After years of shaming Bluetooth streaming wireless speakers it looks like Sonos might have to eat some humble pie. Recently spotted in an FCC filing is a new speaker that looks suspiciously like the Sonos One smart speaker but will use Bluetooth for both wireless audio and improved setup convenience.
The new Sonos speaker will be compatible with the rest of the Sonos ecosystem, and feature Wi-Fi connections, too. A purported photo of the speaker, which for now is simply known as the S17, shows the Sonos One’s touch-based control buttons, as well as what looks to be a microphone array.
The speaker uses USB-C for power and it looks like there may be an internal rechargeable battery, which would make this Sonos speaker the first portable Sonos speaker. There has also been speculation that Sonos’s Trueplay app-based EQ software could be made fully automatic, much like the EQ on Apple’s HomePod.
There’s no word on timing for the release of the S17, though Digital Trends and many other publications have been invited to a Sonos press event scheduled for August 26 and 27 in New York City. If the S17 is indeed heading to market in the next few months (possibly in time for the 2019 holiday season) this event would be the obvious place to unveil it, along with any other products the company has planned for the near term.
Sonos has long been wireless audio’s biggest cheerleader. But the company has a reputation for being highly selective when it comes to which wireless audio technologies it supports. Wi-Fi, with its large data capacity, ability to span longer distances and versatile networking options, has been the backbone of Sonos’s wireless audio platform from the beginning. Bluetooth, on the other hand, despite being used on virtually every other wireless speaker we can think of, has been consciously avoided by Sonos — until now.
An embrace of Bluetooth for wireless audio by Sonos isn’t just a big deal in terms of its speakers. As the wireless audio standard for earbuds and headphones, Bluetooth audio is a gateway to an entire new world of portable music, something that Sonos has avoided, choosing to focus instead on just home audio. If truly portable music is indeed on Sonos’ roadmap, it could be a big win for the company’s customers. Sonos’ app-based music system, which gives you access to dozens of streaming music services as well as your own music library, doesn’t work when not connected to your home Wi-Fi, forcing Sonos users to switch to standalone apps like Apple Music or Spotify for listening on the go. A portable-friendly Sonos app would make the software a one-stop audio shop — something Sonos users have been asking for. Earlier in 2019, a Bloomberg report suggested that Sonos was working on Bluetooth headphones. If the S17 is indeed headed our way, it’s a good bet those headphones will follow it.