So the search giant has reportedly started emailing users in order to ask for consent to do the whole thing, explaining that the feature currently comes turned off by default but anyone can opt-in manually if they agree with sharing the audio recordings.
More specifically, Google wants some of its human employees or contractors to get your consent to listen to your voice commands in apps like Google Maps and determine how the system responded. Based on this interaction, the company can then know exactly what needs to be polished for the experience overall to be further improved when voice input is being used.
“The updated setting allows Google to securely save audio recordings in your Google Account. Saved audio recordings help improve our audio recognition technologies, so products like Google Assistant can understand language even better in the future,” Google explains.
“The audio recordings setting, when enabled, will save audio from your interactions with Google Assistant, Search, and Maps, which may be reviewed to help improve how our products understand speech.”
The existing data is not affected by the new setting, so technically, if you enable the new feature, only the conversations that you have with Google Assistant and Google Maps starting today are supposed to be reviewed by someone at Google.
The approach of having human employees listen to user data is something that has previously been extremely controversial, with Google (and several other tech giants, including Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon) being accused of getting access to recordings that included very sensitive details. The search giant eventually suspended the practice in September last year.