After an excruciatingly long wait, Sonos is finally bringing Google Assistant to its Sonos One and Sonos Beam smart speakers.
In a letter to shareholders dated May 9, 2019, Sonos revealed it will roll out the feature in an update next week, starting with the U.S. market before expanding to others in the next few months.
“This feature will truly elevate the customer experience and marks the first time that consumers will be able to buy a single smart speaker and get to choose which voice assistant they want to use,” Sonos said in the letter.
The addition of Google Assistant has been a long time coming for owners of Sonos’s One and Beam speakers, who were told by the company in 2017 that it planned to go all-in with voice-assistant technology. At the time, it promised it would stay true to its service-agnostic philosophy by integrating with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, and didn’t rule out working with other services as well.
Sonos certainly delivered quickly on the Alexa integration, but as the months passed, those who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Google Assistant had to find a relaxing playlist and work on their patience. Integration was initially promised for 2018, but as the year wore on, the most Sonos could do was announce its intention to create a limited beta program to test Google’s A.I. on Sonos devices.
Sonos has previously said that the ultimate aim is for Google Assistant to let you control every single one of the platform’s supported music services, so we’re keen to find out more about how its work in that area is progressing. For its demo at CES 2019, the company only showed that Pandora and Google Play Music were able to respond to requests, which might make Spotify fans a bit nervous. We’ve also learned that integration with Google Assistant is something of a one-way street. You can choose to use Google, or you can choose to use Alexa, but not both. Well, sort of.
Apparently, it’s a tall order making a smart speaker work with more than one assistant, which explains why companies like Marshall have opted to produce twin versions of the same speakers, one for each assistant. But that’s not Sonos’s style. It’s not going to make you buy a special version of Sonos One just to run Google Assistant. What it can’t do — for now — is give you access to both assistants from the same Sonos smart speaker. Each Sonos smart speaker, e.g. the Sonos One or Sonos Beam, must be set up to work with only one smart assistant at a time.
While that does mean you’ll have to remember that your bedroom Sonos One only responds to “Alexa” and your living room Sonos Beam will remain deaf until you say, “Hey Google,” (if that’s how you’ve chosen to configure them), you’ll still be able to control your whole system from any Google or Alexa device, be they Sonos-made or third-party devices, like Google Home, or Amazon Echo. Sonos calls this “continuity of control,” and it’s the kind of attention to detail that Sonos is known for.
Here’s hoping that 2019 proves to be the year of voice control nirvana for Sonos, and its very patient customers.
Updated on May 9, 2019: Added information on Sonos’s plan to launch Google Assistant for its speakers.