Google disables Home Mini's top touch function after a privacy fiasco

Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping

Google says it only received "a few reports" of the issue. Following the latest update, the only way to engage the artificial intelligence technology is to say, "Okay Google" or "Hey Google".

Google's Android is the dominant mobile operating system in the world, and Chrome is the world's most popular web browser - but despite its many efforts over the years, like the Chromecast, Google has yet to conquer the living room. One of the core functions of the Echo is its ability to easily order and reorder products, so for the Google Home to be an equal competitor, it needs to be able to offer that same ability.

The new device is equipped with a sensitive surface that reacts to touch stimuli that can be used to issue a command instead of saying "OK Google". Indeed, the idea behind AI-assisted speakers like the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo is almost identical to George Orwell's idea about the telescreens in his novel 1984, which is famous for its Big Brother character. But it was discovered that units would register touches even if no one pressed it, causing the Home Mini to record over and over again.

We've made a decision to permanently remove all top touch functionality on Google Home Mini. Current Home Mini customers would be right to be bummed out, or annoyed, or nauseated.

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Data from Strategy Analytics suggests that Amazon's Alexa smart assistant is surpassing Google in the home. That's not good for Google. Shoppers will be able to get deliveries within two days since the items will be shipped to a nearby Target store for free provided the purchase meets the $35 order minimum. So the Home Mini will not activate with a touch the wake word has to be said to awake it. Google Home owners will basically tell the speaker to order something online, which is similar to how the Amazon Echo works.

And that's the real issue: This fiasco has the potential to follow Google, as well as its Home efforts, down the line. That deal basically adds hundreds of thousands of products to the service, which is exactly what Home Depot did, as well.

He admits that he pretty much wrote off all the privacy concerns until he noticed that his Google Home Mini was not working the same as all the other smart devices he has in his home.

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