There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the various new features of the Xbox One, but one of those features seems to have been settled. The Kinect sensor that many people feared would always be listening to your conversations can actually be turned off when not needed. Otherwise, you can use the Kinect to tell it to turn on your fancy new console.
According to Kotaku, a Microsoft rep confirmed that the Kinect sensor “is not always watching or always listening,” and users will be able to “turn the system completely off.” During the unveiling of the new console, Microsoft said that you can turn on the console using a voice command, which proves that the console isn’t actually completely off, but more in a stand-by mode listening for such voice commands.
Of course, this stirred up some big controversy about privacy issues, and that the console would always be listening to your conversation to hear for an “Xbox on” command that would turn on the console. It wouldn’t be listening in on your living room conversations just for the fun of it, but enough people have been worried that there could be a secondary use for the listening-in.
Microsoft says that they’ll have more information in the future as far as different methods for turning off the Xbox One, but we’re guessing that — as most people would suspect — that the power button on the console will actually shut down the Xbox One completely, while shutting down the console using the controller or sensor through the software will only shut it down partially, where at that point the Kinect would be on and listening for voice commands.
However, it seems Microsoft says that users have no reason to be concerned. The company notes that they are “designing the new Kinect with simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored and shared.” Of course, though, if you’re really concerned about Microsoft spying on you while you’re not playing games, there’s always the power cord that you can rip from the wall.