Google Home Mini units, or at least some of them, seem to be suffering from an issue where they respond to “phantom” touches causing the units to listen in and/or record what is happening around them, and in spite of the user not prompting the action. The information on this comes from a new report out of Android Police who have had direct experience with the problem.
Google Home units (Mini included) are designed to only be capable of monitoring by either the user calling out a hotword (OK Google) or by long-pressing the top of the device - if applicable. However, it seems it is the latter of these two instances that has now caused an issue for the Google Home Mini, due to the device encountering these 'phantom touches.' In reference to requests by Android Police, Google advised that “a small number” of units are suffering from an issue where they “behave incorrectly.” Meaning that the long-pressing feature is activating somewhat on its own and similarly to how it would if it had been physically pressed by the user. Needless to say this will raise an issue, as the report does point out that the affected units are routinely recording what is happening and for the most part, likely without the user aware that the unit is listening, let alone recording.
As part of Google’s response, and as a means to temporarily fix the issue, Google confirmed that it is rolling out an update to Google Home Mini units which essentially deactivates the Google Assistant feature through the long-press action. Thereby stopping the device from turning to listening mode in all instances, and irrespective of whether the long-press feature is accidentally or purposely triggered. As mentioned, this is only a temporary measure with Google also confirming that it does plan to release a more permanent fix in due course. Although no firm details were provided on when the long-term fix will arrive, or for that matter, what it will consist of, or how it will remedy the situation. The takeaway here is that as the Google Home Mini has not actually started shipping out to buyers yet, those who have ordered one, or plan to, should probably not expect the long-press function to be working when the device does arrive. If it is working, then it likely will not be following the first update the device receives - as this will be the correction update which disables the long-press feature altogether.