Android devices may be hearing more than you think, and they may be keeping track of it all somewhere you’ve never really looked.
Through the Google voice search feature, users on all platforms that have a Google app have been able to conduct their internet explorations verbally for some time. It’s an easy to use feature, and one that helps you with hands-free searching.
But most people probably don’t know that Google is keeping track of these searches too… and in a different location from the rest of your search history.
If you’ve ever used a Google voice search, you might want to go check out that link above right now.
But even for those with clean search histories, it’s worth taking a look to make sure Google didn’t “hear” anything you didn’t want it to hear. Especially if you’re an Android user.
On Android phones, anyone can say the phrase “Ok Google” within an earshot of an Android phone, and the phone will start listening, expecting orders. You may not realize it’s been activated, and you may not realize it’s stored part of an intimate conversation, or whatever else it picked up.
Accidental voice command activation happens, and saying something too close to “Ok Google” or hitting the wrong button at the wrong time could store any speech your smartphone is able to pick up. Something like “Itchy goggles” would probably trigger it on Android platforms.
Take a deep breath, and don’t toss your phone in the pool; it’s not like Google is recording every word you say whenever the device is on. But much the same way a poorly timed butt dial can have some negative effects on your life, that voice search is a hazard if you’re not careful.
Google is already under the microscope for the vast stores of location data it keeps.
Luckily, this particular data, like your normal search history, is fairly easy to delete. Just go to the voice history page (link earlier in the story) and delete it all through menu commands.
Peace of mind–for a moment anyway.
This story has been updated to clarify information about how and when Google Voice search stores information.