Google Home Mini touch feature disabled eavesdropping flaw

14 October, 2017, 01:17 | Author: Gladys Mathis
  • Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

So last week, Google issued its response to the Echo Dot: the Google Home Mini, a lovely upward-facing speaker that comes in more colors than the Echo Dot, costs the same price, and uses Google's Assistant instead of Amazon's Alexa. "We rolled out an update on October 7 to mitigate the issue".

The company told him that it was "in the process of building a long-term fix, whatever it may be" but Mr Russakovskii said it was "too early to say if they're going to be able to deal with "phantom" touch events entirely in software or if a recall for affected units will be in order".

The Google Home Mini had originally been programmed to record you when you either said "Okay Google" or "Hey Google", or tapped and held a touch panel on it. In any case, from now on tapping the device will do nothing, and you'll have to chat to it to get its attention. But the Home Mini's recent recording issue, which happened toward the very beginning of the product's lifespan, is definitely a black eye for Google's smart-home efforts in general and could cause real issues for Google down the line.

Because the Google Home Mini ($49) doesn't officially launch until next week, no paying customers have been impacted. Under normal circumstances, Google Home Mini would mind its own business and pretty much ignore any surrounding chatter until it received a wake-up command, which could be given verbally or by touching the top of the speaker. So far so good, except - as he only discovered days later - the Mini was recording "thousands of times a day" and sending those recordings to Google.

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Google says shopping will become available later this year on mobile platforms such as Android and iOS via Google Assistant, joining Google Home and Android TV. The device essentially thought it was being touched when it wasn't, and therefore kept activating itself.

Google Home Mini is all set to be shipped out for sales on October 19 but Artem Russakovskii of Android Police while reviewing the unit found a bug. Doing so will, however, affect the accuracy of the device's voice recognition.

On its Support Pages, Google announced that it has "fixed" the issue of the "Google Home Mini touch controls behaving incorrectly" by "permanently" removing all of the device's "top touch functionality".

Apparently, a malfunction with the sensor tricked some Home Mini devices into thinking the button was being touched when it wasn't.

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