Flanked by music and tech industry leaders at an event in Manhattan, Sonos unveiled software innovations including voice control and partner app integrations, opening a new level of integration for its Home Sound Systems with other companies and services. The company also demonstrated how partners are building new connected home experiences on the Sonos platform, further bolstering its leadership in multi-room home audio.
“With the unprecedented growth in streaming, music has become abundant and immediate,” said Sonos Chief Executive Officer John MacFarlane. “Together with a growing ecosystem of partners, we’re making sure Sonos owners can easily play the music they love out loud in every room in the home, and intuitively control that experience using our app, our partners' apps, touch and voice.”
Sonos owners with an Alexa voice recognition enabled device such as an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot will soon be able to use Amazon's Alexa service to control their Sonos sound system, the companies announced. The software integration – collaboratively built from the ground up using the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) SDK – taps into both Sonos’ and Alexa’s existing music capabilities so owners don’t have to learn additional commands or key words. Users can simply ask Alexa to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify and other services and streaming audio will flow to any group of Sonos speakers in the home. Users will also be able to their voice to play, pause, skip, control volume and more.
“Our mission is to fill every home with music,” said Sonos President Patrick Spence. “We don’t care what you listen to, how you get to it, or in what room – we just want it to be effortless, quick and epic. Alexa on Sonos will be all that, and fun too.”
These new voice capabilities will be delivered in a software update that will work with new and previously purchased Sonos and Alexa-enabled devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV. The companies will begin rolling out the experience through an invite-only beta test later this year, with general availability in 2017.
I Want My Spotify
Sonos also announced a Spotify Connect integration with additional functionality that will make it the only whole home sound system that can be fully controlled directly from the feature-rich Spotify app, including play controls and easy access to grouping and ungrouping of rooms. Spotify will be the first music streaming service that allows Spotify Premium listeners to have full control of the music all over their homes outside the Sonos app.
The inherently social listening experience also makes it possible for everyone in the home to control a listening session with both the Spotify and Sonos apps, which stay linked with one another. Visiting friends can also connect to the home WiFi and use their own Spotify app to instantly play music to Sonos speakers without downloading the Sonos app.
“Fifty percent of all Sonos households use Spotify,” says Sonos Vice President of Software Antoine Leblond. “By tightly integrating the Spotify experience with the Sonos system, we’ve created an easier way for Sonos owners to get music out of their phones and playing all around their homes.”
“We’re excited to partner with Sonos and enhance the at-home listening experience,” said Gustav Söderström, chief product officer at Spotify. “Spotify listeners can now seamlessly transition their listening throughout the day from their headphones, to the car, to their computers, to their Sonos system at home with complete control of all their favorite Spotify features directly from the Spotify app.”
This free software update will be available in October as part of the Sonos public beta program.
More to Come
Sonos also announced its commitment to enable direct control experiences across its entire lineup of music service partners, including Pandora, and announced the company’s first-ever endorsed partner integrations with AV control manufacturers such as Crestron, Lutron, Savant, Control4, iPort and Deutsche Telekom's QIVICON. These joint collaborations seamlessly integrate Sonos’ sound platform into the connected home, making it even easier for customers to control their music at home, whether from a touchscreen panel, a light switch or a remote control, all with the simple push of a button.
“Custom installers are at the vanguard of making the connected home a reality,” said Patrick Spence. “For years they have worked tirelessly to bring disparate technologies together, and are pushing hard to make smart homes both accessible and ubiquitous. Our work together ensures our sound platform integrates well with their systems now and in the future.”
Sonos also announced a series of initiatives to advocate for higher-quality music listening experiences at home, including a new global marketing campaign, and a collaboration with Airbnb where Sonos will been offering Sonos systems to new Airbnb hosts, and jointly develop a new Sonos Home activation solution.
Finally, Sonos announced it has joined the Open Music Initiative, an organization founded in June 2016 by Berklee's Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship with the goal of dramatically simplifying the way music creators and rights owners are identified and compensated for their art. “As a member, Sonos will champion high-quality music experiences worth paying for, a major hurdle for continued growth,” the company explains.