We all thought it was a unicorn. Google Assistant integration on a Sonos speaker. We have heard talk of it from Sonos themselves for quite a while but have never had it materialise. Even when Google mentioned it the other day there was not much detail revealed.
Over at CES, behind closed doors, a select few were shown the unicorn itself — Google Assistant working perfectly on a Sonos Beam. writers from The Verge and Android Central received a demonstration of the new integration and left suitably impressed.
The Sonos Beam was able to respond to all the usual Google Assistant speaker commands although the Sonos speaker was NOT a cast target. It supports Google Assistant but you cannot Cast to it. USers of Sonos will know that using Wi-Fi you can actually Cast to it from the interface of your app but it is not a true Cast apparently.
You can ask the speaker to play a certain album / track / artist from one of the Google Assistant-supported apps though and it will work just fine.
Of note is that no you will not be able to have both Alexa and Google Assistant active at the same time on the same device. This is apparently so that the users does not get confused which digital assistant is speaking / alarming to them. You can however have different digital assistants on different speakers in the same room — eg. Alexa on the left Sonos One and Google Assistant on the right one or on the Sonos Beam and have them for different functionality. One might be better at something than the other.
Another limitation is apparently how the room definitions will work. Google has one way of categorising the rooms and of course Sonos has another. This is one of many details that need to be worked out before release into the marketplace — it is still in beta remember.
Apparently Sonos has had a long beta program and has been working closely with Google to get this right and as such when it is released to the public it will function better than Alexa first did on Sonos when it was released.
But when will we see it? The Sonos executive told Android Central that it is still in private beta at the moment but they are “confident” that it will see public beta very soon. There is no commitment to a release timeframe this time but it would not surprise me if we did not see it leave beta until at least later this year.