Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Uh Oh, Google Home Mini Defect Causes Constant Recording

Google's Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything Google Home Mini bug caused devices to record 24/7
June Sullivan | 12 October, 2017, 00:58

Google apparently handed out around 4,000 devices at press and pop up events.

The blogger had received the Mini as a party favor at Google's launch event for a variety of new hardware on October 4. For example, in the United States, Google Home Mini costs $49 and ships by October 18. The idea is that you can say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" whenever you're near the device to begin issuing commands to smart home devices and asking questions.

While this in itself is a fairly minor inconvenience, it has major implications for the privacy of users and could, in theory, let Google monitor everything that is said in your home.

To patch the problem, Google issued a software update that temporarily disables the button, which is located on the front of its new smart speaker devices. We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue.

It's great to see Google hurry to fix the issue, but this is still a PR nightmare. The culprit, it seemed, was the device's touch panel, created to allow his Home Mini to activate Google Assistant without a verbal command; due to a fault, the device constantly experienced "phantom" touch events that turned the assistant on and began recording.

Russakovskii discovered and reported the issue to Google two days later, allowing Google to inspect the device and issue a firmware update that disabled the component that caused its hyperactive recording before it reached pre-order customers.

That seems to be the rub (pardon the pun) with Russakovskii's Mini: it thought that somebody was holding its finger down on the top and so was randomly activating and recording. We've reached out to Google for more information on which devices are affected and how this whole thing went down and we'll be following this story as it develops. But that's not the case for Google's Home Mini speaker. One particular product, the Google Home Mini, has been incidentally recording at random occasions due to an incorrectly calibrated touch sensor that sits atop the device. And we all remember how much Google insisted on the quality of the Home Mini's design and materials. The devices basically act as if someone is long-pressing the button to activate Assistant all the time, so they are recording nearly constantly.

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