Thursday, October 12, 2017

Google Home Mini loses touch to prevent listening concerns

Google wants to put an end to all the "listening concerns" surrounding the new Google Home Mini and has decided to completely disable the touch feature... permanently.

The possibility of activating the new Google Home Mini by touching it on the top will be permanently removed; so the only way to do this will be through the usual "Ok Google" or "Hey Google" -  which would already be the most common way to interact with it anyway.

This happens following the discovery that in some units the touch sensor at the top would detect missing touches, causing the Home Mini to hear the environment almost continuously and try to interpret everything that was said : which not only made it very frustrating to use (with it being able to make commands of things that you could hear on the radio or TV) but also raised the always complicated privacy issues with thousands and thousands of audio recordings kept in Google Assistant activity in the cloud.

If on one hand it is good to see Google make this radical decision to remove this functionality, leaving no room for suspicion (a software fix could still leave some room for future erros) on the other hand it raises some doubts about how such a basic error could have gone through all phases of  quality control and development and reach the final product (although, as I mentioned in the original article, it's not a unique case: Sony's PS4 also suffered from identical problems with its touch buttons.)

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