Google will cripple the Home Mini to protect your privacy
Oct 12 2017 by Michele Stevens
Following recent reports that Google's new Home Mini smart speaker was secretly recording sounds 24/7, the internet search giant has confirmed it will be removing the feature responsible for the snooping.
It also released a software update to disable the top touch button completely, but Google has now chose to remove the touch functionality altogether. The touch feature will be permanently removed in an update that should be complete by October 15. The company has now chose to permanently disable this feature. Google collected the device from him and then said this week that there was a bug that caused the issue. 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 GoogleHome products.
Tech reporter Artem Russakovskii from Android Police wrote a harrowing story about how the Google home assistant he was given to test out at an October 4 tech event turned into a creepy surveillance unit.
That also means you won't be able to use it to play music or stop an alarm, as the touch button was also tied to these particular features.
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That seemed to be the problem with Russakovskii's Mini, which "thought" someone was holding a finger down on the top and so was randomly activating and recording. The company assures that only some of the devices given out during the event were affected, while the pre-ordered Home Mini devices are safe to use. It turns out that Google is willing to cripple the device rather than take any risks. The company also says that the Mini's left and right side can still be tapped to adjust volume. Doing so will, however, affect the accuracy of the device's voice recognition. The intelligent assistant feature on it could be activated two ways - by either saying "OK, Google" or by tapping the surface.
We have made the decision to permanently remove all top touch functionality on the GoogleHome Mini.
The Mini is due to be available to buy from 19 October. It's a good thing this issue was uncovered before the home hubs went on general sale, but does perhaps raise wider concerns around the potential for recording devices in our homes to malfunction, and capture information we may not be happy with sharing.