It’s difficult to deny that voice assistant systems have totally revolutionized the way we live our life. They have produced even the simplest of functions even simpler in more respects than one–from turning on your lights to providing you daytime weather updates. So, it’s definitely simple to see why they’re so common.
From Amazon Alexa to Google Home and everything in between, there are plenty of voice assistants to choose from on the market. So, you’re certainly not short of choices if you’re looking to make up your home in the 21st century and keep up with the times.
However, voice assistants have lately started stealing the limelight for all the incorrect reasons. You may have just heard some of the tales yourself, such as Google monitoring which applications you’ve used, the websites you’ve visited, or even stories of Amazon staff listening to your discussions. Either way, there are many factors you should be worried with –all of which will be discussed in the following article.
Types of Voice-Enabled Virtual Home Assistants
Manufactured by enormous multinational corporation Amazon, Alexa is a highly common voice assistant tool available in various forms. The most fundamental model is the Echo Dot, a tiny and extremely inexpensive device that can be picked up at the moment of writing for as little as $29.99. Those who are looking for something a little more sophisticated can choose from their larger sibling known as Echo, with other options including the Echo Plus, Echo Spot, and Echo Show.
Amazon’s Alexa system also comes complete with other devices in its range that include the Amazon Fire Stick. This is done with the included voice remote or via an application that you can install via the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. It enables you to search for films, TV shows, and more without having to type in anything, making the input route simpler than ever before.
Allowing you to run your mobile devices and apps with voice instructions, Siri is Apple’s voice assistant that came into being when iPhone 4S was introduced. Allowing you to convert currencies, identify music, check flight status, and so much more, the opportunities are infinite with Siri.
Since its beginnings, it’s secure to say that Siri is one of the most commonly used voice assistants in the globe. The capacity to adapt to the customer’s language and preferences makes Siri a highly smart option for Apple product users and comes bundled with their most famous products including the iPhone and iPad. It’s now accessible on their home intelligent speakerphone, also known as the Apple HomePod.
Google Home / Google Assistant
As the name indicates, Google Home / Google Assistant is the personal assistant service supplied by the world’s biggest search engine turned technology giant. Their intelligent speaker comes in the form of a Google Home phone that is accessible in multiple versions including the Home Mini, Home Max, and Home Hub intelligent display to meet various requirements and budgets. The range was launched to compete with the ever-popular range of intelligent assistant products from Amazon.
Google Assistant, on the other side, is accessible for installation on Android devices, which implies it could possibly be installed on millions of devices running that specific OS. It’s clear to see that Google doesn’t mess around when it comes to enhancing their assistant’s user base and reliability. After all, it is now accessible in 80 nations and at the moment of writing, it can talk an incredible 30 languages.
Dangers of Voice Assistants
One of the greatest things to consider when it comes to voice assistants is that they are always turned on. What this means is that it can possibly listen to your every phrase and then use this information for reasons such as targeting you with advertisements or possibly even using this information to enhance speech recognition and natural language understanding systems.
Either way, it’s evident to see that you can collect a lot of data–especially if you’re near to your phone for a big percentage of the day. This has enormous consequences when it comes to privacy, as in latest times many tales have started to reach the headlines. This involves accidental instructions when a intelligent speaker listened to a discussion. Many news stories have even verified that Amazon staff have been listening to Alexa discussions, which is deeply concerned for those who are worried about anyone snooping in on their private data.
To make matters worse, cybercrime is constantly rising. This implies that any internet-connected devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home could possibly be hacked by online information thieves–despite the safety procedures placed in place by the respective producers.
To prevent this, you will need to take the required precautions, which include only storing vital device data, frequently deleting your saved files, and not linking your smart devices to other phones enabled by the Internet of Things, such as intelligent locks. It is also extremely recommended to keep your phones up-to-date and safe, as any device linked to the internet can be infected with malware if you are not cautious.
Conclusion–are privacy-friendly voice assistants?
Overall, it would be suitable to suggest that setting up a voice assistant in your home could possibly have enormous consequences for your privacy. Sure, it’s all nice to be able to switch off the lights without having to get out of bed or play your favorite songs without having to press a button. But, considering the recent appearance of tales like Amazon staff listening to Alexa discussions, we certainly see it as a cause for worry, and you should likely do as well.
Therefore, if you have any worries about your online privacy, you should continue with caution and do some thorough studies before investing in any of the above mentioned appliances. In doing so, you will be far more ready to maintain yourself protected in the battle against cybercriminals and any other prying eyes (or ears, in this situation).
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