google home assistant smart speaker

Google’s collection of smart speakers, formerly Google Home, is usually pretty reliable. However, a faulty software update seems to be killing some Google Home units over the past few days for those enrolled in the Preview Program.

Last year, a stable update for Google’s Assistant smart speakers bricked some Home and Home Mini devices beyond repair. After the story broke and more users had trouble, Google replaced every broken unit even if they were out of warranty.

This time around, the update shouldn’t be affecting everyone. As Android Police spotted, a Google Home update rolling out via the Preview Program is what’s killing units.

Update 1/30: A few days after the issue first appeared, Google has patched up this update which was killing some units. A Google spokesperson tells 9to5Google that a fix has been released and that it should recover devices that stopped working.

We’ve resolved a server configuration issue that caused a small number of people to have trouble using their Google Home. A fix has been released and devices should recover with no action required from users.

So far it’s only looking like the original Google Home is affected – the LEDs at the top of the device turn orange and flash continually. Further, these units won’t respond to hotwords at all. To troubleshoot the problem, users have tried resetting devices and some have found success. However, others have found that connecting is impossible after that reset, effectively bricking the device.

Issues like this are a common “problem” with beta software, but Google doesn’t actually claim its Preview Program is beta. Rather, the company explains it as an “opt-in channel” which “gives members of the program early access to features and improvements on their device.” Google even explicitly says that this isn’t a beta program and that these updates are the “same quality as production version updates.”

It’s unclear if there’s a software fix for this issue or if affected units are just dead at this point. If it becomes widespread enough, Google will probably issue replacements or free upgrades to newer hardware. At least, that’s our hope considering these speakers are entering their fourth year on the market.

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Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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