Google to Permanently Disable Physical Voice Activation Control on Home Mini

Google to Permanently Disable Physical Voice Activation Control on Home Mini

Going forward, all Google Home Minis will have the touch-to-activate functionality disabled - leaving the "Ok Google" or "Hey Google" hot word activation as the only option to summon the Google Assistant in the smaller speaker. Shortly after the issue was brought to Google's attention on October 7, the company created a support page, rolled out a software update, and removed all correspondence with the device initiated with the top touch between October 4 and October 7.

Now, that change will be permanent.

With the top button gone, the Home Mini now has to be activated entirely by voice, which isn't a huge limitation since it's created to be a voice assistant. "We have made the decision to permanently remove all top touch functionality on the Google Home Mini", Google said in a statement.

We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously. The Mini's left and right buttons will continue to work for adjusting the volume. Although we only received a few reports of this issue, we want people to have complete peace of mind while using Google Home Mini.

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. However, it turns out several units had an issue that would cause the device to register a touch even when no one was there, leading to constant recording. According to Wired, Google has perfectly pitched the product, emphasizing the device's smart features over its functionality as a speaker.

Russakovskii's Home Mini was one of the many test units that Google handed away at the press event last week. The buttons on those Minis were detecting touches even when there was no touch to detect. Something creepy happened two days later, when Russakovskii noticed that the device is getting activated repeatedly and recording randomly.

Google's initial fix was to disable that particular gesture on all Home Minis, despite claiming that only a small percentage were affected by it. The company hasn't started shipping the device to consumers, but it did start handing out the units to journalists so that they could review the device.

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

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