Sonos, the company known for spreading multi-room music wirelessly, has officially ventured into voice control with the Sonos One, which offers Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, and was revealed in an exclusive event in New York City today.
The One is a small speaker with a form factor innately similar to the Play:1, Sonos' first small speaker launched in 2013. Sonically, there is no significant difference between the two.
On top, there are touch-based gesture controls to swipe for playback and volume. Pressing the dedicated microphone button turns it on or off.
While you can pair two of the same Sonos speaker models together for stereo sound, you can't do this with a Sonos One and Play:1, for example, for left and right channels. Hopefully cross-compatibility is a feature Sonos considers adding soon.
The biggest difference with the Sonos One is the addition of six built-in far field microphones that listen for voice commands. Noise cancellation works with the mics to register a command while music is playing.
Alexa will be the first supported voice platform, with Google Assistant to follow some time in 2018. Since Alexa-enabled products like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot aren't officially available in Canada yet, the feature is considered more of a future-proof value proposition for consumers north of the border. However, it is possible to set up Alexa support in Canada through some clever workarounds for now. Localization won't work for now, meaning you won't get any contextual information based on your location (unless specifying where you are), but you could get music integration to work.
Alternatively, Canadians who have an Echo or Echo Dot can use it to route music through any existing Sonos speaker. The Alexa integration launched as a public beta today, so it's ready to go as part of the mobile app's latest update.
At launch, Spotify integration won't work, but is expected to become functional within weeks of the Sonos One's release. Any music service Alexa supports will translate to the speaker, though more will come later, including Tidal and iHeartRadio.
Siri, Apple's voice assistant, won't be part of this new integration, but is relevant in a different way.
One of Sonos' announcements included future support for AirPlay 2, Apple's wireless streaming protocol. Under this scenario, it would be possible to tell Siri to play something on an iOS or Mac device and have it play on a Sonos speaker via AirPlay. It's not clear which Sonos speakers would offer the compatibility, but it's expected to be a number of them.
Pre-orders are currently underway until the Sonos One launches through retailers on October 24 for $250. That's considerably less than the Apple HomePod at US$350 and the just-announced Google Home Max at $400.
In addition to the new speaker and partnerships, Sonos is also rolling out its certification program called "Works with Sonos" to label products and services that are confirmed to work seamlessly with the company's speakers. Nothing more was revealed beyond that.