It looks like the rumours were true. Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo devices now support 'multi-room music'.
Amazon has announced that you can use its voice assistant to control and synchronise music across multiple Amazon Echo devices. All you have to do is open the Alexa app and create groups with two or more Echo devices. You can name the group - such as “upstairs" - and then once you’ve created it, simply say, “Alexa, play John Lennon upstairs.”
Alexa will not only play tunes from Amazon Music but also TuneIn, and soon, Spotify. Users in the US can also listen to iHeartRadio and Pandora, with support for SiriusXM coming soon, Amazon said. At launch, however, the feature is only available for Echo and Echo Dot devices in the US, UK, Germany, and Austria. Echo Show owners in the US also get Alexa-activated multi-room music.
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Amazon is also introducing two new tools for developers to bring multi-room audio control to their speakers. More specifically, these tools will ultimately allow you to ask Alexa to play multi-room music not only across your supported Echo devices but also supported Alexa-enabled speakers from third-party makers such as Sonos, Bose, and Samsung. But these developer tools won't launch until next year.
Sonos, which early this morning sent out invites to an event where it is expected to launch its own smart speaker, said in a statement that Alexa set the standard for voice in smart homes, so it is working with Amazon to bring voice control to Sonos:
“This has been a close collaboration from the beginning as we’ve worked together to combine the magic of Alexa with the seamless multi-room audio capabilities that Sonos pioneered. We’re proud of the work we’ve done together as Amazon’s first multi-room partner - all you’ll need is an Alexa-enabled device and playing music out loud on Sonos will be as easy as saying ‘Alexa, play music in the living room.’”
Multi-room audio is one of those buzzwords that's been kicking about for a couple of years. It's a word that ultimately refers to what you might expect: audio in multiple rooms. Put simply, it's the ability to listen to music in several rooms. Depending on the system, you'll be able to play different music in different rooms at the same time, or the same music in all rooms, or just a couple simultaneously.