For most of us, Google Homes are Assistant and cast speakers first: We either ask for music or audio to be played or we use them like a Chromecast target from our phones. But that’s discounting two other ways they can be used: as Bluetooth speakers and as source to stream to other Bluetooth speakers. For more than a year now, that functionality has been broken and Google Homes haven’t been able to maintain a Bluetooth link without disconnecting, but the Mountain View giant has finally acknowledged the issue.
If you’re using a Google Home as a Bluetooth speaker (here’s the tutorial to set that up), you may notice that after a few minutes, the audio stops and the speaker plays a little disconnection sound. A quick look at your phone shows that Bluetooth is no longer connected and you have to force a connection again to get it to play on the speaker. For many users, this happens after 2-3 minutes, but there are cases where it’s just a minute and others, like me, for whom playback lasts about 15 minutes or so before it cuts. I tried this several times with different apps on my phone and it was always the same result: At a random time, in the middle of a track or podcast, my Google Home Mini just gives up.
Others have a similar problem, but the other way around. If they’re streaming audio from their Google Home Minis to a bigger speaker, it cuts off randomly after a few minutes.
The issue has been reported since late 2018 — that’s more than a year ago. After dozens of threads (we only linked to a few below) with hundreds of comments from frustrated people, Google has finally acknowledged the problem. The Google Nest account on Twitter said on February 14:
We’re sorry for the trouble! Our team is already aware of this and we’re working on a fix, we’ll bubble this up to our team and check back in once we have an update. Hang tight!
Also, a Nest (Home) community specialist explained things further on February 20:
Our team is aware of this issue and are currently investigating for a fix not have such an important feature work properly. The team is aware of the issue and working on finding a solution.In the mean time, please continue to send feedback via voice command by saying “Hey Google, send feedback”, and use the keywords “GHT3 Bluetooth IN keeps on disconnect”. To know more about sending feedback, please click this link.
I did that on my end to report the problem. I also tried several other workarounds mentioned by the community.
Since I’m using my Home Mini as a speaker, I tried initiating the connection request from the speaker instead of the phone, by saying “Hey Google, connect to Bluetooth.” The speaker says it’s connected to my Pixel 4 XL, but it really isn’t. After several attempts, I gave up. If it works, other users report that you should be able to start playback and it won’t drop randomly.
The other workaround that did work for me is to go to the Google Home app, tap the speaker, then use the “Cast my audio” bubble to simply cast anything that’s playing on the phone over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. I haven’t used this long enough to see its battery impact, but I know it’s been playing for over an hour without any drops. Sure, it’s completely side-stepping the issue, and it won’t work if your internet is down, but it’s a temporary way to avoid the problem.
However, that second trick only works if you’re using the Home as a speaker, not if you’re streaming music from it to another Bluetooth speaker.
The good thing here is that after a year of being ignored, the problem is on Google’s radar. Based on past experience, though, there’s no telling how long the issue will take to be fixed. It could be a couple of weeks or it could be many months or more.