Why Google is sending an email about audio recordings and what changes

Google is sending an email in which it warns about changes in the settings for audio recordings. Here's what changes

In the last hours Google is sending to all its Italian users (but also in the rest of the World), an email with a very particular subject "We have updated your setting for voice and audio recordings". What does it mean? If you read the text of the email you'll get a better idea of what the change is about: "We have recently updated the setting for voice and audio recordings in your Google Account and have included more details about how Google uses these recordings to improve its products and the technologies you use."

Many may not know it, but within your Google Account there is a section dedicated to your history, with all the activities performed through your profile. Searches made on the web, Maps history and lots of other such information. Including also the recordings of voice searches made with Google Assistant. For example, if we ask our Android smartphone "Ok Google, what's the weather like in Rome today?", the audio recording is added to our Google profile.

From today (August 5, 2020) this will no longer be the case. Google, in fact, has disabled by default on all profiles the automatic saving of audio recordings. It will be up to the user to decide whether he wants to continue saving audio searches on his Google profile, in total autonomy.

What changes for users with this update

Google has decided to give its users more control over the audio recordings saved on their personal profile. Until now, all searches done via Google Assistant were saved in the "Activity" section of the Google profile, but from now on, this will no longer be the case.

The Mountain View company has decided to change the setting to provide more privacy to users and more control over their personal settings. For users, this is a big change from the past, not least because many were unaware that voice recordings were saved to their account by default and used by Google (on a sample basis) to improve understanding of Google Assistant.

Google specifies, however, that the setting does not affect any of the previously saved audio data, which will remain present on their profile. The user, however, has the option to delete them at any time by accessing the "Activity" page of the Google profile.

Why Google changed the setting for voice recordings

Google's decision comes in the wake of an investigation carried out last year by a Belgian newspaper that revealed how the Mountain View company had some of its employees listen to audio recordings saved on Google profiles to improve the voice assistant's capabilities. Google admitted the activity, saying that only 0.2% of the recordings were entrusted to some employees to refine the capabilities of Google Assistant.

The investigation went on and showed that Google was not the only company listening to users' recordings: the same activity was carried out by Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. Now Google wanted to give its users the possibility to better manage this aspect and disable it by default on all profiles

How to change the voice recordings setting on Google

Requests sent to Google Assistant are no longer saved on your Google account. This is the gist of the email sent by Big G to its users since August 5, 2020. The Mountain View company used these audio recordings, as explained in the email, to "improve audio recognition technologies, so that products like the Google Assistant can understand spoken language even better in the future".

Now it must be the user to give Google this permission, by clicking on the "Check Settings" button (present in the email) and clicking on "Audio recordings" in the page that will open us. After clicking on the item, a text will appear on the screen in which Google explains in depth what determines the activation of the function. By clicking Accept, all Google Assistant audio recordings will be saved to your profile