Google Kills Google Home Mini's Top Touch Functionality

Vjeran Pavic  The Verge

Vjeran Pavic The Verge

After acknowledging an issue with the touch control of its new Home Mini device, which led to constant unintentional recording of pretty much everything being said around it, Google has chose to completely disable the feature. The update will be completely rolled out by October 15.

Google has made a decision to "permanently remove" the feature that led its smart speaker "Home Mini" accidentally record several times a day without being given any command from the user.

Google appeared to take what happened seriously, as the unit was picked up for examination, assessed, and a software update issued within the span of roughly 24 hours, Russakovskii said.

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.

The Home Mini shipped with a feature that let owners activate the Google Assistant and control music by tapping the top of the speaker.

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This entire episode is an embarassing for Google, as it grapples with Apple and Amazon to conquer the small, but growing, market for AI-powered voice assistants.

According to Google engineers, the Home Mini in question had a defective touch panel, and was recording the "phantom" touch and events. "Although we only received a few reports of this issue, we want people to have complete peace of mind while using the Google Home Mini". The Mini's left and right buttons will continue to work for adjusting the volume.

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 past year. The touch-sensitive sides for changing the volume of the Home Mini will remain active.

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. 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.

For now, no one else has reported any such issue in the device, and the reviews coming in are also encouraging.

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