Question

Sonos and Samsung SmartThings Future

  • 23 November 2015
  • 19 replies
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Hi

I am building a home automation system using Samsung SmartThings, Philips Hue lights and just bought a 2 x Play 1's.

I was really hopeful that the introduction of Sonos would add a lot of value, but unfortunately I'm quite disappointed.

Whilst not the fault of Sonos as such; I (and many other people in the community) were hoping for a lot of power with what is considered basic functionality.

For example; whilst with SmartThings I can send a single song or Text to Speech (TTS) command to play to Sonos I can't:

1. Send a song/TTS and have Sonos resume a track that's currently playing

2. There is some basic ability to resume a song but at best it will start from the beginning; most of the time it starts playing back a totally different song

3. There is no ability to dynamically create a group outside of the Sonos app.

As I said; this isn't totally Sonos' fault; but there are a lot of people desperately hoping for the situation to improve.

From what I hear from Samsung, they are pulling a lot of the Sonos functionality from their product given the issues and given the lack of any form of open API from Sonos.

Does anyone know if Sonos have any plans to create an Open API or work with Samsung to get the required functionalities in place?

Many thanks

Mike Turner

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19 replies

Samsung make their own multi-room wireless music system in direct competition with Sonos. Do you really think they would do anything to really integrate Sonos with their system?
The point of SmartThings is to be able to integrate to all 'Internet of Things' devices so if they were seen at trying to limit themselves to their own systems they would soon run out of customers; in fact if you read all there announcements etc; they have focused these much more around Sonos and Philips Hue than their own 'branded' systems.

I guess I could turn it around and say that if Sonos don't create an Open API and Samsungs Wireless Music System is the only 'Internet of Things' compatible device for home automation then Sonos could lose a big chunk of the market.
miketurnermk,

SONOS uses UPnP and has been an "Open" system since inception. While there is no published SONOS API with pretty examples, UPnP is self documenting -- this is an advantage of the technology. Anyone who is familiar with UPnP can control SONOS.
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You might want to check this article over at SmartThings about controlling Sonos...

https://support.smartthings.com/hc/en-us/articles/200927230-Controlling-Sonos-with-SmartThings
Hi guys,

Slightly more advanced than the basic tutorial; unfortunately the Smart apps that Samsung have built don't properly work; this includes some of the features such as being able to play a voice message (.mp3) such as 'Welcome Home Mike' which is triggered by combination of presence sensor and unlocking my door, and for Sonos to then be able to resume what ever track it was previously playing from the exact same position. The resume functionality Samsung built basically doesn't work.

Getting a basic track listing to view within Samsung SmartThings is also riddled with issues based on the functionality they have built.

This is the reply from SmartThings:

"Joe Pearson (SmartThings)

Nov 19, 17:54

Hi Mike,

Thanks for getting in touch - sorry to hear about the issues you are having. The main problem is that Sonos does not provide an official API for use with the SmartThings platform therefore despite our best efforts it can be limited and prone to issues. We have now removed some of the functionality because of these issues.

I have contacted the engineers and requested any information they have about the future of Sonos functionality (just incase they know something I don't). I will update you with any new information I get.

Please feedback to Sonos, we would love for them to work with us on creating a better user experience. The feedback is greatly appreciated, if you have any further questions please get in touch.

Regards

Joe"
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miketurnermk,

SONOS uses UPnP and has been an "Open" system since inception. While there is no published SONOS API with pretty examples, UPnP is self documenting -- this is an advantage of the technology. Anyone who is familiar with UPnP can control SONOS.


While I believe you, I have to wonder then why Sonos isn't more embraced by 3rd parties? Is it because having an API is easier to integrate with than UPnP?

Whatever the issue is, Sonos should be looking to assist, Reading that SmartThings is pulling some functionality because it's not reliable should be something that Sonos should worry about. And maybe they are but their lack of communication in this area and others (not announcing what they are working on) does not give users any sense of comfort. I seriously think they should revisit their official communication policy. Bring more things out in Beta and keeps what works and lose what doesn't.

On a related side note - spend some time in the forums and see some great ideas posted years ago that are still not implemented nor promised. It's a bit depressing and I am a big Sonos fan. Some of these ideas are small things but would be great like having a longer fade out if you want to fall asleep with Sonos. These are the little things that make a difference. Others are big like integration with SmartThings and with Echo.

The foundation is there and is solid. Sonos speakers are the best today but the competition isn't staying in place and neither should Sonos.
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I have to wonder then why Sonos isn't more embraced by 3rd parties? Is it because having an API is easier to integrate with than UPnP?

Because software is hard. And because while it is literally trivial to do pause/play/volume, as soon as you do that, people want more. Like groups. Or music selection. Or music service support. Or system configuration. And if you don't re-implement the entirely of the Sonos controller (which has taken a sizable team a decade of work) then they complain.

Then if you try and charge them actual money for that software, even the price of a beer/coffee, some still complain.
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I have to wonder then why Sonos isn't more embraced by 3rd parties? Is it because having an API is easier to integrate with than UPnP?

Because software is hard. And because while it is literally trivial to do pause/play/volume, as soon as you do that, people want more. Like groups. Or music selection. Or music service support. Or system configuration. And if you don't re-implement the entirely of the Sonos controller (which has taken a sizable team a decade of work) then they complain.

Then if you try and charge them actual money for that software, even the price of a beer/coffee, some still complain.


I was just wondering why some of these 3rd parties seem to always request an API.

If you are who I think you are, I love your software and gladly purchased it! I use it all the time on my Windows phone and Tablet. Thank you for it!
I have to wonder then why Sonos isn't more embraced by 3rd parties? Is it because having an API is easier to integrate with than UPnP?

Because software is hard. And because while it is literally trivial to do pause/play/volume, as soon as you do that, people want more. Like groups. Or music selection. Or music service support. Or system configuration. And if you don't re-implement the entirely of the Sonos controller (which has taken a sizable team a decade of work) then they complain.

Then if you try and charge them actual money for that software, even the price of a beer/coffee, some still complain.


So true. And the requests, in my opinion, a lot of times border on the ridiculous. Not saying this post is ridiculous because people want what they want, but this to me is a great example of wanting too much. I seriously can't fathom being upset that a song didn't resume in the exact position it was in when I left the house.

...and for Sonos to then be able to resume what ever track it was previously playing from the exact same position.

Frankly, disarm your home alarm with your smartphone app, then click over to the Sonos app and hit resume. Done. I was reading the other night on a forum some dude was annoyed because his TV wouldn't come on to his favorite channel when he entered the room, and he also wanted it to come on to his wife's favorite channel when she walked in. That, to me, is also too much (and too far) when you expect your television to recognize you.
Another reasonable use-case is to have an announcement when a door is opened, and to resume playing music/tv audio after the announcement. I've got everything working except the resume, which is the missing piece of the puzzle.
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Resume (after playing something else) is actually pretty damn hard. If its just something from your Music Library then its trivial. If its a specific track from a music service then its a lot more work, but possible. If its a dynamic stream (eg Pandora) then its impossible: the resume will start a totally different track.

This is one place where a couple of new Sonos APIs (eg SaveTrackState/RestoreTrackState) would make life easier for everyone.
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Another reasonable use-case is to have an announcement when a door is opened, and to resume playing music/tv audio after the announcement. I've got everything working except the resume, which is the missing piece of the puzzle.

Reasonable use? Why? Nice to see you've got the difficult bit of opening a door working. How about light switches. Turning the heating on. Does it pause when the door is closed? Pull the blinds. Open the blinds. Make tea. Give a shoe shine.
BoredofBalham, I am not sure you made your point, I think you need to come up with some more extreme scenarios and then maybe you can convince me to just give up on it all. Just because you clearly don't subscribe to the smarthome concept, doesn't mean you need to weigh in and discard the opinion of those that do. No, I am not looking for Sonos to "shine my shoes", I am looking for Sonos to communicate activity, which it can and does, and then get back to doing what it was doing, which is clearly hard but hardly unreasonable.
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Far from denigrating anything I asked a question. Why is having music play when a door is opened reasonable use?
Your reasonable use case raises what happens after the door is opened and as such things as lights and blinds and heating and alarms are perfectly reasonable use extensions of the action of opening a door using your premise. For a door to open it must close so what then.
There are many suggestion/request that are "reasonable use" but do not address what happens next which given the thought that go into some is quite surprising e.g. Let's have Alexa coice control which raises the "reasonable use" next action - groups, volumes, content, alarms...so everything works flawlessly. I may be lucky, but I suspect not, that my Sonos system has run flawlessly and continues to surprise me.

Getting things to work is always much harder than anyone thinks they are - try the make a cup of tea test, or coffee if prefer. Write down every step required ro make a cup of your preferred drink. Then follow what you have written. Then try again; and again; and again until it works.

I love the idea of home automation but until I can do it from one thing I'm not interested in trying to connect several different bits of kit together offering up a prayer that they will play nicely together and will continue to do so next month. Until a standard, or winner, is declared it's moderate folly. But what do I know.
I have children, my children can open doors. I would like to be aware if my child has gone in the backyard, if I am not in the same room as the child at that moment. ADT would play a sound when that happened. I have replaced ADT with SmartThings and am looking to replicate the same functionality. SmartThings has the ability to monitor doors and trigger an alert. While I can get a siren or some other unit to communicate the alert¹, I can also choose Sonos as an alert destination and have a sound played, or even a text string I include in the action spoken such as "Back door opened". That all works great and as expected, but if we are watching TV, or listening to music, it will not resume what was happening before the alert came through. This is what I would call a passive alert, something we want to be aware of, but don't necessarily need to take action on. This is where some sort of resume functionality would be handy².

This is all I essentially said, but I made the mistake of characterizing it as a "reasonable" use-case, which was only fodder for a troll such as yourself whom has nothing constructive to add to the conversation. Argue the merits of my use-case all you want, but other people have commented on this thread about use-cases they are trying to address and how they too are stymied by the lack of the ability to resume whatever was playing previously. We have all identified it is functionality that doesn't exist, and would be nice to have. This is a public forum for which people can ask questions, provide feedback, and share ideas. Maybe it could lead to something from Sonos, probably not, but it can be a constructive conversation.

¹ If you could have commands sent back to Alexa, I would go that route, but that is not an option at this time.
² Doesn't mean it has to pick up where it left off, just looking for Sonos to switch back to the original source input.
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You need to understand that should someone have a different opinion to yourself, especially when not blessed with the gift of being able to read your mind, is not a troll, and it is a shame that you think so.

On home automation would I be correct in that you already changed your system, from the last best very short lived thing, to the new next best thing.
The fact that a door is open still leaves what happens when that door is shut. Once open it is open and you are none the wiser about events subsequent to that being open. How is that alarm reset? (Locks work magnificently well without having to overthink anything or a simple proximity trigger, or alerts to all devices)

Indeed I am having a constructive conversation. That it does not agree with you and introduces properties that you may, or not, have thought of is the basis of a discussion.
That you have already changed your automation system would answer your question as to why Sonos does not support nor include things that have no proven longevity. Meanwhile, Sonos goes on just plain old working.

Please, do the make a cup of tea test to prove to yourself why simple things are very difficult. I thoroughly recommend this test as you will be able to program all your domestic wishes far more efficiently and effectively and force lateral thinking.

The use cases come under what I have said. That more than one person says the same thing does not make that thing valid nor easier. That a change ofmsystem for you has diminished effectiveness in an area for you, but no doubt increased it in others, very ably emphasises the futility (IMO) of home automation at present beyond the novelty of it and adopting something that may, or likely not, work in the future with smarter devices.

Devices will get smarter. To sell, those devices will either have to be multi-system compatible or hope their propriety system wins the day. Only time will tell. Would you spend money supporting smoke and mirrors?

There is a fundamental misunderstanding about Sonos in the belief that it works like other things that perform the same basic function. It doesn't. That's why it's still around and works flawlessly (for me anyway)

So is any requested "use" actually "reasonable".

1. You show why Alexa will not work. Wishing it might do something doesn't work. It may be a change from the last best thing to the next best thing. And the next Sonos bashing club.
Criminy, I am not even going to waste my time reading your response. Peace out.
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You ask for an explanation then do not afford the courtesy to read it. How rude.
Well that escalated quickly.