Sonos appeases user outcry by updating its controversial app – again

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New Sonos app home screen shown on an iPhone, held in a person's hand



(Image credit: Sonos)

OK, the kindest way to put this is that the launch of the new Sonos app, on May 9, received universally mixed reviews. But to give the multi-room audio giant its dues, it has listened to customer feedback and has now re-added some of the most requested features. 

As we reported last month, large numbers of users took to the internet to voice their frustration with the app: it was a significant redesign of an app that many customers use every day, and some were far from happy that the new app didn’t include some pretty basic features. 

Sonos responded by telling us: “We realise there are beloved features our listeners are eager to continue enjoying now. We are working diligently to reintroduce them in the coming months, alongside additional enhancements that will make for an even better app experience.” 

And it looks like the company is keeping that promise. We’ve already seen one significant app update, and now another one has just arrived.

What to expect from the new Sonos app update

Following on from the first update, which arrived in late May, the new update delivers three key features: sleep timers, “play next” and “add to queue”. It also adds support for the new Sonos Ace headphones.

The update is available for Android now, but it doesn’t tick off everything on the to-do list. Sonos has previously shared an update timeline that details more features it intends to add in June, so you can expect a second update this month; that update should add improved playback controls and search for your local music library.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction, although as Sonos puts it in its previously mentioned statement, the app does appear to have “taken a few steps back to ultimately leap into the future”. Those steps are at least being retraced fairly quickly, but the big question in my mind is: what has Sonos learnt from this?

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The outcry over the app wasn’t users fearing change or not liking a new UI; it was people getting pretty (and rightly) upset that basic features they were using, such as setting alarms to get them out of bed for work or college, had suddenly been removed. I’m not a Sonos user, but if my smart speakers were to lose their alarm function overnight with neither warning nor apology I’d be livid – and likely to stay that way long enough to abandon the entire ecosystem for fear of what might be removed next. 

When you’re offering an entire ecosystem, as Sonos does, your customer needs to be confident that when they update their app, they won’t regret it.

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Contributor

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.

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