Google and Sonos point fingers as some Pixel phones are unable to set up smart home devices

Google Home Nest smart home devices
(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google says some Pixel phones in the U.S. and Canada are temporarily unable to set up new smart home products.
  • The company says the disruption was caused by Sonos, although it does not go into detail.
  • This is likely related to the recent import ban Sonos won against Google and the ongoing patent case between the two.
  • Sonos maintains that Google is wrongly blaming them and that the search giant should take responsibility for infringing on its patents.

The drama between Google and Sonos continues as the search giant addresses a temporary disruption that some Pixel users are experiencing when setting up new smart home devices with Google Home.

Google issued a blog post on Monday, saying that a small number of Pixel users cannot set up new smart home products "because of an interruption caused by Sonos." The company does not detail the exact cause of the interruption but says that it likely affects a small number of Pixel users in both countries. Google is "hopeful that this is a temporary decision."

Google says that users trying to set up devices in the Google Home app may experience a "Device needs to be activated before setup" message, whether it's an older device they haven't set up in a while or one they're setting up for the first time.

Android/Google TV devices can still be activated through the regular TV flow. Meanwhile, anyone outside the U.S. and Canada can set up any of the best smart speakers, displays, or other smart devices using the Device Utility app. Users residing in the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to contact Google for support.

The problem likely stems from the drama between Google and Sonos, which came to a head earlier this year when the audio company was granted an import ban on Google smart home products infringing on its patents. In response, Google had to make changes to how Google Home handled its smart devices and required some users to use the Device Utility app for setup.

While the ruling from that case is being appealed, a second patent case between the two companies is currently underway.

"Google's Pixel disruption is the direct result of its decision to infringe Sonos' patents rather than license them, as the International Trade Commission ruled, a Sonos spokesperson tells Android Central. "It is entirely Google's decision to inflict further harm to its customers rather than behave responsibly, and it's the height of arrogance to try to blame the company whose innovations it's misappropriating."

Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson gave the following statement to 9to5Google, maintaining that Sonos is causing usability problems for consumers in its ecosystem:

"This decision temporarily impacts a small number of Pixel users who set 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 fix any issues they have and if needed, we will send replacement devices or offer a Google store credit. Over the years, we have worked hard to make sure that our shared customers would have a positive experience and are disappointed that Sonos continues to use the legal system in a way that deliberately creates issues for these users."

Meanwhile, Sonos recently launched its own smart voice assistant for devices such as the Sonos Roam, which will be used to handle audio-related requests.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.