March 25, 2018

Google disables the Mini speaker's top button to fix spying bug

12 October 2017, 02:22 | Kevin Scott

The Verge

The Verge

Meanwhile, the company disabled the feature that starts audio recording after a long-press move on all Google Home Minis.

It also released a software update to disable the top touch button completely, but Google has now made a decision to remove the touch functionality altogether.

Artem Russakovskii of Android Police reported that the Google Home Mini he was reviewing was randomly and nearly constantly recording sounds in his home and transmitting them to Google. "We've made a decision to permanently remove all top touch functionality on Google Home Mini". For what it's worth, Google Home users can always go into the Google Home app and see every single time one of their Home devices is activated and even see what the Home heard - this is, after all, how this initial Home Mini issue was discovered in the first place.

The official Google statement acknowledged the bug issue.

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According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, after he got the speaker to his home, he chose to get it installed in the bathroom. Android Police identified the error on one of its review units, and Google resolved the problem before any Home Mini units could actually ship out to customers (aside from however many it gave out at events). "Say "Ok Google" or 'Hey Google ' to control music, alarms and timers", added Google.

Google has issued the following statement: "We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously".

Google launched "Home Mini" on October 4 for $49 at an event in San Francisco. Something creepy happened two days later, when Russakovskii noticed that the device is getting activated repeatedly and recording randomly. The gadgets will still respond to voice and volume can be adjusted by tapping the side of the device. Doing so will, however, affect the accuracy of the device's voice recognition. Prior to the update, users could activate Google's artificially intelligence assistant by either touching the panel or by saying "OK Google". Shortly after the issue was brought to Google's attention on October 7, the company created a support page, rolled out a software update, and removed all correspondence with the device initiated with the top touch between October 4 and October 7. The fix, though, means a feature from the Mini would no longer be available.

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