File this under the "Let's not jump to conclusions" category; but all of those Google Now voice searches you've spoken into all the devices associated with your Google account...they're all saved for you to access. All of them. Each and every voice search you've ever run against the great Google algorithms have been collected for you (and Google). That's right, when logged into your google account, head on over to the Voice & Audio Activity Page and you can scroll through the list of all your voice searches...and even play them back!
You read that correctly. All of those voice searches can be played back for your enjoyment and edification. I have to confess, it lives on this side of strange to hear those Google Now voice searches rise like ghosts from a not-too-distant past; and the paranoid in me wonders "Why?"
The answer isn't far away. If you scroll down through the long list of search items, you'll come across a very to the point message (Figure A).
The Google Voice & Audio Activity message from the Great Google itself.
Based on this message, it can be assumed that Google retains your search history so it can improve the accuracy of your voice searching. Remember, this history contains every voice search you've ever spoken (minus, of course, the "Okay Google Now" portion).
Some good news
In similar fashion to your standard Google searches, you can also delete your voice and audio activity.
Understand that, at least according to the Google message you saw above, deleting your audio search history could have the added effect of "dumbing down" your Google Now searches. That, of course, has yet to be proved. But Google does stand by their claim that retaining your history does help to inform future searches.
Nevertheless...should you want to delete some (or all) of your audio and voice activity searches, here's how:
- Log into your Google account
- Go to the Voice & Audio Activity page
- Click on the three vertical dots in the top right of the window
- Click Delete options
- Select Today, Yesterday, Or Advanced
- If you select Advanced, click either Past 4 weeks or All time from the drop-down
- Click OK
Whatever you've selected to delete will be stricken from your history.
You can also scroll through your history and delete entries one by one. To do this, simply locate the entry you want to delete, click on the associated check box, and then click Delete. You can select as many entries as you like for deletion. If you want to delete an entire dates worth of searches, you can select the checkbox for the date header and then click Delete.
For the seriously paranoid
There are those out there who will not want Google retaining their audio searches. To help curtail that level of paranoia, head on over to the Activity Controls page and turn off Your voice searches and commands (Figure B).
Disabling the saving of audio searches.
Personally, I don't mind that Google retains my search history...especially if it is used to improve my search results. You have to remember, that history is private (as in no one can see it but you), so you don't have to worry that someone is going to stumble upon your Audio & Voice history and gain access to all your hidden secrets.
Google Now is a serious convenience that you should be taking advantage of. That Google retains your search history shouldn't put you off this helpful feature. If so, all you have to do is head on over to the Voice & Audio Activity page and delete those searches.
What is your take on Google retaining these searches?
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.