Just in case you thought that taking out your smartphone or tablet to control your Sonos System was too painful or cumbersome, an even easier solution is on the horizon! Sonos is going to integrate with Alexa from Amazon sometime in 2017. Actually there are some cool benefits to this besides voice controlled speakers because Alexa (an A.I. personal assistant) is pretty useful now and due for some cool upgrades. In the not too distant future Amazon’s goal is to have a “smart home” mostly controlled by this voice recognition technology; hello Jetsons at last!
You Can Use it With Your Current Speakers
One nice thing that Sonos had the foresight to engineer into their speakers is the ability to push software updates directly to them, since the speakers are connected to the internet anyway. Your speakers won’t work with Alexa yet, but you won’t need to buy new ones either. After some Beta testing due to happen at the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017, owners will be able to add the update (free of course) and the integration will be done.
If you don’t own a Sonos speaker system yet, maybe this strengthens the case for buying one.
Here is the Official Video Announcement
You have to admit it does look pretty slick.
What Alexa Is
In case you don’t know, Alexa is the name of the voice controlled assistant that comes in the Amazon Echo. Alexa is like Siri from Apple because it can perform searches, look up restaurants and make reservations, and read audio-books or the news. It also has started to integrate a greater degree of home control and it can now do things like control lights and thermostats (that you buy from Amazon of course). By teaming Sonos with Alexa Amazon is adding a premium sound system to what Alexa does and Sonos is adding way more functionality than they currently have.
Will you Need to Buy an Echo
Yes. Sonos is not building the functionality of Alexa into their speakers, they are building the ability for the two devices to integrate. Apparently even the Play:5, which is equipped with microphones that aren’t currently utilized, does not have the same ability as the echo to recognize voices from across the room.
You can also buy a Fire TV which comes equipped with Alexa as well and will be able to integrate into Sonos in the future.
Can you Try it Now?
The timing of the Beta testing has not yet been released so right now you won’t be able to join in. There are also not yet any details regarding who can join in and how to do so, so stay tuned for further updates.
You can currently hook an Echo up to a Play:5 via a line-in cable, but the real trick is getting Alexa to be able to control other speakers, rooms, and zones. Right now that functionality simply doesn’t exist so you will only be able to control the one speaker. If you want to get a feel for it I suppose you can try but the integration will be better in the future. Right now, for instance, Alexa won’t work with your Itunes music library but this functionality will be available when this goes live.
Setup Will Be a Little Work
As planned you are going to have to use both the Sonos controller app and the Alexa app to set up the systems to integrate. You’ll need to authorize the music services on both platforms one time, but after that you should be able to control Sonos right from the Alexa app if you choose. Sonos has promised to make the experience smoother down the road but it should still be fairly easy upon release.
So Is this Worth It?
Well, maybe. It takes a device that is already easy to control and it makes it that much easier. It also furthers Amazon’s quest to make the Echo the center of the new “smart home” and your music and entertainment is a logical step for it to control. For Sonos users who are usually pretty tech savvy to begin with, this represents a way to add features and synergies to both products.