Sonos CEO defends app redesign as a "better experience" but admits failure to communicate

Sonos new app interface on phone screen
(Image credit: Sonos)

It's been an odd couple of months for Sonos. Excitement about the brand's first-ever foray into the competitive world of wireless headphones sees the US brand striding into uncharted territory in what could be a major industry shakeup, yet the excitement of the new Sonos Ace has been sullied somewhat given the brand's struggles with its recent app redesign. 

Formerly heralded as one of the best platforms around today, a major overhaul to the Sonos platform a few weeks ago has not exactly received unanimous approval. Sonos has reportedly been inundated with messages from riled customers over the past few weeks, with many complaining that the overhauled mobile app is suffering from bugs, glitches and the glaring omissions of key features such as sleep timers, alarms and queuing songs. A Reddit thread titled "Dear Sonos, what the hell??" encapsulated this fury in impressive detail if you have the time...

Sonos has defended its controversial redesign on numerous occasions over the past month or so, with CEO Patrick Spence addressing concerns directly in an interview with The Verge as part of a chat about Sonos' upcoming Ace over-ears. There, Spence asserted the need for "the app to be easier and more modern to navigate", defending the new platform as "faster, more responsive and... a better overall experience" while admitting that it was a "change for consumers".  

Sonos Ace headphones in soft white finish lying flat on a table

Disgruntled fans won't exactly Sonos' launch of the Ace over-ear headphones.   (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Thankfully, Spence gave reassurances that Sonos would fix the bugs and omissions that had sparked such fury, consoling users that "we’re going to find bugs as we go through this. We’re heads down and making sure we get those addressed... what I wish we would’ve done is probably communicate the roadmap a little more clearly". 

Sonos has already provided a roadmap for improvements and issued a software update on May 21st for Android and iOS users which provided, among other things, improved VoiceOver support, improved local music playback and proper support for the newly unveiled Sonos Roam 2 portable Bluetooth speaker.

These efforts will hopefully remedy the multiple issues found with the recent overhaul which has clearly ruffled so many feathers among Sonos' wide consumer base. Even so, some commentators have pointed out that the trend of forcing out incomplete updates and redesigns upon consumers without warning or even the benefit of choice doesn't do much to repay a person's loyalty to a particular brand. Hopefully, the damage hasn't already been done for Sonos, especially with those Sonos Ace headphones now emerging from their proverbial chrysalis and ready to battle the big boys.


Read our Sonos Ace hands-on review  

Sonos Roam 2 wanders into view with better controls, easier set-up

Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5: what are the differences?

These are the best wireless headphones  

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs. 

  • BanquoStarbon
    The app has thousands of 1 star reviews on both android and iOS since they updated the app. I use it myself and the negative reviews are justified. People move to Sonos from home theatre set ups etc and they really don’t appreciate being treated like simpletons. The CEO is out of touch.
  • Ataripower
    So dissapointing from Sonos and they are so disconnected from their clients. The app update is a disaster and I'm in the process of ditching them after 15 years because of it. This may be one of the greatest examples of a company breaking what was working well. So much goodwill eroded. If I was an investor in this firm, I'd be furious with the board.
  • cobraBLACK
    The app has needed a proper redesign for a long time, even just to keep up with DSP apps. Luckily nothing broke for me I just didn't like the missing widgets, no local search, etc. so I reinstalled the old version. I can understand the need for a certain amount of standardisation but I hate the way modern phone apps force layouts/features on you - if I'm paying for a product I want to use it the way I want to use it. That is why I have an Android. At least there was a bit of customisation in the new Sonos app, despite Sonos Radio being forced.