Google Kills Google Home Mini's Top Touch Functionality

Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping

The issue, says Google, was that the button on top of the device was faulty and would sometimes activate on its own.

Thankfully Google resolved this issue within 3 hours of Artem reporting it by sending out a software patch that completely disabled the button. This raised a serious privacy concern and Google acknowledged earlier this week that the bug affected a small number of units. In a statement released today, the company said that it made the decision because "we want people to have complete peace of mind while using Google Home Mini".

Google confirmed in a statement that it is permanently removing the top touch functionality of the Home Mini.

This will likely affect some of the functionality of the Google Home Mini as the touch surface was meant to be used to control the speakers volume and media playback functions, among other things, as an alternative to voice-based commands.

Google unveiled the $50 Mini, which goes on sale on October 19, at its event last Wednesday. But it turned out that some units had an issue: they would register touches even when no one was there, leading the units to start recording over and over and over again, which is pretty darn creepy.

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Normally, there are two ways to interact with Google's smart speakers, including the Mini. Before Google killed this feature, it would allow you to long-press on the top of the device to activate Google Assistant.

Russakovskii first began to notice something was wrong after lights atop the device started blinking and Google Assistant continuously repeated that it did not understand, even though nothing had been said. "That information will no longer be listed on your My Activity page".

While it's certainly conceivable that Google would be able to redesign the Home Mini's software to reject prolonged accidental activations, the bad optics of the situation somewhat forced its hand here. They said that the issue stemmed from a touch control mechanism that was "behaving incorrectly".

Ultimately, the problem appears to be a simple error, not a malicious act of spying. 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.

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