Amazon makes its multiroom audio platform more convenient to operate with your phone. A recent update to the Alexa mobile app introduced a new capability that allows users to manage and move their music between Echo devices (or groups of multiple speakers) within the app itself. (Previously, you had to use voice commands to perform some of these actions.)
Now it’s all possible through a menu that lets you move music to any group or Alexa device with just a few taps – no talking required. In our short time trying it so far, it’s pretty intuitive, and anyone who controls music via AirPlay or Spotify Connect shouldn’t have much trouble figuring this out. Amazon’s current range of Echo speakers includes the standard Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock, Echo Studio, and optional Echo Sub subwoofer. You can also play audio on Echo Show and Fire TV devices through the Alexa app.
Amazon has also developed a new overview screen for the Alexa app that it calls the Active Media List. This is accessible when audio is playing on your system and shows what is playing where and allows you to control multiple products from one list. The interface will look like extreme familiar to Sonos customers – so much so that the latter company might notice.
Sonos is in a patent battle with Google; a trial between the two begins May 8 in San Francisco. But while Sonos previously claimed that Amazon is also violating its intellectual property, it hasn’t fired any legal salvos yet. In fact, the two companies seem to be on good terms lately, with just Alexa voice support on Sonos devices expanded to many more countries. And you can use Sonos Voice Control and Alexa side by side on the same speaker. But there are limits to this partnership: for example, you can’t include Sonos and Echo speakers in the same group for multi-room audio.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence recently claimed that his company’s Big Tech competitors (including Amazon) have been “doing nothing interesting” in audio lately. Amazon has been fairly quiet on new Echo speakers, yes, but this update to the Alexa app is a nice improvement that brings more refinement and polish to the company’s multi-room offering.