Google Kills Google Home Mini's Top Touch Functionality

Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

The limited group of people given the device - media, Google employees, and other attendees of the hardware event - will no longer see any interactions initiated with the touch function in My Activity, a place Google users can review, hear, or delete Google Assistant interactions.

Announced earlier this month alongside the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the Google Home Mini is a compact version of the Google Home smart speaker the company launched in select markets a year ago. Now, however, to "avoid confusion", Google is completely stripping the Home Mini of all top touch functionality, leaving voice as users' only option for Google Assistant and playback controls.

The net giant has determined that only these advance Mini units may have the error and not the ones that will start shipping at the official release, as they resolved the matter by sending update patches that disabled the touch-sensitive function. The issue, which stems from the Home Mini's touch-sensitive fabric cover being overly sensitive and inadvertently activating on its own, gave people a bit of a spook when it was discovered that early Home Minis were activated and therefore recording 24 hours a day.

"We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously", a Google spokesperson said in a statement today. The rationale behind the move is Google giving people "complete peace of mind" when they use Google Home Mini, the company said.

We have made the decision to permanently remove all top touch functionality on the Google Home Mini.

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 volume rockers will work for adjusting the volume. Now, you'll have to do so by saying "Hey Google" or "OK Google", which is fine.

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.

"The Google Home team is aware of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Mini devices that could cause the touch control mechanism to behave incorrectly". We're sure you have some opinions - let us know in the comments!

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