Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

Google's Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything

Unfortunately, the touch panels on some units, specifically those handed out to journalists at Made by Google, acted like someone was constantly pressing them, triggering the device to turn on and start recording. For example, in the United States, Google Home Mini costs $49 and ships by October 18. The company's also working on a permanent fix and assuring people that only early units given out at its Made by Google event are affected, not the pre-order ones.

Android Police's Artem Russakovskii was reviewing the Google Home Mini. These pre-production units were not even notifying the user while recording audio clips and sending them to Google servers.

Under normal circumstances, you can long press the touch control to speak a command. In Google Home Mini's case, users can hold their finger down at the top to access Google Assistant. "If you're still having issues, please feel free to contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121 to get a replacement Google Home Mini".

The Google Home Mini isn't out yet, but Google is already dealing with an issue related to it.

(Google Home, as well as Alexa, save recordings of all commands to improve voice accuracy, both also offer the option to opt-out of this). A bug has been found in the calibration of the touch sensors on top of the device, causing it to begin recording without prompt.




If you're unsure why a self-activating Home Mini meant Russakovskii's bathroom activity was recorded: everything you say to Google Assistant across the company's devices is recorded and stored in Google's servers, unless you explicitly disable it in My Activity controls.

One of those reviewers is reporting that the Home Mini he was writing about was nearly constantly recording sounds in his home.

The issue prevailed over the few initial units of Google Home Mini, including the ones that were distributed as review units. It issued a software patch to fix the behavior, issuing this response: "We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly".

A Google spokesperson confirmed the software issue, saying it stems from the touchpad's activation button. 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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