The new Sonos One smart speaker supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice control
Why it matters to you
Sonos has one of the best multiroom streaming music systems on earth, and mixing in smart home capabilities will allow it to move well beyond sound.
Sonos today announced the all-new Sonos One smart speaker, the company’s first speaker with voice control. At launch, the Sonos One smart speaker will integrate with Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, but the speaker is designed to support multiple voice-control platforms — in 2018, the Sonos One will be updated to support Google Assistant as well.
Not to be left out, existing Sonos speaker owners will be able to control their systems via Alexa through any of Amazon’s Echo speaker devices pursuant to a software update issued later today. Airplay 2 support is coming for iOS device owners, and for those who have longed to be able to control their Sonos speakers from individual music apps like they do with Spotify, Sonos revealed that in-app control would be coming to Pandora and Tidal later this year, with iHeart Radio soon to follow.
The new Sonos One speaker looks just like the company’s existing Play:1 speaker, but a closer look reveals a key difference: A six-microphone array installed at the top of the speaker. Under the hood is additional hardware which allows the speaker to accept and process voice commands. Everything else that makes a Sonos speaker sound like a Sonos speaker is still baked right in.
What’s notable is that, in demonstrations, it wasn’t necessary for users to address the speaker by saying Alexa’s name to wake it up. Instead, the speaker was already awaiting voice commands, and executed very specific playlist playback and speaker assignment tasks with very simple language. Clearly, Sonos has developed a customized way of interacting with Alexa from the ground up.
You can pre-order a Sonos One smart speaker here.
Now you can be the control freak
Previously, Sonos operated a closed, very tightly controlled system. It wanted its hardware and software to work seamlessly together, and always work perfectly for its customers. The company feels it has achieved that experience, but now Sonos has to look beyond its heavily fortified fortress and start letting others in.
During its announcement in New York today, Sonos revealed it has opened up its platform and started working with developers from over 100 different partners. While that might sound like inside baseball, it is the very same practice that has led Amazon’s Alexa to its rampant popularity today — Alexa is virtually everywhere now, and Sonos likely wants to enjoy the same sort of omnipresence.
By allowing other tech companies to integrate their software and hardware with Sonos products, Sonos itself will play a bigger role in smart home systems. Perhaps instead of a traditional doorbell, you hear a clip of your favorite song coming from a Sonos speaker anytime someone presses the button at the door, for instance.
More Apple integration
Sonos knows which side its bread is buttered on and hasn’t forgotten the partner which bring it to where it is today. Announced today, Airplay 2 is coming to Sonos speakers next year. This will allow Sonos speaker control from iOS devices and through any Siri interface. Potentially, this could mean Sonos speakers like the Sonos PlayBar and PlayBase could work wirelessly with the Apple TV 4K.
The Sonos One smart speaker is only the latest way Sonos is trying to make your listening experience smarter. The company recently unveiled its Wrensilva Sonos Edition Record Console, a turntable set-up connected to two of Sonos’ Play:5 speakers. The console was designed after the sleek style of Sonos’ NYC flagship store and looks like a piece of furniture from The Jetsons. You can toggle between the past and thanks to the ability to switch between streaming music or a built-in turntable by simply turning the nob on the console.