Sonos shutting down local voice option Snips

It’s that time of the year. The time when it’s cold outside, it’s cozy and warm inside, we’re spending time with friends and family, and time for big companies to drop local accessable technology (2015, 2018).

On November 20, 2019, Sonos announced that they had acquired Snips earlier that month. Snips was a popular option for people to get local voice control in their homes.

In the same month of the acquisition, Snips has announced that they are shutting down their console for users. The console allows users to train their system with custom sentences and intents. By shutting this down, it is no longer possible to make any changes to your local Snips system.

Announcement on the Snips forums.

What is actually worse, is that it looks like they are not shutting down their console completely, they are just shutting down public access. They could support users, but actively decide not to do so. It seems like they don’t want us to know this, as they have editted their announcement on the forums.

Edit history of the announcement shows they removed the words "public access to".

Voice control, powered by Snips, might show up in future Sonos devices. However, Sonos is not accessible to many people out there. The customizations will also be lost according to Patrick Spence, the CEO of Sonos, in an interview with Variety:

“We are not building an ask-anything assistant,” Spence said. Instead, the goal of the acquisition was to build something a lot more music-specific.

Bad move by Sonos

A very bad move by Sonos. This is not a world in which it’s Sonos vs. Google vs. Amazon. It is not even a fight just about smart speakers, it is a fight about if the audio system in our house is local and private, or not.

By taking Snips off the table, there is one less option for local voice control. These users will now look for alternatives, which will include cloud options.

Technology often ends up with a winner takes all. Sonos has just made a better case for its competitors, again.

What the local home needs

Audio is an essential part of our homes. We want to play music, be notified of events (i.e., doorbell) and we want to be able to use our voice to control our devices. A system that provides this, needs to run locally and be accessible via an open API.

Sonos could be this system, they have great hardware that works together nicely. However, they are keeping their API tightly controlled, making it impossible for user to build on top of it.

It is a choice. They could keep the Snips console open to the public. open up their modern local API and embrace the community that cares about local control. Nevertheless, they choose to work against it.

So Sonos, why are you?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.home-assistant.io/blog/2019/12/03/sonos-shutting-down-local-voice-option-snips/

Voice control is made up of a bunch of different bits and pieces. You need to do speech-to-text (STT), extract the users’ intention from the text, process it and then convert the response back to speech (TTS).

Of course there are some alternatives available now…

The thing that comes closest to how Snips operates is Rhasspy. Rhasspy is an offline, multi-language voice assistant toolkit. Every bit is open-source and it integrates with Home Assistant. :tada:

The other alternative is our fully open source: Ada. Ada offers voice control, powered by Home Assistant integrations, for STT, Conversation and TTS. These integrations can be powered by local or cloud systems, you can pick whatever you want for each part. :tada:

Edit: We have added a new category on the forums to discuss voice setups

6 Likes

So sad. What a dumb choice by SoNOs.

1 Like

By co-incidence I just updated my rhasspy installation yesterday. Given summer holidays are a couple of weeks away, guess what I will be doing :slight_smile:

This is the first I’ve seen of Rhasspy. Very interesting.

The Ada link doesn’t work for me.

Oops! That page doesn’t exist or is private.

If I do not want to upgrade my Snips integration (addon and training examples), will it continue to work with future version of HA (at least short/mid term)?
Or if you prefer, in case I upgrade HA in next weeks, will it break Snips?

I would definitely like to try Almond&Ada, but my voice assistant needs to be in french so the whole family can use it and it is not possible yet with Almond.
Maybe I will look into Rhasspy in the meantime, but it seems to be a bit more complex to integrate/train, so it might take a while before I get anything comparable to Snips.

Hi @frenck
my first message in this forum.

What’s Ada, you mentioned? Your link is broken ( “Oops! That page doesn’t exist or is private.”)

thanks
giorgio

http://letmegooglethat.com/?q=home+assistant+ada

Fixed Ada link in Frencks post. Ada

So there are alternatives to Snips but, what could be suitable alternatives to SONOS for an open, multi room sound system?

Logitech Media Server aka Squeezebox. Logitech stopped making the hardware some time ago, but it is still available second hand, and you can make your own very simply.

It is well integrated with HA.

1 Like

I have a feeling the company Sonos itself will shut down / acquired by one of the big tech company… soon

Volumio is a great lossless audio system that has very light hardware requirements and is supported by HA.

How is synchronisation between players in volumio?

1 Like

I personally have not tried it but there is this plugin on my radar that is still in active development that claims synchronization.


I run a single volumio system and audio is very good.

So is squeezebox and it can sychronise many players together.

Nothing worse than the player in the next room being ahead or behind.

The question was about a multi room sound system.

Wouldn’t Mozilla’s DeepSpeech be a good bet as well?

What a sad story! I was really keen on using Snips for my home automation. Good that I didn’t spend any effort in Snips yet!

I was also hoping that SONOS will open their APIs (for mic) so that Snips could use that. The strategy of SONOS was anyway strange to me and now it’s more or less clear: It was just a good way / politics to destroy a potential competitor to Amazon Alexa or Google home! :-/

Really sad what huge market leaders can do just with a lot of money!

I will sell my existing SONOS devices (I bought them for trial) in order to get rid of this manufacturer! I hope, many people will follow and do NOT SUPPORT this kind of politics!

For long-term these companies are just looking for a way where they can constantly monitor our private live (mic in your living room with internet connection).

I hope there will be good and powerful alternatives like Snips in the near future so that this kind of politics will be boycotted!

@Rand Hindi, please come back with your second life!

2 Likes

Maybe Bose is not yet bought by the big players (Amazon/Google) and could develop an independent and open hardware for such offline voice assistant toolkit. It could be the perfect alternative to SONOS. We should give them a hint!