Sonos Is Adding Third-Party App Support, Teaming Up With Amazon for Voice Control

Sonos is finally going beyond its own app: Spotify users will soon be able to control their Sonos speakers straight from the Spotify app, the company announced at an event in New York Tuesday. Support for Spotify Connect will be added “in the coming weeks,” said Sonos head of Software development Antoine LeBlond.

Previously, Sonos owners had to access Spotify’s service through the Sonos app, which essentially meant that they had to switch between two apps for listening to music at home and on the go. With the new third-party app integration, Spotify’s app is also getting the ability to manage zones, meaning that consumers will be able to decide which speakers the music will play on.

A beta for this integration will become available in October, said LeBlond. Support for other apps, including Pandora, will be added in the future, but the company didn’t reveal when this will happen. “We anticipate more integration like this with other partners but do not have any details to share on timing at this stage,” said a Sonos spokesperson via email.

In the past, Sonos has only had third-party app support for Google Play Music in the U.S.. Chinese customers have been able to access similar functionality with QQ Music.

Sonos is also adding support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, making it possible for Amazon Echo owners to control their Sonos speakers with voice commands. Sonos has illustrated the new functionality with a video:

Support for Alexa devices, which include Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot loudspeakers as well as Amazon’s Fire TV, will be added to Sonos next year. Amazon VP Mike George said that the changes will be rolled out as free software updates, which means that users of existing Sonos loudspeakers will be able to use the feature as well as long as they also own an Echo or another Alexa-enabled device.

The two companies will roll out a private beta by the end of this year, and make it publicly available in 2017. Sonos Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Spence also hinted at further functionality resulting out of this partnership, saying: “Sonos is going to be the sound platform for the connected home.”

These changes come after Sonos CEO John MacFarlane publicly admitted earlier this year that the company had to change course on voice and music streaming. Sonos laid off a number of staffers, and MacFarlane suggested at the time that the company was going to focus more on voice in the future.

Notably absent from the event was any mention of voice-enabled hardware. Sonos high-end Play5 speaker already ships with integrated microphones, but hasn’t enabled them yet, and may not be able to use them for far-field voice control. Sonos also didn’t announce any new hardware at the event, and executives didn’t say whether they wanted to add direct voice support to future speakers.

Update: 9:26am: This post was updated with a Sonos statement on additional app integrations.

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