Android smartphones and tablets, but also iPhones and iPads with Google Maps, constantly send their location data to Google servers, unless you’ve turned this off in your privacy settings. Google Maps uses this location data for the real-time display of traffic and warnings of traffic jams. You can also see where you were and when on a timeline.
But with the Google Maps location data from Android smartphones, something else is possible: You can see at a glance where you have been particularly often and where you rarely go. This is made possible by a nifty third-party tool called Location History Visualizer, which does not come from Google. Location History Visualizer evaluates and weighs your Google Maps location data and then displays it in the form of a heat map.
Dark red spots on the heat map are places where you have been very often. Yellow-colored places are places where you have been less frequently, and light-blue places are places where you almost never go. You haven’t visited places without coloring (at least not with your Android smartphone/Google Maps switched on). You can zoom in and out on the map for a more detailed look, too.
How to use Location History Visualizer with Google Maps
You need to do some legwork before you can use Location History Visualizer. Sign into your Google account, go to the Google Takeout page that lets you export your Google data, and click on “Deselect All” in the top right corner above the list. Then scroll down the list to “Location history” and check the box. Doing so specifies that only your location data will be exported. Then click on “Next step.” On the next page, specify the details of the file to be exported and then click on “Create export.”
Google will now send you an email with a download link to the file with the exported data. It may take a while for the email with the download link to reach you, depending on how large the file is. The exported file may well be over a gigabyte in size if it contains a lot of location data. This depends on how long you have had your location data tracked by Google.
Download the ZIP archive to your computer via the download link in the email and unpack it. Open the unzipped folder and browse to “Location history.” You’ll find the file LocationHistory.json or Location History.json. Upload this file to Location History Visualizer, enter your email address, and then click on “Launch Heatmap.” You can then navigate through the heatmap.
Location History Visualizer’s creators emphasize evaluating your data is only done offline, and none of your location data will be sent to their servers.
If you’ve switched off the recording of your location history, Google will still create a file, but it will be empty.
This article was translated from German to English, and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.