How to turn off your smartphone's microphone and why doing so is important

If you have one smartphones, it is likely that he is listening to you at this very moment. This is supported by many companies involved in the development of security systems of various kinds – such as Norton and Surfshark – according to which Muting your microphone is essential to avoid privacy issues (real or potential). Indeed, the microphones of our cell phones must constantly be on alert to activate digital assistants when we say commands such as “Hey Google” or “Hey Siri” (depending on the device in use) and this could represent an unsafe risk. indifferent to their safety. To sleep reasonably soundly, the aforementioned security companies suggest activating the microphone only when absolutely necessary.

Because our smartphone listens to us

As Surfshark explains, “Nowadays, your phone constantly filters the sounds around you» and, unfortunately, this has led to unpleasant episodes of inaccurate audio recording practices and even actual ones user data breaches.

It all came to light as the functioning of voice assistants came under scrutiny after some users discovered that third-party companies were transcribing audio recordings on behalf of Google and Apple, some of which also contained intimate and very personal conversations.

But if access to the microphone can lead to similar problems, why is it granted so easily by us users? For a question of “convenience”. Since saying “Hey Google” or “Hey Siri” and starting to make requests can be more convenient than giving the same commands from the keyboard, the vast majority of us leave the smartphone microphone active to take advantage of the functions in question.

Since all this happens with the consent of users, constant access to the microphone by Google and Apple (and by third-party developers, in the event that similar permissions are granted to other apps) is perfectly legal; clearly access to the microphone by various malware is possible, but in this case it is a clearly illegal practice.

To minimize the chances of being listened to via our smartphones, it is therefore important to pay close attention to which apps are granted permission to access the microphones, denying consent to suspicious apps and, if possible, deactivating the functions that allow you to activate them vocally. your device's virtual assistant (for example, Google Assistant on Android and Siri on iPhone). At least this is the advice given by security experts.

How to turn off your smartphone's microphone

If you have an Android

To deactivate the function that allows you to call the Google Assistant on Android with voice commands, go to Settings > Google > Google App Settings > Search, Assistant, and Voice > Google Assistant > Hey Google and Voice Match and move up OFF the switch located next to the wording Hey Google.

Furthermore, to disable access to the microphone by third-party apps, go to Settings > Applications > Application Management > (specific app name) > Permissions and select the item Mute your microphone or move up OFF the appropriate switch.

Keep in mind that some wording and steps may differ depending on the device in use and the version of Android installed on the latter.

If you have an iPhone

To turn off the feature that calls Siri on iPhone with voice commands, go to Settings > Siri & Search and move up OFF the switches corresponding to the item Detects “Hey Siri” (and, if you want to completely deactivate the assistant, also those relating to the wordings Press the side button for Siri And Allow Siri when blocked). If necessary, tap the item Turn off Siri in the menu that opens.

As for revoking access to the microphone from third-party apps, you need to go to Settings > (specific app name) and move up OFF the switch next to the item Microphone.