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Pixel users are having smart home issues, Google blames Sonos

A Sonos in the green grass, rather than a Google Assistant smart home.
Photo: Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo

Google and Sonos have been fighting in patent courts for some time, and now Google is blaming Sonos for several smart home gadget activation errors that recently plagued Pixel users, even those outside the Sonos ecosystem.. Sonos, in turn, says it’s all Google’s fault for infringing on its patents.

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Originally spotted by 9to5Googlea blog post in the Google Nest Community Forums exposes the issue that has affected some Pixel users who also have Sonos speakers in their home’s connected ecosystem. Google writes:

Unfortunately, due to an outage caused by Sonos, a small number of you using Pixel phones in the US and Canada may not be able to set up devices at this time. We hope this is a temporary decision that only affects a small number of you.

The issue occurs as follows: If you have a registered device in your Google Assistant-driven household that hasn’t been on wifi for a while, the Google Home app may ask you to wake up the device once that it is turned on.

It’s not clear from the post which smart devices or generations of Pixels are affected by this issue, although it appears to extend beyond devices made by Sonos. Google mentions a fix for Google TV / Android TV devices. However, that doesn’t say if it specifically affects people with a Sonos speaker inside a smart home with other connected devices.

Google offers a few fixes if you encounter this problem. You can use the Device Utility to get your business back online if you are outside the United States or Canada. But if you’re in the US or Canada, you’ll need to call or chat with Google. customer service to get help.

I reached out to Google to ask if this affected someone who didn’t have a Sonos device in their smart homes. Google responded with the same statement it offered to 9to5Google about this, attributed to a spokesperson:

This decision temporarily affects a small number of Pixel users who are setting up a speaker or display for the first time with the Device Utility app. We will work with them to minimize disruption. Our support teams are on hand to resolve any issues you encounter and, if needed, we’ll send replacement devices or offer Google Store credit. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to ensure that our joint customers would have a positive experience, and we’re disappointed that Sonos continues to use the legal system in a way that deliberately creates problems for those users.

I also requested a statement from Sonos and received the same bit as a rep sent to TechHive:

Google’s pixel disruption is a direct result of its decision to infringe Sonos’ patents rather than license them, as ruled by the International Trade Commission. It’s entirely Google’s decision to inflict more harm on its customers rather than behave responsibly, and it’s the height of arrogance to try to blame the company whose innovations it hijacks.

This It really feels like two parents bickering back and forth, at this point. At the very least, Google has made an official statement that it will help you if you encounter the issues mentioned above. 9to5Google also theorizes that the underlying problem could be something as minor as a firmware issue with the Pixel, which makes this theater all the more worthy of a face palm.

It’s a precarious time for Sonos and Google Assistant users, wondering if they’ll have to trade their smart home ecosystems for something more… neutral? Earlier this year, the ITC found that Google had Violated on Sonos’ audio patents, which exchange how Google speaker devices stream audio within home groups. To move away from reliance on third parties, Sonos is also launching her own digital assistant. However, it will exist alongside Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, which is still preloaded on some Sonos speakers.

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