Google Home Mini flaw left smart speaker recording everything

Randall Craig
October 12, 2017

With the Google Home Mini, the search giant was hoping to get its smart speaker into more homes than ever before.

Google's new $50 Home Mini has been well received by reviewers, but one of those early reviewers, Android Police founder Artem Russakovskii, discovered a bug that effectively turned the Home Mini it into a spying device.

He found that, due to what Google has called "phantom touches", the Home Mini was in a constant state of anticipation, listening for and awaiting verbal instructions.

As an added precaution, all activity and queries created by long-pressing the touch sensor on Home Mini speakers between October 4-7 have been wiped and will no longer show up on owner's My Activity Page.

Unfortunately, a major and deeply unsettling issue impacted a "small number of Google Home Mini devices" given away at last week's Made by Google event, organized in honor of the company's two new smart home products, as well as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones, and the Pixelbook.

Google identified the problem and revealed that there was a problem with the touch panel at the top which can be used to activate the Assistant by long-pressing it.

It's great to see Google hurry to fix the issue, but this is still a PR nightmare. But it would appear that with Russakovskil's unit had a fault that meant the Home Mini thought it was being touch-activated all the time, which led to its constant recording of data without Russakovskil's knowledge.

Those who attended the recent Google launch event were given a free Google Home Mini to take home with them. He noticed that his Google Home Mini was active and recording sound throughout the day, not only when he uttered the "OK, Google" keyword. But that should only happen after you use a hot word to activate it.

As of now, Google brushed the issue aside by rolling out a patch and terming the issue as a hardware issue. 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. The fix, though, is removing a feature from the Mini.

As a result, virtually everything happening near the Home Mini was recorded. And we all remember how much Google insisted on the quality of the Home Mini's design and materials.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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