Google and Sonos have been in an ongoing legal battle after Sonos filed a complaint to the ITC in regards to patent violations back in 2020. Late yesterday, the investigation was completed, with the ITC finding that several Google Nest products do, in fact, infringe on Sonos patents (via New York Times). Along with finding in the favor of Sonos, the ITC approved the ban of import for select devices.
The patent infringement is related to how you can set up your Nest devices, along with how you can adjust the volume for your Speaker Groups. Previously, Google made it possible to change the volume of the group at the same time. But shortly after the decision was reached, the company published a blog post in the Nest Community, stating that this will no longer be the case. Here’s what Google says will be changing:
- To adjust volume on your speaker groups, you will need to adjust each speaker individually instead of using the group volume controller. You’ll also no longer be able to change your Speaker Group volume using your phone’s physical volume button.
- Most Speaker Groups should continue functioning as expected unless you have a speaker group containing other brands of Cast-based devices, like JBL or Lenovo, they need to be on 1.52.272222 or higher Cast firmware version. Check out this article on how to find your device’s firmware version or contact your device maker.
- A small set of users will need to use the ‘Device Utility app’ (DUA) to complete product installation and updates. You may receive a prompt to download and run DUA, and it will ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and receives the most updated software version.
Essentially, instead of being able to change the volume for all of the included speakers in your group at the same time, you’ll be forced to change the speaker volume individually. Additionally, you will no longer be able to control the volume of the Speaker Group using your phone’s physical volume rocker. By making these changes, Google hopes that it will be able to avoid any trade import bans.
This decision delivers a big blow to Google’s multi-room audio functionality, as you won’t be able to simply ask Assistant to change the volume for your speaker groups. If you have multiple speakers in your Living Room or Kitchen, then you’ll need to go through and adjust the volume levels manually.
In the blog post, Google does state that it is continuing “work to minimize any additional changes”, but we aren’t sure what that will look like. Hopefully, Google is able to figure out some type of workaround to bring back Speaker Group volume controls, but it doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon.