Aren’t we lucky to have all these cool gadgets? On the one hand, you have the Amazon Echo products, such as the Echo Dot. On the other, we have smart network connected speakers like those from Sonos. Wouldn’t it be great if these two awesome gadgets would play nice with each other?
OK, I know you already read the headline up there, so (spoiler alert) it turns out that Amazon Echo and Sonos products will soon be integrated with each other. That will be live sometime in 2017, but until then we still have to use a manual workaround.
In this article, we’re going to briefly go over what that workaround is in practice and how you can go about making these guys play nice together.
Is There an Echo in Here?
So, for the people who clicked on this article without knowing what Amazon Echo is, it’s basically a family of smart speakers that give you access to the Amazon Alexa AI assistant and home automation network.
It lets you do the Star Trek thing and summon Alexa with a wake-up word. You can then ask her to do all sorts of things, including playing music. That’s one-half of this equation, but what about Sonos?
Sonos is a Palindrome
It really is, See, it reads the same forward and back. It’s also a family of wireless speakers that can integrate audio across your home. You can have Sonos speakers in every room and have them play the same music perfectly in sync. You can also play different things on a per-room basis. They really are the gold standard for wireless home audio integration.
Love and Marriage
Thanks to some backroom agreements, you will get your Echo to work officially with Sonos eventually. There are limitations to what you can do of course. For one thing, you can’t talk to Alexa through the Sonos speakers. So it’s not as if all your Sonos speakers turn into Echos.
However, if you have an Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap you will be able to use voice commands to control Sonos devices. This feature will be added via a software update and then these Amazon Echo and Sonos hacks won’t be needed anymore. For now however, we’re still going to hack away.
Let’s Get Cracking
OK, to make this temporary hack work, you need a few things:
- An Amazon Echo device with line-out (e.g. the Dot)
- A Sonos speaker that has line-in
- A cable to connect the two
Some Sonos devices have a 3.5 mm input like these Echo Dot speakers and some have RCA inputs, so get a cable that has the right connectors at each end to mate the two.
The first step is to connect the devices using the cable we just talked about.
The next step is to make sure that autoplay is enabled on the Sonos speaker. This will get the system to automatically play whatever is fed to it through the line in source.
Do do that you have to go to your Sonos menu and select “line-in” as the source. Specifically, you need to follow the path Sonos>Preferences>Room Settings on a Mac. On a PC it’s Manage>Settings>Room Settings.
There you have to choose which Sonos device has the Echo connected to it. Under that device, there will be a tab labeled “line-in”. You can then choose which room should be the autoplay room when the line-in becomes active.
There may be a delay while the Sonos switches on, which might cut off the start of Alexa’s speech. You can toggle on the optional notification tone in the Echo’s settings to add a delay before Alexa starts to speak.
If This, Then That’s What We Have To Do
There’s a cooler but more complicated way to hack your Echo and Sonos together. That way is called IFTTT.
IFTTT is short for “If This, Then That”. It’s a cool cloud-based platform that lets you use “recipes” to connect to services to each other that would otherwise never speak.
Both Alexa and Sonos products can interface with IFTTT, which means people have created all sorts of recipes to make them do things together.
For example, there are recipes that will make your Sonos play your favorite song when you come home, triggered by Alexa. Another cool one is a recipe that makes Tweets with specific hashtags be read out loud.
If you’re the creative type it means you can make Alexa do all sorts of things with your Sonos speakers. There are however a few hard limitations to this method.
IFTTT connects two online services together, but it can’t make either of them do anything they aren’t designed for. So you can only play with commands that a given service is designed to accept or send. If the trigger or action is not listed in IFTTT, you’re out of luck.
How to IFTTT Things
Using IFTTT could not be simpler. First, you need to register an account with them. Once that’s done you have two choices: create a recipe or find one.
To make a new recipe, simply click on “My Applets” and then “New Applet”. IFTTT will ask you which service you want to start with. If you want Alexa to send something to Sonos, you’d start with her.
Once you’ve selected Alexa you’ll be asked to log into the service. You’ll then be presented with all the supported triggers for that service. In other words, all the things that Alexa can respond to. Choose a trigger, select any special options that apply and then create it.
Next, you have to do the same with the other service, which in this case is Sonos. Then select an action you want the Sonos to take when the trigger is, er, triggered.
That’s all, just save it and test it out. Even when full official Echo and Sonos integration rolls out, there will still be things you can only do with IFTTT. So why not play around with it?
Counting the Days
The prospect of official integration between these two awesome technologies is an exciting one and hopefully the software patches will be coming soon. Until then, have fun with these easy workarounds and keep on rocking to your favorite sounds.