Sonos Rumored to Be Planning Voice-Controlled Smart Speaker Similar to HomePod and Echo

Sonos is gearing up to launch an all-new smart speaker that includes voice control functionality fueled by far-field microphones, picking up on user commands from anywhere in a room. The information was discovered in a filing with the FCC (via Zatz Not Funny), and hints that Sonos could be yet another company planning to enter the smart speaker market, following Amazon, Google, and Apple this December with HomePod.

The Sonos speaker will support “multiple voice platforms and music services,” but the filing didn’t specify which assistants and services that might be. Sonos has recently been gearing up for a wide integration with Amazon Echo, so Alexa could be a possibility. Sonos products are sold at Apple’s retail and online stores, but that’s not exactly an indication that a new Sonos voice-enabled speaker would include Siri support, especially since such a high-end music speaker would be a direct competitor to HomePod come December.

HomePod’s various Apple Music commands
Zatz Not Funny theorized that the FCC filing hints at a “refresh of their [Sonos’s] entire speaker line,” as well as a touch surface or button of some kind to activate the voice assistant. Otherwise, the report is heavily redacted, leaving details sparse. The snippet referencing the new Sonos speaker reads as follows:

The EUT is 802.11 a/b/g/n (HT20) Client Device. Product model S13 is a high-performance all-in-one wireless smart speaker and part of Sonos’ home sound system.

S13 adds integrated voice control functionality with far field microphones. Moreover, the device will support multiple voice platforms and music services, allowing customers to effortlessly control their music on Sonos.

A Variety report earlier in August suggested a similar product might be launching from Sonos soon, with changes to the company’s privacy policy appearing to lay the groundwork for an internet-connected, voice assistant speaker of some kind. A private beta test is currently underway for users to test controlling Sonos speakers through Amazon Echo devices, but a Sonos spokesperson confirmed to Variety that its privacy policy now covers “future voice experiences” on its own unreleased products that will have “integrated microphones.”

An image of the Sonos voice speaker’s control panel, including a microphone icon
According to this policy, the unannounced Sonos speaker will continuously monitor the ambient noise of a home for command terminology spoken by the user, “without retaining or transmitting any voice recordings.” The device will notify the user that it is recording thanks to a “visual indicator such as a light on the Product.”

If Sonos does enter the smart speaker market, it’ll be at a busy time for new voice-controlled home speakers. Amazon is rumored to be working on an Echo successor that would more directly compete with Apple’s HomePod. Because Apple billed the HomePod as a high-quality music playback device first and foremost, sources close to Amazon’s product development have mentioned that the company is focusing on significantly improving the Echo’s sound quality, as well as enhancing its far-field voice technology.

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