Google dumps Home Mini's top touch function over privacy

Google has permanently removed the top touch function after discovering a flaw that allowed the smart speaker to activate on its own.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read

Privacy concerns have led the Google Home Mini to lose its top touch function for engaging the smart speaker.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A privacy bug has proved fatal for a feature in Google 's Home Mini smart speaker.

Google said Wednesday it has decided 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 issued a software update over the weekend to address the issue, but said Wednesday it wanted Home Mini users to be at ease with the device.

"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."

Before the modification, users had two options for engaging and controlling the device. It could be activated with a long press on the top of the device or the voice command "OK, Google." With the modification, users will be limited to using the voice command.

The problem came to light when Artem Russakovskii, founder of Android Police, found that his review unit was waking up "thousands of times a day" to send recordings to Google after registering "phantom" touches on the top of the device.

The Google Home Mini offers the same functionality as the original, allowing you to talk to Google Assistant to stream music, control your smart home, check your calendar and search the internet.

The Home will be available in coral, chalk and charcoal colors, and you can preorder it today for $49 or £49. You won't have to wait long, as it'll be in stores by Oct. 19.

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