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Amazon Allows Calling and Messaging on Third Party Alexa Devices - Sonos?


Priya Abani, director of Alexa Voice Service, announced in April 2018 that third-party Alexa-enabled devices will get calling and messaging abilities. In fact, since August 2018, these key Alexa features have been available on Eufy Genie - a third party Alexa-enabled gadget. Sonos, however, remains tight lipped about its plan.

I received my Beam earlier this week and was really excited. I was planning on purchasing two more for the whole family.

I'm so disappointed to find out that key features such as calling, messaging, and drop-in are not supported on Sonos Beam or One. It appears that Sonos has no plans to support these features at all.

At first, I thought Amazon refuses to allow third-party gadgets to have these features. But, Eufy Genie, a 3rd-party device with an RRP of only $35 (and on sale for $15 on Amazon at time of this post), supports all these features.

I would like to ask a couple of questions:

  • Are these key Alexa features on the roadmap of Sonos Beam and Sonos One? Sonos should be transparent so consumers can make informed decisions for this holiday season.
  • If these features will never be introduced to Sonos Beam and Sonos One (but only to a new product), what's Sono's plan on allowing users to use Sonos Beam next to an Echo device? To use voice calling, I keep my Echo in the same room, but Beam and Echo would respond at the same time. I understand it's possible to change the wake word, but it's really dumb that I have to remember Alexa is Beam and Computer is Echo (and they have the same voice!).

I appreciate that Sonos is working hard to support more Alexa skills, but those essential communication skills of "Alexa" are equally important. They should not be missing on a $399 device (considering a $15 Eufy Genie has these features). Ryan, I understand Sonos is very careful about announcing new product features under development (especially after the delays of Google Assistant support). But your loyal Sonos customers deserve to know better - at least whether the features are in the product roadmap/backlog. Please convince the management to share more information.

I really don't want to return my Beam and I'm willing to wait, but I need to know the features will eventually be available on the current generation of the device - not a Sonos Beam 2.

Thanks!
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Best answer by Ryan S 7 December 2018, 18:18

Hi TtiGeR, thanks for asking!

We're always looking to improve the Alexa and Sonos integration, both by adding new features and improving existing ones. We're focused on building on the Alexa integration to provide the ultimate music listening experience at home, and will keep on updating it. We don't have any specifics around Messaging and Calling possibly coming to Sonos that I can share. I'll let the team know you're looking for it, and as soon as there's any news, I'll be sure to post it on the community.

As melvimbe suggested, when new features come, assuming the hardware can support them, they'll come to all devices capable of it. Most Alexa features are cloud-based, and therefore the hard work isn't done by the speaker, making it easier to support older hardware and bring them new features.

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I second that, i would really like these features to be supported. Are there any plans to add these to beam?
This is a extremely disappointing. We just purchased 2 Sonos Beams and 2 Sonos Ones when we moved into our new house. We were under the impression that Alexa-enabled meant and that they could do the same as other Alexa devices. This is very frustrating after spending so much money. I hope your post receives a response from Sonos. I'm not really sure what I should do... I would also be fine waiting if I knew that the features will be coming.
Userlevel 7
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  • Are these key Alexa features on the roadmap of Sonos Beam and Sonos One? Sonos should be transparent so consumers can make informed decisions for this holiday season. [/quote] As you know, Sonos rarely communicates their roadmap on features like this. You're correct in that it does have negatives in that consumers are left guessing, but it clearly has positives as well. From what I've seen consumers (myself included) always believe that the feature they want is the feature everyone wants, it should be easy to do, and should have happened yesterday. I don't think Sonos can really win on this whatever policy they want. My personal policy is to always buy products for the features they have now, not the features they are promising or I think will eventually have. That usually works best. And of course, I try to do my research, but sometimes it's hard to know what questions to ask. [quote=TtiGeR]
  • If these features will never be introduced to Sonos Beam and Sonos One (but only to a new product), what's Sono's plan on allowing users to use Sonos Beam next to an Echo device? To use voice calling, I keep my Echo in the same room, but Beam and Echo would respond at the same time. I understand it's possible to change the wake word, but it's really dumb that I have to remember Alexa is Beam and Computer is Echo (and they have the same voice!).


There is another option you may or may not like. You can now setup your Beam (or any Sonos speaker/room) as the preferred speaker for an echo, using Alexa groups. That means that any request to play music to the echo, will automatically be played on the Beam. So with that, you could off the mic on the Beam and just use an echo in that room. The downside to that is having to have an echo in the room, not hearing Alexa's voice on the better sounding Beam, and not having some of the TV control features the Beam has. The upside is that you get all the features of the echo plus the good sould quality of the Beam.

I don't really use voice calling very much, but I do use it in the kitchen/living room occasionally. That room has an echo show and a playbar. Even if Sonos comes out with a playbar with Alexa built in, I will probably still opt to use the echo show.


I appreciate that Sonos is working hard to support more Alexa skills, but those essential communication skills of "Alexa" are equally important. They should not be missing on a $399 device (considering a $15 Eufy Genie has these features).


That's not exactly a fair comparison, since the Eufy clearly is lacking a ton of features that the Beam has. I don't want to minimize your point, as it's clearly a desired feature, but it's not as if anyone could really replace their Beam with a Eufy.




Ryan, I understand Sonos is very careful about announcing new product features under development (especially after the delays of Google Assistant support). But your loyal Sonos customers deserve to know better - at least whether the features are in the product roadmap/backlog. Please convince the management to share more information.

I really don't want to return my Beam and I'm willing to wait, but I need to know the features will eventually be available on the current generation of the device - not a Sonos Beam 2.


And this is a point you can take comfort in. Based on Sonos history, there isn't going to be a Beam 2 for many many years. And when Sonos adds features, they do so for all their pre-existing products, even ones that are no longer for sale), if the speaker has the hardware available to implement the feature. Other companies often opt to just end an existing product line and create a new product line with the new features in order to generate sales, pushing customers to drop their existing working products in order to get new features.
Userlevel 7
Badge +25
Hi TtiGeR, thanks for asking!

We're always looking to improve the Alexa and Sonos integration, both by adding new features and improving existing ones. We're focused on building on the Alexa integration to provide the ultimate music listening experience at home, and will keep on updating it. We don't have any specifics around Messaging and Calling possibly coming to Sonos that I can share. I'll let the team know you're looking for it, and as soon as there's any news, I'll be sure to post it on the community.

As melvimbe suggested, when new features come, assuming the hardware can support them, they'll come to all devices capable of it. Most Alexa features are cloud-based, and therefore the hard work isn't done by the speaker, making it easier to support older hardware and bring them new features.
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Dear Team Sonos. I’ll keep this short as it’s been covered in this thread. Very disappointed this fundamental feature is in accessible via either my Sonos One or Beam. Please add ASAP - it lets down what could (and should!) be a top end product experience that covers all bases...making calls on Alexa is straightforward. Sonos advertise Alexa on their devices that contain mics...again...very disappointing.
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Sonos One has all the hardware needed to make this happen. Amazon is not preventing it. This feature is long overdue. Let’s get on it!
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would be a nice thing to have in an emergency.
E.G young child (3-5) that does not know how to use a phone yet can say Alexa Call Dad/mum/999(911) or so on.
A elderly person falls down and ask sonons to call help.

I would not even mind if this would be a pay-as-you-go service if set up to call non free numbers.

I am guessing the alexa "find my phone" app works kinda like this but only calls your phone then hangs up.
Userlevel 2
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I’m going to voice a countering view.

I’d hate to have, for example, party music interrupted by someone wanting a chat, and to have Alexa announce the call whilst playing at party volumes. Or the risk of pranksters constantly calling in.

Why cant Sonos speakers be for multi room music playing/streaming and concentrate on that - with relevant voice-control features for those who want to take advantage of those features.

If you want all the features of Alexa, add an Echo Dot: they’re not all that expensive. And you could then buy Play:1’s rather than One’s to cover the cost of the Dot.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I’m going to voice a countering view.

I’d hate to have, for example, party music interrupted by someone wanting a chat, and to have Alexa announce the call whilst playing at party volumes. Or the risk of pranksters constantly calling in.
Why cant Sonos speakers be for multi room music playing/streaming and concentrate on that - with relevant voice-control features for those who want to take advantage of those features.

If you want all the features of Alexa, add an Echo Dot: they’re not all that expensive. And you could then buy Play:1’s rather than One’s to cover the cost of the Dot.


I haven't played with the calling features of Alexa in quite a while, but I don't think pranksters can make calls to you on Alexa. Only people that you have added to the contacts list in Alexa. Perhaps it's expanded since it was originally implemented.

Also, if you're going to use an echo dot to control your Sonos room, you're most likely going to use Alexa groups and have Sonos duck volume when Alexa is listening a speaking. In other words, you're going to interrupt the party whether you're using built in Alexa or a 'linked' echo dot.

I do agree with your overall point though. Sonos is a music speaker company first and foremost, and should concentrate it's development efforts in that area over other smart home features. As an example, Sonos made the right call in making sure to integrate Apple music services by voice over calling features, in my opinion. Unless enhancements significantly slow down with Alexa, Sonos will always be playing catch up if it tries to implement the entire feature set.
I’m going to voice a countering view.

I’d hate to have, for example, party music interrupted by someone wanting a chat, and to have Alexa announce the call whilst playing at party volumes. Or the risk of pranksters constantly calling in.

Why cant Sonos speakers be for multi room music playing/streaming and concentrate on that - with relevant voice-control features for those who want to take advantage of those features.

If you want all the features of Alexa, add an Echo Dot: they’re not all that expensive. And you could then buy Play:1’s rather than One’s to cover the cost of the Dot.


Hi, so just to clarify, Echo devices offer a do not disturb mode, presumably when implementing calls Sonos would implement the same do not disturb feature.

I personally just bought a Sonos One Gen 2 to add to my home that has several Sonos play 5 gen 1 devices and several amazon echo's and I was very dismayed to find that calling wasn't supported. I would be very keen to see it implemented.
Am I the only one who thinks Sonos should just leave all the voice stuff to Google and Amazon, and concentrate on making great sounding multi-room audio?

There's no way Sonos can keep up with all the changes going on in AI, they simply don't have the resources. Just allow Echo/Dot/Show to default to Sonos for music, and leave all the other AI junk to Echo (which already works fine).

Same thing with Google - the Home Hub (or whatever Google has renamed it to) is FAR more useful with its screen; just let it default music to the Sonos speakers, leave the AI stuff to the Hub.

I can only imagine how different AI will be in five years' time. Sonos needs to spend its precious resources on sound, not keeping up with the constant AI changes.

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