The new Sonos app looks great, but it’s a mess

OPINION: Sonos launched a redesigned version of its multi-room speaker control app this week, and it’s fair to say the response has been mixed.

Sonos announced in late April that it would launch a fresh update to its control app, with a completely new interface designed to get users to their music more quickly. Ahead of the launch, Sonos said that it had focused on “creating a better way to listen”, and redesigned the app for an easier, faster, and better experience that can support “more rapid innovation”.

All this sounded great, with the tabbed interface of the previous app ditched for something that put your music and frequently used services within easy reach.

It’s not gone to plan

However, with the app now out for both iOS and Android the reaction from users has been underwhelming. As someone who uses the app daily, I can see where this frustration comes from. While the new app is an upgrade from a design perspective, the baffling removal of features – some very important ones – along with numerous bugs makes this a rocky start.

Take a look at replies to the announcement post on X or scroll through the active Sonos subreddit and it’s easy to see where the majority of the initial frustration lies.

In this redesign, Sonos has removed alarm and sleep timer functionality – two basic features for a multiroom speaker system. Sonos has noted the change, saying that the “feature is not currently available in the Sonos app, but will return in a future update.”

For a duo of simple features to be removed is odd, but the issues don’t seem to end there. Users have reported that important accessibility features have been removed, that TruePlay tuning is broken – something I can attest to – and music queues can’t be edited. App launches can often be bumpy, but this reaction will be far from welcome for Sonos.

Of course, bugs are to be expected and Sonos has made it clear in replies to disgruntled users on X that this is its “most ambitious software update yet” and certain features will return in future updates.

The problem with that is there’s no timeframe on the return of these basic features, and for Sonos to even think about removing them from such a huge update gives me the impression that it wasn’t expecting anything resembling the backlash it is currently getting. It could be a while before the new app gets all the features of the previous one.

Sonos new S2 app redesign
Sonos new S2 app

There are some welcome changes here, but the issues are plentiful

Visually, I think the app looks a lot better than it did. The heavily customisable home screen is an improvement and being able to select a preferred streaming service makes searching for songs a lot more practical. The constantly visible Now Playing screen is welcome too, making it easier to jump back to whatever is playing when you’re elsewhere in the app.

A lot of settings are buried deeper than before, EQ for instance, but personally I wouldn’t delve into that too often. My biggest issues revolve around app performance – things are just so unreliable at the time of writing, almost like I am beta testing an app that hasn’t been properly released yet.

For instance, when I opened the app for the first time, multiple services needed to be reauthorised, with Apple Music refusing to work at all. I ended up deleting Apple Music from my services and adding it again – after about five tries, it worked. I’ve also had issues with volume levels varying wildly between songs on different speakers.

After such an outcry, I would hope the app gets all the features users want quickly, especially as Sonos looks set to have a busy summer with the launch of its first set of headphones.

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