Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Google Home Mini recorded audio all the time

Google Home Mini recorded audio all the time

It helps that the Google Home Mini has a light indicator that shows when it's active and vice versa.

As many as 4,000 Google Home Minis handed out at Made By Google press and pop-up events could have a flaw making them capture virtually all audio around them before uploading the recordings to Google servers, Android Police reported on Tuesday. After swapping the device with Google, Google engineers determined that Russakovskii's Home Mini had a defective touch panel that was registering "phantom" touch events.

Normally, the Google Home Mini would sit nonchalantly wherever you place it and ignore you until it hears it's wakeup command that means a request is coming. "We immediately rolled out a software update on October 7 to mitigate the issue". Google Glass was notoriously badly received mainly for the on-board camera, and the Google Home (and Mini) come with mute switches for the mic built-in. Google said the problem was accidental and that it has now been fixed.

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With security and privacy at the forefront of everyone's minds these days, especially with products that are capable of recording your conversation, this is obviously not the type of bug that Google wants right before a product launch. "Made By Google" events presumably don't just cover the press event; they also cover the pre-release giveaways that have been occurring at pop-up stores across the USA and Canada.

Ars can confirm that our pre-release Mini had the long-touch functionality when we first set it up, and the touch-to-talk feature was recently disabled. However, the alarming part in this whole snooping episode is that the Home Mini didn't make any noise while recording the sounds.

A day later, Google discovered the cause of the near-constant recording. 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. However it seems that the review units that were sent out had some bugs. Russakovskii's problems arose because it was later found out that there is actually another way to wake up the Mini other than the hotword - and this method is faulty.

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