If you have a smart speaker or smart device and aren’t excited about the possibility that data, including audio, has been collected and stored, the Google Assistant may provide the answer: Guest mode.
Google is introducing new features to smart speakers and displays today. This is similar to the Google Assistant version of Chrome Secret Mode (although there are differences). When guest mode is turned on, your interactions with the assistant are not saved to your account. However, as Google points out, you also can’t take advantage of the fully personalized Google Assistant experience. In guest mode, the assistant does not say or view personalized results such as contacts, calendars, emails, etc. However, you still have access to some of the most popular features in the assistant. Control smart devices, get weather forecasts, play music, and more.
That said, Google is aware that even if the assistant doesn’t save the interaction with the assistant in guest mode, other apps and services that connect and use in guest mode may save that data. I will. For example, you can use Google Maps to search for locations or play Spotify playlists to keep a record of your requests. If you are using guest mode, you need to remember that. Because you are really doing something. I don’t want to be known to others. (I argue if it’s important to keep what you’re doing secret, you probably shouldn’t use a smart device when you do that.)
Another great thing about guest mode is that it can be used by guests, as the feature name suggests. Assuming you could safely invite people back home at some point in the future, activating guest mode when they are is to prevent the device from collecting data without your consent without your consent. It’s a great way. Or, more selfishly, their requests and preferences are not stored in your account.
Guest mode also shows a delicate balance between privacy and the usefulness of voice assistants. Smart speakers and displays work best if you know as much as possible about us and our behavior (such as human assistants), but the trade-offs are about us and our behavior, and thus The company that makes them. Depending on the use of the Google Assistant, guest mode may always work, or in certain situations, and it makes you feel a little better that the data you provide is not stored in your account. However, you may find that losing functionality is not worth it.
If you want to see for yourself what a more private and less functional smart home device looks like, you can try it now. Say “Hey Google, turn on guest mode”.
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