It's when your smartphone starts replacing your other devices that you realise just how mighty it truly is. And the devices I'm thinking of include cameras and game pads, yes, but also controllers.
Today let's take a closer look at Sonos Controller for Android. Can and will it replace controllers?
Features & Use
Please note that this app is a sort of remote controls system for Sonos devices. This means that – aside from a very nicely made demonstration clip – this app is only of interest to users who also own Sonos sound systems.
So what is Sonos? The answer: cable free sound systems. One of the system's components is hooked up to the home router and the others can be placed strategically around your apartment or house (provided you can plug them into electrical outlets, of course). The components can then be managed via remote control and may access data, streaming services such as Spotify and online radio streams.
It is no doubt due to current trends and technologies that are rendering some devices less popular than they once were – and others obsolete altogether – that led the ladies and gentlemen over at Sonos to the decision to replace the official controller for the system with an official iOS and Android app.
But before we come to the app's features, let's quickly discuss the tablet version. Or rather, the lack thereof. The developers have clearly missed an opportunity to create a tab friendly version of Sonos Controller for Android, although there is a tab formatted version for the iPad. Too bad.
Upon first starting up the app you are asked to connect the controller to the already existing Sonos network. We tried it out using several devices for the sake of our review and it worked out well on all of them.
Once the controller has been set up, you may choose a music player should you have more than one Sonos device hooked up. Players can be grouped together, enabling smooth and synchronised settings adaptions.
At this point I must really take my hat off to the Sonos developers, because everything up until this point works out beautifully, both work flow and controls.
Aside from this, the controller does what one might expect a remote controller to do: access playback lists, manage them and – with a bit of effort – delete tracks. I would personally prefer a drop-down menu via which several tracks can be deleted in one go.
Other features: add new music, browse the list for radio stations and streaming services (provided you pay the monthly fee of EUR 9,99) and create Sonos playlists. These playlists are stored internally on Sonos rather than on the Rdio or Spotify servers.
I was super happy about the integrated alarm clock and snooze mode that comes with one of the latest updates for Android.
On the whole the Android version is on the same level – and even slightly ahead of, in some departments – as the iOS one. For instance, using the Android version you may access the SonosNet or change the WiFi channel. This is a wonderfully useful function in case of interruptions or interferences and can be accredited to the openness of the Android platform.
Sonos Controller for Android is a dream come true for Sonos users.
Please note, however, that the app has not been optimised for Android tablets.
Screen & Controls
There are two things about Sonos Controller for Android that bother me somewhat. First of all, they've stuck to the iOS guidelines a bit too closely for my liking, and what's worse is that other options – specifically Android 4.0 ICS – have not been included. Now, while I do feel that an app with original design elements is always better than no app at all, I can't help but also think six months post ICS launch is long enough to consider adapting to the Android design.
Secondly, Sonos Controller doesn't run the same on Android as it does on iOS devices. It's a shame that the fun animations are missing.
Aside from this, Sonos Controller for Android comes with good controls and a lot of potential. A lot functions are not optimally placed (truth be told, some of them are a bit difficult to find at first). For instance, the equaliser is hidden within the room settings. I don't know about you, but I don't find this to be logical or intuitive.
Speed & Stability
We encountered once bump along the road during our test runs of Sonos. This, however, was due to Spotify temporarily shutting down their service.
Aside from this one hiccup, Sonos Controller for Android has been performing very nicely these past few months.
Sonos Controller for Android is available for free, and what's more it's free of ads, too. However, do bear in mind that in order to use the app you will need the full set-up which will set you back EUR 300.