1.13.2020 6:38 PM

Tech

Google quietly removed Guest Mode from its Home devices

But Chromecasts still have it. Weird.

Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images

If you’ve ever used a Chromecast you’ll have noticed the four-digit PIN code that shows up in the corner of your TV screen for Guest Mode. Visitors can use the PIN to connect to your Chromecast without first connecting to your Wi-Fi network. Until recently, you could do the same thing with Google Home devices, which was arguably more useful. But, as of this week, the option has disappeared, Android Police noticed.

Not an accident — Google’s decision to remove Guest Mode from its Home products looks pretty deliberate because, though the support page for the feature remains for Chromecast devices, it’s vanished from the Home support section. The option has also disappeared from the options menu for Home devices in the Google Home App but remains for Chromecasts.

Umm, but why? — There’s a lot of strangeness to contend with here. Why would Google remove the feature from its speakers and smart displays yet keep it on its TV dongle? Could it have something to do with covering its posterior for the pending litigation it faces from Sonos, which claims Google stole its smart speaker technology?

Moreover, why didn’t Google see fit to alert users to the change? If the change is because of a lack of demand or a similarly innocuous reason, why not announce it? But if the change is instead because of a security flaw or other problem, how long is it going to take for the search giant to come clean about it? We'll be watching. And listening. And sharing our Wi-Fi password with people we barely know. Thanks, Google.