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Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers

Sonos One speaker blends Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri for $199

The wireless whole-home audio company has a new speaker that can work with all the major digital voice assistants, with Amazon's Alexa available now and Google Assistant and Siri via iOS coming in 2018.

Sonos One

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sonos has a new voice-controlled speaker, too, and it plays nice with Amazon, Google and Apple.

Billed as a music-first speaker, the Sonos One ($199, £199) looks a lot like the company's Play:1 (also $199), but has an array of six built-in microphones to allow it to respond to voice commands. Sonos representatives told CNET that though the two speakers resemble each other, the company only kept two components for the new design -- the power cable and the base. 

At launch, the One integrates Amazon Alexa support directly, allowing control of smart home devices as well as providing the voice responses to your questions and commands that you expect from an Amazon Echo speaker. All current Sonos speakers also get the company's long-promised Alexa integration in public beta from today too, so Amazon's Echo speakers can control all of its devices. 

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But Alexa is just the beginning. In 2018, Sonos says support for Google Assistant and Apple's Siri -- the latter using an iOS device and the forthcoming AirPlay 2 -- are coming to its products, including the One. Antoine Leblond, Sonos' vice president of software told CNET that the One's onboard microphones could "theoretically" control Siri as most processing is done within the cloud.

This kind of multiplatform support for virtual assistants is a first among smart speakers, and could potentially fulfill Sonos' promise of being "the only smart speaker you'll ever need." Sonos said its formerly closed platform would welcome all comers, and also included smart home companies (like SmartThings, Crestron and Lutron) and other developers (like Logitech, Alarm.com and Haier) among its new partners. 

At launch the One can control Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeart Radio directly, with Spotify coming soon. Available in black and white, the speaker has a microphone control on top as well as a touch-sensitive panel borrowed from, the Playbase which enables users to alter the volume, play/pause or skip tracks.  

Sonos is a pioneer in wireless, whole-home audio speakers and other gear, and is still among CNET's favorites. Using a proprietary "mesh network" system, its speakers, sound bars and amplifiers can all play the same music simultaneously around the home, or in whichever rooms you choose, and everything can be controlled from a phone app.

The company is starting to face competition from two different directions. One is traditional audio companies with multiroom systems such as DTS Play-Fi, Bose SoundTouch and Yamaha MusicCast. 

But its biggest competitors are Amazon, Google and Apple. Google's inexpensive Chromecast Audio system does multiroom, and smart speakers such as Amazon's Echo and the Google Home make it easy to ask for music. Amazon just added whole-home audio to its Echo speakers, and Google has announced updated Home speakers at the same time. Plus, Apple's Siri-powered HomePod is coming in December.

Sonos' speakers generally have excellent audio quality, and the Play:1 beat the original smart speakers, the Amazon Echo and the Google Homein CNET's face-off. Rather than continue to battle these behemoths, or develop its own voice control system in-house, Sonos' strategy is to partner with them.

The Sonos One is available for preorder now and will ship Oct. 24. Australian pricing and availability was not announced, but the UK price converts to about AU$335.