Your phone secretly listens to you: how to stop Google from listening

Is your Android phone still listening to you? Does Google keep a log of everything you say? And if so, what can you do about it?

In an age when every device has a microphone, and that’s made by companies that like to track what you do, these are valid questions. Let’s take a look at the facts behind Google’s recordings and how to stop your phone from listening to you.

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Does Google still listen on Android?

Before we continue, we need to explain exactly what Google logs from your Android device.

If a certain setting is enabled on your phone, say OK Google it will listen to a command. Before you say this wake-up phrase, your phone listens to the keyword OK Google , but it doesn’t log everything you say and upload it to google. Just like for concerns about Amazon Echo , constant recording of everything a device hears would result in huge amounts of unnecessary data.

Even if the keyword OK Google is not activated, you can still use voice commands (which Google also records). Tap the microphone icon in the search bar or hold the button Home to open Google Assistant will immediately prompt you for a voice command.

What Google records are the voice commands you say to your phone. If you say so OK Google, how old is Jack Black? , Google keeps the question and a few seconds of the previous audio.

How can I listen to my Google recordings?

Google offers you a portal to view all your interactions with its services. This includes voice recordings of your interactions with Google Assistant. You can see it on your phone through the category Google in the application Settings , but it’s a little easier on the web:

  1. Go to the page Google My Activity. You’ll see everything from YouTube videos you’ve watched to apps you’ve opened on your phone.
  2. Apply a filter to display only voice recordings by clicking Filter by date and product at the top, under the search bar.
  3. Then click on Deselect all under Filter by Google product , and then select only Voice and audio .
  4. Click on Apply .

You will then see a timeline of all the recordings Google has of your voice, starting with the most recent. Click on Details under an entry to see when it happened, then choose Show recording to hear it.

By default, this page groups closing events. Click on a set to expand it if necessary, or choose Item display at the top left to see them all individually.

How to stop Google from listening on Android

You can turn off Google voice recording with some toggle in your Android settings. If you want, you can also go a step further after changing that.

Disable “OK Google” on your phone

The first is to turn off detection Google OK on your phone, which you can do by doing the following:

  1. Open Settings on your phone and enter the category Google .
  2. Under Services , select Account Services .
  3. Then press Search, Assistant and Voice .
  4. Press on Voice on the resulting page.
  5. You will see an entry Voice Match ; press it.
  6. Disable the cursor Access with Voice Match to disable detection Google OK .

    1. You may also want to disable While driving to prevent it in Google Maps and Android Auto, although this is handy in these scenarios.
  7. If you want to remove the Google profile of your voice used for this feature, select Delete the voice template .

Once you do this, the Google Assistant will not respond to OK Google . Previously this was always the case when the Google app was open, but in our testing it didn’t even respond with Google Search open or on the Home screen.

Your phone will not listen so not always the key word.

Disable microphone access for the Google app

To go further, you can deny Google the application’s permission to access your microphone:

  1. Open Settings on your phone and select Apps and notifications .
  2. Press on See all X apps for a complete list.
  3. Scroll to Google and select it.
  4. Press on Permissions and select the option Microphone .
  5. Choose from refuse authorization.

Disable Google Assistant

If you want, you can completely disable Google Assistant instead:

  1. Open Settings on your phone and enter the category Google .
  2. Select Account Services> Search, Assistant and Voice .
  3. Press on Google assistant .
  4. Switch to the tab Assistant in high.
  5. Scroll down to the section Auxiliary devices and choose the name of your device (probably Phone ).
  6. Slide the google assistant to turn it off.

Turn off Google Voice history

Deactivate OK Google or Google Assistant on your Android phone does nothing for other devices you have, such as a tablet or Google Home device. Additionally, Google can still keep voice data if you do a voice search in Chrome. To pause voice history for your entire Google Account, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Google’s activity controls page and log into your account if necessary.
  2. Look for the section Web & App Activity .
  3. Uncheck the box titled Include voice and audio recordings to prevent Google from linking your voice activity to your account.

This will prevent Google from storing voice related functions with your account, which is your goal in the first place.

Once this is done, you should also delete the previous records that Google kept. Be aware that this will delete all web activity logged into your Google account, not just voice recordings. To delete a past activity:

  1. Come back to the Google My Activity page .
  2. Click on Delete activity by on the left side.
  3. Select All the time to delete everything or Custom range to define your own period. Click on Remove to erase everything you have selected.

Automatically delete Google history after a set time

Google now allows you to automatically delete activity after a certain time. This reduces the amount of information the company keeps about you without you having to do it manually all the time.

On the same page Google My Activity , click on Choose to automatically delete . This allows you to choose whether to delete your activity after three months, 18 months, or only when you delete it manually.

This is not necessary if you have turned off voice data as described above. If you left voice data on, keep in mind that this will delete all web activity, not just voice recordings.

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What does Google do with voice data?

It is important to note that outside of Google, only you can access your voice data. That is, of course, unless Google has been violated.

Google explains that it uses your voice activity to help you achieve better results on all of its products, in a number of ways:

  • Learn the sound of your voice.
  • Understand how you say words and phrases.
  • Recognize when you say OK Google .
  • Improved speech recognition among Google products that use your voice.

This is all useful, but a giant company that keeps records of what you say is of concern nonetheless. An algorithm could easily analyze this information to determine what interests you based on what you are saying.