After a year-and-a-half of waiting, Sonos officially supports the Google Assistant. A Sonos software update is required and is in the process of rolling out now, first in the US, to be followed by the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, France, The Netherlands over the coming months, according to Google.
Since I’m a big fan of the Sonos One speakers that already supported Amazon Alexa, I bought a pair of them some time ago for my home office. Aside from a few test devices, my entire home is, however, outfitted with Google Home devices. So I jumped on the software update to add the Google Assistant as soon as I could.
During the setup process, you do get bounced around between the Sonos and Google Assistant apps a bit more then I’d like. It’s not difficult to set up, but the back and forth between apps isn’t the best consumer experience. This is also where I ran into a limitation: Although some Sonos devices support Amazon Alexa, you can’t have both Alexa and Google Assistant on them. Meaning: You have to choose which one you want to enable during the setup process, although you can later switch back if desired.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the integration. Since this is a third-party device, Stacey and I weren’t sure what you can or can’t do with the Google Assistant on Sonos, so of course, I did a quick test and shared the below video with her. In my messy office, turning on the desk light by voice worked with a voice command the same as it does with the small Google Home Hub (aka: Nest Hub) on my office desk:
I also ran through other voice commands such as checking to see if the front door was locked, changing temperatures on the thermostat and more. Everything worked as expected, including routines. reminders and calendar events, although I had to enable personal results in the Assistant app for the speakers. Unlike a Google-branded Home device, however, calls to contacts aren’t supported, which is typical for third-party smart speakers.
Of course, you can control music as well. After all, these are Sonos speakers known for their audio quality and range of supported music sources. But the Google Assistant works with far fewer music services than Sonos supports, fewer even than Amazon Echo speakers.
So if you choose the Google Assistant integration with a supported Sonos device, you’re limited to Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Deezer. Sonos says you can also control music from TIDAL, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio with the Google Assistant on Sonos but these can’t be added to the Google Assistant app. I suspect, as a result, none of these can be set as the default music player.
Since there are a few limitations to the Google Assistant integration, part of me wonders, why did Sonos even bother? Heck, why do any third party hardware makers bother when Google itself makes solid smart speakers ranging from the little Google Home Mini all the way up to the powerful Google Home Max?
I think it really has to do with not being left out when consumers are making purchase decisions on their speakers.
For example, I could get a Google Home Max for roughly the same price as a pair of Sonos One speakers. And it wouldn’t have the same voice command limitations. But a pair of Sonos Ones offer me true stereo separation, which I prefer and nearly all of the Google Assistant features I really care about. Others may want the full Google Assistant experience and Sonos, as well as other hardware makers, would rather provide as much of that experience as possible so as not to lose out on a sale.
Regardless of the why, if you have Sonos One or a Sonos Beam and prefer Google over Amazon to control your smart home and your music, you get the best of both worlds: Your choice of a digital assistant.