the Google experience.”
“Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time,” the company said.
“As the story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”
Related: Android Pie
To pause Location History, Google users can head to the company’s My Activity page and tap “Other Google activity”. From there you can hit “Visit Timeline” in order to see the location-based information Google is storing. Here you can pause the tracking. How much good this actually does in light of the AP report is now questionable.
Wired is reporting there are extra steps iOS and Android users can do to turn off the location tracking completely. In a web browser, open your Google Account and access the Settings. Next you’ll need to open Personal Info & Privacy > Go to My Activity > Activity Controls. Toggle Web & App Activity to off.
You can also do it on Android by finding Web & App Activity within Data & Personalisation within the Account Settings page.
Will you be going the extra mile to turn off all location tracking settings? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.