Google has permanently disabled the top touch function on Google Home Mini

James Marshall
October 12, 2017

A major flaw has been detected in the newly-unveiled Google Home Mini speaker that allows it to secretly record conversations without users knowing. These things happen! Either the company couldn't be sure it could fix it or it couldn't be sure people would trust that it did - so they made the choice to nuke it from orbit.

Either way, we must remember that every Google Home device will still be constantly "listening" in order to pick up on your "Ok Google" and "Hey Google" commands - the difference is that the listening should, as always, be kept local until an actual request is given after the fact.

The bug, first reported by Android Police, was apparently a hardware issue that caused the touch sensor on the top of the device to register touches pretty much constantly.

Meanwhile, it appears the new larger-sized Google Home Max smart speaker ($399) doesn't have the bug.

That sounds like a hardware issue, and with those, unless you can identify a run of affected devices (say, serial no.s 12184 through 12433), you can't do an effective recall.

"We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously", a Google spokesperson said in a statement. Although we only received a few reports of this issue, we want people to have complete peace of mind while using Google Home Mini.

Google said Wednesday it has chose to permanently remove all top touch functionality after the discovery of a flaw that allowed some units to record sounds at random times and transmit the audio to Google's servers. Google's Home Mini can be activated by either saying the magical words "OK Google" or long press on the top. You can still control volume by side touch and voice'.

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. This also points to a likely core issue with the Home Mini's touch-sensitive fabric top that may be too expensive to re-engineer and release after likely pre-producing hundreds of thousands of units ahead of launch.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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