Ikea and Sonos Unveil New Speakers with AirPlay 2 Compatibility and Announce August 2019 Availability
Ikea and Sonos have officially announced that their collaborative line of speakers, called Symfonisk, will be available in August 2019. The companies have also released images detailing what the speakers will look like, and have given a bit more detail in regards to their technical makeup. The Symfonisk table lamp ($179) and the bookshelf speaker ($99) will begin shipping this August. Users will be able to control the speakers with the Sonos app, meaning they can be incorporated into multiroom audio setups. The speakers will also support Apple’s AirPlay 2, allowing users to play music from several apps and use voice commands with Siri. However, those voice commands can’t be given directly to the Symfonisk products, as there is no microphone built-in to the speakers. Users can also connect the speakers to their existing Sonos lineup, which means they could be connected to an Alexa-enabled Sonos One in order to be controlled with Alexa. Ikea also stated that users will eventually be able to control the speakers with the Ikea smart home mobile app.
Why Not Include a Microphone? Ikea + Sonos Both Have Had Issues with Voice Assistant Integration in the Past
Ikea and Sonos began discussing their intentions to partner back in March 2016. Ikea has a smart home line of products it has been selling since 2015 and knew it wanted to incorporate some aspect of music in their line from the start. Many of Ikea’s smart home products have multiple voice assistant integrations, making the decision to not include more than AirPlay 2 support a bit unusual.
Ikea’s smart home line did see hiccups with voice assistant integration when the Trådfri smart lights were supposed to launch with Apple HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant. The three voice assistants work now, however, the Google Assistant implementation to longer than expected according to Wired.
We are all painfully aware of the lack of Google Assistant integration with the Sonos One Alexa-enabled speaker as well. Assistant integration in the Sonos One was confirmed in a Google press conference at CES 2019, however, no date for rollout has been given. The initial target release date was by the end of 2018.
Ikea’s other most recent smart home product was announced at CES 2019, smart shades called the Frytur and the Kadrilj that allow voice commands through Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant, and an included remote. The shades became available to U.S. residents April 1st, and no word has been given on whether Ikea had difficulty securing those voice assistant integrations.
Ikea Wants to Go Slow and Steady in Development of Smart Home Products
Although the lack of built-in voice support may be surprising, this does not mean Ikea and Sonos will never put out a speaker with direct voice assistant integration. Both Sonos and Ikea have said this is only the first phase of their partnership. Björn Block, Business Leader of Ikea’s Home Smart division commented on the lack of built-in voice support,
Obviously we explored many opportunities in terms of what product we should make in this first round. The main purpose of this product is to really enable music and sound into basically every room in a very versatile way. If you would have voice capabilities, yeah, it might have been better, but let’s be clear about the first purpose at this point in time.
Like all Ikea products, the Symfonisk range will be subject to updates and iterations, so it is very possible we will see direct voice assistant integration in the future. The Sonos and Ikea collaboration will not stop with these speakers. Block said,
They’ll be subject to the same updates we do on our core products, so they’ll continue to get better over time. They’ll continue to take on new functionality where they can.
In addition to an open mind about future development, the low price point and availability in-store could be a huge factor to consumer adoption of the speakers. The increasingly crowded smart speaker market may not necessarily push out Sonos and Ikea. Both are already established brands with a large reach in other fields. Loyal bases of fans can easily be tapped into if and when they decide to make a smart speaker. And for now, Symfonisk’s support of AirPlay 2 and the ability to connect to Sonos’ existing lineup could prove to be enough to hold over consumers looking for voice control.