While the official word is that a proper Sonos and Google Assistant integration will land in 2018, there's still a way to control your speakers via Google Home using your voice.
And we’re not talking about a clunky workaround using IFTTT or Samsung SmartThings – as people have been making do with – we’re talking voice commands direct to your Google Home, with instant(ish) reactions from your Sonos system.
The only fiddly bit is the initial routine setup, but that should take you no longer than about 20 minutes. Let's get started.
How to use Yonomi to control Sonos
The first thing to do is, if you haven’t already, create an account with Yonomi. Yonomi, a rival to the likes of IFTTT and Stringify, is already a fantastic little app that can scan your home’s Wi-Fi for compatible devices and platforms, offering up a wealth of autonomous actions without any leg work from you.
Pairing Sonos with Yonomi is a doddle. Fire up the Yonomi app for the first time and it will scan your home network and find all of your Sonos speakers, which will all be individually listed. The app will also list a load of other smart home tech it sees and can control – but ignore that for now, let’s focus on getting Google Assistant controlling your music system.
Now, an update arrived in February 2018 that means that, for the time being, you'll see two of each of your Sonos speakers listed. Ignore the ones without green dots, just use the ones with green dots. The others will disappear in the coming weeks - it's all to do with improvements Yonomi is making... you don't need to worry about it.
Next, you need to link your Google Assistant-packing device to your Yonomi account from within the Google Home app. Click 'Home control', click the '+' sign at the bottom-right and then select Yonomi from the list. You’re done. All existing Routines will be available, so it’s not just Sonos controls you can speaketh.
Sonos x Google Assistant commands
Get used to saying “turn on” or “activate”, because that’s how you get the Yonomi Routines working with Google Assistant. Simply saying “play” will just kick Google into native mode, you’ll end up listening to the radio or your playlists through your Google Home speaker or your Android phone. You can also say, “Ask Yonomi to…” but that’s a bit long winded and not really as natural.
Missing manual: The essential Sonos guide
And don’t go thinking you can simply stop the routines – i.e. stop the audio playback – by saying “stop” or even “turn off”. You’ll have to create a separate routine to do this and have it perform a pause. We went for one called The Silence. We are enjoying saying, “Hey Google, activate The Silence.”
With Yonomi, you create Routines, which are essentially automated actions much like you get with IFTTT and from within the Alexa app. To create one for a Sonos speaker, simply select the speaker you want control of and give the Routine a name.
Your options, when it comes to your Sonos speakers, are as follows. The words in square brackets following the “Hey Google, turn on/activate” part of the example commands are our suggested names for what you could call that Routine.
"Hey Google, play [Favourite]" is very handy one – "Favourite" refers to your favourites from within the Sonos app, i.e. albums or radio stations.
“Ok Google, activate [Essex FM].”
“Hey Google, activate [the next song].”
The commands above give you a pretty good level of control over your Sonos system without having to fire up an app or touch a button, but it’s far from perfect. There are plenty of flaws within the new system. Here’s the biggest bones we can pick…
– Volume. There's no up or down, it's just possible to activate a set level (the 25% mentioned above). Your Google Assistant also, once it gets the music started, doesn’t actually know that you’re listening to music – it won’t lower the volume on your Sonos so it can hear a command more clearly; which is what happens with the ‘official’ Sonos and Alexa hook-up. Therefore, you’ll actually be shouting for the sounds to stop if you’re listening at a loud level.
– No individual songs, unless you add them to favourites and create Routines for them.
– No artist radio and no just randomly shuffling a certain artist.
– Grouping doesn’t work properly. You can add more than one Sonos speaker into a Routine but those Sonos speakers will play independently of each other. Chances are, each speaker will get the command from your Google Assistant, via Yonomi, at slightly different times and, even with a millisecond or two difference, you’re not going to have that seamless experience. However, as with Alexa and Sonos, it will pick up previous groupings – e.g. if you had the kitchen speaker paired with the dining room speaker when you were last using Sonos, and you have a Routine that sets off an action on one of those, it will repeat – in sync – with the other.
The update we mentioned does address this a bit and Yonomi states true multi-zone is now supported, although we're yet to experience it.
If you want more than just music playback, you can also throw your Sonos system into a mix with your smart home tech. Yonomi has so many integrations that the possibilities are pretty endless.
Having a party? Then create a Routine called ‘party time’ that, when you say, “Hey Google, activate party time,” fires up your six hour '80s disco-mix playlist on your Sonos Play:5, sets your Lifx bulbs to a strobe effect and turns the Nest Thermostat down to a cooler temperature.
Or, if it’s bedtime, create a ‘bedtime’ Routine that, when activated, turns off all the downstairs Philips Hue lights and turns on the landing light, activates the Wemo Motion Sensor and locks up your August.
Alexa in the mix
All of the above is also possible via Alexa, as the Echo range are all Yonomi compatible as well. However, unless you are doing mixed routines, you’re probably best to stick to native Sonos and Alexa integration for your music control.
More Google Assistant how-to guides
- How to set up Voice Match with music and movie services on Google Home
- How to control Sonos with Google Assistant
- How to make voice calls on Google Home smart speakers
- How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant
- How to voice control Chromecast with Google Assistant
- How to set up multi-room audio with Google Assistant & Chromecast speakers
- How to set up guest mode for Google Home smart speakers
- How to pair your Google Home with better sounding Bluetooth speakers