Google will cripple the Home Mini to protect your privacy


The defective device was reportedly recording random touches so it could have the authorization to start audio recording and store the output on Google servers.

Nevertheless, the issue affecting the touch-control interface affects just "a small number" of devices, Google assured users. "We made this decision to avoid any confusion and give you complete peace of mind while using your Mini", the company wrote. "The update will be completely rolled out by end of day October 15, 2017", Google's statement reads.

The Google Home Mini had originally been programmed to record you when you either said "Okay Google" or "Hey Google", or tapped and held a touch panel on it. The limited group of people given the device - media, Google employees, and other attendees of the hardware event - will no longer see any interactions initiated with the touch function in My Activity, a place Google users can review, hear, or delete Google Assistant interactions. In past, Google has been caught multiple times for peeping illegitimately into your personal or professional life via browser, email or even search you use in your daily life.

While the Google Home Mini is yet to start shipping, a few who managed to get their hands on the product early reported that the speaker was recording sounds constantly and was sending the data back to Google.

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Because the Google Home Mini ($49) doesn't officially launch until next week, no paying customers have been impacted. Rather than wait for user input to tell Google Assistant to listen, the service instead recorded at will, creating a major privacy concern.

Normally, there are two ways to interact with Google's smart speakers, including the Mini. The Home Mini does retain the side touch volume control, but that's pretty much it for touch controls. A user can activate the device by saying "Hey Google". The company personally sent an executive to collect the device from Russakovskii. The Mini's left and right buttons will continue to work for adjusting the volume. So, all top touch features have been "permanently remove [ed]" from the device.

Google appeared to take what happened seriously, as the unit was picked up for examination, assessed, and a software update issued within the span of roughly 24 hours, Russakovskii said.