SONOS...don't be silent about V8 backlash

  • 26 October 2017
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SONOS, now is not the time to be silent. People have spent SIGNIFICANT money on your products, and for you to FORCE an update on everyone, an update that the large majority find unusable, unstable, and overall just BAD, we need to hear from you on what your intentions are. Transparency is important. Do not just sit back and be silent. Don't make us sort through hundreds of posts to find whatever information you are giving. Put information clearly on your support page.

In the future, remember that your software is tied to very expensive hardware that we, your customers, have purchased. Before you go making huge changes to the software, how about putting it out as a trial, or send users emails with images of the UI, demo site, so we can give feedback BEFORE you ruin everyone's systems? Or better yet, give us a ROLLBACK option that works.

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36 replies

There is no question that there are a lot more users posting negative comments than positive ones, but 99.9999% don't feel strongly enough to come on here and comment either way. I agree with some of the criticisms, particularly of the visuals, which I don't like at all. I think there are other flaws and have commented on those elsewhere too.

But I happen to believe that the fundamental model is sound and that the structural changes are nothing like as significant as some are saying. I respect people's right to come on here and ask for Sonos to go back to v7, but I am entitled to say that I think a better solution would be to fix the flaws in v8. Let's just agree to differ on that.
Leaving aside the visuals (and I know they matter), here is what has changed:

1. There is a new navigation bar, which takes you to the key screens from one place. You need a room or rooms, and you need some music. You can Browse for it (i.e. go to a list of sources), Search for it, or go to your personal Favourites and Playlists. If you want non-day-to-day stuff it is on the More button. It seems to me that is logical and easy once you get it
What hasn't helped is not having the bar visible on the Now Playing screen, which has added to the navigation hassle. Strong rumours that will change.
2. This all ties up with the fact that the contents of the old main menu have been split to correspond to those buttons. It all hangs together.
3. Favourites have been split into types. This seems to me to be helpful in principle, but spoiled in practice by the over large icons - but that can be fixed.
4. The 'quick grouping' facility has been added. The main effect of this seems to have been users mistaking it for the proper rooms management screen. This seems to me the source of much confusion and frustration.

I would see these as generally positive changes, currently imperfectly executed, with the better organisation muddied by some visual flaws.

Finally, I am absolutely convinced that 'intuitive' is mostly just 'what I am used to', and this sort of backlash always happens with this sort of change. (Let me say again, that does not mean that I think all the criticisms are invalid.)

That is my attempt at a rational analysis of what has happened. You are free to disagree.

Simply highlighting the irony of a small inner circle on this forum convincing each other the negative comments are being posted by the same set of people time and time again.

A follow up to the above:
What is more likely - that the few positive people are trying to convince each other that negative comments are being posted by the same set over and over?
Or, the few positive ones are trying to get the negative commenters to understand that negative people like them are far more likely to post because most that are positive or even neutral don't bother to post, so the ratio of many negatives to few positives on a forum of posters is largely meaningless? And to get the negative commenters to understand that most of the negative aspects go away with some learning and that both negative comments and relearning based hiccups are things that are an inseparable part of every upgrade? And the irony in the same set that attacked the prior version when it was released now pining to go back to it?
The way this is done can be abrupt at times, I agree; but consider the circumstances for this - when this has to be done the nth time on the nth thread on the same beaten to the death subject, it isn't easy to be otherwise.
On the other hand, there are a small set of negative posters that offer constructive and calm feedback that do not get this kind of response.
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What is more likely - that the few positive people are trying to convince each other that negative comments are being posted by the same set over and over?
When I posted my reply that's exactly what the conversation had gotten to: "Always amusing how changes trigger these visceral responses, with often the same people who complained bitterly about the previous update now claim it was beautiful. It never ends, lol."

It's obvious though that most of the negative comments are from people with no prior history on this forum.

so the ratio of many negatives to few positives on a forum of posters is largely meaningless
Looking at the app ratings on the play store, that's open for interpretation. More importantly though, the inherent imbalance between positive and negative comments does not mean that negative comments reflect a small minority of the customer base at all times, regardless of how much negative feedback you might be receiving.

At a certain point, you do need to acknowledge that there is indeed a problem.


And to get the negative commenters to understand that most of the negative aspects go away with some learning and that both negative comments and relearning based hiccups are things that are an inseparable part of every upgrade?
While familiarity does indeed play a role, the current issues are more fundamental than that, as they are often about basic usability and efficiently. And that doesn't change no matter how used you may have gotten to the new interface.

Changing rooms for example has become incredibly more cumbersome than in the previous version. Even if you are fully used to the new process, you still need numerous additional clicks, often jumping from the top of the screen to the bottom and back, to get that done. And Why? No-one can tell, as the previous approach with the little drop down underneath what's playing was a lot more straightforward.

Same story with the screen design to select a speaker where you now need to scroll while previously you didn't for the same amount of information, Again, that will remain less efficient. doesn't matter how used you may have gotten to it,

And why does that matter so much? Because most people do not care about how pretty that interface looks, they just want to quickly change what is playing and where and continue with what they were doing. So when you make that harder, is no more than normal that people get upset.

And to add insult to injury, Sonos doesn't even properly acknowledge all this, except for some empty 'we value you feedback'-like statements (hence this thread).

And the irony in the same set that attacked the prior version when it was released now pining to go back to it?
That's actually quite logical. The current version is worse than the previous one, while the blue version in turn was better than that previous version.

The problem is much bigger this time though as some of the most basic functionality is impacted quite significantly, without any meaningful improvements to compensate. Previously it was more of a mixed bag, with some elements changing for the better, while others changed for the worse. This time around however there's little benefit to be found.

The way this is done can be abrupt at times, I agree; but consider the circumstances for this - when this has to be done the nth time on the nth thread on the same beaten to the death subject, it isn't easy to be otherwise..
There is an alternative and that's to demand form Sonos that they user test their new interfaces, and actually take feedback into account during a beta. That way, by the time the new update rolls out, the kinks have been ironed out, and you don't get a huge backlash when you force people to upgrade (something you shouldn't be doing in the first place, especially when confronted with a backlash).

You just don't treat people that have often payed several thousands for your hardware as a bunch of insignificant guinea pigs that should roll over when you say so.

On the other hand, there are a small set of negative posters that offer constructive and calm feedback that do not get this kind of response.
While that's true for some posters, like John B for example who wrote that guide, that's certainly not the case for all of them.

Posters like jgatie are just being aggressive and rude, and no more that that. Blaming people for not getting with the program - while refusing to acknowledge the sound argument they bring to the table - is not something you can call constructive.
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Sonos has not been silent at all. Recently a Sonos rep said the following:

There are lots of big plans around the new app, voice control, and the future of Sonos, and it's moving a lot faster than we ever have before. I can't speak to what's coming next, or when, because software development takes time and things come up that change dates all the time.

The team is hard at work looking at feedback and criticism, and they will continue to do so as we develop the software, and hardware too for that matter. Feedback on the community tends to include a lot of criticism because having concerns is far more motivating when it comes to offering suggestions compared with enjoying a new design. We got a lot of feedback and some great constructive suggestions which will be getting fed into future versions of the app. This is just the start of the new design for the controller.

I think you've already shared some great feedback in other threads that has been passed up, but if you have any other suggestions please feel free to share.

Thanks!


He and others have repeatedly stated they are collecting feedback and relaying it to the development teams and that there will be changes coming soon, with others coming later.


Repeatedly where? Like I asked very clearly, SONOS needs to post their intentions FRONT AND CENTER on the support page or a sticky post on this forum. I am NOT going to read through hundreds of posts to get a few morsels of SONOS response.

So far, I have seen NOTHING front and center, for people to see. Actions speak louder than words, and SONOS's lack of action speaks volumes.
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Repeatedly where? Like I asked very clearly, SONOS needs to post their intentions FRONT AND CENTER on the support page or a sticky post on this forum. I am NOT going to read through hundreds of posts to get a few morsels of SONOS response.

Repeatedly on pretty much every relevant thread, including the sticky one announcing the new app:
https://en.community.sonos.com/announcements-228985/now-available-the-new-sonos-app-6791306

There are definite areas for improvement in the new app, mostly not difficult to implement. I'm hoping that the 8.2 app incorporates some of these improvements.
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O' this makes me so glad I'm no longer involved in consumer software product management! 🙂

The need to balance the views that a product is 'stale' and 'out of touch with new technology' vs 'It's not as good as the app I know and have used for years' is never easy and it takes a huge amount of effort and time to canvas opinion from many varied sources and plan a product roadmap. Sometimes there are obvious problems and changes in architecture are bound to increase stability issues in the short term but we should all remember that a lot of people are trying to develop a product that everyone will love and that during the delivery of that road map emotions will run high!

Constructive feedback is always good but emotion always clouds peoples responses - the old adage 'Please Respond and not React' comes to mind.
Leaving aside the visuals (and I know they matter), here is what has changed:

1. There is a new navigation bar, which takes you to the key screens from one place. You need a room or rooms, and you need some music. You can Browse for it (i.e. go to a list of sources), Search for it, or go to your personal Favourites and Playlists. If you want non-day-to-day stuff it is on the More button. It seems to me that is logical and easy once you get it
What hasn't helped is not having the bar visible on the Now Playing screen, which has added to the navigation hassle. Strong rumours that will change.
2. This all ties up with the fact that the contents of the old main menu have been split to correspond to those buttons. It all hangs together.
3. Favourites have been split into types. This seems to me to be helpful in principle, but spoiled in practice by the over large icons - but that can be fixed.
4. The 'quick grouping' facility has been added. The main effect of this seems to have been users mistaking it for the proper rooms management screen. This seems to me the source of much confusion and frustration.

I would see these as generally positive changes, currently imperfectly executed, with the better organisation muddied by some visual flaws.

Finally, I am absolutely convinced that 'intuitive' is mostly just 'what I am used to', and this sort of backlash always happens with this sort of change. (Let me say again, that does not mean that I think all the criticisms are invalid.)

That is my attempt at a rational analysis of what has happened. You are free to disagree.


I think John B's comments, just about sums things up.

I also think Sonos may have long term plans for the new interface that we are not yet privvy to. My thoughts are perhaps being able to limit the tabs for use in some kind of party mode, or being able to access your own favourite music tracks and playlists at a friends house, or maybe other locations.... or having multiple accounts available on one controller that gives family members access to their own Favorites and Playlists.

It appears some folk are presently seeing the change to the interface as being unnecessary at this point in time, but they may not be thinking about the 'wider' potential future possibilities.

My thoughts are that the new 'individual' tab screens on the main controller bar, will eventually bring about some further 'innovative' Sonos development. The cosmetic issues that many seem to talk about now, are not really that significant and I’m sure will soon be fixed... it’s what comes after that, that I’m looking forward to.
The last two posts above are like a breath of fresh air; thank you.
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I also think Sonos may have long term plans for the new interface that we are not yet privvy to.
Or it might just be that someone decided to cut corners and copycat the apple music player instead of doing proper research. It sure would explain a lot.
I also think Sonos may have long term plans for the new interface that we are not yet privvy to.
Or it might just be that someone decided to cut corners and copycat the apple music player instead of doing proper research. It sure would explain a lot.
It would seem strange to copy a music player when the Sonos app is not a music player, but I'm not quite so sanguine as Ken about there being a grand scheme. I would say that 8.0 was beta standard but not labelled beta. No idea what the background to that is, but I do remain optimistic that 8.2 or 8.3 will be what we should have had at 8.0. And as long as it remains Sonos' policy not to give any specifics about their plans, speculation and cynicism will (understandably?) fill the vacuum.