Sonos claims Google is stopping multiple voice assistants working at the same time

Sonos claims Google is stopping it allowing multiple voice assistants at once
(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos devices could let you switch between voice assistants just by saying their names, but Google won't let them, Sonos claims. 

The Washington Post reports that the Sonos 'Concurrency' feature would allow Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants to be active on the device at once, so you could call on whichever you prefer to carry out a certain task.

This would be handy if you find one more adept than the other at answering trivia questions, say, or you and your partner use different services.

Sonos devices, such as the Roam and Move, currently work with both voice assistants, but only one at a time – you have to manually disable one in order to switch to using the other. Sonos has reportedly been working on letting both run side by side since 2017. Amazon reportedly has no issue with it but Google's distribution agreement for hardware partners insists that its voice assistant "operates as the only general-purpose AI".

Amazon told The Washington Post that it had no problem with AIs working side by side. "We subscribe to the thought that voice assistants should be interoperable," a spokesperson said. While Google stressed that it is, "committed to making the smart home ecosystem more interoperable and open", it didn't deny the claims in The Post's report.

This isn't the first dispute between Sonos and Google. The former claims that the latter copied its multi-room speaker technology (which Google denies). Sonos is also working on its own voice assistant that would work separately from Alexa and Google Assistant, but wouldn't have the same interoperability with third-party devices.

As ever with the feuds between companies, it tends to be the consumer who ends up losing out. Let's hope they can resolve it soon.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.