A few weeks ago, news broke that some people were complaining about their Home devices hearing everyday sounds. That phrasing was a bit misleading — Google devices were exclusively listening for breaking glass and smoke alarms and notifying users when they recognized either of these, and no privacy was breached. This warning notification is actually a feature only supposed to be available for Nest Aware subscribers, Google's paid home security service. As it turns out, the rollout to other users was unintentional and is no longer available.
Privacy fears are understandable for those who aren't familiar with Nest Aware — just imagine you suddenly got a notification on your phone informing you about something you said that a Google device picked up even though you didn't invoke it via the hotword. It certainly doesn't help that the detection feature just popped up out of nowhere without warning or opt-in.
However, that spook (or free feature, depending on how you look at it) is now over, as a Google spokesperson told us,
We are aware of an issue that inadvertently enabled sound detection alerts for sounds like smoke alarms or glass breaking on speakers that are not part of a Nest Aware subscription. The issue was caused by a recent software update and only impacted a subset of Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max speakers. We have since rolled out a fix that will automatically disable sound detection on devices that are not part of Nest Aware.
So there you have it — if you "suffered" from getting a feature that's usually reserved for paying customers, it should be gone for you by now. Google will only notify you when it hears smoke alarms or glass breaking if you subscribe to Nest Aware. That's a bummer as it's incredibly useful, but at least it won't confuse the many non-subscribers out there using Google Nest products. After all, it's understandably scary to get notifications that suggest Google is always listening to you, especially with something like last year's "eavesdropping" allegations in mind.