Horrible UI - Still

  • 5 August 2022
  • 66 replies
  • 1302 views

Userlevel 1
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I’ve been using Sonos for 16 years (one of their first users.) I’ve purchased close to 50 Sonos devices.

 

I’ve been complaining about the UI for 15 years. It’s horrible. Performing simple actions like opening the equalizer requires 5 minutes of discovery every time you want to use it.

 

Why don’t the navigation icons at the bottom of the app have labels.

 

Why does the screen for selecting rooms/devices have the title “System”.  Why is the icon in the navigation bar for this function totally unrelated to the function. Why is the setting for Alarms on the screen for selecting rooms.

 

Why are there three separate icons  (search, favorites and browse) in the NavBar for selecting Music.

 

Why are the playback controls hidden in the collapsed now playing screen.

 

Setting up a new AMP…...What kind of imbecile would require a user to input a code into the app when installing a new device that’s written in illegible characters (requires a magnifying glass) on the back of the device, and only let the user know that it’s needed after the unit has already been installed at the back of a rack, under a sofa, or on the bottom shelf of a bookshelf.

 

“How do you want to use Amp”   - It’s not “as stereo speakers”  ….. it’s “with stereo speakers.”  AMP is an amp. It’s not a speaker (or speakers.)

 

In addition, to being a Sonos user, I work as a product manager.  It makes me want to puke every time I use the Sonos app.

 

This has to be the worst UI I’ve ever seen on an app for a well established Comapany


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66 replies

Userlevel 1
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I think part of this is a generational problem. As I watch young folk, they seem to be looking for excuses to fondle their phone/pad. Nearly empty screens or screens with lots of pictures implies “easy”. They don’t mind scrolling forever.

 

I think that’s part of the problem. For a lot of apps/sites, maximizing screen time is the key to maximizing revenue. That’s become ingrained into a lot of design thinking. The goal with an app like Sonos should be minimize user screen time.

 

Userlevel 5
Badge +7

Incidentally, I know my profile says I’ve been a member since 2015 (or something like that) but in truth I’ve been around many years longer than that. My old account was linked to an email address that I no longer have and the only way I could change my email address with Sonos at the time was to create a new account :) 

Userlevel 5
Badge +7

 

A lot of thngs in the app feel like they’ve been “bolted on” or “shoe-horned” in to the existing app and it could really do with a proper re-write rather than just tarting it up with a re-skin.

 

You obviously weren't around the last time Sonos did this, to a storm of protest.

I do know that it’s not an easy thing to re-design and re-write existing software…. I was a software developer for over 30 years until recent early retirement. I fully understood the need for the S2 version so that old legacy products didn’t stifle the software, but apart from improvements to setup routines and features like that, it’s still the same old app as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

You do understand that the app is just a remote control for the system, and all the system firmware is on the speakers? Why were you expecting the remote control to change at the point when the S1/S2 split occurred?

 

 

Yes I’ve been around a long time with Sonos and whilst I like it, I do allow myself to criticise when I think it necessary. Yes I do understand how the Sonos system works and at the time Sonos were telling us that S2 would allow them to do a lot of exciting new stuff (although perhaps not those exact words) so I probably assumed that they would want to improve the software which is always stated as the thing that lets Sonos down in most reviews I’ve read or seen.

As an ex commercial software developer and designer I do know that whatever you do, you will always get people who moan about it…. it’s a given, but that shouldn’t stop the process of continuous improvement in the software.

 

Anyone else here still fondly remember the (odd but brilliant) MOG UI?  Still have all the old WordStar key combos memorized?  Still use vi? ;)

Userlevel 5
Badge +9

I think part of this is a generational problem. As I watch young folk, they seem to be looking for excuses to fondle their phone/pad

 

 

OK Boomer.

 

A lot of thngs in the app feel like they’ve been “bolted on” or “shoe-horned” in to the existing app and it could really do with a proper re-write rather than just tarting it up with a re-skin.

 

You obviously weren't around the last time Sonos did this, to a storm of protest.

I do know that it’s not an easy thing to re-design and re-write existing software…. I was a software developer for over 30 years until recent early retirement. I fully understood the need for the S2 version so that old legacy products didn’t stifle the software, but apart from improvements to setup routines and features like that, it’s still the same old app as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

You do understand that the app is just a remote control for the system, and all the system firmware is on the speakers? Why were you expecting the remote control to change at the point when the S1/S2 split occurred?

 

I think part of this is a generational problem. As I watch young folk, they seem to be looking for excuses to fondle their phone/pad. Nearly empty screens or screens with lots of pictures implies “easy”. They don’t mind scrolling forever. If they saw my desktop, they’d probably choke because it looks “hard”, but I can get things done quickly with minimal clicks and scrolls.

This continues on for a lot of big name web sites, including SONOS. There are lots of huge, pretty images, videos, and scrolling. Overall, the screens are sparse, but It’s easy to find the “Buy Now” buttons, hard to find anything that requires text. The latest trend seems to be a pop-up asking if I found what I was looking for. This pops up immediately after I land on the site. The very first question is “would you recommend this product to your friends?”, then they ask I found what I was looking for.

It seems as if they all went to the same design school or read the same text.

This carries over into lots of activities for young one’s because their attention span is very short. You’ve got their attention for a minute or two (if you are lucky), then they start to fret that they are missing a text or tweet.

Userlevel 5
Badge +8

 

I know I have a similar problem when, after playing music on Arc I want to return the sound to TV. 

Check settings, if you have ‘TV Autoplay’ enabled it will automatically switch to the TV sound when you turn TV back on, no need to stop music and select TV as source.

 

Userlevel 5
Badge +7

Whilst I wouldn’t actually call the software horrible, I’m still disappointed in the appearance, features and usability.

When I took the plunge and scrapped quite a bit of my old Sonos gear to “upgrade” to the S2 version, I thought by the way Sonos were pushing it that the app would be vastly improved and to be honest I’m still waiting for that to happen because it’s just the same from a usability point of view.

A lot of things in the app feel like they’ve been “bolted on” or “shoe-horned” in to the existing app and it could really do with a proper re-write rather than just tarting it up with a re-skin.

The app is usable but it could be so much nicer and easier to use with a better design in my opinion.

I do know that it’s not an easy thing to re-design and re-write existing software…. I was a software developer for over 30 years until recent early retirement. I fully understood the need for the S2 version so that old legacy products didn’t stifle the software, but apart from improvements to setup routines and features like that, it’s still the same old app as far as I’m concerned.

In conclusion, I would call the software “mediocre” but I do like the Sonos speakers :)

 

Userlevel 1
Badge +5

 

The Sonos app is bad and that is it. It is not intuitive, it is missing features and nothing is logical.

I do understand that if you get used to it…. but that is the problem. You don’t need to get used to a good app.

 

 

Amen.

This is my first visit to this community and I came here just to do that. To complain on the UI that is really bad.

The reasons I bought many speakers is the sound quality, connectivity and everything else. I find the app to be something that can be changed if the product is good. So here the product is great, but the app is a total miss. The number of clicks required to do something simple is unbelievably large and stupid.

I am 42 years old. I had my first computer when I was 6 years old. I started with basics and here I am many years later. I know how to program in some languages and many years back I even learned assembler. People around me stayed in the IT business and developed many apps.

The Sonos app is bad and that is it. It is not intuitive, it is missing features and nothing is logical.

I do understand that if you get used to it…. but that is the problem. You don’t need to get used to a good app.

So I am confirming here that the app is bad. Really bad. So bad that I am here. Thinking about getting my friends together so they can make me a new app. The one that doesn’t need getting used to. Again, the product is great and the app by itself is not unusable to not use it, but it is marginal.

 

I am using android app and Windows app, but I don’t think others are much different.

 

I will give you an example:

I like shutting my sub off in the evening. So here is how to do it.

Choose the room with the Arc and connected sub. Then press volume button on the phone so the equalizer icon appears. Click the equalizer icon. Then settings. Scroll down to Sound->Sub Audio. Then I have sub enable/disable button.

How many clicks is that?

I know I have a similar problem when, after playing music on Arc I want to return the sound to TV. Some similar s… is needed.

There is more, but I don’t know is there any point in going further after reading comments. It seams like everybody else are happy with the app and number of clicks in it and that few of us have a problem. But then again, I know that people think something is good as long as they don’t try something miles better. They can’t even imagine what that is and that is a problem. I can imagine what a mile better app is.

Another alternative to switching off the Sub each evening… ‘Hey Sonos, switch on Night Mode’ or use that feature via the App - just as good and a lot less troublesome to enable/disable. 

For many, the Sonos App is fine, just because you don’t like it, it doesn’t mean that applies to everyone.

Oh..and the Windows Controller App, which you also mention, has been in maintenance-only mode for some years. Development was halted on that platform because the majority of users apparently use iOS and/or Android controllers.  

I think that’s maybe the platform for your mates to begin their development - maybe a browser version of the App that links to server-side services and user accounts, eh?
 

Unfortunately I haven't notice that Night Mode switches the sub off. I tried this as a first solution. It is better, but not good enough. Still have low noise bass thru the house. So switching it completely off is much better and the Arc is good enough for usual usage at night. Night mode can be switched on easily and that is not a problem.

The point stays that the app is not intuitive and really takes time to get use to it. It has to much clicks and scrolls to do something. At this point I partially agree with the creator of the post. I absolutely agree with the statement, but I’m not sure for every point made. In general I think we think the same. App is bad. I am mainly talking about Android app used on my phone.

I will agree for the Windows app. I installed it recently just to see if I can do something faster or better on the bigger screen just to find out that it is not much better than the Android one. It has some things more, but again missing other things. Larger screen gives more things to be seen on the screen. So queue is better visible, choosing multi room speakers is all in one screen, volume is always there as are the controls for the music. So overall I find it better than the Android app. Search bar is a problem. I have to choose where I want to search the music. Google play, Local or Radio. There is no visible option to search all.

It took something like 2 years to finally solve the search problem on the Android appp. Until few months ago it didn’t work. I had to type query in the search, then press Overview button, then return and only then I would get results. There was no other way for this to work. Phones I had… S10, S21. So Samsung top of the line and if it doesn’t work there I don’t know where it should. Now it finally works. It’s a bit slow, but it’s working.

I just feel that the quality of the sound and overall idea is not nearly followed by the quality of the app. If the Sonos speaker is 8 or 9 then the app is max 4.

Once again. I can do everything in the app. I can turn off the Sub. I can do everything. 27 clicks and I’m there. And by the comments, most of you are OK with that. But hey, two of as are not :)

Every time I start the app my disappointment with it rises. Such a good speaker and idea but not the app. The quality of the speaker can’t be improved later (the driver, box or the amp), but fortunately for all the App can. The app needs it, the speakers don’t. So there is hope.

This is my first visit to this community and I came here just to do that. To complain on the UI that is really bad.

The reasons I bought many speakers is the sound quality, connectivity and everything else. I find the app to be something that can be changed if the product is good. So here the product is great, but the app is a total miss. The number of clicks required to do something simple is unbelievably large and stupid.

I am 42 years old. I had my first computer when I was 6 years old. I started with basics and here I am many years later. I know how to program in some languages and many years back I even learned assembler. People around me stayed in the IT business and developed many apps.

The Sonos app is bad and that is it. It is not intuitive, it is missing features and nothing is logical.

I do understand that if you get used to it…. but that is the problem. You don’t need to get used to a good app.

So I am confirming here that the app is bad. Really bad. So bad that I am here. Thinking about getting my friends together so they can make me a new app. The one that doesn’t need getting used to. Again, the product is great and the app by itself is not unusable to not use it, but it is marginal.

 

I am using android app and Windows app, but I don’t think others are much different.

 

I will give you an example:

I like shutting my sub off in the evening. So here is how to do it.

Choose the room with the Arc and connected sub. Then press volume button on the phone so the equalizer icon appears. Click the equalizer icon. Then settings. Scroll down to Sound->Sub Audio. Then I have sub enable/disable button.

How many clicks is that?

I know I have a similar problem when, after playing music on Arc I want to return the sound to TV. Some similar s… is needed.

There is more, but I don’t know is there any point in going further after reading comments. It seams like everybody else are happy with the app and number of clicks in it and that few of us have a problem. But then again, I know that people think something is good as long as they don’t try something miles better. They can’t even imagine what that is and that is a problem. I can imagine what a mile better app is.

Another alternative to switching off the Sub each evening… ‘Hey Sonos, switch on Night Mode’ or use that feature via the App - just as good and a lot less troublesome to enable/disable. 

For many, the Sonos App is fine, just because you don’t like it, it doesn’t mean that applies to everyone.

Oh..and the Windows Controller App, which you also mention, has been in maintenance-only mode for some years. Development was halted on that platform because the majority of users apparently use iOS and/or Android controllers.  

I think that’s maybe the platform for your mates to begin their development - maybe a browser version of the App that links to server-side services and user accounts, eh?
 

I’ve been using Sonos for 16 years (one of their first users.) I’ve purchased close to 50 Sonos devices.

 

I’ve been complaining about the UI for 15 years. It’s horrible. Performing simple actions like opening the equalizer requires 5 minutes of discovery every time you want to use it.

 

Why don’t the navigation icons at the bottom of the app have labels.

 

Why does the screen for selecting rooms/devices have the title “System”.  Why is the icon in the navigation bar for this function totally unrelated to the function. Why is the setting for Alarms on the screen for selecting rooms.

 

Why are there three separate icons  (search, favorites and browse) in the NavBar for selecting Music.

 

Why are the playback controls hidden in the collapsed now playing screen.

 

Setting up a new AMP…...What kind of imbecile would require a user to input a code into the app when installing a new device that’s written in illegible characters (requires a magnifying glass) on the back of the device, and only let the user know that it’s needed after the unit has already been installed at the back of a rack, under a sofa, or on the bottom shelf of a bookshelf.

 

“How do you want to use Amp”   - It’s not “as stereo speakers”  ….. it’s “with stereo speakers.”  AMP is an amp. It’s not a speaker (or speakers.)

 

In addition, to being a Sonos user, I work as a product manager.  It makes me want to puke every time I use the Sonos app.

 

This has to be the worst UI I’ve ever seen on an app for a well established Comapany

 

This is my first visit to this community and I came here just to do that. To complain on the UI that is really bad.

The reasons I bought many speakers is the sound quality, connectivity and everything else. I find the app to be something that can be changed if the product is good. So here the product is great, but the app is a total miss. The number of clicks required to do something simple is unbelievably large and stupid.

I am 42 years old. I had my first computer when I was 6 years old. I started with basics and here I am many years later. I know how to program in some languages and many years back I even learned assembler. People around me stayed in the IT business and developed many apps.

The Sonos app is bad and that is it. It is not intuitive, it is missing features and nothing is logical.

I do understand that if you get used to it…. but that is the problem. You don’t need to get used to a good app.

So I am confirming here that the app is bad. Really bad. So bad that I am here. Thinking about getting my friends together so they can make me a new app. The one that doesn’t need getting used to. Again, the product is great and the app by itself is not unusable to not use it, but it is marginal.

 

I am using android app and Windows app, but I don’t think others are much different.

 

I will give you an example:

I like shutting my sub off in the evening. So here is how to do it.

Choose the room with the Arc and connected sub. Then press volume button on the phone so the equalizer icon appears. Click the equalizer icon. Then settings. Scroll down to Sound->Sub Audio. Then I have sub enable/disable button.

How many clicks is that?

I know I have a similar problem when, after playing music on Arc I want to return the sound to TV. Some similar s… is needed.

There is more, but I don’t know is there any point in going further after reading comments. It seams like everybody else are happy with the app and number of clicks in it and that few of us have a problem. But then again, I know that people think something is good as long as they don’t try something miles better. They can’t even imagine what that is and that is a problem. I can imagine what a mile better app is.

Precisely. I always tell me designers that anytime a user has to scroll that it’s a design failure.

 

So how would you present a 15-room system on an iPhone without scrolling?

I have to say it’s a shame that @dtohmatsu has been upset about the System name for so long when he could have changed it to anything he wanted.  No doubt he will blame Sonos for not making this clear.

One thing I would certainly agree with is that ‘My Sonos’ is a bit of a mess and could be substantially improved.

Userlevel 7
Badge +18

Let’s stay on topic, please.

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

Its not my *** app, ok?

 

MODERATOR EDIT: language

 

I apologize.  You've been shilling your own apps against forum rules for years, forgive me if I don't bother to check who authors what any more.

The rules about this were made clear to me by the moderators many years ago. You may not agree on them, but I don’t care what you think, it’s what they think that is important.

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Back on topic, one of the original issues the OP raised was about the word “System” on the room selection page. Forgive me if I misunderstood your point but the “System” name can be changed by the user and that name is what appears on that screen.

Ross.


 

 

Has Sonos been making app changes to exploit advances in smart phone tech over the years, or has it, as I suspect, been doing this to just keep up with the joneses, when nothing new can be offered that year?

And the changes tend to be revolutionary rather than evolutionary to attract attention, losing the advantages an evolutionary approach can bring - ask mother nature about that.

Its not my *** app, ok?

 

MODERATOR EDIT: language

 

I apologize.  You've been shilling your own apps against forum rules for years, forgive me if I don't bother to check who authors what any more.

Userlevel 1
Badge +5

IME there are two types of users. Ones who are productive and like to get things done efficiently, and ones who are happy to spend their whole day scrolling through TikTok and YouTube videos.

 

Some of the general guidelines I use in design are.

  1. Every additional action required reduces usage by 10x
  2. Scrolling/swiping/selecting from menus requires 10x the cognitive overhead of tapping.
  3. Parsing/finding unlabelled, unfamiliar, and/or monotone icons is a total waste of user time and completely unnecessary.

I’m in the productivity bin, but I notice throngs of young users who are looking for excuses to stroke their phone/pad. These individuals will look at a screen that we would classify as “productive” and cry “too complicated”. As a market reality they are much more likely to purchase “easy”.

 

Totally agree. It’s one of the big challenges in creating good software apps. If you read App Store reviews, you will see thousands of apps where the reviews are initially dominated by “beautiful” and “simple.” Inevitably the tide changes after a few months and the comments are all “doesn’t work” or “can’t do xyz.”  It’s hard to acquire users, but it’s even harder to retain them.

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

 

Obviously.  Good for him that’s he promoting his app as long as he’s not violating forum rules.

 

He is violating forum rules, he just doesn't care.

You are violating forum rules by making s-t up about me, and personally attacking me. And have done for a very long time as I recall.

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

I might. Any reason they don’t offer a free trial. If the app is decent, a trial would have a very high conversion rate and might even support a subscription model.

 

It's not "they", it's "you".  The guy shilling the app is the author, and the beneficiary of any sales. 

 

Obviously.  Good for him that’s he promoting his app as long as he’s not violating forum rules.

Its not my *** app, ok?

 

MODERATOR EDIT: language

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

I might. Any reason they don’t offer a free trial. If the app is decent, a trial would have a very high conversion rate and might even support a subscription model.

 

It's not "they", it's "you".  The guy shilling the app is the author, and the beneficiary of any sales. 

Um no, I have nothing to do with that app, I just happen to think its a solid alternative on iOS. 888888888888888888888888888888

 

MODERATOR EDIT: unnecessary comment about another user.

IME there are two types of users. Ones who are productive and like to get things done efficiently, and ones who are happy to spend their whole day scrolling through TikTok and YouTube videos.

 

Some of the general guidelines I use in design are.

  1. Every additional action required reduces usage by 10x
  2. Scrolling/swiping/selecting from menus requires 10x the cognitive overhead of tapping.
  3. Parsing/finding unlabelled, unfamiliar, and/or monotone icons is a total waste of user time and completely unnecessary.

I’m in the productivity bin, but I notice throngs of young users who are looking for excuses to stroke their phone/pad. These individuals will look at a screen that we would classify as “productive” and cry “too complicated”. As a market reality they are much more likely to purchase “easy”.

 

Obviously.  Good for him that’s he promoting his app as long as he’s not violating forum rules.

 

He is violating forum rules, he just doesn't care.