Today Sonos announced a “long-term strategic partnership with Amazon” that will bring Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to Sonos’ connected speakers next year.
Amazon vice president and Alexa lead Mike George announced the news at an event in New York, where Sonos had invited press to “come hear how it’s all connected.”
While Alexa-powered Sonos speakers are slated to launch publicly in 2017, Sonos says the feature will become available to some users in private beta this year. The integration will require Sonos users to own Amazon Echo hardware.
In a press release, Sonos says its “new voice capabilities will be delivered in a software update that will work with new and previously purchased Sonos and Alexa-enabled devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV.”
In a layoff announcement six months ago, Sonos CEO John MacFarlane penned a love letter to Amazon’s Echo speaker and declared: “Now that music fans can finally play anything anywhere, we’re going to focus on building incredibly rich experiences that were all but unimaginable when we started the company.”
While the exact details of Sonos’ plan remained unclear, MacFarlane wrote that Sonos would invest energy into both “voice-enabled music experiences” and some sort of “solution” involving paid music streaming.
Fanning the flames of Sonos’ voice-control plans, the company’s Play 5 speaker, a nearly one-year-old product, has two inactive microphones built-in, a Sonos spokesperson told VentureBeat yesterday. “The microphones, which are not in use or enabled at this time, were built into the PLAY:5 for future enhancements that will help deliver the ultimate home music experience,” the spokesperson said.
Sonos later told VentureBeat that the microphones in its existing PLAY:5 speakers will not be used to enable native Alexa features.
Updated 9:31 a.m. PT with additional details on Sonos’ Amazon partnership.