Sonos just announced that AirPlay 2 is coming to “newer” Sonos speakers in July. Unlike using Apple Music on the HomePod, it will stream music from your phone instead of directly over the internet. However, unlike the HomePod, you will be able to control some of the AirPlay 2 music with Alexa. You can launch music on your iOS device in all the normal ways, including Siri.
Essentially, Sonos’ software system is able to be aware of what is playing on your speakers, no matter the source. It’s a clever way to make AirPlay 2 a little more useful. Once the music is playing via AirPlay 2, you can use Alexa to pause, go to the next track, and even ask what’s playing.
Another nice integration is that AirPlay 2 will be able to work with Sonos’ room systems, so you shouldn’t have to deal with setting up two completely different room systems.
AirPlay 2 will work with the Sonos One, (second generation) Play 5, and Playbase (and, ahem, “future products”). But if you have older speakers, owning any of those newer ones will make AirPlay 2 work with all of them.
“We’re going to continue to build systems, not disposable speakers.”
Last year, Sonos promised it would add Google Assistant support to go alongside Alexa. The timeline for that launch was just a vague “next year.” We still don’t have a firm date for that, but we are still expecting it to come this year. Sonos would only say that “we’re deep into working with those guys.”
Sonos speakers will eventually work with Alexa, AirPlay 2, and the Google Assistant. If you want to use them, you’ll have a couple options. The first option is to use your own digital assistant device like an Echo Dot or a Google Home, or, for AirPlay 2, just sling the music over from your phone. The second option is to get an integrated device directly from Sonos, like the Sonos One or the about-to-be-announced new Sonos soundbar.
“We’re going to continue to build systems, not disposable speakers,” says CEO Patrick Spence. “We will remain fiercely open.” Sonos’ thinking here is that it wants to focus on delivering what it calls the “sonic internet.” That’s maybe a silly marketing term, but the reality behind it is that Sonos wants to be an agnostic translator between every music streaming service and every digital assistant.