I've recently received a Nexus 5, which touts very tight Google Now integration. This weekend I've been visiting my parents. We had a discussion about a local restaurant which they went to last night. I just flicked over to Google Now and it's got a card about that restaurant, and only that restaurant. (we're in a big town, there are many restaurants, and it's by no means the nearest. I've never been there before). Is this a crazy coincidence or is Google Now listening to me?

We've had nothing mention of the restaurant in email's or texts, only a face to face conversation this afternoon while I had my phone out (but not explicitly listening).

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    Happy to see that you too believe that speech recognition could be used for targetting customers!
    – smonff
    Nov 12, 2013 at 21:42
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    Fredley, I don't think you're crazy. I think my Android is listening to me too. It's brought up two articles in my news Highlights that were related to conversations I had with friends or family in the last week. And it was totally strange topics like cooking "sous vide" and Norway king crabs. And I never searched on it or had emails about it. This is freaking me out...
    – user47110
    Nov 28, 2013 at 8:35
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    Just happened to me too, with the lyrics to the Folk song "Do your ears hang low". I'm 99% sure none of my Circle, Facebook friends or anything like that has searched for this recently. It's creepy. May 2, 2014 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


It is possible that maybe your parents (or your friends) searched for it, or +1d it, or checked into it, and they are in your Circles! Google regularly gives you suggestions based on what people in your Circles like.

Take a look at http://www.google.com/policies/terms/changes/

Feedback from people you know can save you time and improve results for you and your friends across all Google services, including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising. For example, your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. And the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google. We call these recommendations shared endorsements and you can learn more about them here.

Hope I helped!

  • Yeah. Time to think about which services we really want from "Big G", and which intrude too much into our privacy. As nice and useful as Google Now might seem, it's not an altruistic gift. Google Starts Tracking Retail Store Visits On Android and iOS, and I'm not sure how far that will go. I saw this coming (hence never used G+ and GNow), still I was shocked...
    – Izzy
    Nov 10, 2013 at 0:17
  • I believe their algorithms are very good at analyzing who you interact with most and how recently. Me and a girl texted each other one time after meeting on the street for the first time and never meeting again. The next time I went on facebook, she was recommended as someone I may know. I assume she uses the facebook app which has access to who she contacts and it was able to connect us because of that. This type of permission could easily be extended to advertising based on what people you know have viewed on the internet as well as geolocation data if they visited the restaurant recently.
    – iyrin
    Jan 8, 2017 at 11:42

Right now this is not very likely. If the phone was listening and analyzing the surrounding voices constantly that would drain the battery very quickly. You could also detect app activity, data connection, etc. while that process occurs. Indeed @gunner has a plausible explanation.

Nevertheless, it is likely that at some point phones could analyze phone call conversations the same way that Gmail analyzes the text of emails and suggest personalized ads based on these conversations.


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