There's been a lot of attention lately on digital assistants and what the companies behind them do with users' audio recordings, and today Google announced that it's making improvements with Google Assistant.
Google says that by default, it doesn't store audio recordings and that that won't change. Users can opt-in to the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) setting when enabling Google Assistant for the first time, which Google says helps the Assistant to better recognize your voice over time. With this setting enabled, Google uses "small samples" of audio to help it better understand more languages and accents.
In the future, Google plans to highlight the fact that with VAA enabled, human reviewers might listen to your audio samples. Existing Google Assistant users will also be able to review their VAA setting and confirm their choice before any human reviewing resumes. Google recently paused its audio reviewing practice after news of it came out.
Google also plans to adding greater security to its audio sample review process. Currently, audio samples are not associated with user accounts, and around 0.2 percent of all audio snippets are reviewed by humans. Going forward, Google plans to add another layer of privacy filters.
Another step Google is taking is to reduce accidental Google Assistant activations. One way it's doing this is by letting you adjust how sensitive your devices are to the "Hey Google" hotword.
Finally, Google is updating its policies to "vastly reduce" the amount of audio samples it stores. For users who have already opted in to VAA, Google plans to delete the "vast majority" of audio data associated with your account that's older than a few months. These updated policies will take effect later this year.