Google Restores Group Speaker Controls After Legal Battle with Sonos

Google is reinstating a feature that allows users to control speaker volumes as a group, a capability it had previously removed following a patent dispute loss to Sonos in 2022. The legal case centered around Google’s use of Sonos’ patented technology in its Google Home and Nest Audio speakers without a licensing agreement.

The feature, which allows multiple Google Home or Nest Audio speakers to play music simultaneously at the same volume, was removed by Google rather than paying a licensing fee to Sonos. This action sparked considerable backlash from users who appreciated the convenience of controlling speaker volumes uniformly across a group.

Recently, in October 2023, some of Sonos’ patent wins were overturned, prompting Google to announce the restoration of the group speaker volume control feature. Android Authority’s Mishaal Rahman has reported that this functionality is now returning with Android 15 Beta 2.

The group speaker volume feature is designed to ensure that multiple speakers playing music throughout a home sync perfectly and maintain consistent volume levels. Users can control the volume from their phone’s unified volume bar when casting music to multiple speakers, a much more convenient method than adjusting each speaker individually through the app.

The legal battle between Sonos and Google has been contentious, with Sonos accusing Google of copying its speaker features after gaining inside access during negotiations in 2013. Google maintains it developed its smart speaker technology independently and argues that some of Sonos’ patents were filed after these features were already on the market.

With the legal uncertainties settled, Google is now moving forward to restore the functionality that users have been missing. The return of group speaker controls is expected to improve the user experience and restore convenience for those using Google’s smart speakers in a multi-room setup.