Sonos Announcements: New Speaker, Still an Incomplete Picture

Last night Sonos held an event in New York, and because I am a tragic who enjoys my multi-room speaker action I thought I’d summarise it for you.

  • First things first: Sonos announced the long-rumoured Sonos One. It looks a lot like a Play:1 speaker equipped with far-field microphones on top. These allow voice assistants (like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant) to work. Comes in white or black, priced at AU$299. Preorder is now open. It delivers October 24th.
  • Because Alexa support is not officially available in Australia yet, Sonos are pitching the Sonos One as coming with ‘future-ready voice control’ for us Aussie battlers. So those fancy new features aren’t going to be ready for you right out of the box.
  • Should you get one anyway? Hard to say. There’s probably a way to trick it into thinking you’re in the US, but I couldn’t say for sure until it ships.
  • If you’ve already got an Echo, Dot (or other Alexa device) you can now sign up for the public beta to enable Alexa support for your existing speakers. An firmware update is coming soon to switch it on. It’ll do anything Alexa does now. Neat.
  • Don’t get too stoked though, because right now Alexa playback support is only limited to Amazon Music, Tunein, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM. So you could tell Alexa to play Triple J via TuneIn, but not your Spotify 90s playlist (yet). Support for more streaming services is coming ‘soon after launch’.
  • Google Assistant support is coming in 2018. Sonos want to be able to enable multiple assistants, so expect them to integrate with others in the future too. I’m looking at you Cortana user, you beautiful weird rare unicorn.
  • Sonos is offically committing to support Airplay 2, which means they will be able to be controlled by any Siri-capable device. It also means that non-Sonos approved sources –say, a podcast player or music player– should be able to be played on their speakers too. They haven’t yet confirmed this is for all existing Sonos speakers, but because AirPlay 2 is software-based, it should be able to be added. Again, this is coming later in 2018.
  • A redesigned Sonos app is now available in the Australian iOS App Store and Google Play. It has a tab bar at the bottom! Thank god.
  • It prompted an update of my speakers immediately.
  • My long-shot hope remained unfulfilled – Sonos did not talk about updating the Playbar/Playbase with Dolby Atmos support. Dang.

That’s all the major news! Personally, I’m still waiting on which voice assistant ecosystem to commit to. After all this news, I’m still not sure.

Consider this: if Alexa support officially comes to Australia soon, then that will make the Play One a great option. For existing Sonos owners, a couple of cheap Amazon Dots would do the same job.

Or, if you’re Google inclined (or are considering the recently-announced Google Home Mini or Google Home Max) then you can buy a Play One instead of a Google Home, and all you are waiting for is for Sonos to enable their support for Google Assistant.

Or, if Airplay 2 support is coming, then the door is open for a combination of Sonos speakers and a HomePod (or, y’know, any Siri-enabled Apple device).

Whichever flavour you choose, most Aussie Sonos owners are still going to need to wait for a piece of this puzzle to fall into place before fully committing to the voice-assisted future.

Reckoner had its humble beginnings way back in June of 2013.

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