Since Sonos and Google went to court during the preliminary injunction in May, the companies have been warring over whether or not Google stole Sonos’ speaker tech for multi-room wireless volume control for device groups. Until now, you could group together two or more Google Home devices that output audio and control the volume between them all simultaneously right in the app.
However, after the ITC (International Trade Commission) has now handed the victory for this lawsuit over to Sonos, deciding that Google did, in fact, infringe on its patents. According to a statement by Sonos today though, even this win will not be enough for Google to circumvent infringement upon “many dozens” of other patents that the speaker company holds. For now, it will continue to pursue other legal action against the tech giant.
In the meantime, Google will be changing how this feature works in your smart home. If you currently use speaker group volume control to handle all sound throughout the house simultaneously (manually using the volume button on your phone, by voice via Google Assistant, or directly on Nest Hub displays via the home controls section), you will now need to manually adjust the volume on each individual speaker, even if they’re grouped.
Additionally, while most speaker groups will continue to work as they previously did, any groups containing speakers that are JBL, Lenovo-branded will need to be on cast version 1.52.272222 or higher in order to work. Lastly, a “small set of users”, will need to use something called the DUA, or Device Utility App to set up and update their speakers. If you fall into this category, then you’ll get a notification on your device asking you to download and install it before continuing.
“While we disagree with today’s decision, we will ensure our shared customers have the best experience using our products and do not experience any disruption. We will seek further review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos’ frivolous claims about our partnership and intellectual property.”
Google to Android Police
Many smart homeowners are already fairly upset by these changes and are voicing their frustration on the Google Nest Community forum. One user put it bluntly, stating that Google “got sued”, and now they must pay the price. Several of the commenters are replying to this update by focusing on the fact that speaker groups and their accompanying functionality are the primary reason why they set up their homes with Google technology, citing it as “a huge downgrade”, and “annoying”. Let us know in the comments what you think of this mess, and whether or not you used the group volume control for your speakers!