Amazon Echo and Google Home—and other devices that have Alexa and Google Assistant built in—are some of the most promising new technologies to come along in years. And they’re genuinely useful to have around, whether it’s to settle a bet or help out with a recipe. But it can also feel a little creepy to have a speaker in your house that’s always listening. What exactly is it doing with that info? Where does it go?
Here’s the good news. While their microphones are always on, Google Home and Alexa don’t actually do anything with your voice until you say their “wake word,” which is usually just ‘OK Google’ or ‘Alexa’. Despite the occasional viral story that suggests otherwise, Amazon and Google truly aren’t keeping track of every single thing you say.
After you say your wake word, though, your Alexa and Google Assistant do start recording, and then whisk those clips away to the cloud. The hardware itself is pretty dumb. In order to let you know with a snap who the 23rd president was, or what the weather will be like tomorrow, or to play a Dokken deep cut, voice assistants need to be able to pull information from…
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