A pair of Sonos speakers

Sonos is reportedly planning to launch its own voice assistant "within the next few weeks," claims a report from The Verge. Currently under development as an alternative to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, Sonos’ offering will be available on all audio gear from the brand that is compatible with its S2 software. Going by the name Sonos Voice Control, the virtual assistant is said to be capable of tasks like playing a particular song, playlist, or artist with a simple voice command.

Talking about voice commands, "Hey Sonos" will be the hotword, while supported music streaming services include Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Pandora, and Sonos Radio. Interestingly, two of the biggest names in the game — Spotify and YouTube Music — are yet to support Sonos in its digital assistant endeavors. The report adds that Sonos’ assistant will be faster at processing music-related voice commands than its rivals.

It is quite likely that Sonos is using a dedicated chip for processing voice commands instead of routing them through its servers where natural language processing and relevant AI algorithms do their magic and execute what users have asked. Irrespective of the methodology, it would be an impressive feat if Sonos manages to beat Google or Amazon’s seasoned voice assistants at pace, if not at the sheer number of skills in its kitty.

Faster and more private assistant experience

Sonos Roam wireless speaker.

Another huge difference that reportedly sets the Sonos Voice Control apart from Google Assistant and Alexa is a "fully private" ecosystem that won’t record and store voice commands on cloud servers. Google and Amazon keep a record of voice queries in the name of improving the speech recognition algorithms and refining their respective voice assistants. The Sonos Voice Control might also support the "Voice Concurrency" tech that allows multiple assistants to stay active simultaneously.

Theoretically, users can ask the Sonos voice assistant to play a song and follow it up by asking Alexa to read aloud their Amazon shopping cart items. Joseph Dureau, VP of Voice Experience at Sonos, dropped a hint about such a convenience when he told Protocol that users should be able to switch from one voice assistant to another, with its concurrency tech acting as the foundation.

According to a report from The Washington Post, Sonos demoed the tech to Google years ago, but the tech giant vetoed the idea of Google Assistant sharing the limelight with a rival product and even barred Sonos from bringing the tech to the market. Following its recent legal victory over Google, it looks like Sonos is reviving the Concurrency tech, too. In November, alleged screenshots extracted from the Sonos app’s code revealed the first mention of an in-house voice assistant that would work just fine alongside Alexa, but won’t extend that courtesy to Google Assistant. Sounds like some payback is due for Sonos!