Can Software Updates be Mandatory?

  • 25 April 2017
  • 7 replies

I've noticed over the past few software updates that unless updates are done (eventually), functionality starts to disappear. For example, until I accept a software update, my ability to update my music library index ceases to be available on an Android controller. Only by accepting the upgrade can I see the Update Library option once more. Whilst I accept that these free upgrades can add functionality to the device I originally agreed to buy from Sonos, to manadate these changes by temporarily curtailing the existing functionality of something I own - and something that was part of a 'contract' between me and the seller - seems disingenuous. No doubt this is a common observation across all software enabled consumer devices - an maybe an activity covered in the small print somewhere (or under that 'right to continuous improvement' caveat), but I wonder what the legal position is (in the UK) for a contracted (seller-buyer) item to be changed away from that purchased at the supplier's whim? Or is this just the modern world - 'get with it'?

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7 replies

I suggest you row back on the implied legal threats. Sonos doesn't unilaterally curtail features in your installed software. What most likely happened was that your Android controller app auto-updated to the latest version, which was then out of step with your players. As a result its functionality was reduced.

If you want to exert complete control over the Sonos software you'd need to resort to manual Android app updates and ensure that the Sonos controller is excluded.
Thanks for the swift response. There is, of course, no implied legal threat above - just a query by an amateur. A far as I am aware, my Android tablet does not automatically pull updates - last time I had to manually download the latest v of the app. I'll watch closely what happens next time around. All of the other bits of my Sonos system are set to respond only to a manual update - which is why I am able (I thought) to hold out on updates as long as can. I held out really tenaciously on the queue functionality update - and what a mess it is now. Despite 'giving it time' over considerable usage, we both continue to mess up a queue every now and then by brief swipes being misinterpreted as 'taps' and normal 'switch pigs' (as aviators call them).
If nothing changes -- the firmware or the controller software -- then the system should carry on functioning just the same. The one possible exception is in the area of online music services, which are of course outside Sonos' control.

Adding a new Sonos unit would however often render a system unusable until an update is performed. Units tend to arrive ex stock with out-of-date firmware. If a user has tried to retain an older version on their system it's the luck of the draw whether the new device will carry the same version. If there's any mismatch between old and new hardware units then all will have to be updated to the latest version.

As noted, the most common reason for options to go missing in a controller is because the app has been updated silently. If it happens again, look in Settings/About My Sonos System for the version numbers.
You can set the system not to update automatically, but it only takes one device to be updated for it to go out of sync, leaving you with little update but to update everything. It's unfortunate, but it's partly down to the difficulty of stopping a single app updating, e.g. on Android. I'd rather it could be totally locked down, but haven't seen any moves to do so...
Automatic app updates are handled between the device and the relevant app store. How exactly could Sonos lock that down?
Look at ratty's point about making it very difficult to add new Sonos products when one insists on freezing their system at a certain release level and one can understand why Sonos doesn't pour resources into the decidedly complex ability to juggle release versions back and forth. It would not only complicate things tenfold, it would also kill sales for the decidedly small number of users who choose that route. Large number of resources dedicated to a small demand, coupled with zero future sales to that small demand group does not a profitable company make.