The Google Home Mini is a super-affordable way to get Google Assistant in your life, but Google was forced to hobble the device shortly after launch because a sticky touch sensor caused Artem's Mini to record everything he said. Part of that functionality is now coming back with a small tweak. Instead of tapping the top of the device, you'll be able to long-press the side.
When we reported the original defect to Google, the company investigated the issue and determined a small number of Home Minis had a touch sensor that triggered on its own, thus causing inadvertent recording. Normally, you'd needed to long-press the top of the device to initiate listening. Defective units couldn't tell legitimate presses apart from "phantom presses," so Google opted to disable the touch activation feature completely. The single tap functions, which would normally start and pause music, snooze alarms, and end phone calls, were disabled as well.
Some of that lost functionality will now come back with the addition of the side press. You will once again be able to play/pause music, end phone calls, and silence alarms without speaking to the device. This will come with a firmware update to
v1.30 v1.29 (Update: Google gave us the wrong version at first—the right one is 1.29), which is rolling out today. However, it'll start in the preview firmware channel. You can join that from the Home app settings if you want the touch control back ASAP.
The added functionality won't let you trigger voice input—only the commands that used to be controlled by single taps. So, single taps on the top are now side long presses. Top long presses are still disabled.