Smart Home

Sonos lays out terms for voice control ahead of Alexa skill

An upcoming update to the Sonos privacy statement makes it sound like the long-awaited integration with Amazon's Alexa is getting closer to arrival.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Almost exactly one year ago, Sonos announced that its popular line of high-end, connected speakers would be getting Alexa-powered voice controls in 2017. Now, it appears that the time has just about come.

You'll soon be able to control Sonos speakers like the Play:5 using Alexa voice commands.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The giveaway is an upcoming update to the Sonos privacy statement, the details of which are outlined in a soon-to-be-published company blog post shared with CNET. In a section labeled "What Sonos hears, records, and keeps," the company writes:

"You'll notice that we've added a section on what it means if you choose to enable a voice assistant to control your Sonos system when that becomes available in your country. It's no secret that we've been working on this for some time, and we want to make sure we're preparing you well in advance of this addition.

"Sonos does not keep recordings of your voice data," the section adds. "It goes to the voice assistant service (for example, Amazon) that you've activated on your Sonos system."

That lines up with everything we expect from the long-awaited integration, which will allow you to cue up music on your Sonos speakers using voice commands with an Alexa-enabled device like the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. You will be able to specify which Sonos speaker you'd like to use by assigning each one to a room, then saying something like, "Alexa, play the Rolling Stones in the living room." You'll also be able to ask Alexa to raise or lower the volume, skip tracks, or tell you what song is playing.

An integration with Alexa is likely just the starting point as far as voice-activated Sonos playback goes. At an event in Boston back in February, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said that the company is "engaged with every major voice player out there today," and that it wants to treat voice control with broad support. That means that Siri and the Google Assistant could potentially be up next.

Sonos didn't have an official ETA on the Alexa integration when we asked them for one. The Sonos blog post scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday, August 17) describes the updated privacy statement as coming "next week," but it's unclear how long it will take after that for the Alexa controls to launch.

"It's not really a secret that we've been in private beta for a few months," a Sonos representative tells CNET. "The privacy update is another step."

That bodes well for anyone who's been holding out for voice-activated Sonos playback, but keep your expectations somewhat tempered.

"I wouldn't expect to see the Alexa integration go live before the end of August," the spokesperson tells us.