Exclusive: Sonos will soon be introducing its own language assistant

Sonos is preparing to launch its own voice assistant within the next few weeks, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. Voice enables customers to play and control music on Sonos’ whole-home audio platform.

It will be part of an upcoming software update that will be available first to US customers on June 1st, followed by an international rollout. Sonos Voice will serve as an alternative to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which Sonos already supports on its smart speakers and voice-controlled soundbars. All Sonos products running the company’s S2 software support Sonos Voice Control.

Sonos recently posted job listings related to the “Sonos Voice Experience,” with the company saying its goal is “to make voice interactions completely private, personal, and natural.” The debut of Sonos Voice will mark a pivotal moment in Sonos’ expansion into the services space as the company looks to expand its hardware business. (Sonos Radio and the higher-quality paid Sonos Radio HD were the first such forays into services.) The offering will offer core features similar to existing competitors and allow Sonos product owners to select specific songs, artists, or playlists using voice commands play , among other functions.

At launch, Sonos Voice will work with Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Deezer and the company’s Sonos Radio. Spotify and Google’s YouTube Music aren’t on board yet. In keeping with Sonos’ interest in privacy, the feature doesn’t record audio commands from users or forward them to the cloud for processing. “Hey Sonos” will be the wake word for Sonos Voice Control, and the company’s internal testing shows it’s faster than competing assistant services on core music tasks.

Sonos declined to comment on the story, citing its policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation. But through various job offers on the Voice product and a yet-to-be-announced “Home Theater OS,” the company has offered a glimpse of a future where it will place a much greater focus on software and seek to establish itself as a central hub for Streaming entertainment – ​​potentially going beyond audio to include video as well. Sonos Chief Executive Officer Patrick Spence has hinted at these goals in interviews. “You always invest ahead of the curve,” he said on the decoder podcast. “We’re hiring people in software to go into new areas that we’re not in today. With hindsight, it’s easier to understand that a company worked on all these great things. We just didn’t see it at that moment.”

Voice services have been a bone of contention in the rift between Sonos and big tech companies like Google and Amazon. Two years ago, Spence told US lawmakers that Google had refused to run its Assistant service alongside Amazon’s competing product on the same device. Amazon wasn’t as restrictive, Spence said. Sonos, Google and Amazon continue to work in partnership despite public allegations of both unfair pricing and patent infringement; it successfully sued Google over the latter and forced minor changes to multi-room audio playback and volume controls in some Google software.

Developing Sonos’ own voice feature wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret. The company has signaled its interest with customer surveys, and last year the first details about the service were discovered on the Sonos mobile app (as noted here by). protocol). Back then, screenshots suggested it would be possible to use the Sonos voice service alongside Alexa, with customers able to use either by saying the respective wake word. However, the images revealed that the Google Assistant and Sonos voice offerings can’t be paired in the same way – another sign of Google’s tight control over how and where its services can be used.

The Sonos Voice Experience will stick to the basics when it launches. But if people can use Alexa at the same time — Sonos calls this feature “voice concurrency” — they can give the Sonos offering a shot without missing out on smart-home integrations or other more diverse features of the Sonos voice service.

Sonos’ stated goal of making voice “completely private” could be another important way to differentiate itself from Alexa and Google Assistant, both of which rely heavily on cloud computing. Amazon says Alexa comes with “multiple layers of privacy and security,” and Google offers similar assurances. However, some consumers remain inherently wary of voice technologies and big tech using voice interactions for advertising.

Last month, The edge reported that Sonos’ next new hardware product is a budget soundbar for around $250. That device, the Sonos Ray, will also be announced in the coming weeks. However, unlike the company’s more expensive Arc and Beam soundbars, there won’t be built-in mics for voice control.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/4/23056149/sonos-voice-assistant-features-release-date Exclusive: Sonos will soon be introducing its own language assistant

Fry Electronics Team

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