YouTube Music is experimenting with connecting to speakers for automatic voice control.
Asking a Google Assitant-enabled smart speaker to play music means you can open the YouTube Music app and have it auto-connect to control things like the volume and playlist. It may take the speaker a couple of seconds to recognize something is playing, but it will quickly bring it up.
After it’s connected, media controls in Android’s Quick Settings panel will show what’s playing on the speaker. The phone’s volume rocker can be used to control the speaker’s volume level, and you can even check out the Up Next tab to see what the speaker will play next. It’s important to note that volume rocker controlling speaker volume is one of the things Sonos sued Google over.
That functionality briefly disappeared from Chromecast devices and appears to be back, now that Google has found a workaround that doesn’t utilize Sonos patents.
Sonos and Google have been fighting the patent battle since 2020, with a judgment recently in Sonos’ favor for $32.5 million. Google has been hard at work bringing its ecosystem back on par with what it offered before Sonos sued. Other features that were removed included the ability to adjust speakers as a group volume with the phone’s volume rocker.
It’s worth noting that the new experience it’s entirely seamless, either. If you’re playing something on the speaker from another playlist and open the YouTube Music app, the speaker’s playlist will overwrite the preloaded app playlist.
The feature appears to be a server-side change that is rolling out gradually to YouTube Music users with at least version 6.03.52 of the app. If you’ve recently migrated from Spotify and you’re missing the Spotify Connect feature, this brings YouTube Music pretty close as long as the speakers you’re using have Google Assistant support enabled.