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

Posted October 12, 2017

No paying customers have been affected by the bug, since the Google Home Mini doesn't officially launch until next week.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the issue to CNN Tech and said it stems from the touchpad, known as the activation button, on the devices given to early reviewers. Following the event, it sent members of the press home with a review unit of the Google Home Mini, expected to launch on October 19. After using the gadget, he went to his Google activity account page and noticed it was populated with audio clips recorded in his home. In the Home Mini case, it was a long press on the touch panel, which allowed you to ask the assistant a question without saying the hotword. Google issued a software update to patch the problem.

We'll bet Google is rushing to fix the issue before the device starts shipping on October 19th. I saw thousands of items, each with a Play button and a timestamp, all attributed to the cryptically named com.google.android.apps.chirp/mushroom/prod and Assistant.

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Unfortunately, a major and deeply unsettling issue impacted a "small number of Google Home Mini devices" given away at last week's Made by Google event, organized in honor of the company's two new smart home products, as well as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones, and the Pixelbook.

After a Google engineer examined his unit, the big G found out that the device's touch panel has been behaving erratically and activating the device on its own.

As Russakovskii explains, he'd placed the Home Mini in his bathroom but soon discovered it was waking up "thousands of times a day" and transmitting recordings to Google. Because his rooms are already laden with other Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers, he chose to plonk the Home Mini in his bathroom.

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As well as documenting his finding, Russakovskii reported the issue to Google - and the company was quick to respond and investigate.

The issue prevailed over the few initial units of Google Home Mini, including the ones that were distributed as review units. And it appears that the problem is a glitch that causes affected units to think that they should be recording when they should not.

While we may share a lot of our data with Google already, we do so with the knowledge that we've agreed to let the search giant hoover up information on our web searches.

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