When the Sonos One smart speaker launched in October 2017, it came with the promise that it would support both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. While Alexa support was there from the beginning, Google Assistant support is still AWOL well over a year later. The good news is that Sonos is ramping up its private beta programme as it moves toward a full launch across the entire range of its speakers.
Related: CES 2019 live
Talking to Sonos at CES 2019, we were given the full run-down on the state of the project and clarification on how Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant will play together.
Part of the reason for the delay was Sonos needing to work with Google to get both built-in Assistant and Works with Google Assistant functionality working at the same time. Built-in, refers to devices running the Assistant natively; Works with Google Assistant lets you control Sonos speakers using an external smart speaker, such as a Google Home. The latter is similar to how you can control your entire Sonos speaker using any Amazon Echo device in your home.
Getting the functionality right and ironing out the problems has seen Google Assistant support delayed, but we’re getting closer to an official roll-out.
“We’re working hard with Google,” explained Lidiane Jones, senior director, software product management at Sonos. “The Google experience has to be on a par or better than the current Alexa experience.”
Currently, the Google Assistant is available in private beta for a small number of selected US users. We saw it in operation on a Sonos Beam, with Jones able to instruct the speaker to start playing a track from the default music service.
The plan now is to roll out a more extensive private beta in the US to thousands of users to fine-tune the experience. The company is looking at targetting Europe but says more testing is required before it can commit to anything. Even so, at this point, we’re hopeful that a full release of the Google Assistant should happen in 2019, although there’s no confirmed date for it.
Can you run Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant together?
One of the promises with the Sonos One and, later, Beam, was that they’d run both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. Sonos has now qualified to us that you can’t run both voice assistants at the same time on a single speaker; however, you can choose a default voice service per speaker, s you could run Alexa on one smart speaker and Google Home on another. For example, you could have a Sonos One in your kitchen running Alexa and Beam in your living room running Google Home.