Sonos first third party to deliver promised AirPlay 2 support

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 11
Sonos on Wednesday launched its promised support for AirPlay 2, initially available through a handful of the company's speakers.

Sonos Beam


The technology requires installing software updates, including a new version of Sonos Controller for iPhones and iPads, but having just a single compatible speaker will then enable AirPlay across any Sonos speaker in the same group. Sound from any AirPlay-compatible app will work, whether music or video.

Supported products include: The upgrade also enables control of Apple Music through Siri through an iPhone or iPad, some given examples being "play Beats 1 Radio in the bedroom," or "turn it up in the living room." This requires using the iOS Home app to add compatible speakers as new accessories, and selecting "Don't Have a Code or Can't Scan." At that point, nearby Sonos speakers should appear as options.

On Alexa-compatible devices people should be able to switch between assistants at will, though once Apple Music content is started Alexa can only change volume or skip to the next track.

Sonos is the first third-party speaker maker to deliver AirPlay 2 compatibility. When the technology debuted alongside iOS 11.4 in May, the only speaker to support it was Apple's own HomePod.

Several other vendors have promised to add the format to their speakers and receivers. These include Bang & Olufsen, Denon/Marantz, Libratone, and Naim. Yamaha is a possibility, but the company told AppleInsider only that it "has not made any announcement about AirPlay 2 support."





The headline feature of AirPlay 2 is Sonos-style multi-room audio, but it also enables stereo pairing on the HomePod, along with a variety of other improvements. A substantially bigger streaming buffer versus the original AirPlay protocol helps reduce interruptions due to network issues.

There is also Siri control, tighter sync between speakers, and the ability to continue streaming without being interrupted by phone calls, games, or videos.

Speakers with AirPlay 2 compatibility appear in within the iOS Home app, and can be assigned an individual room like any other accessory. There speakers can be played or paused, and included within favorites, but can't yet be included in HomeKit scenes.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    It must be that the licensing fees exceed the profits that Apple would have made by selling more homepod.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 860member
    nunzy said:
    It must be that the licensing fees exceed the profits that Apple would have made by selling more homepod.
    The tiresome negativity about Apple versus Sonos is really ridiculous.

    Are these two companies not friends? Sonos features Apple devices conspicuously in their marketing (there is an iPhone arranged with an assortment of Sonos products on Sonos' homepage today). Apple sells Sonos products in their stores. Sonos is the first manufacturer to support Apple's new AirPlay 2 standard, which is a standard Apple WANTS 3rd parties to use, compared with AirPods (for example) which has proprietary tech and only Apple/Beats can make the hardware (and the profits, as the commenter seems fixated on). Sonos has supported Apple Music in it's App almost as long as it was a service (and supported Beats Music before that, I subscribed to Beats Music and transistioned to Apple Music, and at no time was I left out in the cold during the Beats Music/Apple Music transition)

    Apple wants 3rd parties to make AirPlay 2 products. Apple & Sonos have a good, mutually beneficial relationship.

    Maybe that will change someday? I just don't see that today. If anything, Sonos is moving closer to Apple by supporting AirPlay 2 (having sat on the sidelines for AirPlay 1). I'm sure it irked Apple that the Sonos speakers sold in it's stores haven't supported the Apple streaming protocol. That is not longer an issue—Sonos is fully on board.
    nunzy
  • Reply 3 of 13
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,629member
    nunzy said:
    It must be that the licensing fees exceed the profits that Apple would have made by selling more homepod.
    Wrong. AP is a protocol and not a product, so making it available to the ecosystem, even in competing audio products, still strengthens the ecosystem and adds consumer value to other Apple products owned by its customer base. Limiting it to just the HP would be a mistake. 
    edited July 11 nunzy
  • Reply 4 of 13
    Those Ninjas look really pissed off with the Sonos soundbar.
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Now that they've got this out the door they can finally focus on getting Assistant into the One. I'm tempted to get one but would kick myself if they don't make already produced ones upgradeable.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    But is it roon ready?
  • Reply 7 of 13
    I spent a lot of money on Sonos Amps a couple of years ago which never supported Airplay 1. I'm not too happy that they won't support Airplay 2 either. I doubt it's a technical limitation since they are built from the ground up to be streaming devices.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    As an aside to my previous comment, I wouldn't even mind the lack of Airplay if the Sonos apps were better, but they lack a lot of basic features like keeping track of where you are in a podcast.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    scheekoscheeko Posts: 2member
    "There speakers can be played or paused" – this is not true for the Airplay 2 Sonos devices.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 860member
    As an aside to my previous comment, I wouldn't even mind the lack of Airplay if the Sonos apps were better, but they lack a lot of basic features like keeping track of where you are in a podcast.
    To be fair, Sonos has never supported Podcast playback.

    I've been super frustrated by the same shortcoming myself. But I knew it going in. Sono's performance with music is so good that I have forgiven them for lacking in the podcast department.

    If you think it through, how would the Sonos App manage podcasts you listen to on the go? Sonos only operates on your (presumably) home network. The position of your podcasts would need to push themselves to the Sonos App somehow. There are lots of podcast apps. How many of those should Sonos develop integrations with? Maybe Sonos makes an API developers could use in their Podcast Apps to communicate podcast-specific data to a customer's Sonos system? What about App developers who aren't interested in cooperating? It doesn't seem like a viable solution. No matter how hard Sonos pushes their solution, some customers will be left behind.

    I see AirPlay 2 as the answer: Let the Podcast App (any iOS/MacOS podcast app, not just the Sonos App with podcast features added) remember my position in my podcast.

    That doesn't help you with legacy devices like the Sonos Amp (I have one too, so I feel your pain). On the flip side, Sonos devices hold their value quite well. I just sold a PlayBar to buy a Beam and had money leftover after the purchase. I also bought a few Sonos One speakers that I'm going to swap out some of my Play:1 speakers as well. I expect I can get at least $100 each for the Play:1 speakers.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 860member

    I spent a lot of money on Sonos Amps a couple of years ago which never supported Airplay 1. I'm not too happy that they won't support Airplay 2 either. I doubt it's a technical limitation since they are built from the ground up to be streaming devices.
    The Sonos system is hardware limited in other ways. For example: the 65k track limitation. That is a limitation Sonos must have known about as they developed the original hardware. Sonos's system was developed before AirPlay and they haven't introduced any changes that break functionality of old players until now. They have been very conservative by prioritizing the preservation of the core Sonos system functionality over upgrading functionality. By doing so, they have clearly neglected hardware and system upgrades. I imagine that is why older devices don't have the horsepower/memory to run AirPlay 2.

    You probably noticed this, but there are a few existing Sonos products that do support AirPlay 2: PlayBase, Sonos One & Play:5

    This also bolsters the case against the conspiracy theory that Sonos could add AirPlay 2 but is declining to implement it for selfish reasons.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    The Sonos player app supports playing podcasts via the TuneIn Radio feature. It would be trivial for Sonos to keep a cloud-based user database for the storage of things to share among devices running the sonos app like playlists, favorites and podcast playback information. My larger point is that Sonos could save themselves that theoretical bit of effort by just doing the smart thing and supporting Airplay 1 so we can use our podcast player of choice along with any other audio app.
    edited July 12
  • Reply 13 of 13
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 860member
    The Sonos player app supports playing podcasts via the TuneIn Radio feature. It would be trivial for Sonos to keep a cloud-based user database for the storage of things to share among devices running the sonos app like playlists, favorites and podcast playback information. My larger point is that Sonos could save themselves that theoretical bit of effort by just doing the smart thing and supporting Airplay 1 so we can use our podcast player of choice along with any other audio app.
    What you describe would be trivial. But would it solve the Sonos Podcast problem? How do you make this database sync with whatever Podcast App you use on the go?

    Does TuneIn Radio offer some podcast position memory on an iOS app? If so, maybe it would be easy for Sonos to solve this problem for TuneIn Radio users. I've never heard of TuneIn Radio used as a podcast player, but maybe it is done. What about all the other Podcast Apps I HAVE heard of. Overcast is the one I use. How does Sonos sync playback position on them all?

    Maybe you only listen to podcasts through your Sonos system? If so, a Sonos-only Podcast solution could work. I use my phone for 95% of my podcast listening and a bluetooth speaker about 5% of the time (I'd love to use Sonos speakers for this, and will with AirPlay 2). I'm going to presume I'm typical and that most podcast listeners use their phones for most podcast playback, leaving Sonos as a secondary listening environment. Which is why I don't see a viable way to solve the Podcast problem using Sonos software. The obvious way to solve the problem is to meet podcast listeners where they listen: Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Downcast, Pocketcast.

    Maybe they could retrofit AirPlay 1 for old gear to make it easier to get iOS podcast streamed to older Sonos setups? Honestly, I prefer they stick with putting their efforts into current tech rather than retooling legacy gear for legacy protocols.

    Anyway, I think I've made my case for AirPlay 2. I hope you are able to find a way to use your gear the way you want.

    BTW: Have you taken a look at this for adding AirPlay 1 to a Sonos System? I prefer to avoid hacking my Sonos system...but I've heard people find this app quite useful, and as far as hacks go, it seems pretty safe.
    edited July 12
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