Sonos Rumored to Be Planning Voice-Controlled Smart Speaker Similar to HomePod and Echo [Updated]

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Sonos is gearing up to launch an all-new smart speaker that includes voice control functionality fueled by far-field microphones, picking up on user commands from anywhere in a room. The information was discovered in a filing with the FCC (via Zatz Not Funny), and hints that Sonos could be yet another company planning to enter the smart speaker market, following Amazon, Google, and Apple this December with HomePod.

The Sonos speaker will support "multiple voice platforms and music services," but the filing didn't specify which assistants and services that might be. Sonos has recently been gearing up for a wide integration with Amazon Echo, so Alexa could be a possibility. Sonos products are sold at Apple's retail and online stores, but that's not exactly an indication that a new Sonos voice-enabled speaker would include Siri support, especially since such a high-end music speaker would be a direct competitor to HomePod come December.

HomePod's various Apple Music commands

Zatz Not Funny theorized that the FCC filing hints at a "refresh of their [Sonos's] entire speaker line," as well as a touch surface or button of some kind to activate the voice assistant. Otherwise, the report is heavily redacted, leaving details sparse. The snippet referencing the new Sonos speaker reads as follows:

The EUT is 802.11 a/b/g/n (HT20) Client Device. Product model S13 is a high-performance all-in-one wireless smart speaker and part of Sonos’ home sound system. S13 adds integrated voice control functionality with far field microphones. Moreover, the device will support multiple voice platforms and music services, allowing customers to effortlessly control their music on Sonos.

A Variety report earlier in August suggested a similar product might be launching from Sonos soon, with changes to the company's privacy policy appearing to lay the groundwork for an internet-connected, voice assistant speaker of some kind. A private beta test is currently underway for users to test controlling Sonos speakers through Amazon Echo devices, but a Sonos spokesperson confirmed to Variety that its privacy policy now covers "future voice experiences" on its own unreleased products that will have "integrated microphones."

An image of the Sonos voice speaker's control panel, including a microphone icon

According to this policy, the unannounced Sonos speaker will continuously monitor the ambient noise of a home for command terminology spoken by the user, "without retaining or transmitting any voice recordings." The device will notify the user that it is recording thanks to a "visual indicator such as a light on the Product."

If Sonos does enter the smart speaker market, it'll be at a busy time for new voice-controlled home speakers. Amazon is rumored to be working on an Echo successor that would more directly compete with Apple's HomePod. Because Apple billed the HomePod as a high-quality music playback device first and foremost, sources close to Amazon's product development have mentioned that the company is focusing on significantly improving the Echo's sound quality, as well as enhancing its far-field voice technology.

Update 8/29: Sonos has sent out media invitations for an event on October 4. The invite includes artwork related to a mouth, hinting that the company's voice-controlled smart speaker could debut at that time.

Tag: Sonos

Top Rated Comments

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41 months ago

What makes it feel half baked to you?

Isn't that obvious? It doesn't have an Apple logo on it.;)

He putting down a well regarded, well reviewed, long-term established line of products as a group while proclaiming his readiness to buy a product that has not even been objectively reviewed yet from a company that is reaching outside of it's core strengths and leveraging a voice control system consistently frustrating even to the Apple faithful.

But it is going to (automatically) be best (and anything with which it competes is automatically inferior)... because it's coming from Apple. We don't even need to read an objective review. It will be BEST and we will swear to that no matter what.:rolleyes:

Makes me recall another recent thread where some guy was arguing that HomePods only real competition was a $40,000 speaker.:rolleyes:
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago

I thought Sonos was actively trying to migrate all their customers to Apple so they can shut down their operations.

https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/254561-sonos-accept-new-privacy-policy-well-brick-device

I can't imagine Sonos will be selling very many speakers anymore.
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To me, Sonos always seemed half-baked because they have a simple mode to mirror the audio to separate speakers (their whole home audio feature), there is no way to coordinate multiple speakers into a wiresless 5.1 or 7.1 sound system.

Just mirroring the music is trivial. I have done the same on my mac with multiple different brands of bluetooth speaker. Actually coordinating the speakers into multi-channel sound would be a more baked feature, but that would actually take work and R&D effort (like syncing the channels a lot more accurately than Sonos is capable of).

Adding a voice assistant to Sonos now is just an act of desperate panic on their part, they've failed miserably to develop a decent product, and their prices are absurd. Their only saving grace has been a lack of anyone else competing in the space. If Homepod is 1/10th as good as it's supposed to be at the $350, it will obliterate Sonos, and no voice assistant is going to save them.

You truly have no idea what you are talking about. Sonos does not "mirror" the music, it plays it. Be it from local files or from online sources. The most impressive thing they invented was the ability to play the same source in multiple rooms at the same time in perfect sync. That may sound easy, It's not. Especially 10 years ago when they first did it. You are also totally wrong about not being able to do 5.1 sound. See the Playbar. The reason that Sonos has the price it does is that it works and does what customers want. It's been selling for over 10 years now as almost a cult like product. I don't see that changing. Adding Alexa control to it will only improve it. Not to mention, what will happen in the unannounced products that this article is about. By the way I do know what I'm talking about - I'm a Sonos owner.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago

Sonos has always felt half baked to me. I waited 5 years for Sonos to get their act together and to release something truly compelling. I'm glad I never bought into the Sonos ecosystem and I'll be buying the HomePod on day 1.

What makes it feel half baked to you?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago

Isn't that beta about controlling Sonos playback via a Dot or Echo?

This latest rumor seems more about actually integrating Alexa into a Sonos device.

Yes, it's controlling Sonos via Alexa.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago
Can someone make me a voice controlled cat? Because mine ignores me.
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41 months ago

Just going based off the article, it says that Sonos is "Planning" to enter the smart speaker era. So it's safe to assume, at least based off the article content, that Sonos will not be releasing a product before the HomePod. Which again, I still think the HomePod has an advantage here in the least in the sense of giving the consumer to focus solely on the HomePod's capabilities and features in December. At least being in the spotlight first.

Depending on how the beta with Alexa has been going, Sonos could release an updated Speaker as soon as next month. They could also update their current speakers to work more closely with current Amazon products. As for the rumored speaker with multiple voice assistant capabilities, the API's for each system is pretty mature. The one hold up could be Siri integration, but that could be added later with an update.

Sonos is going to have the upper hand in my opinion because of ubiquity. It works with all ecosystems and the HomePod, Apple being Apple, will only work inside the garden.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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