Sonos can now play tracks directly from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 6

by Volker Weber

There is a free software update today to Sonos 3.8.3. It gives you a frequently requested feature. Whatever is stored on your iOS device can now be played directly through your Sonos. You don't have to sync with your computer or NAS first. However, your tracks have to be on the iOS device. You can't play from the Apple cloud.

Until now, you needed a Sonos dock to play from an iPod touch or iPhone. But since the switch to the Lightning adapter, these docks became obsolete for new iOS devices. And Apple is very uptight when it comes to certifying new peripherals for Lightning. Time to take it to software.

AirPlay is also not really an option. At the other end, you need hardware from Apple. Sonos could buy the chip and add it to each Sonos player, adding to the cost. But that would never work with anything but Apple devices.

So Sonos chose to implement the feature inside their controller, first on iOS. Presumably because that is where the majority of customers are today. You get a new source: "This iPad" (or iPhone or iPod touch). You select your tracks from there, add them to the queue and off you go. You can control that queue from any other controller.

This is more convenient than the DLNA renderer in each ZonePlayer. It's quite unknown that you can just point any audio stream to the ZonePlayer and it will render it. I have done this with PlayTo on Symbian devices. If you have an AirPort Express in your network, you could also use AirPlay to that device and then Line-Out to a ZonePlayers Line-In. Both of those things are not obsolete. Life just got a little easier.

Please note that I am currently working with Sonos on an issue that prevents my iPad from adding tracks to my players. I have not participated in the beta and only installed the software yesterday. Bug reports are filed and Sonos is aware of the problem. We don't know the root cause yet.


Good news! I'll try it out this evening. Thanks for letting us know. Vowe dot net: always a good site for interesting news!

Ludwig Deruyck, 2012-12-05

Great feature! Was expecting to read about it here and wasn't disappointed :-)
Updated my devices and tried, but it failed with "couldn't add track to queue". After killing the controller on iPhone (double tab button) and restarting it now works as expected.
Now if they would finally fix the ancient bug of broken sort sequence for international characters...

Hans Bornich, 2012-12-05

Hans, that looks like my situation. I am working with Sonos to find the cause. Resetting did not work.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

Are there any technical reasons to limit this to iOS 6? Or is it just politics (Lightning = iOS 6 users get it, all others can still buy the dock)?

I'd love to see it the other way round: Let my iOS device be a zone where I can play my Sonos library to. Of course you wouldn't be able to group it with other players.

Ralf Stoltze, 2012-12-05

I cannot answer that. But I am confident that this is a technical limitation, most likely because of the ability to run in the background. If Sonos could provide for iOS 5 why wouldn't they?

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

Any insights if Sonos is working on native iTunes Match support?

Stefan Domanske, 2012-12-05

No insight. Is there any Apple initiative to open iTunes Match for anything but Apple gear? As you may be aware of, Sonos has an API that other services use.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

Bob Balaban is still staying at your house in Darmstadt?

Andrew Magerman, 2012-12-05

It's his forever. But we let other people stay there as well.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

To be honest, I don't see the use case for that feature. Music on my iOS device comes from the iTunes library, which is way larger than the memory on my iPhone/iPad/iPod. And the music for iTunes resides on a Synology Diskstation, which is available 24/7.

For what are you using this feature?

Thomas Lang, 2012-12-05

Thomas, when friends visit with music I don't have, it's now much easier to just connect them to my Sonos if we want to listen to it.

Hans Bornich, 2012-12-05

Hans, ok, I see that point. But does this ever happen? In the last 5 years it didn't happen here.
Maybe because of the music services I'm using.

Thomas Lang, 2012-12-05

Hans, they will have to install the Sonos controller and you have to authorize the controller. Then in the middle of the night, they can sneak up on you and rickroll you at top volume.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

Thomas, meine Schwester hat einen Mac, ein iPad, ein iPhone. Kein NAS. Jetzt kann sie ohne den Mac anzumachen, Musik vom iDingens spielen.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

I have installed an old Airport Express behind a S5 just two days ago. And now this :-) Bad timing...

But after reading all this, the Airport Express solution still has its merits:

- Letting others play their music through Sonos is still easier using the AirPlay / Airport Express solution (Hans' usage case)

- I can play Podcasts from my iPhone and the iPhone keeps track of which ones I have listened to. (will have to check if the new Sonos controller does this, my guess is not)

- I can stream other sound sources to Sonos (video from "Air Video" for example)

I am even happier now.

PS: In case you don't know what I have been writing about:

Ole Saalmann, 2012-12-05

Thomas, meine Kinder freuen sich jetzt unendlich, mich mit ihrer lokalen Musik von ihrem Device zu beschallen :-) und die Quelle dieser musikalischen Freuden ist NiCHT mein NAS.

Alexander Kluge, 2012-12-05

Volker, DEINE Schwester hat kein NAS? ;-).

Ich bin durch die Nutzung von JUKE und WiMP vermutlich einfach zu verwöhnt. Ich brauche meine MP3 überhaupt nicht mehr.

Thomas Lang, 2012-12-05

Thomas, so ist es. Alex, Dein kannste in die Tonne treten.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

Volker, I trust my friends :-)

Hans Bornich, 2012-12-05

Thomas, yes I can see that feature being handy. Then again, maybe it's because I don't subscribe to Spotify Premium and the like.
On a some what related note: does anyone know of a free (ads are OK) service like that works in Denmark? I really liked how I could tell it one specific song and it kept playing stuff like it. Needs to work on Sonos obviously.

Hans Bornich, 2012-12-05

Your Sonos knows. If you cannot add a service, it's not available. Having said that, there is a loophole. Some services do not check the geo location. If you register your Sonos account to a different country, then update your software, you will find more services to try.

Volker Weber, 2012-12-05

Alex, diesen Zustand habe ich jetzt auch zu Hause...

Thomas Koester, 2012-12-05

way cool ...

Olaf Boerner, 2012-12-06

Love the new feature to play music doreclz from my phone, but the volume control feature via iPhone volume buttons is gone :(

What it's the address to complain at Sonos?

Hauke Fink, 2012-12-07

Controller Reset löst das Problem mit den HW-Tasten :)

Sonos hat echt einen klasse Support!

Hauke Fink, 2012-12-08

Has anyone else noticed the line-in feature has vanished??

David Miller, 2013-01-11

It hasn't. Line-In is available when you plug a device in.

Völker Weber, 2013-01-11

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