This story was originally published and last updated .
Android TVs can finally be added to speaker groups — or, at least, they will be once the feature finishes rolling out more widely. First spotted over the weekend by the folks at Android TV Guide, the change allows at least some Android TV devices to be added to speaker groups in the Google Home app. And that's not the only change, you can also disable ongoing cast notifications for Android TV devices.
— Android TV Guide (@androidtv_rumor) May 2, 2020
The mechanism for both of these changes seems to be an update to the built-in Chromecast app, but there are some caveats. While the latest update (v.1.47.207274) delivers both features for some devices, like the Nvidia Shield TV, speaker grouping isn't working for all Android TVs. For example, it didn't work with mine.
A MiBox AndroidTV appearing in a speaker group.
Sideloading the latest release or opting into the beta program should get the requisite version onto your device, where you can test for yourself. If it works, you'll see your Android TV device appear among the options when creating a speaker group in the Google Home app, as it does in the example above.
On previous releases, you would see the above error message (left). But now you can actually disable the setting.
Grouped speakers aren't the only change, though. One of our readers has tipped us off that the update also allows for network-wide ongoing casting notifications for Android TVs to (finally!) be turned off. For a bit of context, Chromecast owners likely remember the network-wide notifications all Android devices receive when casting content, allowing any of those devices to control playback. Sometimes that's convenient, sometimes it's an annoyance — like when a Wi-Fi guest accidentally kills the broadcast.
Since 2017, you've been able to control this feature on a per-device basis, but it never worked correctly with Chromecast-integrated Android TV devices, throwing an error that the app "could not communicate with your Android TV." We have verified in back-to-back testing that the latest version of the built-in Chromecast app finally lets the toggle work as it should, and you can actually turn it off now.
The timing of this Android TV-specific Chromecast fix lends strength to the rumors of an Android TV-powered Chromecast, which some expected Google to show off at I/O this year. With that original date now only weeks away, following the event's cancellation and the timing of this rather specific fix, we could hear more about the anticipated 2nd-gen Chromecast Ultra soon.
And it's gone
We've received reports that the speaker grouping integration is breaking for some of our readers, seemingly without cause. We don't know if the change affects all devices, or if the original feature rollout may have been in error, though we'll keep an eye out and let you know if we hear more.
The fixed cast notification setting that arrived as part of this change continues to work, however.
- Omair Arif