You’ve spoken with Apple’s Siri. Maybe you’ve given Microsoft’s Cortana a try, or even Google Now’s always-listening OK Google.
All these virtual personal assistants are incredible, if slightly creepy advances in technology. Just speak into your computer’s microphone, or into your smartphone, and just like that your personal assistant is answering your questions.
“Is my flight canceled?” or “How do I get to Wal-Mart?” In seconds, your virtual assistant is speaking back to you, with the answers you need. That’s just touching the surface of what these powerful voice-command systems can help you with.
In fact, we recently told you about features and functions on Google Now that you’re probably not using yet. With Google, you start your questions with “OK, Google,” then go from there.
OK Google will answer everyday questions like, “Did the Dow close up today?,” to more important stuff like, “Call Mom,” or “What is 5,000 euros in dollars?”
That’s cool. So, what could possibly be the problem with “OK, Google?” Well, there’s this: Google is listening to you right now.
You’ve butt dialed before, so you know how this works. You take your smartphone out of your pocket and realize, not only is it on, but you just left a friend a 10-minute voicemail of you walking through the mall.
At least, you hope that’s all they heard! Or, you’re about to make a call on your smartphone when you realize you never turned off the GPS that got you home from a meeting.
The point is, your smartphone is sometimes doing things you don’t want it to. That can be dangerous, especially if a hacker is on the other side of the screen, listening to everything you say or watching everything you do.
Scary. So, turn off Google’s always-listening OK Google, if you’re not using it. Here’s how.
If you’re using Google’s Web browser Chrome, or its Chromebook computers, turning off OK Google is as easy as turning it on.
Near the top, right-hand corner of your screen are three horizontal lines. It’s a little square icon to the right of the star. Click on those lines, then choose Settings.
Scroll down the page to Search. Look for a small box next to these words: Enable OK Google to start a voice search. The box will most likely be unchecked. If so, OK Google is off. To turn OK Google on, click on that box.
There are a couple of ways to turn off OK Google from your Android phone, which is good. It’s almost always on. Here’s an easy way to turn it off.
Tap on the app that says Google Settings (little gray icon with a “g” inside it). Tap on “Search & Now,” then “Voice.” Look for “OK Google Detection,” and tap on that. It will most likely say “On.” If so, and if you want to turn it off, tap on that once. It will turn to “Off.” Tap it again, and OK Google is on.
3. IPHONE AND IPAD
From your iPhone or iPad, go to your Google apps. It’s a little blue box with a “g” inside it.
Touch your photo in the upper left corner. On some pages, like Google Now, scroll to the top of the page. Touch “Voice Search.” If the box next to “OK Google” has a check mark on it, click on that to get rid of it. That turns off OK Google. Keep that check mark there, if you want to keep it turned on.