We know that voice assistants, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, record what we say as we speak to smart speakers and mobile devices we own. Removing these recorded data streams are easy in some cases, harder in others, but each one has their own method to follow.
Below are basic instructions on how to delete (most of your) audio files, mainly your voice recordings, off Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.
Google Assistant starts to record as soon as it hears its hot word. This is typically "OK Google" for most of us.
Then, what we say is collected by Google and stored. Google, like Amazon, Apple and also Microsoft, says that storing these recordings helps the company better its artificial intelligence (A.I.) — basically, making the A.I. smarter, and respond more naturally.
Now that people have discovered that Google, like the other three companies, has allowed humans — not A.I. — to listen to these recordings, removing them has become of interest to users.
With Google you can actually listen to what's been recorded by Google Assistant, along with what the smart assistant said to you as well.
You can delete each individual recording, or you can also record automatically everything that's been saved every three to 18 months.
We have every step detailed on how to hear and delete Google Assistant recordings, and how to make sure no one else hears them as well.
Cortana may not be as well known to smart home users as its cousins Google Assistant or Alexa, but the voice assistant is present in all of Microsoft's devices.
Finding out that recordings made through Cortana — and Skype — were overheard by people, and not an A.I. system, has left users eager to get more control over this audio data.
Microsoft does have steps on how to find and then delete Cortana audio recordings. These steps can also be used to delete audio files made when using Skype Translator feature. (Skype is owned by Microsoft.)
When it comes to getting audio data off of Apple's servers from Siri, the company does not make it easy for users.
You can remove audio data — but to do so also requires that you remove Siri from your device. This doesn't mean you can't add Siri back, but when you do, users will basically have to retrain Siri again to learn their preferences and even their voice.
More keenly, Apple will not remove everything, and instead keeps "older voice input data" for what it says is "a period of time."
But to delete what Apple's Siri has on you, follow the steps we've outlined.
Like Apple, Amazon is not exactly clear about whether what you've deleted is actually gone from its servers.
Amazon recently stated that it makes an "ongoing effort" to remove transcripts — but that is not the same as saying they're actually gone.
Nonetheless, that shouldn't deter people from trying to wipe what they can from Amazon if they want.
There are clear steps to delete Alexa recordings made to the smart assistant. You can even ask Alexa to delete everything it records through a simple voice command, rather than removing them one at a time from the company's servers. (Although you can do that too.)
Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled devices.
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