This is how you can tell if your Android phone has secretly been recording you
In this brave new world we live in, technological innovations are never far away. Whilst we eagerly awaited the day when Back to the Future-esque technology would arrive, now that we're closer than ever to flying cars and hands free gaming, it's taken on somewhat sinister connotations.
Certainly, every new day seems to dredge up some report or the other that informs us that hackers are peeping though our webcams, or that our iPhones are tracking everything from our search patterns to our sleep quality.
Additionally, platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook probably know us better than our significant other; they are aware of what foods we like, what bands we listen to and even what type of person we tend to find attractive. In essence, the technological revolution has reduced us to no more than data.
And if you thought you were safe by having avoided Apple's eponymous iPhone, think again: Android apparently has you tapped too. Earlier in the year, iPhones were accused of recording their users without their knowledge, and now Android phones are allegedly doing the same thing.
Similar to iPhone's Siri, Android users have Google Assistant. In order to "wake" the function, users simply have to say "OK Google".
Whilst this may all sound innocuous enough, the Sun recently carried out an investigation which found that the microphone is triggered to switch on and start recording whenever the user, or anyone in its vicinity says "OK". And as anyone who speaks the English language will know, we say "OK" a lot - making this extremely worrying.
The investigation found that on some occasions, saying "OK" triggered the phone to record the following conversation for up to 20 seconds. And it doesn't just end there; Google then translates what you've said into text so not only do you have an oral transcript of your personal conversations, but a written one too. So if you like a bit of harmless gossip, beware, as such evidence can be damning...
The most worrying aspect about these audio files is that they don't just remain on your phone. Google and Android's terms and conditions state that they keep such recordings in order to "improve the quality of speech recognition across Search". The files are automatically uploaded to the cloud, and they can easily be accessed on any device that is signed into the Google account that you use on your phone.
Whilst a spokesperson from Google attempted to reassure those who have become concerned about their privacy by saying that they "only process voice searches after the phone believes the hot word 'OK Google' is detected," anyone who stays up to date with the latest technological innovations will know that Google recently launched another smart assistant, Google Home. And it turns out that our conversations, no matter how intimate and personal they are, will be used to help the artificial intelligence behind Google Home by teaching them how humans communicate.
If you want to see exactly what your Android phone has recorded, it's pretty easy. You just need to sign into your Google or Gmail account and then type "history.google.com/history" into your browser. This will take you to a page which displays your entire digital footprint.
I guess we have real reason to fear a robotic takeover now...