Thanks to some new leaked images picked up by winfuture.de, there’s little room for doubt that we are looking at a soon-to-be-launched Bluetooth-capable speaker from Sonos — the first Sonos product to offer Bluetooth as a connection option. The speaker will be called the Sonos Move according to winfuture — an apt name considering its design as a truly portable and battery-powered device, and will most likely make its debut at IFA 2019 in Berlin.
First spotted by The Verge and Zatz Not Funny! — and backed up by an FCC filing — the new speaker, which bears a strong physical resemblance to the company’s Sonos One smart speaker, will use Bluetooth for both wireless audio and improved setup convenience.
It will be compatible with the rest of the Sonos ecosystem, and will feature Wi-Fi connections, too. One leaked photo of the speaker, which for now is simply known as the S17, shows the Sonos One’s touch-based control buttons, as well as what looks to be a microphone array. The speaker uses USB-C for power and has an internal rechargeable battery, which would make the S17 the company’s first truly portable device.
Some kind of charging stand is clearly visible in the lifestyle-oriented photo, which also gives us a sense of the scale of the S17: A little taller and possibly wider than a Sonos One or Play:1. Around the back is a physical switch for selecting between Sonos’ normal Wi-Fi mode and the new Bluetooth option. There has also been speculation that Sonos’s Trueplay app-based EQ software could be made fully automatic, much like the EQ on Apple’s HomePod.
The Move/S17 will also be a smart speaker according to The Verge, which reports that when connected via Wi-Fi, the speaker will give users the ability to interact with either Alexa or Google Assistant, the two voice A.I.s that Sonos currently supports. These assistants will not work over Bluetooth connections. AirPlay 2, which has appeared on all Sonos devices since the Sonos One, is expected to be included too.
There’s no official word on timing for the release of the S17, though it is expected to be unveiled during Sonos’ presence at the IFA electronics show in Berlin next week. If the S17 is indeed heading to market in the next few months (possibly in time for the 2019 holiday season) this event would be the obvious place to unveil it, along with any other products the company has planned for the near term.
Sonos has long been wireless audio’s biggest cheerleader. But the company has a reputation for being highly selective when it comes to which wireless audio technologies it supports. Wi-Fi, with its large data capacity, ability to span longer distances and versatile networking options, has been the backbone of Sonos’ wireless audio platform from the beginning. Bluetooth, on the other hand, despite being used on virtually every other wireless speaker we can think of, has been consciously avoided by Sonos — until now.
An embrace of Bluetooth for wireless audio by Sonos isn’t just a big deal in terms of its speakers. As the wireless audio standard for earbuds and headphones, Bluetooth audio is a gateway to a whole new world of portable music, something that Sonos has avoided, choosing to focus instead on just home audio.
If truly portable music is indeed on Sonos’ road map, it could be a big win for the company’s customers. Sonos’ app-based music system, which gives you access to dozens of streaming music services as well as your own music library, doesn’t work when not connected to your home Wi-Fi, forcing Sonos users to switch to stand-alone apps like Apple Music or Spotify for listening on the go.
A portable-friendly Sonos app would make the software a one-stop audio shop — something Sonos users have been asking for. Earlier in 2019, a Bloomberg report suggested that Sonos was working on Bluetooth headphones. If the S17 is indeed headed our way, it’s a good bet those headphones will follow it.
Updated on August 29, 2019: Added more information about the speaker’s likely debut at IFA 2019.
Sonos could soon be the soundtrack for your next shopping trip
Sonos has announced Sonos Pro, a new way for companies with multiple locations to manage all of their Sonos wireless speakers from a central, web-based command center. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) product has subscription pricing: each location you want to control costs $35 per month. It's a U.S.-only service for now, with additional markets planned for the future.
The system is flexible, letting companies decide how much control over individual locations should be in the hands of their employees -- all the way from full control to no control at all. The days of your local Kroger running its own quirky playlist could be over if that sort of thing goes against the brand's standards for its in-store experience. Or, companies could decide that a local flavor is exactly what they want to promote and give their store managers a big influence on the music their customers hear.
This tiny Ikea waterproof Bluetooth speaker is just $15
Ikea is well known for selling attractively designed products at reasonable prices, but its latest Bluetooth speaker is priced so low that even Amazon might not be able to compete. The Vappeby waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker, as its name suggests, is tiny, waterproof, and surprisingly cheap at $15.
The tiny, silicone-wrapped speaker measures only three inches square and is just two inches thick. For reference, that's about as wide as an iPhone 14 in portrait mode. It comes with its own lanyard cord, which you could use to hang the Vappeby in a shower as Ikea shows in its photos, or you could simply use it as a wrist strap. It's available in three colors: yellow, black, or red, and if you buy two of them, they can be used as a stereo pair.
Bluetooth on Sonos’ new Era speakers isn’t what you think – it’s better
When Sonos recently debuted its two newest wireless speakers -- the Era 100 and Era 300 -- it broke with years of precedence by adding Bluetooth, a connection option that has never been offered on the company’s non-portable speakers. At the time, I thought Bluetooth on an Era speaker worked the same way as it does on the Sonos Move. I was wrong.
It turns out, the Era speakers use Bluetooth in tandem with their Wi-Fi connections, as opposed to the Move, which treats Bluetooth as a completely separate mode. That has some profound implications for what you can do with one of the new Era speakers within a Sonos system, as well as a few caveats about what you can’t do.