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Is HomePod Always Listening?

Last Updated Sep 20, 2020
Aerial view of apple homepod speaker
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Ask an Apple user about what they often dislike about Siri, and they will likely say that the voice assistant often picks up on conversations, mistaking certain words for voice prompts rather than regular speech not intended for a smart device. Naturally, this has Apple users asking themselves if devices like the Apple HomePod are always listening to their full conversations.

Like every other smart speaker with an integrated voice assistant function, the HomePod comes with an “always-on” mic, which allows it to listen to conversations. Also, a report revealed that smart speakers like the HomePod can self-activate and record conversations up to 46 seconds without its user knowing.

Although this may sound alarming, there are ways you can disable Siri on your HomePod to prevent it from listening. Read on to learn more!

Is the Apple HomePod Always Listening?

If you are familiar with the iOS operating system, you may already be aware of Apple’s strict rules on user privacy. While tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have been mired in privacy breach lawsuits over the years, Apple has always been a proponent of privacy laws, introducing its own privacy features across all its devices.

Apple has clearly stated that its devices do not listen to user conversations unless they say the magic words: “Hey Siri.” However, this report has been refuted by multiple iOS device users and even by a whistleblower in July 2019, who claimed that tech experts hired to improve the accuracy of Siri were able to listen to conversations recorded by the voice assistant by accident.

In addition, like every other smart home speaker, the Apple HomePod features an “always-on” mic that gives it the potential to listen to the personal conversation of users without their knowledge. Although, there is the possibility of disabling this feature with the latest version of iOS, making it even easier for the user to switch off/on this feature.

Does the HomePod Record Conversations?

According to a recent report by Northeastern University, smart speakers tend to automatically activate up to 19 times with the potential of recording up to 43 seconds of audio anytime this happens. There have been several claims from Apple HomePod users seeing ads related to their earlier private or personal discussion showing up on Facebook and Google. 

So, if your Apple HomePod is accidentally activated, there is a high probability of it recording voices or conversations.

This is pretty bad, considering you have no control over what the device hears or the ability to playback its recordings. With this kind of undocumented exposure, you are more likely to be exposed to cyber-attacks or experience a breach of privacy.

While Apple is unclear on the privacy risk associated with the Apple HomePod due to its self-activation and recording capability, it has made salient efforts in introducing the ability for users to turn off this feature. However, it would be best if you turned off your HomePod during an important conversation with friends and family to be on the safe side.

How Do You Disable Siri On a HomePod?

The “Hey Siri” feature on the HomePod makes it easy for you to activate your device’s listening ability hands-free and get it to respond to your questions and voice commands related to other iOS devices and services. If you consider Siri an unnecessary addition on the Apple HomePod or don’t want it listening to your conversation, then disabling it is your best bet.

To disable Siri on HomePod from listening, you should follow these steps:

Using Your Voice

  1. Say, “Hey Siri, Stop Listening.”
  2. When Siri asks you to confirm, say, “Yes.”

Using the Home App

  1. On your iPhone or iPad Home screen, launch the Home app.
  2. Select the Rooms tab located at the bottom middle part of the screen.
  3. Swipe to the Room that contains your HomePod.
  4. Long press on your HomePod.
  5. Tap the Details button.
  6. Change the switch to listen for “Hey Siri”to its off position.

Final Thoughts

Being concerned about your privacy is natural in a world where technological devices are at the mercy of hacking. While the Apple HomePod is a quality speaker in the market, its auto-trigger feature leaves the average user exposed to invasions of privacy. However, being able to disable your HomePod from listening to conversations will protect you and your family from unnecessary exposure.

Of course, you can always use Siri to your advantage with her smart learning technology. Check out what she can learn about you in this article!

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