TechGoogle Maps update sparks privacy concerns with listening feature

Google Maps update sparks privacy concerns with listening feature

Will Google Maps navigation be eavesdropping on us?
Will Google Maps navigation be eavesdropping on us?
Images source: © Pixabay

11:23 AM EST, November 28, 2023

Google Maps is about to improve, but not everyone will appreciate it. A feature currently in development for the app is the monitoring of ambient noise during navigation. Google, it seems, wants to eavesdrop on us, all in the name of safety.

The plan for Google Maps is to add a new feature. As reported by, a novel solution has been patented: Google Maps may soon listen to the surrounding sounds during navigation. Google's intention is to tackle one of the issues that many drivers have raised. However, it's indisputable that this is a controversial idea.

The noise of police sirens featured in ads or songs is one component that no driver needs. I am almost certain that most drivers would agree that it would be preferable if these sounds were absent. Google aims to fix this problem through the act of eavesdropping.

Google Maps is preparing to eavesdrop on us

The tentative operation algorithm indicates that this new feature will identify the sounds surrounding the driver and respond accordingly. If the sounds are recognized as "artificial", like those from the radio, they would either be "masked" or a notification would be issued, alerting the driver that there's no need to worry about this particular sound.

However, if the sound is identified as authentic - a horn or a police siren actually sounding nearby - the app will inform us and recommend appropriate action, such as providing a warning about an approaching emergency vehicle or advising moving aside to let it pass without hindrance.

As informs, Google asserts that such a feature would prevent drivers from making erroneous decisions, like responding to cues coming from the radio. The feature will only activate during navigation, utilizing the microphone much like it does when Google Assistant is in use.

The contentious notion of constantly listening to sounds within the vehicle will not find favor with privacy advocates. While this feature might prove beneficial in certain scenarios, it's uncertain if an additional alert about an emergency siren warrants constant eavesdropping on private conversations in the car and transmitting these recordings for analysis.

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