One of the best features of Google’s Assistant ecosystem is the ability to create speaker groups that play music throughout your entire home. Now, Google is making it possible to add Android TV devices to a speaker group.

Through an update to the Chromecast Built-in app, Google has apparently enabled all Android TV devices to work with speaker groups. Most users who have been able to get this working have been on Nvidia Shield TV models and I was able to confirm it on my unit too.

I tried to get things running on Google’s ADT-3 developer device as well, but I’ve been unable to get the Chromecast built-in app to update even with a sideloaded APK. On an AirTV Mini device, the app did install and I was able to get it to appear in the Google Home app after a reboot.

Update 5/7: This functionality has broken over the past day or so. The reason is unclear, but we’re seeing most Android TV devices that previously supported speaker groups being reverted. Both my Nvidia Shield TV and AirTV Mini no longer appear for setup, though my ADT-3 dongle is still working.

These devices are all still running on the same 1.47 beta release of the Chromecast Built-in app, so this seems like a server-side change. Hopefully, it’s only a temporary hiccup.

Update 6/24: Just as mysteriously as it disappeared, Google has reinstated speaker groups for Android TV. The revival was first reported by Android Police, and I’ve since confirmed it on my own Nvidia Shield TV and JBL Link Bar. It seems like this is tied, again, to the latest beta update which rolled out this week.

Pointed out by @AndroidTV_rumor on Twitter, an easy way to get in on this updated version is to join the Chromecast Built-in beta on the Play Store. Within a little while, that should push the updated 1.47 version to your device.

Why has Google enabled this? Well for one, it’s been a glaring omission to the speaker group feature for a while — why shouldn’t Android TV devices work with this? The timing, however, tells me that Google has enabled this feature now in preparation for the second-gen Chromecast Ultra we exclusively reported on earlier this year. The original Chromecast Ultra supports speaker groups, so not enabling that on Android TV would mean the second-gen wouldn’t have feature parity.

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Ben Schoon

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