Whether you’re trying to win an argument in a bar or simply trying to get to your friend’s house afterwards, the convenience of Google’s Voice Search knows few bounds.
Unfortunately, those bounds to not include immediately deleting everything you search for, and not listening to everything you say.
Thankfully however there is a record of everything you’ve ever searched for using your voice, or typed into a search bar which you can peruse and manage at your own discretion, but something rather sneaky becomes apparent once you start trawling through your records, Google is recording more than your searches.
The nature of Google’s Voice search, especially if you’re using Google Now on an Android smartphone or tablet, is that it is always listening out for you to say “Ok Google” and it can from time to time record things you might not want people to hear.
As an example, I stumbled upon a recording from about a year ago that was most certainly not a Google search but part of a conversation. Granted, nothing incriminating was said, save a few choice cuss words, but the concern for me at least is that Google could have recorded other things, things that I might not want it to record.
Browsing through the recordings I felt like I was going through something of a journal where I could listen to myself saying things like “take me home” and “what is the nearest PC games store to me”, you can even see which app was used and the exact time the recording happened.
To find your recordings you’ll need to head to the Google history page and sign into any accounts you may have linked to a smartphone that you’ve used voice search on.
Once you’ve logged in you can delete recordings one at a time or open the menu (that’s the three dots at the top right of the page) and select Advanced to delete recordings from specific dates or select them all and obliterate them from existence.
Well, at least that’s what it looks like from your end, we aren’t sure whether Google keeps a record of these recordings for its own use but its safer to assume they do.
What if you don’t want Google to store any voice recordings? Well you can head to the same history page and in the menu select Settings and switch the option marked “Your voice searches and commands” off.
Once that is switched off though you will have to abandon any plans you have to use voice search again because voice search does require that the aforementioned setting be switched on.
So essentially users have Hobson’s choice then, use voice search and try to enjoy the convenience knowing that Google is always listening or switch it off and live a life where you have to type everything and still let Google track everything search for. Which will you choose?