Sonos set to launch Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod rival – report

Sonos appears to be working on a new speaker that has a built-in, voice-controlled digital assistant – just like the Amazon Echo.

For months, Sonos has made plenty of noise about its interest in the digital assistant sector, although exact details have been thin on the ground. However, a new filing with the FCC – a US comms regulator – appears to reveal Sonos’ plans to launch an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod rival of its own.

For the unaware, Sonos is a US-based tech company that manufactures multi-room speakers that can be controlled in sync using your smartphone. It’s arguably the leading brand in the sector, but doesn’t currently offer any digital assistant capabilities – save for a primitive workaround where users can plug in an Amazon Echo Dot to a Sonos Play:5 via an audio jack, of course.

But an FCC filing from Sonos reveals that a new device poised for certification will feature integrated voice control, as spotted by tech blog ZatsNotFunny:

“The EUT is 802.11 a/b/g/n (HT20) Client Device. product model S13 is a high-performance all-in-one wireless smart speaker and part of Sonos’ home sound system. S13 adds integrated voice control functionality with far-field microphones. Moreover, the device will support multiple voice platforms and music services, allowing customers to effortlessly control their music on Sonos.”

What’s interesting is that this filing seems to go beyond the previous working theory that Sonos would be launching a new speaker with Amazon’s Alexa AI built in. Instead, the “multiple voice platforms” bit sounds like it could support other services – perhaps Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or the Google Assistant, for instance?

Sonos recently updated its privacy policy to make much more specific mentions of voice assistant services, confirming that Sonos wouldn’t keep recordings of your voice data, and even mentioned Amazon’s assistant by name.

It was initially thought that Sonos might be adding Alexa functionality to the Sonos Play:5 speaker, which already comes with two inactive microphones in (expected to become active, eventually). However, ZatsNotFunny proposes that Sonos may now be looking to upgrade the entire line of Sonos speakers with smart assistant functionality – courtesy of far-field microphones.

It’s possible that Sonos might launch a dedicated smart assistant speaker, and then introduce microphone attachments or add-ons for users with existing speakers. But given the length of time some Sonos speakers have been on sale – the Sonos Play:3 launched in 2011, for example – it would make sense for a significant range overhaul.

Unfortunately, Sonos is keeping mum on its plans for now, so take all leaks with a pinch of salt.

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