Google Assistant Adds Sonos Speakers as Default Option
Sonos speakers can now serve as the default player for Google Assistant. Sonos updated its speaker software this week, adding the new option, despite ongoing legal battles with Google over patent use.
Google Assistant became an option for Sonos speakers last year and the two companies have been integrating the voice assistant into more Sonos hardware ever since. The latest addition offers Sonos equipment as the default speaker for those with Google Assistant-enabled devices like a Nest smart speaker or Google Pixel smartphone. Once the Google Assistant account is linked to the speaker, users will be able to ask Google Assistant to play music or pull up information and it will automatically respond from the Sonos speaker, without needing to specify that in the request. Each Google device can connect to a different Sonos speaker as its default, so you can have the smart speaker in the living room play from the Sonos device in the same room, while a matched pair in the bedroom are unaffected.
The idea is to make it simpler and faster for the voice assistant to complete a request. Though it’s a small change in some ways, the reduced friction adds up over time and makes using Google Assistant easier. It’s similar to how Google started allowing Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to be the default on Android phones a couple of years ago. As Google is very keen to encourage more people to rely on Google Assistant and Sonos wants people to bring more Sonos products home, the upgrade is a win for both companies.
Courtroom Battle Continues
The new feature does come at a slightly incongruous moment for Google and Sonos though. Sonos filed a lawsuit against Google for patent infringement in January, alleging that Google’s smart speakers use Sonos patents without permission or licensing, getting away with it because of their overwhelming economic leverage. Sonos has also accused Amazon of patent theft but cited the power of these tech giants and the risk of retaliation as the reason for not simultaneously suing both companies. The fight has extended to Congressional hearings when Sonos’ CEO testified to Congress that tech giants like Amazon and Google are unfairly pressuring companies like Sonos to limit competition and force them to do whatever the larger company tells them. Clearly, Sonos and Google aren’t going to let the uncertain legal decision in the future limit potential profits right now. How a judge’s decision might affect these kinds of partnerships isn’t clear, but Sonos and Google Assistant fans can enjoy the feature while it lasts.