Google had seemingly hoped to return the top button functionality to the Home Mini at a later date, but now the company seems to have given up on that - either because it couldn't figure out a way to do it, or simply out of an abundance of caution.
Going forward, all Google Home Minis will have the touch-to-activate functionality disabled - leaving the "Ok Google" or "Hey Google" hot word activation as the only option to summon the Google Assistant in the smaller speaker.
Will this be a "Permanent" end to the touch sensitive top? Also, the side touch volume controls on the device still works.
"We take user privacy and product quality concerns very seriously", a Google spokesperson said in a statement today. Virtually every device at the October 4 event lauded Google Assistant as a selling point. Now, however, to "avoid confusion", Google is completely stripping the Home Mini of all top touch functionality, leaving voice as users' only option for Google Assistant and playback controls. The rationale behind the move is Google giving people "complete peace of mind" when they use Google Home Mini, the company said.
The smart speaker will go on sale October 19 for $49 and made its public debut a week ago at Google's biggest hardware event of the year. One concern that some people have about smart speakers is that they can always be listening to you, and so Google may have chose to simply eliminate the top touch feature so that this 24/7 recording issue can pop up in the future and affect the Google Home Mini. The Home Mini does retain the side touch volume control, but that's pretty much it for touch controls. They said that the issue stemmed from a touch control mechanism that was "behaving incorrectly".
Google initially advised they would disable it via a software update, but has now advised the function will be removed in time for the October 15th launch.
While it's certainly conceivable that Google would be able to redesign the Home Mini's software to reject prolonged accidental activations, the bad optics of the situation somewhat forced its hand here.