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Google accidentally enables Home smart speakers to listen in to everyday house sounds

The Independent - Tech

Google accidentally enabled a feature for Google Home users which let the smart speaker listen to the sounds of objects in your house. A user on Reddit spotted a notification on his phone from his smart speaker which alerted him to the fact his smoke alarm was going off while he was cooking. Usually, Google Home devices only respond to its active'wake words' – such as "Ok, Google" or "Hey, Google" – but in this instance the speaker was listening out to a passive sound and make "my dumb smoke detectors smart," the Reddit user wrote. Other users reported getting alerts for the sound of glass breaking, popped bubble wrap, an air compressor tank, and other high-pitched noises that sound like alarms. In a statement to Protocol, a Google spokesperson said that the feature was accidentally enabled through a recent software update which has now been reversed.

Google smart speakers secretly updated to listen for more than wake words


Google Home smart speakers, the company dryly warns in a note buried deep on a support page, can "incorrectly" record their users even when they haven't first said an activating wake phrase like "hey, Google." It just so happens that, at least for a brief period of time this summer, those microphone-enabled devices were doing exactly that. The company admitted Monday, following a report by Protocol, that it had updated an unspecified number of Google Assistant-enabled devices to respond to auditory cues beyond the user-specified wake phrase. Google told Protocol this was a mistake that was quickly fixed, but did not appear to address the larger privacy concerns that such a mistake signifies. After all, how are users supposed to trust a live microphone in their home if someone can remotely update it to be even more invasive without their knowledge?

Amazon's bestselling smart speaker, the 3rd Gen Echo Dot is now under £30

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Amazon's bestselling and most popular smart speaker, the 3rd generation Echo Dot with Alexa voice control is a must-have smart device for any home. And with a current saving of 40 per cent (£20), this is an incredible deal that shouldn't be missed. Now just £29.99, the Echo Dot can stream songs, set timers and connect with other Amazon devices. It can also track fitness, answer questions, and allow you to voice control your home. Simply plug in, connect to wifi, and the Alexa smart speaker is ready to go.

The best smart speakers for all budgets

The Guardian

After almost six years on the market, smart speakers now come in a variety of sizes, shapes, capabilities and prices. Whether you want a cheap speaker to keep the kids entertained, one that doubles as a digital photo frame or one that sounds so good you'll want to yell "turn it up to 11", here's a quick guide to the best on the market. Google's Assistant is the best voice system on the market. It has better understanding than rivals, an enormous range of knowledge and – importantly – the ability to choose between male and female voices, even on a user-by-user basis as Google can distinguish between the individuals giving instructions. The Nest Mini is the second generation of Google's smallest and cheapest smart speaker.

5 ways voice assistants will get better over the next 5 years - Digital Street


More than 500 million people use the Google voice assistant--found on Android phones and other Google devices like smart speakers--each month. This is just one sign of how quickly voice-powered artificial intelligence (AI) systems are becoming a part of our everyday lives. You can already ask the Google Assistant to help you with many tasks, from getting a quick update on the news, weather or the rand/dollar exchange rate to reading out your texts, composing a text or playing your favourite playlist of the moment. And as this technology improves and matures, you can expect voice assistants to be everywhere--your car, home, personal devices--and for them to be able to do even more amazing things. Over time, you can expect the voice assistants that surround you to be better able to understand and respond to your context, needs and preferences.

This is the best portable smart speaker we've ever tested

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

This speaker pumps out a lot of sound for its size, and it manages to balance portability and durability surprisingly well. The swivel handle on top makes it very easy to carry, and with its water-resistant design, the Portable Smart Speaker is at home at the beach or poolside. The Portable Smart Speaker is water-resistant. Here are the Portable Smart Speaker's Specs: The Portable Smart Speaker's round design allows for a 360-degree sound field, which is perfect for great sound in pretty much any space. Despite its compact size, this speaker puts out a surprising amount of volume, but it does begin to lose a little clarity as it approaches its max.

Your Google smart speaker is always listening--here's how to delete the recordings

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

These days, everything from the temperature in your house to the locks on your doors can be managed with a simple voice command to your favorite smart speaker, saving you time and stress while also allowing you to create the perfect home ambiance. But for every "Hey Google" you call out, there's a recording of your request backed up on your Google account. And while Google Assistant isn't meant to record your conversations unless you drop one of the wakeup commands ("Hey, Google," or "OK, Google"), the tech sometimes mishears what you're saying. Related: Here's how to delete your Alexa voice recordings Google Assistant can do a lot to make life a little easier, but you don't have to trade in your privacy to use it. Even worse, each and every one of those recordings has the potential to be heard by Google employees.

Everything we know--and don't know--about Google's new smart speaker


The cat's out of the bag as far as Google's latest smart speaker goes, with the company essentially confirming the rumored Home successor on Thursday with a coyly worded email containing a snapshot and a video of the unannounced device. Many key details about the new Google smart speaker are still shrouded in mystery, but we can tease out a few facts by studying the official photo and Google's brief teaser video. Well, no duh, but given that Google gives so little away in its teaser video, we might as well notch this one as one of the few certainties. In the brief video, a man on a sofa says "Hey Google, play some music," and four telltale LEDs on the new speaker (speakers, actually, there two of them) light up as the music begins to play. So yes, Google Assistant confirmed.

I tried a smart coffee maker--and it transformed my mornings

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

One of the best things about Amazon Alexa is that she can make life easier by helping you prepare for the day ahead. She read you the forecast, remind you of upcoming meetings, and much more. Now she can brew you a pot of coffee before you ever leave the bed. Like many people, coffee is essential for making my mornings run smoothly. While living in quarantine with my two young kids, I'm always looking for ways to automate my morning and make life less hectic, like letting Alexa brew me up a pot of the good stuff.

Upcoming Google Nest smart speaker emerges in regulatory filing


Google appeared to discontinue the original Home speaker when it recently marked the product as "no longer available" in its store. That move suggested a replacement smart speaker is on the way, and now we've gotten what's likely our first proper look at it. Recently certified by the FCC, here is our first look at GXCA6, the new @Google Nest Speaker, replacing the original Google Home. The Federal Communications Commission just certified some type of "wireless device" from the company, though many of the details about the gadget remained confidential. Reports have suggested that Google was working on a Nest-branded speaker to replace the Home and this filing fits the bill.