Voice-activated personal assistants have taken our technical lives to a whole new level of convenience. Unfortunately, that convenience comes with a price: total invasion of personal privacy. Sure, it’s great that device gadgets like SIRI listen intently to our every word when we want them to, but what about when don’t. Kind of creepy, right?
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not encouraging you to abolish your voice activated technology from your life, let’s face it, in today’s fast paced world, wasting time typing into search engines and scrolling through contacts for a phone number when you don’t have to is just plain ridiculous. But at the same time, having a device that is listening to your every word, regardless of whether it’s directed at them, can be unsettling to say the least.
Fortunately, most of these “always listening” devices can be turned off when they are not in use. Below are 3 voice-activated assistants that are always listening to you, and how to turn them off:
Amazon Echo acts as your very own personal assistant and media player and can be placed in any room of the house. You simply ask it for what your need (appointments, play a song, look up information online, etc.) in the same room as its sleek cylinder is in, and in seconds, your information will be displayed on the device of your choice.
Amazon Echo is activated by a wake word, (which by default is “Alexa”, but you can choose whatever wake word you like) which means it’s only listening after you say the wake word right? WRONG! Amazon Echo is always listening, because it is always listening for the wake word. Luckily you can easily turn Echo off when you don’t need it by pressing the microphone on/off button at the top of the unit.
Google Now’s personal assistant is also always listening for a wake word, which in Google Now’s case is “Ok Google”. Turning off Google now isn’t difficult to do, but it differs from device to device, here is how to turn off Google Now’s personal assistant on various devices:
- Locate the three horizontal lines near the top right-hand corner (it will be a small square icon next to the star)
- Click on the lines and select “Settings”
- Scroll down the page to “Search”
- Find the small box next to “Enable OK Google to start a voice search”
- If the box in unchecked OK, Google is OFF – if box is checked click on checkmark to disable listening
- Tap on the “Google Settings” app
- Tap on “Search & Now” then “Voice”
- Tap on “OK Google Detection”
- It will more than likely say “ON”, tap on it to change to “OFF”
Apple iPhone and iPad
- Go to your Google Apps (it will either be a little blue box with a “g” inside or a white circle with a multicolored “G” inside)
- Touch your photo located in the upper right corner
- Scroll up to the top of the page and touch “Voice Search”
- If the box next to “OK Google” has a checkmark in it click on the checkmark to turn it off
Since Apple’s upgrade to iOS 9, SIRI has even more capabilities than ever before. Now SIRI is able to find your photos and videos by simply telling her where and when they were taken, as well as the ability to set reminders for virtually anything. The Best part about SIRI is that she has been designed to specifically listen for your unique voice. Which actually means, yep you guessed, she is always listening.
Apple has assured its users that it will never share anything you say with anyone, not even Apple. That is until your iPhone hears you say “Hey Siri”, or possibly “hey Miri”, “Kiri”, or “dearie”, let’s not forget that as far as voice recognition has come, it’s still not without its fair share of flaws.
Luckily, those of us who have recently upgraded to iOS 9 will not have SIRI’s “always listening capabilities” on automatically. You need to activate it manually through your settings. If you have already activated SIRI and wish turn it off here’s how:
- Go “Settings”
- Select “General”
- Select “SIRI”
- Turn SIRI off