The number of devices believed to be affected by the bug is quite low - being limited to devices given out at a "Made by Google" event in the U.S., the company informed Sky News, however it may still cause concern for British consumers. The Google Home Mini won't officially hit store shelves until October 19.
As of now, Google brushed the issue aside by rolling out a patch and terming the issue as a hardware issue. According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, the Google Home Mini he was reviewing was randomly and near-constantly recording sounds in his home and transmitting them to Google. These pre-production units were not even notifying the user while recording audio clips and sending them to Google servers. Google has altered the software so a simple touch won't activate the Assistant, you have to say the wake word instead.
While this in itself is a fairly minor inconvenience, it has major implications for the privacy of users and could, in theory, let Google monitor everything that is said in your home. Following the report, Google has temporarily disabled the feature. 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. However, there's also a touch-sensitive button on the top that can initiate a voice command, and this is apparently the problem.
The Google Home Mini isn't out yet, but Google is already dealing with an issue related to it.
It turns out that some Google Home Minis, the smart speakers that the company released in early October, were nearly continuously recording audio from users' homes.
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'It was waking up, recording, then sending those recordings to Google. It was here that he noticed the thousands of recordings with timestamps to go along with them.
The Home Mini, Google's donut-shaped Amazon Echo Dot rival, is cute, teensy, and adorable.
As a leader in search and keeper of many pieces of personal information Google is ultra-conscious of any perceived privacy incursions from their products.
It's great to see Google hurry to fix the issue, but this is still a PR nightmare. The devices basically act as if someone is long-pressing the button to activate Assistant all the time, so they are recording nearly constantly.