"When an app or service is free, the price to pay is your data." Nothing is free in this life, and the collection of personal data has become a valuable and common bargaining chip among today's technology companies.
In this sense, one of the issues that most worries people is the possibility that certain apps record or record everything we say from the mobile microphone. Is there a way to restrict this access?
What exactly is Google listening to?
If we have an Android phone, we will surely have asked ourselves this same question at some time. As we all know, any device with the Google operating system, be it a tablet or smartphone, incorporates a microphone. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to think that our conversations may be being recorded. But to what extent?
If the Google Assistant is activated, saying “OK Google” will enable it to listen for a specific command. But before that, to be able to hear the activation keyword ("OK Google"), it is clear that the assistant must already be with the ear previously placed. Does that mean that Google is recording everything it picks up through the microphone, before and after, and uploading it to their servers?
The truth is that if that were the case, Google's servers would be overloaded and full of irrelevant or useless data. However, lor that Google does register, are the voice commands that we launch after saying “OK Google”.
For example, if we say “OK Google, how old is Jordi Hurtado?”, Google will be left with the question and with a few seconds of previous audio.
How to listen to the audio recordings recorded by Google
We can listen to all the recordings that Google has stored from the page My Activity of Google.
- Click on "Filter by date and product”.
- In section "Filter by Google Product"We uncheck the tab"All the products”.
- We mark the tab "Voice and audio”And click on the search button.
In this way, we will see a chronological list of all the recordings that Google has recorded over time. We can even reproduce them and listen to our own voice, clicking on the "Play" button located next to each query.
Note: We can also delete all these recordings by clicking on the upper drop-down menu from the option "Delete results”.
How to disable the microphone for any application
The truth is that Google is not the only company that collects and stores this type of data. Any app that has access to the microphone of the phone or tablet can save our phrases or conversations and do whatever they see fit with them.
A good way to prevent it is blocking access to the microphone. If we have an Android phone, we can do it as follows:
- We open the mobile settings menu and enter "Apps and notifications”.
- Let's go until "Advanced -> App permissions -> Microphone”.
- Here we will see a list of all the apps that require access to the device's microphone. If we see an application that we do not want to use the microphone, just uncheck its corresponding tab. For example, if we want to completely block the microphone for the Google Voice Assistant, we will deactivate the “Google” app tab.
In this way, we can choose which applications can use the microphone and which cannot. For example, it makes sense that the Phone app needs to access the microphone. However, we may not be so interested that Facebook or any random game can make use of it.
Be careful, because this is a delicate matter, and if we remove accesses "at random" it is possible that some application stops working correctly. If so, it will be enough to return to this same menu and undo the changes.
How to prevent Google from recording our conversations
If this seems too "drastic" and all we want is to deactivate OK Google, we can also do it with a couple of less invasive settings.
Method # 1: Disable the "OK Google" function
The first method consists of disable OK Google activation command. Thus, the microphone will only be activated when we open the Voice Assistant app.
- We open the Android system settings and enter the category "Google”.
- Let's go until "Search, Assistant and Voice"And click on"Voice”.
- Finally, within this menu, we select "Voice Match"And deactivate the tab"Access with Voice Match”.
Method # 2: Completely disable the Google Assistant
Finally, we can also go one step further and completely disable the Google Assistant. To do this, we are going to “Settings -> Google -> Search, Assistant and Voice " and click on "Google Assistant”.
In this new window, we do a lateral scroll to go to the submenu "Assistant"And click on"Assistant Devices -> Phone”. Here we will find a tab called “Google Assistant”. We deactivate it.
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