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

Image Credit Droid-Life

Image Credit Droid-Life

Google has made a decision to "permanently remove" the feature that led its smart speaker "Home Mini" accidentally record several times a day without being given any command from the user.

Nevertheless, the issue affecting the touch-control interface affects just "a small number" of devices, Google assured users. The rationale behind the move is Google giving people "complete peace of mind" when they use Google Home Mini, the company said. For the years Facebook, Google, Apple and many others have changed the way we approach privacy. Now, an updated will be rolled out to every Home Mini by the end of October 15, permanently removing the touch-to-listen feature. Touching the side to adjust the Mini's volume is also unaffected. Google also noted at the time that the problem affected units that were designed for those who were reviewing the device and wouldn't be a problem in Google Home Mini units consumers would get when the device would go on sale on October 19. This can be switched off here, but Google says doing so will negatively impact its understanding of what you say. After asking for Google's help, the reporter found that the unit had a damaged touch panel that recorded "phantom" touch events. With the launch of Google Home Mini, Google may apparently be having an access to all private and very personal voice conversations you have with your family members. So far so good, except - as he only discovered days later - the Mini was recording "thousands of times a day" and sending those recordings to Google.

Google launched the Home Mini on October and expects the first pre-order devices to ship by October 18. Russakovskii apparently got one of the defective devices. Prior to the update, users could activate Google's artificially intelligence assistant by either touching the panel or by saying "OK Google". The Mini's left and right buttons will continue to work for adjusting the volume.

"My Google Home Mini was inadvertently spying on me 24/7 due to a hardware flaw", he wrote on the site. It's a good thing this issue was uncovered before the home hubs went on general sale, but does perhaps raise wider concerns around the potential for recording devices in our homes to malfunction, and capture information we may not be happy with sharing.

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