Pre-release Google Home Mini goes rogue, starts recording 24/7

Pre-release Google Home Mini goes rogue, starts recording 24/7

Google says in a support note that it's fixed an issue that caused the Home Mini's touch controls to behave incorrectly.

Discovered by one user Artem Russakovskil and reported on Android Police, it appears that some Google Home Mini units have been recording everything round them 24/7 rather than replying to direct voice commands activated with phrase "OK Google". When attempting to watch something on a nearby television, he noticed that the Home Mini was turning itself on several times during the show and trying to listen.

Russakovskii then proceeded to check in on Google's My Activity portal which has a dedicated section for the Assistant.

There, clear as day, were thousands of items, each with a play button and a timestamp - recordings.

As Russakovskii noted in the report, that recorded data is sent to Google by default in order to improve accuracy.

It's great to see Google hurry to fix the issue, but this is still a PR nightmare. According to his report, Google told him that this was the first time they had heard of the issue. "We immediately rolled out a software update on October 7 to mitigate the issue". Apparently the touch sensor fault is limited to Home Mini speakers given out at Made by Google events.

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Preventing "long-press to talk" on all Mini devices is a short-term solution, but it seems to have come swiftly from Google.

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's temporarily resolved the problem by rolling out a software update that disables the touch panel entirely, so the only way to activate Assistant is by calling out the hotword.

Potentially impacted users can find more information on this Google support page.

Google drove to Russakovskii's home to swap the devices, so they could study his unit and better understand the issue. 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.

In response, Google has disabled the malfunctioning touch activation feature for Google Assistant for all users, which caused the problematic recording.

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