Google has lately received a lot of flak for its buggy or, at the very least less than stellar, hardware. The Pixel 2 XL has a litany of faults, and the newer Google Home Mini and the Google Home Max aren’t spotless either. This time, however, users are reporting problems not with new Google products but with ones that have been in the market for years at most. Owners of the Google Chromecast and the original Google Home report getting Wi-Fi drops, but the problem is more complex than it seems.
It almost too easy to blame Google’s Cast technology, since it is the common tech inside both the Chromecast and the Google Home speaker. It can’t be the router, since different brands, specifically TP-Link and Linksys, confirm the problem. Curiously, it might actually be Android that’s to blame.
A TP-Link engineer theorizes that it is an app like YouTube, running on the latest Android version, that is causing the routers to disconnect. Normally, when an Android device with a Cast-compatible app like YouTube “wakes up”, it sends a couple of packets every 20 seconds in order to discover nearby Google Cast devices.
According to the engineer, however, the apps now send as much as 100,000 packages in bursts. That practically overloads the router with connections, causing it to disconnect either from the Internet or from connected devices. To the end user, however, it might seem that the router is on the fritz. Some have even gone to replace theirs.
Google has so far remained silent amidst the growing number of user reports. If the fault is indeed on Android’s side, it might even take a while before a fix is rolled out, unless it can be quickly done on a per-app basis.