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Science
24 Feb 2019

Apparently, Google "forgot" informing about mic in Nest Secure devices

Google "forgets" informing about microphone in Nest devices

Google is facing flak from privacy advocates as it failed to inform Nest Secure buyers about a microphone included in the device.

The home security system went on sale more than two years ago, but its takers had no clue that the product had a built-in mic.

It came to notice when Google announced a surprise update for the device.

Here's what happened.

In context

Google "forgets" informing about microphone in Nest devices
Nest Secure update reveals microphone

Issue

Nest Secure update reveals microphone

Since September 2017, Google has been selling Nest Secure as an ideal solution for smart home security.

However, earlier this month, the search giant shocked everyone when it claimed it is releasing an update which would bring voice-controlled Google Assistant into the system.

People were shocked as no one actually knew that the $399 device packed a microphone in the first place.

Google claimed Nest Secure's hub supports Google Assistant

In its announcement, Google claimed Nest Secure's central 'hub' component, the Nest Guard, will support Assistant, allowing users to ask questions like "Hey Google, do I need an umbrella today?". However, the specifications page of the product had no mention of an integrated microphone.

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Google's response

Google acknowledged the 'error'

After the omission came to light and people started raising concerns, Google accepted its mistake.

"The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs," a company spokesperson said. "That was an error on our part."

The company added the mic has never been on and is activated only when users choose to do so.

Either way, this is a critical blunder from Google

Problem

Either way, this is a critical blunder from Google

Though Google has accepted the error, it is extremely uncommon to see one of the largest technology companies in the world make such a rookie mistake, especially in the case of a home security product.

The company defended its move by saying it kept a microphone to introduce more capabilities into the product such as the ability to detect the sound of shattering glass.

Previous controversies

And, this isn't the first issue with Nest device

Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014 and has been offering a range of IoT products, including doorbells and security cameras, through the company.

However, many of these products have been involved in privacy-related controversies lately.

Just last month, an attacker compromised a Nest device to issue a fake nuclear attack alarm, while in another case, a hacker issued a kidnapping threat.

Ask NewsBytes
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Most asked questions

Will Google accept returns for these devices?

How microphone raises privacy concerns

Is Nest under Google or Alphabet?

What are the products offered by Nest?

More questions

Will Google accept returns for these devices?

Asked 2019-02-24 00:07:11 by Charvi Verma

Answered by NewsBytes

No, Google has not said it will accept returns for Nest devices.

How microphone raises privacy concerns

Asked 2019-02-24 00:07:11 by Trisha Balasubramanium

Answered by NewsBytes

Many would think that Google could use the microphone to learn about people's lives and use that information to target them with ads.

Is Nest under Google or Alphabet?

Asked 2019-02-24 00:07:11 by Cheshta Patil

Answered by NewsBytes

Nest went under Alphabet for a short while but now, it comes under Google.

What are the products offered by Nest?

Asked 2019-02-24 00:07:11 by Aadhya Chavan

Answered by NewsBytes

Nest offers a range of products, including home security systems, doorbells, security cameras, and thermostats.

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