Sonos confirms its own voice command service will launch on June 1

Sonos will roll out its own voice-control assistant on June 1 in the United States. Like The edge reported earlier this month, Sonos Voice Control will be added to all of the company’s voice-activated smart speakers via an upcoming software update. Once there, owners of these devices will be able to start music playback, skip tracks, adjust volume, and send audio to other Sonos speakers in their home using “Hey Sonos” voice commands. Sonos Voice will expand to France later in 2022, but the company hasn’t announced any rollout plans beyond those two initial countries.

Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, Deezer and Sonos Radio are the supported services at launch. Some will be disappointed by the absence of Spotify, but during a recent press briefing, Sonos clarified that the assistant can still perform basic commands like pause, stop, follow commands, volume, etc for Spotify content already playing on a Sonos system. , although customers will not be able to request a song or playlist from Spotify using Sonos Voice Control.

Sonos tapped a celebrity to be the voice of Sonos Voice Control. Giancarlo Esposito, best known for his roles in Breaking Bad, you better call Saul, and The Mandalorian, lent his recognizable voice to the service. The actor went through a long recording session to give Sonos’ machine learning system enough samples to work with.

You will hear the voice of actor Giancarlo Esposito when interacting with Sonos Voice Control.
Image: Sonos

Sonos Voice Control is strictly music-focused and not intended to challenge Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri as a full-fledged digital assistant. The company says customers will be able to use Sonos Voice and Alexa simultaneously on the same device, sticking to the latter for smart home commands and inquiries about weather, calendar appointments and phone calls. general questions that the Sonos service is not intended to handle. Google Assistant cannot be used with Sonos Voice Control.

Sonos Voice Control can quickly move music from room to room.
Image: Sonos

As well as basic music controls, Sonos Voice Control can also be used to group speakers and rooms together – you can tell it to play something “everywhere” to turn on all your speakers – or move audio around. one device to another in seconds. Sonos designed the service to be as fast as possible; the company says it limits “responses and chimes” in favor of quickly executing a voice command.

Sonos Voice Control was developed to understand common language instead of requiring specific wording. (For example, you can say “Hey Sonos, volume up” instead of “volume up.”) And as long as they’re close together, you can follow one voice command with another without having to say “Hey Sonos.” Everytime. For portable Sonos products like Move and Roam, you can also check battery life.

Sonos seems confident in the performance of Sonos Voice Control. The company says you can get granularity with commands like “stop playing in the kitchen and play in the living room instead” or “increase the volume in the bedroom only”. These very Sonos examples demonstrate why it made sense for the company to create its own voice solution rather than using resources to run this hardware through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant skills.

The service is rooted in technology that Sonos picked up when it acquired Snips, a privacy-focused voice assistant, in 2019. After buying the company, the Sonos team continued to evolve the service before today’s intro. All Sonos Voice Control commands are processed locally on the device and are not sent to Sonos servers in the cloud.

Sonos’ Jo Dureau, vice president of voice experience, and Alice Coucke, the company’s head of machine learning research.
Photo by Chris Welch/The Verge

Sonos says a good number of consumers shy away from setting up or using voice assistant on smart speakers for privacy reasons, and it thinks Sonos Voice Control could overcome that hesitation. If it meets business performance requirements, it could definitely become a handy new feature. Sonos Voice Control is free, which isn’t surprising given its limited reach.

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