Review: Sonos speakers with Google Assistant voice control

By Adam Turner, July 2 2019
Review: Sonos speakers with Google Assistant voice control

Sonos has long been promising to add Google Assistant's voice control to its speakers, and legions of loyal Sonos owners have been waiting.

That wait ends tonight, as Sonos begins to push out a free software update to activate Google's chatty assistant for its Sonos One and Sonos Beam smart speakers – although not older models such as the Play:1 or Play:5.

So how well does it deliver on the Sonos+Google promise? Having lived with Google Assistant on my Sonos speakers for the past few weeks, I can report that in most ways it's exactly the same as using Google's own Home-branded smart speakers but with the bonus of superior sound quality.

You can fire off Web search queries, check your calendar, set alarms and control associated piece of smart home kit.

But most importantly, you can ask put aside the Sonos app and simply ask the speaker's inbuilt Google Assistant to play your favourite albums, artists, playlists or genres from the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music (but not Apple Music), along with podcasts and online radio stations.

It's a seamless experience, without the need to reach for your smartphone, and the ability to request your music hands-free quickly becomes second nature, especially when you're busy in the kitchen.

In the lounge room, the Sonos Beam – which is both a smart speaker and a superb soundbar for your large-screen television –  can switch on the TV and adjust the volume, but this doesn't extend to asking it to launch Netflix or Stan, or any of your smart TV's inbuilt streaming apps.

Putting Sonos' brilliant audio aside, these Google-friendly speakers can’t distinguish different voices in your household. This means, unlike Google’s own smart speakers, they can't offer personalised answers to questions like “what's on my calendar today?”.

Many Sonos homes are outfitted with several speakers, and this also reveals another wrinkle: you have to constantly tell Google which speaker you want to control when adjusting the volume or changing the track, which becomes a bit tedious.

Finally, if you've been using Amazon's Alexa on your Sonos One or Sonos Beam, this will need to be disabled to run Google Assistant: it's an either/or proposition. At least now you have a choice...

Adam Turner

Adam Turner is a seasoned Australian technology journalist and a frequent traveller to the world's biggest tech expos – so you'll pry his noise-cancelling headphones from his cold, dead hands.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 May 2018

Total posts 2

I have been using Google Assistant on my Sonos Beam for the past few days and wow! after putting up with Alexa for the past 6 mths it really shows which ones the more superior one. Google is able to respond quicker and also would like point out that if you have a chromecast it can action the same tasks eg netflix on chromecast :) Just would be nice to have apple music included as well - someday........

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