Science

Google dumps Home Mini's top touch function over privacy

Google dumps Home Mini's top touch function over privacy”

Google Home Mini gave one early tester a shock (not literally) when he found that the gadget was recording every bit of sound in the house before transmitting it to Google.

According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, after he got the speaker to his home, he chose to get it installed in the bathroom.

For Amazon's Echo devices the wake word is Alexa, while Google devices and services require users to say "Okay, Google" or "Hey, Google" to activate the device.

A software bug in Google's Home Mini smart speaker left the device recording everything, nearly constantly, and transmitting those recordings to Google's servers.

With the top button gone, the Home Mini now has to be activated entirely by voice, which isn't really a huge limitation since it's created to be a voice assistant. Since, Russakovskii touched the panel randomly instead of saying "OK Google", the defective touch panel started recording the events. A hardware problem caused the sensor to permanently report being pressed, which made the Home Mini think Google Assistant was being summoned.

A privacy bug has proved fatal for a feature in Google's Home Mini smart speaker.

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.

Just like any other Internet connected device, the Home Mini is also capable of violating privacy.

The issue was discovered by Artem Russakovskii, who received a review unit of the £49 speaker from Google.

The Google Home Mini's top touch functionality will be disable via a software update that will be completely rolled out by the end of October 15.

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. According to Wired, Google has perfectly pitched the product, emphasizing the device's smart features over its functionality as a speaker. The Home Mini does retain the side touch volume control, but that's pretty much it for touch controls.



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