The Google Home Mini was announced at Google’s big hardware event last week, and it’s an awesome little product. However, it seems that at least some early units have shipped with a pretty major defect that brings our worst fears with these always-listening assistant to reality.
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“Always-listening” products like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and various smartphones have a lot of people worried about just how much audio they capture and send back to the company responsible, and transparency has, so far, been the reason why most of us are fine having them in the home. However, sometimes things don’t work out perfectly, as was the case with Artem Russakovskii of Android Police.
Russakovskii noticed a pretty major issue with his Home Mini unit in particular. Over the first few days using the speaker, he noticed that it was acting very strange and frustratingly wouldn’t do anything he asked. The cause? The Home Mini was constantly being triggered to listen to commands.
Artem goes pretty in-depth with the timeline of events over on his post (which included an expedition of Googlers to pick up his unit for examination), but the long story short is that his Home Mini, along with a few others as the company says, shipped with a pretty big defect.
We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly. We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue.
The long-press gesture that you’ve probably heard about (which is also on the standard Home) fell victim to what Google calls “phantom touches.” Due to this, the Home Mini keeps being constantly triggered thinking that it’s been asked to by physical input. That triggers the device to start listening and recording what you are saying so it can attempt to provide an answer. Needless to say, that’s a pretty major privacy concern.
Thankfully, Google was quick to work on fixing this. A minor software update already pushed to Home Mini disables that hardware gesture, leaving the Home Mini only usable with a typical “OK Google” command. Google has already updated its documentation to reflect that this is temporarily disabled, and it may stay that way once units are fully available on the market.
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Now that this update is in place, Google is working on a long-term fix, but it’s unclear what that will entail as it could require a recall of units already out there. Luckily for Google, the only units out there right now are press members who attended the event and anyone who got a unit from a “Donut Shop” giveaway.
If you pre-ordered a Home Mini and want to ensure this fix is in place, simply ensure it is running firmware version 1.28.100122.