As ZDNet reported yesterday, Google's first firmware update for the Home Mini switched off the touch function after it was found that a unit handed out at the Made by Google launch was recording nearly everything it heard and transmitting the data to Google. The basis for the elimination of top touch is chronicled in a post published Tuesday by Android Police reviewer Artem Russakovskii.
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 created to be a voice assistant.
Google takes product quality and privacy concerns very seriously. (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.
Google released an update and disabled the top touch function on the device whilst they worked on a fix. It also promised that people can have total peace of mind while using #Google Home Mini. Nevertheless, the issue affecting the touch-control interface affects just "a small number" of devices, Google assured users.
The new status of the tap feature has been updated in the Home Mini controls support page.
It's not clear whether Google made a decision 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. About 4,000 Home Mini speakers are believed to have been distributed this way. The $50 smart speaker is its answer to Amazon's $50 Echo Dot. Google's Home Mini can be activated by either saying the magical words "OK Google" or long press on the top. It could be that later devices do not have the touch sensor flaw. Here are some compelling use cases and what companies can take away from them.