Some users have been reporting that an update pushed to Google's Home-branded speakers has been bricking the devices since at least January and the search giant doesn't seem to have an answer for the problem. The problem has been reported with both Google Home and Google Mini AI-assisted speakers both new and old.
For clarity, users are reporting that they are discovering their speakers with all of its top-facing lights turned on. In at least one case back in January, that was the case out-of-the-box. The Google Home Mini no longer worked, once the initial setup and subsequent updates were completed. The reports come via both Google's dedicated help forums and more recently from other sites such as Reddit.
Users say those devices are completely broken in the purported lights-on state. At that point, users say that no volume controls, voice commands, or even the speakers working as they should.
Is there anything users can do about this?
A small subset of users has been able to successfully reset their devices using various different methods available. In at least a few cases, turning off the device by unplugging it for a few minutes has worked. Other users report being able to complete the factory reset process. That's accomplishable by holding down the physical reset key, marked on the exterior of Home devices. In other cases, a reboot has worked through the software.
To software reset, users need to navigate to Google's Home app and tap on the offending device. Once loaded up, if it does load up, tapping on the settings gear icon calls forward the appropriate menu. After booting into the device's individual settings, users need to tap on the three-dot icon at the top-right-hand corner. That brings forward an option to "reboot."
The real problem is that some Google Home users report that none of those methods work. When trying to reset the device, a light on top turns green but nothing happens. Unplugging the device for as much as a day in one case does absolutely nothing.
Everything here seems to point to an issue in the firmware update not completing properly. Making matters worse, Google representatives don't have the answer for cases where a reboot or reset isn't fixing the problem. The search giant isn't offering up a firm solution and some users are having difficulty getting a replacement. That's especially true for out-of-warranty devices.
How is Google responding to the Home speaker-bricking problem?
A Google representative responded to some commenters back in late September, saying that the company is looking into the issue. In the interim, at least a few users have reported that they were able to get replacements. That may end up being the only fix for the Home smart speakers bricking because of updates.
The issue arrives with particularly bad timing for Google, in the midst of launching a new generation of smart home devices. Google is selling those rebranded with the Nest name. The most recently launched of those is, in fact, the Google Nest Mini, a replacement for the very device that seems to be having issues. The problem also arrives among a slew up updates intended to make the overall experience better.
That could have serious implications in terms of Google's ability to grow and compete in the smart home market.