Unadulterated Hatred for New App

  • 25 October 2017
  • 36 replies
  • 2721 views

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I've used Sonos for several years now, and while I haven't been fan of the controller software it never caused me the level of frustration and outright anger I feel every time i use it now. It did it's job and overall I never gave it much thought. Context: we have 5 Play 1's, one Play 3 and one Play 5. 95% of the time I use the Android controller to control my system, unless I'm working from home on my Windows machine, and then I will use the Windows app. (Thank God I still have that...)

I'd been ignoring the new release, as I knew I had no need for the Alexa features, but finally relented, as I got sick of seeing the prompt in the UI, and foolishly had not read any comments about the upgrade. From the get go, my first thoughts were:

* Slow and sluggish - I use the software on a Nexus 9 tablet and a Pixel phone. On both of those devices the UI is markedly slower than the previous one, especially when searching for artists or tracks, or grouping/un-grouping devices.
* Utterly unintuitive UI - Almost everything I've wanted to do I've had to experiment with for sometimes minutes, to figure out how in the world to do it. Trying to find how to play my Napster playlist, how to see what is queued in a given room, how to only search a given music provider, etc. For example, this morning, I turned on the app, went to the My Sonos page and clicked a station I like. It started playing on one speaker in the bedroom. No idea why it picked that speaker. The app had just opened, no room was active in the little strip at the bottom, and that hadn't been what I had last played on that speaker. I asked myself 'how do I turn off what is playing on that speaker'? I went to the Rooms page. I could see that something was playing on that speaker, with the little moving bar icons, but when I would select that speaker, then arrow up so it is filling the screen, the UI had no active controls to turn off the station; there were no active icons for stopping what was playing. I gave up after playing around for like 5 minutes and just walked over and turned the speaker off. I've had so many of these kinds of interactions, and I honestly cannot tell if these are bugs, truly missing features, or complete and utter sh$% design that has disabled functionality that used to be intuitive and straightforward.
* More clicks/interactions to do anything - For what works, and I can figure out how to do it, it seems that I have to navigate all over the place to do the most trivial things: finding my playlist within Napster, accessing alarms, switching to another room (when it works)...it feels like everything is at least twice as difficult/time-consuming as before
* Completely shattered my view of this company - Sonos has been one of my most absolute favorite products in the last few years. Not only did I love your speaker quality (still do) but from the first time I started using the software, and seeing how easy it was to browse across my many catalogs and throw different music on different rooms...I was thrilled. I have recommended it all the time to friends and family. No more. I cannot conceive how this product shipped in its current state. It is mind-blowingly bad. I think it is the worst application I've ever used, period, from a pure 'WTF' ratio. (Formula: time spent using app / WTFs uttered) We had been planing on adding more speakers, but forget that. We are officially in wait-and-see mode at this point, as I've lost complete faith that you guys care in the least about your customers. (My wife thinks this app is completely confusing and she regrets updating her iPad.)

After reading all the comments, I also agree that the color scheme is not as pleasing as the previous one, esp. since we do often use the app at night and/or in dim rooms. But that is the least of my complaints. I would gladly take a glaringly bright app if it worked well and was a pleasure to use.

I hardly ever give feedback, but I felt compelled to do so in this case. I am a professional software architect, who has designed many UIs over the last 20 years, and I daily work with people who use my software. I'm stunned that this product was released as-is. Did this honesty get through anything approaching a focus group made up of experienced users? I get the impression that the designers of this version have never used any of the previous versions, and aren't accustomed to using the product itself on a daily basis. Next to Windows 8, this is probably the single biggest WTF I've ever had with a piece of software I use on a regular basis. If Sonos was determined to release this, they should have released it as a *different app* that users could choose to install while keeping the current one, while explicitly soliciting feedback and then switching over when that one was ready and baked. ("Try the new Sonos Controller vNext.") This feels like a proof-of-concept/alpha release that just got slung out there. ("Works on my box!")

I'm so disappointed in this release, as Sonos was an element of daily joy in my life, and now each time I interact with the software I get pissed off. From the few comments of people who like this release, I seem to read elements of 'Sonos is trying to model it after streaming services', or something to that effect. Ummm. OK. I have never struggled with Napster, iHeartRadio, Pandora, or Spotify like I've struggled with this POS. And those apps *are not designed to control you speakers* which is the whole point of the Sonos Controller. Most of the streaming services excel at giving a UI that allows you to search for and find music, esp. new music; Sonos never did that well, and still doesn't. But I didn't care, as I didn't buy the product to be my music catalog; I bought it to listen to the music I want to listen to. It served it's purpose of letting me easily control what to play where, and I was proficient finding what I wanted to play easily via the search. That is now out the window.

Sonos, you need to redo this app quickly or make the old one available. Are you reading the comments and feedback, not only here but in the Google Play reviews? It is overwhelmingly negative for many valid reasons. This is like New Coke and Windows 8 bad. You guys are going to lose out on a lot more speaker sales from established customers if you basically flip us all the bird by keeping this version. At least put the old version back out there and give us the option of installing that. That is the least you could do.

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36 replies

It's like it never occurred to them: have TWO apps! Having to re-learn a UI for no apparent benefit. Oh, joy.
It's like it never occurred to them: have TWO apps! Having to re-learn a UI for no apparent benefit. Oh, joy.

Apple forbids two versions of an app, unless one is an older legacy version that cannot be updated. Since Sonos cannot update the older version, eventually it will cease working with the current firmware and/or services, which is why legacy versions are not offered in this way.
Having owned Sonos equipment for many years, I've always been frustrated by their software and its clear to me that they are a hardware company and have no idea how to develop software. They should really either accept that and make software development open-source or fire their developer and bring in a new team. I keep hoping with every release that it will get better but unfortunately it doesn't. It seems like they keep their developer in an isolated environment with no exposure to current UI concepts. Ultimately I hate this product because I'm dependant on it.
I hope sonos is considering the removal of some chief software engineers, which are responsible for this disaster. Considering the very high price of these speakers, you would expect better. I decided not to expand my existing setup, and instead, for the same money as two play5, i bought two (removed). Fantastic sound, leaves Sonos in the dust. Still have Sonos for multiroom feature, but when i want quality sound i go to my (removed).You don't seem to have any Sonos products listed on your profile at the time I am writing and only joined today. So forgive me if I wonder if this is just a plug for another system.
You don't seem to have any Sonos products listed on your profile at the time I am writing and only joined today. So forgive me if I wonder if this is just a plug for another system.

Of course it is. Just the fact they had to disguise the name of the product they are spamming points to that. :8
I too have used Sonos for years - with iOS as the primary UI. The latest design is horrible. I don't know what UX/UI Design input was given and usability testing was followed, but it doesn't work for me at all.
Why would a company supposedly on top of it's game update the app for controlling rooms to make it worse....as a layman reading the posts of the myriad engineers etc chiming in their is clearly something inherently wrong with the new updates....if I go to switch rooms the original rooms wants to stay on the control with the new room selected....have to go through it several times to change and I'm on the pixel XL phone which isn't old.....bad news for Sonos
All the recent Sonos updates are a disaster. I am a Sonos retailer and we've been receiving hundreds of calls from our clients
no longer able to use their Sonos systems. This requires us to provide in- home service calls and re-education as the app is no longer intuitive, and most of our clients-both consumer and commercial- have anywhere from 6 to 128 zones. Endless problems, zones disappear, unable to access NAS drives, drop outs, even the gui jumps around on the display, Sonos devices not responding to room/zone settings, even in the most robust wired networks. Even after some of the problems are resolved, they will often resurface again.
We're done. We are now moving our clients to both Blue Sound and Denon HEOS, as these are now more robust and have greatly improved intuitive control. It's a mystery to us and other custom providers-who are also moving to Blue Sound and HEOS- why Sonos shot themselves in the foot. There is no reason for this mess, it does not serve the customers requirements.
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Couldn't agree more with all the comments here. The iOS app is flat out terrible/unusable. Sonos needs to go back the the simplicity of the CR100 controller. I could pass that around at a party and we would have wonderful uninterrupted music all evening. I wouldn't dream of doing that with my iPad with this current app as it would result is epic user failures.

When will Sonos listen to all this valuable feedback and fix this mess!