One interface quirk I did encounter had to do with zone grouping. By way of example, pretend you have three zones called “Kitchen,” “Living Room,” and “Basement.” Let’s say you’re listening to Pandora in the kitchen and living room, but now you want to add the basement to the mix when your party moves downstairs. Next to each zone on the Zone Menu, SONOS gives you a button called “Group,” which when pushed, brings up a grouping box with intuitive checkboxes to select the zones you wish to combine. Sounds simple enough, right?
It is simple, yes, provided you push the “Group” button beside the Kitchen/Living Room zone and not the “Group” button beside the Basement zone. Whereas pushing the former has the desired effect, causing your upstairs tunes to be shared with the downstairs, pushing the latter brings the basement scene (i.e. total silence) upstairs, thereby bringing your music to an abrupt stop. And if you were listening to Pandora or some other streaming music, good luck resuming the song where you left off.
Being a software developer, I can understand the SONOS app’s behavior, but it seems as though an “if-then” test needs to be added to the mix: IF you’re grouping two zones, where one zone is actively playing music and the other is not, THEN you should always send the music to the quiet zone rather than send the quiet to the active zone. Until SONOS makes this recommended tweak, you’ll just have to train yourself which “Group” button to click if you want to keep the music pumping. Also, the larger iPad screen offers plenty of room for a “Party Mode” button in the Zone Menu. It would be handy if you could quickly link all zones at the touch of one button. If only one zone is playing, use that music. If multiple zones are in use, ask me which zone should host the party.
Don’t mistake my grouping nitpicks as anything more than constructive criticism. In truth, the aforementioned grouping quirk was the only issue I could uncover after hours of fun-filled use and I have no doubt that SONOS will appreciate the feedback as they prepare future app updates.
Providing fast and easy access to your personal music library while offering tight, seamlesss integration with streaming services such as Pandora, AUPEO, Rdio, MOG, Napster, Spotify Premium, and others, the SONOS Music Controller for iPad is a phenomenally versatile and endlessly entertaining app that’s guaranteed to be a hit at parties. If you’re already running SONOS hardware, but you don’t yet own an iPad, this might just be the excuse you’ve been waiting for. Highly recommended. (Editor’s note: the Android tablet app for Sonos is essentially the same as the iPad app, and works just as well, with the same “group” quirk.)
Read a review of the new Sonos PLAY:3 Music speaker here.
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Greg Robinson is a freelance technology writer whose work has appeared in several national publications. When he's not evaluating Blu-ray Discs or calibrating televisions, you can usually find him thumping volleyballs at his local gym in rural northeast Connecticut.