Smart speakers (and mobile devices, when they have features like “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google”) don’t always hear everything and the way you might think. Instead, they always listen to a voice command that energizes them. And they don’t always register you. They record and download audio only when they hear the voice command.
Sure, sometimes they hear the voice command incorrectly. A smart speaker, smartphone, or smartwatch might think it hears “Hey Siri,” “Hey Google,” or “Alexa” and start listening, even when we don’t exactly mention that phrase. Unless you do so, the resulting sound can then be heard by a human for quality assurance purposes Change your privacy settings to prevent employees and third parties from listening to your recordings.
So, if you don’t like the idea of being always listening, but the comfort of voice assistants is a must, there is an alternative: activate the assistant by pressing and holding a button instead of using a voice command.
Here’s how it works on popular devices:
IPhone: Press the side button and start talking to Siri right away. On an iPhone that has a home button, press the home button and start talking right away.
IPad: Press the home button and start talking right away. On iPads that don’t have a home button, press the top button and start talking right away.
Apple Watch: Press the digital crown on the side of the watch and start talking immediately.
Android: Long press the Home button to launch the Google Assistant. (This may vary depending on the device.)
Windows 10: Click the “Cortana” button to the right of the search box on the left side of the taskbar.
Mac: Click the “Siri” button to the left of the clock in the upper right corner of the Mac screen.
Whenever you want to talk to your voice assistant, just press the button and start speaking. If you find this solution suitable enough, you can disable voice commands like “Hey Siri”, “Hey Google” and “Hey Cortana” in your device’s settings.
Unfortunately, smart speakers do not offer a way to disable the Always Listen feature. It makes sense: Would you really come close to a smart speaker if every time you wanted to give a command to actually push the button?
However, The smart speakers allow you to disable their microphones to interrupt the continuous listening feature. But you will not be able to speak to the smart speaker until you restart the microphone.
For example, suppose you routinely use a smart speaker in the kitchen. You can turn off the microphone most of the time and only turn it on as an aid to the fireplace. Or, let’s say you have guests who are uncomfortable with the smart speaker recording features – you can mute the microphone while they visit.
Look for a button on the device that temporarily disables the continuous listening feature. For example:
Amazon Echo: Click the microphone button at the top of the device. When the light turns red, the microphone turns off.
Google Home: Press the microphone button on the back of the device.
Google Nest Mini: Turn on the microphone switch next to the power cord. It will turn orange when the microphone is disabled.
Google Nest Hub: Turn on the switch on the back of the device near the top of the screen. An orange LED will appear over the screen to indicate that the microphone is off.
Apple HomePods: Apple HomePods don’t have a physical mute switch, but you can say “Hey Siri, stop listening” to mute the microphone. You need to use the Home app to reactivate the microphone later.
Now it’s up to you, how much you listen to your smart speakers.
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