Mysterious Android TV bug shows account details of scores of total strangers

An Android TV user based in Chennai, India, has made a disconcerting discovery. While flipping through the settings for his Android TV-based Vu TV on his Google Home app, @wothadei noticed that the “Linked Accounts” section showed way more linked accounts than one would normally expect. Though it’s hard to be certain based on just looking at his screen recording, the number of accounts listed could easily be in the hundreds, if not thousands.

What’s more disturbing is that these same accounts were available to him when he entered the Android TV ambient mode settings, then jumped into the Google Photos option. Each one had a selectable toggle, and could be turned on or off. There’s no evidence that he was able to actually see photos belonging to these other Google account holders, which may mean the glitch didn’t go so far as to reveal private photos from one Android TV account to another. Still, it’s a little worrisome.

We did our own checking to see if we could replicate the bug, but our Google Home app,which is connected to an Nvidia Shield TV with the latest Android TV build, didn’t show anything out of the ordinary. For its part, Google has already dedicated resources to tracking down the source of the mysterious linked account bug, telling the original user that “we wanted to let you know we’re looking into this. We take any report like this very seriously, so in the meantime, we’re disabling Google Photos for Android TV and the ability to remotely cast via the Google Assistant.”

It’s also possible that the bug is a localized problem. As the list of linked accounts scroll by in the video posted by @wothadei, a significant number appear to have Indian names.

Officially announced in June, 2014, Android TV is Google’s TV-based version of its popular mobile operating system. Though there have only been scant reports of security issues, devices running Android TV have access to the Google Play Store for downloading apps, games, and other content. That online store has been the subject of several security concerns in the past, forcing Google to take special measures to bolster users’ confidence. One such move was to introduce Google Play Protect, which the company partially credits with the removal of more than 700,000 “potentially harmful apps,” or PHAs.

Mobile

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.
Mobile

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.
Computing

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…
Movies & TV

Disney completes its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox

Now that Walt Disney Company has closed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie and television assets, what does this future hold for franchises like X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, and the rest?
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in April 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for April 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Home Theater

Pandora now lets you mess with the secret sauce for its music playlists

Pandora introduced a new feature called Modes, allowing subscribers to pick between six different algorithms that determine what the popular music streaming service will decide to play.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best Game of Thrones theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best theories about the show. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl or a King Aerys truther, here are our top theories.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Deals

Building a 4K home theater? Grab a discounted Denon A/V receiver from Amazon

Denon makes some of the best 4K A/V receivers on the market, and a handful of Denon’s latest models are on sale on Amazon now. If you’ve been thinking about building a home theater and are looking for a 4K receiver that doesn’t cost…
Home Theater

Apple’s new AirPods bring only minor updates to the much-loved originals

Apple has announced its new AirPods, the much-anticipated follow-up to Apple's wildly popular AirPods. With optional wireless charging and hands-free Siri, it's a minor update, but a welcome one.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.