Santa Barbara, Calif. - Sonos added Apple AirPlay compatibility to its wireless multiroom-audio system, enabling consumers for the first time to stream music wirelessly from AirPlay-enabled iPads, iPod touches and iPhones to Sonos systems.
AirPlay compatibility is one of three new features enabled by a Sonos System 3.4 software upgrade available today. A second feature, when used with a free Android smartphone app, turns an Android smartphone into a Wi-Fi remote that controls a Sonos system. A third new feature upgrades the capabilities of an existing Sonos remote-control app for iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches.
With the new AirPlay feature, the Sonos system becomes the audio industry's first product to let consumers stream a song from an AirPlay-equipped handheld device to multiple rooms at a time, said Sonos VP and co-founder Tom Cullen. Up until now, he said, AirPlay-equipped handhelds could stream audio to only one room at a time when used with other suppliers' AirPlay-equipped home audio products.
AirPlay compatibility also makes it possible for the first time for Sonos systems to use a handheld device as a music source, Cullen said. Sonos systems continue to use networked PCs, network-attached storage devices, Internet radio stations, and Internet music services as music sources.
With AirPlay compatibility, Sonos systems not only stream music stored on an Apple handheld device, but they also stream music from a variety of Internet radio apps loaded onto the Apple devices, Cullen noted. The apps access online music and audio services not available directly through the Sonos system, including Slacker and MLB.com, he said.
Although only one song at a time can be streamed from a handheld Apple device through a Sonos system, the song can be streamed to multiple rooms at a time, Cullen noted. While that song plays in those rooms, however, multiple songs stored on a networked PC or NAS drive, or streamed via the Internet, can play back simultaneously in other rooms, Cullen said.
To integrate AirPlay with a Sonos system, consumers need the Sonos System 3.4 software upgrade and one Apple AirPort Express Wi-Fi wireless access point, whose audio line output needs to be connected to only one of the many Sonos wireless clients that could be set up throughout the house. The clients include a one-piece tabletop client with built-in amp and stereo speakers, an amplified client for use with any pair of passive speakers, and a client that connects to any existing sound system. The system can be controlled from a dedicated RF-wireless handheld controller or from existing Sonos apps that turn iPod touches, iPhones and iPads into Wi-Fi remotes.
With the System 3.4 upgrade, Sonos systems are also compatible with a free Android-based app that turns an Android smartphone into a wireless Sonos-system controller. The app, compatible with the Android 2.1 and up OS, offers two features that the iPhone and iPad apps don't. One is the ability to use the phone's volume buttons to control Sonos-system volume. The other feature is the ability to search for music tracks, albums and artists via voice search.
Also with Sonos System 3.4, the company's iPhone/touch/iPad control apps become multitask-compatible, allowing users to use other apps without closing the Sonos app.