It must be galling for an electronics manufacturer like Google when one of their gadgets proves to have a malfunctioning feature before it could be made available to the market. That is the case with their new Smart Speaker, the Home Mini. It was first made public early this month as a smaller alternative to the Google Home Max and makes for a compact and artsy device with its flattened round shape and minimalist design. But the several units presented for review were discovered to have a design bug that caused it to record sounds non-stop even without the owner engaging with it. After patching in a quick software fix, Google has decided to implement a more permanent solution.

Deactivated for good

The advance units of the Google Home Mini that were given to tech reviewers for their assessment turned out to have a little problem that could spell a major privacy leak. While the Mini, like all smart speakers, activates when its owner speaks a code phrase (“Hey Google” or “OK Google” in this case), it also has an alternative command input method. The top of the Home Mini is touch-sensitive, and pressing down on it for a time will also activate the listening function of the speaker to hear requests or commands.

But one reviewer, Antem Russakovskii, from the website Android Police, found out that his review unit of the Home Mini had somehow engaged its touch-sensitive activation without his knowledge. As a result, several hours’ worth of surrounding sounds and voices were recorded by the smart speaker and sent to Google.

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The net giant has determined that only these advance Mini units may have the error and not the ones that will start shipping at the official release, as they resolved the matter by sending update patches that disabled the touch-sensitive function. But now they decided that all Home Mini units will simply make do without the feature after all.

Damage control

The original plan by Google was to restore the Home Mini’s buggy touch-sensitive activation later on after perhaps a software patch to fiddle with the amount of sensitivity needed was developed. Its new direction in simply deactivating the touch feature for good is seen as either being at a loss on how to fix the issue or simply erring on the side of caution to stave off any bad rep of the new smart speaker. After all, consumers will not want a home gadget that listens in on everything.

So now, the Google Home Mini will be just like every other smart speaker in that its prospective owners have to actually talk to it after saying a leading catchphrase.