Google Kills Google Home Mini's Top Touch Functionality

Google Kills Google Home Mini's Top Touch Functionality

On October 7th, three days after it handed out the Mini review units, Google rolled out a software update that disables the button.

Google Home Mini gave one early tester a shock (not literally) when he found that the gadget was recording every bit of sound in the house before transmitting it to Google.

After a short privacy scare over the weekend that involved Google Home Mini and its top touch area functioning improperly, Google has gone ahead and permanently killed the feature.

The bug essentially was that the touch panel on the top of the Google Home Mini, meant to activate the device when a user put down their finger on it, was activating at random times even when nobody was touching it.

"We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously", a Google spokesperson said in a statement today.

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Google has made a decision to "permanently remove" the feature that led to a "small number" of Home Mini units accidentally recording thousands of times a day, instead of just when a user triggers it.

With the top button gone, the Home Mini now has to be activated entirely by voice, which isn't really a huge limitation since it's created to be a voice assistant. The company has issued a software update that will disable the button entirely for all users of the device. The Home Mini volume can still be adjusted using the touch control. Soon after, Android Police's Artem Russakovskii, who was one of the reporters who received a test unit, discovered that his device was turning on by itself, recording his conversations, and uploading them to Google.

Google had seemingly hoped to return the top button functionality to the Home Mini at a later date, but now the company seems to have given up on that - either because it couldn't figure out a way to do it, or simply out of an abundance of caution.

Before Google killed this feature, it would allow you to long-press on the top of the device to activate Google Assistant. After all, there are those who may find it uncomfortable to control the speaker by talking to it in a crowded room, despite the Home Mini primarily being a voice-enabled speaker. Google says you can continue to use the same functions using your voice by saying "Ok Google" or "Hey Google". And yet, the glitch could both hamper sales of the device, as well as undermine trust in Google - trust that's at a premium, as Google and Amazon both work to convince consumers to let them place microphones in their homes.

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