Sonos Surveys Users About Potential Voice Assistant
Sonos is seeking opinions from some users about a voice assistant the company may potentially release, according to a post by Reddit user EdmundFitzgerald29. The Sonos voice assistant described would be native to Sonos devices and notably is described as compatible with Amazon Alexa, but not Google Assistant, which Sonos is currently compatible with despite ongoing lawsuits between Sonos and Google.
“I’d like to show you a description for a potential new product offering,” the email explained before describing the proposed Sonos Voice Control. “Quick, easy, and private control designed for Sonos by Sonos. Available on select Sonos voice capable speakers.”
The voice assistant in the survey would respond to Hey Sonos as a wake word, processing it and other voice commands locally to speed it up and make the interaction more private by not sending info to the cloud. Users would be able to control the audio playing and organize music with the voice assistant, searching for content and saving songs and information as desired. The survey then asks how interested the user would be in the product on a scale of 1 to 10. It seems likely that the Sonos Voice Control has grown out of Snips, the voice assistant developer Sonos bought for $37.5 million to improve its voice user experience. The specifics of Sonos’ plan in terms of timing and other details of the proposed assistant weren’t revealed in the email, however.
Alexa on Sonos
A stand-out in the breakdown of the Sonos voice assistant is that it would be compatible with Alexa. Both Alexa and Google Assistant can be added to Sonos speakers currently, and Google Assistant can even make a Sonos speaker a default player, but the absence of Google Assistant from the survey suggests the Sonos and Google’s back-and-forth legal fight over patent infringement may have consequences when Sonos can offer its own voice assistant.
Sonos has claimed that Google used Sonos patents without permission or licensing in its smart speakers, leveraging its size to escape consequences. Sonos has levied similar charges against Amazon but said the risk of retaliation led to choosing to sue only Google for now. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has testified to that point in Congressional hearings, claiming 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 wants.