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Google vs. Sonos: How a Legal Battle Will Change the Way Your Smart Speaker Works

Users whose smart speakers feature Google Assistant are in for a shock. Recently, Google lost a lawsuit against Sonos, meaning you will have to part ways with one of the most useful functionalities in the smart speakers. 

What Was the Sonos vs. Google Lawsuit All About?

Sonos is popular for its impressive line of soundbars and multiroom speakers. It filed a lawsuit accusing Google of using proprietary information without the company’s approval. Sonos claimed that Google breached information during their previous partnerships. 

The patents in question included:

  1. Speaker grouping creation, 
  2. New device set-up.
  3. Use of connection and playback controller. 
  4. Syncing speakers in several speakers. 

US International Trade Commission ruled in favor of Sonos, ordering Google to remove the features from its products. 

Google Assistant Speakers Lose Functionalities

Google will continue selling the infringing products but with a firmware that removes the following offending features.

  1. Users’ ability to incorporate more devices on the app. 
  2. Using your phone volume controls to adjust speaker volume via Google Home mobile app. 
  3. Using a single command to control speakers’ volume simultaneously.

 Impact of Google vs. Sonos Ruling

This ruling definitely affects your use of the Google Home or Nest smart speaker. 

The multiroom control removal means you’ll no longer control speaker groups at once. Instead, you’ll have to command each speaker just to adjust the volume. This may not seem a big deal, but your multiroom music experience will change. 

The inability to incorporate new devices on the Google Home app will make setting up new equipment a hassle. Nothing will change for users whose smart speakers are already configured in the app. However, installing a new Google Home device will require a workaround. 

Google’s available workaround comes from its new “Device Utility” app found on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This app’s connection functionality is offloaded to help you maneuver the infringement issue. 

The change affects Google speakers and other devices in its ecosystem like Lenovo smart clocks and JBL smart speakers. 

The Way Forward for Google Smart Speaker Owners After Sonos Ruling

You have a few things to consider based on the ruling. 

  1. Don’t worry if your smart speakers are already configured on the Google Home app. The ruling doesn’t affect devices that were previously connected. So, you can keep enjoying the features. 
  2. If you just acquired your device, you need the “Device Utility” app to install it in the Google Home mobile app. 
  3. If you’re using Google smart speakers in different rooms, you’ll have to adjust the volume for each. 

Consumers Are to Suffer from Google vs. Sonos Ruling

Consumers are always the losers whenever patent infringement allegations surface. Fortunately, Google has developed workarounds to mitigate the effects on Google Smart speaker users. 

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