Google Forced To Break The Home Mini To Stop It Spying On People

Google has had to kill off one of the Home Mini’s features because it was causing devices to record their owners all the time.

A serious issue with the voice assistant’s touch panel meant a “small number” of them went rogue, and kept monitoring their users even when they weren’t supposed to.

Google has been investigating the issue since late last week, and has now decided to take drastic action.

11 hidden Google Chrome features you didn't know existed

11 hidden Google Chrome features you didn't know existed

  • 1/11 Easter Eggs

    There are a lot of Easter Eggs hidden in Chrome, and more and more are discovered each year. One of our favourites is the dinosaur game. The next time you fail to connect to the internet on Chrome, tap the spacebar. It’s also worth Googling “barrel roll”, “zerg rush”, “super mario bros” (and clicking the question mark graphic), “festivus”, “recursion”, “askew” and “atari breakout” (and then clicking Images).

  • 2/11 Pin tabs

    If you tend to browse with a lot of tabs open at once, you can clear up the clutter by pinning the ones you’re least likely to close. Right-click them and select Pin Tab. They’ll automatically shrink and slide left.

  • 3/11 Save battery

    You can save some battery life by sacrificing performance. In Settings, scroll down to the System section and uncheck the box reading Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed. We wouldn’t recommend having this feature enabled all the time, but it could come in handy if you’re nowhere near a charger.

  • 4/11 Browse faster

    There are loads of Chrome Extensions available, but one of the most useful is Google’s Data Saver. It compresses the pages you visit to reduce data usage and speed up loading times.

  • 5/11 Make multiple profiles

    If you use multiple Google accounts, for work and for personal use, for instance, you can keep your bookmarks and browsing history for each account separate by creating individual profiles. Go to Settings, Manage People and Add Person. This is also handy for when you lend your computer to a friend, and you don’t want them to have access to your internet history.

  • 6/11 Downloads

    Many users would prefer it if Chrome downloaded files straight to the desktop, but by default it sends them to your Downloads folder. You can change this by going to Settings, opening the Show Advanced Settings menu, clicking Downloads and choosing your preferred destination.

  • 7/11 Extra info

    To see cookies and permissions for every site you visit, click the View Site Information symbol on the left-hand edge of the omnibar. It will also let you quickly control things like Popup and Location settings.

  • 8/11 Task manager

    You can quickly find out which pages are using up the most memory and slowing down your browsing experience by opening the burger menu, going down to More Tools and opening the Chrome Task Manager.

  • 9/11 Calculator

    When you’re online and need to do a quick sum, you don’t have to hunt down your computer calculator or whip out your phone. Just type it into the Chrome omnibar and hit Enter.

  • 10/11 Startup

    If there’s a certain set of pages you always open when you turn your computer on, you can get Chrome to open them automatically when you launch the browser. In Settings, click Set Pages in the On Startup section, and choose the ones you want.

  • 11/11 Search Gmail from omnibar

    You can search your gmail inbox directly from the omnibar by going to Settings, Manage Search Engines, scrolling to the bottom and pasting https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#apps/%s into the box on the right-hand side.

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 touch panel has now been completely broken by the company, because it was causing the device to malfunction. 

“We've decided to permanently remove all top touch functionality on Google Home Mini,” said Google. 

“We made this decision to avoid any confusion and give you complete peace of mind while using your Mini. The update will be completely rolled out by end of day October 15, 2017.”

The Home Mini will now only respond to you when you say "Okay Google" or "Hey Google". 

Originally, you could also use the touch panel to control music, alarms, and timers, but this functionality has been ditched too. 

You can, however, do the same things by using variations of voice commands like, “Ok Google pause”, “Hey Google play” and “Ok Google stop”.

The touch panel problem was first reported by technology journalist Artem Russakovskii, who received an early-release Google Home Mini at the company’s recent Pixel launch event and kept it in his bathroom.

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“It was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google,” he said. “All of this was done quietly, with only the four lights on the unit I wasn't looking at flashing on and then off.”

After investigating, Google described it as a “phantom” issue, and said users can delete any recordings on Google’s My Activity page

The Home Mini, a miniature version of Google Home, the company’s smart voice assistant, will come out on 19 October, costing £49.

Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-home-mini-spying-listening-disable-touch-panel-update-stop-recording-a7996396.html

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