Sonos One: ‘Embracing the Element of Openness’
‘We are missing the element of openness’ is how Allen Mask, head of partnerships at Sonos described what spearheaded the company to launching the new Sonos One speaker on Wednesday in New York. ‘Openness’ is certainly what Sonos achieved with the new Sonos One. What separates the Sonos One from the crowd is that it is the first speaker with built in support for voice commands. The voice features of the speaker will be powered by Amazon’s Alexa, but in 2018 the One will also work with Google Assistant and Apple’s AirPlay2 according to Sonos CEO, Patrick Spence.
In the same way that Sonos has long been able to play music from Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeart Radio, and the rest of the impressive 42 music services they support, the One aims to have the same ‘openness’ to home assistants. According to Giles Martin “we absolutely envision a world where customers use Sonos One with multiple voice assistants.”
The way in which the One has integrated its voice control has impressed many. According to Edgar Alvarez from Engadget, “The Alexa voice commands worked as smoothly as you'd hope, with the assistant playing tracks and honoring other voice commands in a matter of a second or two, if not less.” While Chris Welch from The Verge reported the Sonos One as being able to be “controlled entirely with voice. In addition to playing requested music, it can also perform other Alexa tasks like controlling your smart home.” And if you don’t feel like controlling the One with your voice, it has easy to use touch control and can also be controlled by the Sonos app on your phone or tablet.
Sonos has also managed to streamline to process in a way that makes the user experience far more intuitive and easy to use. Users won’t have to tell Alexa to tell Sonos to change the track. “Alexa, change the track” will suffice. This is because Sonos will have built in Alexa skills to let you control and hear everything through your Sonos speakers. This is one of Sonos’ hallmarks- an easy listening and user experience that is seamlessly connected through your home.
The One really seems to be ‘The one’ if you’re looking for a speaker system that has all the functions of a smart home system with the great sound that Sonos has built its name upon. The $199 speaker which streams via WiFi is also the first Sonos product with a microphone inside. It’s also a new direction for the company that became famous for its multi-roomed wireless systems over 15 years ago. "We talk a lot about being the speaker for anything that makes sound inside your home," says Antoine Leblond, the company's vice president of software. "That's the thing we're really moving toward." With the ‘Internet of Things’ becoming more prevalent than ever, Sonos believes that your home’s sound system will become just as important as its heating system. According to David Pierce from Wired, Sonos users will be able to “query Google, use Siri to control their speakers, and to stream tracks from their iPhones. Sonos wants to support all voice assistants, all smart-home gadgets, and everything else that makes sound, just as it tries to support all music services.”
There are other ways in which Sonos is ‘embracing openness’: Next year they will be creating a “works with Sonos” certification program for third party integrators to use their hardware and software with the Sonos platform. So far, Olutron, Wink, TunesMap, Wrensilva, Alarm.com, Crestron, and iPort have all signed up. This means more apps, hardware, software and smart home devices will soon be able to work with Sonos and be controlled with its voice features. The company also says it's committed to supporting more voice services on the Sonos One, and integrating new products as they come.
The One is only available for preorder so far; it will hit the shelves on 24 October. And when it does, it’s sure to make a dent in the sales of competition, including the Amazon Alexa and Google Home.