The rebuilt Sonos app focuses on getting you to your tunes faster

If you use Sonos speakers, chances are you’ve used their app and encountered at least a little frustration at one point or another. I don’t think a bad app when you consider its many features: finding and playing music from dozens of services, managing multiple connected speakers, guiding people through setup and troubleshooting, and more. But it’s fair to say it’s at least a little long in the tooth. Sonos knows this, too, and is announcing a brand new app written from the ground up for Android and iOS. It will be available on May 7.

I spoke with Neil Griffiths, Sonos VP of user experience and user research, about the redesign, and he said it came from talking to hundreds of customers about their listening habits and how they wanted to use the app. From these conversations, two principles emerged that the company followed for the new program. One was to make it easier for people to play whatever audio content they had, whether it was music, podcasts, radio, audiobooks, TVs or turntables connected to devices connected to Sonos speakers. The second is to make the app a more convenient hub for getting exactly what you want to hear.

The result is a simpler app – the old one had the usual five tabs at the bottom, three of which could be used to find music. There is now a single, customizable home screen with a continuous search bar and content rows. By default, you’ll see a “recently played” section, which pulls in stuff from whatever service you’re using above; below you’ll see a carousel of the different services you’ve connected to Sonos. There’s also an area that handles various inputs, such as connecting to TVs connected to speakers or soundbars that support it. So you can tap them to switch between streaming music and playing the connected device.

Sonos 2024 app redesignSonos 2024 app redesign


There’s still a “now playing” panel at the bottom of the app that you can touch to adjust full playback controls and volume, but if you swipe up from the bottom of the screen, you’ll get a view of your entire Sonos instead. system. It shows all your speakers and where they are playing; from here you can adjust the volume for each or group the speakers together.

However, the best thing about this new app is the customizable home screen. Not only can you change the order of what appears there, but you can also link content directly from within different apps so you can access it instantly. For example, Spotify, Apple Music, and basically every other music service usually has a “new releases for you” section that shows you the latest albums based on your listening habits. If you want to always see it, you can pin it directly to your home screen and it will dynamically update when Spotify has new options. And you can reorder these carousels so that the one you use the most is at the top of the screen.

The old Sonos home screen had a recently played section at the top and let you pin songs, albums, playlists and stations across your services, so it has a degree of convenience. But being able to add full, dynamically updated sections from the apps you use feels like a big step forward. I can easily see half a dozen playlists from various apps being pinned to my home screen, which would make the process of starting music from the Sonos app itself much more fluid. I still mostly use AirPlay or Spotify Connect to stream to my speakers, but I think it’s worth setting up the house on this new app and seeing if I use it more. Consolidating content from the many streaming apps I use in one place sounds like a nice improvement over having to go into apps depending on what I want to hear.

Sonos has also made it easy to switch to the service of your choice. All streaming apps you’re logged into will always appear in the carousel, along with your default/favorite selection at the top of the list. The same goes for search — when you open the search bar and type in something, you’ll get results from your favorite service first.

Sonos desktop web app                               Sonos desktop web app


The company is also replacing its existing desktop controller software for Mac and Windows with a web app that offers the same functionality and design as you get on your phone. It’s probably a good call, as the Sonos controller doesn’t seem quite in step with the company’s current design and feature set, although I’m sure some of it is the web app. It should also start rolling out on May 7, and the existing Mac and Windows app will eventually shut down.

For many people, I bet the Sonos app will still be the “set it and forget it” kind of thing that’s used to set up the speakers and set it aside if something goes wrong. If you only have one or two speakers and do almost all of your listening through Spotify, you’ll probably still be better off using the Spotify app itself. But people with more involved speaker setups and using multiple sources for audio should find a lot to like here when the app arrives in a few weeks.

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