Several months ago, Sonos revealed plans to bring voice control to its popular home audio speakers. Today at an event in New York City, the company shared more on its approach to letting users play music by speaking commands aloud instead of controlling everything by thumbing through the Sonos app. In short, it's all about Amazon, Alexa, and Echo. Beginning in 2017, anyone with an Alexa-enabled device — right now that's the Echo, Echo Tap, or Echo Dot — will be able to control Sonos speakers with voice commands.
It's a great pairing for both companies; Sonos speakers sound way better than the Echo, and Alexa is quickly evolving as the leading smart home voice assistant. And since everything works over Wi-Fi, all existing Sonos devices are supported; Amazon's Echo is still handling the microphone / listening part and communicating commands to the Sonos gear.
Back in March, Sonos CEO John MacFarlane praised Amazon's Echo and the product's built-in Alexa assistant for "hitting a sweet spot" in the home. Amazon's success prompted Sonos to take a more serious look at voice commands. "What is novel today will become standard tomorrow," MacFarlane wrote in a blog post. "Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home. Voice is a big change for us, so we’ll invest what’s required to bring it to market in a wonderful way." A private beta of Echo support will launch later this year, with a public beta opening in 2017.