Google has now officially responded to recent reports of an apparent software glitch which allowed Google Search to return a device's SMS messages. For those who may not be aware, the glitch in question was discovered by a Reddit user who had mistakenly typed "1975..com" into a Google search. The result of that search, which took place in the Google app, was a list of all incoming text messages for the device on which the search was performed. Other users then began reporting the same response when searches included a set of letters followed by the word "viagens." There was some speculation as to whether the results were some sort of Easter Egg, a bug, or deliberate and concerns about whether any privacy risks were associated with it. However, it turns out that may not have been much to worry about.
The search giant has since come forward to explain that the search results stem from a "language detection bug." The bug only displays messages on the device on which the search is performed and the system has to be given access by the user in order to return those results. As described by Google, the app had simply incorrectly interpreted certain strings of text as a "request" to view recent text messages. In fact, the problem has already been fixed on Google's end, according to the company. That means the code to mitigate the error has already been instigated in a server-side commit and users should expect that to roll out over the next few days with an official update to the Google application. At the same time, any other applications that might have been affected will almost certainly be updated within that same timeframe.
Given how well-integrated Google's search is with all of its other products, this is one bug that could actually have been much worse. That would have been especially true in any scenario where private information can be returned by an app without proper prompting. So it's good that the company's employees were able to work out what the problem was and implement a fix so quickly.