Google Is Quietly Recording You. Here's How To Hear The Audio

By | 3:09 AM Leave a Comment

Here's the thing about Google: The company is really, really good at collecting information.

After all, that's their business. Google collects, stores, and analyzes data; ultimately, every single one of their products does something with information organization.
Perhaps that's why we're not shocked by the revelation that Google stores voice recordings for Android smartphone users. However, many Android users are unaware that they're making these recordings—and they're a bit disturbed.
If you've got an Android smartphone, you know that the operating system has an "Okay, Google" feature. Say, "Okay, Google," and the phone will start listening; if you tell it to search for landmarks in your area, it will analyze your voice, then pull up a relevant list of landmarks on Google Maps. Tell it to play a song by a certain artist, and it'll oblige. Ask it to transcribe a text message for your friends, and it'll get to work.
It's an extremely useful feature, similar to Apple's Siri. However, in order to work, it needs to transfer audio to Google's servers for processing. The disturbing part? It stays there.
You can click here to see your account's recorded audio. Click on the three dots next to any "voice and audio" listing to delete the data, or if you're feeling adventurous, click the "Play" button to hear your own slightly distorted voice. The distortion, we presume, is to help the computers figure out what you're saying.
Google's Activity Controls page notes that by storing audio recordings, the software can become more accurate. You can use the Activity Controls (linked from that page up there) to turn off the audio recording option; however, Google's support page has this to say:
"When Voice & Audio Activity is off, voice inputs won't be saved to your Google Account, even if you're signed in. Instead, they may only be saved using anonymous identifiers."
That certainly sounds like the service continues to save your audio recordings when you turn the feature off. Creepy, right?

If that creeps you out, well, there's a much creepier secret hiding in your user history.

Check out the Google Location timeline and prepare to be seriously disturbed. You can find the page here.
This is a complete location profile of every place you've ever been (provided that you had your smartphone with you at the time). Google says that it's only accessible to you, but it's still pretty overwhelming; the site knows where your home is, where you work, and every place you've been on vacation.
Logically, we knew that this information was in Google's servers, and actually, the business is being pretty transparent by posting all of the data online for easy access. Google users can delete their stored information and stop their Android devices from tracking their data, all through the same Activity page.
Of course, if you do that, your phone will become less accurate when you use it to plan travel routes or find local businesses. Still, some would argue that this is a small price to pay for privacy.