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Sonos Enters Smart Speaker Market, Powers Amazon Alexa

So long are the days when a speaker only played music.

Sonos has entered the smart speaker market, unveiling Sonos One today that supports multiple voice services—most notably Amazon Alexa.

The new voice-controlled intelligent speaker integrates with Alexa and will start supporting Google Assistant in 2018. It’s the first-ever Sonos product with a built-in microphone.

Beyond playing music and podcasts, the Sonos One will take on the functionalities of Amazon’s home Echo or Echo Dot device, allowing users to ask the Alexa-enabled speaker for the weather, sport scores and more. Users can also tell the smart speaker to pause or skip songs, control volume with their voice, and ask what song is up next.

“We live in a golden age of streaming entertainment. But so much of this great content is being pushed through smart speakers that aren’t designed with sound quality in mind,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence in a release.

“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.”

The speaker’s voice capture technology with echo cancelation means the speaker can hear a user’s request even while music is playing, as the device will detect a voice and lower volume slightly when a user starts speaking. Alexa voice control syncs with music streaming services including Amazon Music, Pandora and SiriusXM, with Spotify being added to the mix shortly after launch.

When Google Assistant becomes available on the speaker next year, the Sonos One will be the first smart speaker to support multiple major voice services.

“We essentially blended three separate ecosystems with the ability to start the music playing with voice, add songs to your playlist from the Sonos app, and play music in a different room from your Spotify app – it’s so simple to use but took quite a bit of work to create,” said Giles Martin, sound experience leader at Sonos.

Bad news for those that live outside the U.S., the U.K. and Germany as Alexa support will be limited to the three countries.

Existing Sonos owners in the U.S., U.K. and Germany can get in on the voice-activation action too. Using a connected Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or other Alexa device and a quick software update, Alexa can too control any Sonos speaker–no purchase necessary.

Sonos One is $199 USD, significantly cheaper than Apple’s Siri-enabled HomePod speaker priced at $350 USD. The Sonos One will be available globally on Oct. 24.

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