The Best Privacy-Friendly Alternatives to Google Maps

Google Maps is utilized by extra than a billion persons each month. And all those persons deliver in extra than 20 million instructed updates each individual day. Better directions for you, extra knowledge for Google.


This tale at first appeared on WIRED Uk.

There are factors why so several persons use Google Maps: It is arguably the best mapping assistance to use and has the most up-to-day knowledge accessible. But it wouldn’t be a Google products if it didn’t obtain tons of knowledge about you. This can be gathered as a result of the Maps app, but also the GPS location options of the cellular phone that is always in your pocket. As a consequence, there’s a great deal Google is aware of about your whereabouts.

The extent of what Google is aware of can be observed on your location timeline. All the tiny red dots demonstrated on the map expose where you have been and when. For me, it displays 461 sites that I frequented right before I turned the location options off at the start of 2019. (The most frequent: predictably, my residence and WIRED’s London office environment.)

If you want to transform off location knowledge you can do this as a result of your Google account here. There are also options to car-delete upcoming location history each three or 18 months. This will quit Google from collecting knowledge about your location when you are not applying its providers.

You may also want to transform off internet monitoring and activity, as other Google providers and solutions can acquire information about your location. “Location knowledge may be saved as section of activity on Search and Maps when your Net & Application Activity placing is on, and provided in your photographs depending on your camera app options,” the business says.

Location knowledge is different from the other styles of knowledge Google gathers about you: Making use of mapping providers without providing absent your location is really difficult. There’s just one point you can do on your cellular phone to restrict how significantly knowledge Google Maps gathers: restrict when Google Maps can accessibility your location. As a result of Android and iOS options you can restrict Maps’ ability to accessibility your location to when the app is in use, fairly than at all situations.

A genuinely non-public maps assistance doesn’t really exist for each platform. But there are other options out there that never retailer and acquire as significantly of your knowledge or feed it back into a bigger profile of you. Below are the alternatives you could take into account, and we’ve highlighted where there may be probable privacy trade-offs you have to make.


OpenStreetMap is the Wikipedia of apps—it’s constructed by the persons who use it and all the information is open up knowledge, that means any individual can reuse the maps for everything. It is held up to day by persons applying GPS products, aerial photography, and other totally free resources of information. If you go someplace and the map isn’t correct, then you can develop an account and advise alterations.

There aren’t several fancy functions, but it’ll give you directions (via motor vehicle, bike, or foot) and is run by a nonprofit corporation. Its privacy policy says some restricted knowledge is gathered but this isn’t connected to user profiles. You never have to log in to use it and there are also no adverts of any type.

OpenStreetMap is mostly internet-based mostly. It is optimized for smartphones, but there aren’t any official applications furnished by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. There are, however, third-occasion applications that use its knowledge. These are inclined to appear with trade-offs. Maps.Me has downloadable maps that can be utilized offline, but also has adverts.


This mapping app is made applying OpenStreetMap’s knowledge but it also will come with a host of additional options you can use. These involve map downloads for offline use, journey guides, and ski maps.