How do I stop my Android phone from listening to me?

Many Android users worry that their phones are secretly listening to their conversations. This concern arises from personal stories of people discussing a topic and then suddenly seeing relevant ads. There are reports of users verbally talking about a product, and soon after, ads for that product appear on their Facebook feed or other apps.

For example, someone might be having a conversation about needing new running shoes. Later, they notice targeted shoe ads on Instagram or Google. Naturally, this makes people feel like their phones must be listening even when not in use. According to a recent survey, over 70% of smartphone users believe their devices are listening without consent.

While it may seem like phones are listening constantly, that’s not quite the case. Modern Android phones and voice assistants like Google Assistant use triggered activation. This means they actively listen only when wake words like “Hey Google” are detected. However, since the phone is waiting for these wake words, it is technically listening at a basic level at all times. The microphone is on so it can identify a command and begin recording.

So in summary, Android phones are not listening to full conversations, but rather waiting for specific triggering words. But this still raises privacy concerns for many users who feel uncomfortable even with basic constant listening for activation purposes.

How Voice Assistants Work

Voice assistants like Google Assistant and Siri use wake words or hotwords to trigger listening and activate their voice recognition. These wake words allow the assistants to remain dormant until summoned and serve as a privacy feature so they are not always listening (Source:

The assistants listen for specific programmed wake words like “Hey Google,” “OK Google,” “Hey Siri,” or “Alexa.” Only after detecting the wake word does the assistant start recording and processing your voice commands. This allows voice assistants to avoid constantly listening and only activate upon hearing their designated wake word (Source:

After triggering, voice assistants apply speech recognition and natural language processing to understand the spoken request. Advanced AI converts the audio into text commands that the assistant can action. Without hearing the wake word first, the assistants remain inactive and do not process any speech (Source:

Disable Google Assistant

Here are step-by-step instructions for turning off Google Assistant on Android phones, with different methods for different versions of Android:

On Android 9 Pie and earlier:

  1. Open the Google app.
  2. Tap your profile picture in the top right corner.
  3. Tap Settings > Google Assistant.
  4. Toggle the Google Assistant switch off.

On Android 10 and 11:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps or Application Manager.
  3. Tap Assistant.
  4. Toggle the Assistant switch off.

On Android 12 and Newer:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap Default apps.
  4. Tap Assist and voice input.
  5. Tap Assist app.
  6. Select None to turn off Assistant.

You can also go to Settings > Apps > Google Assistant > Permissions & restrictions > Autostart and turn off the toggle switch next to Autostart to prevent Google Assistant from automatically starting up. Some devices may also have a dedicated hardware button or shortcut to turn off the microphone or disable Google Assistant.


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Disable Other Assistants

If you have other voice assistants like Alexa, Bixby, or Siri installed on your Android device, here are some options to disable them:

Disable Bixby on Samsung Devices

As Bixby is Samsung’s own voice assistant, it comes pre-installed on Samsung devices. To turn this off:

  • Open the Bixby app and go to Settings > Bixby key
  • Turn off “Wake Bixby with Bixby key”
  • You can also customize the Bixby button to open a different app instead of Bixby under Bixby key settings

Alternatively, go to Settings > Advanced features > Side key and disable the “Press and hold to launch Bixby” option (

Disable Alexa

If you have the Alexa app installed:

  • Open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Alexa Voice Responses
  • Turn off voice responses

You can also uninstall the Alexa app altogether if you do not want to use it.

Limit App Permissions

One way to prevent unwanted listening on your Android phone is to limit the microphone access permissions for apps in your settings. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android device.
  2. Tap “Apps & Notifications”.
  3. Select “Advanced” and then select “App Permissions”.
  4. Under permissions, choose “Microphone”. You will see a list of apps that have requested and been granted microphone access.
  5. For any apps that you want to limit microphone access for, tap the app and select “Deny”. This will restrict that app from accessing your phone’s microphone.
  6. You can also turn on “Allow only while using the app” for apps that need temporary microphone access. This revokes permission when you are not actively using an app.

By auditing app permissions in your Android settings and limiting microphone access, you can prevent apps from listening in the background without your knowledge. Only grant full microphone access to apps you fully trust.

As this Google help article explains, you may also be able to disable microphone access at a system level under “Unused app settings” in your Android version.

Disable Hotword Detection

One of the main ways Android phones listen and activate voice assistants is through hotword detection or “wake words.” When enabled, your phone is constantly listening for keywords like “OK Google,” “Alexa,” or “Hey Siri” to launch the voice assistant.

To disable hotword detection on your Android device:

  1. Open the “Settings” app.
  2. Navigate to “Google Assistant” or “Apps” and select your voice assistant app (Google Assistant, Alexa, etc.).
  3. Find the setting for “Hotword” or “wake word detection” and toggle it off.
  4. .

  5. You may also want to set the assistant itself to Off or disable access completely.

With hotword detection disabled, your voice assistant will no longer launch when you say wake words. However, you can still manually activate it by pressing the microphone icon if needed. Disabling hotwords prevents your phone from constantly listening for triggers.

Mute Microphone

One way to temporarily disable the microphone on your Android phone is to use the mute button. Many Android devices have a physical mute button located on the side of the phone that allows you to quickly mute the microphone.

To mute the microphone, simply press and hold the mute button. While muted, the microphone icon in the status bar will have a line through it. To unmute, press the button again. This provides a convenient way to temporarily disable the microphone when you want to have a private conversation or prevent apps from listening.

Another option is to use the Quick Settings panel. Open the notification shade and look for the microphone icon. Tap the icon to toggle the microphone on or off. Again, when muted a line will appear crossed out through the icon.

The mute options are useful when you only need to briefly turn off the microphone for short durations. The microphone will become active again once you unmute through the buttons or Quick Settings.

Avoid Trigger Words

One way to prevent your Android phone from accidentally listening in is to avoid saying certain trigger words near it. As uncovered in research by scientists at Northeastern University and Imperial College London (, there are over 1,000 phrases that can accidentally activate voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa.

Some common trigger words to avoid saying near your Android phone include “Hey Google,” “OK Google,” and “Alexa.” But even phrases like “unacceptable,” “election,” or “a letter” could potentially and unintentionally wake up Google Assistant or Alexa.

So to prevent your Android phone from listening when you don’t want it to, avoid using trigger words and phrases near the phone’s microphone. Mute the microphone when possible, speak quietly around the phone, or consider changing the wake word or disabling voice assistants entirely.

Address Privacy Concerns

While voice assistants provide useful functionality, many consumers have understandable privacy concerns about smart devices. Voice assistants work by listening for hotwords and transmitting audio to the device company for processing, so naturally some wariness exists around always-on microphones.

However, most voice assistants only record and transmit audio after detecting a hotword or manual activation – they are not listening to and storing all conversations in your home or passing data to third parties. Many major companies provide transparency into voice assistant privacy policies and allow users to delete stored recordings or turn off listening altogether. Still, some smart speaker usage carries risks if sensitive information is spoken out loud.

With reasonable precautions like limiting app permissions, controlling activation settings, and muting mics when needed, consumers can feel more in control of smart devices and voice assistant interactions. While important to stay vigilant around privacy, in most cases voice assistants pose little actual threat when configured and used responsibly.


In summary, there are a few key steps you can take to disable listening capabilities on your Android phone:

  • Disable Google Assistant by toggling it off in Settings.
  • Revoke microphone access for apps that don’t need it through the permissions manager.
  • Turn off hotword detection so your phone doesn’t activate from trigger words.
  • Mute your microphone with the quick mute button to temporarily disable listening.

It’s important to remember that voice assistants rely on listening briefly in order to respond to requests and provide helpful information. However, you are in full control over what access you grant to these features. Follow the steps outlined above to limit listening only to required functions. This allows you to utilize the helpful aspects of assistive technology while maintaining peace of mind around privacy.

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