Wednesday, 18 March 2020 00:02

Sonos readying new app and OS

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Networked speaker specialist Sonos is preparing a new app and a new operating system as the basis for its next-generation products that are coming later this year.

Late last year Sonos announced it would end support for some of its older products, but the resulting outcry from owners led to a change of heart in January that included an undertaking to continue to provide bug and security fixes for the old products which include the original Play:5, Bridge, Connect, Connect:Amp, and ZoneBridge.

That second announcement has now been fleshed out with news of the company's next generation Sonos 2 operating system and a supporting app.

The existing Sonos app will be renamed Sonos S1 Controller, while the new one will be called Sonos.

Most Sonos products will be compatible with S2, according to the company. Those that aren't – Zone Players, CR200, Bridge, Connect (Gen 1), Connect:Amp (Gen 1) and Play:5 (Gen 1) – will continue to work with the Sonos S1 Controller app.

Rather than risk introducing errors in interpreting the company's statement about how this will all work in practice, we'll quote the relevant part of the announcement in full:

"Depending on what mix of Sonos products you have in your home, you'll have several options to choose from.

"If you only have S1-compatible in your system, you don't have to do anything. They'll continue to work as they do today on the S1 Controller app. You'll still get bug fixes and security patches, and we will work with our partners to keep your music and voice services working for as long as we can. You won't, however, be able to add future Sonos devices to your S1 system.

"If you only have S2 compatible devices in your system, all you'll need to do is download the new S2 app when it's available in June. Your system will automatically update to the new Sonos OS and you'll be ready for future products and features.

"If you have a mix of products in your household, you'll have four options:

"1. Remove the S1-only products from your system. With only S2 compatible products remaining, you'll be ready to download the new Sonos app in June.

"2. Trade up S1-only products to their S2 compatible equivalents. For customers who choose this option, we continue to offer a 30% discount as part of our Trade Up program.

"3. Run your existing system on the S1 app. You'll still get bug fixes and security patches, and we will work with our partners to keep your music and voice services working for as long as we can.

"4. Separate your system into two. We'll publish detailed instructions for how to do this nearer the time. Unfortunately, it won't be possible to group an S1 system with an S2 system."

If you're sticking with S1, Sonos says it "will work with our partners to keep your music and voice services working with our oldest products for as long as we can given their memory and processing power limitations. If we run into something core to the experience that can't be addressed, we will let you know." But be very clear: there will be no new features for S1.

Note that Sonos products announced after April 2020 will not be S1-compatible.

The previously announced program offering a 30% discount for owners trading up from "legacy" to new S2-compatible devices continues, but Sonos no longer deactivates the old devices. So they can be reused, eg, by running a split system as in option 4 above, or by giving or selling them to someone staying with S1. In the latter case, consider using the 30% discount offer before disposing of the device(s) otherwise the credit will transfer to the new owner.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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