Google Home Mini has no audio out

Over the past couple of years my household has become more and more invested in the Google ecosystem. It hasn't always been this way, it's simply because products came along that were the best solutions to my tech desires. Android, Shield TV, Google Photos, and Chromecast audios. Unlike on phones, Voice at home is genuinely useful, so I could hardly pass up it finally being adopted by the 'big guys'. But I did not take the plunge with Amazon's Alexa because my educated bet is that Google is naturally inclined to have the better solution - for two reasons:

  1. Google's increasingly excellent UX (witness modern Android vs the horror show up to Jellybean or so)
  2. Knowledge graph

So I bought in early to Google Home when released in the UK.

Sure they have a lot of catching up with Alexa to do when it comes to integrations, but the question answering is, as I predicted, already better, and Google seems to have a great open developers' platform so progress is looking good. The multiroom audio support is great - unlike with video Chromecasts and devices with Cast built in, the Home can be included in playback groups at launch. So far, so good.

A First World problem

However, I had already gone down the Chromecast Audio route, which means that I have dumb speakers in situ. In my case that includes ceiling speakers, and these aren't going anywhere. So here's the thing: when I play music in the room where the Home is, I want it playing from those speakers, not on the Home itself.

Home offers a solution, and it's pretty simple really:

Hey Google, play The Killers on kitchen speakers

The issue is, nobody in the family ever remembers to add the bit at the end, it's a bit long winded anyway, and it's not possible to switch from one Cast device to another. Besides, I shouldn't really have to do this when these devices are in the same room. It's really a minor thing, and Google's been working on some great features, have got their developer access sorted super quick, and doing an all around great job with Assistant. But still, it annoys me.

When the rumours of Home Mini surfaced, I thought "great, it'll have an audio out like the Echo Dot and Chromecast audio", which would mean I could connect directly to the ceiling speakers, freeing up both the Chromecast and Home for use elsewhere.

But it doesn't have a 3.5mm line out. And although it can pair with Bluetooth, you still can't set it so the audio always plays via another device.

What could Google do now?

I admit it's a small thing, and maybe another aftermarket device will fill the gap. But in fact a very small solution would actually work very well: Allow each Home to have a configurable default output device. It doesn't even have to be for all audio (i.e when the Assistant is talking to you - latency is key there). Music would be fine. What it would do is provide a ready made solution to a group of people that Google clearly recognises is significant: people who have speakers they won't replace (or no replacement exists). They saw that gap with Chromecast Audio, so now it's time to build on it to get Assistant onto those same speakers. How about it, Google? Please?

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