Google said on Wednesday that it had made an error in not disclosing the built-in microphone in its Nest Secure home security system. In a statement, Google said that the omission was a mistake and the microphone was never meant to be a secret.
Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014. Nest sells video doorbells, security cameras and thermostats that automatically adjust settings based on user behaviour. In 2017, Google started the sale of Nest Guard that controls home alarm sensors.
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Earlier this month, Google said that Nest Secure would be getting an update and users could now enable its virtual assistant Google Assistant on Nest Guard. But it hadn’t told consumers about the device’s built-in microphone.
Even as recently as January 2019, the product specifications for the device made no mention of a microphone. However, the updated product page now mentions one. Business Insider first reported the microphone had been missing from the product description.
In its defence, Google said that the microphone hasn’t been active since launch, and people have to specifically enable it going forward.
“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part. The microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option,” Google said.
Nest, which had operated as an independent unit, was merged into its Google hardware group last year by Alphabet.