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Following the US ITC ruling in favor of Sonos, Google this afternoon announced a series of changes to how Speaker Groups and its Assistant devices work.

The first change applies when setting up and updating your Smart Display or speaker:

A small set of users will need to use the ‘Device Utility app’ (DUA) to complete product installation and updates. You may receive a prompt to download and run DUA, and it will ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and receives the most updated software version. 

Google confirmed to us that the Device Utility app only has to be used once during the initial setup of devices that don’t have the latest — and presumably non-infringing — firmware installed. For example, the DUA would apply to unopened speakers already sitting on store shelves today.

Meanwhile, users now “need to adjust each speaker individually” instead of being able to use the group volume controller that changed everything at once. Additionally, you can no longer alter the volume of a Speaker Group using your phone’s physical volume rocker. Single-speaker sessions are not impacted.

Third-party devices have to be updated to Cast firmware 1.52.272222. Besides the volume change, Google says Speaker Group functionality remains the same, though the workarounds are not too user-friendly in the grand scheme:

Most Speaker Groups should continue functioning as expected unless you have a speaker group containing other brands of Cast-based devices, like JBL or Lenovo, they need to be on 1.52.272222 or higher Cast firmware version. Check out this article on how to find your device’s firmware version or contact your device maker. 

It’s clear that the company’s preferred strategy against the legal ruling is to create workarounds around concepts that Sonos has patented.

“While we disagree with today’s decision, we appreciate that the International Trade Commission has approved our modified designs and we do not expect any impact to our ability to import or sell our products. We will seek further review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos’ frivolous claims about our partnership and intellectual property.”

Google spokesperson

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com