Guest Mode lands for Google smart displays and Assistant speakers

Google is officially rolling out Guest Mode for its smart displays and Assistant-powered speakers as of today. Originally teased back in October, the feature appears to be live for all of us in testing. But it isn’t really meant to enhance your privacy, just to prevent friends or family from messing up your schedule or account history.

When enabled, Guest Mode still lets you do things like control smart home devices or play music — stuff that’s linked to your account — but a record of those interactions (including audio recordings) will not be saved to your account even if they’re set to. Personal results from things like your calendar and contacts won’t be displayed. However, third-party services you interact with may have their own separate analytics that could be saved — for example, if you use a Harmony to control your TV or if your lights run through another service like Hue. Google services like Maps and YouTube may also save activity, so house guests could still mess up your YouTube recommendations.

Custom routines, alarms, broadcasts, media controls, and your personal photos via a configured photo frame will still work in Guest Mode as well. Google has a support page that details the changes and precisely what will and won’t work if you want the nitty-gritty.

Guest Mode lands for Google smart displays and Assistant speakers

Smart displays get an indicator at the top of the screen that when it’s been enabled, plus a generic-looking guest avatar to replace your own, and Guest Mode stays enabled until you turn it off. Speakers and smaller form-factor displays like the Lenovo Smart Clock have no ongoing indicator that they’re in Guest Mode, but they’ll let you know when you turn it on.

Flipping on the new feature is as simple as saying, “Hey Google, turn on Guest Mode.” For more information on the benefits and drawbacks, you can also ask “Hey Google, tell me about Guest Mode” to get a quick rundown, but the short version is this really isn’t meant to enhance your privacy so much as make it harder for an accidental query to mess up your calendar.

The feature is available today for folks using the Assistant in English, with other languages planned in the coming months. Google claims it’s only available on first-party devices like the Nest Hub and Nest Mini, but it’s live for me in testing on at least some third-party Lenovo displays as well.

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