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Report: Sonos is launching its own voice assistant in June

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Enlarge / Sonos Beam sound bar.

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According to a report from The Verge on Wednesday, Sonos is launching a voice assistant on June 1. The publication cited “people familiar with the company’s plans” who claim the feature will bring voice control to Sonos’ home audio products.

A Sonos rep told Ars Technica that the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation when asked for comment.

Currently, Sonos’ products, like Bluetooth speakers and soundbars, support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Now, it’s reportedly interested in equipping its products with its own voice assistant.

“All Sonos products that run the company’s S2 software will support Sonos Voice Control,” The Verge reported.

In addition to its unnamed sources, the publication cited a job posting on Jobilize and Snagajob for a software test engineer who will work on the “Voice Experience” team and “design, develop, and expand Sonos Voice Experience automated test infrastructure.”

“In the Sonos Voice Experience team we design the future of voice interaction for audio content, our ambition is to make voice interactions fully private, more personal, and more natural,” the listing says. “The Voice QA team will have a long-term impact on the quality and standards of the Music Experience delivered to our millions of customers globally.”

The Verge claimed Sonos’ voice assistant will let you tell your speaker “to play specific songs, artists, or playlists with voice commands, among other functions.” The voice assistant will initially be compatible with Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Deezer, and Sonos Radio, but Spotify and YouTube Music are not partners yet, The Verge said.

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Freedom from frenemies?

It’s worth noting that Sonos’ website, which doesn’t list the Voice Experience job, also shows an opening for a software engineer who would work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration in Sonos speakers. So, at least for now, it doesn’t look like Sonos will immediately ditch its current voice assistants, which would be wise considering the popularity of the AI.

However, “code traces” Protocol found in November also point to a Sonos voice assistant, which suggests that the Sonos feature and Google Assistant couldn’t be used concurrently within the same product.

But what, assuming it’s real, would Sonos Voice offer beyond the more well-known Alexa or Google Assistant?

According to The Verge, besides adding “Hey, Sonos” to your list of commonly used phrases, “the company’s internal tests show it to be quicker than competing assistant services at core music tasks.”

The job opening also claims the voice service will be “fully private,” though it doesn’t get into details. But if Sonos could find a way to make a microphone feel private—or at least more so than Amazon and Google do—that would be advantageous.

For Sonos, it would mean having more freedom over voice services in its products and maybe even hope that, one day, it won’t be bound to frenemies Google and Amazon. Sonos has been dissatisfied with both despite partnering with the companies over the years. As The Verge noted, this includes suing Google for patent infringement, accusing Amazon of doing the same, and telling Congress that Google engages in anticompetitive business practices.

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