Sonos has revealed its new speaker: the Sonos One, built so that you can shout at it.
The company has updated its internet-controlled sound system to include microphones, so that it can be controlled just by talking to it. And that can be done in a whole range of ways: unlike similar offerings from Amazon, Google and Apple, Sonos's speaker can talk to a whole range of voice assistants, and play music from a huge set of different music services.
The speaker will be available later this year, and can be pre-ordered from Sonos now. It costs $199 and the same in pounds – the same price as Sonos's Play:1 speaker, to which it looks almost identical.
As with the rest of Sonos's internet-enabled speakers, the sound system can still be controlled from an app. But it also includes Amazon's Alexa and Sonos's own voice services, allowing people to listen to music without ever touching their phone or the speaker itself.
Sonos said that it had made the decision to add voice so that people wouldn't have to use their phone to ensure that music was available any time.
Almost every major hardware company – from Google to Apple – has either launched or promised to launch a smart speaker controlled by the voice. But Sonos says that its is different because it is "the smart speaker for music lovers", built to be a high quality speaker as well as a home for a voice assistant.
The company's head of sound experience, Giles Martin, said that the new Sonos One is the "only speakers focused on sound", and that the new voice technology hadn't been required any compromise on the audio quality.
That's because the new speaker is essentially the company's famous and now established Play:1 speaker, with the voice assistant added in. The design looks almost identical from the outside, but now features six microphones and a new array of lights on the top.
That light is illuminated when the microphone inside is listening. Sonos said the speaker was built for users' privacy, and that the light was hard-wired so that people would know all the time the speaker is listening in on them.
At the same event, the company said that existing Sonos speakers would be able to be controlled by Amazon's Alexa devices. If someone talks to an Echo or Echo Dot, for instance, they can tell it to play music on their Sonos speaker so that it sounds much better.
The new speaker can use those same technologies. And all of Sonos's systems will soon introduce Apple's AirPlay 2 when it launches in 2018, so that they can be used straight from people's phones and with Siri.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies