The curious case of Google Play Music and Sonos Controller App on iOS

  • 18 May 2018
  • 7 replies
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Greetings,

So I have seen a number of conversations about this issue on the net and decided to contribute to the matter while describing my own experience and seeking some assistance. Sonos Support so far have been rather disappointing in terms of time to and content of responses, though I am assuming that this is because I am dealing with Level 1 support personnel (those folks normally copy/paste replies and read from a script) though I guess I have had to start somewhere. In the end it is worth noting that I like the product, I am a big fan of it and use it extensively every day, each day, but the support is lacking so far... though I plan to persist and see how this goes.

So to begin. I am an IT professional with considerable IT experience (20+ years total with 10+ as Level 3 support). So, I would like you to assume that a certain logical process was followed here and this is not just a rant or a mistake of some kind.

I use a pair of Sonos Play:1 speakers to primary stream Spotify but recently, based on recommendations I have read I decided to upload some rare music (I collect Soundtracks) to Google Music Play (using free account) so that I can stream that music from somewhere (since it is not available on Spotify) back to my speakers.

The primary problem I am encountering is inconsistency in the Google Music Play browse feature. In particular, there is a difference in what Sonos Controller app sees (even within different sections of itself) and what Google Music Play (Chrome based app or iOS based app) see. The difference persists over time and full reboot (as in unplug the thing for 5 minutes from all power) of everything in use (speakers, routers, devices with controller app and... the kitchen sink) does not resolve the issue.

The following screenshots will illustrate the problem.

The below screenshot shows you how my Sonos Controller is configured where Browse section is concerned (in this case iPad Pro was used).



The below screenshot shows you what I can see in Albums related part of Google Music Play in Chrome app running on Windows 10.



The below screenshot shows you what I can see in Albums part of browsing of Google Music Play service on Sonos Controller app.



The below screenshot shows you what I can see in Genre/Soundtrack part of browsing of Google Music Play service on Sonos Controller app.




As I am sure you can see there are a number of issues here.

Issue Number 1: After Earth soundtrack appears in Google Music Play and is seen in Genre/Soundtrack part of Sonos Controller app browse but is not seen in Album part of Sonos Controller app browse.

Issue Number 2: Alien: Covenant soundtrack appears in Google Music Play without art (as per my wishes) and is seen in Genre/Soundtrack part of Sonos Controller app browse the same way, but in the Album part of Sonos Controller app browse it still contains art despite it being removed. Please note that the original uploaded music did not include art and while the music itself was matched by Google Music Play service I manually tagged all tracks as Incorrect Match and after they were re-uploaded I stripped the Album of any art within Google Music Play service itself.

Issue Number 3: Sorting mechanism differs between Google Music Play and Sonos Controller app implementation of Google Music Play. Specifically Google is smart enough to sort Albums starting with "The" accordingly (by discarding "The" when sorting albums) while Sonos Controller app browse implementation assumes that "The" is part of the actual name and sorts all albums starting with "The" as if they belonged under "T" where alphabet is concerned.

I have took some time to discuss this with Sonos Support via Facebook Messenger and in the end the support person on the other end run out of ideas and suggested I call Sonos Support (which I am sure will work out just fine since I live in Western Australia /s).

Last but not least I have also submitted diagnostics to Sonos as part of the troubleshooting process. Diagnostics Confirmation Number is: 440208453 and apparent Support Case Number is: 00055351

Any insight that any of you can offer would be much appreciated.

Kind Regards
Daniel

(this post was edited for clarity)

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7 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi, Daniel. Thanks for the detailed post and welcome to the community. This experience is controlled by Google. I read through some correspondence with our Social Media team, suggesting that everything on your end should have been refreshed, which, in turn, should ensure any local cache would have been cleared. I also discussed this in depth with the colleague that was assisting you.

His assessment, was that this seems to relate to the data the Sonos app is receiving when accessing the Google Play Music servers provided by Google. The Sonos app will likely contact different servers than that of your native app. It is highly advisable in this case that you contact Google Play Music as we have no control over the content that is served. If there is a specific issue with the way their service interacts with our app that might cause this, it's something they can flag to our developers. In addition, for further investigation, I would advise getting in touch with our telephone support team. They will be able to track the bug on our end, too. At the moment, it looks strictly to be a GPM problem. I hope this helps, let us know if you have any further thoughts.
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Greetings,

Edward, thank you for your reply. It makes sense when you consider cloud architecture and design.
In particular this part strikes true.

The Sonos app will likely contact different servers than that of your native app.

It is likely that Google has different entry points tasked for APIs, free services, first party and third party services handling and so on (other Cloud services certainly do). In this case it would seem that there is a difference in what those points are seeing which could explain the situation.

You are right, this is most likely Google issue. However in the interest of providing as much information on the matter as is possible I will post some further findings. Perhaps it will help others to understand the situation better and perhaps it can be referenced in future conversations between customers, support and third parties.

Kind Regards
Daniel
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The Plot Thickens...
As promised before I am posting further findings on the matter.

To begin with, as part of the troubleshooting process I have reset to factory defaults my Sonos speakers and Controller apps. I did the shotgun approach here, factory reset on speakers and Controller software reset, then uninstall, then re-install. Then I switched everything off for an hour or so and re-installed. The problem as listed in the original post persisted. I think this is a sufficient proof that the software or speakers are not a problem and that the problem either exists with the way in which the Controller software handles Google Play Music or Google Play Music experience as offered by Google to third parties.

Now, I left things alone for the night (I am posting from Western Australia) and it would seem that some time later (less than 24 hours) the situation have changed and the problem partially corrected itself. As demonstrated by the screenshot below Alien:Covenant is now properly reflecting absence of Album art and After Earth soundtrack is listed.



However, upon further inspection I have noticed that not all Albums are actually listed. Specifically in Sonos Controller in both browse Album and browse Genre sections a number of Albums is missing. Screenshots below illustrate what Google Play Music Chrome app sees and what Sonos Controller sees.





Specifically, let us look at The Terminator soundtrack (Album) it is listed in Google Play Music in Chrome but is not listed anywhere in the Sonos Controller app.

Now I know what you are thinking, another cache issue. Probably, but here is the thing, you can go to Search section of Sonos Controller and Search for The Terminator soundtrack... and guess what? You don't have to guess, the next screenshot illustrates that.



So, the Album is not visible in the Browse section but can be searched for and referenced.

Finally, I have decided to ensure that this is not a platform problem (per say) and installed Windows version of Sonos Controller application and browsed Google Play Music looking for The Terminator soundtrack. The screenshot below demonstrates the absence regardless of the software.




Hopefully this is assisting Sonos, Google and others in understanding and troubleshooting this issue.

Before I end this post, it should be noted that I am using a free version of Google Play Music service. Perhaps in the future I will subscribe for a period of time to see if the issue is limited to a specific type of service (for example Google not caring much for not paying end users). If I elect to do that I will post my findings accordingly.

Kind Regards
Daniel
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Greetings,

Some additional updates on the subject of Google Play Music...

Google Play Music Chrome app problems aside it would appear that as per observations above and further experience in recent weeks (and since my last post) the cache for Google Play Music service as experienced via Sonos Controller app is refreshed sometime within 24-48 of the most recent change.

I have recently uploaded a new album (specifically soundtrack for Solo: A Star Wars story) and noted that it took close to 48 hours for the album title correction to be displayed. In other words I made a change to the name of the album and periodically checked Sonos Controller app noticing the change finally taking place after at least one full day/night and then some from it being made.

Additionally, I have noted occasional outages with the link (the service itself is much, much less stable than Spotify). Though I am yet to confirm what exactly causes that (the list of possibilities is quite long).

Last but not least I have also noted that the Google Play Music Chrome app itself may cause some interesting issues with the process. In particular I have seen cases where the app processed some of the music incorrectly though I did not notice the problem and initially blamed it on the cache issue where it turned out to be the app issue. So, if you are doing any troubleshooting yourself I would suggest re-installing and re-authorising the app and checking your music library directly via the first party app before making any assumptions about the validity of what you are seeing via Sonos Controller app.

While the current quality of service leaves a lot to desire I am confident that any/all issues that I have encountered can be resolved by following details in this thread. As such this is most likely my final post.

Kind Regards
Daniel
Userlevel 2
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I just stumbled upon this post, while looking around for the latest news on GPM integration.

Several members of the community, including me, posted ~3 years ago about the relatively poor integration of GPM and the Sonos controller. It seems to me that nothing material has improved, the gripes from 3 years ago are still present for the most part, but they mostly boil down to the native GPM interface behaves better and smarter than the Sonos app ... in other words somewhat similar to your concerns.

While technically this may be Google's "fault" the fact that the Sonos team has been unable to convince Google to enhance the integration suggests it will always be poor. No one cares enough to push for improvement. Plus with Google sunsetting GPM in favour of Youtube Music, I'm sure Google has even less incentive to make this better. Shame, but there you are.

FWIW my solution was to switch to Spotify for most of my music needs. The integration is better. I still use GPM for Stations, which I still find superior to anything Spotify has (probably the Songza influence remains in GPM).
Hi every one

To begin, please excuse my fault of grammar and words because i'm french and don't use translator today.

I had the same issue of Ebon/Daniel, Artists don't appear in Sonos list of Artist, but they're in Google Play Music.

The fact they're in the Genre list of Sonos make me search a way to modify genre of the mp3, so I go in Google Play Music mp3 settings. Forget the Android interface (or other smart... equivalent device OS ), there are not enough option to make any changes here. But on my Google play Music on my prehistoric IE Navigator of PC, there's a "Modifier les informations de l'album" (you'll understand this ;)) option which permits to add name of the artist (strangely it doesn't appear here, neither number of titles), and that's a kind of magic : the artist suddenly appears on Sonos list of artist.





The thin difference is that the name of the artist is associated at each title of the album on GPM but not at the album. Weird but this is it.

Hope that can help U & Wish you good listening

Bye

Gogimli aka Pierre from Paris suburban
Hi
Few tests after my first message, I can be more precise.

It's the tag "Artist of the Album" on GPM which permit Sonos to correctly associate the mp3 with the artist. The tag "Artist" of GPM (tag different of "Artist of the Album") aren't recognize by Sonos app for the list of Artist.

This is a non sense for a lot of Mp3 which isn't part of an album, but Sonos ans GPM block on this concept of Album in their titles organization (Tap/Click the Artist, tap/click the "unknown album", then access to the title).

Bye

Gogimli aka Pierre from Paris suburban