Instead of tapping the top of the Home Mini to start and stop playback as had been originally planned, owners will now be able to long press the volume buttons on either side of the device to control whatever’s playing. That extends to music, news, alarms, phone calls, and so on. If it’s playing, you’ll be able to press and hold to stop it — which can be a lot more convenient than using your voice if you’re already right beside the device.
The update will roll out to Home Mini units that are enrolled in Google’s software preview program today, and it’s supposed to come to all units shortly after that.
It’s a simple and helpful fix to a kind of embarrassing problem — the fact that the Home Mini’s top button, on some units, could be accidentally triggered by the fabric. Originally, that button was going to be used for controlling playback and for letting people manually trigger the Assistant. But after Android Police noticed their unit recording nonstop, Google pulled the feature before the product could even ship.
This update suggests that Google couldn’t get around the fabric issue, since it’s using the side buttons instead of bringing the play/pause feature back to the top button. And while a long press isn’t quite as convenient as tapping the top surface of the Mini, it’s a handy addition that’s easy enough to remember and use.