Your Phone Is Secretly Always Recording: How to Stop Google From Listening

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Your Phone Is Secretly Always Recording: How to Stop Google From Listening

Is your phone always listening in? Is Google recording everything you say? And if that’s the case, what can you do about it?

These are reasonable issues in an era where every gadget has a microphone and is manufactured by firms that benefit from monitoring what you do. Let’s look at the facts behind Google’s recordings and how you can prevent your phone from listening in.

Is Google Always Listening on Android?

Before we proceed, we need clarify what Google records from your Android smartphone. While we’ll go over how to keep Google from eavesdropping on iPhone later, we’ll concentrate on Android for now since it’s more important.

If a certain option on your Android phone is enabled, saying “OK Google” or “Hey Google” will trigger it to listen for a command. Your phone is listening for keywords before you utter this wake phrase, but it is not recording everything you say and transmitting it to Google.

Similarly to the Amazon Echo worries, continually recording and storing everything a gadget hears might result in massive volumes of worthless data. If you’re curious, we’ve looked into whether your phone listens to you for more relevant adverts.

You can utilize voice commands even if you don’t have the “OK Google” wake word activated (which Google records too).Tapping the microphone icon in the search bar or starting Google Assistant will both ask you for a voice command right away.

Google does record the voice instructions you give your phone. If you say, “OK Google, how old is Jack Black?” Google saves the recording of your inquiry, as well as a few seconds of previous audio.

How Do I Listen to My Google Recordings?

Google offers a gateway through which you may examine all of your interactions with its services. Voice recordings of your conversations with Google Assistant are included. You can access this on your phone by going to the Google category in the Settings app, but it’s a little simpler to do it online:

  1. Navigate to Google My Activity. This includes anything from YouTube videos to applications you’ve accessed on your Android phone.
  2. By choosing Filter by date & product at the top of the list, beneath the search box, you may limit the results to solely voice recordings.
  3. Scroll down and check both the Assistant and Voice and Audio boxes to see all recorded activity. By utilizing the Filter by date area at the top, you may choose a time limit, such as the last 30 days.
  4. Click Apply.

You’ll then see a chronology of all the recordings of your speech behavior that Google possesses, beginning with the most recent. Click Details beneath an entry to discover when it happened, then View recording to listen to it. Click the X button to the right of the item to delete the recording.

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How to Stop Google From Listening on Android

You may deactivate Google’s speech recording by flipping a switch in your Android settings. You may even proceed farther after modifying this if you like. The steps below are for stock Android; the method may differ somewhat based on your device.

Turn Off “OK Google” on Your Phone

The first step is to disable the “OK Google” detection on your Android phone by doing the following:

  1. Navigate to the Google category in your phone’s Settings.
  2. Go to Google Apps Settings > Search, Assistant, and Voice.
  3. On the resulting page, choose Voice.
  4. You should see a Voice Match option; press it.
  5. To stop “OK Google” detection, deactivate the Hey Google slider.

After you do this, Google Assistant on your Android phone will no longer reply to “OK Google.” As a result, your phone will no longer be constantly listening for that term.

Turn Off “OK Google” in Google Maps and Android Auto

If you don’t want Google to listen when you’re using Google Maps or Android Auto, deactivate Google Assistant speech recognition for those applications individually. Both approaches lead to the same menu.

To deactivate “Hey Google” with Android Auto, launch the app. Tap the “Hey Google” detection item in the General section. Instead, open Google Maps and touch your profile image in the top-right corner to deactivate it. Select Settings > Navigation Settings > Google Assistant > “Hey Google” detection.

In any case, deactivate the While driving slider on the subsequent page to prevent Google Assistant recognition in both Google Maps and Android Auto. You may also choose Delete voice model to remove the voice profile that Google has associated with your account.

Keep in mind that using hands-free access to play music and seek directions while driving is a safer option, so you may not want to deactivate “Hey Google” when driving.

Turn Off Microphone Access for the Google App

To go even farther, you may deny the Google app access to your microphone by doing the following steps:

  1. Select Apps & Notifications from the Settings menu on your phone (on Android 12, this is just Apps).
  2. Tap Get all X applications to see a complete list of everything you’ve installed.
  3. Scroll down and click Google.
  4. Tap Permissions and then pick Microphone.
  5. Select Deny or Don’t grant this permission. You must accept the warning that certain elements of your device may not function properly.

How to Disable Google Assistant Completely

You may even fully deactivate Google Assistant if you like. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Navigate to the Google category in your phone’s Settings.
  2. Go to Google Apps Settings > Search, Assistant, and Voice.
  3. Tap Google Assistant.
  4. Scroll down and tap General from the lengthy list of choices.
  5. To deactivate Google Assistant, turn off the slider. Before proceeding, you must confirm your selection.
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How to Stop Google From Listening on Your iPhone

Google’s presence is presumably less prevalent if you use an iPhone. Google Assistant is a different app for iOS. Because it can’t listen for the “Hey Google” keyword until the app is open, you don’t have to worry about it always listening. If you’re worried about Google Assistant listening in on your iPhone conversations, just delete the app.

In the meanwhile, you may disable “OK Google” detection in the main Google app for iPhone. Open the Google app, touch your profile image in the upper right corner, and then choose Settings. Select Voice and Assistant, then deactivate the “OK Google” hotword slider to prevent the app from doing voice searches.

You may also refuse microphone rights for the Google app (and the Google Assistant app, if you keep it around).To do so, navigate to Settings > Privacy > Microphone on your iPhone. Disabling the slider for Google and/or Google Assistant prevents them from accessing your microphone at all.

How to Turn Off Google Voice History

Turning off “OK Google” or Google Assistant on your phone has no effect on other devices, such as a tablet or a Google Nest device. Furthermore, if you do a voice search in Chrome, Google may retain speech data.

To stop voice history across your whole Google account, take these steps:

  1. Visit Google’s Activity Controls page and sign in if necessary.
  2. Above the list of things, choose the Web & App Activity area.
  3. To prevent Google from associating your voice activity to your account, uncheck the option entitled Include voice and audio activities.

When you do this, Google will be prevented from retaining audio recordings of voice functions on your account, which is your goal when you want Google to cease listening.

You should also erase any previous recordings that Google has retained. You have the option of deleting all previous Google activity or only your voice conversations. To remove all previous activity linked with your Google account, follow these steps:

  1. Back to the Google My Activity page.
  2. On the left, click Delete activity by.
  3. Choose All time to erase everything, or Custom range to choose your own time frame. To delete everything you’ve chosen, click Delete.

If you simply want to remove voice activity, select Filter by date & product, then check Voice and Audio beside any other forms of activity you wish to delete. After you’ve applied the filters, click Delete to remove them entirely.

Automatically Delete Google History After a Set Time

Google enables you to remove your activity once a specified period of time has elapsed. This decreases the amount of information the corporation retains on file about you without requiring you to do it manually all of the time.

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Click Web & App Activity once again on the same Google My Activity screen. Choose an auto-delete option at the bottom of the box. You may opt to remove your Google activity automatically after three months, 18 months, 36 months, or never.

This isn’t essential if you’ve already disabled voice recordings. Keep in mind that if you leave voice recordings enabled, auto-deleting will delete all online activity, not just voice recordings.

What Does Google Do With Voice Data?

It’s vital to understand that only you have access to the voice data saved in your Google account, not Google. That is, unless an attacker infiltrated Google or someone gained access to your account. You can secure your Google activities to defend against the latter.

Google notes that it utilizes your speech activity to improve results across its products in ways such as:

  • Getting to know the sound of your own voice.
  • Recognize how you utter words and phrases.
  • When you say “OK Google,” it recognizes your voice.
  • Google devices that utilize your voice are becoming better at speech detection.

This is all helpful, but the fact that one of the world’s largest organizations is keeping track of what you say is disturbing. Based on what you say, an algorithm might easily read this information and figure out what you’re interested in, synthesis a counterfeit version of your voice, or conduct other nefarious acts.

Using Google Assistant Without Voice

Unless you disable the function altogether, you can still use Google Assistant without using your voice.

Tap the keyboard symbol in the bottom-right corner once you’ve started Google Assistant. This allows you to enter a Google Assistant command. It will reply just as though you had spoken it.

This is less convenient, but it is the price of improved privacy. Of course, just using Google Assistant allows Google to know what you’re interested in and monitor you. If you’d prefer avoid this, consider DuckDuckGo for Android.

Is My Phone Listening? You’re in Control

We’ve discussed what Google listens for on your Android phone, how to remove your voice history data, and how to stop this recording. Disabling these features may cause some difficulty, but knowing that Google isn’t recording what you say is worth it.

Your PC most likely contains a microphone as well. Remember that this might also pose a privacy concern.

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