Google Home Mini Runs Into Eavesdropping Issues

When Google first tried to join the highly competitive Bluetooth speaker market with Google Home, it was obviously a competitor to Amazon’s Echo with built-in Alexa voice assistant.

That comparison is even more obvious with the release of the Google Home Mini, essentially the same thing as the Echo Dot, except with Google Assistant instead of Alexa and no wireless option. In theory it’s a good idea that makes voice assistants more flexible around the house, but in practice, the Home Mini is already in trouble, even without looking at Amazon’s superior market share.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, Google is fighting a wave of bad press after the company was forced to admit that the Home Mini was listening in on random conversations around the house even without the keyword phrase (“OK, Google”), and recording those conversations.

Smart Device: Google Home Mini
The Home Mini is easier to place than the original home.

This is an incredible disaster for Google, and probably a blow to Apple and Amazon’s similar products, too: if there’s one thing consumers worry about with these voice command devices, it’s that they might be eavesdropping on private matters.

Now that this nightmare scenario is confirmed for the Home Mini – even though it appears to be a mistake – the future of this device is uncertain. Google has currently issued an update that makes the Home Mini activation button useless (apparently this activation button was causing some of the issues), and we wouldn’t be surprised if the product is pulled from the market for a while.

But whether or not Google decides to wait for a more opportune time to sell the Home Mini, let’s take a quick look at its features: In essence, the Home Mini offers the same capabilities that Home does, with the ability to ask questions (weather, recipes, sports scores, the usual voice assistant things), and control smart home devices.

The smart home side of Home devices is particularly strong, since Google has excellent relationships with smart home brands and plenty of compatibility with all common smart devices.

The draw to the Home Mini vs. the Home is that the Mini is more affordable at $50, and that it’s a lot smaller. The Home is meant to be placed in a central living room or family center location where it can broadcast tunes and hear people around the house. The mini is designed for the bedside table or kitchen, where it’s not going to play much music but rather give simple reports and command smart devices. Of course, you have to get over the whole eavesdropping thing first.

Tyler Lacoma

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.

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One Comment

  1. “we wouldn’t be surprised if the product is pulled from the market for a while. ”

    Do not think so. It was a problem with a batch of Minis and was being used in a bathroom so Google turned off the button that was sticking. Do not think you will see the product pulled from the market.

    Where I live you can run into a Target, Walmart, Bestbuy or other stores and pick one up and appear to be selling well. I went to a Google pop store and it was easily the most popular product being sold.

    Personally love ours. Can not go wrong fro $50.

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