Amazon Alexa
Sonos’ new smart speaker features Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Reuters/Rick Wilking

Sonos Inc. has announced its new smart speaker, called Beam. The home-theater device is said to feature Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and Apple’s new AirPlay 2 technology at launch.

Sonos introduced Beam during a Wednesday event. According to the Santa Barbara, California-based consumer electronics company, the upcoming smart speaker is designed to sit below a television set and replace the speakers that are built into existing TVs.

Because it has Alexa, users can rely on the voice assistant to control Beam if they don’t have a physical remote on hand. Interestingly, the new smart speaker will also be getting Google Assistant support in the future just like all the previous Sonos smart speakers, according to Bloomberg.

Sonos does not have its own voice-activation services, so it is relying on companies like Amazon and Google to bring voice assistant functionality to its smart speakers. However, Sonos has also partnered with Apple this time around to equip Beam with AirPlay 2.

AirPlay 2 is a technology that lets users push audio to one or more speakers via multi-room streaming. Basically, it enables one smart speaker to connect to other supported speakers that are most likely located in different rooms. This connection will allow users to play music on individual speakers or multiple speakers as a group. So far, AirPlay 2 is only available on Apple’s own HomePod speaker.

The Beam sound bar won’t be the only speaker from Sonos that is getting AirPlay 2. Sonos has confirmed that the feature will also come to three existing Sonos speakers, namely: the One, Play:5 and Playbase, as per AppleInsider.

Apart from Sonos’ speakers, Apple also revealed late last month that it is bringing AirPlay 2 support to other third-party speaker systems from other brands, including Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Naim, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Marshall and Pioneer.

Sonos’ Beam smart speaker is scheduled to go on sale on July 17. The device will retail for $399. It will come with the standard HDMI port so it can be used with a wide range of TVs, and it will have support for the Amazon Fire TV set-top box as well.