2017 update to give your Sonos speakers some brains
If you own a Sonos system, you may have been wondering recently why you didn’t just wait and get Google Home or Amazon Echo instead. You can talk to them, and they can play music wirelessly using your Wi-Fi network.
Fear not - you made a solid choice with Sonos. It won’t be long until Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, will be able to ‘speak’ to your top-end wireless speakers, Sonos has announced. And if rumours are to be believed, Google Assistant with Home will follows suit shorty after.
This means that next year, you’ll be able to play and pause music, ask what’s playing, and navigate tracks without having to touch your smartphone or tablet once.
That’s not the only news from Sonos, however. Beta versions of the app have been rolling out since October, letting you control your music directly from third party apps, like Spotify. Sonos speakers may look great and sound even better, but the app isn’t exactly to everyone’s taste.
Once you’ve received the update you’ll be able to tap through to ‘devices’ on your smartphone, and select a Sonos speaker from the menu (right).
Why can’t we put Alexa inside Sonos?
The Sonos Play:5 is the only speaker in the range which has mics built in, and even then, they’re small. Nothing compared to Echo’s ‘ears’, which are able to pick up voice commands from across the room without you needing to shout. So, what’s the point?
“There are mics built into the Play:5 in kind of a future-proofing way,” says Antoine Leblond, VP of software development for Sonos. “The thought behind that was our TruePlay [speaker-tuning] technology, there’s a way [sic] of doing that using internal mics… but they’re near-field microphones. For far-field voice recognition, you have to think of microphone arrays that can do things like noise cancellation, echo cancellation, and things like that. The configuration of the mics in the Play:5 isn’t really suited to that.”
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