Under threat from several new players who have entered the mesh network audio market, Sonos has officially launched version 5.0 of the Sonos Controller app for iOS and Android.
They have also overhauled their interface after being accused of falling behind when it came to software.
US publication Electronista wrote yesterday “While Sonos has introduced a number of new hardware components over the last few years, the company seemed to be falling behind with the software they offered to control them”.
The Company who pioneered the whole concept of wireless audio started off in a room above a store in the USA in 2002, they were ahead of the game when it came to delivering quality sound to small speakers devoid of audio cables.
Now they are going to have to compete up against high quality products from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG as well as new wireless audio products from several leading Hi Fi Companies.
First announced in March, the update introduces a selection of changes to the iOS as well as a total layout redesign.
The highlight is the introduction of a universal search and playlist management tool that lets owners search all of their music libraries or streaming services at once rather than separately.
When you find the tracks you want, you can combine them into single playlists without having to pick between what’s available on one service or create separate playlists per service.
The new app also supports 38 streaming music services including Google Play Music, following a similar update to Google’s own app last month which saw Sonos integration in a 3rd party app for the first time. It also supports greater control of speakers arranged in 5.1 surround sound when playing music rather than films.
The app will work with all existing Sonos products, including the Play: 1, Play: 3 and Play”5 speakers, and PlayBar soundbar.
Existing app users should receive a notification prompting them to update to the latest version, whether they are using the old release or the beta version on Android, or through their respective app store.
Another addition to the home page is a Now Playing bar, which can provide quick access to all media playback controls when tapped.
Although less obvious, users can also swipe in from the right side of the screen at any time to access the same Now Playing screen.
Replacing the volume slider across the bottom of the screen, the bar always tells you what zone is selected, what music is selected for that zone, and whether the media is playing or paused.
Beyond visual changes, the v5.0 update also provides access to a number of new settings.
If you are running surround speakers connected to a PLAYBAR, you can now select from a few different music playback options. These settings include Ambient (default, subtle, ambient sound) and Full (new setting that enables louder, full range sound), which have no effect on TV audio but provide different ways to listen to music with a surround system. Also improved is the Manage Music Library menuwhich has gained new options to schedule music index updates, sort folders, and organize compilation albums.
Electronista said “While some of the gestures and buttons aren’t immediately obvious, the new app provides a simple way to access music and stream it to any connected hardware. The update does come with a small learning curve for any users coming from previous software, however, anyone that finds themselves overly confused can resort to Sonos’ online guide for detailed instructions”.