Sonos Launches Voice Assistant
Sonos plans to release its long-rumored voice assistant service in June. As hinted at previously, Sonos Voice will offer voice commands to operate devices running Sonos’ audio platform and serve as a native replacement for Alexa and Google Assistant. The update comes as Sonos’ legal fight with Google continues and has already led to the tech giant removing the option to change the volume of multiple speakers at once by asking Google Assistant.
Sonos Voice will let users play and pause audio, adjust volume, move the streaming audio to different devices, and share battery charge alerts. Any device running Sonos’ S2 software will support the voice assistant, which will have “Hey, Sonos” as its wake word, matching information in a survey about voice assistants Sonos sent out last year. The voice commands will connect to Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandor, and Sonos Radio. The glaring absence of Spotify and YouTube Music may be attributed to a delay in striking a deal, although Google’s ownership of YouTube raises speculation about the legal fight possibly impeding any agreement between the two companies. Notably, the company has already started hiring people to work on what it calls the Sonos Voice Experience.
Sonos speakers can currently add both Alexa and Google Assistant, and Google Assistant can even make a Sonos speaker a default player. Sonos and Google have waged legal battles over patent infringement since early 2020. 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 bigger company wants. Suits and countersuits are ongoing still.
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