When Amazon came out with the Echo in 2014, the concept of a voice-based digital assistant for your home was a novelty. Over the last three years, Alexa has become a household name. She can work with a multitude of smart devices and perform thousands of tasks such as playing music, ordering pizza, playing games and controlling your lights.
While the Alexa voice service was initially only available in Amazon products (the Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, Fire tablets and Fire TV), Alexa is now baked into a wide range of products from a variety of manufacturers. There are smartwatches like the Martian mVoice and a variety of speakers including the JAM Voice, Fabriq and Lenovo Smart Assistant. Soon, you'll be able to use your smartphone with an update to the Alexa app.
The convenience of Alexa is that you can ask her to perform tasks by prefacing your request with "Alexa ..." Your Alexa-enabled device is always listening for the key word Alexa. When Alexa hears her name, she sends a recording of your request to Amazon's servers to determine what you're asking. When she gets the answer, she delivers the appropriate response, usually with a second or two. In order to consistently record your requests, your Alexa-enabled device records constantly but only saves and sends the contents of your request (plus a few seconds on each side).
Amazon keeps these recordings forever or until you choose to delete them. "When you use an Alexa device, we keep the voice recordings associated with your account to improve the accuracy of the results provided to you and to improve our services," notes Amazon. "If you delete these recordings, it may degrade your experience using the voice features."
You can listen to and delete recordings from within the Alexa app or through the Amazon site. Here's how:
From the Alexa app:
- Select Settings.
- Select History.
- Select a recording from the list.
- Select the Play icon if you want to listen to the recording.
- Select Delete to delete a specific recording.
From your web browser, you can only choose to delete all of your recordings. You can't listen to them from the web. To delete all of your recordings:
- Go to Manage Your Content and Devices, then select the Your Devices tab.
- Select your Alexa device from those that are registered to your Amazon account.
- Select Manage voice recordings.
- Select Delete.
There's no automated way to delete recordings, so you'll have to remember to delete them manually on a regular basis.
If you're concerned about Alexa always listening, you can always turn off the microphone. Of course, turning off the mic makes Alexa a lot less convenient, so you'll have to weigh your privacy against the convenience of Alexa.
[Image credit: Amazon]