I recently bought a Sonos Port, and the setup experience was horrible for me as a blind customer

  • 11 May 2022
  • 5 replies
  • 129 views

Hello there,

 

I’ve been a happy Sonos customer for almost 10 years now and have been really happy with my system, upgrading and expanding my setup as time passed.

As someone who is fully blind, I especially appreciate the fact that the Sonos app for iOS is fully accessible to me, there have been a few bugs at some points but I’ve always had the experience that once those issues were reported, they would soon be fixed. Furthermore, setting up new devices has always been a smooth experience, with clear textual instructions on what to do provided within the app.

Overall, my experience with Sonos really has been that the company does care about customers with disabilities, and so I’ve absolutely been recommending Sonos products to other visually impaired folks over the years.

 

Sadly, however, I was in for an unpleasant surprise when I recently purchased a Sonos Port for my setup.

After unboxing the device, I immediately found the big round pairing button on the rear panel, so I figured pairing it would be as simple as plugging it in, starting the process in the app and then pushing that button when prompted. Oh, how wrong I was…

Once I had started the setup process within the app, the Port was immediately discovered and the pairing process began just as expected.

A few minutes later, however, I was quite shocked to see the following prompt:

“To continue setting up your Sonos Port, please enter the PIN printed on the back of the device”.

 

So to recap: pairing this particular device is no longer a matter of plugging it into a power source, waiting for the app to detect the new device, walking through the setup screens and then pushing a button to confirm the pairing. No, it’s now also necessary to read a pairing PIN printed on the device and to then type said PIN into the app to pair, something which I naturally cannot do as a blind individual.

I do understand that it is important to ensure a person has physical access to a Sonos product in order to pair with it, but honestly that’s exactly what the pairing button on the back is for.

I’d also be perfectly fine with the Port playing a sound over the connected speaker system that contains a fingerprint that gets picked up by the iPhone’s microphone and confirms the authenticity of the pairing, these are all tried and tested solutions that to the best of my knowledge work well to prevent any sort of abuse and which are fully accessible.

 

Having to look at the device being paired in order to make out a PIN code means that as a blind Sonos customer, I’m no longer able to independently set up this device and will either need to rely on a sighted person to do it for me or return the device - in this particular instance I decided to do the latter.

 

Overall, I’m really disappointed that Sonos has decided to make this setup process completely inaccessible to visually impaired customers such as myself, and I’m worried that this development will impact future products as well going forward. I’m not sure if any other Sonos products besides the Port are using this pairing method as well, but I sure hope that this isn’t the case.

 

Again, I’m a huge fan of Sonos products and the ecosystem overall and would really love to keep using and recommending Sonos products, but if this is how it’ll be going forward this means I’ll be forced to migrate to some other solution eventually.

 

Robin


5 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Hi @robin24 

Thank you for posting this feedback - we take all feedback seriously and yours is, in particular, very important from an accessibility point of view. As I write this, your feedback is being relayed back to the relevant teams for consideration.

The Sonos Port and Sonos Amp are the only two products in our line-up that need a PIN for setup, due to a combination of the product’s design age and a lack of internal speakers. They have both been around for long enough to have secure PIN setup but are not young enough to have NFC, and their lack of internal speakers mean Chirps cannot be relied upon. Only products that are too old to have a PIN can be added with a button press. Please be assured that if you purchase any other Sonos products in the future, you will not experience the same issue of having to visually inspect the product to be able to set it up.

We now include differently-abled people in our test groups to ensure this kind of thing no longer happens.

Thank you again for sharing your feedback, we genuinely appreciate it.

Hey @Corry P,

 

Thanks so much for the prompt and very detailed response, this does provide some great context that makes me feel much better about the whole thing.

 

In particular, I’m very relieved to hear that PIN authentication will no longer be used in newer products, NFC sounds like a much better alternative and I totally understand that this can only be made available for newer devices.

 

The fact that Sonos doesn’t want to rely on externally connected speakers for audio chirps is also understandable, although I still wish this was available as an alternative option for individuals who are unable to read the PIN code printed on the device.

A QR code may have been a good alternative as well, those still require the user to hold the phone over the device at the correct angle so that the QR code can be captured, but in my opinion this tends to work really well in the majority of cases.

 

As a side note, I did try scanning the back of the Sonos Port using an OCR app on my phone trying to capture the PIN, however even after many attempts this unfortunately did not work - perhaps the font is too small or of a style that the app I used was unable to recognize.

 

Thanks again for the kind response and the details you provided, very greatly appreciated!

 

Robin

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Hi @robin24 

The PIN codes are often either in black ink on quite a dark grey sticker, or are etched by laser right onto the casing itself, also dark. The lack of contrast in these situations probably would prevent OCR from reading it effectively under various light conditions. I’m sure this could be considered too.

I think providing the option of using Chirps for those users with the outputs already connected would be a good idea, with caveats included, of course (speakers physically in a different room etc).

QR codes are a good idea too, though presumably only for stickers and not etching.

Thank you again - this can be a difficult situation for sighted people to fully appreciate and consider, so your feedback is very valuable.

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Hi @robin24 

Our product team has been in touch and would love to know more about your setup experience with Sonos products. In particular, the following points:

  1. Which OCR app do you use, if any?
  2. How you would go about reading a QR code on your phone/tablet - via an Android setting, the camera app, or a third-party app?
  3. If you use a third-party QR app, which one?
  4. Which device (phone/tablet) do you use?

Any details you can provide would be extremely helpful in our consideration of issues you’ve encountered when setting up any of your Sonos products - not just the Port. If you can recall back to any other setup problems you’ve encountered, we’d love to hear about them too.

Again, thank you very much for your time.

 

Hey @Corry P,

 

Sorry for the delayed response - unfortunately, I never received an Email notification letting me know that you had replied to the thread.

 

Thanks a lot for your additional questions which I’m happy to answer below:

 

  1. 1. Which OCR app do you use, if any?
  2.  

I personally mostly use the Seeing AI app by Microsoft for this purpose, https://apps.apple.com/de/app/seeing-ai/id999062298.

However, there are plenty of similar apps out there such as VoiceDream Scanner that people might use to do this.

 

2. How you would go about reading a QR code on your phone/tablet - via an Android setting, the camera app, or a third-party app?

 

Generally speaking, I actually would use either the iOS Camera app, or the Scan QR Code Control Center widget in order to accomplish this.

I don’t use Android so unfortunately I’m not sure at all how it works there, however I’m sure there’s a similar process in place on that platform as well.

 

In regards to using a QR code when pairing a piece of Sonos hardware, however, I feel this is something which should be built directly into the Sonos app.

For instance, during the pairing process the app would prompt the user to scan the QR code on the bottom of the device, and once the code was successfully scanned pairing would resume.

 

3. Which device (phone/tablet) do you use?

 

I’m currently using an iPhone 13 Pro.

 

Again sorry for the delayed response, please do let me know if you have any further questions.

 

Robin

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