Question

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


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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!

4 replies

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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
Badge +21
TtiGeR wrote:


  • 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.

TtiGeR wrote:


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.



TtiGeR wrote:


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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