Google Restores Key Feature in Android 15 Beta 2 for Pixel Phones

Google Restores Key Feature in Android 15 Beta 2 for Pixel Phones | CIO Women Magazine

Source – nextpit

Last week, Google released the Android 15 Beta 2, introducing several anticipated features such as Private Space, App Pairs, and Predictive Back. Alongside these updates, a notable change was the revamped volume panel UI, which had been expected. However, the second beta also unexpectedly reintroduced a feature many thought might never return to Pixel phones: the ability to control the volume of speaker groups while casting.

When users create a speaker group with Assistant-enabled devices in the Google Home app, they can cast audio to the group using a Cast-enabled app. For instance, if a user sets up a group called “Nest Hubs” with their bedroom and living room Nest Hubs, they can play a song via YouTube Music, tap the cast icon, and select “Nest Hubs” to play the song on both devices simultaneously.

While the YouTube Music app remains open, users can control the group volume with their phone’s volume keys. This feature works regardless of the device being used. However, previously, if a Pixel phone was running software older than Android 15 Beta 2, users could not control the volume of their speaker group unless they reopened the YouTube Music app. Other Android devices were unaffected by this limitation.

Legal Dispute and Feature Removal

The discrepancy arose from Google’s intentional decision to block Pixel devices from controlling the volume of Google Home speaker groups while casting, a move driven by a legal battle. In 2020, Sonos sued Google for alleged patent infringement, leading Google to disable several features across its Nest speakers and smart displays, including the speaker group volume control on Pixel phones. Since the lawsuit specifically targeted Google, other Android devices were not impacted by this change.

In late 2023, a California judge overturned a jury verdict that had favored Sonos, allowing Google to reinstate the ability to add Nest speakers, displays, and Chromecast devices to multiple speaker groups. Despite this, the volume control feature for speaker groups remained disabled on Pixel phones until the release of Android 15 Beta 2 last week. With this update, Google has restored the functionality, much to the relief of Pixel users.

Remaining Issues and Future Updates

Despite these improvements, another casting-related feature, stream expansion, is still absent on Pixel phones. Stream expansion allows users to cast music to one speaker and then add more devices via the media output switcher. This feature is available on several non-Pixel Android devices but not on Pixel phones, even those running Android 15 Beta 2. Users hope this functionality will be restored on Pixel devices in future updates, although there is no clear timeline for its return.

Google’s second beta of Android 15 marks a significant step in enhancing user experience on Pixel phones, particularly with the reinstatement of group volume controls. As the beta progresses, further refinements and additional feature restorations are anticipated, aiming to bring uniform functionality across all Android devices.

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