Amazon and Sonos have entered into a “long-term strategic collaboration,” accoriding to Engadget, that essentially makes Alexa the primary voice interface for Sonos’s line of speakers. This integration is much more than a bluetooth connection or Alexa Skill. It allows the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap to find Sonos devices on your home network and communicate in both directions. All of the playback occurs on the Sonos device and Alexa just handles the controls. You’ll be able to select specific songs from specific services supported by Sonos, and of course have access to the usual playback controls. Where this partnership takes things to another level is the ability for Alexa to understand Sono’s speaker placement.
In the video above, Alexa begins playing music on a Sonos speaker in the kitchen, but is then asked to “play in the livingroom” and switches playback to a Sonos Playbar in the livingroom. Amazon’s own speakers, to the disappointment of myself and many Echo fans, are not aware of each other and cannot control one another. Alexa will also be able to tell you what song is playing on a Sonos device, something that can’t be done through a regular bluetooth connection. Since Sonos is much better at making speakers than Amazon, and Amazon is much better at voice control than Sonos, this is a great pairing. As with too many of these Alex announcements, it’s unclear right now if these new Sonos control abilities will be coming to Alexa on the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. A private beta of this feature will launch later this year, with public access coming in 2017.