Google permanently deactivates the touch panel on the top of the Home Mini speaker

Google has permanently disabled the touch-sensitive panel on the top of its Home Mini speaker. That’s what the search giant did because it malfunctioned for some people and caused it to record audio all the time and forward it to Google servers.

As a result, users cannot activate the Home Mini by tapping the top, Google says. Pausing music and turning off an alarm clock by touching the top of the speaker are no longer possible either. The search giant says that users will now do that with voice control.

Some users who got a Home Mini early noticed that the panel was malfunctioning and as a result was recording audio all the time to hear commands. That audio goes to Google servers, where the search giant uses its speech recognition software to recognize commands. As a result, the issue could raise questions about user privacy.

Volume control with the touch-sensitive buttons on the side of the device will remain possible, but the functionality of the panel on the top will not return. Google will turn the panel off on current copies by Sunday at the latest.

A week ago, Google presented the Home Mini at its own event. It is a small speaker with the ability to connect to Google Assistant. The device has to compete with the Amazon Echo Dot. The Home Mini has LEDs under the housing to communicate. Google releases the Home Mini on October 19 and the device costs 59 euros in Germany.