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Home / News / Why the tale of Sonos’ revamped app is a cautionary one

Why the tale of Sonos’ revamped app is a cautionary one

A lot of users aren't happy about the new Sonos app - here's why

Sonos new app

Sonos has revamped its app this week. The update comes ahead of expected hardware releases from the tech giant. It brings mostly just design and functionality changes – there aren’t a lot of new features.

But it turns out the new app has provoked huge ire from users. And it’s not just because things have been changed, but because they have been removed – or as is more likely, they just haven’t been re-implemented yet. And there’s a big lesson there for others tinkering with a long-established user interface.

Sonos’ forums are packed with lengthy comments and lists of gripes about the redesigned app. And I’ve had problems, too. I still can’t reauthorise my connection to Apple Music: “something went wrong” says the app. I’ve had that error just browsing around, too.

A common complaint is that sleep timers have been removed while others complain of broken menus, the lack of a volume control for a group (or volume control numbers), problems adding individual tracks to a queue (or even edit the queue) or album art not appearing when streaming from a music server.

Local music problems

Digital Trends points out that for users streaming music from a hard drive or Network Attached Storage (NAS) the “Music Library is no longer searchable, and it’s not as easy to browse at it used to be” while you can’t edit the settings. So it currently seems to be a worse experience for anybody with music stored in their home.

Sonos has also discontinued its separate desktop apps in favour of a single browser-based web version which you might expect would displease some, though most of the comments seem to be around the mobile versions.

Sonos web app

The app update aims to improve the management of what’s playing on your system with a more visual overview. You can also customise the home screen and personalise it with quick access to your preferred streaming apps. Sonos acknowledges that there are some problems with the app at present and that accessibility has taken a hit.

But it says: “Further improvement will be added to the experience regularly until we reach parity with the [current] S2 app by late June.” That appears to just mean accessibility, but surely Sonos will be racing to get this thing fixed.

However, in a statement provided to The Verge, Sonos chief product officer Maxime Bouvat-Merlin says the company is “working diligently to reintroduce [missing features in the coming months, alongside additional enhancements that will make for an even better app experience.” That doesn’t exactly scream ‘speedy updates’.

Why now?

We should expect some of the missing features to return to the app immiently – but the question remains why Sonos had to roll out the app now before it was ready and frustrating many loyal users in the process.

We are expecting some new hardware from Sonos soon and that has almost certainly hastened the need for the company to get this app out. The Sonos headphones have been very long-awaited and we’re expecting to get those over the coming weeks.

We’re also thinking that we’re going to get a third generation of the Beam soundbar this year, while there may also be a replacement for the Sonos 5 to sit above the Era 100 and Era 300.

Sonos is hosting an AMA around the new app on 14 May – it will be interesting to see what questions come up at that.

Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home