So you’ve started talking to Google Assistant in your home. Now, the last thing you want from your shiny new smart speaker toy is gadget admin but voice interactions are a bold, new way of accessing day to day services. Google is recording and storing what you, and the people you live with, are saying whenever you start your sentence with one of the wake-up words.
You can view, listen to and delete your Google Home interactions, individually or all at once, by diving into My Activity. And we'll take you through it step by step below.
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Right now, though, smart speaker users are extremely unlikely to do this on a regular basis as this limits what Assistant knows about you and your preferences and therefore, how useful it can be as an in-home helper.
How to view and delete Google Assistant recordings
Google makes it quite straightforward to access Google Home interactions but it could be complicated by how much you use Google services in your daily lives.
One by one
You need to head to your My Activity page, when you are logged into Google - there’s a link to it from the Google Home mobile app. Here you can view a history of all your interactions with Google - search, Chrome, Google Docs, Android, Maps, YouTube, Play Music/Movies. The list goes on.
So what you want to do is click on the ‘filter by date and product’ button under the search bar in the centre of the page. There you can check only Assistant which is, of course, the service which powers your Google Home. Then either click the search button for the whole list, by date, or search a specific word or phrase.
You’ll see questions you’ve asked, commands and also anything that Google Assistant picked up accidentally. (You can also get to this list via ‘Manage Your Activity’ on the main My Activity menu and selecting ‘Voice & Audio’).
Google shows you a transcript of your command/question and its response and also allows you to play back audio recordings. Note: We have found that some transcripts seem to have lost the corresponding recording in our account.
To delete an ‘item’ click on ‘Details’ underneath the transcript, then in the pop-up box click the three dots, then hit ‘Delete’.
You can also click on the three dots, then ‘Delete’ from the date box and also the Assistant session box which groups together your interactions.
Your entire history
If you want to delete your entire Google Assistant history, head to the main My Activity menu and select ‘Delete activity by’. Make sure to switch the default ‘All products” to ‘Assistant’ before you begin.
Then you can choose to delete all activity by date range - Today, Yesterday, Last 7 Days, Last 30 Days and All Time - or between two dates. Or you can delete all activity containing a keyword or topic.
Can I delete Google Assistant recordings entirely?
This is an important distinction to be aware of. Google is another tech company which does not explicitly say in its policies that if you delete your Assistant interactions (recordings or transcripts) from your own personal account this means they are deleted from Google’s own servers in its data centers.
This may change but, for now, assume your recordings - which could fall under “service-related information.. like which Google products you used and when” can still be accessed by Google “to prevent spam and abuse and to improve our services”.
As these types of smart speakers get more popular - and Google is shifting its Mini range for very affordable prices - we’d expect to see demand for much more transparency over what precisely happens to our personal recordings and transcripts.
Can other people access/delete my Google Assistant conversations?
Other people you live with might be able to access your audio logs, depending on how you have your Google accounts set up. Google points out in its own policy: “Anyone who is near your Google Home device can request information from it, and if you have given Google Home access to your calendars, Gmail or other personal information, people can ask your Google Home device about that information.”
Also, anyone with your Google password will be able to read, listen to and delete your interactions via the MyActivity page.
When it comes to third party apps, Google does share transcripts with developers and services like Uber. And it does not 100% rule out sharing audio recordings in its policy: “Q: Does the third-party service provider get an audio recording of what I said? A: Generally no. Google transcribes what you say and sends the text, but not the audio, to the third-party service provider.”