Back in the old days, you used to be able to touch the top of the Google Home Mini to speak out your commands or questions to it, and to start and stop music and handle other features, but the functionality was pulled after some of the devices were found to be locked in a persistent spying mode.
You’ve always been able to activate the speaker with an “OK Google” command but the touch feature got disabled in October. Two months later, Google apparently thinks it’s safe to bring the physical controls back to the Google Home Mini, as the functionality is included in the latest preview for the firmware of the device.
However, there are some changes, as Android Police reports – number one, you now long-press the side of the device rather than tapping the top, and number two only the quick functions are coming back for now (pausing music, stopping alarms, ending a call, and so on).
That means you’ll still need to use your voice if you want to put the Google Home Mini into listening mode, but you can now at least stop an alarm from whirring with a physical touch on the speaker. There’s no word yet on whether the touch-to-talk option is going to come back at a later stage.
You can update your Google Home Mini speaker through the Home app for Android or iOS, but it will take some time to move through from the preview channel to the channel used by default on consumer devices.
Meanwhile, it looks like another speaker might be about to join the Google Home family: a job listing suggests Google wants to build one of its smart speakers with an integrated screen, to directly challenge the Amazon Echo Show.