Blocking Unhelpful Assistance

Blocking Unhelpful Assistance


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Google Assistant is a very helpful tool, allowing users through their smart speakers or devices to ask questions, set schedules, book restaurants, control smart homes, and much else. However, there are certain features that many users may find undesirable; below we list five things you might want to change to improve your Google Assistant experience.

Google used to save audio recordings when you spoke to Google Assistant so that they could be analyzed to improve the service’s algorithms. Recent changes to policy settings mean that this no longer happens unless a user opts in to the system. Nevertheless, if you have chosen to opt in or have audio recordings that were saved before the terms changed, you can either delete them or limit the amount of time Google retains them. You can do this through Assistant Settings >You >Your Data in the Assistant and >Audio Recordings.

The Continued Conversation feature means that Google will carry on listening for additional questions without the user having to repeat the “Hey, Google” instruction. This can be a useful feature, but it can become irritating if you are talking with other people and the Assistant is still listening and interpreting your words as questions. The Continued Conversation feature can be turned off in Assistant Settings >Assistant tab >Continued Conversation.

Some users may find that their smart speakers are becoming accidentally activated by normal conversation, voices on the TV or radio, et cetera. This may be because the “Hey Google” settings are too sensitive. Navigating to Assistant Settings >Assistant >”Hey Google” sensitivity allows the user to set a sensitivity level for each one of their speakers.

If you use Google’s own smart display, the Nest Hub Max, for video calling you will probably, for privacy and security reasons, want to turn the camera off when it’s not in use. Other types of smart display have physical shutters to go over the lens, but the Nest Hub Max doesn’t; instead you have to go to the back of the display and toggle the off switch. It can be difficult to remember to do this, although there is a warning light next to the lens showing whether it is on or off.

Finally, Google does save information about all the sites and apps you’ve used. If you don’t want them to hold this information, go to Assistant Settings and tap on the three dots at the top right of the screen, and then choose Google Activity Controls. This will take you to a page where you can restrict the information Google keeps on you, tell it how often it should wipe clean your saved data, and/or select the auto-delete option.