Announced earlier this month alongside the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the Google Home Mini is a compact version of the Google Home smart speaker the company launched in select markets past year.
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. In response, Google acknowledged that this bug affected a small number of units, and issued a software update that would disable that button entirely, for all users, while it explored a long-term fix. 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.
This will likely affect some of the functionality of the Google Home Mini as the touch surface was meant to be used to control the speakers volume and media playback functions, among other things, as an alternative to voice-based commands. The company also says that the Mini's left and right side can still be tapped to adjust volume. Soon after, Android Police's Artem Russakovskii, who was one of the reporters who received a test unit, discovered that his device was turning on by itself, recording his conversations, and uploading them to Google. Since, Russakovskii touched the panel randomly instead of saying "OK Google", the defective touch panel started recording the events.
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Normally, there are two ways to interact with Google's smart speakers, including the Mini. For what it's worth, Google Home users can always go into the Google Home app and see every single time one of their Home devices is activated and even see what the Home heard - this is, after all, how this initial Home Mini issue was discovered in the first place. Google collected the device from him and then said this week that there was a bug that caused the issue. "That information will no longer be listed on your My Activity page".
Google blamed the glitch on a faulty button in some of the units. "The update will be completely rolled out by end of day October 15, 2017", Google's statement reads. It also once again raises the privacy issues of having these devices in your home.