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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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!
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?
Plenty of customers who love the way their music app works, and won’t use the Sonos app. Allowing them to use the same app they use in the car, at work, jogging, etc, in the Home makes perfect sense.

Streaming providers have put $$$$ into their apps, making them great to use, discover our tastes, make recommendations based on what we’ve played, even let us socialize with friends and artists. The Sonos app, while offering certain advantages, can’t replicate many of these features, and is, let’s admit it, fairly clunky compared to our favorite music app.

Things have changed considerably since 2013, including the leadership of Sonos.
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i consider early 2019 to be the first quarter of 2019 i.e. the first 4 months . mid 2019 to be Q2 late 2019 to be Q3 and end of 2019 to be Q4 so they are still on time in my book
and sometimes things do not go as smoothly as planned so it still will happen
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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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.

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.
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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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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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I have this feeling sonos always wants to avoid chromecast from native apps, as they always want to use the sonos app somehow to keep you in their ecosystem.
Many many speakers can chromecast already, wouldn't this devalue sonos if it was just another chromecast speaker?
I suppose their ideal is a new house with just sonos in it, you can voice control alexa, google sometime soon, no need to buy anybody elses stuff........
Trouble is they are too late to the party, loads of people gave up waiting and went & bought alexa, google, apple voice speakers....
I have this feeling sonos always wants to avoid chromecast from native apps, as they always want to use the sonos app somehow to keep you in their ecosystem.


Always? You mean "always" except for the Pandora app . . . and Google Play Music app . . . and Spotify app . . . and every app that can play to Airplay 2 . . . and every 3rd party home automation entity that wishes to use their brand new built for purpose API.

Yeah . . . that's some always. :8
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I have this feeling sonos always wants to avoid chromecast from native apps, as they always want to use the sonos app somehow to keep you in their ecosystem.


Always? You mean "always" except for the Pandora app . . . and Google Play Music app . . . and Spotify app . . . and every app that can play to Airplay 2 . . . and every 3rd party home automation entity that wishes to use their brand new built for purpose API.

Yeah . . . that's some always. :8

I was only really thinking about chromecast and why sonos/google didn't expand on casting from google play music on android from 2013 to include chromecast ability years ago, or when sony et al did. Maybe no good reason, I have no idea.

Google closed down sonophone using GPM, as presumably they want to collect data from official sonos controllers, or google wanted money from sonophone....

I hope chromecast target to sonos comes, but I wouldn't be surprised if the bbc iplayer app won't see sonos as a cast target and only google assistant voice works, as it maybe easier for google to track data that way.
Sonos are not saying either way....
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I was only really thinking about chromecast and why sonos/google didn't expand on casting from google play music on android from 2013 to include chromecast ability years ago, or when sony et al did. Maybe no good reason, I have no idea.

...


The former CEO did an interview in 2013 where he said they wouldn't do Spotify Connect (said it didn't make sense) - and that Sonos would go their own way with a Sonos audio Chromecast like feature. This was a long time ago and lots has changed... I don't think it is about app lock in, probably more about resources.
Folks, it's just a delay by a few months. Google Assistant hasn't been cancelled.

The article just says we will get another UPDATE in 2019. no promises of actual release date.

As a Google music listener this is even more frustrating because I got my wife hooked on using Alexa to play music (assuming I would switch over to GA when it is out) using free trial periods.... Now I am stuck either paying for 2 streaming services, being forced to switch from google music, or tell my wife that Alexa is broken until GA is released....

Sonos: I am amazed how slow this is going and frankly cannot recommend your ecosystem to anyone at the moment until you can show you can keep up with the other major tech players with more than just words.
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It would actually be okay with me if Google Assistant doesn’t make it to Sonos, as it will just be feeding the big spy machine that it is.

Is that the big spy machine that is your ISP or the big spy machine that is smartphones, laptops etc?

Purchased in Dec. 2017 with the understanding that Google Assistant would be integrated in early 2018. We are now into 2nd quarter for 2019. Feeling ripped off!!! Alexa is slightly better than useless.
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Will Google Assistant support playing from the local library? It is something many people have been expecting since Alexa support.

“Many people” can expect what they wish, but until Google supports this (they don’t now), extremely unlikely Sonos will.


I don't think Google has to support the feature on their own devices before it gets supported on Sonos. Obviously, Sonos speakers are already equipped to play from local source, while Google speakers are not. Implementing on Google means more than just sending a command, it's actual implementing actual execution. With a Google/Sonos integration, it's just telling a Sonos speaker what to do, as they speaker already knows how to do it.

I do agree though that the feature is far from guaranteed, as the volume of customers playing from local libraries is rather small and decreasing. However, it could still be implemented as something Google uses to get an edge over the Amazon.


I take issue with statistics purporting that local music storage and playback is "small and decreasing." When you make it as hard as possible for people to play local music and make it as easy as possible to stream it, you are influencing behaviour and skewing statistics. For example, there are many times when I want to play local music but if I am too busy to get my hands on a controller and use voice command, I end up streaming. It is dangerous and wasteful to rely on streaming when you own a piece of music.
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Having extensively worked alongside Google myself in the past, and without having any real confirmation, I'd still wager Google is mostly responsible for this delay.

That said, I'm convinced Sonos would like to see GA support available as soon as it's stable enough to release. Sonos doesn't sleep without taking this concern to bed with them, I'm sure. Patience is rewarding, folks. Shouldn't be much longer.
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I take issue with statistics purporting that local music storage and playback is "small and decreasing." When you make it as hard as possible for people to play local music and make it as easy as possible to stream it, you are influencing behaviour and skewing statistics.


The statistic is true outside of Sonos users as well as inside, and it was true before Sonos ever had any voice control capabilities. And Sonos didn't do anything to make local playback of music harder in any way, it's the same as it's always been. Well, it's actually slight easier in that you can control volume, pause/resume skip track, of local music by voice, you just can't initiate play, This is surely not Sonos decision either, but Amazon's.

Your point is valid in the sense that local libraries would be in higher use if streaming services and voice control were not so convenient and easy to use, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I would make a "computer replacing typewriter" analogy, but it isn't a great analogy since local libraries do have some advantages over streaming services, while typewriter's have almost no advantage over computers. I'm not at wishing that the use of local libraries diminish further, but I also don't think Sonos, or anyone else, should intentionally make using streaming service less convenient in an attempt to preserve local libaries.


For example, there are many times when I want to play local music but if I am too busy to get my hands on a controller and use voice command, I end up streaming. It is dangerous and wasteful to rely on streaming when you own a piece of music.


Then make the effort to pick up the controller if you feel it's important to use your local library. Again, the presents of an alternative/easier option doesn't make your preferred option any harder.
i consider early 2019 to be the first quarter of 2019 i.e. the first 4 months .

Um, a quarter has 3 months, at least here on planet earth. 🆒
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In fairness Sonos is not the only player in this space that is making local music playback relatively more difficult or absolutely more difficult. My taking issue with these streaming vs. local/owned music statistics remains with the additional clarification that it's not solely due to the Sonos company's decisions.


I'd say Sonos has done what it can reasonably can for local music playback. i doubt they had much chance of convincing Amazon or Google that support of local music was an absolute necessity. After all, 99% (estimate) of the voice control music devices out their don't do local music playback.


Regarding difficulty, you are right that absolute difficulty does not change but relative difficulty does and I would argue that relative difficulty is a more relevant standard to use when making the argument for Sonos to maintain streaming/local parity in feature-development.


So Sonos shouldn't improve the functionality/ease of use of streaming services unless they can also improve local libraries in the same manner? I can't accept that argument. I get what your saying in that streaming is going to be preferred over ease of use, and that will sometimes sacrifice quality, principle of ownership, or whatever inherent value local libraries has. I just don't think that means Sonos or any other company is at fault for anyway.
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I stated Sonos could, and I believe be on shacky ground, if Sonos does not fulfill Google integration and going forward if the two players in voice assistance decide to go it along with their product lines. I believe voice assistance will only get bigger in the future. And music is a natural fit for that service.


I agree with this. If Sonos doesn't do GA integration and Google and Amazon decide to go it alone with their products, Sonos is on shaky ground. The problem is, there is absolutely no reason to believe either of those two things will happen.

What is likely to happen is somewhere in the middle. GA Integration will happen, but there will some features Google keeps to itself, the same thing as Amazon. Both Google and Amazon will (and have) developed more speaker products to cover the market better, but neither have attempted to shut out the rest of the market.

As I stated before, Google and Amazon will get a lot of backlash if they try and use their positions to monopolize the market. From customers. And quite possible from anti-trust laws various governments hold.
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"Sonos One and Beam now have the Google Assistant built-in" goes my marketing email from Sonos. As the app is not showing an available update, I do hope that GA is NOT only going to appear with new Sonoses only...

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