Your personal butler is not completely loyal to you, they have a habit of, well, gossiping. These assistants (Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri) make our lives easier by doing boring tasks for us like setting up reminders, looking up the meaning of a word or even powering on the lights but come with a cost and that cost is you. Your audio commands are recorded and sent to distant servers for ‘processing’. It is a major privacy concern for some users that’s why Google, Amazon, and Apple now offer a way to delete your conversations with the Assistants from their servers. Let’s take a look at how.
Whenever you ask your Assistant to do anything for you, it is basically recording your voice and sending it(both the audio and the transcripts) to their servers to make sense of the words you just said. Ideally, after executing the command your voice recordings should be deleted but Google, Amazon, and Apple keep a copy on their server to “improve” their services. However, you can opt-out of this practice by following the steps below.
1. Delete Voice Recordings from Siri
Unlike Amazon and Google, Apple didn’t offer its users an option to delete their voice recordings until the Guardian broke the story about Siri contractors listening to confidential info. Thankfully, in their latest iOS update (13.2), you can choose to delete your existing recordings and opt-out of the grading service.
Pull out your iPhone and make sure it is updated to the latest iOS version (13.2 and above). If it isn’t, you can navigate to General > Software Update to update the software.
After the iPhone has been updated, navigate to Settings > Siri & Search > tap Siri & Dictionary History > Delete Siri & Dictionary History.
You’d get a message that would read “Your Request was received: History will be deleted”. It would take some time to delete the recordings from the Apple Servers. Apple doesn’t tell you when the recordings will be deleted, we’d just have to take Apple’s word for now.
Now, this step only deletes the past recordings and Siri would continue to record any future conversations. There is no way to stop the recordings unless you disable Siri but you can stop being part of the Improve Siri Program where Contractors listen to your recordings. To opt-out of the program, go to Settings > Privacy > Analytics and Improvements > toggle Improve Siri & Dictation.
2. Delete Voice Recordings from Google Assistant
Google has offered this feature for a while but never advertised it, because you know, who doesn’t like free data. Anyway, you can easily delete all the conversations you had with Google Assistant or Google Home, either from a web browser or your phone. In this article, I’ll show you how to delete your conversations with Google Assistant on mobile, but the steps are also the same for mobile.
Grab your phone and enter the URL myactivity.google.com on your web browser. You would have to log in with the same Google account which is linked with your Google Assistant. After logging in, tap the hamburger menu icon on the top left corner to reveal the list of options. Tap ‘Activity Controls’ to reveal a new page.
In Activity Controls page, scroll down to Voice & Audio Activity. Tap Manage Activity button to load the settings page. Here you can delete all the voice commands you’ve ever given to Google Assistant. To delete the voice recordings, tap the options button as shown in the image below and select ‘Delete activity by’.
You get a few options to delete the data by date. You can choose a time frame according to your choice or tap ‘All-time’ to erase all the recordings Google has ever stored on their Servers. Tap ‘Delete’ after selecting the option.
Now, Google bargains before it lets you delete the recordings by giving you a prompt on how recordings make the experience better. Tap ‘Ok’ and then it would show you another prompt which will tell you that the process is irreversible, Tap ‘Delete’ to permanently delete the recordings from the server.
Now, that you’ve deleted all the recordings, you might feel relieved but wait, there’s more. Google Assistant would continue to record your future conversations with the Assistant so if you are keen on keeping things private then you must turn this feature off.
Thankfully, Google lets you turn the recording feature off entirely which is great as it shows you their definitive stand on privacy. You can do this by turning off Voice and Activity Controls. Tap ‘ Change Settings’ button under Voice & Activity then slide the toggle ‘Voice & Audio Activity’ to off.
It would again show you a prompt that turning off the feature may affect the service which is true but that’s the cost of privacy in 2019.
3. Delete Voice Recordings from Alexa
Amazon and Google both let you delete your conversations with their virtual assistants. However, Unlike Google, Amazon doesn’t let you pause audio recordings.
To enable this feature, you would have to go to your Amazon account using the web browser. The steps are similar for both Desktop and mobile so you won’t have any problems following these steps. Go to Amazon.com on your web browser and log in with your Amazon credentials. Tap your Profile icon on the top, right next to the cart icon. It will open a list of options, select ‘Content and Devices’ under Account and Settings.
Look for ‘Alexa Privacy’ under Manage your Content and Devices. It would load a few options on the page, select ‘Review Voice History’ to proceed.
On the Review Voice History page, you’ll see ‘Enable deletion by Voice’. Slide the Toggle and turn this feature ON. It would show you a warning that enabling this feature would allow anyone to delete your voice recordings just by voice command, Tap ‘Enable’ to activate the feature.
Now, You can just ask Alexa to delete the recordings from the Amazon servers. It is comparatively better because Google doesn’t have this feature yet but on the other hand, Google can turn on recording permanently.
To delete your recordings by voice just say the following phrase and it would erase all the voice recordings of that day from the servers.
Alexa, delete everything I said today.
If you want to delete all the voice recordings, just select ‘All history’ as the Date Range under the toggle option and tap ‘Delete All Recordings for All History’ button. It would show a prompt with a warning, tap ‘Yes’.
Delete your Conversations with Google Assistant and Alexa
These were the methods to delete your audio conversations with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri. While these services need your past conversations to offer a more natural experience, it shouldn’t be mandatory. You can delete your conversations with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri but only Google lets you turn off the recording permanently. Should Amazon and Apple follow suit and allow you to turn off the recording permanently? Tell us in the comments below.