November 30, 2011 at 3:01 am

Here Come the Sonos Apps

sonos labs open apiSpotify isn’t the only company with the bright idea to release an API to make it easier for app developers to build stuff that works with its products — which, in Sonos’ case, consist of a line of wireless speakers and modules for the home that let otherwise average people pipe music throughout their homes in the manner of millionaires.

Essentially, it’s a one-percenter-type experience priced for the 99 percent, or much of it anyway.

The latest version of the Sonos controller, version 3.6 for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets adds a bunch of stuff listed below, but what really grabbed our attention was support for apps created in Sonos Labs, a “new Beta environment where customers will be able to test out music services before they’re officially launched on Sonos,” according to the announcement shared with Evolver.fm on the eve of the launch. “New music services will be added to Sonos Labs on an ongoing basis.”

Hopefully, this will result not only in smaller developers being able to make stuff that plays on Sonos systems, but will also improve the way other services look on Sonos. Why can’t it search for songs on MOG, for instance — just artists? This API should solve that.

“The idea behind Sonos Labs is to give music app and service developers a streamlined process to hook into Sonos,” spokeswoman Rhonda Scott told Evolver.fm. From the sound of it, we expect this open API to improve the Sonos experience further.

The move makes a lot of sense, and for Sonos, represents an evolution from designing hardware in a standalone ecosystem to embracing first outside hardware (the iPhone and Android, which have replaced the bespoke Sonos controller hardware for many users) and now outside software.

In addition to the ability to play apps from Sonos Labs, the latest version 3.6 of the Sonos system adds support for Android tablets (“including Kindle Fire, HTC Flyer, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony Tablet S, and many others”); free Slacker Radio; and the ability to play efficiently-compressed AAC+ files.