Last week, Google announced the Google Home Mini — a smart speaker meant to compete with the likes of Amazon’s Echo Dot — to generally positive reviews.
Now, they’re in some deep water: turns out, some of the test units released to press members and giveaway contestants were randomly recording users’ conversations “thousands of times a day” and relaying the data back to Google.
The glitch was first noted by Android Police reporter Artem Russakovskii this past Tuesday, and in a matter of hours, a number of other reviewers confirmed they’d also been recorded.
Google swiftly responded by saying the devices in question had a defective center touch panel that, for some inexplicable reason, was registering “phantom touch events.”
Via a software update, the company then decided to permanently remove all touch functionality in the center console — which means that future buyers now might not be able to use the device as intended. As Ars Technica writes, someone at Google “messed up big time…
And the timing couldn’t be worse
Google has been battling concerns over secretive data snooping for years, and it took them decades to gain trust.
This fiasco — even if just a small glitch — is a living incarnation of everyone’s worst fears about the search giant, and it comes at a time where they’re attempting to compete with Amazon for smart assistant market share.
Google Home was a late entry into a stacked smart device field — and this doesn’t bode well for them in the “making up for lost time” department.