Google Home Mini fault left smart speakers always recording

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Heres the kicker: the Google Home Mini has three touch-sensitive areas on it. If you've already got one, then there's a slim chance that your speaker might have been spying on you 24/7 due to a hardware issue.

Android Police's Artem Russakovskii, who received a Google Home Mini at the company's recent Pixel launch event and kept it in his bathroom, reported the extremely serious issue to Google last week. AndroidPolice discovered that the speaker managed at some point to take over a Spotify stream that was playing in a specific room and switch it to another room without being told to do so.

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Google says pre-ordered Home Mini purchases are not affected and that it has completed the roll out of new firmware.

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. "We immediately rolled out a software update on October 7 to mitigate the issue".

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(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). However, the Home Mini's Google Assistant feature can also be activated by long pressing the touch panel on top of the device. That is until he noticed something pretty unusual: It was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those clips to Google's servers.

But when the home speaker is Google's new Home Mini, all sorts of red flags go up. Russakovskii's Home Mini review unit was recording everything, and it all happened without his knowledge.

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After contacting Google press relations with an urgent request explaining the issue, Russakovskii heard back in minutes. He says the company replied to his initial e-mail within 10 minutes and issued a band-aid patch the day after his report. Pretty scary stuff, though it was clearly unintentional, defective behavior, which led to the swift deactivation of the touch control mechanism. If Google can't adjust the touch sensitivity through a software upgrade, it might have to recall the units it has sent out. Presumably, Google has warehouses full of units that it can test, debug, adjust, and maybe even delay.

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