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Google is adding a ‘Guest Mode’ to its smart speakers

The Verge - Wed Jan 13 18:00

Beginning today, Google smart speakers like the Nest Hub and Nest Mini will have a new option called “Guest Mode.” When enabled by saying “Hey Google, turn on guest mode,” the speaker will act a bit more like a public Google Assistant terminal and a bit less like your own personal assistant.

When Guest Mode is turned on, queries are no longer saved to your Google account and some personal data like your calendar won’t be shown. However, the speaker will still be able to do the basics like set timers, answer questions, and play music.

However, don’t think this works as a way to secure your personal data: turning off Guest Mode is as simple as asking for the speaker to do it. The idea is apparently that if you’re having guests over to your house (which, right now: please don’t), they won’t accidentally see your calendar and whatnot.

The feature is not quite as robust as Incognito mode on your Chrome browser. Although interactions aren’t saved, the speakers still need to be connected to your account so they can continue to access all the integrations you’ve set up with music, smart lights, and so on.

In other words, this is not a good solution for Airbnb hosts. Google does have a hospitality mode for its speakers, but it’s primarily meant for hotels.

When you exit Guest Mode, your queries will again be saved to your Google account. But as the company announced this past August, it is no longer saving audio recordings by default unless you actively choose to allow it to do so.