Sonos has a new voice-controlled speaker too, and it plays nice with Amazon, Google and Apple.
At launch, the Sonos One ($199) integrates Amazon Alexa support directly, allowing control of smart home devices and all of the functionality you can expect from an Amazon Echo speaker, including voice responses to your questions and commands. All current Sonos speakers also get the company's long-promised Alexa integration today too, so Amazon's Echo speakers can control all of its devices.
But Alexa is just the beginning. In 2018, Sonos says support for Google Assistant and Apple's Siri, using AirPlay 2, are both coming to its products, including the One.
This kind of multiplatform support for virtual assistants is a first among smart speakers, and could potentially fulfill Sonos' promise of being "the only smart speaker you'll ever need." Sonos said its formerly closed platform would welcome all comers, and also included smart home companies (like SmartThings, Crestron and Lutron) and other developers (like Logitech, Alarm.com and Haier) among its new partners.
Billed as a music-first speaker, the One looks a lot like the company's Play:1 (also $199), but has an array of six built-in microphones to allow it to respond to voice commands. Sonos' speakers generally have excellent audio quality, and the Play:1 beat the original Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers in CNET's face-off.
At launch the One can control Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeart Radio directly, with Spotify coming soon. Available in black and white, the speaker has buttons on the top for a microphone as well as play/pause and volume.
Sonos is a pioneer in wireless, whole-home audio speakers and other gear, and is still among CNET's favorites. Using a proprietary "mesh network" system, its speakers, sound bars and amplifiers can all play the same music simultaneously around the home, or in whichever rooms you choose, and everything can be controlled from a phone app.
The company is starting to face competition from two different directions. One is traditional audio companies with multiroom systems such as DTS Play-Fi, Bose SoundTouch and Yamaha MusicCast.
But its biggest competitors are Amazon, Google and Apple. Google's inexpensive Chromecast Audio system does multiroom, and smart speakers such as Amazon's Echo and Google Home make it easy to ask for music. Amazon just added whole-home audio to its Echo speakers, and Google is expected to announce updated Home speakers later today. And Apple's Siri-powered HomePod is coming in December.
Rather than continue to battle these behemoths, or develop its own voice control system in-house, Sonos' strategy is to partner with them.
The Sonos One is available for preorder now and will ship Oct. 24.