Sonos has been working with Amazon to add Alexa support to their smart speakers, however it’s a much deeper integration than your average Alexa implementation. While most speaker manufacturers seem to just tack Alexa onto a new speaker and call it a day, Sonos isn’t actually adding Alexa to their speakers, well, not yet at least. Instead, they’re making it so any Alexa-enabled device can directly control any Sonos speaker, and those efforts are about to move into private beta testing with customers.
Sonos and Amazon entered into a “long-term strategic collaboration” last August which places Alexa front and center as Sonos’s voice interface. That integration appears to be close to completion because an email forwarded to me, sent out by Sonos, is recruiting customers to help beta test an upcoming 7.3 version of Sonos’s software that “will allow you to control your Sonos using any Amazon Alexa enabled device (Dot, Echo, Tap, Fire Tablet, Fire TV).”
This new capability will be a first for Alexa. While you can currently ask Alexa to play music from a variety of sources, the voice assistant can only play that music on the device you’re using to communicate with Alexa. The new unreleased capability, which Sonos appears to be the first to support, will allow you to ask one Alexa-enabled device to play music on a separate device. So, for example, you’ll be able to tell an Echo Dot: “Alexa, play pop music from Spotify on Sonos.“
Amazon’s own line of Echo products don’t even have this capability yet. You currently can’t ask one Echo device to control music on a different Echo device, yet alone a device not made by Amazon. Hopefully, by the time Alexa’s Sonos integration goes live to all customers, Amazon will add similar remote control capabilities to their own line of Alexa-enabled devices.
Once Sonos’s Alexa integration goes live, you can probably expect Amazon to update their Alexa developer tools to make the remote control capability available to other speaker manufacturers. It’s very likely you’ll soon be able to tell any Alexa-enabled device “Alexa, play music in the livingroom” where “livingroom” could refer to any number of WiFi enabled speakers from various manufacturers.