Tech

How to Tell If Your Android Phone Has Secretly Been Recording You

Saying a very common word aloud has been found to trigger a recording device on the phone
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If you've got an Android phone and you've been sharing some particularly sensitive information recently, you might want to read this. Because it turns out the smartphones might have been recording you at certain times without you ever having realised.

If you're the proud owner of an Android phone, you'll likely be aware of Google's Assistant, similar to Siri on Apple phones. In order to 'wake' Google's Assistant up, users say the words "OK Google".

But as a recent investigation carried out by The Sun revealed, sometimes all it takes to trigger the microphone to switch on and for the device to start recording is saying the word "OK". Now think back to all the times you've probably said "OK" in the vicinity of your phone in the last day—the chances are you probably can't even count.

According to The Sun, on certain occasions, the use of the word "OK" has been found to instruct the phone to record what it hears for up to 20 seconds, and to then transcribe the conversation into text.

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And here's the thing: these audio files don't just stay put on your phone. As the investigation points out, this kind of data is usually automatically uploaded to the cloud, where it can reportedly be accessed by any device that's signed into the Gmail or Google account attached to your phone.

Plus, Google Android's terms and conditions note that they keep the recordings for the purpose of "improving speech recognition against all Google products that use your voice". When quizzed on the fact that people might be being recorded without knowing or wanting to be, a Google spokesperson said:

"We only process voice searches after the phone believes the hot word 'OK Google' is detected. Audio snippets are used by Google to improve the quality of speech recognition across Search."

So now you know: you might want to watch what you're saying around your phone. It's not to be trusted.

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From: Cosmo UK

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Aaron Halevy
Aaron Halevy is a writer for Esquire.co.uk.
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