“Alexa, play some music.” “Alexa, set an alarm for 8PM.” “Alexa, create a to-do.” For many Amazon Echo users, these voice commands and more like them have likely become an important part of day-to-day life. This isn’t a surprise really because that 9.25-inch tall cylinder speaker is one awesome and convenient piece of technology.
From providing weather reports, streaming your favorite music, and detailing your to-do or grocery list – Amazon Echo and the AI behind it, Alexa, makes life easy. It just sits there, waiting for its wake word to be uttered and to do your bidding. Owning an Amazon Echo is like having a personal AI assistant available 24/7.
Amazon Echo Preserves Everything It Hears
The way that Echo works is that it is always listening, waiting for its wake words to activate its functions. Echo’s wake words include “Alexa”, “Echo”, “Computer”, and “Amazon”. The moment you say any of these, Echo records your commands. In fact, it records a part of a second before the wake word.
Logging voices is deemed necessary because despite that Amazon Echo is smart and helpful, it is still a computer. It lacks the intuition that humans have in understanding different speech patterns. In other words, it needs to learn how the people around it speak. Since some individuals can speak too fast and others mumble or have a thick accent, Echo needs to synthesize speech patterns through a lot of recordings. This way, it can improve over time in understanding what its humans command it to do. In time, it will become more accurate at following orders.
Some people aren’t entirely comfortable with Echo recording hours of audio, however. There is also the fact that the voices aren’t just stored in the AI speaker’s memory, but in Amazon’s servers as well. More than a few question if the data is kept private and safe. Others find themselves wondering what Amazon plans to do with these recordings in the future. People are also uncomfortable not knowing what Echo has recorded over the past months.
Fortunately, there is a way to check what the cylindrical speaker has recorded since it entered your home. Better yet, you can delete those recordings.
How to Listen to All of the Commands You’ve Given
If you go to the “History” section of the app via the Settings menu, you will find audio logs that you can listen to anytime. Simply tap on an entry you wish to hear, and then the play button.
As mentioned, if Alexa is new in your home, it won’t be great right away at understanding the way you or others in your house speak. So, when you review your history, you might find strings of recorded conversations that you will have no idea why they got recorded at all. Some people even find that Echo records TV conversations. This is most probably because Alexa misheard a word to be its wake word.
For example, if you are casually speaking to your child and you uttered a word that sounds like “Alexa”, the machine might think you are giving it a command and proceeds with the recording. Then, there’s “Computer”, one of its wake words that will surely be commonly used in the home. So, don’t be surprised if you find randomly recorded audio in your history. The idea is that once Alexa is better at synthesizing its human’s speech patterns, its recordings will be more accurate and make more sense.
How to Delete Alexa’s Recorded Audio
Don’t want Amazon to keep a record of certain conversations with Echo? No worries. You can delete any recording you like, or all of them if necessary. Deleting is easy too. Just follow these steps:
- Log in to the Alexa app on your mobile phone.
- Access the Settings menu.
- Look for History and open it.
- Scan through the list of entries provided.
- Once you have decided which one to delete, tap on it to select.
- Then, tap the Delete button and it’s gone.
The above steps only work for deleting entries one by one though. To remove recordings in bulk, head to www.amazon.com/mycd
Once there, open the “Manage Your Content and Devices” section. This is where you can delete every audio clip recorded by Echo.
How to Prevent Echo from 24-Hour Listening
What if you really dislike the notion of Echo listening to you all day and possibly recording conversations that you don’t intend it to? What can you do?
The best approach is to turn off its microphone. When the mic is off, Echo won’t be able to listen in. It will simply be a cool speaker. But, this also means you won’t be able to give it commands. And you won’t be able to take full advantage of the convenience the AI offers. So, it is up to you to decide how heavily to use Echo and Alexa in your home.
When you decide that you need some privacy and wish to disable Echo’s mic, take a look at the top of the Bluetooth speaker. You will find an on/off button. You will know that the mic is off when the button is red. Simply press the button again if you want to activate the microphone once more.
All in all, having a virtual assistant at home can be super convenient. You can set alarms, listen to your favorite tracks, consume news, and be entertained without lifting a finger. Simply utter what you need and Echo will deliver. Over time, Alexa will become smarter and more accurate at meeting your needs.
However, knowing that your Amazon Echo can record months-worth of conversations can feel iffy. Luckily, you have control of the situation. Delete those recordings and turn off the mic whenever you want for privacy and safety reasons.