Archive for the ‘Google Home’ Category

Google workers listen to your “OK Google” queries—one of them leaked recordings

July 11th, 2019
Three different Google Home smart speakers sitting next to each other on a table.

Enlarge / The Google Home Mini, the original Google Home, and the Google Home Max. (credit: Google)

Google today defended its practice of having workers listen to users' Google Assistant queries, following the leak of 1,000 voice recordings to a media outlet. Google also said it will try to prevent future leaks of its users' voice recordings.

VRT NWS, a news organization run by a public broadcaster in the Flemish region of Belgium, said it "was able to listen to more than a thousand [Google Assistant] recordings" that it received from a Google subcontractor.

Google Assistant is used on Google Home smart speakers, Android devices, and Chromebooks.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Google Assistant, Google Home, Ok Google, Tech | Comments (0)

Lenovo Smart Clock review: A small smart display that doesn’t display much

June 3rd, 2019
Lenovo Smart Clock review: A small smart display that doesn’t display much

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Google, Amazon, Facebook, and the like want to convince you that you need a smart display. But as we've explored in previous reviews, most smart displays are luxury versions of their screen-less counterparts. Everything that you can do with an Amazon Echo or a Google Home can be done with a comparable smart display, but the latter can show you visual information and (in some cases) videos. If you don't care much for visual information in such a device, why spring for a smart display? These devices are hard sells, particularly because most cost $150 or more.

That's not the case with Lenovo's new Smart Clock. It's the first Google-Assistant answer to Amazon's Echo Spot, serving as a tiny smart screen that shows the time by default and can be used to set alarms and do everything a regular Google Home device does. It could be an ideal device for someone who wants a virtual assistant at home and could use some visual information in their daily routine. But most importantly, it's great for those who don't want to spend a lot—Lenovo's Smart Clock costs $79, which is even more affordable than the $129 Echo Spot.

But a few big differences distinguish Lenovo's Smart Clock from Amazon's Echo Spot, and they will be make-or-break for some users. We used both devices for about a week simultaneously to see if a tiny smart display is the way to go and how the two compare to each other.

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Posted in alexa, amazon, echo spot, Features, google, Google Assistant, Google Home, Lenovo, smart clock, Tech | Comments (0)

Illinois bill banning eavesdropping by IoT devices defanged by tech lobby

April 11th, 2019
Illinois' Senate had a bill that would ban devices from eavesdropping without telling you. But the Internet Alliance made sure the bill as passed would have no teeth.

Enlarge / Illinois' Senate had a bill that would ban devices from eavesdropping without telling you. But the Internet Alliance made sure the bill as passed would have no teeth. (credit: NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

On April 10, the Illinois State Senate passed the "Keep Internet Devices Safe Act," a bill that would ban Internet device manufacturers from collecting audio from Internet-connected devices without disclosing it to consumers. But the bill was substantially neutered after a fierce lobbying effort by an industry association backed by Amazon and Google.

The bill passed on the heels of Amazon's admission that the company sometimes sends copies of audio clips captured by its Echo devices to offices around the world for transcription by employees—something not mentioned in Echo's terms of service or FAQ pages.

The bill as passed by the Senate states:

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Posted in amazon echo, Biz & IT, Google Home, Illinois Senate, Policy, wiretaps | Comments (0)

Your gadget could save your life: smart speaker phones police

July 11th, 2017

We write a lot about the privacy issues of smart speakers in your home – but one device might have saved lives in an alleged hostage situation

Posted in alexa, always-on listening, Google Home, IoT, Law & order, New Mexico, Ok Google, Siri, voice activation, voice assistants | Comments (0)