Well, maybe. The answer to this question is really “it depends”, but more than likely your smartphone is actually listening to you. This can seem unnerving or even make you feel like your privacy is being violated. After all, it’s like someone is always listening to every conversation that you have around your phone.

The fact that our smartphones can listen to us has been a hot, controversial topic in the past few years. It’s brought about some outrage about big tech companies using deceitful tactics in order to harvest as much data as they can. But is it really their fault? Let’s explore why and how our smartphones are listening to us.

Virtual Assistant Software

The idea of our smartphones listening to us became prominent with the introduction of virtual assistant software. Apple was the first to release a virtual assistant into mainstream products with the introduction of Siri. It didn’t take long for Google to follow suit with its Google Assistant, as well as Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.

The intent of these virtual assistance programs was to provide a faster, streamlined service to users. Instead of having to open up a web browser on the phone, go to a search engine and perform the search, users could now activate a virtual assistant on their smartphone with their voice.

Is My Smartphone Really Listening To Me

Why Is My Phone Listening To Me?

The most common reason your phone is listening to you most of the time is because of virtual assistance software. If you have the respective virtual assistant enabled on your phone, then this software needs to be able to activate with the specific keyword. For example “hey Siri” or “hey Google”.

In order for this software to actually work, it needs access to the microphone on your smartphone. This means that technically, your smartphone is always listening for the activation keyword. If there is no microphone access and the phone can’t constantly listen for activation, the virtual assistant won’t function.

Have you ever had a conversation, or used a voice search for something, and then you started seeing targeted advertisements for something? Yes, your smartphone was listening to you. In almost all cases, though, it’s because you gave an app permission for microphone access. This is mainly due to the fact that most people just don’t read the terms of usage or just allow permissions.

Is It Legal?

Although it may seem invasive and criminal, the ability of your smartphone to listen to you is rarely illegal. This is because, as previously stated, reputable and trustworthy mobile apps require you to allow the app access to the microphone. Even if you just select “accept” or “allow” without reading what you’re actually doing, it’s still legal.

There are some cases where it is not legal. For example, if a mobile app is gaining access to your microphone through an exploit or other vulnerability. While rare it is possible for this to happen. Even if you discover an app is doing this, proving it to the proper authorities can still be troublesome especially if the app developer is overseas. When in doubt, delete the suspicious app and consult your local phone repair store for assistance.

How To Get Your Smartphone To Stop Listening To Your Conversations

We discussed the two primary ways that your smartphone listens to your conversations: by enabling the virtual assistant and allowing apps permission to use your microphone. Luckily, both of these methods can also be prevented with some simple settings.

For iOS devices like the iPhone, simply go to your smartphone’s settings. Find the “Siri and Search” option, then turn off the option to listen for “Hey Siri” followed by completely disabling Siri in the same menu. This will disable the iOS virtual assistant so that the microphone isn’t constantly listening.

In Android devices, go to your settings and find the Google Assistant settings. Here you just need to turn off the “Ok Google” option to disable the virtual assistant. If you have any other virtual assistant programs, refer to their settings to find the option to disable it.

Lastly, you can also go to the settings on your phone to locate apps and permissions. Your smartphone should have a section in your settings to review all of the current permissions being provided to every app you have installed. Simply find all of the apps that have been given access to the microphone and revoke the permissions.

Smartphone Repair In Keller, Texas

Have questions or need assistance with protecting yourself from your smartphone listening in on your conversations? Stop by the Oasis Savvy smartphone repair store in Keller, Texas. We’ll provide you with assistance and any phone repairs that you may need.