Google makes it easier to ask the Assistant about your data privacy

Cherlynn Low
Reviews Editor
Google

2019 was not a great year for smart speaker security. Amazon, Apple and Google were all caught saving user recordings from assistant interactions without explicit permission, leading all three giants to refine their policies on that front. Google even went as far as to promise never to store recordings, adding ways for users to prevent misuse. As it continued to roll out new features for the Assistant here at CES 2020, Google also added methods to make it easier to access your privacy settings.

For example, instead of having to scroll through confusing pages to find the exact setting, you can just ask the Assistant. You can tell it to "delete everything [you] said this week" to clear cache and cookies, while a question like "How do you keep my information private?" or "Are you saving my audio recordings?" will show users what is being done with your data.

You could already tell the Assistant to remove everything you've ever said to it, but this week's launch lets you specify which time period of smart assistant commands to keep. By default, Google said it doesn't retain the audio files and you can choose whether to ask your smart speaker to ignore what it might have just heard by accident. The new commands will be available "in the next few weeks," according to the company.

Google is also continuing to make interacting with the Assistant feel as much like talking to a real person as possible. In addition to making the engine crazy fast, Google's also added things like support for follow-up questions without repeatedly saying the trigger phrase. At the convention today, Google previewed a new experience that it said "enables natural reading of long-form content." You can ask Assistant to read web pages out loud to you on your Android device by saying "Hey Google, read this page." Not only will Assistant narrate it to you in a natural-sounding voice (as opposed to a robotic lilt), but you can even ask it to translate the content into 42 languages.

This feature doesn't have a set date for availability yet, but Google is already looking into adding text highlight and auto scroll to make it easier to follow along as you read.