Is my iPhone listening to me? Here’s how to make it stop

Franklin Okeke

Aug 3, 20235 min read

Is my iPhone listening to me? Here's how to make it stop (Header image)

Have you ever been in a situation that made you wonder, “Is my iPhone listening to me?” Although this question is valid, it’s worth pointing out that iPhones are not primarily built for listening to your conversations. That said, the introduction of voice recognition technology and virtual assistants has made them good listeners. 

If you suspect that your phone is listening to you and wish to make it stop, we’ve got some tips up our sleeves on how you can go about this.

“My phone is listening to me!” Is it true?

You may find yourself wondering this very question or some variant, such as “Is Google listening to me?” The fact is, yes, your phone is listening to you. But why?

One of the reasons your phone listens to you is to pick up your voice commands through its embedded virtual assistant. Depending on the operating system running on your mobile device, different virtual assistants may need to listen to you in order to process your voice prompts.

These VA apps are built to assist you through voice commands, such as helping to send texts, adding items to to-do lists, making calls, etc. Additionally, any app with microphone access can listen to you via the mic. For instance, applications such as YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Zoom, and other apps that need your microphone to function effectively are capable of listening to you when given permission.

Is Siri always listening?

In 2019, a rumor emerged that Apple contractors were listing to users’ personal conversations through Siri. But Apple, in an official statement, came out to debunk the idea that Siri is always listing to its users. According to the firm, Siri is built to react to your voice commands, and this means that Siri is triggered to start listening and recording when alerted with the default wake phrase “Hey, Siri.”

In other words, no, Siri does not always listen to you. But this doesn’t change the fact that when Siri is listening, it can record and send your short audio to Apple servers, where they are interpreted and sent back to your device to perform an action.

Are Instagram and Facebook listening to me?

Rumors have persisted over the years that the Meta-owned social media platforms Instagram and Facebook listen to their users via device microphones. This rumor raged after users reported that Facebook had served them ads based on recent personal conversations they’d had with their friends.

When these rumors gained momentum in 2019, Facebook came out to deny the allegation publicly in a social media post. Facebook further clarified that the app only uses your microphone only when you have given it permission to use your mic or when you are using a feature that requires the use of a microphone. So, no. Instagram and Facebook are not listening to you.

How to tell if someone is accessing your microphone

Do you ever feel that someone is accessing your microphone but you aren’t sure? Fortunately, there are signs to look out for to detect if an individual or app is accessing your microphone without your consent.

1. The orange dot on top of the iPhone

Newer generations of iPhones now have an indicator at the top of the screen to show you when your mic is on. This indicator turns orange when an app is accessing your microphone and green when your camera is in action.

This is Apple’s new privacy feature to ensure that users can easily detect when an app is accessing their microphone and camera.

2. An unexpected audio file on your device

If you stumble upon an unusual audio recording stored in your phone, this could indicate that someone is accessing your microphone remotely. Such audio files are usually saved with a random file name. If you discover one of these, consider it a red flag.

3. Increased network traffic or data usage

If you notice an unusual increase in your data usage, it could be a sign that your mic has been compromised. This can be the case if a hacker sends audio files through your router. Pay attention and take note of any suspicious activity.

How to tell which app is using your microphone

Sometimes, it is possible to mistakenly grant microphone access to apps on your phone. If it worries you that some apps may be using your mic without your consent, here is how to figure out which app:

  1. Open your iPhone Settings
  2. Select Privacy & Security
  3. Tap Microphone
  4. You will see a list of all the apps that have access to your microphone

How to stop your phone from listening to you

If you’re losing sleep because you think your phone is spying on you, here are some ways to switch off or reduce microphone activity.

Can you turn off the microphone on iPhone?

With all that has been said about your iPhone listening to you through the mic, you probably might be wondering how to turn off the microphone on your iPhone. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely disable the microphone on your iPhone, but you can disable microphone access for specific apps.

How to disable microphone access for apps

To disable microphone access for apps on your iPhone, follow the steps below:

  1. Open your iPhone Settings
  2. Select Privacy & Security
  3. Tap Microphone
  4. You will see a list of all the apps that have access to your microphone
  5. Toggle off any app you’d like to deny access to the microphone, and you are good to go

How to disable Siri

Many users feel that when it comes to privacy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If that describes you, follow the steps below to turn off Siri on your iPhone:

  1. Open your iPhone Settings
  2. Select Siri & Search
  3. Toggle off Listen for “Hey Siri”

Privacy has become a major concern in the data-driven Digital Age. If you feel uneasy about the idea that your iPhone is listening to you in one way or another, you’re not alone. Fortunately, the tips above will help limit your phone’s access to audio conversations or shut it off and prevent it from accessing your audio entirely.

Franklin Okeke Franklin Okeke
Franklin is a technology writer specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, 5G, and IoT. He has written for TechRepublic, ServerWatch, The Register and other technology publications.