Google ditches Home Mini's top-touch panel feature after spying blunder

Google ditches Home Mini's top-touch panel feature after spying blunder

Google has chose to "permanently remove" the feature that led to a "small number" of Home Mini units accidentally recording thousands of times a day, instead of just when a user triggers it.

The bug essentially was that the touch panel on the top of the Google Home Mini, meant to activate the device when a user put down their finger on it, was activating at random times even when nobody was touching it. "As before, the best way to control and activate the 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 search giant said it would apply the update across all Home Mini speakers by the end of 15 October. Ars Technica reported that Google's patch had disabled the touch panel of their test unit even though the mini speaker did not act "crazy". Google told us in a statement that they take "user privacy and product quality very seriously", and by removing this feature, they hope customers who ordered and own a Google Home Mini will have "complete peace of mind" now.

More news: Kenyans demand election reforms as police fire teargas

It's not clear whether Google chose to cut the feature because it couldn't find a way to fix it or simply because it didn't want the issue to run and run, and become a PR nightmare.

According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, after he got the speaker to his home, he made a decision to get it installed in the bathroom. According to Wired, Google has perfectly pitched the product, emphasizing the device's smart features over its functionality as a 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.

This raised a serious privacy concern and Google acknowledged earlier this week that the bug affected a small number of units. The gadgets will still respond to voice and volume can be adjusted by tapping the side of the device. You can say the words "OK Google", followed by a command such as "play 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'" Alternatively, you can press the button located on the top of the devices instead of saying "OK Google". The device isn't due for launch until 19 October, so the company has a few days to find a permanent solution, or potentially push back its launch date. All clips that the device recorded are gone now.

Related Articles