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Google ditches Home Mini's top-touch panel feature after spying blunder

12 October, 2017, 15:35 | Author: Nadine Todd
  • Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

Google has made a decision to "permanently remove" the feature that led its smart speaker "Home Mini" accidentally record several times a day without being given any command from the user. The update will be completely rolled out by October 15.

GOOGLE HAS CRIPPLED the Home Mini's touch panel after it was revealed a "small number" of them were listening in on unsuspecting victims and recording their surroundings around the clock.

The new device is equipped with a sensitive surface that reacts to touch stimuli that can be used to issue a command instead of saying "OK Google". All users have to do is say "Hey Google" or "Ok Google".

"It was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google", he said. Among all those two products there were two gadgets that excited the people most - Pixel Phone and Google Home Mini.

As ZDNet reported yesterday, Google's first firmware update for the Home Mini switched off the touch function after it was found that a unit handed out at the Made by Google launch was recording nearly everything it heard and transmitting the data to Google. For the years Facebook, Google, Apple and many others have changed the way we approach privacy. Ars Technica reported that Google's patch had disabled the touch panel of their test unit even though the mini speaker did not act "crazy". The company says on a support page that it also "removed any activity/queries that were created by long pressing the top of a Google Home Mini between October 4 and October 7".

"My Google Home Mini was inadvertently spying on me 24/7 due to a hardware flaw", he wrote on the site.

As with all recordings made by the Home and Home Mini, these were uploaded and stored on Google's servers to improve the intelligence of Google Assistant. So, all top touch features have been "permanently remove [ed]" from the device. You can still adjust the volume by using the touch control on the side of the device. However, those who want to turn it on by touch were able to hold their hands down on the device and send off some requests to Google's virtual assistant. In any case, from now on tapping the device will do nothing, and you'll have to chat to it to get its attention.

Google initially addressed the problem by saying a software fix would stop the smart home device from recording.

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