Update: Bringing Google Assistant to Sonos


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We've just published an update to our commitment on bringing Google Assistant to Sonos on our blog. You can read it in detail by following the link here.

I'll also include the text hidden below here for your convenience:


The Sonos team has been hard at work with our partners at Google to bring you yet another easy way to control your Sonos system: the Google Assistant.  Google’s remarkably smart voice assistant will let you do all kinds of things on Sonos; playing music with your voice is just the beginning of what’s possible. 
While we originally planned to have the experience ready to ship in 2018, the reality is that we need a bit more time to get the experience right and will now look to lock down a date in 2019, and we’re continuing to make good progress.
If you’re interested in helping us kick the tires — and willing to put in the time and effort — you can sign up to be considered for the private beta here.  We ask that beta testers commit to at least 14 hours of listening per week, use 10 voice commands daily, and respond to surveys within 72 hours.
Once we screen all the applicants — a process that will take a few weeks — our next step will be to start testing the experience in a few hundred homes at first, and a few thousand homes in the coming months.  Our intent is to get important feedback from listeners in the real world before we launch.
We’re very excited to see Google Assistant come to life on Sonos, and we know our customers are too. Indeed, it’s easily one of the questions we get the most from customers, press, and even in the comments on our Instagram feed: When is Google Assistant coming to Sonos? We’re listening. Together with Google, we’ve learned a lot, and are confident the integration will be worth the wait.

 
Stay tuned. We look forward to sharing another update in early 2019!

We know there's a lot of excitement and interest around Google Assistant and Sonos. As soon as we have more to share, we'll let you know. 

If you're interested in helping us test it out early, you can sign up to be considered for the private beta here

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Together with Google, we’ve learned a lot

Cool! Like what?
Together with Google, we’ve learned a lot

Cool! Like what?

You can't implement third party services like Alexa or Google Assistant without the proprietor/copyright owner being involved.
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Cool! Like what?

You can't implement third party services like Alexa or Google Assistant without the proprietor/copyright owner being involved.[/quote]

So you have knowledge that Sonos wasn't involved as they should have been? I highly doubt this.
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I think Smilja's comment was mainly said in jest, just to imply that any blame for the delay can't solely be put on Sonos shoulders. But you're right Peagle, we don't have any knowledge as to the reason for delays.

As far as 'learning a lot', I doubt it's any thing that consumers would really be too interested. From my experience on large IT projects like this, it's not uncommon for the initial plan of develop to require modifications as there were unforeseen 'gotchas', incorrect assumptions, and the like that cause the original plan to be reworked. Of course, the unknown should be factored into the project plan to give yourself a buffer. Delays are still a disappointment.

But I'm drifting from the point. A lesson learned could be a technical aspect of the integration that Sonos cannot share with customers, or wouldn't be relevant to consumers. It could be something regarding how Google operates internally, again not something they can share.
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I signed up for the Beta, very excited for this integration and would like to contribute myself.
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Im not happy about the delay but I say good on Sonos for being transparent about this.
Folks, it's just a delay by a few months. Google Assistant hasn't been cancelled.


[...] But I'm drifting from the point. A lesson learned could be a technical aspect of the integration that Sonos cannot share with customers, or wouldn't be relevant to consumers. It could be something regarding how Google operates internally, again not something they can share.
A lesson learned should be to never announce upcoming projects ever again - may it be a collaboration or may it be an in-house improvement.
A lesson learned should be to never announce upcoming projects ever again - may it be a collaboration or may it be an in-house improvement.I think announcing the Project is okay, but stating a delivery date early on, is more the issue here, as we all know that things can often intervene, even in the best laid plans.

I'm just happy to see that it's still a piece of work in progress and I think it was wise to not announce an actual delivery date this time around, other than saying it will be sometime next year.

I have been out recently and bought a Google Home Mini in anticipation of the Sonos release and to learn more about the system, to compare it to the Amazon Echo software ...and whilst I was slightly disappointed by the announcement yesterday, it does now give me more time to get to grips with the features and settings in the Google Home software. So that maybe a bonus.

I would also rather wait for something that works well, rather than it be rushed out. Hopefully when it is released, I will be hitting the ground running with the Assistant/Google Home Software, though admittedly, I have got used to using the now familiar Amazon Alexa software.
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[...] But I'm drifting from the point. A lesson learned could be a technical aspect of the integration that Sonos cannot share with customers, or wouldn't be relevant to consumers. It could be something regarding how Google operates internally, again not something they can share.
A lesson learned should be to never announce upcoming projects ever again - may it be a collaboration or may it be an in-house improvement.


I can't agree with that. I think they are better off going into this holiday season with a delay, and some disappointed customers, then going in with customers having no idea that integration is in the pipeline, thus have no reason to consider waiting at all.

Folks, it's just a delay by a few months.

A few months? It's been over a year now since the release.
And "2019" isn't 3 months because when it was announced the delay would be until "2018".
Throughout 2018, everyone was reassured that "2018 isn't over"... look where we are.


A lesson learned should be to never announce upcoming projects ever again - may it be a collaboration or may it be an in-house improvement.

The lesson should be to have the framework and plan in place with a project manager who, along with their team, is actively working towards the goal and is accountable to it. If you do that, then there's no issue.
Maybe this is indicative that Sonos' program management or development as a whole doesn't have enough functional maturity.

I'm sure there are internal issues that caused whatever happened, but a 15mo+ delay is ridiculous for a feature update within an existing platform capable of the functionality and could have been managed with proactive planning and reactive adjustments.

Sorry if that comes across harsh, but I'm a product engineer myself and I was honestly 1) angry that I've been waiting this long and 2) dumbfounded at the idea that it's been taking a business this long to deliver.
I would have been perfectly happy with a partial integration, that just added my Sonos speakers as Chromecast targets, even without stereo pairing. That would have been a MUCH smarter marketing move, IMO. Some negative reviews to endure, but with a commitment to integrate fully in early 2019, those would be mitigated. Beats the crap out of entirely missing what is by far the most important sales period of the year. Sonos’ sales and marketing teams must be livid!
One has to imagine there's also a certain amount of "don't release it until we say so" from Google's side of things. As with any company, there's bound to be a "don't harm the brand by releasing unfinished stuff".

I'd guess that the folks on Google's side are also not terribly pleased. The way they win out of this is the expansion of the user base wed to their "ecosystem" and gathering more data, not unlike Amazon does. The more people you can pull in to your ecosystem, the more people you can sell to.

It amazes me, and pleases me, that Sonos is able to stay agnostic amidst all of this, and have both Amazon and Google as voice assistants, as well as the panoply of music options that they do. One of the reasons I stick with Sonos. I may be wed to only one music source.....which happens to be my NAS, but having the options, and not selling my soul further to any of the current options in my usage, Amazon, Apple, and Google is OK by me.
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The lesson should be to have the framework and plan in place with a project manager who, along with their team, is actively working towards the goal and is accountable to it. If you do that, then there's no issue.
Maybe this is indicative that Sonos' program management or development as a whole doesn't have enough functional maturity.


Yea, I'd say that's a little harsh. I'm sure you've seen delays before in your experience. Sometimes it is due to mistakes and sometimes it's due to entities (like Google) that you can't control. We really don't know what the cause is. Regardless, it's understandable to be frustrated.


I'm sure there are internal issues that caused whatever happened, but a 15mo+ delay is ridiculous for a feature update within an existing platform capable of the functionality and could have been managed with proactive planning and reactive adjustments.


15 month delay? I'm not sure how your coming up with that calculation. I'd assume that agreements/contracts were made around the time the announcement, before a full detailed project plan was put in place. And we don't even really know what the planned go live date actually was to determine just how much of a delay off the plan this is.

Again, the frustration is real, but why this happened?...we don't know what we don't know.
From another public forum. Anecdotal, but...

Not surprised. Having worked on the Google FTTH project in Atlanta for 2 years one thing is apparent- they consistently do not hold up their end of the contract on time. Worst engineering customer I’ve ever had in 43 years of engineering. I’d say more but I’m still bound by the NDA I signed regardless if it’s enforceable anymore or not. I’ll bet dollars to dogshit they were late getting Sonus what they needed.
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Maybe sonos could follow what sky do. They publish a road map, so that you know what is coming and in roughly what order, but no fixed dates.
So we knew that live F1 in UHD was coming, now Netflix intergration, with HDR down the line.....
Iam happy to know it's coming and not upset by any internal delays.

I agree with chicks that sonos as a chromecast target would of kept me happy over xmas period.
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Maybe sonos could follow what sky do. They publish a road map, so that you know what is coming and in roughly what order, but no fixed dates.
So we knew that live F1 in UHD was coming, now Netflix intergration, with HDR down the line.....
Iam happy to know it's coming and not upset by any internal delays..


This would go a long way to helping people feel like they're being heard without promising things per se but I honestly don't think they are really listening. The forum responses and interaction is minimal. Almost entirely user commiserating and supporting other users. I think the product is driven by what the engineers and culture at Sonos feel is important, not their users. I think there's a whole lot of audiophiles and hardware nerds in that group with not a ton of enthusiasm for platform integration building and user customization features. Perhaps they think they're the next Apple.

And with that in mind I'm of the opinion that Sonos is not trying nearly hard enough with the voice integration support as a whole. It's like they're hoping it's just a passing fad they can put minimal effort into integrating. As such the Alexa integration is still pretty rough, albeit less buggy. When it first came out it was barely usable. I turned it off for several months before trying it again. Now I am dealing with the loud wake word acknowledgement "BLOOP" that sounds several times louder than Alexa and of course remembers whatever volume level you cranked up to last time you played music. These are the rough edges in the product Sonos apparently disregards as important but it drives away the particular customers that have the money to pay for their premium products. At the rate they're plodding along with features and improvements, some competitor will eventually swoop in with a comparable multi-room premium sounding audio experience with better voice integration and take their lunch. They really need to listen to customer feedback better or somebody is going to pick up all the stuff the feedback they disregarded and put it into their product.
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I seem to get loads of email surveys from sonos lately, so I hope they are putting the feedback data to good use.
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This would go a long way to helping people feel like they're being heard without promising things per se but I honestly don't think they are really listening. The forum responses and interaction is minimal. Almost entirely user commiserating and supporting other users.


How does this forum compare to other product forums? I can't say that I've spent a ton of time on other product related forums, so I don't have a lot to compare to. I do think it's good in some ways to let users help other users, instead of staff members swarming around every issue, and the Sonos staff does step in often, however, I have seen some cases where it seems Sonos staff hasn't stepped in when I thought they should. But it's a matter of opinion, and perfection can't be expected. And as I said, I don't know how other forums handle it.


I think the product is driven by what the engineers and culture at Sonos feel is important, not their users. I think there's a whole lot of audiophiles and hardware nerds in that group with not a ton of enthusiasm for platform integration building and user customization features. Perhaps they think they're the next Apple.


Well, Sonos does a very large integration with music sources, and they will have the first products that have both Alexa and Google integration, not to mention Apple airplay. Is there another smart speaker that is doing better on platform integration?

On user customization features, I can agree with that. I do wish the control interfaces could be customized more. I've heard it said that Sonos wants customers to have a unified experience, but I'd say there is too much emphasis on that. I wouldn't say that engineers drive decisions, so much as marketing statistics. That's wise, but it doesn't always play well here in the forums, and they seem to miss some easy wins that provide what customers want, even though it may not be a large group that knows that they want it.



And with that in mind I'm of the opinion that Sonos is not trying nearly hard enough with the voice integration support as a whole. It's like they're hoping it's just a passing fad they can put minimal effort into integrating.


I'm not seeing evidence of that. The CEO has stated repeatedly that they see voice integration as important. No one else is integrating both Alexa and Google, as I already stated. It may be that Sonos is trying to tackle too much with the integration. Are other companies doing it better? I know some companies are just providing hardware for Alexa/Google software to reside in, not actually integrating the voice platforms with their own multiroom platforms.


As such the Alexa integration is still pretty rough, albeit less buggy. When it first came out it was barely usable. I turned it off for several months before trying it again. Now I am dealing with the loud wake word acknowledgement "BLOOP" that sounds several times louder than Alexa and of course remembers whatever volume level you cranked up to last time you played music.


I'm not a fan of the bloop either. And having separate volumes for music and alexa seems like an easy win that customers would want that may not show up in marketing data.


These are the rough edges in the product Sonos apparently disregards as important but it drives away the particular customers that have the money to pay for their premium products. At the rate they're plodding along with features and improvements, some competitor will eventually swoop in with a comparable multi-room premium sounding audio experience with better voice integration and take their lunch.


I've not heard of any of the traditional competitors doing this any better. However, I would say that Amazon and Google could upgrade their speaker quality and other areas where they are lacking behind Sonos and push Sonos out of the market. They have the budgets and brand name recognition to do so.


They really need to listen to customer feedback better or somebody is going to pick up all the stuff the feedback they disregarded and put it into their product.


I don't think these things are disregarded, but perhaps not prioritized as high as they could be. And to be fair, the Google integration is going to mean nothing to some customers, while it means everything to others. But I don't think that's the entire secret to success. Are these missing features more important that having the full range of music sources, being able to chose between Alexa Google and Airplay? More important than integrating with your HT system? More important than Sonos having done multiroom for longer? To some it's not, to some it is.
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Still not clear if it will be assistant only integration or also chromecast receiver?
Still not clear if it will be assistant only integration or also chromecast receiver?

Good question. Honestly, with the advent of the inexpensive Home Hub, I think they’d be just as well off simply making their speakers Chromecast targets. Just like they have made them AirPlay targets. How many listening devices do we really need? Overreach, Sonos?

Let Google and Amazon sell the low cost voice portals, Sonos will never be able to keep up there, as we’re seeing with all the missing Alexa features. Google will even let you configure a default speaker for any of its devices, and I’m sure Amazon is working on the same.

Alexa Cast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, UPnP all implemented, why not ChromeCast?
Chicks,

See this magazine link...

https://uk.pcmag.com/features/117530/every-awesome-and-ridiculous-thing-amazon-unveiled-today

In summary...

“Also on the audio front, Amazon today announced that you can connect two of the same, supported Echo devices for stereo sound. And select a preferred speaker for music playback in the Alexa app.”

These things are open to some interpretation of course, but it looks promising if it includes Sonos Ones etc; though not sure how it would work exactly.
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Still not clear if it will be assistant only integration or also chromecast receiver?

Good question. Honestly, with the advent of the inexpensive Home Hub, I think they’d be just as well off simply making their speakers Chromecast targets. Just like they have made them AirPlay targets. How many listening devices do we really need? Overreach, Sonos?

Let Google and Amazon sell the low cost voice portals, Sonos will never be able to keep up there, as we’re seeing with all the missing Alexa features. Google will even let you configure a default speaker for any of its devices, and I’m sure Amazon is working on the same.


I used to agree with this sentiment 100%, There wasn't that much of a compeling need to have your voice assitant and your audio speaker(s) to be one in the same device. I changed my views on this a bit after getting some Sonos Ones and Beams over the summer. I like not having to target every command, and not have every speaker in the house duck on each command. These are fixable software issues though. And not having as much clutter is also nice. Missing features between echos and Sonos devices is a negative, but hasn't really been an issue for me personally, as I don't typically use those features.

Once the targetting/ducking issues are fixed, and I do believe Amazon/Sonos will get that done eventually, there really isn't much to gain by having an all in one device. It's kind of an aside, but I do think separation of mics and speakers will eventually be the norm, where a typical household may have numerous mics placed around a room to ensure pickup, but operating as one entity with one speaker system responding.

But back to your point, you do have to wonder if Sonos would have been better off not worrying about developing thier own mics, but concentrated on intergration and features not related to mics, possibly even expanding the product offering. Then again, it stands to reason that may customers would not make the connection taht Sonos is alexa enabled without physically see the mics on the devices themselves.
I think if the mics do become separated out from the actual speaker, would we then end up with Google mics, Amazon mics, Apple mics etc. dotted about the home, all defaulting to say a single/set of Sonos Speaker(s).

I accept those mic's could become one device unit, shared by all the services, but what is clear is that at the start of all this, these big providers were not too happy to share anything with each other directly.

So I can see why Sonos quickly opted to build the mics and multiple voice services into their own speakers.. I also think they were right to begin that process with their best selling Play:1 speaker and turn it into the new Sonos One, improving its sound aswell along the way.

The sonos one is now a conduit for all the big providers to 'share' and 'not share' at the same time. Sonos has become a 'broker platform' with their hardware, whilst also allowing for a healthy competitive market in voice controlled music services.

I do wonder though, what will be the next step for all those companies involved here?
They’re moving well beyond microphones now. The Google Home Hub is easily the best in class device that shows what the future looks like. It’s low enough in cost (and will probably see substantial discounts soon) vs the Echo Show. It can be configured to play music to better speakers by default, unlike the Show (for now). Its sound quality is good enough for nightstands and bathrooms, while priced low enough to allow purchasing several. It’s a great photo/art display, along with time and temp.

I have both the Echo Show and the Home Hub. No contest, the Hub was far more thoughtfully designed. If Sonos only had Chromecast, it would be the perfect companion device...

Edit: Home Hub will already be discounted to $99 on Black Friday. I’ll be grabbing a couple more. Sonos, I sure hope Chromecast integration is coming, and soon.

https://www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/black-friday-2018-smart-home-deals-7/
chicks, what's your opinion on how much the earlier release of the Echo Show had on the development of the Home Hub? Recognizing that you don't actually work for Google or Amazon, of course, but I'd be interested in your thoughts on how the release of one might have informed some of the later development of the other?

In my experience, sometimes being second to market has a distinct advantage....and sometimes not. I'm not that familiar with the Google product, as I'm invested in Amazon's ecosystem. But I'm not wed to it. I like to think that I farm out my data to many people, rather than concentrating it all in one location.

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