Technology

Google’s Sonos lawsuit could make other phone makers do what Pixel can’t

You might think that a Google phone would be the best choice to power your Google-branded speakers, but it isn’t. necessary True: Google’s actions may have opened the door for other manufacturers to do what the Pixel cannot legally do, writes Android sleuth Mishaal Rahman at Esper.

Last week we wrote about how “Your Google home speakers are about to get a little worse because Sonos sued and won.” If you’re using a Google Pixel, that’s true – you can’t control the volume of a Google Cast multi-zone speaker group, among other things. 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 dealt specifically with controlling the volume of a multi-zone speaker group.

But when Rahman delved into the Android 12 code, he found that the… way Google’s external speaker group volume control is incredibly simple: Google simply sets a single value from “true” to “false” on its own Pixel phones. Rahman writes:

the second patch seems tailor-made to allow Google to ship Pixel phones without the ability to control the volume of speaker group sessions remotely. But it also provides OEMs with an easy way to ship their own devices with the feature enabled. All an OEM needs to do is build AOSP with GMS and leave the default value (‘true’) for the config_volumeAdjustmentForRemoteGroupSessions flag.

It sounds like Samsung or Xiaomi (currently the world’s top two Android manufacturers) want their phones to control the volume of an entire speaker group (something a Google Pixel can no longer do as of the latest update), they don’t have to. lift any extra fingers. They just need to avoid turning it off on purpose. And Rahman says that – at least in beta – the upcoming Android 12L also works this way.

(For the uninitiated, “Building AOSP with GMS” simply means taking the basic version of Android that Google offers to manufacturers for free, with the Google services the company generally licenses with it, which most Android phone manufacturers do. do anyway before they skin Android with their own additions.)

All this does not mean that a phone manufacturer Google will necessarily take advantage of this opportunity. As far as I know – I’m not a lawyer – Sonos could just turn around and sue them too, using the win over Google as precedent. But it’s all very intriguing to think about.