It’s no mystery that Google saves a lot of your web activity. However, the company doesn’t save the recordings of audio when you speak to Google services (anymore). You can opt-in to audio recordings if you want to improve the experience, though.
In August 2020, Google stopped storing audio recordings by default. If you’ve ever used your voice to interact with Google Assistant, Google Search, Google Maps, a Google Home speaker, or any other Google service, you’ve created these audio recordings on your account.
This change happened after a bit of controversy surrounding Google (and other companies) using humans to review the accuracy of voice transcription. Audio clips that were falsely picked up by Google (all those times it thought you said “Okay Google”) were also included in these reviews. Those conversations were never meant to be recorded and especially not heard by strangers.
Google and other companies immediately paused human reviews after all of this. However, the company has now renewed to this practice, but with additional controls for customers.
What Happens if You Opt-In?
The big questions are what happens if you opt-in and why would you want to? Hopefully, answering the first question will also help you answer the second.
When you allow Google to save your audio recordings, they’re used in a couple of ways. First and foremost, Google uses the recordings to improve its audio recognition. The more data Google processes, the better it will get at voice-matching.
The recordings are also used to better recognize your voice over time. Everyone has slightly different speaking tendencies and our own unique accent. The more quirks in your voice it analyzes, the better Google can understand it.
People who created a Google account after June 2020, automatically have their web activity (including these audio recordings) deleted after 18 months. Everyone else has to manually enable auto-deletion and decide how long Google can save their activity.
At the end of that period, your audio recordings are chopped up and become anonymous. It’s only after this process that humans are allowed to review them.
Enable Google Audio Recordings
If you want to enable the audio recordings, open a web browser on your phone, tablet, or computer and go to myactivity.google.com.
Click or tap the hamburger icon at the top left.
Click or tap “Activity Controls.”
This is where you can control all of the data Google saves in your account. There are a lot of options, but we’re looking for the “Include Audio Recordings” options in the “Web and App Activity” section; select this checkbox.
You’ll see a long message about saving audio recordings. Be sure to read this thoroughly and make sure you understand how Google will use your audio recordings. Click or tap “I Agree” to proceed.
That’s all there is to it! If you ever change your mind, you can return to this page and disable recordings at any time.