Google is offering users a new way to take charge of their privacy when using its smart speakers and displays. The new security feature, known as guest mode, keeps your personal data private while allowing others to get the most out of Google Assistant. It’s already available on your Google smart speaker. This is how it works.
What is Google’s new “Guest Mode” feature?
The new feature, announced on January 13, is ready to use on Google speakers and displays such as Google Nest Mini and Nest Hub Max. To activate it, say: “Ok Google, activate Guest mode”.
When enabled, Google’s new guest mode feature won’t log any interactions with Google Assistant on your account. Guest mode also prevents Google Assistant from viewing or sharing personal information such as what’s on your calendar or who is in your contact list until you turn off the setting. It’s also a game-changer if you have curious kids who always check out your Nest Hub for YouTube videos.
You’ll know it’s on because your Google smart speaker will chime, display an onscreen message (if you have a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max smart display), and your assistant will briefly explain what mode is. Invited every time it’s turned on.
In guest mode, you can still ask Google Assistant to play music, get the local weather forecast, set timers, and control your smart home. Announcement features like Broadcast and Family Bell still work, and you can also still make calls to your family contacts. If you’re using your Nest Hub Max or Nest Hub smart display as a digital photo frame, your photos will always be displayed in Guest mode as well.
The problem with Guest Mode is that you won’t have access to a more personalized Google Assistant experience until you turn it off.
When your guests are gone (or your kids are in bed for the day), you can easily turn the feature off by asking Google to “turn off guest mode” and start enjoying your personal digital assistant again. In an effort to give users broad control over their privacy, a feature like this should have been available from the start on Google’s smart speakers, but better late than never.
Keep in mind that Google says it doesn’t store audio recordings by default, but it never hurts to quickly adjust your privacy settings and delete any Google voice recordings that may be saved in your account. .
Amazon Echo devices do not have functionality comparable to Google’s guest mode. While there are plenty of ways to protect your Alexa privacy, it would be nice if Amazon introduced the Alexa version of Google’s guest mode setting.