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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It's fine to reply to just about any of the threads. This one is from the Public Beta, so we'll probably close it down soon, but leave the comments visible for posterity.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about what does what when it comes to the new features. There was a very long testing phase for these changes with several revisions and a lot of people involved. After all, this thread alone is now 12 pages long.
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There are now several 6.4 threads and it is difficult to follow.


Can we have these threads merged into one?

I am a great fan of Sonos and have a considerable sum invested but cannot believe what a mess this whole queue issue has become.

Do you guys who design/alter these new/old features actually test them.

One of the great things about Sonos used to be that if you clicked/long clicked on a track it either did something logical or allowed you to choose the option you required.

I'm sorry Sonos but you really, really have lost you way with the queue on this release.
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Yeah , light touch paper for the old timers who are change resistant ;O))
My ipod 4th gen touches are now confined to the "old crap drawer" or used in the car.
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Update has been officially released - will be interesting to see the reaction !
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An option to lock people out of skipping a song is something that has been missing from Sonos since the beginning, I can't believe they still haven't implemented it. There is nothing worse than having a house full of guests at a party, and everyone has the app and is adding the songs they want (and so they should) then people who either don't want to wait for their song to come on, or don't know how to add to the queue so they just click play now and the music is interrupted with a pause in the middle of a song, and the song is added to the end of the queue so the music stops after the song until someone goes onto the app and restarts the music from queue.

For me there are two features that need adding that would improve this immensely, one more so than the other. The first and most important, is the ability to lock guests out of the play now and skip option, they should only be able to add to the queue or to play next. The second which would just be a bonus, is the ability to leave guests able to skip songs but have an option where cross-fade is enabled even in the middle of a song. Just a simple cross-fade, like the one that can be enable for the end of songs, this would just stop that awkward pause of silence for a second when someone skips a song. The second would be nice but not a necessity, but the option to lock guests from causing a break in the music from either skipping a song, or choosing play now is a feature that is way over due. The guests at the party should be able to request the music they want to hear, but not at the expense of the other guests, waiting to here music they have chosen.



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.
Your TV probably has different options to my TV and I'm reasonably sure such customisation leads to confusion for some users, so much so, that many users often leave such settings at their default anyway.
That is not evidence of something which is broken. That is something which is working as designed, ie. set some sensible defaults, and the majority of people never need know that alternate settings are available.

That is no argument against going to the extra effort of allowing alternate options for customers who need them, and it certainly doesn't excuse not offering them when the vendor is changing historic behaviours in order to chase new markets.

I am sure Sonos can be bothered, but they are choosing to make their controller 'look and feel' the same everywhere. Simplicity is often 'key' to success... it would be good if all TV remote controls were the same too I think, that would make life so much easier when buying a new TV. .... [snip] ...Sonos are simply keeping a tight rein on things ...and I can't say that I blame them.

Well they tried simplifying things by trying to railroad all streaming services, such as Spotify, through the "simple" Sonos app suite.

So how well did that work out for them?

This how Bloomberg saw it this week: "Up to this point, Sonos users have had to use the company’s own mobile application to play music on the speakers. This meant that new features for music services like Spotify didn't make it to Sonos users for months. The speaker company's rigidity has frustrated partners and customers for years."
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-30/how-sonos-and-amazon-echo-learned-to-talk-to-each-other


Even Windows 10 customisation has been drastically cut back compared to Windows 7and only certain colours and limited fonts can now be chosen, as part of their latest customisation settings... Microsoft went too far.


Windows 10 is a step back from Microsoft's previous share holder wealth destroying attempt at over simplification, and their customer-unfriendly attempt to push the customer to change the way that they are accustomed, and prefer, to use the products which they have paid for.

...and I can't say that I blame them.

I have no problem with that Ken, but I don't agree with you. Sonos could, and should, do better IMO.
The 'feature' of wiping out an entire queue based on clicking on one song of an artists catalog, is the worst thing Sonos has come up with. I have been using this system for 12 years and never have I been so frustrated. I hand the remote over to a friend who wants to look up ONE song to play and next thing you know, all my hard work of building the queue is immediately gone. Please FIX this Sonos!

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.
Podcasts managed by itunes look like albums with a lot of tracks (nearly 100 for one of mine). If I use "Play from here", will the app potentially now add a large number of podcasts to the queue? Granted I could get over 10 days of listening with one click, but that's not what I need :)

Cheers, Peter.

p.s. Apologies if this is a silly question, but as an IOS user I can't contribute to the beta.


I can't comment on iTunes or indeed the new iOS Sonos controller software until the public beta software is completed and released for iOS users (I can't wait to see that myself, personally speaking), but whenever I do a Sonos search for a podcast I usually get results returned via Tune-In Radio and those podcasts simply play like a radio station. I'm not sure though if that helps, but remember you can click on any iTunes album cover (not using the PLAY button on the cover) and view the entire individual tracks on that album within iTunes. The user can then simply select a track using the 'Play Now' context menu option and it will then only load that one chosen track to the queue to play. So even if your iTunes podcasts do indeed prove to actually work like albums, you should not encounter any problem. It's maybe just a case of getting used to the way the beta software works. If you do want all the podcasts to load, then you can simply 'Play All' ... There are a variety of ways to do that.
Podcasts managed by itunes look like albums with a lot of tracks (nearly 100 for one of mine). If I use "Play from here", will the app potentially now add a large number of podcasts to the queue? Granted I could get over 10 days of listening with one click, but that's not what I need :)

Cheers, Peter.

p.s. Apologies if this is a silly question, but as an IOS user I can't contribute to the beta.
Ken_Griffiths,

But this is more "work" than prior versions required. I ditched tape for SONOS because of the "work" saving benefits.

I could easily grow my own beans or buy raw beans in a store, but popping open a can is a whole lot less "work". Sure, we could discuss the merits of each option with respect to environmental impact and nutritional value, but I am interested only in minimizing my "work". In a sense we are squawking over the difference between frozen beans and cans. I prefer not to need to wait for the frozen beans to thaw -- canned beans are ready to eat sooner.
This is why many of us resorted to tape decks and cassette recorders -- essentially a way of assembling a playlist of tracks and eliminating all of that album handling. With the digital players this is so much easier and the resulting quality is higher. Because of the easy random access characteristic of digital media, building a list of tracks is a lot less "work". The aggressive "play from here" increases my "work".

Isn't that why Sonos has easily ’accessible' saved playlists and that's also surely the reason why the 'warning dialog box' invites the end-user to cancel and save their edited queue? ... Creating a customised queue for saving as a playlist, is far more simple than using any tape deck/cassette recorder, even with the way the new features now work in the beta.
... 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.

This is why many of us resorted to tape decks and cassette recorders -- essentially a way of assembling a playlist of tracks and eliminating all of that album handling. With the digital players this is so much easier and the resulting quality is higher. Because of the easy random access characteristic of digital media, building a list of tracks is a lot less "work". The aggressive "play from here" increases my "work".
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.

Your TV probably has different options to my TV and I'm reasonably sure such customisation leads to confusion for some users, so much so, that many users often leave such settings at their default anyway. It's clearly better if no such customisation is available for all, as we could then all do things in the same way ... Which is what Sonos want to do with their software - at least keeping customisation to the bare-minimum. I applaud them for making that effort, even if some things are 'forced' onto a user, who has to 'adapt' accordingly. Not everyone will agree with that sentiment, but the majority will, if it makes life easier and simple.

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.

I am sure Sonos can be bothered, but they are choosing to make their controller 'look and feel' the same everywhere. Simplicity is often 'key' to success... it would be good if all TV remote controls were the same too I think, that would make life so much easier when buying a new TV.

Even Windows 10 customisation has been drastically cut back compared to Windows 7and only certain colours and limited fonts can now be chosen, as part of their latest customisation settings... Microsoft went too far.

Sonos are simply keeping a tight rein on things ...and I can't say that I blame them.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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".
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.
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.
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).
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And then you have people complaining about desktop version wanting it changed (which I don't think will happen).
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...
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.
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.