Google has decided 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. In a statement released today, the company said that it made the decision because “we want people to have complete peace of mind while using Google Home Mini.”
The Home Mini shipped with a feature that let owners activate the Google Assistant and control music by tapping the top of the speaker. But it turned out that some units had an issue: they would register touches even when no one was there, leading the units to start recording over and over and over again, which is pretty darn creepy. Android Police identified the error on one of its review units, and Google resolved the problem before any Home Mini units could actually ship out to customers (aside from however many it gave out at events). The software fix is supposed to be rolled out October 15th, a few days before the Mini ships.
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. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s both; the potential for the Mini to turn into a constant surveillance device would be a huge liability.) Either way, it’s not the biggest loss, but it’s not great to see such a major issue come up right as a product is about to ship.
With the top button gone, the Home Mini now has to be activated entirely by voice, which isn’t really a huge limitation since it’s designed to be a voice assistant. The Mini’s left and right buttons will continue to work for adjusting the volume.