Google disables Home Mini's top touch function after a privacy fiasco

The Verge

The Verge

"We have made the decision to permanently remove all top touch functionality on the Google Home Mini", Google said in a statement. Which means you can not do inputs like touch to play or pause audio. After a few days, he found that the Google Home Mini given to him was carrying out thousands of uninitiated recordings, not just when the top of the device was touched or when he said "Hey Google".

Google is permanently disabling a feature on the forthcoming Google Home Mini smart speaker, after a reviewer discovered that it was surreptitiously recording his conversations without his knowledge or consent.

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We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously.

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. Now, you'll have to do so by saying "Hey Google" or "OK Google", which is fine. As before, the best way to control and activate Google Home Mini is through voice, by saying "Ok Google" or "Hey Google", which is already how most people engage with our Google Home products. The company also says that the Mini's left and right side can still be tapped to adjust volume. For now, it is not clear if all of the 4,000 test mini speakers that Google gave away have the same bug. "Say "Ok Google" or 'Hey Google ' to control music, alarms and timers", added Google.

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Google reassures early users who were affected that it hasn't stored any information that may have been recorded by long pressing the top of the Google Home Mini between October 4 and October 7, when the software update was rolled out. However, customers who have been awaiting the gadget might well overlook the issue, considering how well and quick Google handled the problem, suggesting it was only a technical glitch and not a pre-meditated feature in the speaker. And yet, the glitch could both hamper sales of the device, as well as undermine trust in Google - trust that's at a premium, as Google and Amazon both work to convince consumers to let them place microphones in their homes. "You can also always go to your My Activity page and delete any past activity from your account".

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