Microsoft wasn't terribly clear on certain aspects of the Xbox One upon its unveiling, and one area that raised concerns was a claim that the device was "always on," serving as a type of spy in your living room listening to your conversations and peeking at your activities. Microsoft made a couple attempts to clear up some of these concerns last month, but today has detailed privacy specifics that gamers can expect from their next-gen console.
Says Microsoft, privacy is a valid concern it understands, and as such it has both made that topic an important one and has implemented a variety of features to give gamers a fair bit of control over how their Xbox One will work and what it will be allowed to do. It also specifically states that the console will not eavesdrop on (ie, record and upload) private conversations that take place near it.
When initially setting up the Xbox One, gamers will be guided through a series of privacy options, allowing one to choose between, for example, manual or automatic sign ins, as well as various other privacy settings. Each settings will be detailed with notifications that explain what each concerns. In addition, the Kinect won't be always listening to everything you say, with users being able to stipulate when it is on, off, or paused.
When off, the Kinect will only listen for the command to turn back on ("Xbox On"), but if that still makes you uneasy, you can shut that feature off so that it there is no listening happening in any way. The Kinect can also be paused while you're playing games or watching shows via a Pause feature, which will only need to be turned off when content is being used that requires the Kinect.
The Xbox One will also keep gamers' data private on the device, only making it available to the larger cloud-and-network world if permission is given by the user. Finally, if you're really uneasy about using the Kinect, or you just don't want it on at times, you'll be able to pause it and use a smartphone, remote, or controller as alternative input methods for certain activities.