Sure, it’s useful to have your digital assistant ready to help you out with just a verbal command to turn it on. But Google was forced to issue a software update recently after some of its new Home Mini devices started waking up thousands of times a day on its own, and recording any and every sound it heard.
According to Artem Russakovskii over at Android Police, the review Home Mini he had in his house would randomly wake up, record, and send the recordings to Google. He says he noticed it after he was trying to watch a TV show, and the Home Mini turned itself on several times a minute, listened to the show, and then tried to respond.
He says at one point it also took over his Spotify stream playing in the office and switch it to the Mini, sitting in his bathroom.
After that, he did some digging and discovered an “Assistant” section in Google’s My Activity portal, where he discovered “thousands of items, each with a Play button and a timestamp.”
He tested his Home Mini again, setting it up near a TV, where it repeatedly turned on, then shut off after recording each sound.
“When the volume increases, it actually attempts to respond to random queries,” writes Russakovskii. “I was even able to get it to turn on just by knocking on the wall.”
He reached out to Google to find out what the deal was, and found out that not all Home Minis had this issue, but that his was definitely not working correctly.
Google eventually picked up his Home Mini to swap it out for a new one, and gave him an initial assessment of the situation.
“We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly,” the company said on Saturday, noting that it was rolling out a software update that day that should address the issue.
As it turns out, the Home Mini can be activated with a long press on the touch panel as well as with hot words like “Okay, Google.” And some Home Mini devices are registering “phantom” touch events, causing them to wake up and do what they do.
The company says on a new support page for the issue that pre-order customers won’t be affected, and that the defect should be limited to those devices given out at Google events. Anyone else having problems in the meantime should contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121.