Sonos has entered the growing 'smart speaker' market with the Sonos One, which will work with Amazon's Alexa voice control software when it launches at the end of October and get a software upgrade for Apple Siri and Google Assistant in 2018.
Those voice assistants will let users control music playback by telling their Sonos what to play instead of reaching for a smartphone app, as well as using the intelligence behind the voice assistants to answer questions and commands.
The Sonos One will retail for the same price as the Sonos Play:1 – which means a $299 sticker in Australia – and indeed looks just like the compact bookend-sized Play:1 but for a new array of buttons at the top for driving the device.
There are also six 'far-field microphones' for capturing voice commands throughout the room.
Alexa has become increasingly popular in the US market but has no market presence in Australia, although that will change when Amazon releases local versions of its Echo and Alexa smart speakers – a move which some tip will happen by year's end.
More compelling will be a series of software upgrades to come sometime in 2018 which will add support for Google Assistant and Apple's Siri, via AirPlay 2.
Free free software updates will also bring Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant to all current Sonos speakers, although those models will be limited to being controlled by the voice assistants rather than self-controlled by your own commands.
Sonos will position the One as a superb multi-room music speaker with smart capabilities, against a cavalcade of products from tech-based competitors.
Apple will launch its Siri-based HomePod in December, while Google overnight announced the Google Home Mini (below), a smaller puck-shaped version of its Assistant-equipped Google Home smart speaker to take on Amazon's tiny Echo Dot.
“We live in a golden age of streaming entertainment,” pitched Sonos CEO Patrick Spence at the Sonos One's launch in New York overnight.
“But so much of this great content is being pushed through smart speakers that aren’t designed with sound quality in mind."