Google Re-Enables Touch Controls On Home Mini After Gutting It Over Privacy Concerns


Google has reactivated touch controls on Home Mini smart speakers after disabling them in October because of an issue that caused the device to constantly record users.

Owners can now long press volume buttons on the surface of the device to control playback, including for music, alarms, phone calls, and others. When something is playing, pressing then holding the buttons will halt playback, which might be handy in certain situations where the device is right beside the user.

Google Home Mini Touch Controls Are Back

The update is rolling out to Home Mini units enrolled in Google's software preview program but will be released to all devices shortly thereafter. Simply look for firmware version 1.30, which is now hitting the preview channel. It's a simple yet still an embarrassing compromise to a problem where the fabric on some units could accidentally trigger a button. This button was originally supposed to be for controlling playback and manually accessing Google Assistant.

But as Android Police first noticed months ago, this little fabric flaw caused the Home Mini to record their users 24/7, which could have been, needless to say, a massive privacy concern. Thankfully, Google disabled the feature even before Home Mini units could ship.

The update, which is really just a compromise, suggests that the fabric on Home Mini units is inherently flawed and that Google saw it better to alter the software instead of recalling the devices to change their design altogether. The latter scenario would have caused the company great financial strain, that's for certain.

Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini is one-half of Google's flagship smart speaker line, the other half being the pricier Home Max. At $49, it is a dedicated smart speaker as cheap as its rival, Amazon's own Echo Dot. Home Mini and Home Max are the successors to Google's first smart speaker, simply called Home.

There isn't really much to say about the Home Mini, except that it's basically a physical manifestation of a living Google Assistant inside the household. While it's not as sophisticated and fancy as its larger sibling, it does remove the price barrier in smart speaker systems, and it's a viable and affordable starting point for those looking to jump into the smart home trend.

Thoughts about the Google Home Mini? Do you think they should've been recalled because of their faulty fabrics? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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