Google was accidentally listening in on some users due to a mishap with a recent update to smart home devices. The news follows a recently-reported confirmation from the company, which narrowed down the problem to the unintentional release of features. Specifically, the company says that it rolled out glass break and smoke alarm detection features to the wrong users.
The problem with that, as described by Google, is that those sounds’ detection mechanism runs all the time. That’s as part of a Nest Aware plan, so isn’t typically a bad thing.
With the plan in place, the smart speakers in Google’s home ecosystem are always on the look-out for the sound of breaking glass or a smoke alarm. If it hears one, it alerts the user. But users who have not opted in for Nest Aware wouldn’t have necessarily known or wanted that to happen.
Google indicates that only a subset of Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max speakers were impacted. And that this was caused by a faulty update.
When is the fix coming for the ‘accidental’ Google listening?
It’s not immediately clear how long the software was live on end-users smart home devices. At least not for now. But it does appear that Google legitimately was only listening in accidentally, and not deliberately.
Moreover, Google says that there was very little chance of any breaches being caused by this type of mistake. And, in fact, the search giant says that there were no breaches at all this time around.
In the interim, it has already set about finding the problem and issued a fix. So any users who were unintentionally seeing notifications about glass breaking or a smoke alarm should notice that they don’t anymore.
This wasn’t as bad as it could have been
Now, glitches such as this appear in smart home setups with some frequency. That’s not necessarily going to make users feel a whole lot better. Especially with consideration for at least a few recent examples of that. But this error, in particular, could have been far worse. Especially if any breaches had occurred.