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5 Google Assistant Features That You Should Turn Off Right Now



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Dale Smith / CNET

You can use Google Assistant to set timers, call friends or restaurants for takeout and so much more, and it̵

7;s really convenient to have Google around to answer quick questions, report on today’s weather, or control your smart home. Still, there are some things you might want to disable on your Google smart speaker or smart screen. After all, all features in Google Assistant does not suit everyone.

Whether you’re concerned about privacy or just want a more natural conversational experience, here are five things you can turn off for a simpler and more secure Google Assistant experience.

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Voice recording settings

Google recently announced changes to its voice recording privacy settings. If you do not choose to save Google, do not save your audio recordings or share them with their human analyzers to improve Google’s algorithms. However, if you have selected or previously saved audio recordings, you can choose how long Google retains them or delete them manually.

To adjust these settings, visit this link or in your home app, tap your profile picture at the top right followed by Assistant settings. There you land on You tab. Select Your tasks in the assistant and scroll down to Audio recordings. Tap to see options for saving, reviewing and deleting recordings.

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Angela Lang / CNET

Continued conversation

Continued conversation helps Google listen to follow-up questions without having to say “Hello, Google” a second time. While this is convenient, extra listening can sometimes be less than seamless, especially when you do not have a follow-up question or just ask someone another question in the room. Fortunately, you can turn off this feature.

To turn off Continued Conversation in the Home app, tap your profile picture at the top right followed by Assistant settings. In the next screen, navigate to Assistant tab. There you will see several options including Continued conversation. You will be able to turn off Continued Conversation and see which speakers it will affect.

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“Hello Google” sensitivity

If you feel that you always wake up your smart speakers by mistake, the feeling “Hey Google” may be too high. You can adjust how well your Google Assistant responds to its wake-up word if it does not hear you well enough or if it suspects other words for its wake-up word.

To adjust the sensitivity in the Home app, tap your profile picture at the top right followed by Assistant settings. In the next screen, navigate to Assistant on the tab and you see several options including “Hello Google” sensitivity. There you can adjust the sensitivity of each individual speaker in your home. Select the speaker you want to adjust and select from five settings from “least sensitive” to “most sensitive”.

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You see a solid green light next to the camera when Nest Hub Max uploads images or video to Google’s servers.

Juan Garzon / CNET

Camera settings

If you use a Google-enabled smart screen like that Nest Hub Max, Lenovo Smart Display or JBL link view, you may want to keep the camera off when you are not making video calls. Each screen does this a little differently. While JBL and Lenovo offer physical shutter options, you do not get a built-in shutter with Google’s internal screen, Nest Hub Max.

Instead, there is a toggle button on the back of the screen to disable the camera and microphone. An indicator light next to the camera lens shows the current status. This is difficult because you must remember to turn it on and off each time you use a camera function. It is important to still be able to make sure the camera is turned off when needed.

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Activity controls

Like voice recordings, Google saves information on the websites and apps you use with your Google Account. If you are concerned about privacy, adjusting these settings offers some peace of mind.

In the Home app, tap your profile picture at the top right followed by Assistant settings. Press three dots at the top right of the screen and select Google activity controls. There you will see a page with options to control what information Google collects from your online and mobile app activity. You can also enable automatic deletion and choose how often your data should be deleted.

Whether you adjust one or all of these settings, customizing your voice assistant can make the whole experience much more enjoyable. If you live in a large household, features such as Voice Match and household contacts can help everyone live in harmony with the same entities.

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