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Sonos will add Airplay 2 and voice assistants to its speakers

05 Oct 2017 | Rasmus Larsen |

Sonos changes direction. The company’s products will literally speak to Amazon, Apple and Google via the companies’ voice assistants. Sonos will also add support for Airplay 2, which will allow you to connect Sonos speakers wirelessly to your TV via Apple TV.

New direction for Sonos

Sonos has to date been a relatively closed system. You had to use the company’s speakers and app exclusively to get the full benefits. The launch of Sonos One, a voice-enabled “smart” speaker, signals a new, more open direction for the company.

- “We live in a golden age of streaming entertainment,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. “But so much of this great content is being pushed through smart speakers that aren’t designed with sound quality in mind. With our open approach to collaboration, agnostic approach to voice services, the strength of our many innovative partners, and a sound platform designed for the whole home, we’re helping people listen more and listen better.”

Whereas existing connected speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home (and soon Apple HomePod) are tied exclusively to each company’s voice assistant, Sonos wants to make its speakers agnostic to some degree. The speakers will work with Amazon Alexa (in beta) and gain compatibility with Google Home in 2018. Siri can be used via any iOS device that can transmit audio to Sonos speakers starting in 2018 (see next section).

This also suggests that Sonos has decided against creating its own voice assistant.

Voice assistants can be used to find music from a range of streaming services but also for more simple tasks such as setting timers. Amazon Alexa can even communicate with Fire TV and select Sony TVs, allowing you to more easily find content on the TV screen by talking to your smart speaker. Google Assistant will bring similar features to Android TV.

Wireless TV speakers via Airplay 2

Sonos also announced that it will add Airplay 2 support to its speakers via a firmware update. This will allow you to beam music wirelessly from any music streaming service that works with iOS or macOS without having to use the Sonos app.

Airplay 2 is Apple’s updated protocol for wireless audio in the home. It will roll out later this year on iOS, macOS, and tvOS via a software update. Airplay 2 integrates with HomeKit (Apple’s connected home platform) and supports multiroom audio.

Another nice benefit of having Airplay in your Sonos speakers is that it will let you use them as wireless TV speakers via Apple TV. tvOS can wirelessly transmit TV sound via the Airplay protocol. And finally, you will be able to mix your Sonos speakers with other brands at home. Several other companies are onboard for Airplay 2, including Bang & Olufsen, B&W, Bose, and Libratone.

Besides Airplay you can of course continue to connect Sonos speakers, including the new Sonos One, to your TV via Sonos Playbar or Playbase. This way you can build a wireless surround sound system.

Airplay 2 will be added via a firmware update to Sonos speakers sometime in 2018, the company said.

Sonos One specifications

Two Class-D digital amplifiers perfectly tuned to match the speaker drivers and acoustic architecture..
One tweeter creates a crisp and clear high-frequency response..
One mid-woofer ensures you’ll hear the faithful playback of mid-range vocal frequencies plus deep, rich bass. td>
Adjustable bass and treble controls let you customize your sound by individual room or groups of rooms..
Six far-field microphone array, used for advanced beamforming and echo cancellation.
Dimensions - H x W x D
6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 in. (161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7 mm).
4.08 lbs. (1.85 kg).
Product finish
White with white matte grille; black with black matte grille.
Top-panel features
Capacitive touch controls for volume up/down, previous/next track, play/pause, microphone mute. LED indicates status, mute status, and voice feedback.
Complete Privacy
An illuminated LED indicator light ensures you’re always aware when the speaker’s microphone is active.
WiFi, not Bluetooth
Connects to your home WiFi network with any 802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz broadcast-capable router for uninterrupted wireless streaming.
Ethernet port
One 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. Wire directly to your router to operate your Sonos if WiFi is unstable, or use the Ethernet port to provide Internet accessibility to non-wireless devices if you’re using BOOST setup.
- Source: Sonos

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