Google Home is still re-adding audio features it lost due to the Sonos lawsuit

Google Home is still re-adding audio features it lost due to the Sonos lawsuit
By: Wes Davis Posted: May 30, 2024

Google Home is still re-adding audio features it lost due to the Sonos lawsuit
The future is back, baby. | Photo: Dan Seifert / The Verge

After a few years of legal battles, you can once again control grouped speakers using the Google Home app and Google Assistant. The feature was slipped into Android 15 beta 2 last week, and now it’s going out to everyone, so users shouldn’t have to adjust the volume one speaker at a time anymore from their Android phones.

From the Google Home app, you should be able to adjust the volume from the Now Playing screen in the app when you’re playing to multiple speakers just by adjusting the volume as normal — the same goes for Google Assistant-compatible smart speakers. The company says there will be other ways to access its “Group Volume Control” feature later, including from an Android smartphone lock screen or smart displays like the Google Nest Hub.

Google was forced to remove some multiroom audio features after Sonos won its patent lawsuit against the company in 2022. But last year, a US district judge threw out the previous ruling and essentially accused Sonos of being a patent troll. Not wasting any time, Google quickly set about bringing features back into its ecosystem by letting users incorporate speakers into multiple speaker groups at once.

Screenshots of the volume control within the Google Home app in Android and iOS.
Screenshots: Wes Davis / The Verge
Controlling group volume in the Google Home app on Android (left) and iOS (right).

Google typically rolls out features over time, though the company doesn’t mention anything about that in the Nest Community post about the change, so it may have just flipped a server-side switch to turn this on for everyone. And although it specifically mentions the Android version of the Google Home app, adjusting volume for a speaker group in the iOS app works, too — albeit without the fancy Now Playing UI or the ability to control that volume using your phone’s volume buttons (unless you’re specifically doing it from, for instance, the YouTube Music app with the output selector open).

I should note we couldn’t get Google Assistant on a smartphone to change the volume for a speaker group. Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for more information.

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