YouTube Music is experimenting with connecting speakers for automatic voice control.
If you ask a Google Assistant-equipped smart speaker to play music, you can open the YouTube Music app and have it automatically connect to control things like volume and playlist. It may take a few seconds for the speaker to realize something is playing, but it brings it up quickly.
Once connected, the media controls in Android’s quick settings will show what’s playing on the speaker. You can use the phone’s volume rocker to control the volume of the speaker, and you can even check what the speaker is playing next on the Up Next tab. It’s important to note that Sonos has sued Google over the volume rocker used to control speaker volume.
This functionality briefly disappeared from Chromecast devices and now seems to be back after Google found a workaround that doesn’t leverage Sonos patents.
Sonos and Google have been in a patent battle since 2020, with a recent judgment in Sonos’ favor for $32.5 million. Google has been working hard to bring its ecosystem back to the level it was before Sonos filed a lawsuit. Other features that were removed included the ability to adjust speaker volume as a group using the phone’s volume rocker.
It’s worth noting that the new experience is also completely seamless. If you’re playing something from another playlist on the speaker and open the YouTube Music app, the speaker’s playlist overwrites the preinstalled app playlist.
The characteristic seems to be a server-side change that is gradually being rolled out for YouTube Music users with at least version 6.03.52 of the app. If you’ve recently migrated from Spotify and are missing the Spotify Connect feature, YouTube Music comes pretty close as long as the speakers you’re using have Google Assistant support enabled.