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Android 12 devices can't use Chromecast volume controls due to a 'legal issue'

Could Google's legal battles with Sonos be to blame?
By
November 2, 2021
The Google Pixel 6 in Sorta Seafoam power and volume buttons
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Android 12 devices are unable to control Chromecast session volume using their volume keys.
  • Once believed to be a bug, the Chromecast volume control issue was a deliberate change on Google’s part.
  • A Googler claims the feature was disabled due to a ‘legal issue.’

For years, Android devices have been able to control the volume of nearby Chromecast sessions by simply using the volume keys. For example, if you cast YouTube from your phone to your Nest Hub or television, you can control the Nest Hub or TV’s volume by using your phone’s volume keys. It’s a handy feature that many Android users have grown to love.

However, the feature was removed from Android after the third Android 12 beta. It was at one point believed to be a bug that Google would fix in an upcoming beta update. A Googler then jumped into the IssueTracker thread and not only confirmed the feature was no longer there, but that it was the intended behavior and would be readded to the software in Android 12 beta 5. In other words, Google removed it on purpose. But why?

Unfortunately, Android 12 beta 5 came and went with no Chromecast volume controls. We’ve even received a major bug-fixing update to the stable release of Android 12, and we’re still missing the feature. The option to control Cast volume is still present in Android 12’s audio settings, but it’s greyed out and cannot be changed (see the screenshot at the bottom of this article).

Apparently, according to a Googler on the IssueTracker thread (h/t 9to5Google and Mishaal Rahman), a “legal issue” is preventing Google from adding the feature back into Android.

We don’t yet have word as to what the legal issue could be. However, we do know Google has been in an ongoing legal battle with Sonos since early 2020. Sonos claims Google stole many of its wireless speaker patents. We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

So, when can we expect a fix? According to the same Googler, the feature will be readded to Android with the release of Android 12L, which they refer to as “12.1.” Notably, we’ve not heard back from Google’s PR team, so it’s possible the fix won’t roll out with the release of Android 12L.

More: With Android 12L, Google must lead by example

Android 12L is expected to arrive for Pixel devices in Spring 2022, so some users don’t have long to wait. However, Google recently dropped support for the Pixel 3 with November 2021’s security patch, so it’s unclear whether or not Pixel 3 devices will ever receive an update to fix the problem.

android 12 google chromecast bug volume controls workaround
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

It’s not all bad for Android users, though. You can still control your Chromecast device’s volume, just in a slightly less convenient way. Instead of simply using your volume buttons, you can tap the Chromecast notification, then proceed to change the volume, either by using the volume keys or the on-screen volume slider.