You might think a Google phone would be the best choice to control your Google-branded speakers, but that’s not necessarily true: Google’s actions have potentially opened the door for other manufacturers to do what the Pixel legally cannot, writes Android sleuth Mishaal Rahman at Esper.
Last week, we wrote how “Your Google home speakers are about to get slightly worse because Sonos sued and won.” If you’re using a Google Pixel, that’s true — among other things, you won’t be able to control the volume of a multi-zone Google Cast speaker group. That’s because the US International Trade Commission ruled that Google copied Sonos’ technology and threatened to block imports unless Google implemented five specific software tweaks. One of the Sonos patents specifically dealt with controlling volume of a multi-zone speaker group.
But when Rahman dug into the Android 12 code, he found that the way Google disabled remote speaker group volume control is incredibly basic: Google simply set a single value from “true” to “false” on its own Pixel phones. Rahman writes:
the second patch seems tailored to allow Google to ship Pixel phones without the ability to control the volume of remote speaker group sessions. But it also leaves an easy way for OEMs to ship their own devices with the feature enabled. All an OEM would have to do is build AOSP with GMS and leave the default value (‘true’) for the config_volumeAdjustmentForRemoteGroupSessions flag in…