If you own a Sonos One or a Sonos Beam, it’s about to be a lot more useful. Today, Sonos will push a software update to those models that will give them Google Assistant support. That makes the Sonos One and the Sonos Beam the first smart speakers that support both Assistant and Amazon Alexa, although you can’t use both at the same time on a single speaker.
Sonos first announced plans to support both voice assistants back in 2017 when it released Sonos One, the company’s first smart speaker. That speaker shipped with Alexa and the promise that Google Assistant would follow in 2018. Well, most of 2018 flew by, and in November of that year, Sonos announced that the Assistant support would not, in fact, be ready until 2019. It’s been six months since then, but now Sonos is finally making good on its promise, especially because Assistant is better than Alexa at doing most things thanks to Google’s superior neural-language processing.
So the Google Assistant integration is awesome, if a bit late. Once you’ve installed the Google Assistant app on your phone and have updated your Sonos app, you can activate Assistant by tapping the “More” icon in the app and then selecting “Voice Services,” where you’ll find the option to add Assistant. Again, you can’t use both Alexa and Assistant on the same speaker at the same time, but you can assign different Sonos smart speakers to work with different voice assistants. That means, for example, you could have Alexa running on your Sonos One and Google running on your Sonos Beam. You can even get your Assistant-enabled Sonos speaker to control your Alexa-enabled Sonos speaker. (I saw this work at a demo and it was pretty neat, although I’m not entirely sure how often it would be useful.)
Given how long it took Sonos to figure out the Assistant integration, you’d hope that the company’s smart speakers would come with all of the Assistant capabilities. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers running Assistant will be able to handle third-party actions like music and smart home control as well as Google’s top first-party actions like Continued Conversation and Broadcast mode. If you have a Sonos Beam, you’ll also be able to control your TV through Google Assistant with an HDMI ARC connection. For now, the Sonos smart speakers will not support Voice Match, purchases, phone calls, interpreter mode, or routines in the Google Home app.
Missing features aside, this is great news for people who own a Sonos One or a Sonos Beam. Your smart Sonos speaker will get a little bit smarter today, and it won’t cost you a cent! With any luck, Sonos will figure out how to add those additional Assistant capabilities in the coming months, though Sonos didn’t explicitly say when they might arrive. And the best part is, if you don’t like using Assistant on Sonos, you can switch back to Alexa. That’s not something you can say about any other smart speaker system.