Bored to Read? Listen to it
It’s easy to ask Google Assistant to forget the last thing you said to your Nest or Home smart speaker or display (“Hey Google, that wasn’t for you”), but now there’s a way to temporarily keep Google Assistant from remembering what you said in the first place.
Google’s newly launched Guest Mode acts like an incognito tab in Chrome. While Chrome’s incognito mode won’t remember your browsing history, Google Assistant’s Guest Mode lets you chat with the Assistant on your Google smart speaker without your interactions being recorded.
Just say “Hey Google, turn on Guest Mode” to activate the new privacy mode. When you do, you’ll hear a special tone on your Google smart speaker, while a banner will appear on a Google display.
With Guest Mode enabled (which shouldn’t be confused with the old Guest Mode, which allowed visitors to cast media to your Google devices without connecting to your Wi-Fi network), you can ask Google to play music, check the weather, or read headlines, without any of your requests being saved in your Assistant history.
Guest Mode could also come in handy if a visiting friend (yes, we’ll have friends over again—eventually) wants to use your Google smart speaker without getting results that are personalized for you.
When you’re done with Guest Mode, you can simply say “Hey Google, turn Guest Mode off,” or you can check if the speaker is still in Guest Mode by asking the Assistant. On a Google smart display, the Guest Mode icon will remain on the screen until you turn the mode off.
Of course, if you chat with Google Assistant on your smart speaker without turning Guest Mode on, you can always erase your interactions after the fact. Just say “Hey Google, delete my last conversation,” or “Hey Google, delete today’s (or this week’s) activity.” You can also set Google Assistant to delete your voice history automatically, on a regular basis.
Google’s smart speakers and displays, like Nest Audio and Nest Hub Max, have a new feature as of today: Guest Mode, which makes the devices act more like a public Google Assistant terminal rather than a personal assistant, says The Verge.
According to Google, Guest Mode is another easy way to control your privacy on the smart speaker, although you still might want to make sure your personal settings are on lockdown or unplug your speakers depending on the situation. But Guest Mode will not show any of your personal Google Assistant interactions or other personal information like your Google Calendar until Guest Mode is turned off.
But it’s still possible for your Google device to save activity related to certain Google services even when Guest Mode is on; Google still requires its smart speakers and displays be connected to a personal account so you or your guests can access any smart home integrations you might have set up.
Other providers’ apps and actions that you use with Google Assistant might save as well, like any smart lights or other smart home devices. So while any Google Assistant history might not be saved to your personal account, it could get saved on another service, app, or device.
Other features that will work with Guest Mode enabled include: Broadcast and Family Bell; anyone that’s set up household contacts and added people to their home can still see those contacts on the smart display; and any photos you’ve added to your Photo frame will still show up.
Guest Mode seems more compatible with Google’s Nest Hub rather than its stand-alone smart speakers, too. I wouldn’t mind a guest mode to hide all my personal and work appointments, and search history, from visitors. But given that guests can still access features like Broadcast and Family Bell, or control other smart home devices with their voice, it seems less useful to have this feature on the speakers than the displays. If Guest Mode was about privacy, one would think guests would have even more limited access than Google’s new feature currently provides.