Sonos Version 6.4 Now in Public Beta


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Today we’re starting a new Sonos public beta and many of you will be getting a look at what’s coming next or reading about it. We’ve made a change that’s going to help you listen to more music in your home, but it’s a change nonetheless and it might take a little getting used to.

First, the beta details. Sign up at beta.sonos.com. As usual, it’s PC, Mac and Android - no iOS. It’s OK to talk publicly about this beta (version 6.4) only, everything else is still under wraps.

Now the biggest change (and what we wanted to share with you):

Tap any song once and it starts playing. Start with any song from an album or playlist and Sonos will continue to play whatever comes next, replacing your queue automatically. Listen to the whole playlist by tapping ‘Play All,’ or hit ‘Shuffle’ and mix it up.

You can still build your own track order and queues by tapping *** next to any song. Choose ‘Play Next’ or ‘Play Later.’ and build a playlist. Once you’ve changed what’s in a queue, Sonos will ask you before wiping out your hard work. If you make a queue you like, save it and it will be faster than ever to jump back in later.

Before now, this part of Sonos hadn’t changed in about ten years. But we’ve heard from many people who want a faster, easier experience that keeps music playing effortlessly throughout their homes. We spent months researching, observing how people use Sonos, and trying different options.

We’ve also been watching a growing trend. Streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play make it easy to get music playing with a tap and keep it going. Great music curation + streaming means it only takes a few seconds to find a playlist you’ll love and play it on your phone, why not at home? We wanted the Sonos experience to be similar. Fewer taps, more music.

It was important that we didn’t remove anything, so everything you could do before you can still do now. It’s just a little different, and we know that takes time to get used to. If you’re interested, join the public beta at beta.sonos.com and give it a spin.

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The comparison to iDevices comes from the very, very long standing, often contentious, "Why can't it play from here to the end of the album/playlists" thread(s). Whereas the posts in these threads almost always included "like my iPod/iPhone/iPad"; iTunes users became synonymous with this type of functionality. This is the origin of the "iUsers vs. Queue Users" references. Now the interface may have evolved since then, but old habits die hard, and regardless of such, the original standoff being used as shorthand for the current battle isn't inaccurate. It's still a battle between the "play from here to the end of the album/playlists" vs. the queue folks, so the original battle lines still apply (even if other apps have joined in the fray by mimicking the original Apple interface in some way).
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I should have said. Slide lock the queue at top of queue and all play all or play now actions give notification to unlock the queue. All problems solved. If you like the new methods don't ever lock the queue. If you are utilizing queue lock it.
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If you don't lock the queue and fat finger something and mess up your queue it's your fault then.
I don't have a clue why buzz is so insistent that the beta appears to be mimicking iDevices or is in any way to appease iTunes users.
I agree the v6.4 beta is nothing at all like any Apple software, iTunes or otherwise.

Similar to Chris, I now find myself using the system less lately as I'm just not sure sometimes which button to press to get the outcome I desire - or even if it possible. I was listening happily to my queue the other day ( a playlist in random mode - but the order was unimportant) and wanted to interrupt it and play a whole album in order. I didn't want to lose the queue but had no visual sign of even knowing if the queue was somehow 'protected' or what would happen if I pressed a particular button - never mind dwelled on one for slightly too long...
This in many respects also just shows that the beta is nothing like any Apple software, otherwise you would not hesitate to know which options to choose.

Because the v6.4 software is so different, I think some Apple iOS users will probably take a little more time to begin to understand the new 'Play from Here' features.

Having said that though, trying to add an album (to play in order) to an already 'shuffled' existing queue is not a simple process, as the user first needs to 'switch off' the shuffle feature in the queue, before adding the album to play in order, otherwise the added album-tracks will also enter the queue shuffled, that's even if you try to add it to the end of the queue. It's just a 'slight' annoyance in the beta, but I can see many similar annoyances in previous versions of the Sonos software and indeed in other commercially available software on the market for that matter.

It seems once you have have chosen to 'shuffle all' ... things stay ... er... all shuffled.
Regardless of the methodology used, there has long been a use for a "lock queue" function which only allows additions to the end of the queue. As stated earlier, a party which allows everyone to add a song to the end of the queue "jukebox" style without easily interrupting the music or rudely bumping their song choice (never mind their album choice) to the front of the queue would be a useful addition to any update. As it stands, with the "tap the song and it plays to the end of the album/playlist" function, the current beta increases the chance of interrupting the music, regardless of whether the warning screen pops up or not.

Picture this scenario: You are in a bar. Everybody is using the digital jukebox. There is always one annoying idiot who likes to screw up the fun by inserting something like Gregorian chants, The Barney Song, or Weird Al Yankovich into a queue which is mostly dance music or some other genre. The really super annoying jackasses pay extra for the "Play Next" option so they can get almost instantaneous satisfaction for their idiocy. The current Sonos beta not only allows that person to exercise the "Play Next" option, the default is to "Play Now" an entire album of Gregorian chants, The Barney Album, or Weird Al's Greatest hits, while simultaneously wiping out everyone else's selections!. At the very least a "Lock Queue" feature would allow one to spot the idiot's queue additions and edit accordingly to get rid of the junk (and subsequently banning the culprit from adding more songs).

JMHO.
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And a good opinion at that
I agree the v6.4 beta is nothing at all like any Apple software, iTunes or otherwise.

Ken, you keep saying this, and it is just not true. I own an iPod Classic which I use in my car. The "tap a song and the whole album/playlist plays from that track on" is 100% EXACTLY how it operates. EXACTLY! I also own an iPod Touch that is less than a year old, and when I use that in the car, it is the same thing. Thirdly, when I update my iTunes library via the latest iTunes on my PC, if I click a song in the song listing, it plays the song and album/playlist from that point on. So I don't know where this idea is coming from that the current beta "is nothing at all like any Apple software, iTunes or otherwise" because my experience with iDevices and iTunes is the direct opposite.
I should have said. Slide lock the queue at top of queue and all play all or play now actions give notification to unlock the queue. All problems solved. If you like the new methods don't ever lock the queue. If you are utilizing queue lock it.

A user in the very early stages of the public beta release, suggested a 'padlock' feature to help protect the queue ... I thought that was quite a sensible idea and maybe worthy of some further discussion, for example ....

Should such a queue-padlock, do one of the following actions :

1. Prevent all changes (of any type) to a queue?
2. Allow a queue to be shuffled, reordered or added to... but not allow any tracks to be deleted?

I'm sure there must be other actions, that users may want to see, but those were two options that immediately came to my mind... it is possible some users would want to see a more complex queue locking mechanism, capable of doing EITHER action 1 or 2 above, but that may then just be over-complicating things.
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I would think padlock at top of queue screen. You can do any queue manipulation you want on the queue screen. However if padlock is in place. When you are away from queue screen you can not play all or play now. Just make it so tapping on song does nothing and forces hitting the > or clicking on song behaves same as >. And play now function is disabled in that menu.
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Do that and I think everyone 100% happy and excited for changes.
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I should have said. Slide lock the queue at top of queue and all play all or play now actions give notification to unlock the queue. All problems solved. If you like the new methods don't ever lock the queue. If you are utilizing queue lock it.

A user in the very early stages of the public beta release, suggested a 'padlock' feature to help protect the queue ... I thought that was quite a sensible idea and maybe worthy of some further discussion, for example ....

Should such a queue-padlock, do one of the following actions :

1. Prevent all changes (of any type) to a queue?
2. Allow a queue to be shuffled, reordered or added to... but not allow any tracks to be deleted?

I'm sure there must be other actions, that users may want to see, but those were two options that immediately came to my mind... it is possible some users would want to see a more complex queue locking mechanism, capable of doing EITHER action 1 or 2 above, but that may then just be over-complicating things.


I don't really use the the queue but I suspect one day it will click and then wham bam! Also, I have iTunes but don't really know why I keep it as it isn't needed.

To answer Ken's query about a lockable Q, I suppose what I would expect is that if the Q is locked then it is impregnable! So if I then Click an album it plays the album or if i click play a song it plays that song or if I double click a song from within an album it plays that song and the rest of the album. Once those songs are played they don't appear on the Q (It's impregnable!). I suppose, further, that if the Q-Lock is deployed it would stop any action to remove the Q, like loading another playlist
I would think padlock at top of queue screen. You can do any queue manipulation you want on the queue screen. However if padlock is in place. When you are away from queue screen you can not play all or play now. Just make it so tapping on song does nothing and forces hitting the > or clicking on song behaves same as >. And play now function is disabled in that menu.

+1. No need for passcodes or "Master" controllers, just lock the queue at the song selection level. At least then the annoying Chant/Barney/Weird Al idiots can't claim they were using the defaults. They would have to physically bring up the queue screen and edit it, which at my parties would be grounds for dismissal! 😃
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Yea no need for passcode or anything. Just a lock to keep people from doing something unintentional. The lock just effect the election screens not manipulation of the queue screen itself. I guess delete queue should be disabled though on queue screen with lock on.
For my own personal use of my Sonos system at home, I most likely would not need a padlock feature 'enabled' very often, maybe occasionally, but not all the time. Presumably, that would be the case for the majority of Sonos owners, who became real familiar with the new controller software and knew what they were doing themselves.

I think however, I would prefer a slightly more complex padlock system (behind the scenes), particularly for use with guests, like people at a house party, for example.

The reason I say that is, I would possibly want my party-goers to be UNABLE to do these things:

1. Unable to delete the whole queue.
2. Unable to delete a track (currently playing, or otherwise).
2. Unable to interrupt a playing track (So they cannot Play/Pause/Skip etc. nor use the Play-Now feature).
3. Unable to shuffle, nor replace the whole queue.
4. Unable to increase volume above a set limit (or maybe unable to alter/mute the volume).
5. Unable to tamper with the controller interface (i.e. delete albums, playlists, music services etc.) ...and unable to remove the controller software. (The latter is easily prevented in 'settings/general/restrictions' on any iOS device).
6. Unable to remove a queue lock, unless given the assigned password.

But... I would want my party-goers to be ABLE to do these things:

7. Able to perform a search across all Music Services and add a track, album or playlist to the queue, using either 'Play-Next' or 'Add to Queue' actions only.
8. Able to change the queue Play Order (but, if not allowed, the queue itself should become read only).

The list of 8 suggestions above, is not exhaustive, but just the things that quickly spring to mind and I probably need to think about some things in a little more depth. They are just off the top of my head.

It would be great to enable/disable all such things, with one simple click of a padlock icon within a queue.

So some kind of padlock for mainly 'guest' access, seems a reasonable idea to me, but despite my list above, it perhaps needs to be a 'real simple' feature from the end-users perspective... And of course the list of 'things' that such a padlock would perform, would need to be carefully chosen and acceptable in most guest-access type situations.
Unless it's based on assumptions or memories of use from many years ago and none in between? I don't see the similarity to be honest - ...

Fair criticism. This is the case and an indication of how thoroughly I was turned off by the user interface. Over the years the most posted complaint from iTunes users has been lack of a "play from here" feature. In my mind this could have been accomplished by the addition of "Play Here" (or similar) to the already available "Play Now" and "Add to Queue". Unfortunately, this would probably have violated their number of visible elements rules and would have required drill down anyway.

Likely, I'll be using the desktop interface from here on. Android is simply too much "work" for me. I haven't yet seen the iOS interface, but I assume that it is similar.
Likely, I'll be using the desktop interface from here on. Android is simply too much "work" for me. I haven't yet seen the iOS interface, but I assume that it is similar.

Yes, I much prefer the desktop IF, too... It's a shame that Sonos screwed it up on android from 5.x, but nothing much that we can do about it... I dread them 'improving' the desktop version, though...
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And then you have people complaining about desktop version wanting it changed (which I don't think will happen).
sjw,

It is clear all, or most, of the popular streaming music services are now converging to be operated in much the same, or similar way, for the 'benefit' of their artists and end users.

I don't see personally how any 'blame' or 'focus' can be centred on Apple. So much so, that I certainly have no real idea who Sonos may 'partner' or 'collaborate' with (if anyone at all?) in the future.

I would not be surprised if tomorrow, 30th August, Sonos announce a 'collaboration' with Spotify, Amazon or Google etc. In fairness it could be anyone of the big companies (but, I am including Apple too, when I say that).

That's how close the software from these streaming services has become, moreso in recent times.

As I recall, Apple were quite late joining the streaming services game and as far as I can see, they have appeared to remain in the shadow of the other early market leaders, like Spotify.

I subscribe to Apple, because I like their iTunes Match feature, which is easier and quicker than uploading thousands of my own songs and also their Services allow 'cheap' family sharing, across multiple iOS devices, without taking up much memory (storage) on them

I personally dislike the iTunes software on my PC (I hardly ever use it to play music) and I rarely use any iOS native music apps anymore, as they provide no 'direct' access to my Sonos speakers.

The only time I really use the Apple Music App is via Apple-TV (occasionally), or via my iPhone, if using headphones.

I am also an occasional user of Deezer, Spotify, Google Play and Amazon free services ... I don't think there is much to choose between them all, as far as the way their native iOS Apps work... It's just mainly a different interface layout, but they each seem to work in quite a similar way (to me, at least).
Ken, nobody is blaming Apple specifically. It just so happens that the original iPod/iTunes interface, which was ubiquitous in the industry, followed the "Choose a track and the rest of the album/playlist plays with it" paradigm. This is quite different from the Sonos paradigm of a queue. No blame, no "focus" on Apple, except for labeling the sides of the issue as iTunes vs. Sonos queue for lack of a better shorthand for "Choose a track and the rest of the album/playlist plays with it". No different than calling a hemispherical combustion chamber engine a "Hemi" style engine, even though many more companies made them before and after Chrysler branded their version the "Hemi". It's simply shortcut for that style interface, with no more maliciousness or credit towards Apple aside from the fact they made it popular.
jgatie,

That's fair comment, I just see ’other’ people here (not you) occasionally having an unjustified dig at Apple and it's not entirely their doing in some cases, I'm not so sure that Apple have taken the lead in the design of ALL software for online music streaming services, not yet at least, but I'm sure their position in the business world will bring about some influence. I still see Spotify as the main market leader at this moment in time.

On the aspect of adding all the tracks to a queue, say from an album or playlist, when only one track is initially chosen by the user, that initially seemed a little 'odd' to me and admittedly I first thought it was a 'bug' in the beta software, until things were later explained.

After explanation, I started to think of my Sonos room queue as being similar to a turntable platter ... In the old days of vinyl, if I wanted to listen to just one or two tracks on an album, I most certainly had to put the whole album onto the turntable ... It is also true that once I had listened to the chosen tracks, that I sometimes went onto listen to a few other tracks. It was the same thing in many ways with CD’s and Cassette Tapes as they often would continue playing until the end of the tape/disc.

So when I altered my thought of the queue in this way, as being similar to a turntable, I no longer had an issue with this particular aspect of the beta, which people now refer to as 'Play from Here’.

I know some argue that this is the digital age and things have moved on from legacy systems and that users today need more customisation of the queue/turntable etc; but I suspect these things are done, to a small degree, to bring some familiarisation to the end user, but probably to a greater degree to bring attention (and generate money) from other 'listened-to' music by the same Artist.

So the Artists must get a benefit and at the same time the end user benefits as these things are being designed to help to keep the music playing.

If I was an Artist, I certainly would not be too unhappy with the 'Play for Here' concept and hopeful of some increased royalties... That means things are good for the Artist, the music industry and the end-user.

And good for Sonos too, in the long term. It might even help drive down the price of some hardware costs for the end-user, through increased sales.
Oh, Apple vs. whomever and the rivalries therein certainly play into this (I know they do for me). But I'm quite sure the digs at Apple are for other ideological reasons, not simply that they popularized the "Choose a track and the rest of the album/playlist plays with it" aka "iTunes" style music player interface. Try to separate the genuine dislike for all things Apple some may have from the shorthand labeling of the iTunes "play from here" style, and you will see things a little better.

When you think about it, there's really no need to defend Apple when they get the backhanded compliment that a disliked by many, yet extremely popular with others, UI style is referred to as the "iTunes method".
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I would like the padlock for my own use not just when guests around. I would find it very useful - I don't have any issue with queue being changeable from the queue screen when locked other Than disabling delete queuei. Anyone manipulating there is doing it on purpose.
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Clicking on song from song search still interrupts current son as a play now. I see no difference my current beta.
Clicking on song from song search still interrupts current son as a play now. I see no difference my current beta.
Yeah sorry to raise your hopes. I was struggling to remember just what the issue was. I mostly use the DCR, where accidental taps aren't an issue. I was forgetting that it was an accidental tap issue, and was also confused between Play Now & Play Next names and behaviours.

While this confusion says most about me I guess 😞, it is also indicative of the general level of complexity introduced by these changes to the UI, which are attempting straddle two opposing customer requirements.
Once customisation creeps into an app, it can eventually change things beyond recognition, the proof of that is evident in the Windows Operating system and many other Microsoft products.

I don't agree. Try switching media types, from music to video. Turn on your TV set, and open the menu. If yours is anything like mine, there are a myriad of options in there. I don't understand them all, but if I had a usability issue with some aspect of the TV I would be on top of the options in the associated menu branch.

Sonos have moved into a new mass market, and the customer sets have conflicting needs & priorities. So they now have the same challenges as a TV manufacturer. The technical representative of my TV set is more likely to be able to say "Yes we can address that, just adjust the xyz option in the menu". ... It is a level of customer service which Sonos can't offer. They make changes to the behaviours of the play menu, or the mute button, for some new customer set, and force the change on everyone regardless of whether it suits them.

However, I also like to side with Sonos in many respects, who clearly want their all-in-one controller to work in the exact same way on every single mobile and tablet, in every home. The idea being, a Sonos user can then go to anyones audio system, during a party for example, and it will operate the same way for all, just as if it were their own controller and they will immediately be able to take 'control' and play music, without having to think about it and without any adjustment to the software settings.

The cost of this tiny, tiny edge case of advantage, is that long term users are suddenly temporary strangers to their own equipment. I know that we can all learn to work around the changes, but it is galling when the change is sub-optimal for own use case, just because Sonos can't be bothered allowing configuration options.