Google Maps is perhaps the handiest app on your iPhone, and even though Apple released its own mapping service back in 2012, many users still prefer the Google alternative. However, with the new privacy label shown in last week’s release, you may change your mind.
The Google Maps app is collecting a large amount of data linked to your identity, including your contacts, browsing history, contact info and usage data. Data is how Google makes money and it needs data to help serve ads to its users, but many will be surprised how much personal data is being collected from a mapping application.
Apple recently changed its privacy policies, forcing app developers to ask your permission to be tracked across other apps. Meanwhile, from iOS 14, apps are required to provide more detailed information as to what data is being collected by the app itself. The iOS 14.5 update is due to make App Tracking Transparency (ATT) a requirement.
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So, what’s the alternative? If you compare the app privacy labels of Google Maps and Apple Maps, you’ll see that while Apple Maps still collects data, this is not linked to your identity. It still gathers your search history, usage data and location, but is not tied to your personal details. According to a Forbes report on the subject, Google claims that the actual data collected depends on the specific features being used, for instance only collecting voice data if voice commands are used. However, this is unlikely to ease the concern.
There is a way to limit the data shared in Google Maps though. By turning on the Incognito mode in maps, the app will not save your browser and search history or update your location history. This can be done in the map settings in the app. You can also review and delete your location data, including your app activity and ad personalization, found under ‘Your Data in Maps’.
While many of us accept that there is bound to be some amount of data tracking in apps, the amount of linked data captured – or potentially captured – by Google seems excessive. While Google Maps may still have the edge over Apple Maps for driving, street view and business locations, we’ll be reconsidering which option to take on our next journey.