Wireless speaker pioneers Sonos today announced the upcoming availability of their first-ever set of public APIs available to all Sonos speakers, as well as the Sonos Amp, a new piece of hardware aimed at allowing folks to use their own speakers within a Sonos system.
APIs Make Sonos Smarter – And Even More Fun
Sonos has always been happy to open up their platform to curated/vetted partners, but with their new public APIs coming to the entire product line in September, anyone can tap into Sonos without any prior approval. Their “Works with Sonos” certification program will still exist for partners that want to go deep with integration, but is no longer mandatory. This means that something like an IFTTT service for Sonos is not only possible, it’s coming, folks.
What does this mean for us? Well, IFTTT is a perfect example. Want to have your Sonos auto-stop when you leave the house and resume when you get home? You can build an IFTTT recipe to do exactly that. Fully open APIs also mean that developers can bake Sonos controls right into their apps without needing any additional coordination or approval from Sonos.
Initial API features launching in September will be:
- Core playback, grouping, play mode controls – All the foundational things that will allow third-party apps to start/stop playback, skip songs, and choose speakers and groups.
- Line-in Switching – allowing both analog and home theater devices to be selected within a third-party control interface.
- Volume passthrough – for easier and more predictable volume control.
- Limit max volume – a new feature coming to all Sonos units allowing for max volume per device to be set.
- Sonos playlist control – Initially limited to just Sonos playlists, this allows devices to see and begin playback of your custom-built song collections.
- Audio Clip playback – Coming later this fall and not planned to be part of the initial API launch, Audio Clips will allow something like an IFTTT recipe to play a short sound file on your Sonos. Imagine your Ring camera detects motion in the driveway or the press of a doorbell, now that can be announced or alerted via your Sonos system.
As someone who has had plenty of gadgets around the house for a long time, it’s things like IFTTT triggers that make the whole concept of “Smart Home” really work. Having one device automatically trigger some other device to do something without my direct involvement is really the key here, and having Sonos join the smart home in this way is stellar.
It’s important to note that the foundation for these new APIs is anything but new. Sonos has been using this API for various things over the years, including their Alexa support. Initially all API calls will be cloud-based, though local/LAN-based support is on the roadmap.
For years, Sonos has offered their Connect:Amp product, but it’s gotten to be a little long in the tooth. Anytime a Mac Geek Gab listener would ask us about solving a problem where Connect:Amp would be the right answer, I’d always have to provide a lot of context with a lot of asterisks. Its age makes Connect:Amp a feature-limited device that can’t fully be a first-class citizen on your Sonos network in the way that all other Sonos devices can.
Those problems are now gone with the introduction of the Sonos Amp, available in the USA from Sonos and certified installers in December, globally in February, 2019. While most folks won’t find need for a US$599 amplifier to pair their existing speakers with a Sonos system, there are certain use cases where this is necessary. Built-in setups, a set of speakers that are special to you for their sound or visual aesthetic, and outdoor installations are just the first three most common scenarios we’re routinely asked about.
The new Sonos Amp can power up to four speakers (in parallel stereo), AirPlay 2 works through it, it has an HDMI input port to perfectly sync with your TV, and it will connect wirelessly to your Sonos system, meaning placement is no longer dictated by the availability of Ethernet cables like it was with the Connect:Amp.
All of this shows Sonos’s increased commitment to opening their platform up for others to use in ways beyond that which Sonos’s core speakers and apps allow, and that’s where things really start to get fun. Compared to Apple’s very closed Smart Home architecture with HomeKit, it’s refreshing to see a company like Sonos continuing to embrace an open system in a way that still maintains quality and allows for the development of excellent solutions by third parties.