We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly. The company was quick to respond to the issue and has already deployed an update to stop the vulnerability.
In order to avoid consumer fears of introducing eavesdropping devices into their homes, most smart speakers are created to not record any audio unless they hear "wake words". Since the company is releasing the speaker in a few days, it took Google less than three hours to scoop up the rogue speaker from his home. 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.
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 USA, the company informed Sky News, however it may still cause concern for British consumers. It assumed that the user is holding the top of the device to ask a question, and hence it randomly activate and recorded everything going around. It did blink the lights when recording the sounds, but no audible tone. To interact with the Home Mini, you can either say "OK Google" or tap the top of its touch-sensitive surface. It will only respond to the trigger words now.
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Normally, when the Google Assistant - which gives the Home Mini its smart credentials - is activated it records what's being said and fires that data to a Google cloud server to process it, and then apply levels of machine learning to make sense of what a user is asking the Home Mini to do. We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue. A vulnerability like this reflects poorly on Google's hardware though.
The Home Mini, a miniature version of Google Home, the company's smart voice assistant, will come out on 19 October, costing £49. It's a new product, so it's not hard to imagine Google fixing these flaws to get this device closer to perfection.