Sonos speakers will support AirPlay 2 next year

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Sonos supports AirPlay2
Sonos speakers connect to over 80 streaming services.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos’ new voice-activated Sonos One smart speaker will work with Amazon’s Alexa assistant when it ships later this month, and will add support for Apple’s new AirPlay 2 streaming protocol next year.

The new smart speaker, which will ship Oct. 24, places an emphasis on high-end audio. With its $199 price point and promised compatibility with multiple platforms, it should put pressure on Apple’s upcoming HomePod, which costs nearly twice as much.

During a news conference this morning in New York, Sonos outlined its open platform for developers to bring apps and voice-guided services to its next-gen speaker. Sonos plans to support more than 80 music streaming services, including Apple Music, as well as companies working in the smart home space to bring voice commands to home lighting and appliances.

The Sonos One boasts six far-field microphones that enable the kind of voice commands pioneered by Amazon’s Echo smart speaker. It will launch with Amazon Alexa, but is designed to support multiple voice services, including Google Assistant.

Allen Mask, Sonos vice president for partnerships, hinted at a partnership with Apple. “There had to be a seamless connection between Sonos and Apple,” he said, “and so we waited until we could get it right, together.”

AirPlay 2, Apple’s new multi-room, multi-device streaming technology, is included iOS 11. The new streaming standard will allow users to control Sonos speakers with Siri. The Sonos One speakers also will be HomeKit-compatible, Sonos said.

Sonos One: A serious HomePod competitor

Apple is set to roll out its own smart speaker, the HomePod, this December. Since announcing the HomePod at its Worldwide Developers Conference this spring, Apple has said little about its smart speaker.

Sonos makes what many audiophiles consider some of the best in-home wireless speakers. This morning’s announcement ends weeks of speculation about a new Sonos smart speaker that began over the summer, when an Federal Communications Commission filing tipped the company’s hand. It detailed a product called S13, with far-field microphones, voice control and support for multiple voice platforms and music services.

Sonos also announced an immediate software update that will allow users of an Alexa-powered device, like the Amazon Echo, to control their Sonos speakers.

The upcoming Sonos One speaker is available for preorder today.