Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Google removes top touch function from Home Mini smart speaker

Google removes top touch function from Home Mini smart speaker

The company blamed the disturbing privacy breach on "phantom" touches registered by the touch panel on Google Home Mini speakers. For now, the speaker can only be activated through voice command.

The problem was traced to the top touch sensor, as the Google Home Mini was thinking that somebody was activating it. Now, you'll have to do so by saying "Hey Google" or "OK Google", which is fine.

Google blames this event on a faulty button, and says it is rolling out a fix to disable the feature permanently while the company explores a long-term solution.

"We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously, ' a spokesperson said". "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".

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Originally, you could also use the touch panel to control music, alarms, and timers, but this functionality has been ditched too.

Now, the company is permanently removing the feature that would allow users to activate the voice assistant by tapping on top of the speaker.

Some Google Home Minis randomly or constantly records sound that are transmitted to Google, leading to accusations of auanuthorisedly prying on users.

Rather than wait for user input to tell Google Assistant to listen, the service instead recorded at will, creating a major privacy concern.

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'All of this was done quietly, with only the four lights on the unit I wasn't looking at flashing on and then off'.

Google quickly released an update that fixed the bug but now a new update has been issued to completely remove all top touch functionality. 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.

The company said that customers who preordered one of its small AI-supported speakers won't be affected, and the only Google Home Mini speakers that are affected by the defect are those that were handed out at the company's Made by Google events.

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. And if you're trying to decide whether to buy a Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, or any other similar product, this could be a deciding factor.

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