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Google Home Mini Bug Made It Spy on Its Early Users All Day, Fix Issued

Google Home Mini Bug Made It Spy on Its Early Users All Day, Fix Issued
  • Google launched Home Mini smart speaker earlier this month
  • The speaker had a bug which let is listen to users at all times
  • Google has fixed the bug

The Google Home Mini, which the company unveiled earlier this month, had a "bug" that caused at least some units to record sound at random times and transmit the audio to Google's servers, according to a scary account shared by Android Police. Google, on its part, acknowledged the bug responsively and issued a software update to address the issue. Notably, the bug is only affecting those users that received the Home Mini speaker at Made by Google events. Those who pre-ordered the speaker will not be affected, the company said.

It all started last week. Over at Android Police, Artem Russakovskii noticed something amiss about the Google Home Mini he was reviewing. "As it turns out, the Mini was behaving very differently from all the other Homes and Echos in my home - it was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google," he wrote. The only conclusion he could reach was the Google Home Mini was listening to him even at times when he hadn't used the wake word "Hey Google," or "Okay Google." Russakovskii says he became suspicious of the device after noticing that the lights on it turned on more often than they should have.

Russakovskii opened Home's search history page and confirmed that there were a ton of searches made from his end, things he never consciously asked the Google Home Mini in the first place. The problem, as Russakovskii writes, was that the Google Home Mini thought someone was holding their finger down on the top of the touch panel of the device, the only other way to have the Google's smart mini speaker start listening to commands.

Google handled the situation, Russakovskii writes, in a very professional manner. The company sent down a representative to collect the device and find the issue. A day later, the company had figured it out and sent the fix to other Google Home Mini speakers. The company also published a support page with more clarification. The software fix is essentially disables the hardware long-press button on the Google Home Mini that allowed a customer to touch the device to wake it up, and a long-term solution to the hardware problem is being explored. All search queries generated by long press have also been removed from affected users' My Activity page.


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