Sonos was way ahead of the game when it comes to piping digital around the home.
It took years for Apple to catch up, which it might have, by implementing AirPlay across its operating systems, iOS devices, AirPort Express, and AppleTV. Before that happened, I used to call Sonos the “iPod Home” that Apple should have made.
Now that Apple AirPlay has finally attained awesomeness, Sonos still has its allure, as compared to Apple’s solution:
- It’s not tied to any one device, so it runs even if the person who triggered a playlist or artist leaves the house. You can play something with any desktop client or app (including Android), and it just works.
- It doesn’t affect your laptop, smartphone, or iPad battery, because that’s not the device doing the streaming.
- According to Sonos, its wireless mesh network means you can set up multiple installations with auditory overlap without introducing as much of the dreaded phase cancellation that can make systems with looser timing sound like garbage.
- If you want, you can plug an Apple AirPort Express into your Sonos’ line-level input, essentially adding AirPlay to the equation.
However, there was one big problem: Sonos’ desktop controller was stuck in the dark ages. It looked old and busted, and didn’t make it as easy to find music as it should have.
No longer! Earlier this week Sonos updated its Mac and Windows desktop apps with a slick new look that appears suitable for use in 2012 as opposed to 2002; a universal search function that lets you search your own music library and all of your connected services from one box; a new “mini controller” that lets you play music using less space on your screen; and other tweaks.
Sonos supports the following services (see also the video demonstration of the new version below):
- Pandora Radio
- Podcasts from anything that does podcasts (NPR, BBC, WTF, etc.)
- Stitcher SmartRadio
- Thousands of terrestrial radio stations that stream
- Wolfgang’s Vault
- Whatever app developers eventually build now that Sonos is an app platform.