23.08.17

Sonos to unveil Alexa support in coming weeks

sonos audio product family against white background

Sonos’ integration with Amazon Alexa technology is expected to be unveiled imminently, following updates to its privacy statement announced on the company’s website.

“Next week, we’ll be introducing some important updates to our privacy statement” stated Sonos in an article posted last week on its official blog. Seems standard enough right? Privacy statements need to be tweaked and altered by manufacturers all the time in this digital age... Yet dig a bit deeper and the blog attributed to Craig Shelburne, chief legal officer at Sonos, all but confirms that we are very close to the integration between Sonos and Amazon Alexa announced last year.

The blog post goes on to state that “The new privacy statement covers what information we collect, how we use it, and the choices you can make about both” before specifically going into what Sonos products “hear, record and keep” and how it “shares data with partners” (chiefly, Amazon).

Here’s the key statement regarding the upcoming integration:

“First, you’ll notice that we’ve added a section on what it means if you choose to enable a voice assistant to control your Sonos system when that becomes available in your country. It’s no secret that we’ve been working on this for some time, and we want to make sure we’re preparing you well in advance of this addition. The most important thing for you to know is that Sonos does not keep recordings of your voice data. It goes to the voice assistant service (for example Amazon) that you’ve activated on your Sonos system.”

Not all Sonos products will be voice-enabled (although it’s worth noting that the Sonos Play:5 features two in-built microphones for this very purpose), but those that will work when triggered by a specific wake word and show a light to indicate that the product is recording audio.

This integration has been a long-time coming for both companies – Amazon Alexa’s list of collaborations may boast hundreds of names, but many have been waiting for this announcement. Despite offering the ability to play music through another speaker, for many Google Home has been held in higher regard for its Chromecast functionality allowing it to play music on the same network.

Back in 2016, John Gahagan, managing director for Sonos in the UK told HiddenWires that the company was “a long way off perfecting” the integration, yet although “the transformation of voice technology won’t happen overnight” it hoped its upcoming collaboration with Amazon and Google can lead to a new kind of listening experience.

He added: “We believe voice control will play a big role in the future connected home and we’re committed to this path – our collaboration with Amazon is an important step down this road. The first generation of products is showing that voice is great for scenarios with smaller types of tasks, but it is also clear that voice is a remarkably efficient way to access or navigate large and complex libraries of content, such as music.”

“Integrating with other smart systems will allow Sonos to be the two-way bridge that enables voice control and of course provides amazing, high fidelity sound output.”

Despite Sonos’ mixed relationship with CI community, Gahagan affirmed that he hopes partnerships such as this can lead to greater engagement between installers and everyday consumers. “We hope to play a big part in bringing the benefits [voice control] can bring to more and more homes that previously may not have considered a more complex install.”

Earlier this year the manufacturer publicised that it was working on bringing a Sonos speaker with built-in Alexa technology to market in the future.