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

  • 1 December 2018
  • 17 replies
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.


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.
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.


I think the opportunity for Sonos to take that approach has passed. They could have simply added line-in ports to all of their products so you could connect whatever voice assistant you want and let those companies worry about the advanced voice features while Sonos focused on new products and an advanced API to make sure they can integrate well.

Now they are committed to providing the entire user experience through their software which means meeting the expectations of users who have come to expect certain things because they are provided from the voice assistant devices they have been using. I'm sure Sonos had a vision of having support for multiple voice platforms on their hardware such that you could invoke whatever assistant you prefer merely by using the appropriate wake word. Unfortunately they were not able to accomplish this. Now they are faced with folks who are used to having a screen showing them lyrics in sync with their music and desiring a higher fidelity version of phone and intercom features with no way to deliver it (except via a wired connection on the few Sonos models that support it,)

I don't think you can blame people for wanting their system to work in a particular way or to include all of the features that either platform can provide on its own and I don't think people are ever going to stop asking for that to happen.
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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?

I go back and forth on this. On one hand I agree with you. Today, it makes more sense to build your system by 'pairing' and echo or Google Home with Sonos speakers for each room. The only real downside from the user experience is having 2 devices instead of one.

However, I don't know that that will sell speakers very well. Are customers who don't own Sonos speakers right now going to really grasp how this work, or be motivated to buy Sonos instead of just using the speaker that comes with their voice assistant or some other brand? Amazon,Google and Apple now have speakers and speaker setups that can be viewed as competing with Sonos in sound quality (not as good, but maybe good enough). And Sonos is certainly not the only speaker company that's putting voice assistants in their products.

Put another way, I have no doubt that Sonos One well outsold Play:1s last year. I'm sure some of that is do to newer model and airplay, but mostly due to onboard voice assistants. How many people bought it for the promise of Google Assistant? You could also argue that Sonos now has some leverage being the only device that works with both popular flavors (although only one at a time unfortunately), which gives them a little leverage in the market.

I think you could make an argument that even though an all-in-one VA speaker doesn't give you the most features or is the most economical, it is what people were wanting and what Sonos needed to provide. You could say the same about soundbars perhaps. They aren't going to give you the best sound due to lack of separation, but people want that all-in-one device.


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.


Agreed. I think Sonos needs to draw a line in the sand so to speak to be clear about what features they do and do not support as well as what you can expect as far future features. Amazon and Google really should be involved with this and give clear designations for third party devices that use their services on what level of features they have. "Alexa devices" doesn't let people know what you can and cannot do very well, or even suggest that their might be a different between an alexa device and an echo.

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.

I would much rather see Sonos look to add Siri, Bixby, or perhaps their own voice assistant for music related controls. Not to mention non-voice assistant features.
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.



No, not the only one... as you say... just concentrate on audio. Of course there are more ways to expand Sonos other than spending time and resources on Voice and to be honest the family are sick of the wrong music being played or one of the backend servers not quite “functional” so either no response or silence instead of music.
Hi Sonos Team,

I have a Sonos one in the living room and everyone in the family absolutely loves the sound quality and features! It is the only thing we use to listen to music so I wanted to put one in each room in the house and get a couple Beams for the TV. The only problem, your devices don’t support Alexa calling or drop in features. I have two young children and the ability for them to say, “Alexa, call Daddy” provides additional piece of mind and security when I’m out.

Because of this I purchased Amazon Echo Dots for their bedrooms instead of Sonos Ones which not only means revenue lost for Sonos but more importantly as a company you are not meeting your objective of providing a whole home solution to your customers.

Considering how many threads there are asking for this feature I would have hoped Sonos would be listening more seriously in an effort to retain and grow their customer base. I am the proud owner of one Sonos One but I could have been the proud owner of eight Sonos Ones and two Beams. Give your heads a shake Sonos, give your heads a shake.
And continue to wonder why Amazon’s licensing policy doesn’t allow Sonos to implement this.
I bought 4 sonos ones and put them in different rooms only to find out that drop in doesn't work with sonos. Lmao. Thought sonos is going to replace echo device. Guess not at all. I am going to return all the sonos and get echo plus or something.

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