After losing a patent battle against Sonos, Google had to downgrade some features on its products. However, the changes may not affect third-party Android devices because Google has solved the problem in the simplest possible way.
The patent dispute between Google and Sonos involved several technologies for controlling audio devices, one of which was controlling the volume of multiple speakers at the same time. At the request of the authorities, Google was forced to remove this function from its devices. However, Android researcher Mishaal Rahman has figured out how this result was achieved. Analyzing Android 12’s code, he saw that the feature had been removed, perhaps in the simplest way – just changing one parameter from the value “true” to the value “false”.
Android OS is open source, and third-party device makers on this platform often make changes to it by installing their own interface skins or making changes at a deeper level. The ability to centrally adjust the volume of a group of speakers is gone on Google Pixel devices, and the company’s partners just need to leave the default value of “true” for the “config_volumeAdjustmentForRemoteGroupSessions” parameter in the system code – it certainly works on Android 12L beta version, claims Mr. Rahman.
In practice, however, things may not be that simple. If Samsung or Xiaomi (the world’s largest Android makers) conditionally opt for this simple recipe, they risk a lawsuit from Sonos – the company can use the victory over Google as a precedent.