back to article Talk about a killer feature: Home, Home Mini gear replacements promised after fatal update bricks gadgets

Google has somehow managed to brick some of its own smart Home and Home Mini devices, leaving an unknown number completely unresponsive after an automated update. Following days of reports that people’s voice-controlled devices had suddenly stopped working and nothing could restore them, the internet goliath has finally …

  1. JohnFen Silver badge

    Schadenfreude

    This story made me actually laugh out loud.

    Yes, I'm a bad person.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Schadenfreude

      Yes, I'm a bad person.

      I very much doubt if you are the only one; count me in as well.

      1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

        Re: Schadenfreude

        "This could never happen to me..."

        I can say that with confidence since I'm one of the tinfoil-hat types that is refusing to install 'smart' devices in my home, but I feel for those who are saying it because they don't know any better.

        As always, you get to choose: either you get to be smart, or your devices. Not both.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Schadenfreude

          "you get to choose: either you get to be smart, or your devices. Not both."

          I don't agree with this, actually. My home is full of smart devices. But none of them can, or need to, talk to any machine that I don't own and control.

          But I'm sure that what you meant by "smart devices" is the crop of cloud-based spythings rather than the entire class of smart devices.

          1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

            Re: Schadenfreude

            Agreed. Just using the popular definition (as used on the six o'clock news). The "public" wouldn't consider

            locally operated automation to be smart devices, I'm afraid. And agreed that doing this in-house is the smart way.

    2. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

      Re: Schadenfreude

      A second thought, if I may.

      In most (probably all) states it is illegal for a utility to turn off service in households with small children during the winter months.

      Would/should that extend to cloud-based temperature controls? If so, companies like Google may end up with a change freeze from October through May... (pun intended).

  2. buzzki11

    And in classic Google fashion...

    In about 6 months to a year, the chocolate factory will be bored with all of it, and shut it down leaving all in a dumpster fire of failed integrations, dead hardware, and not as smart as they used to be, homes.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: And in classic Google fashion...

      I know a few who have this for appointment reminders, etc. and not a piece of paper with anything written down as a reminder. "It's all on the cloud and it's there forever." they say.

      Yes, there will be a lot of pissed off people when they finally decide to bin the whole thing.

      And so those who have relied on it will be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial oar.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: And in classic Google fashion...

        "It's all on the cloud and it's there forever."

        Man, do people really think that? If there's one thing the cloud doesn't provide, it's "forever".

        1. Maximum Delfango

          Re: And in classic Google fashion...

          Yes, they really do.

      2. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

        Re: And in classic Google fashion...

        "Yes, there will be a lot of pissed off people when they finally decide to bin the whole thing."

        Not unlikely as it's in part built on the value they're getting from monetizing private data. Once that dries up (e.g. under GDPR-like laws) they'll have to either start charging extra fees or indeed binning the whole concept.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Google forcing people in to Google Accounts not just Nest.

    They did this recently in Goggle News. Hit the "Local News" button and you need an account to see it. I bit the bullet and did it... err.... got a lot more news that might be local somewhere else than where I am. I killed the account.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Google forcing people in to Google Accounts not just Nest.

      Google News became worthless to me after the redesign in 2017(?), and so I stopped using it. It sounds like that was a better decision than I thought!

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Google forcing people in to Google Accounts not just Nest.

        "Google News became worthless to me after the redesign in 2017(?)"

        Yep, they certainly made a mess of things. Out of curiosity, did you find an alternative or simply give up on trying to get news on-line?

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Google forcing people in to Google Accounts not just Nest.

          I found an alternative.

          I installed Tiny Tiny RSS on a private webserver I run in my home. It polls the RSS feeds of all the news sources that I'm interested in, sorts the entries into categories that I've defined, and provides both a web interface to read them as well as a set of aggregated RSS feeds (corresponding to the categories) that I use with the Android gReader app to read the news when I'm out and about. It also has an excellent search facility.

          I've set up the Android gReader app to poll the TT-RSS feeds periodically and cache their contents, so I can read the news even when I don't have internet connectivity.

          To be honest, I prefer this setup to even the original Google News service.

          1. vtcodger Silver badge

            Re: Google forcing people in to Google Accounts not just Nest.

            "I installed Tiny Tiny RSS on a private webserver ..."

            The thought of using RSS never crossed my mind. But I'm tired of dealing with with Google's crappy Javascript that works properly nowhere but (possibly) chrome and slows information delivery to 1200 baud modem speed. A couple of tests look like RSS feeds might be an answer.

            Thanks.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Google forcing people in to Google Accounts not just Nest.

              One thing that I've noticed is that there are RSS feeds that include JS in their entries (entirely tracking, as far as I can tell). One of the things I like a LOT about TT-RSS is that there are mechanisms, both add-ons and ones you can write yourself, that will filter that and other things that may not be desirable out of the feeds.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Probably not related, then,

    to Radio 4 being faced with a completely unresponsive Alexa while trying to demonstrate something live on air a couple of days ago...

  5. Apprentice

    My Home Mini died after update.

    This happened to me, my Google Mini updated and died. My emails to and fro to Google were frustrating to say the least. They wanted photos and proof of purchase and something else every time they replied. Unfortunately I no longer had the receipt and despite them saying this wouldn't be a problem provided I took a photo of the serial number, they backtracked and won't honour a replacement without it. So reading this news today gives me some hope, but will just have to wait and see.

    1. Maximum Delfango

      Re: My Home Mini died after update.

      Why not buy a second Mini to find out how your first one is doing? The second young one might coax the first old one back to life. Works with dogs, anyway. Sometimes.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: My Home Mini died after update.

      My emails to and fro to Google were frustrating

      Do you realise how privileged you are to have had a "fro" at all, regardless of its contents? Most of us can only dream of getting an acknowledgment of our existence from the great G.

  6. BloodyMarvellous

    Phew Man

    Phew, I have been very fortunate then.

    1. Sonos Beam sound bar configured for Alexa, and HDMI CEC to Smart TV

    2. Alexa talks to my Nest devices.

    3. Nest devices configured not to auto software update

    4. All works fine

    "Alexa tell nesty to stop being naughty"

    Oh no, I have just mentioned something cloudy works. Cue the great flood and wild fires hitting my suburban vicinity!

  7. SVV Silver badge

    or whether Google is simply doing a terrible coding job

    They're certainly doing a terrible testing job. I don't buy software or hardware that automatically updates, because (a) I read too many stories here about it causing maximum borkage and (b) I work in software development and have seen first hand the half-arsed attempts at adopting vaguely understood notions of being "agile", with frequent releases causing constant disruption for everybody from users, developers and admins to management.

    It isn't the end of the world if you're automatically updating some internal company admin system - you can always roll back eaily if there's a mistake. But operating systems and hardware? Bad mistake. Get your testing resources trebled, quadrupled, trained to the highest possible standard or whatever else it takes, because my money is avoiding stuff that updates like this until stories like this about stuff from huge companies breaking start appearing on a yearly rather than a daily / weekly basis

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: or whether Google is simply doing a terrible coding job

      Yeah. While a on/off switch for updates might partially be a security risk, I'm certain certain global ISP/service providers are thankful for it when a runaway/bugged script/update/settings propergates globally, and they frantically rush around trying to fix it.

      [Looks at the multiple day cloud/service outages this year alone]

      Oh, maybe not then.

    2. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: or whether Google is simply doing a terrible coding job

      From your mouth to Satya's ear!

  8. hoola Bronze badge

    Improvement

    Surely bricking these devices is a basic service to humanity...…...

  9. batfink Silver badge

    Damn

    Some poor bastards are now going to have to get up off their arses to switch the lights on/off. Terrible news.

    TBF, this could be a real pain for those with actual use cases, such as those disabled.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Damn

      such as those disabled

      It's only a matter of time before that can become the result of a firmware update..

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Damn

      I would think that people who are disabled would be far better served by using home automation that doesn't rely on the cloud anyway.

  10. Red Ted
    FAIL

    "it has been very difficult for our team to diagnose this issue"

    Someone at Google has just discovered that the testing requirements of a distributed computing system increase exponentially as the complexity increases.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    It's a race between Google Home and Stadia to see which they will shut down first

    If I were a betting person I'd put my money on Stadia as it has less slurping potential, but that's just me.

  12. gnarlymarley Bronze badge

    That last part is the kicker: if you were unlucky enough to have one of the devices that automatically downloaded and installed Google's flawed software update, your Home or Mini may be no more.

    Or with the current level of spying with these devices, does that mean you might be lucky enough to have the device stop working?

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