Google Home Mini Turns Into A 24/7 Spy On One Tech Reporter

Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

TECHNOLOGYGoogle admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users Email none

Google confirmed in a statement that it is permanently removing the top touch functionality of the Home Mini. Which means you can not do inputs like touch to play or pause audio.

Google had seemingly hoped to return the top button functionality to the Home Mini at a later date, but now the company seems to have given up on that - either because it couldn't figure out a way to do it, or simply out of an abundance of caution. We made this decision to avoid any confusion and give you complete peace of mind while using your Mini. This raised a serious privacy concern and Google acknowledged earlier this week that the bug affected a small number of units.

Google has said it will permanently disable the touch-sensitive function of all Google Home Minis - including touching it to pause/play audio, we suppose - following reports this week that issues with the software and hardware were causing the devices to constantly record and send audio back to Google.

This will likely affect some of the functionality of the Google Home Mini as the touch surface was meant to be used to control the speakers volume and media playback functions, among other things, as an alternative to voice-based commands.

While it's certainly conceivable that Google would be able to redesign the Home Mini's software to reject prolonged accidental activations, the bad optics of the situation somewhat forced its hand here. You can still adjust the volume by using the touch control on the side of the device. The Home Mini is designed as a miniature version of the Google Home that is tiny enough to sit anywhere in your house and can play music or make calls and other smart functions with the help of Google Assistant. Since, Russakovskii touched the panel randomly instead of saying "OK Google", the defective touch panel started recording the events. When he checked his personal activity page on Google, the site that shows users' interactions with the search giant's services and the data it collects on users, he found sound files that had been uploaded to Google's servers from the Mini without his consent. And yet, the glitch could both hamper sales of the device, as well as undermine trust in Google - trust that's at a premium, as Google and Amazon both work to convince consumers to let them place microphones in their homes.

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